Monday, June 25, 2007

Workaholic Intervention (6.25.7)...

As you can probably tell by the sparsity of my blogging, I could use me some workaholic Intervention these days. So what better way to waste some time then by watching a video of an amazing invention that would keep fingers from getting cut off by careless carpenters (of the sawing not singing variety).

In all honesty, watching how quickly and effectively this machine shuts itself down to keep from injuring a hot dog, just... wow. Of course I'm biased towards anything that puts itself on the line for food.

Although I must admit, if this invention were instituted on all saws, in the distant future a very funny scene with Emo Phillips in Weird Al's movie UHF, would no longer make sense (sometimes the most obscure references are the best, this case, maybe not).

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

DVD Thoughts: The Violent Visionary Edition...


Apocalypto
R, 2006, 90%

General Thoughts: No, better way to start off the Violent Visionary Edition of DVD thoughts than with Mr. Mel Gibson who could easily be it's poster child. Braveheart, Passion of the Christ, and now Apocalypto. Make no mistake, this movie is extremely gory. But as with the others the violence is anything but gratuitous, it serves a very direct purpose. To show the depth of evil and the intensity of survival. Put simply, this movie is incredible. The message about purpose, commitment, and love is beautiful and engaging. I've rarely felt so connected to a main character which is even more incredible when you consider he didn't speak a word of English the entire movie. I don't think I blinked the entire film. If you can stand the blood and guts (and naked natives) this is one of best movies I've ever seen.

MCQ: A/D/A+

Overall Grade: A- (90%)


Flags of Our Fathers
R, 2006, 86%

General Thoughts: War films generally fall into one of two categories for me. Unnecessarily grim and nihilistic (the "War is Hell" variety), or mournful but respectful. I have no use for the former, but the latter are genuinely affecting and worthy. "We Were Soldiers" sits at the top of my list in that category (yes, even ahead of "Saving Private Ryan") and I am never not moved to think of what servicemen and women past and presence have done for me. Again, with "Flags of our Fathers" we have a director (Clint Eastwood) who is willing to use violence to make his point, but still has an amazing feel for the human element. This movie isn't nearly perfect, there is some pacing trouble (something I've always found with Eastwood) and some of the acting is a bit over the top. Having said that, this movie is possibly worth seeing just for insight into the true story of these guys who found themselves inadvertently at the center of a fund raising effort just for raising a flag. I love historical films, even more so when the story is one I'm unfamiliar with.

MCQ: B/D+/B+

Overall Grade: B (86%)


The Fountain
PG-13, 2006, 76%

General Thoughts: Weird. "The Fountain" is one of those strange artistic visions that takes a bit of getting used to. It seems to wander in and out of three stories that all involve our main two players. There seems to be a moral about cherishing the life you have instead of wasting it searching for more, but it's kind of buried in a logistical nightmare of a script. I give them credit for shooting for something different, but honestly I think it's a little too strange for most. Still, I enjoyed the performances (Hugh Jackman is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors.) and the cinematography and art design were stunning. Overall, I probably enjoyed this one more than you will, which isn't a good sign considering I only just kinda liked it.

MCQ: C+/D/B

Overall Grade: C (76%)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Radio Insider: On Sevenglory, Encouraging Illegal Downloads, and the Flaming Finger...

I'm back (for like a week now, but whatever), but had a wonderful time hanging out with 7Spin music in the bursting metropolis of Valparaiso Indiana. From Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday afternoon Peter and the gang at 7Spin showed us a great time. I owe a big thanks to radio promoter genius MJ for getting me the invite and for just being a great guy. Also mega shout outs to all my fellow radio nerds from around the country who make up the main reason I go to these type of things.

Some other memories to share:

Bowling with Sevenglory - Somehow there is always bowling involved in these things. Not that I mind, it's a great way to hang with and meet people. The guys from Sevenglory may not be great bowlers, but they were a blast to get to know.

Radio Geek Fashion - About an hour after we left the bowling alley we notice that one of our compadres is actually still sporting his bowling shoes. What kind of guy doesn't even notice that he is wearing bowling shoes in real life? A radio guy, that's who.

Justin Time - While waiting for dinner to come to our table, my cell rings. It's my dad letting me know that Justin Verlander is 3 outs away from a no hitter. I immediately call my wife to have her DVR Sportscenter and Baseball Tonight. When dad calls back and confirms that he got it (and snagged 12 strikeouts AND was throwing 102 mph heat to the last batter of the game, sick) I get emotional. So cool to see such a solid kid (sheesh ,I sound old) accomplish such a feat. Since then I even bought the entire game from Itunes so I can watch it anytime I want (I watched it today and cried, man I have issues)

Rockin' the Gators - After an amazing Italian dinner we head to Gator Glades for some arcade/Go Kart/Concert by the Gator Pond action. Sevenglory proceeds to put on a great show, showcasing some stuff from their debut album as well as some stuff they just wrote with Ian Eskelin (who I think has now officially written every song in the history of mankind).

Being too Competitive is Hazardous to My Health - My obsessive compulsive competitive nature leads to two, count 'em, TWO arcade injuries (again, only in radio my friend). The first is on the Go Karts. I finally find myself behind the wheel of a Kart that has some pick up and I am passing people left and right, all of the sudden the car directly in front of me comes to a dead stop. Let's just say as I slammed into her the steering wheel tried to pass all the way through me. I only later found out that the guy in front of her had motioned her by and then purposefully swerved in front of her with a grin. He thought the Go Karts were the Bumper Cars (that's not a joke, it was literally the excuse he gave when confronted, despite the plethora of posted signs with really big block fonted letters saying NO BUMPING PLEASE.) Two days later my bruise showed up, and the picture below (disturbing image warning) doesn't even do it justice.

The second injury was completely on me as I found an arcade game called "Flamin' Finger" that absolutely owned me. The simple concept is to draw a line through a maze before the time runs out. Since the tokens weren't on my dime I figured I'd give it a try and what happened next I'm still trying to figure out. Somehow I ended up with a crowd around me as I came closer and closer to beating this game. The addiction and adrenaline were pumping so furiously that I failed to notice until it was too late that I had literally rubbed the tip of my finger off. Once I realized this, I took the only option left to me, that would be of course to use my knuckle instead of my finger. If you wonder why it took a week to blog this, I am just now able to type without pain. I am a sad, sad man. Below the only fruits of my labor.

Mayor McNeese - The only other artist we saw last week and I am smitten. Heath McNeese is his name and his style is some sort of hip-hop, spoken word, comedy hybrid. I know that sounds too experimental to work, but it's been a while since I've been that entertained. I would highly recommend checking out his stuff.

Stealing From Peter to Give Free Music To Paul - We finished off with a breakfast devotional from 7Spin head cheese Peter. He's an incredible man with some amazing ideas for the industry. At the beginning his records all included the statement, "support our artists, rip us off" and encouraged people to burn copies for friends. He talked about community and industry ethics and how Christian's should have been the leaders in offering new paradigms of getting music out. You can Google the name Terry McBride for someone else (a non believer) who is thinking outside the box in this area. Oh, and the pancakes were great.

All in all it was a great time, and a wonderful opportunity to both hang with my radio peeps and meet the great guys at 7Spin and hear their amazing artists. I've got both Sevenglory's and McNeese's new albums now, just let me know and I'll burn you a copy.... Uh, as long as Peter is cool with it.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Wii Dominance in a simple chart....

Sorry for not getting something up yesterday, and almost nothing today. It's been crazy busy catching up after being gone for a couple days (more on the rest of the Valpo trip tomorrow, and maybe I'll sneak in an archive post for good measure).

For now though, check out the website vgchartz.com and more specifically this chart which lines up the three new video game consoles by overall sales. I knew the Wii was winning the battle but wow.

Even more interesting to me is that PS3 is selling at almost exactly the same rate as the 360 did when it released.

Speaking of Wii, picked up Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree and the fam is loving it. It also has a cool feature where you can compare your grades/medals/scores with other Wii owners you know as long as you have them registered as a friend on your Wii.

One day, when Wiis are actually easy to find in stores, you need to snag one, it's the little white box that could.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Radio Insider: Valpo Calling...

I'm heading out this morning for a radio thing in Valparaiso, Indiana. And since I'm not sure what the rest of the day holds, this may be my only chance to post. Now, I really didn't start this blog to be any sort of "insider" blog, but I figure when these strange radio things pop up, I'll give you a look inside the magic circle.

You'll notice I called it a radio "thing", that's only because I'm not exactly sure what the correct term is. Promotional Event? Junket? Treat radio programmers like royalty so they will play your music extravaganza? Whatever the case, here is the email I received less than a week ago.

TOP5 SECRET

M I S S I O N

FRIDAY, 06-08-07

THE EXACT LOCATION OF OUR RENDEZVOUS POINT STILL CANNOT YET BE REVEALED, BUT YOU CAN DISCOVER THE CITY IN WHICH THE RENDEZVOUS POINT RESIDES THROUGH THIS SECURE LINK:

http://maps.yahoo.com/

WE CAN ALSO REVEAL, THAT IN ADDITION TO OUR GROUND ASSAULT TEAM MEMBERS LIKE YOURSELF, WE ARE FLYING IN 6 SELECT AIR STRIKE TEAM MEMBERS FROM ACROSS THE US. WE PLAN FOR OUR GROUND ASSAULT TEAM AND OUR AIR STRIKE TEAM TO MEET UP (SOMEWHERE WITHIN THE CITY LIMITS OF THE MUNICIPALITY REVEALED BY THE LINK ABOVE) AT 14:30.

THERE WILL BE MUCH TO DO. WE WILL BE WORKING LATE. HOTEL RESERVATIONS HAVE ALREADY BEEN MADE IN YOUR NAME FOR THE EVENING OF 06-12-07. IN ADDITION TO YOUR MEALS AND LODGING WE WILL ALSO COVER THE ESTIMATED MILEAGE FOR YOUR VEHICLE.

WE COULDN’T BE MORE PLEASED TO HAVE YOU ON THE TEAM.

MISSION COMPLETION:
BETWEEN 11:00 AND 13:00 CST
06-13-07

E-MAIL YOUR HANDLER AT (xxxxxxx)OR CALL FROM A SECURE LINE: (xxxxxxx).



This was the second of these emails, and another would follow with a detailed rendezvous point.

What does it all mean?

Nothing, really. Except that a promoter has arranged a couple days to bring in reporting station PDs (that's Program Directors, the guys and gals who decide what gets played, for the stations who report there numbers to the charts) to pump up a band (usually new) and foster good will. Don't get me wrong, I love it! I enjoy getting to meet new artists and have an "experience", but for me the greatest plus is hanging with other programmers from around the country and catching up on what is working for other stations.

But why Valpo?

Well, that part is pretty simple as well. You may remember me mentioning in one of my GMA blogs about a band that still lives and ministers in Valparaiso. Their name is Sevenglory and I'm sure that's who we are going down to schmooze with. I met Fred, Caleb, Josh, and Gabe down in Nashville and they seem like great guys who make good music. I'm just not sure it's Fuse music, yet. Which is exactly why the promoter wants to bring me down.

By the way, if you are wondering how often this happens, the answer is not very. Maybe once a year, if that. In my 3 or 4 years as a reporting PD, I've been invited down to Nashville for this kind of thing twice before (both times to be introduced to new labels) so this offers something new in that we are headed to Valpo (hopefully we will have a meal at Bryce Drew's amazing Wing joint, mmmmmm, dessert wings).

I'll try and fill you in tomorrow on the whole event, and maybe still get a mini review up for Apocalypto (heads up, I liked it.... a lot, despite the usual Gibson gore)

(P.S. Let me know if this type of "insider" stuff is something you enjoy or not)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Workaholic Intervention (6.11.7)...

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. In light of this, every Monday, I will post a video or a game as simple online time-wasters. Something to keep you less productive at work, home, or school, you know, just so you don't work so hard. It's for your own good.

Today we look at the "line rider" phenomenon. A simple game where you draw lines and then send an animated rider to ride your creation. You can check it out here, and be amazed at how quickly you get a God complex in controlling this line rider's universe. Here's a video of what can happen if you let it take control of you.

I think the person who made this has officially been cured of his workaholism (but not of his love for Mario).

Friday, June 8, 2007

From the Archives: Passion of the Christ Review

In January of 2004 I started my first website to vent on all things pop culture. I updated and ran this site for over 2 years posting occasional reviews and ramblings. After burning out on the website thing I took a 6 month break and did not renew my domain. Still needing some sort of outlet I started this blog in January of this year. Since I do not wish those reviews and posts to be lost, I thought I would begin posting them here. So this one is more for me than you, oh wait, this whole thing is more for me than you. Well, whatever the case, each week we shall take a look into the past, all the way back to (start Conan O'Brien impression here) the year 2000--uh--4.

(Originally posted March 22nd, 2004 as my first official review, and reposted here in honor of just receiving Apocalypto in the mail, look for that review next week.)

--------------------------------

Passion Fruit?

My oldest son has a new favorite thing. It is, after all, a week since his last favorite thing, so it's about time. At age 4 he has discovered how to change the language track on his DVDs, and whatever "To infinity and beyond" is in French it must be hilarious, cause the kid will not stop laughing. Yet, after weeks of listening to "Bob le Tomato e Larry el Pepino" my son has yet to speak a full sentence to me in Espanol.

Was he not listening?

Is it the ADD?

And how does this have anything to do with reviewing Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ"?

We will get there.

When I first heard Mel Gibson was doing a literal interpretation of the last hours of Christ's life, I was stunned. Not that it was Mel, I'd heard he had quite a Catholic background and knew he had a thing for martyrs. No I was more stunned at the audacity of the concept. To film it as if someone snuck a camera back in time and actually caught it live. (Smile, your on Candid Camera.) Originally this meant not only would it be in the original language but WITHOUT SUBTITLES! I instantly loved it. I kept a close eye on the development, financing, and plans for release. I rejoiced when I heard Jim Cazeviel had been cast, and cried when I heard they were adding subtitles. (So much for high concept.) But still I wasn't sure what kind of movie he was truly making, and then I saw it.

First, wow.
Second, wow.
Third, take a breath.
Fourth, wow.

To say this movie packs a punch is an understatement. You know, like Bill Gates has money, or Michael Jackson is weird. It just doesn't seem to cover it. Like most of the audience I wept, often. Like most, I could hardly move when it was over. And like most, I was shocked and disgusted by the hatred and violence Christ endured for me. That's what got me the most, that's what hit me the hardest, those two words: For me. I understand why Mel needed to be the one holding the nail, because indeed it is crucial to take individual responsibility for this mess of shredded skin and draining blood. I get that, but then again, I'm already a believer. I know this story, I know how it applies to me, and I know the full meaning and context of these events.

But what does the casual viewer see in this gore?

A great film.

Reviews have been mixed but for the most part "critics" agree. It is a well crafted movie. Though over the top at times, the cinematography was beautiful, the score was perfect, and the acting was top notch. Say what you want about Mel, but he knows how to tell a story.

An agenda.

I'm struck by the fact that people who have never cared before about what a movie "says" or "means" are all of the sudden focusing on message. The cry of anti-Semitism confuses me, I don't see it, then again, I'm not Jewish. In truth, I'm glad people are searching deeper into the message of this film, and I hope it translates into a deeper searching of messages in other films as well.

And what is the resulting action?

This is where I have the most difficulty. Many Christians are seeing this movie as the ultimate "evangelism" tool. Churches are buying out theaters, inviting the "unsaved", and indeed Mel's own "Church first" promotional philosophy was undertaken with the instruction to be ready for the revival this film will cause.

I just don't see it. To expect a non-believer to embrace Christianity after seeing this movie is like.... well... expecting my 4 year old to speak Spanish after listening to Buzz and Woody sing "You've got an Amigo in me". It's not their language. And one time through the story, as impacting and beautiful as it is in it's truest form, is not gonna change them. The non Christian won't leave the theater a Christian because of this movie any more than she will leave the theater speaking fluent Aramaic. The only way to impact the people around us is to live our lives in a way that they see, everyday, how it works in real life. If Austin (my 4 year old) lived in Spain for a few years, I have a feeling he might start to speak the language, 'til then, we'll stick to Dora the Explorer. In the end, Mel's right, it is about keeping it real, but not just in the story telling, in our lives.

MCQ: A+/B/A-
Overall: B+

Friday Freespin: The Return of what You Love Edition...

An Old Favorite Returns...

I have to admit that despite being a "child of the 80's" I have never even seen an episode of the "Thundercats". So when they announced yesterday that a Thundercats movie would be heading our way soon it did nothing for me. I'm vaguely aware that there is some sort of chant involved that involves Thundercats gardening (Thundercats HOOOOEEEE!) or something, but the nostalgia factor is completely lost on me. Somebody needs to fill me in on this phenomenon because I just keep envisioning the cast from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical "Cats" flying through space.

A New Favorite Returns...

I've already given my opinions on the whole Jericho death and rebirth, but I had to share CBS' official response letter. Here it is:

June 6, 2007

To the Fans of Jericho:

Wow!

Over the past few weeks you have put forth an impressive and probably unprecedented display of passion in support of a prime time television series. You got our attention; your emails and collective voice have been heard.

As a result, CBS has ordered seven episodes of “Jericho” for mid-season next year. In success, there is the potential for more. But, for there to be more “Jericho,” we will need more viewers.

A loyal and passionate community has clearly formed around the show. But that community needs to grow. It needs to grow on the CBS Television Network, as well as on the many digital platforms where we make the show available.

We will count on you to rally around the show, to recruit new viewers with the same grass-roots energy, intensity and volume you have displayed in recent weeks.

At this time, I cannot tell you the specific date or time period that “Jericho” will return to our schedule. However, in the interim, we are working on several initiatives to help introduce the show to new audiences. This includes re-broadcasting “Jericho” on CBS this summer, streaming episodes and clips from these episodes across the CBS Audience Network (online), releasing the first season DVD on September 25 and continuing the story of Jericho in the digital world until the new episodes return. We will let you know specifics when we have them so you can pass them on.

On behalf of everyone at CBS, thank you for expressing your support of “Jericho” in such an extraordinary manner. Your protest was creative, sustained and very thoughtful and respectful in tone. You made a difference.

Sincerely,

Nina Tassler
President, CBS Entertainment

P.S. Please stop sending us nuts :)

A Lost Child Returns...

Finally, an incredible story is developing about a girl, who after being missing for nearly a year, was found locked under the stairs of a Connecticut couple's home. It just got me thinking about hope. The much more likely scenario is that she would never be found or that only her body would turn up. As a parent, I wonder at what point the grief would give way to numbness, or if I could find the strength to move on with life while still maintaining a level of hope. I've never had to face tragedy head on in this way, but it is an important lesson to me that moving on does not necessarily mean forgetting hope. I can't imagine the pain of missing a child for almost a year (or 3 hours for that matter), but neither can I imagine the joy of the reunion that is awaiting. Always believe, always hope, and always live.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

DVD Thoughts: Ricky Bobby and the Invisibles...

(This was done and ready to post yesterday, somehow that never happened, my apologies.)


Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
PG-13, 2006, 71%

General Thoughts: Sorry, Will Farrell just isn't all that funny to me. I'm trying to think of one of his comedies that I have experienced anything beyond mild amusement. I thought Zoolander was funny but that was mostly Stiller, and I remember laughing a lot at SNL's cheerleader sketch, but I'm pretty sure that was mostly Cheri O' Teri, and when Jim Carey guest hosted and participated he showed up Ferrell big time. The trend, unfortunately, doesn't change in Talladega Nights, where I was more bored than amused. The sad thing is that there is actually some decent messages to take from the film about rebellion, arrogance, and friendship. Not nearly enough to ever make me want to watch this movie again, but it is there.

MCQ: C+/C-/C-

Overall Grade: C- (71%)

Arthur and the Invisibles
PG, 2006, 84%

General Thoughts: I enjoyed this film much more than I thought I would. It's a tightly spun fantasy tale about perseverance and faith. Unfortunatley that faith is a misplaced one (in ourselves instead of outside) but there are still some potent messages on how to live out belief. The movie is also beautiful and well acted (both voice and live) and I found it genuinely engaging. Luc Besson (The Fifth Element) does an amazing job moving the pieces around and though I wouldn't call it a classic it was an enjoyable film to watch with my older boys.

Interesting Side Notes: Word is that two sequels will be coming in 2009 and 2010 and the Besson has said he wants to finish his career directing Arthur movies. The original (and official) title is "Arthur et les Minimoys".

MCQ: B/A/B+

Overall Grade: B (84%)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

On the Golden Rule in Elementary School and on Network TV...

Crazy, busy week going on, so just a quickie today, but a couple amazing things none the less.

I can't believe I'm about to type this but....

JERICHO LOOKS LIKE IT'S COMING BACK!

If this pans out it will be not only a huge victory for fans of the show, but also an amazing commitment to pleasing the viewer by CBS. I guess the talk is to bring it back mid season next year for about 8 episodes to wrap things up and give some closure which is exactly what I asked for in my post just a few weeks ago. You can check out the report here and keep your fingers crossed.

Amazingly enough the second thing today is even more important than the first (to me that is). My son Justin got the "Golden Rule" award for his Kindergarten class at school today at graduation. It is an award each teacher gives to one male and one female student for best living out what the golden rule stands for. His teacher raved about Justin's consideration for his fellow students in front of the entire class and parents who had come. I'm still beaming :) It was also cool to hear that 3 of his classmates listed their "favorite thing about kindergarten" as "being friends with Justin" I realize my emotion in this may seem a bit over the top, but never underestimate a proud papa.

See ya' tomorrow with some mini DVD reviews.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Workaholic Intervention (6.4.7)...

(WI moves to only Monday and will feature a video or a game or even both. One time waster a week will just have to be enough for you)

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. In light of this, every Monday, I will post a video or a game as simple online time-wasters. Something to keep you less productive at work, home, or school, you know, just so you don't work so hard. It's for your own good.

Today, I stand in awe again at the marketing prowess of Apple. You can't help but watch these commercials for the now less than a month away iphone and wish desperately that A) they were about $200 cheaper and B) that they worked with your current cell carrier. If my Ipod pattern holds I might be able to purchase one of these by 2013.

Check out the majesty in three parts

iphone 1

iphone 2

iphone 3

Friday, June 1, 2007

100th Post...

This marks my 100th post It's a benchmark that deserves celebration. Some sort of big, insightful post that encapsulates who I am as a blogger, reminisces about some of the classic posts while looking ahead to the future of "Rollin' with Dice". A post of such size and substance as to require multiple readings and hours of discussion afterwards. A post of such intelligence and depth that it changes the way we view humanity.

...or maybe I'll just throw up a link to a cool article on Mr. Rogers since I've got too much else to do today.

Yeah, that sounds much easier.

(Thanks for reading the first 100, I'll do better with the next 100, promise.)