PR Maven Margie Newman just made an interesting blog post about the much-discussed announcement that the New York Times will begin charging for content. That led me to leave a very long comment, which I realized I should really just flesh out into a post of my own:
The interesting thing to me about information portals like this is that many people (myself included) assume that the business model should be one of two things: either pay for content or ad driven. Not both. I’d be fine with paying for something that is worth it if it means never having to see an ad on the site again (see: Pandora), and likewise don’t mind visiting a site with ads if it means I get good content for free. The interesting thing of course is that traditional dead-tree editions of the paper had both: pay for the paper, still has ads.
One of the movie related blogs I read ran a post poking fun at a new Indiana Jones collectible item. While I have no problem poking fun at industries that make collectible 12″ figurines in limited runs or the adults that buy them, I do have a problem with their criticism of this particular item.
They, like so many before them make fun of the scene where Indiana Jones climbs into a lead-lined refrigerator to survive a nuclear blast at relatively close range. They essentially use to the term “nuked the fridge” interchangeably with “jumped the shark“. They incredulously reject the scene as silly, unbelievable, and out of place in an Indiana Jones movie.
To say this wouldn’t fit in 140 characters is an understatement. Sorry for the long-winded post. Just takes some explaining…
I just got through seeing the Toy Story 1 and 2 in 3D double feature. Those that know me, already know that i’m a huge Pixar fan, so i won’t go into a long review of the movies. They are amazing, life changing events and you should see them (though amazingly, i think i was in the theater tonight with several people that had never seen either movie). This is more a review of the 3D-i-zation of the movies.
Interestingly i was both very pleased and disappointed. In that chronological order. I also made a discovery that i had often wondered about but never gotten the chance to test. It explains why i have always gotten a bit of a headache when i’ve watched just about any 3D movie.
First a little background: “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2″ were, of course, not originally created for 3D presentation. They were originally created using 3D computer animation (“Toy Story” of course being famous as the first feature length all CG film), but rendered to flat 2D images for traditional exhibition. The great thing about this process is that, of course, Pixar still has the original files they used to create these movies so it was a relatively easy process to re-render the movies in 3D (after making lots of minor tweaks to lighting, etc). This means old movies in 3D, but in true 3D – not kinda hacked apart and “spatialized” like we’ve been hearing George Lucas threaten to do with Star Wars.
This year’s slate is a bit lighter than the past few years, due mostly to me being crazy busy and just knowing that i’ll get around to seeing fewer movies (especially since babysitting is now an issue). Here’s what we have so far:
Planning/Hoping to See: May 1 – Battle For Terra Looks very cool, little buzz about it though
A while back the Predators asked a bunch of season ticket holders to come in and participate in recording clips for some new radio ads. They said they would post them online, but i haven’t seen them yet…
Well, i finally caught a few fast enough to record (though only one from start to finish).
Christy and I are featured pretty prominently in a few of them, so i decided to take what clips i’d been able to grab so far, chop them up, and make a version with just Christy and I :-)
Oh, and here’s the one complete original i’ve been able to grab so far for anyone else that wanted to hear the commercials.
May 8th 2009 – Star Trek – trailer ‘Reimaging’ prequel by “Lost” creator JJ Abrams
May 22nd 2009 – Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian Who wouldn’t want to see this cast: Ben Stiller, Amy Adams, Robin Williams Rickey Gervais, Owen Wilson, Hank Azaria, Steve Coogan, Dick Van Dyke, Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy…
May 29th 2009 – Up New Pixar movie with Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, etc
1) Back in May i posted about Fox Sports’ announcement that they would be increasing their ability to handle HD signals and that in 2009 they would be 100%, 24/7 HD. Of course there was no promise as to when in 2009 they would be 100% HD… Today we got the confirmation that out of the 55 Predators games that will be airing on FSN South (or is it FS South now?), 22 will be in HD. They are pretty widely spaced through the season, and don’t seem to pickup later into 2009…so we’ll see if that improves or how that is connected to this great new HD signal processing center.
Ok, i mentioned this briefly in my last post (recapping all the summer movies i’ve seen), but this apparently needs to be addressed again.
My cousin-in-law just made a post about the movie and he has comments disabled, so you get to hear my rebuttal here. Be warned that this post will be as spoiler free as possible, but if you haven’t seen the movie, just know that both Brian and I liked it and you should go see it. Then come back and read the article and participate in the discussion.
Brian starts off by taking issue with “the crystal clear liberal environmental objective.”
Just gotta take that first and ask: Why does anything environmental have to be liberal? Christy and i are very environmentally conscious. Letting the left-win-liberal-politicos co-opt environmental responsibility is just as bad as letting the right-wing-conservatives co-opt Christianity. But then again…that gets us down the broken two-party system rat hole (see here for another example)… Moving on…
“The entire premise of the movie is that the earth has become overrun with garbage and taken over my big business.”
Nope. Those are important facts, but that is not the premise of the movie – that would be the setting and set-up for the movie. The premise and plot of the movie… well…he actually gets close to it here in a second…
“…this is a really good illustration of how we have to be very sensitive to what messages our families – especially our children – are bombarded with…It is our responsibility to protect our children and shape a biblical worldview in their hearts”
Now we’re getting closer to what the movie was actually about. The fact that the Earth was grungy and people had to move off of it wasn’t the point at all. As Brian said “The hero of the movie is of course Wall-E [sic], a garbage compactor.” And what is WALL-E’s story about? A relationship. He is lonely and wants a relationship. Brian describes what he finds on the spaceship: “people are on a space ship, where they have been for hundreds of years, and are now all overweight and lazy.” …and…haven’t seen each other face to face and interacted as people in generations.
The point of this movie was not that we trash the planet then move off, become even fatter and more lazy (and more commercial), and then WALL-E convinces them to go fix the Earth. The whole fixing the Earth bit at the end thing is what the industry calls a “subplot”. It was EVE’s motivation through the movie and helped provide conflict for the antagonist to give the movie some action. The point of this movie – the real message, is summed up very well by something i heard writer/director Andrew Stanton say in an interview after i saw the flick: “What would happen if the most human thing left in the galaxy was a robot”. You could call this an anti-technology movie. A pro-social/relationship movie. A love story. But environmental movie it was not.
WALL-E reminded the people on board how to be human. He pushed through barriers and loves EVE. That message, together with a subplot reminding us that we were put on this planet with a specitic instruction from God: GEN 2:15 “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”
Both of those are messages i’d be glad for my kids to internalize one day.
Way back on Valentines Day i listed all the summer blockbuster movies i was amped about seeing. Now that we’re most of the way through the movie season, i thought i’d give a bit of a recap/update with mini reviews since i didn’t make posts after seeing most of them. Don’t worry, i’ll warn and censor any possible spoilers.
First, i’d like to point out that unlike the summer before, this summer wasn’t all sequels and remakes. There were several, but they were not nearly as dominant as last year. I’m not saying every movie was terribly original, but it was nice to be treated to more of the unexpected, and get introduced to new characters for a change.
Great movie. Started the summer off right. Just the right balance of substance and just having a ton of fun. Special effects were awesome, acting was solid, script was tight. Not fine art cinema – no Oscars here – but really good movie that should be very rewatchable.
This one was ok. I was fairly disappointing that there was much more language and violence in this than i think should have been allowed as a PG movie. Having said that, if it had been rated PG-13 i would have enjoyed it more. I also think the acid-trip visuals worked for me after a while. It was much more of an art film in that regard than i expected – almost to the point of being avant-garde or experimental really. Once i got used to that, i think it was a good film. Middle of the road, but good.
Excellent, but like Speed Racer this one should have been PG-13. It was pretty much in line with the first Lord of the Rings movie, but without blood. Literally. Same number of bodies falling. Same number of swords stabbing, etc…just no blood squirting when it happens. But like i said, very good. True to the book (almost too much – those who haven’t read it might be confused) and well acted and written. I hope they keep moving through the books – at least make it a trilogy. These Narnia movies could have been drivel, but so far so good.
I went in with mid-level expectations and didn’t bury myself in spoiler-filled coverage before it came out and i think it paid off. I really liked this one. I think what i liked best was that it assumed that Indy kept doing things for the last 20 years. [SPOILER ALERT - HIGHLIGHT TEXT TO READ IT]It referenced Young Indiana Jones Chronicles events, assumed that Indy was in the service during WWII (which of course he would be), etc. He wasn’t just old, he had a life. The only gripe i had on this one was the scene with Mutt swinging from the vines with monkeys…and the truck/cliff/tree moment that was straight out of a Wiley Coyote cartoon. Otherwise the suspension of disbelief was within what i was willing to deal with, and loads of fun. I also think this one worked better because it tapped into a mythos that i was familiar with. Indy 1 and 3 were great because i grew up hearing about what they were after. Temple of Doom didn’t reach me as well because i didn’t care about the MacGuffin. In this one, it worked because i’ve heard about Rosewell aliens for years and mysterious temples in South America, so i was ready to see those fantasies played out on screen.[END SPOILERS] Wish i could see this one again, but i guess i’ll have to wait for the blu-ray for a second go-round.
Great movie. I can see where most people are coming from with the reviews that the first act was great, but the later parts of the movie dropped off. While yes, the first part was fun and light and enjoyable, a whole 2-hour feature of that would have gotten boring after a while. I enjoyed this one thoroughly, though it still ranks behind A Bug’s Life, Cars, and Finding Nemo for me in the Pixar pantheon. [MINOR SPOILER ALERT - highlight text to read] I also didn’t take issue at all with the concerns some had with the message of the movie. Firstly i don’t think it was that much of a message movie. On first viewing i definitely got a message, but on further examination, really this was a love story set on the backdrop of a humorously exaggerated extreme future.[ END SPOILERS]
Awesome. I really think people that didn’t like this movie went in with too many expectations. This wasn’t Pursuit of Happiness or Independence Day, but a wonderful balance between the two. [MINOR SPOILER ALERT - Highlight text to read] I also love that though this movie had a major ‘twist’ (which was by some miracle not spoiled in the trailers), the movie wasn’t about the twist. It had a twist, then moved on to what the movie was really about. Kudos to the writers and i think they also thankfully avoided dealing the the alcoholic/tortured super-hero issue too much, which leaves room for those stories in Ironman sequels [SPOILER END]. Highly recommended.
Haven’t seen yet, but still hope to see before it leaves theaters. If i have to wait for blu-ray though, i can.
July 18 – The Dark Knight Great movie but… It was a little too dark and a little too long for me. Good movie, but it needed to be tightened up. Many subplots that could have been cut (one in particular) and well…gonna have to go into spoiler mode: [SPOILER ALERT - Highlight text to read] All of the acting was spectacular, and the overall direction was good, but the script needed work. The entire Hong Kong sequence should have been cut, and overall it just needed a few nips and tucks. My only other major gripe was Two-Face. One that he didn’t get enough time, and two that he looked ridiculous. He looked like Imhotep from The Mummy. He just had gas on his face which caught on fire. Batman was right there and put the fire out. Unless Batman put it out with a brick, Dent’s jaw shouldn’t have been broken and his face should have been burned, not missing! Then even at that…if his face was missing…he wouldn’t be walking around and talking the same. His voice would sound different, etc. Normally i wouldn’t nit-pick something like this, but Christopher Nolan has gone out of his way to make a very realistic world here. We can believe that what we are watching could actually happen – but not Two-Face. Overall though, the Joker was great, the increased role of Lt/Commissioner Gordon was great, and it was a very good movie. Just not as good as it could have been (read: over-hyped and not as good as the amazing movie it followed) [END SPOILERS]
Feeling especially contemplative at the Sixpence None The Richer show at 3rd and Lindsley, so rather than continue to clutter Twitter, just gonna run a bit of a random thoughts blog. Enjoy.
Many indie/rock musicians are still following the fashion (hair and clothes) example set by Nirvana (and to a lesser extent some punk bands from the earlier) nearly 18 years ago. i find that remarkable.
I know from experience, the stage at 3rd and Lindsley looks and feels small from the audience but is deceptively big. The whole venue feels like a tiny club, but the stage accommodates a 5-6 piece band with ease and the place must have 300-500 people in it right now. Good balance. Very good sound guys too. Unlike some venues in town (*cough*Exit/In*cough*).
Of course, the 8 person band (yes – eight people!) that Sixpence has on stage is a little cramped. Sheesh!
Apparently Sixpence None The Richer is still drawing pretty much the same people they used to. Not the same crowd – actually the same people. In the last 6-8 years they’ve gone from drawing 20-somethings (and a mixed crowd) to drawing 30-something women – almost exclusively. At least at this show. Not that that’s a bad thing. Though this does feel just a little like the shows that the Hugh Grant character in ‘Music and Lyrics‘ was doing, but less pathetic.
Really random thought: Blogger’s examples for the types of words to use for tags have been “scooters, vacation, fall”. One day I’m going to take a vacation in the fall and ride a scooter just so i can write a blog post about it. :-)
The electric guitar player for Sixpence (not Matt Slocum or the all acoustic all the time guy or the bass player – the other one) has dreads, a black shirt, s bandanna hanging out of his back pocket, and his guitar is slung low (resting on his knee from a standing position). He’s very good, but looks like they found him behind the punk/metal stage at a festival and decided to keep him. He’s now playing an electric mandolin. Image/sound conflict, but it works.
The keyboard player (edit: whoa, that’s Sam Ashworth) on the other hand looks like he should be in a lounge on a cruise ship. A cool lounge, but still there’s a big shift from stage right to stage left.
While we’re on the topic of band dress: Christy and i used to comment how Leigh Nash was always really good at dressing very stylish, but very modestly. Tonight…let’s just say i could describe an undergarment to you in detail. Distracting much?
The percussionist (not the drummer, the other one)(edit: whoa, that’s Steve Hindalong!) is using two tambourines simultaneously throughout the evening. When one tambourine just isn’t enough…
Aside from being an amazing songwriter, Matt Slocum is a deceptively good guitarist. Wow.
Seeing live music always makes me want to play more, and get a chance to play out. i got only a very small taste of it, and was never a good enough drummer (or took the time/money to do the gear like a pro) to do it in the past. Sometimes I think about selling my drum kit for the nice cash it would bring, but i still want to play sometime. As long as i have it there is a hope that I’ll either play with Nick and/or Jamie sometime again. Someday it may be like my dad’s old saxophone in the closet.
Before the show, the house mix played a pop cover of “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ The Boat“. Love the song, but that one i wouldn’t have called as cover-worthy. It worked though. (Looked it up after i got home and apparently Don Henley covered it. Eeww. I don’t think that’s what we were hearing tonight though.
Matt Slocum must know his pedal board and the floor of every venue he’s ever played very well. He never looks up through the whole show. Not looking at his guitar or feet board most of the time. Just studying the floor.
3rd and Lindsley’s chicken tenders are surprisingly good. Their bathroom is also too nice for a bar/club like this. They need to take out the nice vinyl floor and stucco walls and replace them all with thinly painted plywood. That would fit much better. Thanks.
Ok, the show is wrapping up, so i guess i will too. Thanks for letting me spew random thoughts at ya for a while.
PS: i could see the set list- they planned an encore (“Eyes Wide Open”) but the audience didn’t ask for one, probably because it was broadcast on the radio and the announcer ‘signed off’ the air. Oh well. It was a great show.
I’ve talked about killer apps here before. Games or movies or whatever that cause someone to adopt a new technology. Good example was “The Matrix” DVD. People bought $200 DVD players (back then) just to watch a $25 movie on the new killer format. Well, apparently we have two killer apps about to hit…or something like that anyway.
The top two best-selling Blu-Ray movies on Amazon.com right now, aren’t even out yet. Amazon is taking pre-orders for Ironman and Batman Begins (which by the way, has been available on HD-DVD for months). In fact, 9 of the top 20 Blu-Ray’s haven’t come out yet as of today.
And apparently i was so excited i completely neglected to invite Jamie, my dad, or anyone else who would appreciate seeing Phil Keaggy play with half of Chagall Guevera (and half the band that played on his amazing “Crimson and Blue” album) with some of the other best musicians in Nashville.
So, i’m a jerk.
Not only that, but i neglected to adequately test my Canon S3IS’s ability to record REALLY LOUD music. It handled it better than my Sansa, but not quite as good as the old tape recorder in my pocket used to when i bootlegged every show i saw. Oh – and i also didn’t think to take two SD cards, just a single 2GB job that could hold about 70min of video tops.
But at any rate, i recorded what i could. But i missed the last 3 tunes (including Rick Cua’s one and only amazing bass solo) and the audio quality is poor.
However, even though the audio is fairly trashy, it unfortunately gives you an accurate feel for the sound that evening. REALLY LOUD and unbalanced. The drums and organ were way too loud, and you could barely hear Phil Keaggy’s or Dave Perkins’ guitars, or Phil Keaggy’s and Mark Williamson’s vocals. But all-in-all it was still pretty amazing.
I recorded video when i felt like i could. I didn’t have a tri-pod and i wasn’t sure they really wanted the whole thing video taped, so i just left it sitting on the table recording the lens cap and sound most of the show, and occasionally would pick it up and pretend to take still photos and shoot video of the band. I realized after the fact that they probably would have been fine with me setting up a tripod in the corner and recording the whole thing… lessons learned.
Anyway – here’s a rough version of them covering the Beatles’ “Get Back”. I’ll try to clean up the audio and post the whole show later.
Note about the band name: They were the Faux Brummles…named after the Beau Brummels, a ‘fake’ British Invasion band that was really from the ‘States. Since these guys weren’t really a band, they figured they’d be a fake-fake-band. I took the misspelling of “Brummles” from the marquee out front, but who knows if that was a typo or intentional. They said if they ever play again it’ll be under a different name, so don’t look for them too hard in the future.
I don’t know yet if Christy and i will actually sign up for it, but sooner rather than later we will finally have the option of subscribing to AT&T’s U-verse.
Bredesen just signed the bill that allows for state-wide cable franchising, which basically means AT&T can skip all that tedious mucking about in hyperspace with regional franchising in every county.
So now AT&T can offer U-Verse state-wide with the (theoretical) flip of a switch. Why is that so cool? Right now they offer a package for $92 a month that includes local phone service, high-speed internet, 200 channels of digital TV including HD, and an HD DVR. Wow.
Best of all, they have a build-your-own package that lets you pick and choose the channels you want, which would probably be what we do since we only want about 15 channels and would rather the rest not even be available (too much time-suck already). Those packages start at $77 per month including TV, internet, and phone.
That i have seen, AT&T has not yet announced when they sill start offering U-verse services in Tennessee, or in what markets it will be offered first.
I had the “HD will do more for hockey than any other sport” discussion again last week. Between the ability to see the puck (sans glowing) and the ability to see more of the play developing on the ice (much of hockey actually happens away from the puck), the benefits of getting as much hockey in HD as possible are evident.
Last year, we Preds fans groused about not having more games in HD repeatedly. Center Ice didn’t show the games in HD (even if they were available) and Fox Sports Net: South, which carried most games locally) only provided a relative few games in HD. The worst came in the playoffs, where Preds fans only got one game (on NBC) out of 6 in HD. Out of 94 Predators games played in the 07-08 season, only 23 were available in HD in Nashville (1 NBC, 1 Versus, 21 FSN-S).
We were told that most of the games weren’t available in HD because there was 1) a limited number HD production trucks at FSN’s disposal and 2) a limited amount of bandwidth and signal processing ability to simply handle that many HD feeds.
So, back to the “good news”: FSN just announced that they will soon be opening a new signal processing facility in Houston that will allow them to “handle up to 40 live [HD] games per day”. More importantly, they promise that “in 2009″, they will be 100%, 24/7 High Definition.
Of course, that could take until December of 2009…or they could miss their target entirely. But the fact that they are making a concerted effort to get as much HD out there as possible is a good sign. And 24/7 means that even if the NHL is the last thing they support, it will be here eventually!
Side Note: If they can get all Preds games in HD sooner rather than later, and the NFL does indeed go into a lockout*, this could be a very good year for hockey in Nashville indeed.
*I like the Titans just fine, and wouldn’t wish a lockout on other fans for anything. But from a strictly business point of view, you know having the NFL go into even a short lockout would be a boon to the Predators business. UPDATE: If the NFL does go into lockout, it won’t be until the 2011 season.
Thanks to Brittney for posting a pic of this great new Lego ad:
click to en-biggen
Fabulous ad that shows Lego as they are meant to be used.
Too bad that the company’s product group has forgotten what their ad agency knows so well.
It is getting harder and harder to find buckets of raw pieces in stores. Only Lego fanatics, willing to go online and take time to custom order parts, can find them anymore. If you hit Wal-mart looking for a quick Lego fix, you’re only going to find these ridiculous sets that border on basic modeling kits. I always ignored the directions showing all the different houses and things you could make with the generic kits anyway. That is the fun. Gimme a buck-o-pieces and make me use my mind. But when half the pieces have decals and designs on them and are custom molded nose-cones, it just ruins the fun.
Having said that…the more custom character pieces can be fun…especially when i can have my favorite character from the Star Wars Lego video game on my desk at work.
Depending on who is there, we may end up playing some Tribes 2 (now free online), or some RTS or other (Battle for Middle Earth?) and we may even devolve into playing some console games (like 8-player NHL 08 on my shiny new PS3). But we’ll mostly stick to stuff on Steam.
The party will be March 8th at my place in East Nashville, from 1:00pm to… late (probably around 10:00pm or 11:00pm…)
Here’s the fun part – you’re all invited!
What you have to bring:
* Your own PC (with monitor, keyboard, mouse, and headphones!) * A running copy of Steam and Half-Life 2 installed – before you arrive if possible (the full Orange Box package is a plus, but not needed) * $5 for pizza
We’ll provide snacks and drinks, as well as seating, tables, power, and network connections.
If you are interested in attending, then let me know by either commenting on this post or direct message me on twitter (just post to Twitter “d pwnicholson: i want to come to your cool LAN party”) and i will get you directions. If you are some really random person i’ve never heard of before, i may want to at least…ya know…talk to you first. But all my rad blogger buddies are certainly invited, male and female alike (of course, be warned: to have fun at this party there is something of a requirement to be a gaming geek at some level).
If you can only come to part of the party, that’s certainly fine. Several people are already planning on being there for “only” 4-5 hours. It’s cool.
My thoughts: I don’t like that they open with a re-hashing of the original movies. For those of us who have seen the first movies, i think we know who Indiana Jones is. If they had just shown the clip of the fedora on the ground and the silhouette…that would have been more than enough and a great intro. For those that haven’t seen the previous movies (all two of you) you just had them all spoiled for you.
Anyway…once the trailer gets going, it looks good. It looks like they’ll use a bit of a comedy (i just hope not too much) to address the fact that he’s old.
One thing that i am very disappointed by though: from numerous shots in the trailer, Spielberg and Lucas have obviously recanted their promise to keep computer generated effects to a minimum. I know this is a very short trailer, and those shots could be the extent of the CG in the whole movie – that would certainly be minimal – but i don’t have my hopes up. I guess i’d rather be disappointed now than while watching the movie though.
I am definitely pumped about the movie though. The trailer had a good feel and in terms of cinematography, it looked very similar to Last Crusade. Good stuff.
In other movie news…
It is time for an updated list of movies i’m interested in seeing:
If all of this wasn’t reason enough to consider the HD-format war over, Netflix just announced that “Netflix, Citing a Clear Signal From the Industry, Will Carry High-Def DVDs Only in Blu-ray Format“. As for its current HD DVD inventory, they said the company “would continue to rent until the discs’ natural life cycle takes them out of circulation in the coming months”. So it sounds like HD-DVD will be going sooner rather than later. (This makes me wonder though – do Netflix discs get abused that badly? Each disc only lasts a few months? Ouch.)
Between Netflix and Blockbuster going Blu-Ray only, Engadget is right – it is going to be darn hard to find HD-DVD to rent, even if they don’t truly go away.
In related HD-format war news: Here’s the list of movies being released in each format this week. Still have any questions?
Blu-Ray: The Amateurs, Becoming Jane, Gone Baby Gone, No Reservations, Over America In High Definition, Over California In High Definition, We Own the Night
HD DVD: The Amateurs, (and a ‘mature audiences’ movie that will remain nameless)
Total count is now HD-DVD: 333, Blu-Ray: 476
In related Netflix news: Someone just posted a new plug-in for Windows Media Center that allows you to integrate the Netflix online streaming “Watch Instantly” content. Sweet. This will go perfect with my new MCE setup upstairs :-)
And in other related Netflix news: Netflix has apparently started a contest (no idea how long ago) for someone to develop a better way to predict what type of movies people will like. The “Recommended For You” section of their site, along with Amazon and other sites is based on algorithms that factor your past viewing habits and ratings. $1mil to a great idea. Anyone have any thoughts?
UPDATE: More bad news for HD-DVD. Best Buy just announced that they will switch from a neutral stance to recommending Blu-Ray. They will promote Blu-Ray hardware and titles on their website and in their store. They will still carry HD-DVD, but will give preference to Blu-Ray.
Personally, i think it is fairly safe to call it. At ‘worst’ we might end up with a truce and both formats will survive in some capacity, but i don’t think it’ll even come to that. Sony finally beat the Betamax (and mini-disc, ATRAC, memory sticks, Super Audio, and UMD among many others…) curse and won a format war.
Blu-Ray is here to stay.
Blu-Ray had a huge boost in market share after Christmas, and still routinely controls 60%-plus of the high-def movie market week after week. Since the inception of both formats, Blu-Ray controls 64% of the market, and has controlled all 10 spots on the Nielsen VideoScan list of top titles every week since Christmas. It is also worth noting that many HD-DVD movies come bundled with the standard DVD as well, so the HD-DVD numbers may be given a boost by customers buying those copies for the standard DVD’s, not the high-def format.
I even did a little research for ya. Here are a few interesting fact nuggets that lead me to believe in HD-DVD demise:
Sonic (makers of MyDVD personal DVD making software) are halting production of Scenarist for HD-DVD. This is the professional-level application used to author (make menus, features, etc) many hollywood retail discs.
Warner Brothers elected to cease HD-DVD exclusivity, and is switching to Blu-Ray, and is taking New Line Studios (read: Lord of the Rings) with it. Many (including the New York Times) feel this is the death knell for HD-DVD.
The only studio to switch from Blu-Ray to HD-DVD was Paramount Pictures (along with Dreamworks) back in August of ’07. This switch prompted director Michael Bay to say that he wouldn’t make Transformers 2 if Paramount didn’t release it on Blu-Ray. Of course he later backed-off, but still…
Getting a handle on which studios are lined up fully in which camp would be tough, especially given the distribution rights for different territories, etc. However, I think one of the more important aspects of a format war is the ever-important Killer App.
Killer Apps for a movie format would of course, be movies. So, let’s make a short list of movies or series with a major cult following that might compel someone to purchase a player for either format (in no particular order):
Bourne Trilogy Serentiy Dune The Mummy Shrek Star Trek (movies and TV shows) Battlestar Gallactica (TV show) Heros (TV show) Braveheart
Pixar Movies (Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Cars, etc) Stargate (movie and TV shows) Pirates of the Caribbean X-Men Lost (TV show) James Bond (many not yet released) Disney Animated Features (many not yet released) Lord of the Rings (not yet released)
Monty Python The Matrix Trilogy Harry Potter Bladerunner Terminator Superman Returns
Star Wars Indiana Jones Firefly
So…spot anything you can’t live without?
One of the other early deciding factors has been who is buying these players. It would be all well and good if all ABC sitcoms from the 1990′s were released on one format or another, but if those people don’t drive early adopter sales, then it won’t matter.
Which brings us to another point: HD-DVD has been pushing massive price cuts for players and media. However, mass-consumer demand is still for normal DVDs. The only customers buying high-def format movies are early adopters and videophiles. Not the types that generally react well to red-tag sales and feature stripped players for low prices.
As of Jan 28th, there were 381 HD-DVD titles compared to 459 Blu-Ray titles available. Blu-Ray also adds more each week on average, and they tend to be more popular and “a-list” titles. Here’s the “new release” list for the month of January as an example:
Shoot ‘Em Up (New Line)
Resident Evil (Sony)
Resident Evil Trilogy (Sony)
Resident Evil: Extinction (Sony)
3:10 to Yuma (2007) (Lionsgate)
Con Air (Buena Vista)
Dragon Wars (Sony)
Killing Machine/Shogun’s Ninja (BCI)
Man on Fire (Fox)
Night of the Werewolf/Vengeance of the Zombies (BCI)
The Rock (Buena Vista)
Sister Street Fighter/Sister Street Fighter 2 (BCI)
Breaker Morant (Image)
Good Luck Chuck (Lionsgate)
Mr. Woodcock (New Line)
Suburban Girl (Image)
Went To Coney Island On A Mission From God…(Starz)
The Game Plan (Walt Disney)
Saw IV (Lionsgate)
Daddy Day Camp (Sony)
Damages: The Complete First Season (Sony)
The Invasion (Warner)
Justin Timberlake: Live at Madison Square Garden (Sony BMG)
Monty Python’s Life of Brian (Sony)
The Pianist (Universal)
White Noise (Universal)
White Noise 2: The Light (Universal)
Zodiac: Director’s Cut (Paramount)
The Ten (City Lights)
Channels (Vanguard Cinema)
Method Man: Live from the Sunset Strip (Music Distribution)
Strauss: Die Fledermaus (Opus Arte)
Dispatch: Zimbabwe – Live at Madison Square Garden (WMG)
King of California (First Look)
So. I’ve got my PS3 and am firmly in the Blu-Ray camp now. Pixar was my killer app, but Stargate, the 5th Element, Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter sure didn’t hurt. Cars alone is worth the investment for me. If you haven’t seen it in HD yet, let me know and i’ll arrange a time for you to come over and watch it. It will blow. your. mind. Just make sure you put in a fresh set of contacts or clean your glasses well before you come over.
As i mentioned earlier, there is another Predators Viewing Party at Beyond the Edge at 6:00pm in the 5-points area of East Nashville(directions, map) tomorrow, Tues, Jan 29th. If you’re looking for a place to watch the game, it promises to be a good one.
The game tomorrow night starts at 6:00pm, and is against the rarely seen (eastern conference) Boston Bruins. For those that don’t know, Beyond the Edge is owned by the same Matt that owns Batter’d n Fried…the Boston-style seafood place down the street…yeah, he’s from Boston. So, everyone has to go to cheer against Matt’s other team :-)
There will be prizes (t-shirts, hats, tickets!) given away during each intermission, so come out and join Christy and i. I’ll be ordering the philly cheesesteak and i guarantee we’ll finish it off with the awesome new chocolate dessert they have now.
Oh – and for those that can’t come out to Beyond the Edge, do at least check out the game. Fox Sports South is going to make this whole game a Hockey 101 special: FSN South Goes to Hockey School. So if you’ve never seen a game, or still don’t understand what “off-sides” or “icing” means, then make sure to watch. Pete and Terry always make the game fun, and this promises to make things very interesting :-)
The first change I heard about was that the Young Stars game had been made a shorter 3-on-3 game. Which seemed really weird to me. Especially since there were now no Predators involved, I was a little upset at the shortened roster. But once I learned the full picture – I love it.
They are basically patterning the weekend after the NBA’s ultra-successful All-Star weekend: slam dunk contest included!
The Young Stars game will basically be part of the skills competition now. The East-vs-West contest of abilities where players earn points for their conference. But almost every event has been tweaked to be more exciting. The winning side for the Young Stars game earn points for their side. The speed event is now an Olympic style mano-a-mano race from goal line to blue line instead of just a loop around the boards against the clock. This is a major improvement as it is more realistic given the usual blue line to goal line race for an icing call or breakaway and more exciting for the player-vs-player aspect. A shootout competition has also been added to the usual speed/accurate shot/hardest shot competitions.
Best of all, they have added a judged slam-dunk style competition. And who should judge such a competition when the first event is held in Atlanta? Dominique Wilkins. No kidding. They are holding a judged “creative shootout” competition that will be judged. How awesome is that? My question is if they will be shooting on a goalie and if so, is it a friendly goalie?
I wasn’t going to bother finding a TV for the All-Star game (as it is relegated to Versus, not NBC, and I still don’t have cable), and I still probably won’t watch the actual All-Star game. But all this stuff actually sounds like a lot of fun!
Breaking news… The Hobbit, long delayed thanks to legal fighting between Peter Jackson and New Line, is on! And it’s going to be two movies!
For the quick backstory: Peter Jackson sued New Line saying that he was underpaid for his work on the Lord of the Rings trilogy. New Line had the exclusive rights to produce a movie based on the books. Tolkien’s family had to approve any filmmaker chosen to head the project. They wanted Peter Jackson. Thus, a three-way lockdown. Trick was, New Line’s rights to the books were going to expire soon. So if they didn’t get it made, they would lose the contract and the Tolkien family could re-bid the rights (which would be worth a fortune thanks to the success of the LOTR).
But it looks like Jackson and New Line have made up (surprise) so the movie can go forward. They are saying that it is going to be “the Hobbit and a sequel”…i can only assume that means they are splitting the book into two parts. If they are doing the Hobbit and then going to do the Silmarillion as movie…not sure that would really work :-)
Production is supposed to start “as soon as possible” which means the folks at WETA are probably already working on stuff, and Peter Jackson will start in full-time once he wraps up The Lovely Bones and does whatever he has to do as producer for Tintin, District 9, and the Halo movie (if it ever gets made).
For those not familiar, the only characters in common between the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit are the main character, Bilbo Baggins (though he is much younger), Gandolf the Grey, and Golum. Andy Serkis will of course be back to play Golum as a CG character again, while Ian McKellen is assumed to be returning as Gandolf (though he’ll be 71 by the time the first movie comes out). Bilbo was played in the last movie by Ian Holm, and while i loved his part, and there is always the possibility of fabulous de-aging technology, it is assumed that Bilbo will be re-cast. I’d really love it if they could somehow let Ian Holm play the character. Provide a great sense of continuity…but i just don’t see it happening. I just hope they don’t try to use Elijah Wood and change his look. LOTR survived with him as Frodo, but… yeah, let’s not go there.
We own lots of DVDs. Not nearly as many as some people i’m sure, but we have quite a bit. Not just movies, but a lot of TV shows too. We also subscribe to Netflix, which in addition to the DVD’s through the mail we get, allows us to instantly stream movies over the web (from a rather limited selection). We also frequent Hulu and other online content sources. In light of all of this, we do not have cable. No need. More than enough entertainment and not enough time in the day as it is. The only TV show we’re huge fans of and “have” to watch is Stargate and we just go over to a friend’s house every Friday for that (which is more fun anyway)… So, that’s your background.
I want to continue my process of ripping content from DVDs on to our big network drive. Have any and all of our media instantly accessible. Then my goal is to get a PC hooked up to the HDTV upstairs (already have one driving the projector-home theater downstairs) and just be in media heaven. Never have to watch “TV” again outside of live sporting events.
I love all this. My wife however, does not love it as much.
She’s fine with me ripping the content, and fine with watching shows occasionally and we watch movies frequently. But she still insists on occasionally watching TV. We have a good ‘ol set of rabbit ears and she’ll end up watching re-runs of sitcoms on fuzzy broadcast TV with…with… commercials included. I don’t understand this. She tries to explain it as wanting a “communal viewing experience”. She likes knowing that there are thousands (if not hundreds) of other people watching the same thing she is at the same time. I comprehend the facts of that statement, but it isn’t something I’ve ever felt compelled to partake in myself. What I really don’t get is how she’d often rather watch the fuzzy, broadcast, commercial filled version of Scrubs than just boot up the PC and watch the near-commercial-free version that is much higher quality on Hulu. I would way rather have a nice, clear, perfect version of my entertainment, starting and stopping when I darn well please, than have to be on someone else’s schedule for an inferior product. (wow, that sounded more harsh than I meant…)
But now it looks like there is something for both of us.
According to Cinematical, the new Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix HD-DVD allows for “Live Community Screening”. Basically if you have a web-connected HD-DVD drive (which most allow for), when you hit play under this feature the movie doesn’t start immediately. Playback is controlled by a single “host” user, who initiates the invitation-only viewing, and can control the film by pausing and playing the feature on everyone else’s machines. Participants can also text between their remote devices, creating a virtual “live chat” environment while they watch. High quality, great presentation, but the knowledge that someone else in who-knows-where is laughing at Harry and Ron at exactly the same time you are is still present.
Kinda cool…I guess. This is a strange, strange world we live in.
Oh – and in related news: Warner Brothers is backing off HD-DVD and it looks like the Blu-Ray/HD-DVD lines are going in favor of Blu-Ray. The HD-DVD version of Order of the Phoenix also comes bundled with a standard DVD, and for the first time Harry Potter movies (or any Warner Brohters movie as far as i know) is being pressed to Blu-Ray as well (I don’t know of Blu-Ray’ers get the above mentioned “communal experience” though). Actually, it looks like they are Blu-Raying all the Harry Potters.
Well, Beyond the Edge apparently did decide to pick up the Center Ice package after all! They just posted yesterday on MySpace that they would have the game on (against Montreal) and had subscribed to the package. I wish they had gone non-smoking, but i understand why they didn’t. It was really amazing, earlier this year Christy and i called around to a ton of places trying to find someplace that had Center Ice and didn’t allow smoking. After a while we just tried to find someplace that had Center Ice. The only place we could find was Sam’s Place in Hillsboro Village. We’d never been there and it was pretty cool. Nicer than most sports bars i’ve ever been to, though we were stuck watching the game on a small TV in the corner that night since it was a big college football night. But this will be waaaay nicer being able to watch the game 1) on the big screen 2) much closer to home and 3) with our good friend Josef (the manager) who is also a big Preds fan and will yell and high-five us when they we score :-)
The food is very good, though a little confused at times (i’ll get to that in a second). Most of all, i have to argue this place as “tex-mex” or a “grill”. It is neither. It is more a fancy french-style restaurant’s take on foods that share names in common with tex-mex foods. While excellent, very little on their menu is really tex-mex. The fajitas in particular are very mixed up. They are, strickly speaking, accurate insofar as they are beef with veggies served with tortillas. However, the beef is not marinated skirt or even flank steak, but brisket. Some of the best smoked brisket i’ve had outsite of central Texas mind you, but brisket none the less. Completely wrong for fajitas, and ruined as great brisket by the veggies. It turns out to be an interesting meal worth eating, but not what i’m looking for when i order fajitas.
Their greatest failure remains the value however. This is why they fit into the fancy french restaurant category as far as i’m concerned (though fail there as the atmosphere and service is inconsistent with the size of the inevitable bill). The portions are small, and – worst of all – they charge for chips and salsa. Now, this is some of the best salsa i’ve ever had in my life – and i’m a frequent tex-mex eater that grew up in San Antonio. This salsa is amazing. It also costs about $5 to order. Unforgivable. If they sold it by the 20oz bottle on the way out the door i might pay $20 for the stuff, but when i sit down at the table and place an order for $40-$50 worth of “tex-mex” for 2 people, i darn well expect to get chips and salsa gratis.
To give you an example of how much in the fancy-smanshy category this place is: on my first visit there i ordered the scallops. I forget exactly what they called them, but they were essentially seared scallops with a cilatro-based sauce. Excellent…all 4 of them. They were big scallops, but it took me precisely 8 bites and i had finished my meal, while my wife was just starting into her dinner.
[added, not in original comment] However, it is not a nice restaurant. The service has always been very very slow (we’ve been 3 times) and the atmosphere inside borders on a dive bar. Outside on the patio (where we always sit) is nicer, but extremely casual. Like we’re sitting on someone’s back porch. A nice back porch if it was a neighbors, but not a nice restaurant. [/finish add]
If this place was nicer (like, say a Trace or Eastland Cafe vibe) and quit pretending like they were a tex-mex grill, then i’d be all for it. As it is, i just can’t justify it or tolerate it. Even for that oh-so-wonderful salsa.
First off, here’s your promised list of all shows currently on Hulu (* denotes a show currently on air):
24 30 Days * 30 Rock The A-Team Adam-12 Age of Love Airwolf Alfred Hitchcock Hour Alfred Hitchcock Presents Alias Smith And Jones * American Dad! Andy Barker P.I. * Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? Arrested Development * Back To You Battlestar Galactica Battlestar Galactica Classic Big Ideas for a Small Planet * Bionic Woman The Bob Newhart Show * Bones Boo! Breaking Away Brother’s Keeper Buck Rogers Buffy the Vampire Slayer Burn Notice Chicago Hope * Chuck The Comebacks * Cops Cover Me The Crow: Stairway To Heaven * Damages Doogie Howser, M.D. Dr. 90210 Dr. Steve-O Dragnet Eco Biz Eureka Exosquad Family Guy * Firsthand Flipping Out * Friday Night Lights * Ghost Hunters * Heroes Hill Street Blues * House Inside the Actors Studio * It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia Jack of All Trades * Journeyman * K-Ville * King Of The Hill Kitchen Confidential * Kitchen Nightmares Kojak L.A. Dragnet Land of the Giants * Las Vegas * Late Night with Conan O’Brien * Life The Loop Lost in Space Lou Grant The Mary Tyler Moore Show McHale’s Navy Miami Vice Monk Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle Murder One My Bare Lady * My Name is Earl Nanny and the Professor Night Gallery * The Office Over There Peacemakers * Phenomenon Picket Fences The Practice The Pretender * Prison Break Psych Queer Eye The Real Housewives of Orange County Remington Steele The Riches Rob and Amber: Against the Odds Saturday Night Live * Scrubs Simon & Simon * The Simpsons Sitting Ducks Sixth Sense Solitary St. Elsewhere Stacked Standoff The Starter Wife Swamp Thing * Talkshow with Spike Feresten Tequila & Bonetti * The Tonight Show Total Recall 2070 Vanished Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea WKRP in Cincinnati Woody Woodpecker (New)
And here are the full-length movies that are avialble (yes, that is the Arnold Schwarzenegger version of “Conan”):
The Breakfast Club Conan the Barbarian The Blues Brothers Bulworth The Jerk Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World October Sky Sideways Weekend at Bernie’s
Interesting thing about the movies: some of them are ‘edited for TV’ (like “Master and Commander”) – pan-and-scan and edited for content… …while others (like “Conan”) are show in their ‘original format’ or at least close to it. They just cram the super-wide cinemascop into 16:9 TV format, which means the whole full length movie is all squishy. Note: You can also see on the screen shots above how often the commercials happen – they are the little gray dots on the timeline at the bottom of the screen. Each one represents a single 30-second commercial. Not too bad considering the movie is 2 hours and 16 min long.
Another really cool thing about watching some of the longer content: it apparently sets a cookie. If you watch a movie (or show) on one PC – stop – then come back, it remembers where you left off and starts at that point. Pretty sweet, i think.
Oh, and here are a few other random things they have on the site…
Fox Movie Channel presents “Casting Session” Fox Movie Channel presents “Making a Scene” Fox Movie Channel presents “World Premiere” IGN Videos
…as well as clips (not full shows) of a few other programs like soap operas. Whatever.
And now, what i think is the single best part – here’s an embed of the Lost In Space pilot for your viewing pleasure (complete with the theme music stolen from Bernard Herrmann’s score for “The Day The Earth Stood Still”):
And to really show things off, here’s a clip i created out of the pilot for Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century which i think qualifies as the first mention of a “Stargate” on TV.
Last night I was finally granted access to the semi-public beta of the new online video-on-demand service, Hulu. There have been many other reviews of this service already, but I just wanted to throw my two cents in, since I think that’s one of the reasons I was granted the beta.
For those not familiar with Hulu, it is a joint venture between Universal (NBC) and News Corp (FOX), so a large number of shows that belong to those networks is available, and a few full length movies to boot. There is even speculation that Warner Brothers TV will be adding it’s shows to the fold (maybe i can finally catch up on Smallville). It works pretty much the same as ABC’s and NBC’s websites when it comes to streaming existing shows. They are occasionally interrupted by commercials, and the quality of the image depends on your internet speed.
First: Huge advantage to Hulu over other similar sites: it works in Firefox! I’m not sure, but I would assume it also works for Apple users. This is huge for me personally, and I think gives it a big leg up. Being browser agnostic means just that many fewer people that have a frustrating experience with streaming media sites that can be finicky at times.
The other awesome thing about Hulu you have to notice right away is the HUGE and I mean MASSIVE amount of content it has compared to other sites. My hope is that this is just the tip of the beta ice berg. They already have not only many full episodes from current running shows on NBC and FOX, but also a huge catalog of older shows. Simon and Simon? I forgot that show even existed. Remington Steele. Classic. Mary Tyler Moore, The A-Team, Airwolf, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, …on and on and on. It isn’t every episode by a long shot, but some of the shows go back pretty far.
And it’s not just TV shows – there are a few full-length movies on here too. Master and Commander among others right now. Curiously, the TV shows are in wide-screen high-def were applicable, but the movies are 4:3 pan-and-scan and edited for content – clearly the ‘old’ TV versions, which I find curious.
No doubt though, with this amount of content available, Christy and I are thinking about cancelling Netflix and going straight to the local library and Hulu for our entertainment for a while.
The ads were also pretty tolerable. Not the same ones over and over and over again the way some of the other VOD services can be, and the always-up ad banners aren’t an issue as long as you make the video full-screen, which is simple enough. I really don’t know why anyone would watch anything on here and not have it full-screen. Quality was also very good. We watched a few episodes on our projector and everything looked great. At least as good as SD cable if not better.
If you want to sign up for the beta yourself, you can at www.hulu.com, but I think it will be open for everyone by the time you get access to it at this point (it took them 3 weeks to process my beta application). When I get back home, I’ll put a full listing of the shows currently available up here for reference (Hulu, like most streaming media sites, is blocked at work for me).
OK, i’m not actually going to give you an update on the whole cast. This is mostly just an update on one i just heard some news on. But first i’ll give you a few other quick notes:
Nathon Fillon (Capt Reynolds) was on another cool new show (i heard it was cool, never watched) that got canceled called “Drive”. Now he’s been on a few Deserate Housewives episodes – let’s hope his cancel curse continues just one show longer, then the guy picks up a winner. He’s great.
Alan Tuduk (Wash) is filming a new “TV pilot” for Barry Sonnenfeld (the guy that did Men In Black) that also stars Kurtwood Smith (who has been in absolutely everything). Could be interesting.
Of course, Jewel Staite (Kaylee) is now a regular on Stargate: Atlantis as the new doctor (no, not that ‘new doctor‘). Liking her work there so far, but i have to say: they have her in the show as an American, but her Canadian accent is thicker than most hockey players, much less David Hewitt (Dr McKay, who is supposed to be Canadian) since he’s actually from the UK. They need to at least establish that she is from Minnesota (like Col O’Neill) quickly, cause it’s just getting distracting.
Anyway…this is mostly an update on news i just heard about Summer Glau (River). She is apparently set to play a Terminator…on TV. Gonna be a great role for her. She apparently gets to play a semi-love interest and continue to kick butt at the same time. The show takes place after the events in teh 2nd movie. I still haven’t seen any of the Terminator movies (i know, i suck…they are in my Netflix queue though!) so i can’t weigh in on what i think the new show will be like, but it is interesting none the less. Glau will play the Terminator sent to protect everyone (read: good guys). I’m curious if this will even attempt to be a special effects and ‘splosion heavy show like the movies, or a more “character driven” engagement. I know Summer could pull off either, but not sure about the other cast or the budget the studio has lined up. So don’t get your hopes up, the show is on Fox which means there is a 85% chance it will be awesome, and a 95% chance it will get canned before they finish shooting the first season.
Update: this review wasn’t based on the final version of the game, as it has only today (11/5) “gone gold“. So the vocal issues may have been addressed in the retail version. Unfortunately i think it’s a little too late to do anything about the guitar controller. We’ll see.
Just got back from hanging out with my wife and sister, doing some shopping. Once we wrapped up finding what my sister needed, i forced them to follow me to Best Buy to try out Rock Band. I had heard on Engadget that many Best Buys had the demos, so wanted to see if ours did. It did!
So…how was it? Not so fabulous.
First, the good: The graphics looked great, and the parts were well written. The game also sounded good (as good as it could sound at an in-store demo). The song selection we rocked in store included “Should I Stay Or Should I Go”, “Say It Ain’t So”, and “Main Offender”. The demo also had “Suffragette City”, “Tom Sawyer”, and a few other tracks we didn’t get to.
As a drummer, i was very skeptical that the drums would “feel” like drums, but i will say, it was remarkable how fast it felt like i was back home drumming. It was actually pretty funny, on the ‘Beginner’ settings, i found the drums very difficult, mostly because it over-simplified the more complicated rhythms (triplets, etc) to songs i knew well. I kept trying to play the “real” rhythm and getting being marked wrong. Once i upped the difficulty though, it was a lot of fun. But since i was already playing on ‘Hard’ on the demo in the store without breaking a sweat, i don’t think drummers should look for a challenge in this game. The drum controller also felt like it could really take a beating (a good thing for a drum simulator). I will note: the in-store demo didn’t have the foot pedal controller (though i was playing the kick part on the floor anyway to keep myself honest, and i really found that easier anyway), so no promises there, it could be flimsy.
Now, the bad: The new guitar controller, which i was excited to play (with its extra 5-frets keys), was a major disappointment. It felt flimsy, and worst of all, proved to be so. The strumming switch (is that what it’s called) was already toast. It wasn’t registering strums unles you really mashed down on it hard. The whole guitar just felt lighter and flimsier than the Guitar Hero 2 controller i have at home – which is strange since i think it is also a little bigger. It was so bad, we actually couldn’t play with the guitar. We kept failing every song, even though we had it on easy. It would only register about 1 in 3 notes. Bad bad sign, since this in-store demo has only been there for about 48 hours, and the Guitar Hero 2 demo that has been at the same Best Buy for months was still up and rockin’ perfectly.
Equally disappointingly was the vocal gameplay. My sister and wife are both singers – and i don’t just mean they lead Christmas carols with the family. They both majored in music with their vocal chords as their ‘instrument’. We’ve played SingStar (a console karaoke game) too, and did very well (even i did). But over and over again, the vocal track failed out on both of them, even on ‘Easy’. Now, there are a lot of people out there who are going to be horrible singers, but will want to play this game and have fun with their friends. On ‘Easy’, it should require absolute silence to fail out of the vocal track as far as i’m concerned. Maybe it was a problem with the mic, but if so, that again doesn’t bode well. Same problem as the guitar – this Best Buy’s SingStar demo has been running just fine for months. If this mic was dead after just 48 hours, that really doesn’t bode well.
So…do i want this game? Would i recommend it? Meh.
I have to honestly say, not so much anymore. I’d love to play some of those songs on Guitar Hero, and playing drums was fun… but for $170+ this game was very, very disappointing over all. Fabulous concept, obviously. I just think there will be a lot of frustrated vocalists and down right furious guitarist in January as their controllers start dying. I’m actually going to remove it from my wish list until i have assurance that the game doesn’t fall apart inside of a few months.
(I am kicking myself right now that i didn’t take any pictures with my phone to make this a really good review. But if you want to see what the game looks like, check here)
I don’t even remember if i’ve written about the impending double-strike on my blog before. Basically i’ve been following the news over the past couple of months via Cinematical regarding the Writer’s Guild strike (that started today) and a possible/probably director and actors guild strikes looming early next year. If you don’t know anything about it…just know that most entertainment as we know it is probably going to grind to a halt, or get really sloppy as studios rush things through production to avoid the total blackout.
Point of that is to then show you this video. Very funny. Pay attention to details.
The “final” list of songs for Rock Band (minus the unlockable songs) just got released. Here are the ones i’m the most hyped about playing (full list is here):
Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter” The Who “Won’t Get Fooled Again” Boston “Foreplay/Long Time” David Bowie “Suffragette City” Blue Oyster Cult “Don’t Fear the Reaper” The Ramones “Blitzkrieg Bop” The Clash “Should I Stay or Should I Go” Foo Fighters “Learn to Fly” Metallica “Enter Sandman” Weezer “Say It Ain’t So” Garbage “I Think I’m Paranoid” Soundgarden “Black Hole Sun” The Hives “Main Offender” OK Go “Here It Goes Again”
Great stuff. This got me thinking the other day… If i could make a list for Rock Band (or Guitar Hero) what would it include… Here’s what i got so far (in no particular order):
Booker T and the MG’s “Green Onions” Ben Folds “Rockin The Suburbs” Jimi Hendrix “All Along the Watchtower” Jimi Hendrix “Foxy Lady” All Star United “Big Rock Show” (or maybe “Theme From Summer”) U2 “Beautiful Day” Rolling Stones “Paint It, Black” Smash Mouth “Road Man” Earth Wind and Fire “September” Electric Light Orchestra “Four Little Diamonds” Electric Light Orchestra “Birmingham Blues” Dandy Warhols “Bohemian Like You” Santana “Oye Como Va” The Clash “Train in Vain” POD “Boom” Simon and Garfunkle “Mrs Robinson” Foo Fighters “My Hero” Foo Fighters “Everlong” Robbie Williams “Let Me Entertain You” Weezer “Buddy Holly” Weezer “Keep Fishin” Sum 41 “Fat Lip” Jamiroquai “Feels Just Like It Should” Jamiroquai “High Times” Johnny Cash “Folsom Prison Blues” ZZ Top “La Grange” Beach Boys “Good Vibrations” Felming and John “I’m Not Afraid” Stevie Wonder “I Wish” Bob Marley “Jamming” The Monkees “Last Train to Clarksville” Switchfoot “Chem 6A” Switchfoot “The Loser” Cake “Short Skirt, Long Jacket” Queen “Bohemian Rhapsody”
While we’re at it, whole albums i’d love to see:
Weezer [Blue album] Switchfoot “New Way To Be Human” The Clash “Combat Rock” Nirvana “Nevermind”
Of course, many of these would be better (and this would be much longer) if there was a keyboard/piano/organ controller.
And i’m leaving tons off…i am going to be embarrassed when i come back and look at this later, i know. But hey, i’m just doing this on my lunch break for fun. Sue me.
Interesting note from LA Kings/HockeyBuzz blogger Carla Muller, who was at the game last night:
One of the more unique events of the night actually happened off the ice. I am not trying to diminish the Kings’ strong dominating game, not at all. Nonetheless, in the stands, a over zealous Predators’ fan was behind that team’s bench and appeared to the person in front of me with binoculars that he tried to climb over the glass at his own team… ouch!
Security moved this individual away from the bench and that proved to be a bad choice. A fight broke out between this guy who started shouting “Lets go Predators”. Peanuts were tossed only to be followed by fisticuffs, five security people in red blazers and his female friend following when she joined the melee by throwing a beer in the stands… Double ouch!
That about sums up my frustration. When i go to the game on Thurs night, i’m really just hoping for a score and solid play. A win would be pure bonus.
As for all these asking for Trotz’s head… I can’t argue that too much, but i wouldn’t hold your breath.
Trotz has been around for so long, it will take more than this to get him fired (though not much)
The Thrashers are already looking to hire a coach, so trying to find a new coach in this market would be rougher than usual – can we improve over Trotz right now?
I don’t see Poile/Leipold firing the coach just before a new owner steps in (whoever that turns out to be.
Lastly, a note regarding watching games: I don’t have cable at home, and since FoxSouth/104.5 went back to “simulcasting” games (read: putting TV audio on the radio) i can’t really follow the action on the radio. So…enter the wonders of the internet. And no, i don’t mean the NHL’s new online Center Ice package that blacks out the majority of my local team’s games. No, i’m watching online over live P2P broadcasting services using Sopcast and streams found here: http://www.myp2p.eu/NHL.htm
The really interesting thing about this is that most of these end up being the local Fox Sports for the other team. Occasionally it is the Preds feed, but for the last several games i’ve been listening to the Kings/Ducks feeds. It’s been very interesting hearing the other side of things. And i gotta say: as great as Pete and Terry are, FoxSports South is a dinky 2-bit operation compared to FoxSports LA. They have a studio they go back to with a talking head for replays during intermission, the works. Good stuff. I suggest watching the “other” feed once and a while once in a while.
So, i’ve been really busy this week. Checked out a community Bible Study group, watched the Preds game, went to the Preds game last night, and of course…i’ve been playing Portal.
The rest of the Valve Orange Box came out at midnight pacific on Wed. I’ve only been able to squeeze in a little bit of Portal since then (didn’t finish it, but i’m fairly near the end from what i understand) and haven’t been able to touch Half-Life 2: Episode 2.
A couple of notes about Portal: 1) This game is really cool, but was way too basic early on. For a game that is part of a bundle that is rated “M”, the first half of the levels in Portal are way to basic. I understand the need to have a few teach-players-how-to-use-portals levels early on, but after that, make it challenging fast. The levels ramp way too gradually, and there wasn’t ever really a point where i was frustrated with the game (though more than a few times where i realized later “i did that the hard way” and can go back and improve my performance for achievements later.) That leads me to #2.
2) Portal is essentially a spatial IQ test. It’s not a first person shooter in any way really. This is a first person puzzle game. You can take your time with all the tests (in fact, if you do, you get to hear more of the goofy things the AI computer voice says throughout the game) and you are never in danger of eminent attack (only if you miss a platform and drop into toxic waste, that kinda thing). The problem is that everyone that plays the game, myself included, recognize that this is an intelligence test (which is reinforced by the fact that it is presented as a test throughout the game). This leads to the fact that many people – very much including myself – under inflate their play time even more than usual. When a game comes out there are always geeks that say “oh this just took me 6 hours to play” or whatever. With Portal, people are being very casual about how easy the game was for them and it only took them an hour, etc. I know i just did when talking with Matt on the phone. I told him i wasn’t quite done, but had only played for an hour or so. In reality, thanks to my Steam Community Profile, i know that i have actually played for about 2 hours.
3) Having said that, it is very very clear that it will be very simple for users to rapidly start spitting out map-packs of their own with new levels to play. And a multi-player hack will be out in…i’ll say 8 days (from release). Given that someone else hacked Half-life 2 Deathmatch to basically be multi-player Portal months ago (Excite Mod), it shouldn’t take too long to get a cleaned up version running now that the real thing is out. This game is not so much a game as an introduction to an engine, which will spawn hundreds of hours of playable levels rapidly.
4) Lastly, for those who are interested, or who just want to test their spatial IQ Portal-style, here‘s an awesome flash game that someone took way too much time to make. Obviously it is a little more simple than the real Portal game as it is just 2-D instead of in full 3 dimensions, and you can see all the map instead of being stuck in a 1st-person point of view. But you’ll get the idea. PORTAL: The Flash Version. Much fun
(Sorry for the long post, especially about something this trivial. But hey, it’s me)
In addition to being a big hockey fan, i am a media/marketing/entertainment geek. I also have a painful attention to detail sometimes (I say this not as a boast, but…well…”it’s a blessing and a curse”). Combine these two and…well…I study things like the videos and entertainment packages at the Preds games waaaay more closely than they are intended to be studied. Oh well. I am what i am.
Anyway, here’s what I noticed last night.
Quick mention: Lots of really cool new graphics that we didn’t see during the pre-season. New filler animations, Power Play animations, Goal animations, “Preds Win” animations, and “Thanks for Attending” animations. Also new “Kiss Cam” graphics, though these seem pretty plain. I’m guessing those will be tweaked in the near future.
There were also a few changes around the arena. The column at the attack twice end that used to be painted like a giant can of Edge shaving cream is now painted with the Signature Tower on it (the soon-to-be mega-sky-scraper that is planned for Church Street downtown). The Signature Tower also sponsored the t-shirts we were given last night. The interesting thing is that not only has the Signature Tower not been built yet, but it is years away and may not even happen. They are having trouble selling the last set of apartments needed to secure financing, etc. But apparently they are going to be huge sponsors of the Preds this year, which is great (for both i think). They are enough of a sponsor that the new opening video now features the as-yet unbuilt tower, but i’ll get to that in a second.
First, there’s a nice new opening video (that I tried to record and goofed for some reason and didn’t catch…I’ll see if I can get it on Sat) with all the players and cool highlights. Very nice video, very well done. Really hypes the crowd.
That then transitioned into the new Intro video (which i did record and will upload soon). It’s basically the same as previous years…hockey players representing other teams land on the frozen Cumberland River (they now arrive in meteor format, not skating down the river, and they don’t beat up the General Jackson) and a Big Cat/Predator (is that considered Gnash?) comes into downtown and beats them up, then climbs up to the top of a building and roars. Only now it climbs the Bellsouth/AT&T/Batman building (like it used to), and from there it jumps up to the Signature Tower and climbs it (picture on the right). Kinda cool really. Funny thing is, they don’t have the new Bass Berry and Sims building visible in the shots around downtown, even though it is actually being built right now and is quite close to the arena (picture on the left, above). You also can’t see the Signature Tower in the background of the long shots of downtown (picture on the left, below). Only in the close-up final shot when the Predator is climbing it. I am sure while the organization is putting things together they may think of some of these things but think “nah, no one will notice that, it’s just on the screen for half a second”. Sorry guys.
There was also a new concession stand on the lower level I had never seen before, and they are apparently remodeling some of the concession stands on the lower and upper levels. I’m interested to see what’s going in there (they better get them finished soon!). I was surprised that they weren’t finished for opening night.
All in all the new arena experience is great. The franchise is very much moving in the right direction.
Oh yeah – and the Predators played AWESOME. Mason was great. Defense played well. I could really tell the experience of our youngsters combined with the new veterans meant much more responsible, positional hockey. Very few times did the Avalanche get any really strong scoring chances and those were mostly in the 1st period. The power play clicked on the first go, though later attempts didn’t look too strong. As my wife called it, the “power play kill”. Lots of work to do there, but if we get anything close to that effort on a consistent basis (which I think is more likely again, due to the young players having yet another year under their belts and the new vets) we’ll be just fine this year.
In other geeky news: There is now at least some sketchy ‘scientific’ proof that my wife’s new-found gamerness has real-world upside.
And in other gamer news: More announcements of tracks for Guitar Hero 3. While i couldn’t care less about Slash or the other “legends of rock” that are supposed to be bosses in the game, i am really looking forward to playing many of these songs. Here’s the list of the ones that have me chompin’ at the bit.
La Grange — ZZ Top
My Name Is Jonas — Weezer
Paint It, Black — The Rolling Stones
Sunshine of Your Love — Cream
Cliffs of Dover — Eric Johnson
Black Magic Woman — Santana
Pride and Joy — Stevie Ray Vaughn
Bulls on Parade — Rage Against the Machine
Devil Went Down to Georgia — Charlie Daniels Band
Hit Me with Your Best Shot — Pat Benetar
Barracuda – Heart
Cult of Personality — Living Colour
Mississippi Queen — Mountain
Slow Ride — Foghat
And ok, ok…in the interest of equal time, here the list of songs i’m dying to play in Rock Band.
Should I Stay or Should I Go – The Clash
Here It Goes Again – OK Go
Learn to Fly – Foo Fighters
Say It Ain’t So – Weezer
I Think I’m Paranoid – Garbage
Suffragette City – David Bowie
Main Offender – The Hives
Blitzkrieg Bop – Ramones
Black Hole Sun – Soundgarden
(Don’t Fear) The Reaper – Blue Öyster Cult
Brainpower – Freezepop
Creep – Radiohead
Enter Sandman – Metallica
Gimme Shelter – Rolling Stones
In Bloom – Nirvana
Mississippi Queen – Mountain
Tom Sawyer – Rush
Won’t Get Fooled Again – The Who
Of course in addition to all of those, entire albums will be made available for download/purchase after release, including The Who’s Who’s Next and Nirvana’s Nevermind.
And yes, those of you that know me know i can’t stand Rush, but i have to admit it is going to be fun to play Tom Sawyer, especially if i can mute to vocal track. I particularly look forward to seeing how they do the drum part for “Learn to Fly” by the Foo Fighters. That, plus “Everlong” were tracks i used specifically used to work up my chops when i was drumming more. Higher levels there are going to be tough!
I keep meaning to make a post about Team Fortress 2. Unfortunately, ever since it was released made available for beta testing to people who pre-ordered the Orange Box, i haven’t stopped playing it long enough to make a post about it. I haven’t been playing it a scary amount, but given the choice of using my spare time to blog about TF2 or actually play TF2… the blog kept getting put off.
Sufficed to say this game is immensely fun. And i don’t mean it is well done and engrossing and realistic…i mean it is FUN. Goofy, laugh-out-loud fun. Don’t get me wrong, it is also engrossing and immersive and all of those good things that games should be. But most importantly it is the one thing that so many games aren’t these days – a real pleasure to play. This game isn’t about realism. It is about chaos, ridiculous situations, rocket-jumping, bunny hopping, and all those other things that made old-school deathmatch gaming so fun – but with great team dynamic and balanced gameplay like i’ve never seen outside of Day of Defeat. Over and over again while playing this game, i find my self laughing outloud – usually when i’ve just been blown away. That tends to happen when the ‘death cam’ shows you the person that just killed you looking like the screenshot on the right. Any player can instantly put their character into a ‘taunt’ at any time. It’s great fun to hit that button right after you kill someone so you know they are being forced to watch you dance. There are also many times when the game will also helpfully identify the parts of you that are laying at your enemy’s feet (see image at the left). These shots also show off another cool aspect of getting killed – the game always gives you updates on what you’ve done well. The game is a statistician’s dream and tracks the amount of damage you do, kills you get, kill assist you get, healing you perform, captures made, buildings made, buildings destroyed, etc, etc. After you are killed it told you what was particularly good about that last round, for you. You may be like me and stink at the game, but hey, you got closer to your record for damage in a round as a soldier that time than you’ve been in a while. Playing this game and being killed manages to be a constantly rewarding and reaffirming experience, without being condescending.
One of the other things that is really nice is the concept of the kill assist. The most obvious version of this is when a Medic is healing a Heavy or some other player and that player kills someone. The Medic clearly made it possible, so they get partial credit for the kill and receive points. The other, really nice kill-assist is when you’ve done a large portion of damage to an opposing player and one of your teammates comes along to help and finishes them off. Well, you may have done 250 points in damage to that Heavy (who has 300 hit points) but in most games your teammate that did the final 50 points damage would have gotten sole credit for the kill. In TF2, you both get credit. Your name gets flashed along with your teammate’s.
Another fun/competitive element thrown into the game is the concept of a “nemesis”. If someone kills you 5 times without you killing them, they are said to be “dominating” you and they are now your “nemesis”. They will now have a special icon above their head (only for you) and you’ll get double points if you can manage to kill them (a “revenge kill”). I’ve had the pleasure of being on the giving and receiving end of these multiple times and it just adds another layer of fun to the game.
My one request/complaint is that they took away the nifty muzzle flash effects we saw in the trailers. This whole game as a very cartoonist, straight-outta-Pixar look to it (but is surprisingly easy on the system requirements). In all the trailers – right up to a few weeks ago – all the muzzle flashes were very cartoonist as well. However, in the ‘beta’ version we’ve all been playing, they decided to covert the muzzle flashes to use the same nifty particle effects technique they developed for the Pyro’s flame thrower.
Original muzzle flash effect
New muzzle flash effect.
There are dozens of other awesome things i’d love to say about this game. It has a great commentary track from the makers of the game, cool intro videos you can watch to help you understand the basics of each map before loading them, a really nice achievement system…and don’t get me started on the intricacies of playing the engineer. But…i’m gonna go play more now.
If you want to track my personal game stats, you can always see them here.
I’d never even heard of it, but apparently Fox’s new semi-reality-ish-drama Nashville was a total flop last night. It failed to beat out stiff competition like re-runs of Americas Funniest Home Videos in its time slot, and dropped half of its lead-in audience (behind Are You Smarter Than A 5th-Grader)right off. By the half-way point, it has lost another 15% of the poor souls that started watching it.
Now, as someone who is sooooo tired of defending Nashville as a pretty awesome place to hockey ‘fans’ who keep saying we don’t ‘deserve’… I want Nashville to look good and get press on a bigger stage. But from watching about 45 seconds of the clips they put on the website for the show, i think this show getting canceled will be a good thing all around. Even the discussion groups on the official site (with headlines on the front page read: “Not a good show for Nashville” and “Real real real bad-yuck”.
I haven’t updated everyone on the awesomeness of Team Fortress 2 in a while, so here’s at least one more post before 1) i get lost in hockey season, 2) the game actually comes out
The profile video for the engineer came out today. Awesome. Simply awesome. This is definitely the class i think i’ll play most often. Between being on a slightly slower connection and just not having the insane twitch reflexes i used to (when i played FPS’s 2 hours a day in college) i am not going to have the skills needed to pull off the Scout or Sniper, etc. I’ll don’t like moving slow, so the Heavy is out, and the Pyro…maybe. But the Engineer doesn’t even have to be in the fight. It’s all about strategy and setting up traps and defensive positions and enabling your teammates. Very much more my style.
One more comment about the game in general – i think i like the really old-school gibs, splats, and non-realistic gameplay. This is all about fun. But…it looks like they are taking a very similar splat/gib system over to Half-Life 2: Episode 2…not sure it belongs there. HL2:Ep2 is also suddenly looking very dated when compared to Far Cry 2 and Crysis, and it isn’t even out yet. Oh well. The story and game play should still be second to none. That’s why i’m a huge Valve fan. I just want Valve to make a game on the new Cry engine. Please?
That seals it. If Gran Turismo 5 wasn’t enough (and my back catelog of PS1 and PS2 games), we are getting a PS3. Maybe not this Christmas, maybe not in a year, but sometime. Sometime soon. I really feel silly with how excited i am about this.
The regular DVD description on Amazon says this is “Volume 1″ but it looks like it will be (almost) all shorts to this point. They are just smart enough to know there will be more in the future so they just called this one “Volume 1″. It will have everything from The Adventures of Andre and Wally B. (which was actually done under Lucasfilm…making this the first Lucasfilm property to be released on HD format) all the way to Lifted. Only things not included will be the shorts they did for Sesame Street (“Light & Heavy” and “Surprise”). For a list of their short films (and to watch some of them) check here. Looks like commentaries and a featurette or two will be included as well.
I’m curious which version of Knick Knack will be included…the original version from way-back-when had a much more “buxom” version of the mermaid figurine than the one released on regular DVD a while back. I’m hoping they go more Pixar archivist and include both, not Disney whitewash and just include the new version.
Nothing mentioning Blu-Ray only content. Man i hope this is full 1080p. I can’t imagine it not being. And i can’t wait until they release the full length movies. The Blu-Ray version is just $2 more than the standard DVD.
I’m not surprised that Disney/Pixar is going Blu-Ray now that i think about it. Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, funded and still owns a large stake in Pixar. Pixar essentially owns Disney now. HD-DVD is Microsoft’s baby… so Disney goes Blu-Ray. Gotta love it.
In format-war related news: I’m really not sure why Paramount just decided to go from releasing in both formats to releasing HD-DVD only. Everyone i know has said Blu-Ray is the superior format, and thanks to the PS3, there are more players out there (even if half the people that have PS3′s don’t know they play Blu-Rays), and Blockbuster is going Blu-Ray only. I still think that eventually all players will just play both formats, but if i had to pick a ‘winner’ it would be Blu-Ray at this point.
Oh – in Pixar related news: The teaser site for BuyNLarge (the mega-corporation from the upcoming Pixar movie Wall-E) has been updated. Check it out. Much fun.
I honestly thought this was a joke when i first saw it.
A company is trying to start a “Netflix for books“. Um…isn’t that the library? I get that for free, thanks.
They honestly are trying to charge people $19.99 a month to have 3 books out at a time. Books just aren’t that expensive these days. I could buy 90% of the books i want for well under $10…so i could just buy 3 books a month for close to that.
Besides, that’s what the library is for! They don’t delivery to your mailbox, and i could see people who live out in the sticks needing it…but if you live in a city this is just silly. Just go to your library, fill out a card, and pick up the book.
The Nashville Library system even lets you search online, find the book you want, request it be sent to your nearest branch, and they hold it for you. Just walk up to the desk, grab the book, go home. No searching through rows of Dewey Decimal chaos. Easy. Done.
Now, i know some of you (i would be one of them) will tell me the library has movies too, so why Netflix. Easy: The library’s movie selection is minimal, most of it is on VHS, and there are few copies of most movies. Now, the library is one of the reasons my wife and i only have the $8.99 Netflix plan. We occasionally still get stuff from the library (for instance, right now we are listening through the unabridged Harry Potter books), so the two work in tandem.
I really hope this new service doesn’t hurt a library system that is already having to be trimmed back. But i think most book worms (in major metro areas) are going to be smart enough not to use the service. Hopefully.
Update: There are apparently at least a few companies that offer this kind of service. This one has cheaper plans, which seem slightly more reasonable for books.
A quick post combining two of my favorite pastimes. Hockey and video games.
I first bought NHL 06 for my PC as i really started getting in to hockey. I think i played it at someone elses’ house or something and decided to play it more. For the record: i advise this for anyone who wants to get in to hockey – playing the video game version is a great way to learn the basics of the game (penalties, etc) – though you will never advance beyond the very basics of course.
That was the real rub. NHL 06 was fun to play, but EA obviously put out a very half-hearted effort compared to NBA or Madden. But hey, i’m in sales and marketing. It’s money. I get it.
When it was time for NHL 07 to come out, i was pumped. They were promising this new ‘skill stick’ change and amazing new graphics. I saw the trailers and was very impressed. So i went out and bought a copy soon after it was released. I was horribly disappointed. Not only did i not have the skill stick on the PC version, but i also didn’t have the improved graphics. Essentially the PC version was simply a port of the PS2 and Xbox versions – not the “next gen” PS3 and Xbox 360 versions that all the trailers had been for. The only difference i could tell between NHL 06 and NHL 07 was that the goalies sometimes played butterfly style now instead of always stacking their pads. Yeah, that was worth $40.
Now i see trailers for NHL 08.
First, amazing graphics. To be expected, but worth noting. These looks awesome. The crowd still looks horrible, but the players look and move better than ever. Second, they really tweaked the custom/create mode. You could create customer players before, but you had one default head to choose from, with very very limited customization. Very poor by most game standards today (especially on PC – i should be able to import skins dang it!). The new NHL 08 looks like it will be much better in that department. It also adds the ability to create your own team, including selecting from a preset choice of logos (PC import option please?) and a full color pallet to chose from. This video highlights these changes…and then showcases video of the team pictured on the right. Any copies of this game they may have sold, just disappeared. Why. On Earth. Would anyone make a team look like that? It would hurt your eyes to play a whole game like that.
Most importantly, they are also touting improved collision/hitting physics and adaptive AI. These address the two biggest weaknesses in the game. The collision physics used to be determined entirly by two factors: balance and speed. So a player who’s balance and agility stats were high, was hard to knock down. One who’s stats were low, was blown over by a passing butterfly. Worse – small, fast players (like Steve Sullivan for the Predators) routinely lead the team in hits, and can deck anyone on the ice simply because they move so fast. It is all about speed. The new version is supposed to take mass/weight/momentum into account. Yay.
They have also supposedly fixed or at least improved the AI. The AI used to be horrible. I can run the same play over and over again and score about 7 out of 10 times. I regularly run up stats and get 4 or 5 players hat tricks per game when i play NHL 07 on easy. On hard it just makes the opposing goalie block a higher percentage of your shots, your goalie sucks more, but the defenders never learn a thing (on either side). The new version is supposed to pickup on repeated plays or positions and adjust to be ready for that cross-ice pass from the corner that used to be so easy. We can only hope.
The one thing i was horribly disappointed in is that the uniforms will apparently all be last years unis. Unless they are going to completely recreate the models, they are all still wearing the old-style baggy sweaters, not the new fancy tighter-fitting RBK jerseys. What, bringing them out in the Olympics last year and the all-star break this year wasn’t enough time? Even if they try to change the skins to match the new patters, the fit is all wrong. That is actually a pretty big selling point to me, and they are totally missing the boat.
But here’s the thing i’m really waiting to find out: is the PC version crippled again? They are making PS2, P23, Xbox 360, and PC versions of this game. Now, a top-of-the-line PC has more processing power to put to this game than any console, but i understand most modern gaming PC’s lie in the Xbox 360 range of power. Either way – the PC should get the best features available. I know this probably won’t happen, because EA Sports PC games are always just sloppy ports of the console versions. What is more frustrating on top of that, is that all game review sites that bother to even review the NHL games, always just review the console version! Not even a note of ‘this game is the same on PC’ or ‘the PC versions is actually a Gameboy Color port’. Nothing.
Why? Why must i endure this pain? I would go over to the other PC NHL franchise… but… wait… there isn’t one. Curse you EA! Curse you!!!!!!
(sorry for the long post – i needed to get that one out)
I would love the NHL to be anywhere but on Versus. Even if they went exclusively to their own NHL network (which is being discussed, but it wouldn’t be exclusive), it would be better than Versus.
NBC wants to get out of their contract. The NHL hasn’t done well for them (mostly because there is no secondary support and only airing a few games for a few weeks out of the year isn’t enough to build an audience). But the NHL needs a free, over-the-air presence.
ESPN also carries with it ABC. See point #2.
Now, my thoughts are this. ESPN would be great. No question. But what would be better? Fox.
For everyone that remembers the old glowing pucks and has a general hatred for the idea of hockey on Fox – hear me out.
Is ESPN the “worldwide leader in sports”? Yes. But here’s the rub. They also have the TV contract for the NHL’s major competitor, the NBA. The NBA and NHL both have 82-game seasons that run through the winter. They have games on the weekend and during the week. ESPN and ABC will be forced to choose between the two leagues for prime coverage spots. If given the opportunity to air an NHL game or an NBA game, ESPN is going to choose the NBA game every time.
Meanwhile, Fox Sports is the only other major factor in sports broadcasting these days. This makes more sense for a few reasons. First, most of the NHL teams around the US have contracts with regional Fox Sports affiliate for cable broadcast (the Predators are on Fox Sports South for instance). Fox does also have experience in covering the league (1994-1999).
More importantly, Fox’s other sports contracts are with MLB, NFL, and NASCAR. Baseball is off-season while the NHL is playing, and the football is just 1 day a week for Fox (Sun afternoons) and NASCAR is at a minimum over winter. This means the NHL will get more prime coverage and more choice spots.
Of course the main down-side to that is that Fox Sports does have great broadcast presence, they lack a major national cable channel to replace Versus. The ESPN/ABC combo is a powerhouse. It would be great to get. I just worry about scheduling issues…
Christy and i signed up for a Blockbuster online account a while back (for now it really is a better deal than Netflix) and have enjoyed being able to watch all sorts of movies we had passed up in theaters but wanted to get around to, etc.
We found out that many of those movies were great – like Mirrormask, Unbreakable, The Prestige, and Good Night and Good Luck (some we ended up buying).
But we’ve also seen a whole lot of real stinkers. Die Another Day, The Last Mimzy, Men in Black II, The Fantastic Four, etc.
I’m beginning to wonder if we should re-think our list and take off movies that we didn’t see because they didn’t look that great, and start going for more movies that we don’t know much about or couldn’t get around to. For instance, Christy and i (yes, her too) have really gotten in to Jackie Chan movies (plus some Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon). I think we may explore more movies in those genres, or more artsy films like Mirrormask (City of Lost Children is on the list already).
We’ll also leave on many classics that we haven’t seen (or haven’t seen in a long time) like The Godfather (i’ve seen it, Christy hasn’t) and Terminator, etc. Those will stay on the list.
But i think Firewall, Jurassic Park III, and Daredevil are gonna get taken off. Or at least bumped waaaay down the list. If we see much more junk like we’ve been seeing – i agree with Christy – we’ll go nuts.
While i’m on the topic…does anyone know how to grab an RSS stream of our Blockbuster Online queue? I know Netflix provides such a service, but i can’t find a way to do it with Blockbuster. It’d be fun to post on my sidebar, but i haven’t figured out how.
I loved Batman Begins.
Now, i wasn’t one of those people that hated the earlier Batman movies. Batman and Robin was bad, but the others were at least moderately entertaining. However, i did love the dark-realism treatment of the Dark Knight’s story that Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale brought to life.
But i’m not super excited about the new photos Warner Brothers just released for the next iteration of Batman movies.
The new suit looks good. Not that different. Very cool.
The new bike…not so much…looks goofy.
The shot they released of Heath Ledger as the Joker disturbs me though. As in: i think i’m going to have nightmares tonight. I am sure that’s what they are going for, but this may be over-the-edge-dark if they follow through on what this shot looks like.
I’ll of course wait to see trailers and such to decide if it goes on my list, but as of right now, i’m only about 50/50 on it.
I hope they have fun with this.
Not too much. Doesn’t need to be a parody, but i just hope they don’t go all Miami Vice on it. I didn’t even seen MV, but it just…yeah. I hope they make it more like the Transformers was than like Miami Vice. I wonder if a MacGuyver or A-Team movie can be far behind? Or GI-Joe?
I know that A-Team (with Mel Gibson as Hannibal) was rumored for a long time, and looks like it might be in production now, though no cast has been announced. GI-Joe has been an off again on again idea for a while. Good times.
Update: Matt pointed out, that no, it is not a Camero. We got over Bumblebee being a Camero instead of a Beetle…so maybe KIT will be a Beetle when the movie actually comes out?
RockBand is looking better and better. Apparently both that and Guitar Hero 3 are getting some major upgrades, including using the original masters for tracks instead of covers. They have also recently announced that (at least for Xbox 360) there will be downloadable extra songs, including whole albums. The first album up: The Who’s Who’s Next. I can’t wait to knock my shoulder out of joint throwing down some big pinwheel guitar action.
I guess that’s enough for now. Have to get back to the whole “work” thing.
Well, my wife is pretty into Harry Potter. I have to admit i’ve gotten into it a bit too. Some friends let us borrow the movies and i caught up last spring. Then we just went to see the latest movie. Very very good. (My review: Good special effects in the beginning, bad effects in the middle, great effects at the end…the plot roughly follows).
Now i am going to start listening through the unabridged audio books (so i can more intelligently argue some points of debate with my wife) thanks to the Nashville Public Library system, and just pre-ordered the new book for Christy.
I said it’d never happen, but i guess we’re fans.
But now i wish i had ordered Christy’s copy to be shipped from the UK. Apparently they get a better version there. First, their version has the original UK English intact (the US version is re-edited for US kids vocabulary), but mostly, they have a way cooler cover. I’m sorry, there is just no comparison. What’s up with that?
This is the US cover. (click to enlarge)
I know the US versions have had this same cover style for a while, but it…well…stinks. I just think it looks dumb. It doesn’t match the feel of the stories that they hold inside. Looks more like a dark Dr. Seuss or something. Too melodramatic and stylized without being fun looking. It either needs to be creepy or fun. This fails at both.
These are the UK covers – plural. (click to enlarge)
In Europe and Asia though, they get two covers: A kids cover, and an ‘adult’ cover. I find both of these a far better option than what we get in the US. The ‘adult’ cover in particular is way cooler, spookier, and generally more mysterious. And yes, it reminds me of cover of the book in The Neverending Story, so that probably helps. The kids version also seems a better fit somehow. Of course, from looking at the UK kids version, this is apparently going to be a cross-over with Stargate.
A quick skim of amazon.co.uk makes it look like they have only been doing the dual-covers for the last two books. Before that, they all followed the kids-cover style, but it was still far better than the US versions. Ok, except the first one. Aside from the different title, that cover does look pretty lame. But i guess at that point it really was more of a kids book.
Oh well. I guess in reality i would like all books to either be a pocket-size paperback or a leather-bound library volume. Can anyone hook me up with one of those yet?
Time for an update on my favorite games that i haven’t even played yet.
The Half-Life 2 Orange Box is coming out soon. Soon-ish anyway. October 9th. I finally actually believe this date because they have at least released the cover art, as well as just put up a new site to cover it.
For those that don’t know, the Orange Box is what you need to buy. It is Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode 1, Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Portal, and Team Fortress 2.
Of course, the irony is that 90% of those that that do know what the Orange Box is, you won’t be buying it. You already own HL2 and HL2:Ep1, so you will do like i will and buy HL2:Ep2, Portal, and TF2 over Steam. Why Valve isn’t releasing each of those games in their own retail boxes too, i’m not sure. It is a battle for shelf space at Christmas guys – get with it!
Anyway, i am really pumped. Especially when i saw this new screenshot from Episode 2 that is on the new site (at right, click to enlarge). Will the character animations really look like that when you croutch and shoot over a wall? What are those little glowing things on the ground? Are they coming from the Hunter (the thing in the background)? Is the Hunter shooting that electricity? Or is that a Vortigaunt shooting at it?
Yeah, i’m a fanboy and i can’t wait for these games.
Basically it is yet another awesome, free, user-made mod for Half-Life 2. This one takes the Coutner-Strike (terrorist/counter-terrorist) in to a real-world situation (Iraq) and makes it much more realistic (iron sites instead of crosshairs, etc). It is also based on real-world locations in Iraq. Real cities and the layouts are supposed to be fairly accurate. It is very well made and a lot of fun, but boy do i suck at it. It goes for realism, so it is very much a one-shot-kill game. Not an arcade game by any means. (New patch just got released this morning). Go check it out.
Last, the other game i’m waiting for is Left 4 Dead. Normally i don’t go for the tons-of-Zombies genre of games, but the new elements they are putting in this game are really cool. The work they did on the AI isn’t in the enemies (they are zombies after all) but rather in the game layout. Everytime you play through will be different. The game moves where traps, zombies, etc are located withing the level. The buildings don’t change, but the experience does every time.
It also very much encourages team-based play (not just shooting everything on your own), and it introduces some really cool elements that make it more cinematic. Example: When you are hurt you start limping, then when you are really hurt you can only lie on the ground in one place until a friend helps you up. You can still shoot, but you can’t move. It looks really cool. Just like something out of a movie.
Enjoy video here (if you like lots of gross zombies in video games)
Many of you have probably seen this before, but i wanted to be yet one more guy to throw it on my blog. As much as anything, i actually just posted this now to get it off my desktop. That’s where the file has been for months while i wait for a lull in blog-worthy topics to get around to posting it. The Predators sale, etc made sure that didn’t happen for a while. Normally i have as few items on my desktop as possible (like 4-6 shortcuts and thats it) so this just finally had to get posted.
click to enlarge
(To the best of my knowledge, this originated here).
I love that this isn’t just random web-things posted around on a map, they are arranged very logically according to their relation to other sites around, and according to the labels on the compass-rose shaped island (which itself i find hilarious). The “bit torrent” river is great too. I think my favorite item is the under-sea Usenet basin. That or the small peninsula of attractive MySpace pages. Though it is a little too large. My only real complaint would be the lack of Blogger and the relatively small size of Flickr, but of course i use both frequently, so maybe that’s just me.
I would love to see this re-drawn every year just to see how things have shifted and changed in relative size and location. Many additions and subtractions over time would be necessary i am sure.
So far i’ve missed one of the movies on my list for this summer, but i’ve seen most of them. I’d also have to say that having seen the trailers, Rush Hour 3 is probably off my “must” list and on to “optional”, while the Simpsons Movie may be on to my “must” list now. Underdog is off the list entirely. So… new list…
Anyway – now to my review of Transformers. My expectations were pretty much met for this one, which isn’t necessarily a great thing.
It was Michael Bay. Pure and simple. As my good friend Matt said – he is basically an old-time b-movie action director on a big budget. Lots and lots of ‘spolsions, little character development outside of the one main hero (Sam), and an almost complete disregard for the intelligence of his audience.
At a high level, the plot was actually better than i had hoped. It was mostly believable, reasonably true to the original show, and the different groups all acted according to plausible motivation. Nothing completely random happened and there were no gaping holes.
At a lower level however, the dialogue and minor plot elements were poorly executed. The writing was slightly better than the first Fantastic Four movie, but that isn’t saying much. There was more cussing than needed, though not a ton. But most of it felt very forced, like a middle-schooler on the playground trying to sound tough. Several weak minor plot elements including things like “they are using a signal to hack our network” – as though playing a sound-file really loud near a computer automatically opens up all encryption. Oh – and all government computers are apparently connected to one massive server and are connected through a “hard line”. Lots of little science mis-steps too, like a craft leaving the earth’s atmosphere showing heat and flame bouncing off a shield (which only actually happens when items enter the atmosphere, not leave). But this isn’t an educational documentary, so all that can be overlooked. Barely.
I’d say my main real disappointment and complaint about the movie was the characters. In the TV show the Transformers all had very unique personalities. We got a very very small glimpse of that in the Autobots, but got to see none of that in the Decepticons. Basically the only time any of the Transformers were on screen they were shooting something or fighting, not standing around exchanging witty banter or arguing the way they did in the shows.
My only other complaint would be that there was lots of collateral damage to innocent bystanders that was treated very casually. I’d guess the death toll in the movie to be somewhere in the 5,000 area minimum (though you probably only see about 500 deaths on screen), but the whole time everyone was worried about averting an impending disaster, never acknowledging that tons of people were dead and dying already.
But if you can get passed elements like that – and for a movie like this you’d better – it was actually pretty good. The action sequences were excellent. Very fast paced, but they also slowed down to give a ‘bullet time’ look at the fighting which really showed off the Transformers and their abilities. Plenty of chances to see them actually transform – which i was afraid would be to rare. Lots of military hardware, just shy of being silly – just enough to be really, really cool.
I was also pleasantly surprised that the product placement didn’t get in the way too much. Don’t get me wrong – there is a TON of it. But it was very subtle – kinda. It didn’t get in the way of enjoying it, but everything in this movie had a logo. Besides the whole movie being a Hasbro ad, all the cars/trucks were GM (a change from the mix of VW, Porche, Mack, etc from the originals) but i got over that pretty quickly. Sam’s favorite band is apparently The Strokes, the US military exclusively uses HP computers and Logitech webcams, etc. What was amazing though is after the movie i quizzed my friends…what was the vending machine in the last scene (Mountain Dew) – what was the box that the guy was holding on the sidewalk (X-Box 360), etc. We could all name what we had seen, even though we didn’t notice it at the time. Which is, of course, exactly what they were going for.
As for the movie experience, this was at the ‘other’ old theater in the Rivergate area. All digital picture, etc. Not quite as nice in the lobby and such as where we saw Ratatouille, but it was good enough. Good sound balance, great picture – mostly. There was one part of the movie where there are long sequences of over-exposure – basically most of the screen is bright white. During those scenes, i could see something on the screen. Not sure if it was dirt or what. It was in kind of a pattern of lines, and i almost wonder if it was the speaker or some sort of support behind the screen. I’d be curious to see if anyone else saw that at their theaters too. 90% of movies wouldn’t have made me notice this, but the extended bright-white made it show up. Didn’t ruin it for me though. I have to wonder how that bright white scene would look on film though. Probably a great example of how digital is better – no scratches or dust which i’m sure would show up on a film showing of the same scene.
So…if you like action movies and are looking for a shallow, entertaining movie, it is worth checking out, and unless you have a $10k home theater system, you need to see it in a digital theater. Coming from a guy that has a theater room with digital projector with 8 foot screen – i’d recommend that as a minimum requirement for seeing a movie like this. This movie is big in every possible way.
Overall, good flick. I would not say that this was a remake of the TV show, didn’t feel like it at all. But it was an enjoyable movie.
Yes, for those that haven’t already heard, they are finally getting around to making Indiana Jones 4. If you want to read the whole saga of how many times they have tried to make this movie (including M. Night Shyamalan writing a script that was rejected), read the Wikipedia entry here. For those interested in more: Rumor site here. Official site here.
Anyway, they finally settled on a script and just started filming a few weeks ago down in New Mexico. Video from the set here and here. Looks like it will have a strong cast, and with Spielberg and Lucas finally finding one another again, plus the fact that we have assurances from numerous sources that there will be no CGI used in this movie (the effects will all be traditional in-camera effects to mesh with the other movies), it may be possible for this movie to be really solid. (How great would it have been if George Lucas had done that with Star Wars…)
Of course, the one major question everyone has is: Can Harrison Ford pull off an action movie at the age of 65. Well, the answer is: he doesn’t have to. Stuntmen will cover all the action sequences. And for the close-ups and dramatic portions…
Well, this is what Harrison looks like now: Not too bad. Plenty of make-up i’m sure.
But better yet…
Enter the technology used to de-age Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in X-Men 3.
Check these out (click on them to see full size):
That wasn’t make-up, and strictly speaking, wasn’t CGI. They essentially used photoshop to frame-by-frame give them digital face lifts. Smooth a wrinkle, shorten an ear, shrink a nose…
For any scenes in the Indy movie that need help, shouldn’t be any problem at all given the budget i am sure this monster has.
I am listening to the soundtrack to the first films as i post right now.
After the latest several movies by both Lucas and Spielberg i don’t know why, but i really have hope that this will be good. We’ll find out next May 28th.
I took a half-day off from work today to go see Ratatouille with Christy. We went to see it at the theater near Rivergate mall. Very nice actually. Well, not very nice, but very good and certainly nicer than most. The only ‘nicer’ theaters i could name would be Green Hills or Opry Mills and those theaters still show most movies in…[shudder]…film. This theaters has already converted to digital, like other smaller theaters. But the overall experience was much better than the one at the Hickory Hollow theater.
To the movie.
(I will do my absolute best to avoid anything like spoilers)
Very good. I have to say i went in somewhat skeptical, yet really excited. This was Pixar, and for those that don’t know, i am a huge Pixar fan. I love their work, their self-awareness, and most of all, the heart and depth that their movies have. They hold my interest as an adult with intelligent story lines, thoughtful characters, and truly funny jokes – not potty humor like some other studios – but real funny situational comedy. In the end though, i am a firm believer that most of the Pixar movies, had they been made with real actors and not animated, would have been in the running for best picture. The stories, characters, and writing are that good. Through all of that though, they are also movies that you can take anyone to see. They are not just PG, they are waaay G. But still very good movies for adults.
The one exception to that however, was The Incredibles. Don’t get me wrong. Fabulous movie. 4.5 out of 5 stars for me. But not the 5+ that the other Pixar movies garner to me. It fell just a little short in both the all-ages category and in the story. Again – don’t get me wrong. I still got choked up at some parts, but it was a little heavy handed. A little obvious and i felt like my emotions were being manipulated. I felt like i was watching a great movie – but i felt like i was watching a movie. Ironically, i think with most of the other Pixar movies, when the emotional climax to the movie comes, i always feel like i am watching real characters interact and cameras are catching real action. It feels so honest. Which is ironic of course considering that The Incredibles is the first movie where it is people on the screen and not talking bugs or toys or fish or whatever.
Because of all of that i went in skeptical. Ratatouille was written and directed by Brad Bird, the same guy that did the Incredibles. He is not one of the Pixar guys to me (John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Joe Ranft, etc). Good writer/director, but his movies feel different than Pixar.
This was a really good movie. I recommend everyone see it. Though I will say that this isn’t a “must see” for theaters. It is not an action movie or anything and unless you can see it in digital, i fear you may not be able to truly appreciate the amazing animation details. That’s really about the only thing that was extremely ‘cinematic’ about this movie. I think that may have been one of the disappointments for me. The movie felt small the vast majority of the time. While this sounds logical given the movies central character is about 6 inches tall, Pixar proved in A Bug’s Life that you can make a movie about miniatures look like an epic. But hey, with the type of story it was, maybe that was on purpose. I just think the movie could have used a little more scale and power. Every time we see the “beauty” of Paris it is through a window. Most of the shots are very tight. Just not a lot of scale to the movie.
The other factor that was a little disappointing to me was that yet again, like the Incredibles, this movie is a very PG movie to me. It got a G rating, but if i had children under the age of 6 or 7, i would have been a little uncomfortable with a couple of scenes. Nothing horrific mind you, and nothing like the Incredibles. But there were two scenes in particular that would take either eye-closing for a little one or some explaining afterwards, or both. Again, one of the things i really love about most Pixar movies is that you can show them to anyone and they will enjoy them. Adults get a lot out of them, but any kids can watch them. They are innocent but not simple. This movie was a little lighter on innocents and a little heavier on simplicity.
Overall though, great movie. I was laughing out loud quite often, especially early in the movie. Very funny. Worth seeing. I will probably see it again in the theater and will definitely own it when it is released on DVD.
Compared against the 5+ of other Pixar’s this fell short of my high expectations, but it was still a solid 4.5 out of 5.
Now…as to the part that i really loved…
The teaser trailer at the beginning of the movie for the next Pixar film, Wall-E. It is coming out just next summer, which i am really excited about. Increased computing power and better and better software mean they are able to crank out Pixar films faster – and the extra budget from them buying out Disney,Disney merging with them Disney buying them out and putting all of Pixar on the board doesn’t hurt either. Best part, is this is a “true” Pixar film. Back to Andrew Stanton.
Without further ado, here’s the trailer for Wall-E.
Here is another teaser/ad/viral video that was released with the Ratatouille video game.
That video mentions a website at the end, which really does exist: www.BuyNLarge.com. Check it out. Click on the little red dot at the bottom. This will be a fun site to watch in the coming months.
One last interesting couple of notes about the movie:
1) Pixar has re-rendered the opening title shot of their logo (featuring Luxo Jr, the bouncing desk lamp). The lighting has obviously been redone and it looks great. Again, see it on film and you’ll probably miss this.
2) There is a short at the beginning of the movie. Very funny, though a little strange. Ok, a lot strange. But very funny.
It looks like the NBA is finally starting to learn from the NHL and MLB when it comes to using minor leagues. The My San Antonio Spurs became the second NBA team to purchase a NBA D-league team outright today. They will now have full control over the coaches, the players, and what sort of system the Austin Toros runs on the court. Huge win for the club.
However, something stuck out to me in the article:
During the 2006-07 season, 19 NBA teams assigned 24 players to D-League rosters, and 14 NBA teams called-up 16 players (‘Gatorade Call-ups’) while 31 D-League alumni participated in the NBA Playoffs.
Did you catch that?
The NBA is so good at getting sponsorships, that the process of calling up a player from the minor leagues to the bigs is now branded. Every time an article is written or ESPN reports on player movements between leagues, Gatorade gets a plug. I thought the “First Tennessee first goal of the game” was funny, but… wow.
As has been pointed out here and many other places, the Predators and the rest of the NHL* need to find alternative revenue streams if they want to compete with the big boys. Tickets, beer, and t-shirt sales only go so far.
[rant] *Yes, even teams like the Leafs. They may have all the revenue they need, but if the league collapses or shrinks down to 6 teams again because it isn’t profitable, then… oh wait. I forget. Most of Canada is apparently fine with that. If i read one more article like James Mirtle’s today that talks about the NHL’s reckless expansion into the US since 1967…i swear…
Tell me, how many of the ‘original six’ teams were Canadian? (answer: 2) The last time the NHL was made of majority Canadian teams was in 1925. [end rant]
Oh, and in the marketing department, the Predators rolled out a new website today. It looks…a lot like the old one. Pretty much a clone of NHL.com, which needs a serious redux itself. But it’s nice enough. Now lets see if they actually post any good pictures, videos, and useful information. Within 48 hours of the thing actually happening. Press conferences for last weeks games don’t count. Oh, and get rid of (or improve) that ghastly list of 100 things to do with tickets. They did do a decent job of covering the draft, i’ll give them that. I don’t think we’ve really seen the new site though. This is all the old content dumped into a new layout. It still lists the 3rd Jersey which has been outlawed for next year.
Another blogger recently posted about a scene from the Mary Tyler Moore show being the funniest in sitcom history. It was very funny, and no doubt would have been funnier in the greater context, but not the best i’ve seen.
Bar none, the best episode/moment in a sitcom i have ever witnessed was the opening episode of season 3 of the Dick Van Dyke show, “That’s My Boy“. The basic premise is that Rob and Laura (played by Mary Tyler Moore by the way) have just had a baby and Rob is absolutely convinced that the hospital gave them the wrong baby. Much hilarity ensues, but the ending scene is absolutely priceless – and ground breaking. I don’t want to spoil the end for you, but it was one of the first of its kind (if not the first) on US television.
Without further ado, here it is:
Reportedly the audience laughed for several straight minutes when the gag was finally pulled, and it had to be edited out. Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke both said in the DVD bonus content that it was by far the longest laugh they’ve ever gotten.
I love any sort of entertainment that is self-aware. That’s most of why i am a Robbie Williams fan. He is an over the top cheesy pop star – and he knows it. His lyrics are all about that he is a hunk of meat up for sale and how he knows the fickle public will leave him once they find out that he’s just a looser.
Anyway. That’s also one of the things i love about Stargate. It is painfully aware of itself and its audience, and frequently the writers/actors put in jokes in the show for the audience that say “yes, we know we are a silly sci-fi show that’s a little weird and we are part of pop-culture”. Not so much as to break the fourth wall, but enough that the fans get a good chuckle and it keeps the show honest about itself.
Background: for those that don’t know, Stargate SG-1 is the longest running sci-fi show ever at 10 seasons. The show actually started on Showtime, then moved to the Sci-Fi Channel after Showtime canceled it. Since that first season, the writers have never known until the last second if they were writing season finales or series finales. Often the cast was also up for a contract extension year after year as a result. However, this year, they actually had a long term plan in place, and multi-year contracts in place for all the actors – and what does the Sci-Fi Channel do? Cancel them.
This is the show that basically made the Sci-Fi Channel popular, brought them the highest ratings they had ever seen at the time, and then gave them the spin-off (Stargate Atlantis) that itself was the most popular show they had for a while. But SG-1′s ratings are not what they once were, and a new show called Eureka has grown in popularity over the passed years and was the number one show on the network for 2006. Stargate is still very popular, but it was canceled anyway. Then the network started messing with when SG-1 aired, waiting weeks longer than usual before airing the start of season 10, and waiting far longer than normal to start the second half of the season. Much confusion for us poor fans. Oh, and of course their budget has been shrunk back a good bit over the last couple of seasons compared to what they once had.
Back to the good part…
Never have i seen a better example of the show’s self-awareness than the episode “Family Ties” that aired a few weeks ago. The show started with Cameron Mitchell walking down the hallway with Sgt Siler (played by the shows stunt coordinator, something of a mascot on the show). You hear the end of their conversation as Mitchell says:
“…they canceled it, really? I didn’t even know the new season had started.”
Funny in its own right, but nothing compared to what happened later. The episode featured a guest coming to the Earth (for reasons i won’t go in to) that had never been here before, but knew of the reputation the SGC (Stargate Command) had around the galaxy and all they have done for fighting the bad guys. Here’s an exchange that this character had with SG-1 team member Samantha Carter:
Guest: How are the readings coming along Sam: Slowly Guest: It’s no wonder. Look, I don’t mind telling you, I’m a little disappointed in this facility. I was expecting more. Sam: Well, at times so do we. But the truth is the Stargate program just doesn’t get the support it used to from the people in charge. Guest: Why not? Scientist in the room: Eureka! 1 down, 12 to go. Guest: That’s too bad. ‘Cause after all this Stargate program has done for this network of planets I would think that the decision makers would show it the respect it deserves. Sam: Yeah…
The moment stuck out as a bit odd at first, not really relating to much of the rest of the story, though the exchange was very much in character for Sam and the guest, and the scientist was hard at work on a project – and i almost missed the meaning. But they only very rarely refer to the set of planets connected by the stargates as a “network”. Probably only been called that a few times in 10 years. I didn’t even realize the connection to Eureka, since i never watch that show, but my wife reminded me of it and found out it was Sci-Fi’s number one show last year.
(For the record: i actually bought the episode online for $2 to record the audio and take the screen shot, making this the first blog post i’ve actually paid money to write)
For those that haven’t checked out Nashville is Talking yet, it is one of the few professional blogging sites in Nashville that i know of. It is owned by WKRN (channel 2) and is run by Brittney Gilbert. It is about as well run as it could be given its impossible mission of trying to make interesting and legitimate news and entertainment out of a bunch of amateurs ramblings on every topic that passes in the space between their ears.
Anyway, once every few days she gets to do an on camera piece. I think its on the afternoon news broadcast. I pretty much never watch the news (i listen to NPR in the car and read online) so i’ve never seen it (sorry guys). She reads on-line quotes from blogs on a given topic. Yes, even here everything has to be a sound bite.
Her most recent on air piece was about the Predators. I got quoted:
I couldn’t help but notice she didn’t pronounce the title of my blog. Don’t worry Brittney, i don’t really know how to pronounce it either.
I think i’m going to have to start sending Brittney some talking points and suggested clips the way politicians and musicians do, though. I think i’ve had much better lines than what she quoted:
“The marketing, especially to businesses, needs to improve. Can you think of someone better to market to businesses than a billionaire…who happens to be the head of the Blackberry empire?”
I’d also quibble with the first quote she picked, simply as inaccurate. As there has been much discussion around lately – money is not all that is required to move the team. It takes the consent of the other owners, the league office, and a city – and oh yeah, a lack of support here. I guess that was the point i made, huh? Good choice Brittney. :-)
However, it was much like Spiderman 3, it took a jump to the goofy side several times that is going to make it hard to re-watch.
Overall, i was gratified to find that it lived up to my expectation as a very similar trilogy to the original Star Wars trilogy. First movie is fun, beat the bad guys, could stand alone. Second movie is much much darker, and our scoundrel hero dies/disappears in the end and the rest of the team (young and fragile) is left all alone in the world. Third movie they first have to come of age on their own, go rescue the scoundrel, and the audience has to deal with silliness (Ewoks and split personalities) and there is a major battle at the end.
Of course with Pirates, the ending was a little more complicated and slightly less obvious than Star Wars – and not quite as completely happy, but solid overall.
Last statement is that the writing stayed fantastic. The pace was good, the plot twists did not disappoint, but were not impossible to follow, and the dialog was appropriately simple/complex for each character. Lots of good quotable quotes from Captain Jack and other characters without being too silly (most of the time).
I will also say that i went back on my promise and watched this movie on film (at Opry Mills) but the experience was tolerable. Much better than my previous film experiences. However, my friend (one that i drug with me to see Spiderman 3 in digital) leaned over to me after the movie and cursed me for spoiling him. He had never thought film was bad until he saw a movie in digital. This was a great film showing, the sound was good, but there were still flecks, the light still flickered, and the picture still shifted laterally and in and out of focus. We’ll see where we end up going to see our next movie on the list (Ocean’s 13 is probably next), but i have a feeling it will be digital. No question we’ll see Ratatouille in digital, but my hope is that we wont have to goto the ghetto to see it – Opry Mills was showing Shrek 3 in digital last night (but everything else on film).
I was really hyped about it before. But if they are going to have this sort of content surrounding the game, then this is just fun on top of fun (not blood on top of blood the way so many games are now).
Cry some more.
The amazing thing about this is that it is all in engine. This looks like something out of the Incredibles and it is being rendered live, in a video game! If the characters really react to going on a killing spree like that, i am going to be horrible at this game because i am going to be laughing so much.
Here it is. Our 3 minutes of fame. Christy and i running around on the ice in front of 17,113 fans during game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
We were selected at random as we walked in to the arena. It was pretty cool.
FYI: The Predators crew felt so bad about the way things went (we were clearly ahead when the official got in my way) that they loaded us up with as many things as they could find and cram into two Predators duffel bags. So we have bobble heads, towels, trading cards, and drinking cups galore now – all of which went into the bathroom downstairs that was already decorated in 90% Predators / 10% Spurs :-)
I was also able to snag the puck that Christy played as we left the ice. Quite an experience.
And a special thanks to Paul McCann, the Predators PA announcer (and fellow Dell employee during his day job) who was able to secure us the DVD of the “show” – it is a raw feed from what was shown on the scoreboard.
Well, i did it.
I drug my friends to a ghetto theater (Hickory 8 in this case) so we could see Spiderman 3 with a digital projector instead of flickering, scratchy, fuzzy, hairy film.
It was wonderful.
Don’t get me wrong, the kids constantly running in and out of the crowded, smallish theater was annoying, and the sound was a little loud and treble-heavy. They also didn’t have anything but candy and popcorn at the concession stand – no hot dogs!. (Normally i never partake of concessions, but we were running late and needed to grab something to tide us over for dinner). But the seats were very nice, large comfortable (soft) seats. Overall i give the theater itself a 6 out of 10 at best.
However, overall it was the best movie experience i’ve had in a long while. The picture was steady, in focus, and sharp. No hair. No scratches. No jitter. I also couldn’t see any pixelation or color gradients the way i can on most digital TV’s (including our basic DLP projector at home, alas). I really want to know what kind of codec and bitrate they use, and what resolution the movie and projector are. It was amazing. I don’t plan on going to a non-digital theater again. Ever.
By the way, the movie itself was pretty good. Not great, but not as bad as the Fantastic Four. Definitely didn’t take itself too seriously, which helped given the overall heavy emotional content of the movie. They did a good job of taking established Spiderman story lines and integrating them in interesting ways. I also very much appreciated the producers who made the trailers not giving away much of the end of the movie. There were one (or two) important characters not in the trailers that made for great effects eye-candy that weren’t shown in the trailer. I don’t want to say too much for those that haven’t seen it, but i applaud the producers for not giving in to the urge to put every cool effects shot in the trailer. Final judgment: not a waste of money, but you’re safe waiting for DVD if you have a decent home theater.
Now i have to preach to everyone else that if it is in digital, it is worth going to the movies again.
(For those that missed my rant about bad theater experiences a while back: check here)
Well, the first of my must see movies for the summer, Spiderman 3, is opening tomorrow. My friends and i aren’t the midnight crowd (not usually), so we won’t seeing the movie tonight.We always watch Stargate on Friday nights, so that means we’ll be seeing it Sat. Anyway…
The point of this post is to tell you that i am finally going to make good on my threats to never pay to see a movie on film again.
I’ve spend far too much time this afternoon calling around to local theaters, but i finally have the list of which theaters have made the move to digital projectors:
Carmike Rivergate 8 – Yes Bell Forge 10 (Hockory Hollow)- Yes Wynnsong 10 (Rivergate) – Yes Wynnsong 16 (Murfreesboro) – Yes Green Hills 16 – No Opry Mills – No Hollywood 27 – No Thoroughbred 20 – No
What is really odd about this list: All the old theaters have gone digital, while all of the “nice” new theaters are still showing film. (The girl at Opry Mills try to tell me that IMAX was digital…it is 70mm film for those that don’t know). I guess this makes sense for two reasons: 1) those theaters are losing audience to the newer stadium-seating theaters so they need a ‘gimmick’ and 2) they are older and were due for upgrades, so they get the new stuff.
Either way, i plan on frequenting these places from here on out. Outside of focus, there shouldn’t be any issues with picture or sound at these places again. (gum on the seats and sticky floors may be another issue all together)
I can’t believe this has apparently been out for a while and i just saw it. New trailer for Ratatouille! (not just the teaser)
Get the High Def version here.
You can also check out this really funny little short animation test, as well as a behind the scenes video with the writer/director, as well as the technical guys. And last but not least, a set of videos with the writer/director and main star appearing at WonderCon: part 1 and 2. And last but not least, a feature that Good Morning America did on the movie (it is pretty bad though).
Oh – and in related (embarrassing) news: i didn’t know ratatouille was actually a real food until my sister pointed it out.
Yes, out of the 16 movies that i am interested in this summer, 2 – that is TWO – are original movies (not sequels or remakes or based on TV shows or whatever). Either something is wrong with me, or something is wrong with the movie industry – or both.
I have to do a little mini-rant. Mostly just pointing out something i think is silly. A good idea gone just slightly wrong.
The local Yellow Pages around here have an add that plays about 10 times during every Predators game on the radio (which i listen to a lot since we don’t have cable). It is meant to promote their Companion Directories. Basically mini-versions of their normal dead-tree phone books (does anyone use those anymore?). The idea is that the two books work best in combination.
The premise is simple enough – imagine famous people in history without their famous partner.
Lewis without Clark… Lewis: “Man are my feet tired, any one want to go further?” Crowd: “Nah”
Orville without Wilbur… Orville: “I will make history! Man will fly! Can someone give me a push? Anyone?” [Silence]
… Funny enough. But then they go off the deep end…
Romeo without Juliet: Friend: “Romeo, you doing anything tonight?” Romeo: “Just staying at home, working on my tapestry” Friend: “Romeo, get a life.”
The irony in the last statement is priceless. Romeo without Juliet would have lived longer! He wouldn’t have killed himself. He’d have had a chance to work on a lot more tapestries. I think all-in-all you’d have to say Romeo without Juliet would have been a generally improved situation.
Funny commercial, but i think this is just evidence of how many people read the first part of the play in high school, got lazy, and never got around to finishing it.
Christy and i were recently selected to be a Nielson family. That is, we were going to be one of the families who’s TV watching habits were monitored to see who is watching what. Those numbers are then analized to see what the number one show on a given night was, etc.
My family got a chance to do this when i was younger, so i was excited to get the chance. Even though we don’t have cable, we were looking forward to being able to ‘pad’ the ratings for hockey and Stargate, etc. that are still occasionally on broadcast TV.
However, you will note i am using all passed-tense verbs. The guy came out this afternoon and determined we were a no-go.
Normally, they need a phone jack near every TV. We don’t have one upstairs. But they said they have a ‘wireless’ model that would work. The problem came in with the computers.
We have a normal TV upstairs with a tuner. However, there is a PC hooked up to it that we watch things from occasionally. Downstairs there is a 19″ LCD TV with a tuner we use sometimes, a VCR with a tuner we use sometimes, and a computer with an HDTV tuner that can display on the 19″ screen or on the full projector system. They don’t have any way to measure people with TV tuner cards. The guy said they just got the ability to measure content coming from DVR’s and DVD players… wow. They are YEARS behind. It is amazing to me that the company that all TV advertisers and networks use to measure the success or failure of a given show don’t have the ability to measure even the most basic of PC-based TV tuners. Not to mention all the watching of content we see streamed over the web (like Christy watching Ugly Betty).
As a result – if they can’t measure every TV in the house, they don’t measure anything.
It really makes me wonder just how under-represented geeks are. Giving in to stereo-types, i wonder how that affects the ratings of shows like Stargate, etc. At the very least i now know that my demographic (young, techno-savvy, upper-middle class, etc) are not being represented and as a result, our shows are not getting their due.
Oh well. Another reminder that the world is not perfect, despite my best efforts.
Note: They did say they are working on being able to measure PC-based tuners. They are supposedly testing some methods in other markets. They said that we will still be selected as a ratings family when they can measure us, which will be 9 months to a year from now. So, if you will pardon the pun: stay tuned.
For only the second time, Pixar lost an Oscar they were nominated for. Up until this point, Pixar had won for every Best Animated Picture or Best Animated Short Oscar they had ever been up for, save for the first year the award was given (2001) when Shrek won. All I can figure is they lost for spite. That too many people didn’t want to “give” them the Oscar.
I would have understood if The Incredibles had lost to Shrek 2. The Incredibles was not as strong as past Pixar films, but… Happy Feet!? I saw all three movies in the category this year. The trailers for Happy Feet looked killer, and all I can figure is voters must have gone off of that and not bothered to actually watch.
The only good parts of the movie fit into the 2 min trailer, and when viewed in context, they were weak. Not to mention, as my wife pointed out, there were live actors in multiple parts of Happy Feet. It was just a bad movie. Not a good musical (one of those modern “mash-up” musicals with pop songs rather than a true musical) and the ending was just bizarre. It had nothing to do with the lead up of the movie. It jumped from a nice coming of age story for the first hour-plus, to a solve-world-peace environmentalist movie in the last 15 minutes. Honestly i think Monster House (the other movie in the category) was a better film – and it was pretty strange too. But at least it was supposed to be.
Cars was a great movie. I think probably the best Pixar since Finding Nemo or A Bug’s Life. How in the world it lost to Happy Feet i don’t know. Oh well.
That’s right. Apparently MTSU alum (my alma mater) Eddie Gossage is the short list for the NHL commisioners job when Gary Bettman’s contract expires after the 07-08 season.
I’m not a 100% Bettman basher the way some are – i think the new collective bargaining agreement and new rules, etc have been great for the sport. However, under Bettman’s watch there have been 2 lockouts, one season lost all together, and the league has all but disappeared from the national radar in the US. Attendance is up, showing that hardcore fans in NHL cities are supporting the sport, but TV, radio, and other coverage around the rest of the US is paltry at best. I definitely think he needs to go and conventional wisdom is that the league owners agree.
At this point, no official inquiries have been made. Gossage is denying that he is going anywhere or that he has officially talked to anyone with the NHL. He has said he is commited to heading the Texas Motor Speedway as he has sucessfully done for a few years now. But he is a known hockey fan (gotta figure he’s a Preds fan right?) and is apparently frequently courted by other sports entities for his marketing prowess.
That is the Nielsen rating that the NHL All-Star game managed to draw last Wed night. Just 672,948 people. 474,298 households.
Honestly that is better than it could have been. After all, Gary Bettman (NHL commissioner) and allowed Versus (formerly the “Outdoor Living Network”) to cover the game rather than NBC or another major network. …And they decided to run it on Wed night, not a weekend. …And decided to run the Young Stars and Skills Competition against the State of the Union address in the US. …And decided to run the main All-Star game up against American Idol – the number one program on TV. The only worse decision would have been to put it up against the Super Bowl, or maybe make it an internet-radio-only broadcast.
Even in Canada they only drew a 1.2 rating. That’s bad. It measured a 0.5 rating in the host city of Dallas. The best US city was Buffalo (which counts as Canada) with a 7.1 rating.
To give you an idea of how bad this really is… Many people are writing about how attendance is poor in the NHL this year. We are certainly hearing about it in Nashville. Well, the league average for attendance is 16,954 per game. Assuming that on any given night one-half of the league is playing, that means there are 127,156 people who actually pay money and take hours out of their day to go watch a game in person. That isn’t counting the people sitting at home watching the games on TV. I can just about guarantee you that on any given night, more people watch a hockey game than they did last Wed night.
I really wish they had done what they did several years ago and do a combined All-Star Weekend. Do it the same weekend as the NBA All-Star game. Years ago they had the advantage of both leagues being covered by the same network so it was an all-day programming block. It was great. At the time i a basketball fan living in a non-hockey city – but i watched the NHL All-Star game that year and really enjoyed it.
And what baffles me…Bettman just allowed Versus to pick-up not only next year’s option to cover games (it was their option), but also every season through 2011. The only hope the NHL has now is to get NBC (or another network if NBC drops out) to cover more games on broadcast TV. They might have a prayer there if NBC’s upcoming schedule does well. After all – NBC lost the NBA and their only other sports property now is covering football on just 16 Sun nights a year. And after all, NBC’s first hockey game of the year got a 1.1 rating. And it was just a random early season game.
Oh – one more thing…Versus needs to do what every other sports broadcaster does and make arrangements for a flexible schedule. Just a guess, but in late March when the playoff race is heating up, i think they will regret having Minn vs. Phoenix lined-up.
Anyway…as soon as the NHL moves to a network that doesn’t lead into games with Survivor reruns (yes – reality show reruns) and follow it up with angler fishing, i think they’ll be doing better.
My sister just made a fun post on her blog listing a lot of her favorite bands.
I am both too lazy and too compulsive to try to really put together a comprehensive list of my own, but i can copy and paste from Rhapsody…
This is a copy/paste from Rhapsody – these are my “top rated” artists. Not everyone i like/love is on Rhapsody, and even those that are, i haven’t rated all of them yet. But anyway…here’s the list, roughly in descending order, but don’t put too much stock in that.
Jamiroquai, Queen, Chagall Guevara, Dave Brubeck, Steve Taylor, Sixpence None the Richer, Leigh Nash, Weezer, Ella Fitzgerald, Relient K, The Sounds, Venus Hum, Imogen Heap, The Postal Service, The 77′s, The Beatles, Radiohead, Stereolab, Santana, Annie, All-Star United , Ladytron, Garbage, Mr. Scruff, Smash Mouth, Tony Bennett, Zero 7, OK Go, Death Cab For Cutie, Fleming & John, Daft Punk, Louis Armstrong, The Beach Boys, Electric Light Orchestra, Stevie Wonder, The Clash, Ben Folds, Kylie Minogue, Nat King Cole, Wax Poetic, Brand New Heavies, Robbie Williams, Sufjan Stevens, Franz Ferdinand, Cool Hand Luke, Joy Electric, Benny Benassi, Goldfrapp, Fischerspooner, Switchfoot, Coldplay, U2, Dido, Frou Frou, Led Zeppelin, Everclear, Glenn Miller, Cake, Sum 41, Glenn Miller and His Orchestra, The Ramones, Johnny Cash, Blondie, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bodyrockers, Chuck Berry, The Brian Setzer Orchestra, Telepopmusik, Diana Krall, Earth, Wind & Fire, Chumbawamba, Duke Ellington, Michael Jackson, Vince Guaraldi, Frank Sinatra, Starflyer 59, They Might Be Giants
Well, i think this will be the first time since i started blogging, but it was inevitable:
Sorry it’s been so long!
Not that it really matters. I’m only averaging 6-8 a views a day, most of which are random hits or people looking for hockey stuff. Based on the great response from my request for comments, and the best i can tell, the remaining 2 of you are my wife and father-in-law. Thanks guys.
Anyway, just wanted to tell everyone about the two awesome festivals i’m not going to this summer. I am a big music fan, and love live music, but i mostly enjoy massive festival shows from the comfort of my DVD. I prefer my live music in groups of 200 or less. 200,000…not so much. However, these line-ups give me pause. Several of these bands don’t actually exist anymore and a reuniting for these shows – or better yet – are cool, current acts that rarely if ever play live shows, much less play them in the US.
Anyway…you can see the full line-ups other places. Here’s the listing of bands that i would actually want to see at each show:
:::Coachella::: Rage Against the Machine The Police Depeche Mode Daft Punk Franz Ferdinand Sigur Ros Ladytron Imogen Heap Massive Attack Madonna Paul Oakenfold Coldcut Los Amigos Invisibles Jazznova
:::Bonnaroo (from a rumored line-up, not official)::: The Police Bob Dylan Willie Nelson Bela Fleck and the Flecktones Modest Mouse Medeski, Martin and Wood Four Tet
Now, many of these “bands” are electronic acts that consist of one or two people and whose stage shows consist of them pressing play then running cool light shows. I know this because i used to be the guy that pressed play in another band (whoa, flashback). So in reality i don’t think i’m probably missing amazing shows as much as the chance to say that i saw Ladytron.
Now, i do think some of them will be great live (Medeski, Bela Fleck, Daft Punk, Sigur Ros), and one i have seen live and know they will be great (Imogen Heap). But over all it is definitely not worth the time, money, discomfort, and general hassle of dealing with the trips to cali or even just down the road to ‘roo (man i’m hip…check me throwin’ the slang). But i’ll probably look to buy the DVD if they sell them.
Games: Khet – Chess with lasers * I just got this game for Christmas. Awesome. Highly recommended if you like to play chess at all. Playable Atari Keychain Controllers Pocket 20 Questions (Portable version of this. Amazing.)
PVP Stuff: (PVP is a great online comic i have gotten into lately) Support the Pwned Bracelet ‘Sup Shirt Han Shot First(I have the original version of this shirt)
I know you were all keeping track and waiting in anticipation.
In grand tradition, i will now say “blog” 100 times. Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog
(…you know, that doesn’t look as big or long as i thought it would. And now to the actual post….)
Many of my posts, especially recently, have been about the Predators, or hockey, or at least sports.
None of you are commenting!
Point 1) I am considering branching off and making a Predators/Sports blog. Not that there aren’t enough good forums and even a few decent blogs…but more than a few have gone silent. OK…even the official blog is pretty poor. Predators’ PA announcer Paul McCann‘s is the only really solid, consistent one I have found.
Point 2) I know that many of you that read my posts may be new to this ‘blog’ thing, but it is traditional (or at least common) for people to actually comment on my posts. Can be as simple as “Amen brother!” or as long as the comment my dad posted when i ticked him off about the Billy Graham statue. My wife is the only person to comment more than once i think (thank you sweetheart).
So – your assignment…
USING THE COMMENTS FIELD – ANSWER THE QUESTION: DO YOU THINK I SHOULD SPLIT OFF A SPORTS/HOCKEY BLOG, OR JUST KEEP POSTING EVERYTHING IN ONE PLACE?
The Nashville Opera is about to start offering directors commentary tracks to be listened to during the performance! I’m pretty proud that Nashville is pioneering this.
Apparently you are supposed to go to the first show, then go home, download the commentary to your MP3 player, then listen to it during the 2nd or 3rd shows. You just start playing it back at the beginning of the show and it should stay roughly synced (maybe the scenes or acts are broken up into separate files?). They even discount the tickets to your second show.
I would also assume that some that are curious about the technology or are totally newbies to opera may just do this on their first viewing, but personally i don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
I was having a good day, and then this just ruined my morning.
There are two ways to look at this:
The newspaper is making a big deal out of this and Leipold is just crying out for fans to come to games and looking for help to lessen the financial burden of a franchise that is still loosing money.
Leipold’s promise that he is not interested in moving the franchise is just typical sports-franchise owner misdirection and he has seen in the discussions about the Penguins moving that there is money to be made in other markets.
I have also been surprised by the fact that we still don’t have a new corporate-name sponsor for the Home of the Predators. It is still officially called the Gaylord Entertainment Center, but the Gaylord company stopped paying for naming rights a long time ago. It is just part of their original contract that is has to still be called the GEC until another name-rights holder is found.
Our attendance averages are up this year so far from last year about 300 per game, and we still haven’t gone through the playoff buildup, and post-Titans part of the season that always increase attendance. I don’t think the franchise is really in danger of moving. But i hope this does light a fire under local media and the Predators marketing office to get attendance numbers up.
I don’t think Leipold is really looking to move. As this article points out, he has one of the cushiest arena deals in all of sports. I think he just wants to shake things up and share the losses when the team runs negative.
The good news out of the second article: We get our new scoreboard over the summer!
Christy and i decided to go see a movie tonight (Christmas eve), courtesy of some free tickets from a bad experience at an earlier movie showing (*see previous post). We chose to see A Night at the Museum. It was great. Just was i was hoping for.
Very fun, fairly shallow, and extremely entertaining. Plenty of slapstick style gags, but not so much as to get tired of them. I also loved seeing Dick Van Dyke, one of my favorite comedic actors of all time, doing his thing again. Ben Stiller was also great throughout. It was smart, touching, but not too sappy. And just generally fun. You’ll smile and giggle through the whole thing, though rarely laugh out loud. But you will almost certainly leave in a much better mood than when you went in (if you can let yourself have the fun).
It was also great because this movie was PG and was justly so (save one fly-by use of the “a**” word). There were some scenes that would be scary for little kids, but on the whole it was a very innocent and entertaining movie that a family really could go see, with some good take-home warm-fuzzy morals to the story too.
Christy and i are becoming quite the movie buffs. We’ve been getting to go see several movies for free (Charlotte’s Web and The Nativity Story) and electing to pay to see others. We also have our Blockbuster online membership. However, having the home theater setup that we do, and watching tons of movies at home via Blockbuster lately – i am really growing to dislike going to the movies. It’s not the price of the popcorn or the kids in the front row or even the price of the tickets. It’s the fact that i honestly get a better showing of the movie at home with my home theater that cost a total of maybe $1,500 to put together (not a small amount of money i know, but nothing massive either).
The movie we saw tonight had no sound through the first several trailers (including several i hadn’t seen yet and wanted to). Then once the sound did come on, it dropped to stereo a couple of times in the movie, then jumped back into surround. There was also a massive green scratch down the middle of the picture for about 2 minutes straight at one point
Add to this the fact that they are still showing movies on film in our theaters, despite having higher-than-HD digital projectors that they show previews on. The film not only has the previously mentioned scratches and hair, but it jumps around. It is part of the nature of film. It never stays 100% in focus and it moves slightly from side-to-side and top-to-bottom occasionally. Digital projectors, while having their own issues (finite resolution and limited color pallet, etc) at least hold the picture steady and in focus through the whole showing.
Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and Landmark Theaters, has a new company starting up that is trying to promote the simultaneous release of movies to theaters, pay-per-view, and DVD. At this point, i would SO be willing to shell out $25 or maybe even as much as $45 to have a high quality DVD of a new movie (no bonus content) that i could watch with friends at home (say…the upcoming Ratatouille or Transformers) rather than pay $15 to go see it in a theater with only Christy. If i know i am likely to own the movie eventually anyway, i have no problem doing that.
I’d even be willing to wait a few weeks. Make the first week theater, second week PPV, third week DVD. I’d be willing to bet it would actually cut back on all the piracy, too. People could just legally go buy a high-quality copy rather than wait a day for a bad quality camcorder rip to download (a practice i do not partake in or encourage, BTW).
iTunes may offer Disney movies in HD next year! While i am not in a hurry to watch the Hunchback of Notre Dame, i am dying to watch Cars and other Pixar movies.
I have the Cars trailer in HD (1080p) thanks to Apple’s movie trailer site. I still pull it up about once a week and just drool over it. But to go from 1920×1080 on that trailer to 720×480 on the DVD…you can really start to see a difference (Don’t get me wrong – i still want the DVD for Christmas!). But i can’t wait to watch the whole thing in HD.
And yes, i think i could even get over having to buy it from Apple.
He is so fun. His english is coming along well, but is still bad – but he is so enthusiastic.
Scott Hartnell: “It’s like every goal is his first goal. His arms are going wild and even when he’s by himself, it seems like he’s giving high-fives to everyone because his hands are going crazy. His facial expression is priceless, too. It’s like he’s a kid in a candy store. It’s a lot of fun to watch and be around. I feed off that. I love watching him. You get a smile, you get a kick out of it and it makes you want to play harder for him and for the team.”
Alexander Radulov: “That’s just the way I play. I feel better that way. I’m excited and I can’t hold it inside. I need to let it out.”
Apparently Steve Sullivan encouraged him to calm it down a little…
Alexander Radulov: “You have to respect the other team, so you have to be more quiet,” Radulov said. “When I first came (to the NHL), I didn’t know that. But now I understand. I need to take it easy.”
Coach Barry Trotz: “The old school of thinking is sometimes just that — old. It’s the new NHL, baby. We have an exciting product and he’s an exciting player. If it wasn’t genuine, then I’d have a problem with it. It would be showmanship. But he just loves to score. He gets a real rush from it.”
I’d say keep it up A-Rad.
You’re making the game fun. Not to mention, helping NHL 07 look more realistic. The characters always have huge celebrations for every goal – even when you score 12 a game. And apparently Radulov actually did the whole ‘stick-is-a-sword’ thing while he was in the juniors. I’d pay money to see him do that in the NHL.
Apparently people are not as dumb as i thought. Not in the long term anyway.
Forrester Research just announced that the number of monthly iTunes transactions has dipped 58% since Jan ’06, and average purchase size has declined by 17% – an overall revenue decline of 65%.
“It is too soon to tell if this decline was seasonal or if buyers were reaching their saturation level for digital music”
…or people are finally realizing that iTunes and iPods are a rip-off. They are upset that more and more of their friends are purchasing MP3 players that will work with subscription services. For just $14.99 their friends can access unlimited amounts of music. While iTunes users can only add 15 songs per month for the same price.
“Only Apple knows just how much profit there is at the end of the day on a $1.98 credit card transaction for two songs, but with transaction costs, hosting costs, and the wholesale price of the songs, there’s not much margin left”
In other words, Apple gets charged a certain amount per transaction, so when the purchase size goes down, it hurts profits. Overall sales going down obviously hurts too. Apple’s cash cow is hurting.
I am not trying to revel in the failure of Apple, i am honestly happy that consumers may finally be realizing that iTunes is not a good deal.
(I have to get back to work, i’ll probably right more on this later.)
My sister just did this on her blog. Normally i steer away from these things, but this one seemed fun. So here it goes…
SOUNDTRACK TO MY LIFE: Here’s how it works: 1. Open your library (iTunes, Rhapsody, Winamp, Media Player, etc) 2. Put it on shuffle 3. Press play 4. For every question, For the first 16 songs, type the song that’s playing 5. When you go to a new question, press the next button Write them down. 6. Don’t lie and try to pretend you’re cool…
(note: My Rhapsody playlist has 983 songs at the moment and is 2.9 days long) (note: If you want to see what the “stages of life” were supposed to be you can hit my sisters blog, but i just decided to make this what it really is – 16 random songs from my playlist. The correlations to “stages of life” just turned out boring anyway.)
If i am reading this article right, Clear Channel is effectively about to be broken up by a buyout offer. Thomas H Lee Partners (who already own Univision) are buying Clear Channel for $19 billion. As part of the deal, the new parent company is going to sell off 448 of the 1,000+ radio stations that Clear Channel owns, along with all 42 TV stations, and the Clear Channel Outdoor Advertising group (billboards). What i didn’t realize was that Clear Channel had already spun-off its live event company (and SFX entertainment with it) now called Live Nation.
This is big. These guys also owned a controlling stake in Ticketmaster at one point, along with a few venues and concert promoters in major markets. What this lead to was Clear Channel radio stations promoting artists, who then played at Clear Channel owned venues, advertised on Clear Channel billboards, promoted by SFX entertainment, and sold tickets through Ticketmaster. This is the most complete example of vertical integration i know of. Certainly in the entertainment industry. And apparently it has been and is being quietly broken up – voluntarily – thanks to market forces.
Update: This article on Forbes.com says that Google is one of the possible buyers for the radio stations. Now that would be really interesting.
For those that don’t know i am a huge fan of the Half-Life series of first-person shooter games (as well as several mods). Well, bad news: the next release, Half-Life 2: Episode 2, has been pushed back again.
It was originally slated to be released for this Christmas, then pretty quickly got pushed back to Q1 2007 (Feb-ish). That wasn’t too big a deal though, because when the announced that, they also announced Portal and Team Fortress 2. These games look AMAZING and most everyone, myself included, were more than willing to wait if it meant getting these games for free along with Episode 2. Well, now they’ve pushed it back again.
For those that don’t know, Half-Life 2 itself was pushed back a year plus from its original release date, but that had a lot to do with the theft/leak of the source-code and Valve having to re-write large portions of the game.
That we know of, nothing like that has happened this time, but i sure hope they can come through on this release. I really want to play these games!
Christy and i got to goto* a preview screening of The Nativity Story last night in Green Hills.
I have to say, my expectations were pretty non-existent. I hadn’t seen any trailers for the movie, and hadn’t seen any promo material or anything else about it. I just had heard that it was coming out soon. Christy is the entertainment writer (as well as a general editor, etc) for Lifeway.com, so she got invited (with guest) to come see the sneak preview.
My impression afterward was mixed. I’ll go with the good part first, then the bad parts, then the amazing parts…
The movie itself, as a whole was ok. Nothing amazing, but pretty good. The settings, costumes, etc all seemed very authentic (not that i would know if they weren’t, but the point is i believed they were). The story flow was good. They also did a good job of throwing things in that you could buy into to keep the story interesting. This is obviously important given that well over half the audience probably knows this story pretty well in advance. They took a few liberties away from how i understand things ‘really’ happened, but they were obviously for the sake of making it interesting, or appealing to conventional/traditional tellings of the story (3 wise men arriving the night of the birth are the most obvious example).
Two complaints i would have were the dialog in a few spots, and the music.
The dialog overall was good. The movie starts out with Zechariah in the temple mostly speaking Hebrew. After watching The Passion and other such movies, it was kind of disappointing when everyone started speaking English shortly there after. That part i could live with though, and the dialog was good for the most part. The bad part was that it didn’t fit with the Biblical quotes. Everyone would be talking fairly normally – or at least how i would expect ancient Hebrew familes in small villages to talk in a movie – up until they ran into a part where the Bible actually has a verbatim quote of what so-and-so said. In those cases, they jumped right into the King James, then once the quote was done, they’d return to well-written dialog. That got pretty annoying. Luckily, most of this movie is filled-in assumptions, so that didn’t happen very often.
The music was…ok most of the time, but a few times was down right bad. The movie opens with a Christmas carol (I can’t recall which one) being played very epic soundtrack-ish. Then most of the movie stays out of the way. My wife, who’s knowledge of church and choral music far exceeds my own says that most of the music was based on other Christmas music themes, but they were originals were obscure enough, or they were modified enough as to not be destracting. The exception to this was what was supposed to be the tension/stress-filled climax to the movie. I don’t think i’m giving anything away here, but in the event that someone really doesn’t want to know anything about the movie, i’ll hide the text in black – just highlight below to read it….
[begin possible spoiler] Just as Joseph and Mary are on the outskirts of Bethlehem, Mary suddenly goes into labor (which according to a comment she made earlier, means Jesus was several weeks premature). Joseph goes into the standard father-to-be panic to find her a place to actually have the savior of all mankind. Thus making the whole “there is no room in the inn” thing a practical action sequence. It was a little goofy, but the real problem was this – the music for this sequence was “The Carol of the Bells”, played high-tension style with fast strings in a minor key. My wife had to shush me more than once i was laughing so hard. It turned a decent/good moment in the movie into a comedy sequence.
[end possible spoiler]
Anyway. Overall the movie was good, but here’s what was awesome about it:
I didn’t cry at Mary (she was decent, but just kinda there). Joseph was great, very well acted and written, but he didn’t get me either. It was the shepherd. He was amazing. His story, as short as it was, and the way he played it, just killed me.
Anyway, that’s my review. They let us go see it early, and i think the idea was that we would tell people about it. So consider yourself told.
* Those of us that learned BASIC in school growing up (for me it was 1st grade) learned that “goto” is a word. Spell check constantly reminds me that it is not, in fact, a word. But that hasn’t stopped me in 20+ years of writing. To this day, i have to go back and put in a space at least 5-10 times every single day at work. Basically every time you see me say “go to” on my blog, i have had to do it there too. This one time, i thought i’d leave it in for old times sake.
Today is a sad day. Concerned an online comic-strip that takes place in the Half-Life universe (mostly in City 17) has ended. (BTW: it’s final comic included a reference back to its first strip.) It ran for about a year and a half and was a very funny comic, well done, and full of inside jokes for players of the game. If you’ve ever played Half-Life and Half-Life 2, I highly recommend you read through it. Of course, it’s probably best to start at the beginning.
I also highly recommend reading a few comic essays from the same guy. They are pretty old, but hilarious. Check out E-maul, Fired, and especially See Spot; Run.
As i’ve talked about before, Christy and I often have movie parties at our house. Usually these things are scheduled to start around X:00, but people are usually late, and we never have the turnout we hope for. As a result, we usually end up starting the movies around X:30. This isn’t any big problem, but sometimes it leads to awkward time periods of sitting around. Especially since the people that show up on time are frequently people we know less well, as well as the fact that these parties mix our ‘friend groups’ so people there don’t always know each other.
As a solution to this, i have sometimes played little short movies while we wait. Just funny things that are somehow topically appropriate or whatever. However, i’m starting to run out of things to play (believe it or not). As a solution to that i have recently begun ripping and collecting movie trailers for other movies we own or might watch. It’s really been a lot of fun. It’s really interesting to notice the changes in the way trailers we done through the decades. I’ve done movies from just about every time period and genre, and its interesting to observe the differences. A lot of trailers from the 70′s and 80′s really don’t make me want to see the movie (Back to the Future‘s teaser and Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark are particularly poor).
It’s also funny to see how some movies are very mis-represented by their trailers (The Day The Earth Stood Still). Still others tell you nothing about the movie and assume you already know story/pitch from its fabulous run on Broadway, so of course you’ll come see the movie (My Fair Lady and Harvey).
One other interesting problem i have run into though – not all movie studios elect to put the trailers on the DVDs. I’d never really noticed this before. It does make sense that if i own a movie, and don’t need to be sold into seeing it. However, it seems that a simple 2 minutes of footage doesn’t take that long to encode and doesn’t take up much space on the disk. Disney seems particularly bad about this. None of the recent Pixar movies have them (The Incredibles, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo, etc), nor does The Pirates of the Caribbean, or the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, even though they all have 2-disc sets. Its seems they’d be dying to find more content to fill the discs with. What Pixar did do is put the a teaser on each disk for the nextPixar movie. So i can get the teaser trailer for Finding Nemo off the Monsters Inc DVD, the one for Incredibles off the Finding Nemo DVD, etc. But no where can i get the true theatrical trailer for any of them. There are many other movies that have elected not to include them. The most surprising of which is The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I have 12 discs full of content about those movies. TWELVE. And none of them have a single teaser, trailer, or ‘sneak peek’ for the movies themselves.
So, here’s the deal. I need your help. I’ve been able to find trailers online for a lot of the more recent movies. Quicktime‘s site in particular has a great selection of 1080p HD/surroundsound trailers. However, for older movies, and a few specific ones – i can’t find trailers.
So here’s the list. If any of you know where to find downloadable trailers for any of these movies (good quality. low-res fuzzy YouTube videos don’t count) please let me know.