Sunday, April 17, 2005

Goodbye (for now)

Well, I got "the call" the other day. When that secure line rings, the voice on the other line is usually the last one I want to hear. This time was no different.

I ship out in a couple of days. Of course, I'm not at liberty to discuss the details, but needless to say, I'm not exactly going to Club Med.

I've got a duty to perform, and I never have second thoughts about doing it. However, the period right before shipping out is always the hardest. Especially as I get older, it gets harder and harder to leave everything behind and put on the goggles again.

The hardest thing is leaving Sarah behind. I haven't exactly been a model parent, but I've been trying. During this extended bit of R&R;, Sarah and I have finally been able to bridge the gap a bit. It's not always easy, but we are finally feeling like a family. I'm really blessed to have her in my life, and she will be what keeps me going through whatever this next mission throws at me.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to update the blog anymore. I think you can understand why. I've honestly enjoyed doing this blog thing over the last few months. I've had a chance to get some things off my chest, and have a bit of fun in the process. But now it's time to do what I do best, which won't leave me much time for posting blog updates.

To all the people who've sent me mail over the past few months, thank you. I'm sorry I couldn't reply to you all directly, but I read everything, even the unintelligible stuff. I appreciate that you took the time out to drop me a line.

George Bernard Shaw once said, "Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” I ask each of you to enjoy the liberty that guys like me fight for, but know that we all have a responsibility to maintain it. Do what you can in that regard.

With that, it's goodbye for now. Fisher out.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Mail Call 6

It's time again to see what spilled out of the Mail Bag:
Have you ever been smack dab in a mission and had nature call? If so what did, would, or are you supposed to do?
-- Jon S.
Actually, a lot of people have been asking me this, so it's time to reveal my secrets. No, it's not anything like the Stadium Pal. It's actually that I don't drink or eat much while on missions. Those reports that say you should drink eight glasses of water a day... well, those people have never put on my suit. Just drink what you need, and nature doesn't come calling so often.
Ok, Chaos Theory, you have a knife.... what kind of knife is it, b/c i want one!
--Jeff
It's a big, sharp one, Jeff.
Did you read any goodnight stories to Sarah, and if yes, were they regular ones, or ones containing things that maybe ain't that good for a goodnight story?
-- Jimmy
As you can guess, I'm not a good bedtime storyteller. You can imagine the stories I'd have to tell: "Once upon a time, there was this handsome prince who was trying to infiltrate a compound in Eastern Europe. But then, a bad man got in the prince's way, so the prince had to shoot him with his magic gun. And then he lived happily ever after."

You can understand why I stuck to Golden Books.
Do you have any awesome moves that aren't in the Splinter Cell Games? It just seems like you would, as the game has so few.
-- Jacob C.
I do have some other moves, Jacob, but that's not the kind of thing gentlemen ask each other, is it?
I was just wondering, purely for the sake of curiosity, what does a Splinter Cell wear under that wetsuit-type thing, if anything?
-- Aaron M.
Again, not a very gentlemanly question, is it? But I'll answer like this: nothing that chafes. That's very important.
You are the coolest guy I've ever heard of. Because of you, I now know what I want to do in life. You (besides my parents) are my biggest role model. Thank you so much for setting my future career path.
-- Blake B.
Thanks for the kind words, Blake, but you can find much better role models in this life than yours truly. Listen, the whole reason I do this job is so that young people like you won't have to. In a perfect world, our country wouldn't need people like me. But unfortunately, there's enough chaos in this world to necessitate the kind of things I do. I'm glad you are a fan, but take my advice, and become a doctor or a lawyer instead. It'll do wonders for your longevity.

That's all for Mail Call. I have some news to report later this week, so be sure to come back.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Does Not Compute

I spend a lot of time on computers, whether it's hacking into them in the field, or banging on the sides of them at home. But honestly, I don't really like computers, at least not today's standard PCs. Here are a few reasons why:

The Destruction of the English Language

E-mail and instant messaging have directly contributed to illiteracy among America's youth. I give you Exhibit A from the Mail Bag:
hi i think u r c00l an i wanna lurn tha split jump cuz its SWEET!!!!
Please don't write like this. Koko the Gorilla has more effective communication skills.

My, My, My

Why does everything have to start with the the word "My?" "My Pictures," "My Documents," "My Downloads." I get it already. Seeing as how it's MY computer, I don't think I need to be told that my documents are MY documents.

And technically, shouldn't it say "Your Documents" instead? Is the computer trying to piss out territory lines or something?

End User License Agreements

Look, I could navigate the Mekong Delta with nothing but a makeshift blowgun and a smile... but I can't seem to find my way through the maze of legal jargon that appears every time I want to install software. Is this really necessary?

Spam

Yes, even Sam Fisher receives spam messages. Do the spammers really think that I need a home loan or toner cartridges? And despite what the graying hair says, I'm the last person who needs Viagra. So if you're a spammer, just stop it. I don't want to have to tell you again.

Sometimes I miss the old days of the command line interface. You tell the computer what to do, and it does it -- no "are you sure?" prompts or dancing paper clips. But I guess that's me showing my age.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Spy Manual Winner (and Loser)

Team Shadownet recently ran a Spy Manual creation contest, and asked me to judge the entries. These entries are all based on the Spy Manual by Penny Arcade, which is some online comic strip that I've never read, but apparently sees fit to put a puppy on my head. Whatever gives you chuckles, boys.

At any rate, I've put all of the entries in the Gallery, and you can get the full versions from this zip file.

Now, without further ado, your winner of the Spy Manual contest is...

... Macarthur. The same guy who brought you the world's dumpiest Jello churned out not one, but five Spy Manual pages. They are well made, and even brought a slight smile to this weathered face of mine. Macarthur may have found his art medium at last.

It was a tough choice, as I liked most of the entries. But there had to be a worst entry, and that dubious distinction goes to this "work" by Tetsuka. Sorry, but I got over toilet humor about 40 years ago.

Good work, Shadownet. Now get back to playing Chaos Theory. That's an order.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

April Fooled

Okay, Grim, everyone’s laughing. Congratulations on hacking my blog… I’m sure it's the highlight of your career. Just to show I’m a good sport, I’ve left a link to your little prank. I'd just stay away from dark places if I were you...

Thursday, March 31, 2005

April Fools

Unfortunately for the rest of us at Third Echelon, Grimsdotter likes April Fools Day. A world-class computer hacker who likes to play practical jokes is just plain dangerous. She likes to do such 'funny' things as zero out your bank account, and shut off the power grid in your neighborhood. Har, har.

I’m a little worried about what she’ll do this year. I’ve thought about sticky shocking her for the entire day, just to keep her out of trouble. But any plans she has made are probably already in motion. Sigh.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Mail Call 5

I'm sensing a lot of hostility in the Mail Bag lately. Here's a taste:
I must say, after reading the Metal Gear blog, I am in utter shock. If this were an unofficial blog, then I wouldn't be so surprised. However, this blog comes directly from the game developers, which is why I am appalled. What right do the game developers have bashing the game that gave rise to the whole stealth genre. Lets face it, developers, if Metal Gear Solid had never been released, Splinter Cell would never have even been THOUGHT of. You can say what you will and deny the influential role MGS had on the genre, but the fact is that is the truth. What makes you think that you are superior to Metal Gear in any way? What right do you have, as developers, to make fun of another game? This is very disgusting that one would stoop to vulgar levels, especially on the OFFICIAL website of the game. Ubisoft has lost all respect in my eyes. Your actions disgust me and many others. What you did is inexcusable and unethical. I hope you are ashamed of your actions.
-- Chris W.
Okay, take a slow, deep breath and count to twenty. There you go. Feel better?

Everyone needs to relax a bit. I didn't tell you to check your sense of humor at the door. My opinions do not reflect those of Ubisoft, the NSA, or anyone else but Sam Fisher. I'm sure the Splinter Cell developers like Metal Gear just fine, but I'm not an employee of Ubisoft, so don't start with the whole "Ubisoft has lost all respect" stuff. Saying "I'm never buying another Ubisoft game again" (from another e-mail) is like saying, "I don't support the president's stance on the environment, so I'm denouncing my American citizenship." It's too extreme, and everyone needs to just keep their cool.

I blame the Bill O'Reillys of the world, who teach you that your opinions should be black and white, and you should scream them at people with complete disregard of other opinions. I've undermined enough regimes based on this kind of thinking to know that it's dangerous to see the world this way.

Enough ranting, and on to more hostility:
I know you won't be happy about this but I have tried every one of your moves and can do all of them except the split jump and crouched swat turn, so you aren't that good I am only 14.

PS there is something to be said about the heterosexuality of a man that can do the splits
--Your pal ******
Well color me impressed. You're a big boy now, aren't you. Once your voice stops breaking and you have a few hairs on your chest, see if you can still do my moves.

And as for the "there's something to be said" part, do you care to say that something to my face?

Okay, enough hostility... let's move on to greener pastures:
Finally! I have conquered the Jello medium!
Attached are the pictures
Ya, its not your head.
But its your goggles.
Your signature...
-- Macarthur
Macarthur, that's the saddest pair of goggles I've ever seen. Not a one of them are a uniform circle. What's up with the one on the left? It makes me look like I have a lazy eye. I respect your effort, but maybe Jello isn't the medium for you.

Damn, now it's me being hostile. I think I'll take those deep breaths myself... there. Next up:
You know, I've often wondered how you deal with the guys your daughter brings home. She looks of age to be dating, though I could be wrong. So, anyway, how does the great Sigint Ninja, as Lambert called you once, deal with unsatisfactory young men Sarah brings home? Hide in the dark, then when she's away nab them for some up close and personal interrogation. Or do you opt for the psycho approach and just happen to be oiling your SC pistol when they show up? Just curious... not like I'm collecting intel for future encounters... seriously.
-- James
James, I know where you're coming from. You want the best for your kids, you really do. But then they bring home these absolute losers. If I were you, I'd forget the dramatic stuff like oiling your pistol. All you need is a steely, cold-burning gaze directed between their eyes, and they'll get the message. It works every time.
1. When was the last time you had a date? (It was probably the blind date Grim set you up on lol) Also, what do you look for in women?

2. Will Sarah be posting her own blog? You know, someone has to keep up the blog while you are away "on business". She would be good.

3. How often do you see Shetland/Lambert/Grim etc... when you are stateside?

4. Do you get a lot of email from female fans? As a female fan, I just have to ask. It seems all the Splinter Cell fans I meet are male. I was chatting in a chatroom and Splinter Cell came up. After talking to the other fans for a few minutes, one of them told me I seemed like a pretty cool guy. Oh it's ok, I was only a tad bit insulted.

5. I have a feeling I already know the answer to this question, but, do you ever join any of the Yahoo Groups or read any of the fan fiction written about you on sites like fanfiction.net?
-- Jacqueline F.
1. The last time I had a date? Is that a proposition? As far as what I look for in a woman, I am reminded of a quote from David Lee Roth, who said, "The perfect woman has an IQ of 150, wants to make love until four in the morning, and then turns into a pizza." That one kills me every time.

2. I don't think I'll let Sarah make any posts to my blog. After the Feng Shui treatment she gave to my living room, I'm afraid she'd turn my blog into some pink-and-purple dream journal or something.

3. Way too often. My life would be much simpler if I didn't hear from them at all.

4. I get some, but not a lot of e-mail from female fans (and after my answer to question 1, I'll probably get fewer than ever). And by the way, you do seem like a pretty cool guy.

5. You know the answer to this already.

Well, that's a long enough Mail Bag for this time. Let's increase the peace, and I'll be answering more of your questions soon.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Young Sam Fisher

The other day, Sarah and I were cleaning out the attic, when we stumbled upon one of my old yearbooks. Needless to say, Sarah got a good laugh at my expense -- what is it about yearbook photography that makes everyone look so dorky? Does anyone take good yearbook photos?

Anyway, looking at the yearbook got me thinking about my childhood. I'm not the kind of guy to dwell on the past, but I figured I'd share a bit of my wonder years with everyone.

I was born in 1957, when Elvis was cool, cars were the size of boats, and everything was in black and white. I grew up in your typical "Leave it to Beaver" suburban setting -- white picket fences, lemonade stands, and a fallout shelter in every basement.

I was a pretty quiet kid growing up, and I didn't have many friends in my school days. I wasn't very popular at recess, mainly due to some marathon hide-and-seek games. I would take the hiding part a bit too seriously, and well, let's just say I was no stranger to the back of milk cartons.

I was pretty good about staying in line with school authority, but when the teacher wasn't looking, I was always stirring something up. Intercepting passed notes, performing recon missions in the teacher's lounge, and finding alternative uses for common school supplies were all trademarks of the young Sam. I was also a legendary spitball shooter. I perfected a technique for enhancing spit balls with broken pencil leads. These modified spitballs, combined with innate accuracy and range, actually made welts on some of my targets. It's the kind of thing that would get you sued in this day and age, so don't try it at home.

During summers, my parents would send me to camp. Of course, camp only means one thing -- covert missions to the neighboring all-girls camp. We didn't have sticky cams back in those days, so we had to settle for poking a hole in a fence -- a delicate operation to say the least. Unfortunately, my stealth skills weren't quite what they are today, and I'm not proud of my success rate as a youngster.

My teenage years were spent in the '70s, but while other kids had disco fever, I was a gym rat. I was never any good at team sports -- I can't stand dealing with weak links in the chain -- so I spent most of my gym time lifting weights and doing calisthenics. It was in my high school gym where the seeds of discipline were sown.

After high school, I enlisted in the Army for college money, and found my "calling." After that, I joined the Navy Seals, and then went on to a bunch of stuff I'm not authorized to talk about.

Anyway, enough with the trip down memory lane. I'm not usually one who thinks about the "good old days," but sometimes it's good to reminisce on where you came from. If it weren't for that dorky yearbook picture, though...

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

More Housekeeping

I've been getting a lot of submissions for the Picture Gallery from Team Shadownet lately. I'm glad the Team is making good use of its time. You can view all of the Shadownet entries right here. It's weird to see myself rendered in so many different ways, but keep 'em coming.

The animation to the right is one of the entries. Flaming Monarch, the creator of said animation, originally tried to make a Jello mold of me, and I just had to post his trials and tribulations:
Well you said Jello mold, but... Man, I tried for 2 days to get the Jello mold to work... no such luck...

The first one I made a head out of bits of old action figures and a bank oddly enough, about the size of a baseball. I wrapped it in tin foil then took the mold and filled it with Jello. somewhere there was a small crack or something that the chilling process opened. I had a fridge full of Jello and a bit in the mold. I thought that I might still have hope but removing the Jello was fatal to your head. Sorry.

So next I tried making a reverse mold out some modeling clay, lets just say the results were less than impressive...

I have one last idea. Making goggles and putting them on then making a bucket of Jello then making a reverse mold by placing my face in the bucket of Jello sticking myself and the Jello in the freezer for a few minutes. I don't know how well this will work...
I'll give you an "A" for effort. Jello is a difficult medium to work with, I assume. Hell, I don't think I've actually eaten the stuff -- it's not standard issue in military rations. But I'd give up on the last idea if I were you. Sticking your face into Jello and hopping into the freezer doesn't seem good for your longevity.

Flaming Monarch had a couple of other questions:
1. Do you have any 3D models of yourself? I'm a newbie at lightwave and I want to play around with some cool 3d models.
Wouldn't having 3D models of oneself be the height of narcissism?
2. I heard rumors of what you do after a mission is complete... a little dance I'm told... See if I got it right.
No, I'm not the dancing type. The closest I come to dancing is in the Splinter Cell games, when you sneak up behind an enemy and accidentally press the "jump" button (you know you've done it).

And that posture in the last frame is abysmal. Shoulders back, chin out, soldier. That's an order.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Housekeeping

Thanks to some help from Team Shadownet, we've got some new Fan Art up in the Picture Gallery. First, Shadownet member Macarthur goes Photoshop crazy on yours truly. I don't know how I feel about being posterized and embossed like this. Then we have a wallpaper of me giving Half Life's Gordon Freeman the business, courtesy of Trumaine R. You can preview it in the Gallery, and download the full version here.

In other news, the Mail Bag has been overflowing lately, and I'll do my best to get to as many questions as possible. Of course, security issues prevent me from giving everyone individual responses, so if you sent me mail, keep checking this blog for a response.

Finally, I seem to have lost contact with a certain friend. I've tried phone calls, e-mail, text messages -- hell, everything short of smoke signals -- and it's been weeks since I've received any correspondence. The waiting is starting to ruin my sweet disposition. At any rate, if you're out there, contact me via the usual channels. Oh, and SPRATULATIONS (inside joke).

With that said, I'll leave you with another one of my favorite quotes. This one's an ancient Chinese proverb: "If thine enemy wrong thee, buy each of his children a drum."

Fisher out.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Sam Fisher on Metal Gear

A while back, I mentioned that I've been trying out the Metal Gear Solid games, just to get a taste of the competition. As I've said before, most of my experience with video games has been through military training simulators, which offer all the interactivity of a video game, with none of the fun. So I'm no expert game reviewer, but I'll give you my thoughts.

Let me start off by saying this -- in all my years of covert operations, I've never encountered robotic ninjas or rollerskating fat guys. I've never dealt with vampires or enemies telling me to do things with my controller, either. This is just ridiculous stuff here.

It's bad enough that your enemies are straight out of the comic books, but then there's the silly names. No self-respecting bad guy is going to call themselves names like Howitzer Platypus or Bazooka Marmoset. I'd like to meet the Japanese game developer who makes up these names, and make sure all aerosol products are kept out of reach.

And then there's the storyline, which is about as clear and concise as income tax laws. By the end of Metal Gear Solid 2, the only thought I could muster was "huh?" Does anyone understand what's going on with these games?

Now don't get me wrong, Solid Snake seems like a decent guy. He's the kind of guy I could see myself trading war stories over a glass of beer with, were he an actual human being. But he doesn't seem to be the sharpest tool in the shed. I mean, every time he goes on a mission, he ends up fighting a Metal Gear. And then he starts this whole "I can't believe it's another Metal Gear I thought I destroyed it ohmygodno" routine. Of course it's another Metal Gear... that's the way your enemies work, man. If you haven't caught on by now, it's time to ask your superiors to pack a bit of clue in your field gear.

Enough ranting, though. The Metal Gear Solid games are actually pretty fun, and made me think about what my job would be like if the laws of physics and reality didn't apply. If you want to play realistic stealth games, stick with Splinter Cell. But if you're looking for a stealth cartoon, Metal Gear is for you.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Mail Call 4

The Mailbag is overflowing of late, so it's time to whittle it down a bit:
1. What's wrong about America's youth today and what will you do about it?
2. What are your feelings about Canada and/or poutine?
3. What if Lambert decides to be an ass and sends you on a mission to do something counterproductive? ...Digging holes then filling them back up is a good example
4. Have you ever considered if Lambert has other Third Echelon agents like yourself that you don't know about?
5. Can you install a puppet management in the NHL to end the hockey lockout?
6. If you can be a tree, which tree would you be?
7. Butter side up or butter side down?
--Scott C.
1. What's wrong with America's youth today? I'll tell you what -- too much backtalk. It seems that you can't talk to a kid these days without getting sassed back at. I only want to hear two words from a youngster, and that's "yes" and "sir." Discipline is the key.

2. Canada is a fine country. As for poutine, I couldn't bring myself to eat it. I mean, just look at it.

3. Lambert would never send me on a mission like that, because he knows I'd refuse. This isn't the KGB... I can say "no."

4. I'm pretty sure there aren't any other agents. At least, I haven't seen any other agents at our company picnics or bake-offs.

5. As a guy who likes to work alone, I have no plans of getting involved in professional sports management. The NHL thing is pretty simple, though... it's a choice between A) playing the games and making money, or B) taking all your toys and going home. I think I'd choose "A."

6. Are you a drama student or something?

7. Is this one of those personality tests? Are you going to show me inkblots next?
I've always wondered how you manage to stay completely undetected in the dark, even though those 3 glowing dots are sticking out of your forehead. Are your enemies just stupid or is there some trick to this?
--Steve L.
My enemies do tend to be stupid, but there's no trick... in real life, the dots don't glow. In the game, they glow so you can tell where you are on the screen. After all, it's a video game -- playing a stark black screen wouldn't be all that fun, would it?
(In regards to my Bits and Pieces post):

"So, you want to follow in my footsteps? First, put down the video games, go to your local Army recruiter, and sign up. Spend a few years there, then move on to the Navy Seals."

To be a -NAVY- Seal you have to be in the Navy, not the Army.. last I checked anyways =)
-- Bryan W.
So you actually have to be in the Navy to be a Navy Seal? And all that time I thought I was on the Good Ship Lollipop.

The key words here, oh observant one, are "follow in my footsteps." I was just telling how I personally went about things. I originally joined the Army for college money, but after taking a liking to military life, I decided to switch over to the Navy and become a Seal. It wasn't the most enjoyable of career paths, but it's what got me where I am today.
Hi I have a question how do you know if someones a terrorist but they haven't been exposed as one like just if their walkin on the street and no one knows ? if you even know what i'm talking about?
-- Burndarap10
A little paranoid, aren't we?
You know I never thought you were real, I always thought that you were just a made up guy in a made up game. But in this case since you are real you should know this. Sir I have to admit you are the freakin coolest guy on the universe!

(Besides my dad you actually come second).I apologize for taking your time up sir, and please remember, you're tight.
-- Todd W.
Thanks for the compliments, Todd. I'm glad I came in second place behind your dad. But what's up with calling me "tight?" The only thing tight about me is the suit.
I've been following your games for quite some time now, and I must say you have done a great job consulting. Most things seem very realistic.
I have a small question for you though.
This wrist-lock thing you use in the new game when interrogating enemies, how does it work? Are there pressure points involved? Cause, ingame, it doesn't strike me as a particularly painful position to have your hand it, yet the people this technique is used at seems to be in great pain. So, what's the secret?
-- John
The human body is a miraculous thing. So complex and refined, yet so very vulnerable. What you see as a body part, I see as a playground of pressure points. There are so many ways to incapacitate someone that it's sometimes hard to choose. The Fifth Freedom can be a little too liberating sometimes.

Anyway, the pressure points that I'm using on the wrist during interrogations are actually meridians that relate to the heart and lungs. In other words, not only does your wrist hurt like holy hell, but you feel it in the chest, too. It doesn't look like much, but I guarantee it's enough to make even Todd's dad cry.

Of course, if you don't have the time or patience to learn about pressure points, a good, quick neck snap should suffice.

That's all for Mail Call. If you have correspondence, send it through the usual channels.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Bits and Pieces

It's time to address some topics that have been on my mind. This stuff is pretty random, but hey, we're all friends here:

1. I've been getting a lot of mail with people asking me how to become a real-life Splinter Cell. Well, you can't exactly get a degree in Covert Operations at your local community college. And there are no job fairs for this kind of work, either. Hell, I've never written a resume in my life.

So, you want to follow in my footsteps? First, put down the video games, go to your local Army recruiter, and sign up. Spend a few years there, then move on to the Navy Seals. Survive a series of harrowing missions, while amassing a number of battle scars. Then maybe, just maybe, Lambert will be giving you a call. It's just that easy.

2. Speaking of the Seals, as you may know, the Seals' slogan is "the only easy day was yesterday." But actually, there's an ancient Celtic quote that I've always liked better: "Eat a live toad the first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day." So true.

3. A lot of people have been asking me about the new combat knife in Chaos Theory. Many of you want to know every last detail about it, so it's time to reveal all. The combat knife is an extremely complex military instrument. It features a long blade and a grip. I cut things (and people) with it. Complex, huh?

4. From the Mail Bag:
Sammy Sam Sammy Um....... I Jeff have made about five computer desktop off u and i think i would like you to have em' so here you go.
-- Jeff
Alright, Jeffy Jeff Jeffy, I made your wallpapers available for download, and you can preview them in the Picture Gallery. But never, ever call me "Sammy" again. I mean it.

5. Tired of Jehovah's Witnesses knocking at your door? You'd be amazed at how a well-placed sticky shocker can make someone question their faith. Works for door-to-door salesmen and annoying neighbors, too.

6. I like most of Ubisoft's games, but one game I'll never understand is Myst. While on a routine inspection of the Ubisoft offices, someone showed me Myst IV, and from what I can tell, it's a game based on what happens when you rub your eyes for too long. Seriously, I had to check and make sure the Myst developers weren't partaking in any contraband hallucinogenics. Take my advice and stick to the Splinter Cell games instead.

Okay, that's enough random thoughts for now. Fisher out.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Back in Black

I'm back from the road trip. It was great to head out on the highway again, even if it was just a short trip. There’s something about the hum of an engine that soothes the soul of this savage beast.

And is there anything better than pulling into a truck stop? Where else in the world can you get a shower, bacon and eggs, Corn Nuts, and mesh caps that say stuff like "If you can't run with the big dogs, stay on the porch?" We're talking about some of the best stuff this country has to offer, all in one place.

But I’m sure you’re saying, "enough rambling, tell us about Chaos Theory." Well, I’m not exactly the foremost authority on video games, but I’ve got to say that Chaos Theory looks great. The people at Ubisoft Montreal have really outdone themselves. We sure have come a long way from Pong.

Unfortunately, I can't give any accounts of what I saw, as that information must remain classified. I know, I know. What can I say, I’m paid to be silent. Don’t worry, in just a few weeks, you’ll be able to punish the digital Sam to your heart’s content. And sorry I didn’t take pictures... you know how I hate cameras.

Of course, Splinter Cell is just a game, and it doesn’t really match the real thing. It’s better! Here's why:
  1. In the game, you have a life bar. Damn, I wish I had one of those. In the real world, you get shot, you die. No health pack is going to help you.
  2. Speaking of dying, if you meet an untimely end in the field, there's no "Press A to Continue." I know plenty of good men who would have loved to have a "do-over" on a botched mission.
  3. If you get tired, you can turn it off. I don't think Lambert would let me get away with something like that.
I need to talk to NSA about getting equipped with one of those life bars and some "continues." It sure would make my job easier.

Friday, March 04, 2005

On the Road Again

As you probably know, we're less than a month away from the release of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. The people at Ubisoft Montreal are working double-time to bring you the best Splinter Cell yet. I just got word today that they want me to do a last-minute inspection of the game, and make sure everything is up to snuff.

This time, instead of using my "private jet," I'm going to indulge in a good old-fashioned American road trip. Just me, my car, and the open road. I'm talking about eating beef jerky, stopping at rest stops, and enjoying the majestic beauty of this great country, mile by mile.

The beauty of this mission is that there's very little prep work. Aside from a properly maintained and fueled vehicle, you really only need two things:

Food

A road trip isn't a road trip without the right sustenance. Here's where you can throw your diet out the window, and go with straight comfort food. I'm don’t think our founding fathers would’ve wanted you driving through amber waves of grain while on the Atkins Diet.

Beef jerky is a must, but I'm not talking about Slim Jims here. I'm talking about real, hard hunks of beef that you have to struggle to eat. If your jerky doesn't put up a fight, it's not the real deal. How do you think I got this chiseled jaw, from eating peanut butter and jelly?

Chips are okay, but you have to watch out for DFE -- Doritos Finger Syndrome. That nuclear cheese powder can get everywhere. If you have a sweet tooth, stay away from candies like Starburst. You don't need those little wrappers cluttering up your ride. As for beverages, go easy on these -- the more you drink, the more painful those "Next Rest Stop 56 Miles" signs can be.

Tunes

A road trip is the one time you can listen to your albums in blissful, uninterrupted peace. Choose your albums carefully -- you need road songs, so leave the John Tesh at home. Johnny Cash, Hendrix, Santana, and Springsteen are all recommended. And don’t forget ZZ Top -- “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide” is the definitive road trip anthem.

Unfortunately, I’m only about nine hours from Montreal, so it’s not going to be a true, epic road trip. I’d like to do a cross-country trip, but in my line of work, you never know when you’ll be called in for action. The last thing I need is to get a call from Lambert while in the middle of nowhere:
Lambert: “Fisher, we need you. Give us your location.”
Me: “Ummm, I’m standing in front of the world’s largest ball of string.”
I’d never live that down.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Mail Call 3

I opened up the Mail Bag again, and here's what jumped out:
What exactly did you do in the game to help with it, are you the voice actor or what?
-- Jonathan
You didn't watch the behind-the-scenes stuff from the first Splinter Cell game, did you Jonathan? I was originally brought on as a technical advisor, but Ubisoft eventually realized that nothing beats the real thing, so they made me the main character.

Speaking of the behind-the-scenes stuff, you can go ahead and ignore the "Voice of Sam" portion. I don't know where they got that voice actor from, talking about "six to eight levels of emotion" and all that hippie crap. I only have one level of emotion, and that's resolute.
Just wondering your thoughts about the NSA releasing your newest training videos.
-- st0ic
I think the training videos that Ubisoft made are cute. They remind me of the "what to do in case of a nuclear attack" movies we were forced to watch as kids. "Okay boys and girls, keep your heads down, and walk to the fallout shelter in a single-file line." Those were the days.
You are really cool. I have a Splinter Cell poster in my room (kinda freaky waking up and seeing three green dots and the bad end of a 5.7 pistol).

I've noticed that you always type with one hand and I just want to know, HOW DO YOU DO IT? I've tried and found it impossible. Oh, and why does your knife not have a hilt? If your grip slipped that would hurt.
-- Nate D.
Ah, one-handed typing. You are an observant one, Nate. One-handed typing is something I practiced -- if you go groping for the home row of a keyboard while on a mission, there's a good chance you'll find your personal security compromised. One hand on the keys, one hand on the gun. It's how I'm typing now.

As for the hilt, my knife does have one, but it's small. Large hilts are for rookies. As for the poster, wouldn't a poster of a pretty bikini-clad girl be a better way to wake up in the morning?
hi sam just wanted to say u rule and are great and if u wanna send me a pic yourself go for it i wouyld luv one thx
-- Pete
What?
i was wondering if you could have more pics of yourself....and more videos....are you the author of the mega64 videos? well if u are..then maybe could you make more videos. i love the videos!
-- Ryan
What's up with everyone asking for pictures of me? If you'll refer to the "What's This" link under the Picture Gallery, you'll see that I'm not authorized to post actual images of myself. That's why I want readers of this blog to send in pictures, as the guys at Mega64 did. As for their videos... well, I personally would want to go through a bit more training before showing those "moves" to the public, but that's just me.

Okay, that's enough Mail Bag for now. Until the next time, your mission is to work on your spelling and grammar. That's an order. And if you want to contact me, send all transmissions to sam@samfisherblog.com.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Random Sams

As shocking as this may be, I'm not the only Sam Fisher out there. Combine a common first name and a common last name, and you get a whole lot of Sam Fishers. A simple Internet search reveals a myriad of Sam Fishers, from all walks of life. Here's a sample from my reconnaissance:
  • Princess Sam Fisher -- Poor, poor kid. What parent did this to you? No Sam Fisher should have to go through something like this.

  • Lego Sam Fisher -- I've received my share of honors over the years, but no honor can compare to being recreated in Lego form. Who doesn't like Legos?

  • Sam Fisher, Landscape Artist -- This artist's tagline is "spiritual landscapes, good for the soul." I especially like the spiritually-titled "Earl's Barn."

  • Sam Fisher, M.D. -- This doctor at Duke specializes in head and neck surgery. Hey, I specialize in that, too!

  • Sam Fisher, Musician -- "Hearing the soul-laden voice of Sam Fisher for the first time, one might say they feel like they're sliding into their favorite pair of jeans -- comfortable and seasoned but still trendy and hip." I don't know how I feel about that.

  • Sam Fisher, Aussie Rules Football Player -- Dig the hair.

  • Sam Fisher with Too Much Free Time -- Maybe four freedoms is too many. Take this kid for example, who copied my blog, made a video, then went to the mall for lunch. Shouldn't he be in school?
Then, if you're in the mood for a history lesson, you can read about the first Sam Fisher in America, an Irishman born in 1806, who met an untimely end in a powder mill explosion. It's not exactly a feel-good story, but it was a sacrifice worthy of the Sam Fisher name.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Sam Fisher Workout

Okay couch potatoes, it's time to set aside the feedbag, and learn how to do something with your body other than holding down your sofa. Your Uncle Sam is going to teach you a few exercises. I'm not talking about Jane Fonda or Tae-Bo here -- I'm talking about real exercises that'll turn you from a pork rind eating Nancy-boy, to a lean, mean Nancy-man. Here we go:

Sam Fisher Solitaire

Sometimes you're a million miles from the nearest gym, and you can't exactly find Universal machines out in the field. As such, you've got to improvise. So, do what people in prison do, and use a deck of cards as your total body workout.

It's easy. Simply lay some cards in a line on the floor. Pick up the first card using a proper squat technique (no cheating), step to the second card, and place the first card on top. Now, squat down and pick up the first card, then squat again and pick up the second. Continue on to the third card, and get three squats out of it, and so on. Continue until past the point of breaking, then do another card.

Of course, you can mix it up a little, and add push-ups, sit-ups, etc. But I have a feeling squats will be enough at first.

The Breath Hold

Have you heard the way you breathe? You'd think your respiratory system was made by Robert Fulton. It's loud. And if you're paid to be a ghost, that sucking sound you're making is going to get you killed.

So you have to learn to hold your breath. This is an easy exercise to do -- just hold your breath. Your goal is five minutes. Go.

The Splits

I know what you're saying -- the splits are for cheerleaders and baton twirlers. Well let me tell you something, my split jump has saved me more times than I have clearance to mention. Flexibility is one of your best assets, whether on or off duty.

To do the splits, simply spread your legs as far as you can, and once it starts hurting, go down farther. When you start to feel a tearing sensation, accompanied with dizziness and nausea, you're getting close. Practice daily, and soon you'll have groin muscles that can crack walnuts.

I can hear you whining now, "But Sam, it's just too hard." Well, let me tell you a little motivational story. I'm sure you've seen sumo, and think it's just fat dudes in diapers trying to knock each other over. And you're right. But the way these guys train is something to behold. A sumo wrestler does an exercise called matawari, which involves doing full horizontal splits, then bending forward and touching your head to the floor. If you can't do it, the trainer will help you -- by putting all their weight on your back, usually tearing muscles and tendons in the process. You gonna whine now?

The Sandbag Carry

A neutralized human body is not something you can sling around like a pro wrestler. Despite the name, a stiff is anything but -- it's heavy, limp, and not easy to carry. You need to practice, and since it's not exactly ethical to practice with a real human body, a standard issue sand bag will have to suffice.

This exercise is as simple as it gets: Pick the bag up, walk somewhere, and put it back down. Repeat until you feel like the bag.

So there you have it -- your four-step guide to a new you. Now, I'm not making any Charles Atlas promises here -- odds are that bullies will still kick sand on you at the beach. But with a few weeks of training, you'll be able to counter with a swift and appropriate response.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Game On

Before Ubisoft contacted me to help create Splinter Cell, I didn't have much experience with video games. That is, outside of military training simulators, which simulate actual military situations about as well as Paris Hilton simulates someone with talent.

To me, video games were always bleep-bloopy machines that caused pimply-faced teenagers to congregate in smelly arcades. But when Ubisoft showed me what they were doing with Splinter Cell, I actually started getting into games a bit. Don't get me wrong, I'm no "gamer" -- you can keep your big-eyed, spiky-haired Final Fantasy crap. I've got better things to do.

And, to answer an e-mail question sent to me by E. Greif, I'm definitely not much into multiplayer games -- I work alone, and the last thing I need is a weak link in the chain harshing my gaming mellow. I'm sure the multiplayer modes of Ubisoft's games are fun, but I just don't play well with others.

Anyway, I know a lot of you out there are into video games, so I decided to set up profiles on some gaming sites out there. Here's where you can find me:Go ahead and send me messages, friend requests, or whatever else it is you do with these things. In the meantime, I'm going to try out some other games. Maybe I'll see what this Metal Gear thing is all about...

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Strange Food

My line of work takes me all around the world. I've been to countries that most of you can't pronounce, even if you knew they existed. If you go to these countries and run out of field rations, you have no choice but to sample the local fare.

If I were doing missions in Italy, this wouldn't be a problem. Lord knows that pasta and a bottle of vino is light years ahead of powdered eggs. But since most of my missions occur in politically unstable regions of the world, I'm usually stuck eating the less-than-satisfying cuisines of Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia.

Now, there's some good food to be had in those regions, but in my experience, it can be hard to come by. And what's "good" to people in those areas don't necessarily equate to "good" for this meat-and-potatoes kind of guy.

Take borscht, for example. That's beet soup, for those of you who've never spent time behind the Iron Curtain. Borscht is interesting, as it's named after the sound you make when you throw it back up.

Things get dicier in Southeast Asia. They eat just about anything down there -- crickets, scorpions, and horse are all on the menu. And yes, I've tried them all. But there's one animal I refuse to eat, and that's dog. Where I come from, dogs are man's best friend, not something you dip into sauce. But there are more than a few countries where they actually breed dogs for food. I'm sorry, but Lassie is not for eating.

(You might be saying, "But Sam, in your missions, don't you have to deal with ferocious guard dogs?" Of course I do, but it's not the dog's fault that its master is an enemy of freedom. The dog's just doing what it's told, and I respect that, even if I have to put poor Fido down.)

Actually, there's one more thing that I refuse to eat, but this one gets a little graphic. True story here. In some parts of Indonesia, they like to eat monkey brains. No joke. But they like 'em fresh, and by fresh I mean alive. At certain restaurants, they have a table with a hole in the center. They take a live monkey, stick its head into the hole, and cut the top of its head off with a knife. Obviously, poor Bonzo is not happy about this, and expresses it via shrill screaming. However, this doesn't deter the patrons, who dive fork-first into the brains. Yes, I have seen this with my own eyes, and it's enough to turn the stomach of even the most hardened field operative.

But enough gross-out stories. My advice is this -- if you want to make sure what you eat is something meant to be eaten, brown bag it. Otherwise, it's snakes and snails and puppy dog tails for dinner.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Mail Call 2

Well, the old Sam Fisher inbox has been filling up with your mail, so it's time to clean house a bit:
I'm a huge fan of yours. How should I say? Can I have an autograph from you? That would be so great.
-- Lukas
Well, this blog is just full of firsts. I've never been asked for an autograph before. But I hope you'll understand why I can't comply. The last thing that the security of this country needs is my John Hancock being forged. Not that you could do much with it -- the government would waste no time in disavowing me, whether in body or in signature. And it's not like I could send you a certificate of authenticity or anything, anyway. So, sorry Lukas, but that's a negative.
I, too, am named Sam. Over the years, I have discovered an extremely annoying trait in people whom I meet. They feel that it is the funniest thing that they have ever said, the very highest of scintillating wit, to make a joke involving the Dr. Seuss book "Sam I Am."

This is usually along the lines of something like, "So, your name's Sam, huh? Sam you are!" As if I haven't heard this joke thousands of times already.

Do you find this happening to you often? If so, what response would you recommend: Sticky shocker or ring airfoil?
-- Sam R.
Okay, I admit... this joke doesn't bother me so much. Hell, I've even used it once on this blog. There are much worse things to be likened to than a Dr. Seuss character ("Son of Sam" comes to mind).

I can understand if this bothers you, but I don't recommend wasting a sticky shocker or ring airfoil on it. A single dirty look should suffice... one that pierces into their soul and trembles the very fabric of their being. Click here for an example of this face (ignore the girl, though... she's obviously immune to the effect).
I was wondering how long it took you sir to master the split jump. It is an incredible move that I would sure love to master myself. However, I do not have the awesome athleticism that you have. Any advice on how to master such a move? Or would you even advise a civilian on practicing such a maneuver?
-- Max
I would like to thank Max for being the first person to call me "sir." I feel I've earned a certain level of respect in this life, and Max is the first one of you to show me that respect.

As for the split jump, I'm glad you asked. Soon, I'll be posting some exercise tips that have helped me maintain physical fitness well into the years when most men loosen their belts. If you can master the exercises (and be forewarned: they'll make you cry), then you might be able to one day think about doing the split jump. But honestly, there are very few applications for freakishly strong groin muscles, and if you don't really need it, I don't recommend trying the split jump.
I freaking love you man. Today when someone brought up Splinter Cell in French class, it made my whole day. Maybe you could hit some espionage action in Canada sometime soon? You know, show CSIS a thing or two (our poor excuse for an intelligence service), I mean after all, you were born in Montreal.
-- Chrysalid
See, Chrysalid here could learn a thing or two from Max. First of all, I'm glad you "freaking love" me, but don't call me "man." You only get that privilege if we've served in the field of duty together.

Second, I was not born in Montreal -- I am 100-percent, grade A, bombs-bursting-in-air American. I bleed apple pie. But the good people at Ubisoft Montreal are the ones who created my excellent game, and as such, I do find myself spending a lot of time in the great country of Canada. However, Canada isn't exactly a hotbed of global terrorist activities, so I don't think you can expect any covert operations in the Great White North.

That's all for now. If you have any questions, send correspondence to sam@samfisherblog.com, and you may get your answer right here on this blog.

Friday, February 11, 2005

V-Day

It's almost Valentine's Day, which for many guys is the most dreaded of all holidays. It's the one day you have to shed your masculine skin and get romantic. I know, I know... I hate mush as much as you do. But being romantic for one day isn't going to kill you, and your Uncle Sam is here with some tips on how to survive V-Day intact.

Before the tips, I've got to say that I wasn't always a cool customer. You should have seen me as a teenager. Many people had their "ugly duckling" phases -- I was more like an ugly clay pigeon. I was so caught up with training, that I didn't have time for things like fashion and personal hygiene. The oil on my face could have probably been tapped as a renewable energy source. I was practically ready to sell drilling rights to my pores.

Still, when V-Day came around, I would do my best to win the affections of the fairer sex. I remember one year, I somehow managed to secure a date with a certain cheerleader (left unnamed to protect the innocent). I had all the necessary equipment -- a precision-measured rental suit, a bouquet of flowers, and I even requisitioned the use of my old man's '63 Chevy Impala. I was fit for the hunt.

I took her to a fancy French restaurant, and we ate lots of things that I couldn't pronounce, but mostly involved parts of geese that I'd rather not be eating. After dinner, I drove her to Lover's Lookout, and parked the car. The tension hung thick in the air, and I planned to make "the move." I bided my time, waiting for the perfect moment to strike, and... well, let's just say there are some places that even I can't infiltrate.

After reading that, you're probably wondering why you should take my V-Day advice. But trust me -- I've done my share of work in this field, and armed with the following tips, your success rate will improve:
  • Be careful with the heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. Women shop a lot more than you do, and they know Wal-Mart chocolate when they see it. Whitman's is not going to cut it on V-Day. You might as well give her a bag of Werther's Originals instead. Godiva is the way to go.

  • Buying roses deserves special care. Buy too few, and you come off cheap. Buy too many, and you come off like a creepy stalker. A dozen is a good, safe zone.

  • As for dinner, nothing says romance like prime rib. It's the meat that says "I care." And even if the date goes poorly, at least you'll eat well.

  • Know your wines. A bottle of wine is a must, and depending on the girl, it can equal liquid success. But you've got to do your homework. Don't try to be a wine snob, but at least know the difference between a bordeaux and Boone's Farm.

  • If you're ready to make "the move," remember: if it doesn't feel natural, abort mission. Otherwise, you can guarantee she'll disavow any knowledge of you from there on out.
So there you have it. I can't teach you how to be funny or interesting, but with the above tips, you'll at least escape with some semblance of a backbone.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

File Sharing? Keep it to Yourself

In my line of work, files are not something that are shared -- they are usually acquired with the tender persuasion of an elbow to the back of the neck. But here on the Internet, it seems that if you're not file sharing, you're not maximizing your online experience.

Now, I'm no Luddite. I use technology every day that you haven't pictured in your wildest of Klingon-fighting fantasies. But when it comes to music, I like to have something physical in my hands. I like the feel of a needle scratching through acetate, or the squeegly-whee sound of a cassette rewinding. Turning music into a bunch of 1's and 0's just doesn't seem very rock 'n roll to me.

And then there's the lost art of the album cover. There was a time when an album was a showcase for art -- where else could you see exploding zeppelins, floating islands, and flying pigs? Now, the only thing you see on album covers are pictures of the artists themselves, wearing practically nothing and posing in ways that are enough to make me blush, and I haven't blushed since I saw my first breast in a National Geographic at the tender age of 8.

But enough ranting. If computer files are the way music is going, then I'll come along for the ride. My first mission was obtaining some music files. Now, how I acquired said music files must remain a secret. I'm not one to divulge my methods of data acquisition -- not on the job, and not on my private time. Besides, I don't want the RIAA to sue me. But let's just say that I acquired some stuff that I haven't heard since before most of you were a twinkle in your mama's eye.

Once I downloaded these files, I needed something to play them with. I found a long list of media players, all designed to help me "rip, burn, and organize my music." Hold on a second, since when is music something that needs to be organized? It's something you listen to, work out to, or further the human race to -- not organize.

First, I took a look at Musicmatch, whose catchphrase is "Ultimate Power, Total Control." Ummm... no. Those kind of fancy words are best left to Tony Robbins seminars or goofy motivational posters with sunsets and bald eagles, not music playing software.

Next, I took a look at something called Winamp, which seemed like it would be a good player, until it started talking about whipping barnyard animals. The Internet is a haven for all sorts of crap, isn't it?

When I finally got a player installed, I loaded up the files, and got ready to bask in the sonic clarity of digital music. What I got was two earfuls of disappointment. The sound quality was somewhere between one of those old Radio Shack crystal AM radios, and a tin-can-and-string telephone. The thunder of classic guitar riffs was replaced by something closer to a ukulele. Drums were reduced to static pops, and bass was not even invited to the party. The only thing I could hear clearly was the sound of late, great blues and rock artists rolling in their collective graves.

Now, I suppose I could route the sound through my home stereo, but that would require more effort and cable than I'm equipped to handle at the present time. I might try it again later, but for now, I'll just go back to the old record collection. It has everything I want to listen to anyway.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Be My Friend... Or Else

I'll be honest -- I'm not the easiest guy to be friends with. I'm tend to lay low, and don't really care much for small talk. Besides, when you're an operative in Third Echelon, the more friends you have, the more dangerous things get.

So when I found out about Friendster.com, you can guess what my first reaction was -- it started with hell, and ended with no. But if I'm going to do this Internet thing, I'm going all the way. To that end, I went ahead and made a Friendster account (note: you have to be a Friendster member to see the page).

So, whaddya say... let's posse up. Send me an invite, and let's spread this thing around. Just don't expect any Christmas cards... I'm not that kind of friend.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Emerson Lake & Fisher

When I put out the call for submissions to the Picture Gallery, I had no idea that my rock-and-roll fantasy would be fulfilled. An anonymous reader sent me these, and I must say they made me laugh (and that's a hard thing to do):


Sam on Abbey Road

Here's me on Abbey Road. I guess at this point, I had taken out George Harrison, and Paul McCartney was next. Adds more credence to those old "Paul is dead" rumors, doesn't it?

Honestly, I was never a big Beatles fan, though. Remember, when I was young, The Beatles were a teeny-pop group that girls screamed over. They got more interesting when they started singing about yellow submarines and marmalade skies, but honestly, that stuff is a little too trippy for my tastes. And sitars don't belong in rock music, period.


Sam and Kiss

I wasn't exactly in Kiss' target market, either. If I wanted to see grown men wearing makeup, I'd go to the circus. But still, Kiss has some good, classic rock songs, and importantly, no sitars.


Emerson Lake & Fisher

I don't know how I feel about this one. I never really got into the whole progressive rock thing -- 20-minute songs about crystals and fairies never really made my bacon sizzle. I remember listening to "Karn Evil 9" once, and 30 minutes later, I felt like I never wanted to hear a keyboard again. It was like being pelted by musical notes.

Anyway, the picture submissions so far have been great, but I need more. Whether it's photos, fan art, or butter sculptures -- if you have an image to submit, e-mail it to me. You have your mission.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Feng Shui

The other day, I came home to find that Sarah had completely rearranged my living room. The key word here is my living room. A once perfectly arranged den was now, according to Sarah, given the Feng Shui treatment.

My first thought -- wait, didn't I help overthrow that guy? But no, apparently Feng Shui is the art of arranging a room so that it puts a big glare on your TV screen. My beautiful big-screen, once the centerpiece of the room, was shoved into the corner, and was replaced with a vase. Nothing against vases, but when I come home from a long day on the job, I don't want to plop down on the couch and stare at one.

That's not even the start of it. There were now cushions... everywhere. Cushions of all shapes and sizes, all of which were "not for sitting." When I asked why my living room had been turned into an opium den, Sarah replied, "it's to add a touch of feminine yin to the room."

I can live with a "touch" of yin, but we're talking about the complete emasculation of a room here. It gets worse -- there were crystals hanging everywhere. Crystals! And the smell... I've been in some dangerous situations in my day, but I never thought I'd meet my end via potpourri.

"It's good to try new things, really it is. But I liked the room the way it was."

"But Feng Shui teaches us that by arranging a room so that chi can flow properly, we can improve upon our prosperity and health."

"Honey, I love you, but I don't think the way my ottoman faces will give me a greater sense of well-being. In fact, that glare on the TV harshes my mellow."

"But Dad, I could feel the stale chi building up in here."

Stale chi? At this point, I was thinking that maybe I should redirect some of her college tuition towards professional help. Don't get me wrong, I believe in chi -- I've seen monks in China do things with chi that would strike fear into your heart. But a living room is not a place where chi stagnates -- it's where I'm supposed to.

But part of being a loving father is knowing when to give in, I guess. We were at an impasse, and it was time to strike a compromise. I told her if she let me angle the TV a bit, and toned down on the lavender-lilac tear gas, that I'd give it a shot for a few weeks. But if my sense of oneness with the world isn't significantly enhanced by next month, I'm going back to the way things were -- blocked chi be damned.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Mail Call

So, I've been reading some of the letters you've been sending me -- the ones that are legible, at least. Please people, it's called grammar and punctuation. I don't risk my life doing covert operations so you can write like a three-year-old. If you want to write like that, may I recommend using crayons and construction paper? It's a more suitable medium for you.

Without further ado, your questions:
So, Sam. Great blog.
You've got all this spiffy hi-tech gear when in the field. But obviously you won't be taking the dog for a walk in a bulletproof vest and thermovision goggles. What do you prefer for the casual R&R; days? Got any cool fashion trends for the upcoming Spring?
-- Deg
Wow... this is the first time that anyone's ever asked me for fashion tips. I feel cooler than I have since... well, ever.

But since you asked, for the spring season, may I recommend black? Black comes in many varieties -- onyx black, jet black, pitch black, and I'm sure there's even a pastel black. You can never go wrong.

All those fashion magazines will tell you stuff like "puce is the new black." Well, take your Uncle Sam's advice, and stick with the old black.

What do you do with Sarah on your days off? Picnics? Movies? "Kill a man with your bare hands" lessons?

P.S. Aren't you worried about Grim hacking your Blog?
-- Ruth
Sarah and I do the usual stuff that an elite covert operative and a college student would do together. If you can't think of what that would be, you're not alone -- we don't really know either. But we enjoy spending time together, as rare as that is. I actually have a story to tell about our home life, which I'll post later this week.

As for Grim hacking my blog, nah, I'm not worried about that. She's got better things to hack. Besides, I know where she lives, and I'm not usually the most welcome house guest.

Nice to see you've come off the field to inform us about your pleasant and quiet life. I hope Lambert isn't putting you back to work too soon. Incidentally, haven't you mentioned the fact that you might want to retire any time soon?

Anyway, good luck in Chaos Theory. We sure need a guy like you protecting the lives of thousands. Just watch your back.
-- Kevin S.
Thanks for the kind words, Kevin. I hope Lambert isn't putting me back to work anytime soon either. But as much as I may talk about it, I can't see myself retiring. I mean, can you imagine me moving to Florida, playing Bridge at the country club, and wearing golf pants all the time? Me neither.

By the way, what's "Chaos Theory?"

Hey Sam, what's up with the third eye on your goggles?"
-- bytor_snowdog
The long answer is that it's not an "eye," but an infrared illuminator used to amplify the wavelengths of the IR spectrum that are invisible to the naked eye. The short answer is that it keeps me from looking like a Jawa.

That's it for mail call. I actually enjoy reading your mail, so keep it coming. Drop me a line at sam@samfisherblog.com, and I may answer your question on this site.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

A Cup of Joe

Can somebody tell me why a man can't get a decent cup of coffee these days?

In my line of work, you sometimes need the good graces of the coffee bean. However, I don't have the luxury of a freshly-brewed cup of joe when I'm in the field. It's straight instant for me. And in those times when water's scarce, I have to settle for a pinch of instant crystals between the lip and gum. Not the most pleasant of flavors.

But when I'm on R&R;, it shouldn't be impossible just to find a decent cup of liquid ambition. For example, the other day I decided to give Starbucks a try. There are only about 30 of 'em on my block, so infiltration wasn't the hard part of this mission. Ordering coffee was.

You see, people don't drink coffee anymore -- they drink soy double mocha frappa-cappa whatevers. Looking at the Starbucks menu, I learned what it must be like to see the world through the Queer Eye. I didn't understand a word of it, so I went with what I know:

"I'll take a coffee."

"What kind?" the breaky-voiced teenage clerk replied.

"Uh... the kind from beans?"

After setting a new world record for dopey stares, he squeaked, "Okay, I'll give you a house blend. What size?"

"I'll take the big one."

"You mean a venti?"

At this point, I was tired of speaking in fru-fru. "No, I don't mean a venti. That's what I crawl around in while trying to protect your rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of Clearasil. I mean the big one."

Needless to say, there'll be no "VIP customer" plaque with my picture on it at the local Starbucks.

I've got a message for all you frothy javaccino drinkers out there -- you're disgracing the bean. Coffee should be had au natural (threw that word in there for you latte drinkers). It should be black, strong, and acidic. You should taste the filter. If your coffee doesn't let you know you're drinking it, it isn't worth drinking.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Worth a Thousand Words

So, you've probably looked at the picture on this site, and said, "Sam, you sure look different in real life. What happened to the chiseled good looks? And why are you wearing a scarf!?"

Well, to answer your questions: 1) Sure I look different in real life. All the polygons your Xbox can muster can't recreate decades of sacrifice and duty to one's country, and 2) You're right... I'd never wear a scarf. Put 1 and 2 together, and you can plainly see that it's not really me.

As a matter of security, I can't reveal true pictures of me on this website. Besides, I tend to shy away from cameras, so it's not like I have a bunch of pictures to show you anyway. So I'm leaving it up to you, the Splinter Cell fans. I've created an online gallery on Yahoo.com, and I'll be posting the pictures you send me. Click on the "What's This?" link on the right to learn more.

I also created a Yahoo profile, which was a lot more difficult than it ought to be. I understand that "Sam Fisher" is not the rarest of names, but it's my name, and I'd like to be able to use it, instead of samfisher1001001 or samfishersamfisher or something. I settled for the_real_sam_fisher, just to make things as clear as possible.

Speaking of Yahoo, you should see some of the yahoos who create profiles in the likeness of me:
  • the_splinter_cell03 claims to be a "Stealth Opretive" and says that "any wrong move will lead to your elimition." Sorry kid, I don't "elimit" people, but I do spell correctly.

  • samfisher16 likes to play HALO and eat at HANKS. I don't know what they serve at Hank's, but whatever it is, it's obviously contributing to the decline of America's youth.

  • This Sam Fisher needs to pull up his dungarees a bit. Nobody wants to see his 38th Parallel.

  • Take a look at bugster_bummer's profile, and tell me -- is there a more pathetic thing to write on an online profile than "Marital Status: Single and Looking?" I mean, you might as well just say "Lonely and Desperate" or "Clingy and Alone, oh so Alone."
Look, people -- these are public profiles you're making here. Is this the way you want people want to see you?

Ranting aside, I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of pictures you all send me. Don't be shy -- mail me something. That's an order.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

American Idol? Not Mine...

I love this country, and have devoted my life to protecting it. However, if there's one thing I had no idea I'd be protecting, it's your right to watch American Idol. C'mon America, we're better than this. I don't bust up clandestine terrorist regimes so that you can vote for which teenager sings the best Disney song.

Don't get me wrong, I like a good tune, but I'm talking the classics here -- when men were men, women were women, and guitars were actually used. You can keep your bumps and your grinds -- give me that old-time rock and roll.

Honestly, dancing and singing have no business being done at the same time. Could you imagine Johnny Cash singing "Ring of Fire" with a group of dancers in the background? Or Carlos Santana working out the choreography to "Black Magic Woman?" No, you can't... and that's the way it should be.

Real American idols aren't lip-synchers, but people like B.B. King, who spent his youth sharecropping in the Mississippi Delta before working his way to the top of the charts. Or Bob Dylan, who overcame a severe lack of diction to become a singing/songwriting legend. A musician's got to earn their stripes to get play in my stereo.

My advice to all you fledgling entertainers: go get a guitar, start some hard livin', and then we'll see about granting you Idol status.