Thursday, May 31, 2007

Pop stands for Popular...

I don't spend a ton of time talking about music in this space. The simple reason is because I deal with so much of it everyday at the station that it's nice to vent on the other areas of Pop Culture. The more honest and complex reason is that there just isn't much great music to talk about. Now before this becomes too much of a diatribe against the staleness and stubbornness of the "Christian Music Industry" let me shift gears. While it is true that the industry I work in is dying a death of sameness, I come here not to bury "Christian Music" but to praise it for an example of the kind of music we desperately need to see more of, pop.

Her name is Britt Nicole, and her debut album, "Say It" is the perfect example of what happens when you pair the right producer with the right voice and take some musical risks. In a word Britt's album is H-O-T. It was so refreshing to pop in an disc and listen all the way through with a smile on my face, and coming out on the other end with a sore neck from all the head bobbing. You may have heard her first single, "You", on "The Fuse" or your local "Christian station". It's okay, but it doesn't compare to the other tracks on this album. In fact, out of the 11 tracks on the album it may be in the bottom half. Why would the label choose it as the first single? Because they are catering to an already close minded and overly "safe" group of programmers, but that's a whole 'nother diatribe. The point is, Britt Nicole's album is an oasis in the mid tempo rock desert of our industry and I want to bring attention to it in whatever way I can. While the mainstream world cruises to Kelly Clarkson, Gwen Stefani, Black Eyed Peas, Rihanna, Nelly Furtado, Pink, Justin Timberlake, and The Pussycat Dolls (often putting up with messages they don't buy into), we have.... uh..... Toby Mac. Well, add Britt to that list and pick it up if you are looking for some great summer tunes, and pray that other Christian artists, labels, and radio stations realize there is a market for music that is, get this, popular.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

DVD Thoughts: Stranger than the Last King of Bobby

Summer is here. OK, maybe not officially, but the temperature is rising and my boys will be out of school in a week. Summer means a lot of things; running through the sprinkler, riding the bike, tubing on the lake, and Netflix. That's right, the online movie rental pioneer Netflix. Nothing says summer like bright red pre postage paid dvds in my mailbox. Once television's spring sweeps finish up we reactivate our Netflix account and spend the next 4 months catching up on all the movies we missed while we were watching Jack Shepherd pull a reverse Jack Bauer. The point is, the next few months will see a deluge of DVD reviews showing up here at Rollin', so you best be ready. I won't bother reviewing them all (you can catch the full list at my listology.com home) but I will try to hit the ones that might be worth your time, or that I found interesting. It's also important to note that these reviews will be condensed. Last summer I watched over a hundred DVDs (don't judge me, I could stop anytime I want) and I don't want them to dominate the blog. So maybe, every Wednesday (now that Idol is through) I'll post some DVD thoughts in a brief rundown.

Let's begin.



Last King of Scotland
R, 2006, 82%

General Thoughts: A powerful film with an astonishing performance by Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin, the former dictator of Uganda. The movie does an amazing job of painting the picture of a brutal man with an engaging magnetic personality, through the eyes of a fictional personal physician. There is enough rough content in this movie to make it difficult to recommend but it was great insight into being careful about who we connect ourselves with and the power of sin to take you further than you ever thought you would go.

MCQ: B/F/A

Overall Grade: B- (82%)



Bobby
R, 2006, 74%

General Thoughts: Based around the assassination of Robert Kennedy, the story follows several fictional characters as the deal with racism, adultery, growing old, addiction, war, and life in general. Even with all these topical conversations the only thing I found interesting about this movie was the historical aspect of the assassination, and since the characters (excepting the hispanic kitchen worker who held Kennedy as he lay dying) were all fictional it made for a very frustrating experience. I wasn't quite sure what the movie was trying to say, except for possiblly some blatant Kennedy worship. The performances were adequate, but noone really had enough screen time to develop beyond what was on the page. Overall a very dissapointing film, especially considering the pedigree of the cast.

Interesting side note: How is it that I never knew that 24's first season was a blatant allusion to the Robert Kennedy assassination? A socially active president has an attempt on his life on the day of the California presidential primary, and I never put the pieces together? Was the first season plot an attempt to see if one man could have stopped the assassination of "Bobby"? It's funny to think that a show that is now known for being as over the top and unrealistic as possible got it's start with a storyline that was firmly planted in historical legitimacy. Hmmm.

MCQ: C+/D/C

Overall Grade: C (74%)



Stranger than Fiction
PG-13, 2006, 92%

General Thoughts: This is one I really wish I had time to do a full review on. It's hard to encapsulate a movie with this much depth, symbolism, and beauty because there is so much going on. Stranger Than Fiction follows Harold Crick (played wonderfully and subtlely, if you can believe it, by Will Ferrell) as he deals with the sudden voice of a narrator informing him of his immenent death. The voice belongs to an author who is writing him as a character in her new novel. The plot is beautifully laid out under this conceit and succeeds with both humor and grace. The symbolism takes the message about structure and freedom to a whole new level (pay special attention anytime you see a circle) and Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, and Emma Thompson all give stellar performances as well. Most notably to me, however, is the last message that the movie throws our way (stop reading if you don't want to know the ending). The author of the story says this about her main character, "Because it's a book about a man who doesn't know he's about to die, and then dies. But if a man does know he's about to die and dies anyway, dies willingly, knowing that he could stop it, then, I mean, isn't that the type of man who you want to keep alive?" The power of a Christ's willing sacrifice and even resurrection portrayed beautifully by the same guy who brought us Ron Burgundy and Ricky Bobby... nice.

MCQ: A/C/A+

Overall Grade: A- (92%)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

The Depps of Despair
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, PG-13, 72%

I'm pretty easy to please when it comes to movies. I don't like to complain and am usually awestruck by your typical summer popcorn film. I love the spectacle, the grandeur, and the fun. Special effects and over the top visuals are what the big screen was made for, and just a decent execution of some big action is usually enough to make it worth the trip out to the cineplex for me. Which is why I find it hard to understand my feelings on the latest Pirate adventure from Mr. John Depp and the crew.

I didn't like it.

Not just, "it was OK", but I genuinely didn't like it. As in the "I would actively encourage people to avoid it" type of "not like it". I wouldn't use the "h word" or anything (that would be hate) but I thought it was pretty lousy. And unlike Spiderman-3 which I actually found myself wanting to revisit more as time went on, the more I've thought about Pirates the less I have any desire to see it again.

When Pirates 1 (I know that's not it's real name, but forgive me if I don't want to be typing out Curse of the Black Pearl/Dead Man's Chest/At World's End/Insert Your Own Overly Wordy and Useless Subtitle Here) came out it was a surprise hit. No one expected a movie based on an ancient Disney ride to be worthwhile, and then Mr. Depp put on an incredible character study and made gold doubloons where there was only sand before. Then Pirates 2 happened and I was disappointed in much the same way I was with the second Matrix, it seemed only a half story with an awful and tedious non ending. Still, even with "Pirates: The Second One" there were some fun moments that I really enjoyed, it was just ruined by the last quarter hour.

So what happened?

Well, if everything that is wrong about #2 can be seen in the last 15 minutes, I think everything wrong about #3 can be seen in the first 15 minutes. The movie starts with a drawn out, morbid scene that has very little if anything to do with the rest of the film except that it is a microcosm for all I found annoying about movie 3.

Who did what to whom and when was that again?

Maybe it was just me but I was "at wit's end" trying to stay with "At World's End". Maybe I didn't remember everything I was supposed to about the last movie, or maybe I'm not as astute a movie viewer as I had previously thought, but I found myself often asking questions like, "Why was she mad at him again?" and "Am I supposed to recognize that?" One of the most important aspects of any story is knowing the motivations of the characters and I couldn't keep them straight. I knew that in the end it was supposed to be Pirates vs. the SBDs (Snobby British Dudes), but the characters switched sides so many times and for so many reasons that I felt like an Indiana Pacers fan trying to remember who is on my team.

Are we there yet?

These last two movies reminded me of what it must have really been like to sail the seven seas. Lots of nothingness broken up only by the occasional pretty sight or enemy encounter. The longevity is even more annoying when you realize that 2 and 3 were, in essence, one film, one 5 HOUR plus film in two parts. I firmly believe these could easily have been a single 2 and a half hour film, and it would have been much tighter and held my attention. Of course to do this, you would need to take out at least a dozen of the useless side plots, but that only further emphasizes my point.

Been There, Done That

I think I'm done with the Pirate thing. Enough of the bloodshot eyes, enough of the dirty faces, enough of the tattered flamboyant clothing, enough of the funny accent, I get it already, and it's worn thin. I'm tired of the "on again, off again" shtick between Will and Elizabeth. In fact, during the "wedding scene" that was supposed to be this romantic culmination in a unique piratey way, I rolled my eyes so hard I had to get on my hands and knees and search the theater for them. I just couldn't have cared less about their relationship by that point, and it made that already drawn out scene even more of a burden. And here's the thing I can't believe I'm about to say, I'm tired of the Jack Sparrow bit. More accurately I think Johnny Depp is tired of it and it showed in his performance. Again, maybe it was just me, but when Jack is introduced in his Davy Jone's Locker induced insanity, and then he is introduced again, and again and so on until his personality fills the screen, the sheer volume of his performance was just too much. I found it delightful and engaging when it was fresh in the first flick, but by Pirates 3 I seem to be finding it like a supremely rich cheesecake. Sometimes after a couple bites, I just can't take anymore.

Shoulda been rated ARRRRRRRRR

Sure it's an old joke, and honestly I don't think it quite deserved an R rating, but it certainly was a very hard PG-13. The movie opens with the mass execution of dozens of people finishing off with the hanging of a child, not to mention the other numerous gruesome deaths throughout. My wife and I are grown adults and I think mature enough to deal with said darkness (though wife o' Dice did mention covering her eyes on occasion) but this film has been promoted as a family film, and based on the sold out audience we saw it with people didn't think twice about bringing the kids. You name the age, they were in the theater with us. The little boy (maybe 4ish) sitting right in front of me spent much of the movie pulling on my leg hair so I know they were there. The point is, I'm not usually one to get all riled up about this stuff, but I haven't been this distracted by knowing that children were watching since I saw "Passion of the Christ" (a movie I love by the way, but it's a bit much for the little ones). Come on parents, get a clue, do some research, and hire a babysitter. Of course the fault isn't all in the parents lap, a good portion falls to Disney who continues to market these films in their family division. Of course I'm the uptight parent that can't believe people let their kids watch the Shrek films, so maybe I'm the crazy one here.

Add to these things that I still haven't gotten over the fact that the main message of these films is the glorification of anarchy, self satisfaction, and greed and there just isn't much positive to walk away with. I suppose I could talk about the great performance of Geoffrey Rush or maybe the moments of genuine humor from some of the side characters, but those are merely the peanuts lost in the matted pirate's hair of "At World's End". You can pretend there is a meal in there somewhere, but you will go away hungry in the end.

C-

Friday, May 25, 2007

Workaholic Intervention (Game 5.25.7)...

Work is too important in our culture. For too long we have worshiped workaholism and put way too much emphasis on work ethic. So to help people break free of the bonds of overexertion I've instituted two new weekly features into the blog as simple online time-wasters. Every Monday, I will post a video, and every Friday a game. Something to keep you less productive at work or home, you know, just so you don't work so hard. It's for your own good.

Each Friday I will leave us with an easy online game to waste a few minutes with. If you want to play for about 10 minutes and then post your score, that would be cool. Today's game is is called "Particles" and it's as simple as it gets. Move the Blue ball around so that the red balls don't hit it. You will start with 3 red balls bouncing around and then every once in a while a new ball will appear and things get more difficult. When you are finished you should get a letter grade based on number of balls and time that you last. My best grade so far is a B+, can anybody ace this thing?

Particles

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Idol Thoughts (Finale Finale)...

Not much left to say about Idol, but since today is my last chance to do an Idol Thoughts blog, I'm milking this cow 'til the udder is shriveled dry. I pretty much summed up my thoughts on Jordin and Blake and Jordin winning yesterday, knowing it was inevitable. But if one thing perfectly sums up why Blake will be the eventual winner of this season, it's was his beat-boxing duet with Doug E. Fresh. By far the best performance of the night, Blake was given a chance to shine in his element and proved that he is a superstar. Other moments I thoroughly enjoyed from the finale.

The African Children's Choir - There is just this crazy joyful energy that comes from these kids and if you don't smile watching them sing and dance you are either dead or asleep, for your sake let's hope asleep.

Melinda with BeBe and CeCe - What, is it CCM rewind week on Idol? Scott Krippayne last night and BeBe and CeCe tonight? I half expected Carman to come out and join Blake for a version of "Addicted to Jesus".

The White Out - There is just something amusing to me about an entire cast wearing completely white clothing. I can't even put my finger on it, but it made me giggle.

The Best Duo Award - We all knew who the winners would be and that Bush Baby thing just never gets old, but the best part of this award was the Seacrest/Cowell piece in the nominations.

When my DVR shutdown - Just before they announced the winner. It was anticlimactic anyhow. Everyone knew Jordin would win. Rumor is that Blake even wanted to wear a "Vote for Jordin" T-Shirt, but wasn't allowed.

One more list before we close the chapter on this season of American Idol.

The Top 5 Idol performances of the season:

T5. Phil Stacey - "This is Where the Blacktop Ends" (Top 7)
T5. Jordin Sparks - "Broken Wings" (Top 7)
4. Blake - "Virtual Insanity" (Round of 20)
3. Melinda - "I'm a Woman" (Round of 16)
2. Lakisha - "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" (Round of 24)
1. Blake - "You Give Love a Bad Name" (Top 6)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Idol Thoughts (Finale Singing)...

So it all comes down to this, Blake and Jordin. I'm already on record as saying Jordin has this won, and unless Blake absolutely hits it out of the park and Jordin fails miserably I'm sticking with that. Still, it should be fun to see what they bring to the table tonight. Let's get to the show.

Blake kicks it off with a repeat of the greatest Idol performance ever. I don't like repeats, but I'll take that one. Not quite as fresh as the first time but still spectacular. (A+)

Jordin Sparks comes out swinging with a Christina Aguilera tune. It's a great choice for her, gets her a little bit of pop cred. For the first 3/4 of the song I thought she nailed it, but when she went into the vocal acrobatics I thought she struggled just a bit. Still great stuff. (A)

Round 1: Blake

Blake with some more Maroon 5, nice choice of style, to bring it back down and show the vocals. The problem is they were just a bit shaky. (A-)

Jordin brings back the Martina song (much to Andy's delight), and nails it again. Not my style, but I know an amazing vocal when I hear it. (A)

Round 2: Jordin

Here comes the inevitable original Idol song that they will be forced to release as singles even though it likely won't fit them. Add this to the list of reasons Blake won't win. There is no way this song was written for him... Wait a sec... did Ryan just say Scott Krippayne wrote this? As in Scott Krippayne, Krippayne? As in "Sometimes He Calms the Storm" Scott Krippayne? As in "I'm Not Cool" Scott Krippayne? Wow, you could have given me a month of chocolate Sundays to guess what CCM artist's name was going to come up tonight on Idol and I would have never gotten that one.

Blake takes his shot at the Scott Krippayne (sorry, can't get over it) tune and fails miserably. See, here's the thing. The song just doesn't work for Blake. Instead of a song writing crap shoot, why not have a group of songwriters work with each of the final 5 or so to start developing an original tune that fits who they are. You couldn't have written a worse song for Blake if you tried. Still, that's how the game is played. (B-)

Up comes Jordin, it's an underhanded lob to the plate, and she hits it out of the park. Congrats again Jordin on your win. (A)

Ok, so Jordin will win. But haven't we seen in the past that there is an Idol "official" winner and then there is an Idol true winner. It will be a year down the road before we know who truly won this season. And it won't be fought on phone lines it will be fought in Walmarts, Targets, and Itunes. Sure, sometimes the numbers match. Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and Fantasia all won their seasons and sold more records than anybody else (though Fantasia didn't have much competition). But Clay Aiken has sold more albums than winner Ruben Studdard from Season 2. And it's becoming pretty obvious that Daughtry will conquer season 5 sales in a huge way (He has already quadrupled winner Taylor Hicks album sales and is just about to pass Clay Aiken for 3rd highest Idol Album sales of all time, and Kelly Clarkson for 2nd highest album debut by an Idol). So who will be the ultimate true winner of season 6? I think it's pretty safe to say, not Jordin. In fact, I believe when all is said and done, she will be third.

Official predictions for Idol album sales as of next year:

1. Blake 1.6 million
2. Melinda 1 million
3. Jordin 800,000
4. Sanjaya 500,000
5. Lakisha 450,000

Let the true contest begin.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Idol Thoughts (The Backward Glance Edition)...

With it being finale week on Idol I thought I'd take today to look back at some of my observations on Blake and Jordin through the 20 or so Idol Thoughts blogs I've done. Of course I will only highlight all the times I was right about them, leaving those many incorrect assessments buried in history. Feel free to type up a counter post with all the wrong things I said and predicted, the abundance of which make that endeavor much easier. I like a challenge though, so I'll try to make my observations look good.

With the final 2 being pretty evenly matched, it's also a nice opportunity to look back and compare how their overall seasons stack up against each other and who might walk away the winner.

Let's start with their overall grades:

Blake:

Blake Lewis - “Somewhere Only We Know” (B)
Blake Lewis - “Virtual Insanity.” (A)
Blake Lewis - “All Mixed Up.” (A)
Blake Lewis - “Set Me Free” (B)
Blake Lewis - “Time of the Season” (A)
Blake Lewis - “Love Song” (B+)
Blake Lewis - “Mack the Knife” (B+)
Blake Lewis - “I Need to Know” (A-)
Blake Lewis - “When the Stars Go Blue” (B) [Andy's Guest Rating]
Blake Lewis - “You Give Love a Bad Name” (A++)
Blake Lewis - “This Is Where I Came In” (B-)
Blake Lewis - “You Should Be Dancing” (B+)
Blake Lewis - “When I Get You Alone” (A-)
Blake Lewis - “This Love (A)
Blake Lewis - “Roxanne” (A)

Average Grade: 91.2%
----------------------------------------
Jordin:

Jordin
Sparks - “Give Me One Reason” (A-)
Jordin Sparks - “Reflection.” (B-)
Jordin Sparks - “Heartbreaker.” (A-)
Jordin Sparks - “If We Hold On Together” (B+)
Jordin Sparks - “I Who Have Nothing” (A-)
Jordin Sparks - “Hey Baby” (C-)
Jordin Sparks - “On a Clear Day” (B)
Jordin Sparks - “The Rhythm is Gonna Get You” (B)
Jordin Sparks - “Broken Wing” (A+) [Andy's Guest Rating]
Jordin Sparks - “Livin' On a Prayer” (C-)
Jordin Sparks - “Woman In Love” (B-)
Jordin Sparks - “To Love Somebody” (A-)
Jordin Sparks - “I Who Have Nothing” (A-)
Jordin Sparks - “She Works Hard For The Money” (A)
Jordin Sparks - “Wishing On A Star” (A-)

Average Grade: 87.2%

Onto my overall personal rankings:


Blake:


24 - 2nd (out of guys)
20 - 7th
16 - 5th
12 - 5th
11 - 2nd
10 - 2nd
9 - 2nd
8- 2nd
7 - none [Andy's Guest Week]
6 - 1st
4 - 1st
3 - 1st

Average Rank: 2.8

----------------------------------------
Jordin:

24 - 4th (out of gals)
20 - 8th
16 - 4th
12 - 3rd
11 - 4th
10 - 6th
9 - 5th
8- 4th
7 - none [Andy's Guest Week]
6 - 5th
4 - 3rd
3 - 3rd

Average Rank: 4.5

Some interesting Quotes through the season:

"I think I'm rooting for Blake just for the novelty of it all."
-Round of 24-
----------------------------------------
"Jordin is good, a strong third to the power two"
-Top 12-
----------------------------------------
"I still think the big shock elimination this year will be either Lakisha or Melinda at the final four, and as the guys start to drop Blake will get stronger and stronger. It could be an interesting season after all."
-Top 12 results-
----------------------------------------
"Ladies and Gentlemen, your runner-up."
-about Blake, Top 11-
----------------------------------------
"Another quality performance from the Blakester. If he gains momentum at just the right moment we might actually have a battle on our hands for this title."
-Top 9-
----------------------------------------
"Do you think Jordin and Lakisha know that they are fighting for their life this week? The thing is, the winner of that battle may just shock the world and go to the finale with Blake instead of Melinda."
-Top 4-
----------------------------------------
"Here's the interesting thing. I think most would say that Jordin is probably the one who should go home, and that is still a very likely scenario. However, (and I even mentioned this last week) I'm picking Melinda to go home this week for three reasons:

1) We haven't had our real SHOCKER vote yet.
2) Blake and Jordin's fan-bases will be super motivated, and Melinda's may be looking ahead to next week.
3) Lakisha's votes are more likely to head to Jordin than Melinda. (This is based on the theory that underdog votes stay with underdogs when all else is equal.)

Melinda and Blake may be the final 2 everyone expects, but Jordin and Blake may be the final we get. At which point it's anybody's game."
-Top 3-
----------------------------------------
So what does it all mean for this week's finale? Not much. If you go by the overall season it's clear that I think Blake should win this thing. I picked up pretty early on that he could be the spoiler to what appeared to be an inevitably female dominated season. Jordin on the other hand, just never fully hit my radar until I knew Melinda was in trouble. I've also said in the past that the final week's performances mean little to nothing for the overall voting. So with that in mind, I'm making my pick here and now. I'll still throw up some opinions on tonight's show tomorrow, but there is no reason to delay the inevitable. Jordin Sparks will win American Idol 2007.

"What?! I thought you liked Blake. I thought you said he was "more consistent" and such?"

Indeed. I will be rooting for him and I think he deserves it, but he has a couple things going against him. First, almost every last one of those Melinda votes will be heading to his opponent. Second, Jordin's got the momentum, she's peaking, whereas Blake peaked a couple weeks ago. This is enough to send any "undecideds" towards Sparky, which in turn will be enough to give her the win. Third, she has Michael W. Smith's vote, and no one wants to make "Mikey W." angry (you wouldn't like him when he's angry, or was that Edward Norton? Anyhow...) Barring any horrendous performances tonight, it's in the bag for JS.

Congrats Jordin, you seem like a nice gal. Tell Michael I said "Hi".

Monday, May 21, 2007

Workaholic Intervention (Video 5.21.7)...

Work is too important in our culture. For too long we have worshiped workaholism and put way too much emphasis on work ethic. So to help people break free of the bonds of overexertion I've instituted two new weekly features into the blog as simple online time-wasters. Every Monday, I will post a video, and every Friday a game. Something to keep you less productive at work, school, or home, you know, just so you don't overdo it. It's for your own good.

I love Rube Goldberg. Well not necessarily the man, I really don't know much about him, but the concept. The idea of taking the longest possible route to doing the simplest things. In case you've never heard of it, a Rube Goldberg device solves a simple task with a complex series of events. It's like the game Mousetrap, which I don't think I ever played but it sure did look cool. I quick search of Youtube brings you the genius of the concept. There are Rube Goldberg commercials, Rube Goldberg contests, Rube Goldberg on Mythbusters, and even a sweet Rube Goldbergian animation through the world of Nintendo. I don't know what it is about these things, maybe it just says something about my personality that I love seeing the simple made difficult. Whatever the case, it's a complete waste of at least an hour when I search them on the internet. In my ongoing attempt to make sure you get the necessary "downtime" here's the best Rube Goldberg I've ever seen. The only downside is that the camera cuts so you can never be sure they got a complete run.

Check it out:

Friday, May 18, 2007

James Dobson reads my blog...

or at least that's what I assume from comments he made recently. In case you missed it, over 2 months ago I posted in this blog my hesitations in voting based on a "lesser of two evils" philosophy (one of the most viewed and commented on blogs I've done to this day). Well, in an article today Dobson made some comments right up that same alley, check this out:

"I will either cast my ballot for an also-ran — or if worse comes to worst — not vote in a presidential election for the first time in my adult life."
-James Dobson, in response to a possible Giuliani nomination-

Now don't get me wrong, I love Jimmy D., but lately he's been getting a little more cranky old man than I remember him being as I was growing up. Yet here we are, Dobson and me, on the exact same page. As time has passed since I originally posted my sentiments, the things Rudy has said in trying to sidestep the abortion issue has solidified my resolve. I will not vote for him. Not because I'm a Christian, but because I believe that stopping abortion is priority number one right now and Rudy won't even say when he believes life starts.

I hate sounding like a nut on this stuff, but I never want to forget how messed up it is that we kill over a million of our babies every year. And if Rudy Giuliani thinks he can blow that off as something "I don't agree with, but I support a women's right to choose" and still get my vote, then I've got news for him (namely the news that it ain't happenin'.)

This is one time that I'm glad that Dobson has developed a bit of an edge in the past few years. Go get 'em, Big D.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Serial (TV) Killers or "How I Learned to Start Worrying and Love the Jericho Bomb"...

I'm actually typing this while watching the last episode of Jericho. I don't mean the last episode of the season (although it is that) I mean the last episode period. CBS announced it's fall schedule this week and Jericho was nowhere to be found. It joins Andy Barker, Drive, and Studio 60 on the scrap heap of shows I actually liked that won't be around next year. 60 and Barker hurt because they were such great shows, but Drive and now Jericho hurt even worse because they were both "serialized" dramas. A show that makes a promise that the story is going somewhere if you will just stay with it (now, who was supposed to stay with whom again?) Anyhow, since the success of LOST the networks have been throwing more and more of these shows against the wall to see what sticks, and having little success. Quick, name a serialized drama that lasted more than one season. FOX's "Prison Break" is the only one and it has morphed more into a basic drama than the quirky, puzzle solving, progressive plot of the first season.

Of course, it's not like this is the first time this has happened to me. Last season, I found myself fully engrossed in "Invasion" and "Reunion" before they fulfilled the "only the good die young" cliche. Reunion was a particularly brilliant idea where each episode progressed from year to year as a group of graduates looked to solve the murder of one of there core high school group. The problem is we only got from 1986 to 1994 (2006 was the eventual destination) before the network gave up, leaving the murder unsolved. And this is the crux of the issue, closure. With Jericho now cancelled, we have no idea whose was behind the attacks, or if the US will recover, or ... well, you get the point. It's a complete tease. It's the worst kind of customer service. And it does nothing more than make it harder for the next show to survive.

Think of it this way. The networks are training us that the consequence for watching a new show is pain and lack of resolution, therefore less and less of us are willing to invest in new shows each season. We figure we will watch the ratings, and just buy the DVDs if the show is successful. Then, of course, the dreaded circle of cancellation is complete when the networks pull the plug because no one is watching.

Can anything be done? I say yes. Since I'm never one to complain without offering a solution (OK, fine, I'm usually one to complain and not offer a solution, but today, a new leaf) here are my three suggestions in making a serialized drama work on network TV:

1) Go with a mini series - If you have a great idea and it can be worked in less than 8 hours of programming (with possible expansion after) create a four week event (in sweeps of course) where the show will air in it's entirety. Sci-Fi's "The Lost Room" was a perfect example of this. It was an amazing show, that could have easily been a weekly, but they knew it needed resolution so they made it into a 6 hour mini series. They now have the option to do another "season" if they feel like the ratings/DVD sales make sense (or more importantly cents). As a viewer I'm completely satisfied no matter which way they go.

2) Go with DVD - Believe the show is good enough? How about releasing the entire first season on DVD before airing a single episode. This would require a complete shift in production schedule, but would give your viewers the good faith of knowing that at least the first season is already finished. You could build afan-base off of the discs and having them on the shelf as the season airs gives viewers an opportunity to pick it up mid-season if they are getting impatient, either way you win.

3) Go with the Internet - Not sure if the idea will work for a series? Create a scaled down intro series and release it online as a free video podcast. Make sure it lays out the foundation of what will give the eventual show it's oomph, but run it as long as it takes to see if the idea will catch on. That way you aren't out too much of an investment if it doesn't and you haven't sold out your viewer by letting it gomid-season.

Believe me, I'm not naive enough to think the networks owe it to me to keep a show that no one else is watching on the air. But I do think they owe it to us to plan enough ahead to make sure resolution is possible if it happens. The point is, Mr. Network dude, if you keeping dropping bombs on us eventually we will all disappear, and the TV landscape will be as barren and desolate as the world of Jericho itself. Or maybe it already is, and I'm the last remaining survivor.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Idol Thoughts (Top 3)...

Has there been a final three as good as this one? If last night's performances signified one thing, it's that there is no wrong answer for the winner this year. Personally I'm rooting for Blake, but would be completely fine if Jordin or Melinda walked home with the prize. Some great performances last night, so let's take it round by round.

Round 1- Judge's Choice

Jordin Sparks - “Wishing On A Star” (A-)
Blake Lewis - “
Roxanne” (A)
Melinda Doolittle - “I Believe In You And Me” (A-)

Jordin and Melinda were good, but Blake was the performer that round. He nailed it. Melinda's performance just seemed like it should have been more than it was. That song should have brought the house down, but she barely managed to bring the crowd to it's feet. I think the judges were giving her degree of difficulty points on that one.

Round 1 goes to BLAKE

Round 2 - Producer's Choice

Jordin Sparks - “She Works Hard For The Money” (A)
Blake Lewis - “This Love (A)
Melinda Doolittle - “Nut Bush City Limits” (A-)

Jordin proves she can do more than the power ballads! (see Kim, I do read your comments) Blake had another great performance as well and Melinda was pretty good for a song that was quite the strange choice. Overall though, Jordin was the one who came through this time.

Round 2 goes to JORDIN

Round 3 - Singer's Choice

Jordin Sparks - “I Who Have Nothing” (A-)
Blake Lewis - “When I Get You Alone” (A-)
Melinda Doolittle - “I’m A Woman” (A+)

Now there is the Melinda we know and love. I'm not a big fan of repeating performances on Idol, but she is incredible when she does that song. By the way, does anyone know if that song is based on Proverbs 31?

Round 3 goes to MELINDA


Tonight's Rankings:

3. Jordin Sparks
2. Melinda Doolittle
1. Blake Lewis

Overall Rankings:

3. Jordin Sparks
2. Melinda Doolittle
1. Blake Lewis

Predictions:

Here's the interesting thing. I think most would say that Jordin is probably the one who should go home, and that is still a very likely scenario. However, (and I even mentioned this last week) I'm picking Melinda to go home this week for three reasons:

1) We haven't had our real SHOCKER vote yet.
2) Blake and Jordin's fan-bases will be super motivated, and Melinda's may be looking ahead to next week.
3) Lakisha's votes are more likely to head to Jordin than Melinda. (This is based on the theory that underdog votes stay with underdogs when all else is equal.)

Melinda and Blake may be the final 2 everyone expects, but Jordin and Blake may be the final we get. At which point it's anybody's game.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Upon Further Wiiview...

We've had our Wii now for about 5 months (not including the month it waited in a box for Christmas to arrive), and I figured it was as good a time as any to take another look at the little white box that could. 6 months is a relatively short time for a console, but not as short as you might think. A gaming consoles average lifespan (by mass market viability, not how long it stays in working order) is about 6 years. If you put the average human at 72 that means that a console "lives" about a year for every month. So the Wii and PS3 are about 6 years old in human years while the XBOX360 is almost 18. So the Wii is still very young, but old enough to show some real development and get a handle on what kind of grown up it will turn out to be.

As shared before in this space, the Wii had an immediate impact on my family and we loved it right away. It was a great way to play as a family and had the added benefit of being "exercise". But after the novelty wears off (and the delusion of the Wii as a weight-loss device), does the Wii hold it's allure? And even more to the point, Do we find ourselves still using it?

Yes and oh my goodness, yes.

6 months later and the Wii is still an amazing little machine that holds our attention and provides hours of fun for the whole family.

Any Questions?

It seems like a fun system, IF I COULD FIND ONE! What's up with the supply problems? Shouldn't Nintendo be ashamed that 6 months later you still can't find a Wii in stores?

Ashamed isn't the word I would use. Thrilled, ecstatic, euphoric, giddy, or "rolling in big piles of money" would probably be more appropriate. The truth is that (and I know this sounds like PR speak) it is a demand problem more than a supply problem. The only mistake that Nintendo made was building something that more people wanted than anyone could have imagined. The numbers back this up. In just 6 months the best estimates are that Nintendo has sold just over 7 million Wiis total. As a matter of reference, there have been just over 3 Million PS3s sold in the same time frame, and almost 11 million 360's with a year's head start. Nintendo's dominance of Sony is pretty widely accepted at this point, but at this rate they will have outsold Microsoft within 4 months and that's with the current "supply issues". If they find a way to get more of these things out the door, we will finally see just how popular this thing really is and I wouldn't be surprised to see them sell 15 million by Christmas. The point is, from all appearances Nintendo is doing everything they can to meet demand, and a little pre-planning can score you a Wii on almost any given weekend.

What's up with the channels? Do you still use the weather, news, Internet, or everybody votes channels?

Not as much. I never check the news channel, and the weather channel only rarely when I'm already on the Wii and I'm thinking about weather for whatever reason. The Internet channel is also a rarity for me, but that may just be because we have a lousy connection at home. However, the "Everybody Votes" channel is strangely addictive. I haven't missed a vote yet, and I am always giddy when I find out the results are in. It's a very strange feeling to care about whether people prefer the color red or blue. Anyhow, the channel system is overall a great set up but needs some additional content.

Is there a way to make sure that super-cool pulsing entry slot blue light stays on?

Yes, just email your console and then don't open the email. And yes, I have done that. And yes, I understand that I am a freak.

Do you find yourself playing more Gamecube games or Wii games? Are the games holding up?

I am definitely playing more Wii stuff, but my kids are still addicted to some of the Gamecube stuff (and virtual console stuff like Zelda). As far as the games holding up, absolutely. The only reason I haven't gone back to Wii Sports or Wario Ware more is because my limited gaming time has been spent in finishing Zelda:Twilight Princess (by the way, one of the most incredible games I've ever played) and in working through Sonic and The Secret Rings (ok concept, not great execution) and just this week starting into Super Paper Mario (addictive, joyous, puzzle solving game-play). People talk about there being a "game drought" right now, but I barely have time to get into the games I do have.

Is the "motion based" control still fresh, or has it been exposed as a gimmick?

A little of both actually. It depends on the game and what the publisher is trying to do. In Sonic it's more gimmick, in Wario Ware it's perfect. Super Paper Mario actually doesn't even use it, because it doesn't need to. Game makers need to remember that the motion control is an option that can be used to make a game more intuitive, not something to be squeezed superfluously into every element.

OK, here's the big one, is it worth $250 and should I get one?

Well, in a free market, it's actually probably worth more like $300 since that's what people are still routinely paying for them on Ebay. But yes, I think $250 is the right price for a Wii especially if you have a family that likes to play together or already have a library of Gamecube games. As popular as the machine is right now, I wouldn't expect a price drop for at least another year, and most likely August of 2008 down to $199. Right now, the only thing that I would like to see drop in price are the controllers. They are $60 if you get both the remote and nun-chuck, so know what you need going in and plan accordingly. The good news is that the basic system includes one full controller and Wii Sports, so you could legitimately leave the store paying less than $300 and have everything you need (including a second remote which you will want to at least play two person baseball and tennis).

Overall, after 6 months, the Wii is still something my family is having a great time with and would highly recommend to anyone who is at all considering it. The only negative is that I likely still have 6 more months before "Super Mario: Galaxy", but I've got plenty to keep me busy until then, including losing about 50 pounds when "Wii Health" releases. Some delusions die hard.

Monday, May 14, 2007

On Shattered Dreamz and Earl-y Schemes...

Just a quick post this morning on the Survivor finale from last night. Survivor continues to put out good season after good season even though I feel like a lot of people have gotten bored with it. This season was no exception with some great characters, a great winner, and some real drama. If you missed it, everyone is talking about a late game decision by Dreamz (former homeless guy) to accept a deal with Yao Man (sentimental underdog favorite) in which Yao gave him the car he won and in return he would receive immunity at final four (if Dreamz won it). Dreamz went back on the deal, saying that he never intended to follow through, even though we heard him in several different solo confessionals saying how much he looked forward to keeping his deal to show his son what keeping your word meant, and he was openly distraught and crying when he made the final decision. Dreamz can spin it however he likes, his intent was to keep that deal until he found out that he could be in the final 3 at which point greed took over.

A couple thoughts on this:

1) I'm sick of people thinking that the "just a game" card gets you out of these things. Nothing is "just a" anything. There are outside repercussions to everything we do even inside the confines of a game. Since when did we decide that winning matters more than how you play? Deception is a part of many games (poker and "Balderdash" come to mind), even a pump fake in basketball could be considered a lie, but that isn't an excuse to behave poorly or go back on your word. Just because something doesn't disqualify you from a game, doesn't mean it is advisable, ethical, or even acceptable.

2) Dreamz should have known he had no shot at winning, and that going back on the deal would only seal it. In fact, even from a purely financial mindset to have followed through on his deal would have been the better choice. If he gives Yao the immunity, he might find himself on Oprah or Ellen getting a nice big check for his good deed, or even the benefit of an Internet groundswell of donation support. To renege was a no win situation. He should have given the necklace to Yao-Man because it was the right thing to do, but even beyond that, it still would have been his smartest financial move.

Finally, one last thing that stood out to me last night that I haven't heard any one say anything about but was a bit shocking to me. When Lisi got up to do her jury questioning she started it off by quoting "Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Moe" With an entirely black final three, did nobody else think this was an incredibly insensitive racial mistake? I'm not going so far as to say that it was meant as racist, but it certainly was a stupid thing to do. (In case this is news to you, the phrase "Catch a tiger by it's toe" originally had an N in place of the t in tiger, and the poem was an incredibly racist reference to the slave trade.) I'm not usually one to throw coal in the PC furnace, but I literally gasped when she said it. Of course I'm also someone who feels that "sucks" is a completely vulgar term, so what do I know.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Idol Thoughts (The Nazarene Idol edition)...

So this will be a bit different. Instead of me blogging on performances you saw with your own eyes on TV, I will be bringing you into the wonderful world of youth talent shows. (Unless you were there last night, in which case, GO PISTONS!) I briefly considered entitling this blog "The Good, The Bad, and The Weirdly" (my spell check confirms that weirdly is an actual word, not that this have ever stopped me before) because this is what these type of things always turn out to be. Along with the great performances and the ones that are purposefully strange, are the ones that you just feel sorry for. These are the hardest to deal with internally. There were a few times last night where I really could have pulled a Simon and just told them how awful they were, but that's not why I was there. The truth, however, is that somebody does need to have a heart to heart with these kids and tell them that singing is just not their thing, and that's OK! Whose responsibility is that? I'm guessing not some stranger MC who is hosting an open mic talent show. More likely it's a close friend or family member. If you are close (and I mean close not casual) friends with someone who needs this talk, lay it on them. It will be difficult, but in the long run, could save them a lot of misdirected energy and unneeded hurt.

The good news is that out of 30 or so performances there were only 3 or 4 that fell in that category. The rest were either really good, pretty good, or just plain strange. Here is a brief running time-line of the 3 hour event, with all the highs and whoas.

9:08 - The evening kicks off with a very cool piano solo. Knowing that I have to pick a winner at the end of the night makes these first performances difficult to judge. It's a great version of "Music of the Night" from phantom, and I wonder if it's possible that the eventual winner might have been our first out of the gate.

9:12 - 2 people later and that question has been answered, Amber Leffel hops up and sings so well, that she gets that American Idol applause in the middle of the song thing, TWICE. She then proceeds to hold the final amazing note for what seems like forever (I swear I left, watched an episode of The Office, came back and it was still going strong.) Anyhow, it will be tough to beat that. She had the entire 700+ crowd on their feet.

9:25 - Drummer Percy Washington starts setting up his double bass pedal on the wrong drum set and then has to borrow sticks. Despite this he plays a pretty great solo, not quite enough to unseat Amber.

9:43 - Humphrey the singing camel does his version of "Long Black Train" with a little help from Brittany Jackson's well place hand.

9:55 - The only name that stumped me all night, Alope Villarreal, comes to the stage. I must have asked her 5 times to say it for me, and I still couldn't get it. Her and her friend Tyffani Jewell (got that one right first try) do a nice duet.

10:02 - Katherine Grabher hits the stage and does a great interpretive ballet. It was beautiful and completely God honoring. Man we Christian's really blew it with that "no dancing" thing. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

10:13 - TBUS (The Boys Upstairs) hits the stage and does a pretty rockin' original song, including a rippin' guitar solo. These kids are from my church in Michigan so I know how young they are and if they keep at it they will be an incredible band in the next few years.

10:32 - Jeremy Latham jumps up and does an acoustic version of an Emery tune called "Studying Politics". I think somebody could make an entire career out of doing acoustic Screamo tunes, I really do.

10:45 - Staci Oliver does some Irish Dance (you know, the Riverdance kind of thing). Just cut and paste my dance comments from earlier, here again they apply.

10:52 - Max and Aaron do a crazy loud and wonderful drum duet. The give and take and complexity of it are made even more amazing knowing that the guys just met 2 hours before then.

11:06 - Jarred Nordon hops up and does a slam poem called "I am a Manly Man". I immediately identify.

11:19 - Roxanne and Charly get the crowd on their feet for a lip-sync of Family Force 5's "Love Addict", some of the best "mop guitaring" I've ever seen ensues.

11:25 - My name reading is redeemed when Mary Wenskunas says I'm the first person to ever get her name right on the first try. I'm surprised, because I honestly didn't think Mary was all that difficult of a name. Oh, and then she rocked a drum solo.

11:40 - We finish up 20 minutes early, and now the only thing that remains is to crush the dreams of 29 people which making 1 moderately happy.

The Top 5

5. TBUS - Very impressive instrumentals, and a well written song, could use just a bit more expression and presence on stage.

4. Max and Aaron - Their drum duet was tight and intense, enjoyed it quite a bit. Give 'em another day together and they might have won this thing.

3. Katherine Grahber - Her ballet was beautiful and heart felt. Man, I can't wait for "So You Think You Can Dance" to come back.

2. Rylon Kazinsi - His piano solo was wonderful, and you could tell that he was making music not just playing notes.

1. Amber Leffel - Nobody could match the performance or response from this early entry.

There you have it. Back next week, looking forward to the season finale of Survivor with Lost and Idol coming right on it's heels. It's gonna be a great May!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

On Talented Teens and Tremendous Television...

I will no longer be imploring you to watch Lost, rather, I will be pitying you if you don't. If you haven't caught up with what is becoming the greatest TV show of all time, my thoughts and prayers are with you. It's unfortunate that you missed it, and I'm not sure how you will ever carry on a normal life without it. Last night's episode was another absolute brain bending, question answering, character developing masterpiece. I haven't seen a streak of this many amazing episodes in a row since season 3 of X-Files, or season 6 of The Simpsons.

Whew, I'm all hyperbolied out.

Just a head's up, the reason for the late post today (and likely tomorrow) is that I am once again on assignment in the far corners of the earth. OK, fine, I'm just south of Chicago, but finding workable wifi seems to always be an effort. This weekend finds me running some events for a denominational (that's church speak for the group of Jesus freaks who think the most like I do) youth talent event. Basically, teens from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin all come together to showtheir God given abilities in everything from sports to singing, chess to table tennis, or video games to video editing. Those last two encompass two of my three responsibilities for the weekend. To judge and offer constructive criticism on the video editing and to run the video game tournament. My other responsibility is to run a 3 hour program called "Nazarene Idol" (Nazarene being the aforementioned denomination) where I get to play my own version of Ryan Seacrest (that being a much taller, bigger, and less metro-sexual version), and see the best talent the weekend has to offer and pick a winner to perform at the main service for all 2000+ people here. Maybe for tomorrow's blog all do a little version of Idol Thoughts for "Nazarene Idol". Just so you can get an idea of what goes on. It's always an interesting combination of the surreal and the stupendous.

See ya' then!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Idol Thoughts (Top 4)...

The final four. Do you think Jordin and Lakisha know that they are fighting for their life this week? The thing is, the winner of that battle may just shock the world and go to the finale with Blake instead of Melinda. Could be an interesting couple weeks, can't wait. On to the show.

Ratings
Melinda Doolittle - “Love You Inside And Out” (B+)
Blah. It was fine, just boring. You have to expect more from Melinda.

Blake Lewis - “You Should Be Dancing” (B+)

It had to be a let down after last week. I was hoping that he would do a song without any beat boxing tonight, just to keep mixing it up. But it was still pretty good.

Lakisha Jones - “Stayin' Alive” (B)
Everyone seems a bit timid tonight. Another so-so performance, which is too bad, cause she needed a big one to survive.

Jordin Sparks - “To Love Somebody” (A-)
Finally, someone came to play. Very nicely done, if round two goes like round one, Jordin is heading to the final three.

Melinda Doolittle - “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” (A)
Much better. She didn't necessarily need that to get to the next round, but she needed it to pick back up the momentum she has lost recently.

Blake Lewis - “This Is Where I Came In” (B-)

Not a great night for Blake, thankfully for him there isn't a shot he goes home. He's through no matter what.

Lakisha Jones - “Run To Me” (A-)
A little better, but not enough. She needed a home run on that to get through and unfortunately I think that was just a ground rule double.

Jordin Sparks - “Woman In Love” (B-)
OK, just when I think Lakisha is heading home. Jordin decides to end the night on a sour note. Still I think that first performance should put her over the top.

Tonight's Rankings:

4. Lakisha Jones
3. Blake Lewis
2. Jordin Sparks
1. Melinda Doolittle

Overall Rankings:

4. Lakisha Jones
3. Jordin Sparks
2. Melinda Doolittle
1. Blake Lewis

Predictions:

Lakisha should and probably will go home.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Movie Review: Spider-Man 3

W.W.S.D.
Spider-Man 3, PG-13, 91%

"Peter has to put aside his prideful self. He must put aside his desire for vengeance. He has to learn that we are all sinners. He has to learn forgiveness."

- Director Sam Raimi, official press materials for Spider-Man 3-

To say that the Spider-Man films have Christian themes is an understatement on par with "Tiger Woods is a good golfer" or "Rosie O'Donnell talks too much". It's a given. I mean look at Raimi's quote again. This isn't a Christian movie reviewer saying this, it's the director of the movie. You know, the guy in charge of delivering the movie's overall quality and message. And he's not just saying it to a Christian reviewer as part of some "faith based" strategy. It's in the bona-fide, official media guide. If part one was "Peter Parker:Superstar" and part two was "The Passion of the Parker" then you might as well just call part 3 "The gospel according to St. Peter". Spider-Man 3 even takes the allegory and symbolism up a notch. In fact, the movie is written at times like it comes straight from scripture, "I love you as your father loved me." is just one example of lines that would feel more at home in an ancient scroll than a modern day superhero movie. The truth is I don't have the time or energy to go into all the spiritual themes and allegories that present themselves over the course of the 150 minutes of Spidey goodness, but sufficed to say it's a pretty compelling bit of messagery that centers around the need for and power of forgiveness (Christianity Today does a good job of summarizing it in this interview ). Yet, it is only one part of what makes this movie great.

Spider-Man films have a lot to live up to. The first and second entries were embraced by both critics and the public. Before seeing #3 this weekend the buzz I was hearing was split. Critics were saying it was pretty bad and my friends were saying it was awesome. My brother, whose opinion on all matter super-heroic I value, fell somewhere in between, giving it a six (he didn't say out of what, but I'm assuming 10). So, I really didn't know what to expect. I only knew that they had quite a job ahead of them if they were going to match what they pulled off with the second one. Did they? Not quite. In fact, my first response was that this movie was the worst of the bunch, not by a lot, but still a B maybe B+ in the scheme of things. As I got more and more distance from it though, I realized how many of these scenes I wanted to see again. From the opening tussle between New Goblin and an unsuited Parker, to the finale where four super powered freaks go head to head to head to head, the battles in this film were astounding. As a straight up action movie it was incredible. My view of the film started to increase, but there was still something not quite there.

Well, the message is spot on, and the action is intense, so it must have been the humor that docked it points?

Nope, it's really funny too. J.K. Simmons' Jameson remains a great source for comic relief and Bruce Campbell's waiter cameo was worth the price of admission by itself.

Ok, not the action, message, or humor, it's the acting then?

Not really, Tobey, Kirsten and the rest of the regulars continue to do fine (with the usual unfortunate exception of James Franco's over the top Harry), and the newcomers (Thomas Hayden Church, Topher Grace, and Bryce Dallas Howard) are phenomenal.

Fine, I give up, why is it an A- and not an A+?

Honestly, I think it's the direction. It just seems sloppy at times. All the pieces are there, but the pacing seems off (too much start and stop), and the order seems mangled. There are even back and forth cuts between scenes that make no logical sense. That's a device you use to emphasize parallel stories, not further plot, isn't it? It's as if you went to Subway, ordered a club sub with tomatoes and Mayo and they put the meat and cheese in the bread, but then balanced the tomatoes on top of the bun and spread the Mayo on the bottom of the sandwich. Sure, it's the same ingredients and it probably tastes the same, but the presentation is a bit off and you need some extra patience (and napkins) to get through it.

Overall, it's a thoroughly enjoyable film, made even more amazing by some wonderfully deep truths embedded in the story. If Raimi's only fault is that the delivery is a bit botched I think I can forgive him. After all, that's what Spider-Man would do.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Workaholic Intervention (Video 5.7.7)...

Work is too important in our culture. For too long we have worshiped workaholism and put way too much emphasis on work ethic. So to help people break free of the bonds of overexertion I've instituted two new weekly features into the blog as simple online time-wasters. Every Monday, I will post a video, and every Friday a game. Something to keep you less productive at work, school, or home, you know, just so you don't work so hard. It's for your own good.

This week's video is a call back to a few weeks ago when I highlighted a pretty fun version of the Rocky theme. I've since discovered his name is Ronald Jenkees, and he's got plenty of other stuff up on youtube. I don't know what it is about this guy, but I'm hooked. The question is, is his quirky personality affectation an act? Does it even matter? Personally, it doesn't to me, though I'd almost be more impressed if he is playing a character instead of it being his natural self. Whatever the case, check out this vid of him doing his thing, and try not to be in that 1% of "haters".

Friday, May 4, 2007

Workaholic Intervention (Game 5.4.7)...

Work is too important in our culture. For too long we have worshiped workaholism and put way too much emphasis on work ethic. So to help people break free of the bonds of overexertion I've instituted two new weekly features into the blog as simple online time-wasters. Every Monday, I will post a video, and every Friday a game. Something to keep you less productive at work or home, you know, just so you don't work so hard. It's for your own good.

Each Friday I will leave us with an easy online game to waste a few minutes with. I would love to see you play for 10 minutes or so and then post in the comments what you think about it. In this week's game it's not really about score or finishing all 13 levels, it's about the experience. I've been hearing more and more about games as "art". And this week's "game" is a perfect example of why that notion may be just about the silliest thing I've ever heard.

"Play" the game and let me know if you retained any of your sanity by the end.

game, game, game and again game

Thursday, May 3, 2007

On a Puck, a Pod, and a Prop letter...

Before I get into the things I wanted to hit this morning I have to once again give the Lost guys huge propers for Locke centric episode last night. Another absolutely incredible masterpiece of television. I feel sorry for those who abandoned this show this year, it really feels like it's catching it's stride. Can't wait to see the final 3 episodes. In other Television watching I was pleasantly surprised that all three of the "divas" made the final 4 in Idol. I didn't think that had the slightest chance of happening with them splitting each other's votes. Having said that, you have to believe that Blake is a force to be reckoned with now, not just for the amazing performance this week, but because he is sure to get the lion's share of Phil and Chris voters attention from here on out.

Other stuff...

Hot Wings

If you don't keep up with hockey... Sorry, let me start that again. Since you are a normal human being and don't keep up with hockey, I wanted to give the sport a little love. Last night's Red Wings/Sharks game reminded me of how amazing hockey can be when it works. The Wings were facing a must win playoff game down 2-0 with a minute left in the 2nd. They scored with less than a minute left in period two, and then again with 30 seconds left in the game to tie it. They then won with a sudden death goal in overtime. The thing about hockey is, if it's a close game, there is no sport that matches the intensity. The reason for this is that it has the perfect scoring ratio. Lots of shots taken, very few made. It makes for a crazy edge of the couch experience, and it is the one sport that isn't made better by fast forwarding the DVR (that is of course if you can find it on TV to begin with).

Mypod

Well my Ebay auction of the XBOX 360 and Guitar Hero game I won ends today at 4 (currently sitting at a very reasonable $335), and I decided to pick up my replacement prize at Best Buy recently, one of the new 80 Gig Ipods with video. I've had a couple days to put it through it's paces and I have to say I'm extremely impressed. I'd been thinking about picking up an actual MP3 player with a screen (I've been doing the Shuffle thing for a few years now) but didn't think there was anything on the market that would fit my entire library of music (over 15,000 songs, 70 gigs worth). Not only does this Ipod fit it, but it does a really nice job of presenting it. You just never know when you will want to hear some Abba followed directly by dctalk's "Heavenbound". It also plays my movies, holds my pictures, and even organizes my calendar and contacts. Oh and did I mention how cool my shadow looks on solid pastel colored walls now? Apple leads the MP3 industry for a reason, style and simplicity, and now I know it firsthand.

Leave it to the Propguy

Finally today, you must check out this story on an old prop letter from "Leave it to Beaver" that 50 years later is just being appreciated in all it's glory. I wonder if the writer is ever thought that someday there would be the technology to pause and read all that he had written. It's worth a quick read if for no other reason than the silly smile it's bound to put on your face (Unless you already have a silly smile on your face, at which point just read it cause it's hilarious).