Daily DVD and Gaming Update

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I GIVE UP


I hate to do this, but I'll be totally honest... the blog is more work than it is worth. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the idea of having a blog, I am just tired of fighting with this space in particular. There are constant problems to be addressed, and the photo loading utility rarely works correctly.

Therefore, I am moving. Please come and visit me at my new site, which you can reach here. I sincerely hope that this becomes an easier utility to operate, so I can post updates much more frequently.

See you there!

Friday, June 02, 2006

THE CURSE OF THE SHORT WORK WEEK

The down side of a four day work weeks is that there are still five days worth of work to be dine. As a result, I got behind on my updates. I am pleased to say, however, that there are spankin' new reviews of TOMMY LEE GOES TO COLLEGE, THE VENTURE BROS. - THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON, RUMOR HAS IT... and Criterion's VIRIDIANA posted over at Upcoming Discs.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Weekend of the Review

The yard has been mowed, and the official word has come in that I will be off work on Monday for Memorial Day. You know what that means, sports fans? A three day weekend!! As a result, I have declared this the weekend of the review. I have no fewer than five titles ready to be reviewed, and I plan to get to all of them by Monday night. We'll be hitting TV shows, a classic foreign film, a classic American film and more. So stay tuned, the weekend of the review starts now!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

USA v. Morocco


If the USA plays next month like they did last night, it will be an exciting but short trip to Germany. The US side felt like a lumbering beast up against the quicker and more athletic Moroccans. It seems like we always do this. We come out flat in the first half, and it isn't until our backs are up against the wall that we really start trying to score some goals. Of course, by that point, it is often-times too late. Something needs to be done to create that sense of urgency early in the game, instead of being content to hang around until somebody scores the first goal. I promise that once the wheels touch down in Germania, no other team will be waiting for their opponent to bring the game to them. Most certainly not Italy or the Czech Republic.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

2006 FIFA WORLD CUP and reflections on the state of MLS

I didn't watch a single DVD this weekend. I have been concentrating on the newly-purchased 2006 FIFA WORLD CUP game for the Xbox 360. As I stated in my previous post, I haven't owned a soccer game since EA's 2001 MLS game for the PS2, so this release marks a major advancement for me. After starting a qualifying campaing for the US, I am sad to say that I did not qualify for the World Cup in my first try. Of course, that is also a good thing, as it speaks to the realism of the game. As in real life, if I can manage to draw on the road and win at home, I should be able to make the cup in my second attempt. I started campaign #2 last night, and beat Jamaica 1-0 on the road. While I am still having trouble finishing, I am getting some balls in the back of the net, so I am certainly pleased with how I am progressing.

Also, I wonder if I could talk a little bit about the real-life MLS. Ever since the league started in 2005, I have been nervous that each year would be its last. As bad as I wish it were so, soccer is just not a major sport in this country. It will happen eventually, but it will not be an overnight success (which is probably a good thing). This year and last, many of the teams are moving toward or have already secured their own soccer-specific stadiums, a move that is vital to the long term success of the league. It's hard to be a fan of a sport that puts 15,000 people in a 60,000 seat borrowed stadium. Putting 17,000 in a 25,000 seat stadium that is built specifically for the team, however? That's a different story altogether. This moves the team from the kiddie table to an apartment of its own. It also means increased revenues for the league, and a greater chance to attract fan support. Plus, the move to name teams more "authentic" soccer names (Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas, etc...) has given the sport more credibility. Also, the league has become the desired destination for international superstars to play out their early retirement years. Even David Beckham has recently stated that he would like to finish up his career at a leisurely pace here in the states. The more of these situations the leage creates, the more attention the league will draw.

The last, most challenging and most important hurdle to the league's extended success is of course the issue of broadcast rights. This is one of those Catch 22 situations. There will not be increased demand for broadcasts until more of the country is a fan of the league. However, more of the country will not become fans of the league until the sport gets increased television exposure. Even for someone like me who is a big fan of the sport, it is hard to follow the league because the media exposure is just not there. The product on the field is much better than it was 10 or even 5 years ago, but it is becoming increasingly more difficult to watch. This year, the MLS Cup final will be broadcast on ESPN2, instead of on ABC as it was in the past. Even more someone like me, who loves both the sport and High Definition programming, the move to the Deuce means a forced drop in viewership. My cable package does not include ESPN2-HD, which means that instead of the game being a major High Definition sporting event in the living room, it will be a Sunday afternoon passtime on the standard definition bedroom TV.

My only hope (and that of the league) is that the US makes another historical run deep in the World Cup next month. Something has to grab the attention of this country. For a bunch of people that all of the sudden seem so concerned about foreign affairs, our apathy to the beautiful game is a flashing neon sign that we still love being isolated from the rest of the world far more than we let on. In the Ivory Coast, a civil war was put on hold so the nation could come together to watch their team appear in its first ever World Cup apperance. In the US, the overwhelming majority of citizens don't even know that the World Cup is taking place this year. It's both embarrassing and insulting.

Friday, May 19, 2006

GAMING TAKES OVER

Honestly, I just haven't been watching that much lately. I watched and reviewed a documentary called SEXUAL INTELLIGENCE, but that's about it. It was mildly interesting, but in the end I didn't really feel like I had learned anything from watching it. For the full rant, go here.

I have been concentrating on the gaming industry more over the past week or so, with E3 wrapping up last week and of all the dust settling on the announcements. First up is the new releases of EA's college and pro football games. The videos and screenshots that I have seen make both games look fantastic, and they are most definitely going on the list for July and August, respectively. The whole thing just reassures me that I made the right decision by waiting for the second generation of Madden on the 360 before making a purchase.


In the short term, I will be picking up FIFA WORLD CUP 2006 this weekend. From what I have read, it is a vast improvement over the ROAD TO THE WORLD CU
P title that EA released at launch. For me, it's all good, as the last soccer title that I purchased was MLS 2001 for the PS2. Not only am I thrilled about the World Cup itself starting in just under a month, but this will be the perfect copmpanion piece to the tourney. All of the German stadia are accurately represented, and the correct World Cup sineage is on display. Plus, from the looks of it, it should be fairly easy to rack up those all-important achievement points, and get my Gamerscore over 1000.

Monday, May 15, 2006

NIP/TUCK, IN THE MIX, THE CLOSER

I might as well go ahead and start with IN THE MIX, just to get it out of the way. Obviously, this was a review title, as I'm not exactly one to swoon over Usher. This was one of those discs that looked and ounded great, but the movie was juat a big mess. It ended up somewhere just above a modern Disney film, with the poor servant kid with big dreams falling in love with the rich guy's daughter who he has been charged to protect. The fact that it has been updated with such trendy themes as DJ-ing and the mafia doesn't dress up this plot enough to make it original. For a better film with this plot, check out Michael J. Fox in FOR LOVE OR MONEY.


THE CLOSER is a show that I haven't made any long term decisions on yet. Probably what I will do is go ahead and watch all of the episodes in this first season set, and then sell it. The show is finally something that Kyra Sedgewick can excel in; something I have been waiting for for at least a decade. She plays a sweet southern woman who just happens to be a master at criminal interrogations. She has recently found a new job as the head of the Priority Murder Squad in Los Angeles. As she is a sweet southern woman, her hard nosed, male LA subordinants are none too pleased to have her come in and stake over the department. As a result, she must fight not only criminals, but her own department as well. The show is clever, has some real drama, and is just downright funny in parts. Kyra Sedgewick is the only person who could have played this role, and she is magnificant. I can only hope that the rest of the cast and crew can rise to her level in the coming episodes. Right now, she so outshines the rest of the production that she almost feels out of place on her own show.


Finally, the first season of NIP/TUCK. What a truly decadant show. Not a single character on this program has the slightest bit of a redeeming quality in them. Each person is morally reprehensable. I enjoyed it immensely.


For those that may not know, this is a show that followed in the path of THE SHIELD on F/X by pushing the limits of what can legally be aired on network television to the very edge of decency. The language on the show is shocking (for cable), and the gross-out factor can go to 11. Plastic surgery is a messy and painful business, and viewers get to see every gory detail. Then, of course, there's the nudity and sex, which would easily garner the show an "R" rating, were it shown in theaters. This is an HBO show without the rights to the "F" word. It's sleazy, it's trashy, and it is downright fun to watch. If ever a program deserved to fall into the "guilty pleasure" category, this is it.