Tuesday, February 16, 2010

MLB 2K10 Challenge

Pitchers and catchers are reporting to training in less than 18 hours; football fans are strung out across the country in serious withdrawal, waiting for the baseball season to start.

Meanwhile, gamers across the country are training for the inevitable pulled muscles, carpal tunnel development and getting ready to stay glued to their TVs come March 2nd...but for good reason. On March 2nd, MLB 2K10 is released for Xbox 360 and PS3. Many gamers have either reserved a copy or will certainly try to get their hands on a copy and start playing right away, striving to pitch a perfect game.

So what's the good reason you ask? 2K Sports, the creator of the game, is offering 1 million bones to the first person to pitch a perfect game in the game before May 2nd. Yes...$1,000,000. Gamers posted videos on YouTube last year of their perfect game performances with MLB 2K9, but this year's edition has upped the ante on pitching control and feel.

So you've gotta think...considering how many hours serious gamers dedicate to playing video games even without extreme incentives such as this, the perfect game must be virtually impossible to achieve if this company is offering such a bold contest. Well apparently that's not the case...2K Sports has essentially put aside a million dollars in anticipation of the winner. Chris Snyder, director of marketing even said "I would be shocked if someone doesn't get it."

Game on people. More info here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Daft Punk is Back...I Think

Daft Punk is mysterious. The French duo is one of the most unique, eclectic groups and a huge contributor to the worldwide popularity of electronic/house music. Two of their albums, Homework and Discovery, are easily on my top albums of all time list. Without them, Kanye West would not be as popular (or hated, depending on how you look at it) as he is today. Not counting the live album they released in 2007, it's been almost 5 years since they've released an album. So they're due for a new album, right?

Based on a few things, I'm thinking (and hoping) yes. The first thing is their recent contribution to the "spin"-off of Guitar Hero, DJ Hero (yep...I just punned). I haven't gotten my hands on this game yet, but they apparently contributed about 11 new mixes for the game and appear as playable characters. They appeared in promotions for the game, such as this one:

The second item to support my belief that Daft Punk is coming back is their work on the score for the new Tron: Legacy film. If you're the least bit geeky, you heard about this movie in the works. If not, this sequel to the 1982 Tron will be released at the end of this year. Daft Punk has apparently composed 24 tracks for the film and rumors speculate that they make a cameo in the film also. Some tracks were leaked out which is a testament to Daft Punk's popularity; when else have tracks to a film been sought after over a year before the film even comes out?

The third Daft Punk sighting I experienced was for a recent Adidas campaign. This awesome campaign is for Adidas' Star Wars line. Just recently, Snoop Dogg and a storm trooper marched through the streets of New York to the Adidas shop, where a guy had been waiting since 1 am to get the first pair of Luke Skywalker sneaks. Anyway, this promotion came out online last month, showing a glimpse of the helmeted French duo:

So what's the deal Daft Punk? Rumors have been spreading about a 2010 tour but there were false rumors about a tour last year; apparently, they stick to Myspace (yuck!) for official tour news, so I suppose we'll all have to eagerly await.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

2010 Winter Olympics

The opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver is tomorrow night. Personally, I'm more of a fan of the Summer Olympics but I should also mention that if there were such a thing as "ESPN Ocho," I'd definitely watch it. What I mean to say is I'd even watch rock-paper-scissors competitions if they were on TV, so I'm pretty lenient on the types of competitive sports that I'll watch. I've caught myself watching juggling, cheerleading, table tennis and even darts.

The last time the Winter Olympics were on, in 2006, I was studying abroad in Ireland. The TV stations seemed to show nothing BUT curling, easily the most boring of all events (did that stop me from watching hours of it? of course not)

Now that I'll have exposure to more than curling, here are the events that I'll look forward to:

-Biathalon [Day 7 (Thur, 2/18)]: The Women's 15 km and Men's 20 km individual medal competitions are on this day. I don't think I've ever actually watched the biathalon - it's the one where you ski with a gun on your back, stopping at intervals to shoot targets.

-Bobsled [Women's Team (Day 12-13); Men's Team (Day 15-16)]: Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up, it's bobsled time! Unfortunately, Jamaica is not competing this year, but I suppose I'll watch it anyway.

-Freestyle Skiing - Aerials [Medal Rounds: Women's - Day 13 (Wed., 2/24); Men's - Day 14 (Thur., 2/25)]: I've more or less competed in a similar event to this. It takes a lot of guts to fly off a huge ramp about 5 stories into the air. I've only sustained minor injuries competing in the Wii Fit version (more of a Ski Jump actually), but I suppose this is a little more realistic.

-Freestyle Skiing - Ski Cross [Men's - Day 10 (Sun., 2/21); Women's - Day 12 (Tues., 2/23)]: This is the first year of this event, which is similar to the snowboard cross - four riders at once racing down turns and jumps to the finish. I watched some of the Snowboard and Ski Cross from the recent X-Games; should be the most intense event.

-Hockey - USA plays Switzerland on Day 5 (Tues., 2/16), Norway on Day 7 (Thurs., 2/18) and Canada on Day 10 (Sun., 2/21). I'm kind of scared to see any of the Women's Hockey.

-Snowboarding - Half Pipe/Snow Cross (Days 4-7) - Check out all the stoners catch some wicked air and hopefully Shaun White won't land on his face like he did at the X-Games.

Other events to check out:

-Luge (Days 2-6)
-Skeleton (Days 7-8)
-Speed Skating (Pretty much every day)

Enjoy the Olympic Games...GO USA!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"Tough Guy" Contest

Forget marathons. Forget triathalons. Forget Iron Man competitions. Dare I say it...even forget Ninja Warrior competitions. They should all bow and pay homage to...Tough Guy.

This year's main event was held a couple weeks ago, in South Staffordshire, UK. Though it's only about 8 miles, this event is far from a level race...it's far from a race full of hills...Tough Guy has underwater tunnels, barbed wire fences and fire walks. There is even an electric fence called "The Tiger," which comes after a long, steep-hill filled run including a slalom portion which forces competitors to run up and down an extremely steep hill. But after the Tiger comes the worst.

There are a series of walls to climb over, after which is "The Behomoth," a series of 4 towers which you have to climb up and walk a rope across, under which is a patch of nettles, a plant that would cause discomfort to say the least if you were to fall. After this comes the fire...then a tire crawl...then a swamp...then the "Vietcong tunnels"...then a rope climb...(are you getting the picture yet?)...then a rubber slide with firemen spraying hoses at you...then underwater tunnels...and so on and so on...until you climb another hill to run to the finish.

But my description doesn't come close to doing it justice. Check out their website (you can sign up for the next one if you want!) and take a look at this video:

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

February 2010 Movies

Ok, so who else saw Dear John last weekend? Anyone? Just me? Don't judge me.

No, I didn't see the most recent release from Nicholas Sparks' arsenal of testosterone-reducing book to film adaptations (excuse me one second, I need to do 100 pushups, chug a beer and smash the glass over my head), but part of me is happy that it finally stole the box office from the domination that is Avatar. Sidenote: Amanda Seyfried, the woman in this movie, is from Allentown, PA, which I just learned this week. I preferred her role in Jennifer's Body though.

I'm a little confused about what was supposed to be released this past Saturday, February 6th. On what would be Bob Marley's 65th birthday, a documentary was supposed to be released which was rumored almost 2 years ago to be directed by Martin Scorsese. The only information I can get now is that it was instead directed by Jonathan Demme, whose last directorial work was Rachel Getting Married. However, I can't really tell if it was released or not; based on the utter lack of information available, I'd guess not.

Anyway, moving on to the rest of this month's releases...a short month but I have a good pick for each of the three remaining weekends of February...

Starting with this weekend, I gotta go with The Wolfman. Benicio Del Toro really hasn't been in anything bad and has mostly been awesome in his acting gigs, going all the way back to his role as "Duke the Dog-faced Boy" in Big Top Pee-Wee (though if he truly does take the role in the rumored film of The Three Stooges, that streak may end). Anyway, The Wolfman looks like it'll be a good flick. It looks like Benicio as a wolf could kick all the asses of those shirtless whimps from Twilight.

The following weekend will bring us what I think will be the best movie of the month: Shutter Island. I've read a few of Dennis Lehane's novels, this one included, and was merely satisfied with the two that were made into movies: Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone. This one, however, I think will blow those two out of the water, especially with the Marty/Leo team-up. I'm usually not that impressed with a film after having read the book and think that may come into play with this one as well, but I also think it has potential to be an exception.

Bringing us to the last weekend of the month, I'm going to split it between two releases that have potential but probably could wait until DVD. I saw the trailers for Cop Out (Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan) and immediately thought it was going to crash and burn. Pretty much the only thing that's keeping me from continuing that mindset is that, believe it or not, it's directed by Kevin Smith (I know, I was surprised too). The other release that I'm on the cusp about is the horror/thriller flick The Crazies. It's a remake of George Romero's film from 1973 and I'm basing my opinion on seeing the trailer only once or twice, but it looked like it had some creepy potential.

As for DVD releases, I'll be checking out Black Dynamite, The Informant!, Bronson, and A Serious Man. Happy movie watching until next month.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Superbowl XLIV Commercials

New Orleans won the Superbowl last night, upsetting the Colts but making most of the country happy for a city that could use an ego boost like a football championship. I'm glad it was a good game, but I certainly was not dazzled by the millions of dollars spent on advertising. First of all, it's tough to think about any company spending millions on a 15, 30 or 60 second spot when our economy is in the toilet. You would think that if one did though, they'd come out with some big guns.

Bud Light is known for being one of the more humorous collections of advertisements and they more or less continued that reputation, though most of them fell flat: the voice box one, the house made of bud light, and the asteroid coming at Earth. However, one of my favorites all night was this one:

Monster.com had a very bizarre spot (the one with the beaver playing violin) which wasn't very memorable. Alternatively, their competition, Careerbuilder, had the other favorite of mine:

Most of the other spots were either very bizarre, subpar or just not good. One or two of the Doritos ads were pretty good, but overall I thought the collection was just OK and found myself questioning why Doritos is pushing advertising so much. The Snickers ad was good but personally I liked their "play on celebrity names" campaign better (Kick your hunger with Adam Nougateri, Get dunked on by Patrick Chewing, etc.) The Google ad was heart-warming of course. The E-Trade ads were good, but not as good as in the past.

So overall, I'm glad the game was good, I'm happy that the Saints won but I definitely was not as impressed with the commercials as I've been in the past.