Some of the wonderful things rattling around in this full brain 'o mine. UPDATED EVERY TUESDAY AND THURSDAY (or at least twice a week)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Fall Out Boy - Go-Tham Ass Face

Sorry...but I really couldn't resist. I saw this on YouTube and had to attempt my first ever embedding of a YouTube video. For those of you who like Fall Out Boy but wish they'd enunciate a little more...

Corporate Ticket Scalping?

I’m sorry, did I miss something? When did scalping turn legal? I’m assuming as a direct result of the success of websites such as StubHub, Ticketmaster has signed an exclusive deal with the NBA to be the official re-seller of tickets according to USAToday. Now...this is intended to be mostly for season ticket holders who, for one reason or another, can’t attend a game. I’m sorry. I’m not buying that. Not at all. This is just scalping gone to the corporate level.

I’ve never been to the StubHub website until just now. I looked briefly at The Police tickets for their upcoming tour. The first date that comes up is 5/28 at General Motors Place, in Vancouver, British Columbia. Hopefully this’ll still be up once this blarticle goes live…but notice the ticket prices: 115 – 125500. $125,500 for a ticket to a concert. You can’t tell me that that’s not inflated just a bit. I just don’t see it. Based on the USA Today article, Ticketmaster says it won’t make any deals with reselling that would be illegal. What’s legal though? Based on the Cato Journal article: The Folly of Anti-Scalping Laws, not too many states have legislature in place to combat ticket-scalping in general, let alone online ticket-scalping. Until such legislature is in place, StubHub and Ticketmaster will not be much more than a breeding ground for scalpers. This just allows them to scalp from home instead of scalping in front of the venue, or in the parking lot, or across the street.

Also, I could easily see this turning into a potential monopoly for Ticketmaster. They’re the biggest ticket seller in the world (to my knowledge). Why would any of the other major sports (NFL, NHL, MLB, WWE…ok, maybe not that last one, when was the last time they sold anything out besides Wrestlemania?) go with anyone but Ticketmaster if they were going to go exclusive. For that matter, if I was Ticketmaster, I’d be knocking on the doors of every major sporting and entertainment event and signing them up for exclusive deals. Ticketmaster already rapes you financially for buying regular tickets, if they can get money from the original purchase, and then get money again from a secondary purchase when the original consumer can’t attend the event, it’s a better deal for them.

Of course…there are potential benefits. Scalping is always going to happen no matter what. With sites like Ebay, StubHub, and soon Ticketmaster, it just allows the consumer to compare prices from different scalpers. The consumer can compare, and then get the deal they’re looking for, whether it be paying a little more, or paying face value (since I’m sure there will always be someone who can’t go at the last minute just trying to recoup some portion of their costs). Also, if I was a season ticket holder for some sports team, I would want a re-selling option if I wasn’t able to attend a game. They pay a lot for those tickets, I’m sure they want to get some money back out of them. Unfortunately, I still think the temptation to re-sell at much higher prices will be too great for most people to resist. At heart people are greedy. If they think they can make a couple of dollars, or a couple hundred dollars, or a couple thousand dollars, they’ll try. I see more bad coming out of these sites in the short term than good. What do y’all think? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Playin Games with Your Friends...

You know, there are so many video game systems, and video games now-a-days, it’s hard to know what to look for in a good game. Between Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, and Sega, there have been hundreds of interesting games to play for each system; it just depends on what you’re looking for. One of my favorite types of games has always been the type that offers an interesting and engaging multiplayer experience. If it was a game I could sit down (or online) with 1 or more friends and just play for hours on end whilst drinking heavily or engaging in mind-numbing but enjoyable conversation, then it was worth the money. Below I’ve compiled my favorite all-time multiplayer game experiences. Click on any of the links to look at the games on Some of these you can get for super-cheap, and I highly recommend that you do!

#10 – SOCOM
SOCOM U.S. Navy Seals (No Headset) – PS2 - Review
SOCOM II U.S. Navy Seals – PS2 - Review

This is the only game on the list I’ve never played, and also the only game you really need an internet connection on to enjoy. I once had a roommate though that played this game 20+ hours a week online. The game’s that good. You can go online, join an 8-person team, and shoot people to your heart’s content. I had many a fun hour watching him run around these detailed maps, hiding, throwing grenades, and shooting people left and right. He slowly climbed the online ranks. I could easily see how the game could be THAT addictive. If you want a great online experience, being able to play with people all around the globe, try one of these two games out.

#9 – Lego Star Wars Series
Lego Star Wars – PS2 - Review
Lego Star Wars – Nintendo Gamecube - Review
Lego Star Wars – XBOX - Review
Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (PS2) - Review
Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (GameCube) - Review
Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (Xbox) - Review
Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (Xbox 360) - Review

I’ve played Lego Star Wars on the Gamecube, and wasted days on Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy for the PS2. I highly recommend these if you have any love at all for the Star Wars movies, or if you have younger kids, or both. These are only 2 person games, but boy are they fun. They have infinite replay value, the ability to make your own characters, and the ability to transfer game saves from the original Lego Star Wars to Lego Star Wars II (on the same systems). Plus, best of all, the entire game is LEGOS! What more needs to be said?

#8 – Mario Golf Series
Mario Golf – N64 - Review
Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour – Nintendo Gamecube - Review

I’m sure one of these will be coming out for the Wii any day now. I’ve played the N64 version. In fact, this game is the reason I ever started playing golf in real life. I wasted many a night with friends playing the two person tournaments on the N64 version. The gameplay is easy to pick up, yet hard to master. The courses range from incredibly easy to incredibly hard. Overall, it’s a great great multi-player experience.

#7 – Mario Kart Series
Super Mario Kart – SNES - Review
Mario Kart 64 – N64 - Review
Mario Kart: Double Dash – Nintendo Gamecube - Review

I know of very few people who’ve played video games who haven’t played Mario Kart. It’s the original multi-player racing game. There was no feeling like throwing a turtle shell at your friend at the last minute to mess them up and win the race. You can play up to 4 players on the 64 and Gamecube versions as well. I still have a distinct love for the original though.

#6 – X-men Legends Series/Marvel Ultimate Alliance
X-Men Legends – PS2 - Review
X-men Legends – XBOX - Review
X-Men Legends – Nintendo Gamecube - Review
X-Men Legends II Rise of the Apocalypse – PS2 - Review
X-men Legends II Rise of the Apocalypse – XBOX - Review
X-Men Legends II Rise of the Apocalypse – Nintendo Gamecube - Review
Marvel Ultimate Alliance – PS2 - Review
Marvel Ultimate Alliance – XBOX - Review
Marvel Ultimate Alliance – PS3 - Review
Marvel Ultimate Alliance – XBOX360 - Review
Marvel Ultimate Alliance – Nintendo Wii - Review

I’ve only played X-men Legends, but intend on playing Legends 2, and Marvel Ultimate Alliance. These games offer really great multi-player experiences for either fans of dungeon crawling games, or comic book fans. X-men Legends and Legends 2 you get to play (obviously) as the X-men. You take 4 person teams through missions and level up your characters along the way through a myriad of different levels and bosses. The stories are engaging, and the history of the characters is well represented. Marvel Ultimate Alliance ups the ante a bit to include the entire Marvel Universe. All games offer the ability for another player to jump in anytime and play along with you on the missions. In the case of Ultimate Alliance, you can go online and recruit your friends to help out on your missions.

#5 – Triple Play ‘98
Triple Play '98 – PS1 - Review

This game would be higher on the list if you could really play effectively with more than two people. This sports game is one of the only ones I’ve ever been able to sit down with a friend and we could play on the same team effectively. In fact, I’ve had a season going on in this game for close to 10 years now. And I can still sit down with a friend, show them a couple of button pushes, and play the game with them. Add in the fact that you can also play a home run derby with great sluggers on the steroids era in their prime (McGuire, Griffey, Sosa, Bonds) and this adds up to a really entertaining game experience.

#4 – Tiger Woods Golf 2005
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 – PS2 - Review
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 – Nintendo Gamecube - Review
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 – XBOX - Review

I’ve only played the PS2 version, but boy did I play it a lot. This belongs in the same vein as Mario Golf. The reason it’s so much higher though, is because it’s a much more enjoyable game playing experience from the gameplay to the myriad of modes you can play with friends. This game was the first of it’s kind to change the control scheme from a timed button push, to the pull back and push forward of the control pad stick. This one simple change in the control scheme made the entire game play like a brand new experience. Add that to the fact that you can build up your own character and transfer the character into your friend’s game to challenge, and you’ve got the deepest golf experience on any system.

#3 – Goldeneye 007
Goldeneye 007 64 – N64 - Review

This is still generally considered the best console shooter ever created. It was also on the first system to offer 4 player support for it’s games. I don’t know how many hours I wasted in college on Goldeneye tournaments, but dang were they fun. Pick your character, pick your map, and go wild. Especially if you just allow yourselves to be armed with nothing but knives. This game also is great for settling arguments.

#2 – Mario Party Series
Mario Party – N64 - Review
Mario Party 2 – N64 - Review
Mario Party 3 – N64 - Review
Mario Party 4 – Nintendo Gamecube - Review
Mario Party 5 – Nintendo Gamecube - Review
Mario Party 6 with Microphone – Nintendo Gamecube - Review
Mario Party 7 - Nintendo Gamecube - Review
Mario Party 8 – Nintendo Wii - Review – Not Yet Released

The original Party Game Experience comes in at #2? These games were made to be played by 4 people. In fact, this is the only game that I’ve ever played at a party. Strangely enough, the game is also interesting enough to keep everyone interested and involved. It involves a board game, also mixed in with screwing other people, and playing easy mini-games each round. It really brings out the competitive juices.

And the #1 Multi-player gaming experience on any system ever?

#1 – THQ WCW/WWF N64 Games!
WCW/NWO Revenge – N64 - Review
WWF WRESTLEMANIA 2000 – N64 - Review
WWE: No Mercy – N64 - Review

There are no games anywhere that are more fun with 2-4 people than these games. The reason? The RUMBLE. In WCW/NWO Revenge, take control of your favorite WCW or NWO star and enter the Royal Rumble style fight with 30 wrestlers. Knock them out one by one, and last till the end when you finally play against your friends. Wrestlemania 2000 and No Mercy offer the WWF version of the Royal Rumble with 40 wrestlers vying for the win. The best way to play? Turn on tap-outs and pins, play with your friend, and make every wrestler tap-out until the very end. Also, I recommend not actually fighting your friend. Just beat up on the computer opponents. This is a very frustrating game to play against other live people.

Wrestlemania 2000 still remains the hardest 1-player wrestling experience on any console. Try to beat the story mode undefeated, you’ll destroy things in your living room from frustration.

Honorable mention must go to the following games:
Sonic 2 (Genesis), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 (SNES), Rock ‘n Roll Racing (Genesis), Final Fight Series (SNES), Mortal Kombat (Genesis), Double Dragon (Arcade), Simpsons (Arcade), Time Crisis Series (Arcade), Super Mario Brothers 3 (NES)

There it is people. There’s the list. Feel free to add your own in the comments section! No go, buy, and be merry with others!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

NBA Detroit Pistons: To Trade or Not to Trade...

The trade deadline in the NBA is upon us. For those of you who know me, you know my undying love for the NBA and all things to do with the Detroit Pistons. As such, I’ve used ESPN’s trade machine to investigate the Pistons roster, and the roster of every other team in the NBA. I’ve got a couple of trades that would technically make sense. Here they are, with the Pro’s, Con’s, and chances of it happening.

First let’s look at what the Pistons have to trade and what they’re looking for.

The Pistons two greatest trade assets at this point are Nazr Mohammed and Flip Murray. Both of these guys were prized signees in the offseason. Flip was essentially signed to a one year deal worth just over 1 Million dollars (with a player option for another year). Nazr was signed to essentially replace Ben Wallace (who really can do that?) at 5 years starting at 5.2 Million Dollars. Both of them never really fit in. Flip, unfortunately, is the kind of player who needs a lot of time to be effective…he can’t get that in Detroit. Chauncey and Rip are the main cogs in the guard rotation, with Carlos Delfino and Lindsey Hunter being the main backups. Flip was given every opportunity, but he just can’t be consistent with inconsistent minutes. He’s only really been effective in his career starting anyway. Nazr just didn’t fit in. He has bad hands, and didn’t seem to like to pass (maybe thinking he wouldn’t get the ball back). He’s been replaced in the lineup with Chris Webber, signed after the 76ers cut him free. He’s still young (only 29). There’s still hope he could be effective after this year, if the Pistons can’t resign Webber (which I don’t think is a good deal anyway). Let’s assume though, that they want to trade Nazr, cut their losses, and try again this offseason finding a serviceable big man to go with the best starting 4 in the NBA.

The Pistons’ needs right now are nothing more than to strengthen their bench. They need some decent defense, rebounding, and scoring. They would love another Point Guard who could shoot from the 3 and handle the ball. I’m also assuming they wouldn’t be looking to take on any longterm deals. They have Chauncey, Chris, possibly Antonio looking for money this offseason. Plus, if they deal Nazr, they’ll have to replace him as well. They’re going to need as much flexibility as possible to get all that done, unless what they can get will more than satisfy all those requirements (more on that later).

Pistons send Nazr Mohammed to the Houston Rockets for Bonzi Wells and Bob Sura.

Bob Sura will essentially be retiring after this year, so the Pistons wouldn’t be on the hook for the last year of his contract. Bonzi Wells was pursued by them in the offseason. He provides excellent rebounding, and can score from outside or the post. It’s a little iffy bringing him in as he’s known as a cancer, but I think the Pistons locker room could survive both him, Rasheed and Webber in the short term.

Nazr would provide insurance in case Yao or Dikembe Mutombo go down with an injury before or during the playoffs. Also, Dikembe won’t be playing for much longer (he’s gotta be at least 60 by now right?) and Jake Tsakalidis isn’t the long-term answer at Center.

Chances: 50%
The Rockets are on a roll right now, probably not looking to rock the boat too much. They would have been more willing to deal Bonzi for Nazr before they picked up Jake Tsakalidis.

Pistons send Flip Murray and Ronald Dupree to the Memphis Grizzlies for Chucky Atkins.

Chucky would provide that additional outside scoring from the bench. He’s in the last year of his contract, and could possibly be resigned cheaply in the offseason. The Grizzlies know he’s not in their long-term plans. Flip might be able to start for the Grizzlies though, and regain his touch. If he does well, he might serve as a long-term solution for them.

Chances: 50%
Odds are, the Grizzlies are holding Chucky as a throw-in with any Pau Gasol deal. If it really doesn’t look like something with Pau will get done, then they might be willing to do a deal with the Pistons. The Pistons will have to outbid the Heat, Lakers, and a host of other teams looking for backup Point help.

Pistons send Flip Murray and Nazr Mohammed to the Los Angeles Clippers for Corey Maggette.

Corey would provide a long-term solution for scoring punch off the bench. I think he could team quite well with Carlos Delfino, Will Blaylock, Jason Maxiell and Amir Johnson as quite an exciting run and gun second unit. His contract is only for 7 mill over the next two years. If it didn’t work out this year, he would be a valuable trade asset next year.

Chances: 10%
Corey wants out of LA, but the Pistons don’t have enough to offer in return. The Clips already have Chris Kaman locked into a long-term deal. Nazr would just be a very overpaid backup, and they’d be trading one producing bench headache (Maggette) for another non-producing bench headache (Flip).

Detroit Pistons send Flip Murray and Nazr Mohammed to the Miami Heat for James Posey.

Posey can be had in trade. Pat Riley has made sure everyone knows that. He wants a Point Guard in return though. Flip has shown in the past he can be a decent backup point, and Nazr Mohammed is a better long-term backup to Shaq than Michael Doleac. Posey would provide the Pistons with outside shooting, defense, and an expiring contract off the bench.

Chances: 0%
There’s no way the Heat would help the Pistons, nor is there anyway the Pistons would help the Heat. This is as close to a hated rivalry we have in the East now-a-days.

Pistons send Nazr Mohammed to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Mike James.

Mike James could again pair with Lindsey Hunter to form a formidable defensive pressure duo off the bench. He can score from outside. He showed last year with the Raptors that he can score from pretty much anywhere. He’s also signed to one less year than Nazr, so that saves money. He would have to except that he’d be a permanent bench player unless Chancey walks in free agency.

Mohammed would provide Garnett with a bonafide option at the Center position to provide rebounding, defense, and a decent amount of scoring.

Chances: 25%
Unless the Pistons really think Mike can get back that magic of 3 years ago, he would eventually just turn into a player unsatisfied with coming off the bench. Marko Jaric has also been mentioned in a swap for Nazr.

Pistons send Nazr Mohammed and Flip Murray to the Orlando Magic for Darko Milicic and J.J. Redick.

Oh boy. This would open a whole can of worms for Joe D. Trading two mistakes (Flip and Nazr) for another former mistake in Darko. Darko has proven he can play at least as well as Nazr. The kicker is that his contract ends after this year. The Pistons wouldn’t have to resign. J.J. Redick would provide outside shooting.

Chances: 25%
The Magic would only do this trade if they really thought Darko would walk for nothing this summer and if they already have given up on J.J. Redick. Perhaps a lesser deal for just Darko would go over more smoothly.

Pistons send Nazr Mohammed and Flip Murray to the Sacramento Kings for Corliss Williamson.

Corliss never wanted to leave. That was for sure. He’s in the last year of his contract and would provide instant post scoring off the bench. He could punish all the other small forwards of the East in the Playoffs, and he’s a very under-rated defender.

Chances: 40%
The Kings would probably do this deal in conjuction with dealing Mike Bibby. Nazr would be a good backup option for when Brad Miller goes down, and Flip could fill in for the loss of Mike Bibby.

Pistons send Nazr Mohammed to the Raptors for Morris Peterson.

The Pistons reportedly have been trying to pry MoPete away from the Raptors for awhile now. The question is, do they have the players to get it done. MoPete is in the last year of his deal for 4.55 million. He provides instant scoring off the bench, and could possibly be resigned in the offseason.

Chances: 60%
Chances are that the Pistons get MoPete, but perhaps not for Nazr. In that case a deal of Flip Murray and Dale Davis would also work and would give Flip a tryout with the up-tempo Raptors.

Pistons send No One No Where and wait for the offseason.

Chris Webber isn’t a young guy anymore. He, or Rasheed could get hurt, and Nazr would be their best starting option there. Also, Nazr could develop into more of a long-term solution at the Center position.

Chances: 75%
If no one else in the East does a move (the Heat are trying for Bibby, the Bulls for Gasol), then the Pistons might just stand pat and run with what they have. They also might just save their assets and wait till the offseason to pull off what could be the greatest Piston trade since Mark Aguirre or Rasheed Wallace.

Pistons send Nazr Mohammed, Flip Murray, Rasheed Wallace and draft picks to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Garnett.

There have always been rumors of the Pistons prying Garnett away from Minnesota to reunite with Flip Saunders. Garnett has a hefty amount left on his contract, but if the Pistons were able to land him, I’m sure they could talk him into opting out and signing a new deal for less money for the chance to win a couple of championships. Also, if they landed Garnett, they probably could talk Webber into resigning for cheap as well to have a great chance of winning another championship (after they win it this year of course). They could resign Chauncey, Webber, Antonio and have a starting five of:
PG Chancey Billups
SG Rip Hamilton
SF Tayshaun Prince
PF Kevin Garnett
C Chris Webber
Bench: Lindsey Hunter, Will Blaylock, (another as yet undetermined shooter), Carlos Delfino, Jason Maxiell, Antonio McDyess, and Amir Johnson. That would be a championship caliber team for as long as they could keep them together.

Chances: 50%
It’s a crapshoot whether or not Garnett would even want to leave Minnesota. If they don’t make the playoffs again this year, I think he might definitely want out, unless Minnesota somehow lands one of the first two picks in the draft. Minnesota could develop Nazr or trade him, Rasheed would provide some edge to a “nice-guy” team, or his contract is more easily moveable than Garnett’s. Flip could start at the Point for the Timberwolves, and I think he’d be a good fit. It all hinges on Garnett. If he actually wants out, the Pistons have a better than average shot of getting him…unless the Bulls still have all their pieces (IE: they don’t trade for Gasol, which I think they should), in which case they would be the only team with better assets.

There you go folks. Here’s hoping the Pistons make a minor move to at least bolster their bench a bit. I’ll trust in Joe no matter what he does. I’m thinking the Pistons right now are one of 3 teams that could come out of the East, with Chicago and Miami being the other two. Even if Miami lands Bibby or Chicago lands Gasol, I still like the Pistons chances. I guess we’ll see in just a few short days!

Also, if you think there’s a trade I missed, go ahead and try it with the ESPN’s trade machine, and post it if it works, I’d be interested to see it!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Music & Lyrics

Perhaps a Careless Whisper to a Wham! reunion?

I’m not quite sure what I expected going into this movie innocently titled Music & Lyrics. I know the reason I suggested we go to it. It was Valentine’s Day. I had already given her the V-day gifts the previous weekend. Friday, was the opening of Ghost Rider and I had already made it clear we were going to that, even though I knew she knew nothing about the character and could care less. That was why I suggested we go see something romantic which I figured she would like. What I found, upon sitting through the 1 hour and 50 minute joyride was a movie that oozed innocence while at the same time poking fun at that wonderful time period we all love (the 80’s music scene). The movie never takes itself too seriously, never pretending that it’ll be an Oscar caliber film. It does however have decent comedic timing between the leads, and an almost mockumentary type setting dealing with a former 80’s music star trying to get his career back on track after years of coasting on previous glory.

For those who don’t know, this movie stars Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. Hugh Grant plays Alex Fletcher, a former member of the 80’s band Pop! The beginning of the film shows the history of the band, including its inevitable break-up with Colin Thompson, the “George Michael” figure, going his own way selling millions and millions of records, leaving our dashing lead in the dust. We come up on Mr. Fletcher years later, still doing minor gigs such as Six Flags, and High School reunions performing the same songs he was 20 years ago. Singing the same tunes, still doing the same exact hilarious dance moves, still playing to the crowd in the exact same way. In other words, his star has far past faded. His career is almost out, but he receives a chance in the form of Cora Corman (a nice amalgam of Britney Spears/Christina Aguilera blended with Shakira). Cora wants a new song on her next album with a former 80’s star. Fletcher has 3 days to write this song and get back to her. If she likes it better than all the other entries, he’ll get to perform it with her at her concert, and record it with her on her next CD guaranteeing stardom for another couple of years. So, Fletcher starts trying to write. He meets Sophie Fisher (Drew Barrymore), he convinces her to be his lyricist after he finds out she has a natural affinity for it, and the movie is off. Boy gets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy writes girl a meaningful song to get girl back, etc. etc. The movie’s good. Trust me. Take a girl to go see it.

Hugh Grant shines. He gets to deliver more great one-liners in this movie than he has in the last 6 years combined. Seriously, I’d like to know who he paid off to allow him to literally have all the snappy comeback lines. I’d like them to write for me on a daily basis. That is, if I could have a bunch of Jewish Comedy writers following me around texting me everything to say as I go through my life. Still…Hugh is great. The lines are good, funny, and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny.

The movie means a lot more if you can identify with the source material. If you loved 80’s music, you’ll love this movie. Seriously. I feel like this movie was written by Andrew Ridgeley, that this is really how he’s hoping his life will turn out. The movie group Pop! even formed the same way Wham! formed originally. Alex and Colin met at school, discovered they had similar tastes and formed the group, much like Andrew and George Michael. They have songs that sound very similar to Wham songs, and one that sounds very very similar to Careless Whisper (arguably the greatest 80’s Pop Slow-dance song ever recorded). The most logical next step from this movie’s success would be a Wham reunion tour (come on folks, let’s make it happen)! I mean…if the Who, the Police, and Van Halen can reunite and tour…then so can Wham!

Anyway, the movie Music & Lyrics gets 3 out of 5 stars…4 out of 5 if you take a girl to it or love those fabulous 80's. ^_^

Friday, February 16, 2007

How Many Have You Loved Before Me?

In honor of Valentine's Day:

Every once in a while, a commercial comes along for something you completely don’t need/don’t want/don’t care about, but still ingrains itself in your mind for a much longer period of time than you ever cared to possibly think about the product. In my case, this most often happens with movie trailers. For the longest time now, my friend Jeff and I have been kicking around ideas to better a particular movie trailer commercial that has haunted our dreams and made our lives worth living.

Of course, I’m talking about Tristan and Isolde.

Tristan and Isolde is supposed to be a story about Romeo and Juliet…before there was a Romeo and Juliet. At least that’s the impression I got from one of their movie trailers. It stars James Franco (of Spider-man fame) and Sophia Myles (of Underworld fame). For those who may actually care about the movie, I’m told by a sometimes reliable source that the movie actually isn’t “Tear Your Eyes Out and Eat Them with Rooster’s Hot Sauce” horrible. What the movie is about or how good it is isn’t the main part of this blarticle. (Get it? Blog and Article? Articog? Blogticle?) This blarticle is about a particular set of lines from the movie, which are highlighted in the end of the movie trailer:

Isolde: How many have you loved before me?
Tristan: None.
Isolde: And how many will you love after me?
Tristan: None

Sounds sweet right? Well…the esteemed Mr. Sumerix and I have come up with some alternatives that we think might have made a better movie, and thus, a better commercial success.

Be warned, there is language used that shouldn’t be viewed by those of us under the age of 13. ^_^
Isolde: "How many have you loved before me?"
Tristan: "None"
Isolde: "And how many will you love after me?"
Tristan: "None"
Isolde: "OW! That's my ass."
Tristan: "So?”

Isolde: "How many have you loved before me?"
Tristan: "None"
Isolde: "And how many will you love after me?"
Tristan: "Ovary Punch!"
Isolde: "OW! Right in the baby-maker."

Isolde: "How many have you loved before me?"
Tristan: "None"
Isolde: "And how many will you love after me?"
Tristan: "None"
Isolde: "OW! Be careful, it’s my first time."
Tristan: "Bleed Baby Bleed.”

Isolde: "How many have you loved before me?"
Tristan: "None"
Isolde: "And how many will you love after me?"
Tristan: "None"
T&I Producers: “The commercial tagline for our movie is going to be: BEFORE ROMEO & JULIET; THERE WAS TRISTAN & ISOLDE”
James Franco: “But shoehorning the movie into that general paradigm will make it seem trite and pointlessly derivative.”
T&I Producers: “So?”

Isolde: "How many have you loved before me? HWUUUUUUUGH!!!"
Tristan: "None. HWUUUUUUUGH!!!"
Isolde: "And how many will you love after me? HWUUUUUUUGH!!!"
Tristan: "None. HWUUUUUUUGH!!!"
Isolde: “OH!! It feels like my insides are on fire! HWUUUUUUUGH!!!"
Tristan: “I don’t want to, I don’t want t-HWUUUUUUUGH!!!"
Isolde: “Tristan, hold my hair! HWUUUUUUUGH!!!"
Tristan: “Quick, call 911! HWUUUUUUUGH!!!"
Isolde: “Okay, okay. . . .I think it’s done . . . HWUUUUUUUGH!!!”

Isolde: "How many have you loved before me?"
Tristan: "Whoa lady, slow down! I don’t even know you. We just met.”
Isolde: "And how many will you love after me?"
Tristan: "Someone help! This whacko beotch if freaking daffy.”
[A shadowy figure appears behind Isolde and gives her a swift boot to the head]
[The shadowy figure steps into the light; revealing himself]
Tristan: "Thank You, Chuck Norris.”

Isolde: "How many have you loved before me?"
Tristan: "None"
Isolde: "And how many will you love after me?"
Tristan: "None"
[Audience is emotionally touched. There is dead silence in the theatre]
Jeff (with beer): “Show us your SNOOBS!!!”

Isolde: “I’ll sleep with you if you can recite that entire ‘Gozer the Traveler’ line that Rick Moranis gives in Ghostbusters.”
Tristan: “Gozer the Traveler will come in one of the pre-chosen forms. During the Rectification of the Vuldronaii, the Traveler came as a very large and moving Torb! Then, of course, during the Third Rectification of the last of the Meketrex Supplicants, they chose a new form for him; that of a Sloar! Many Shubs and Zuuls knew what it was to roast in the depths of a Sloar that day, I can tell you!”
Isolde: “Oh shit. . . I didn’t think you could actually do it. Ummmm, I actually don’t want to sleep with you.”
Tristan: “Too bad.” [Unzip] [Blat] [Blat] [Blat] [Blat] [Blat] . . . . . .

[Tristan & Isolde are having a romantic dinner]
Isolde: "How many have you loved before me?"
Tristan: "None"
Isolde: "And how many will you love after me?"
Tristan: "None"
[Brandon Lee comes crashing through a window and lands on the table]
Brandon Lee: “I just dropped in to say; Bon Appetit!” [runs off]
Isolde: “That guy is on a ‘Laser Mission’.”

Isolde: "How many have you loved before me?"
Christopher Lambert: “Only One.”
Isolde: "And how many will you love after me?"
Christopher Lambert: "In the End there can be only One.”
Isolde: “I don’t understand.”
Christopher Lambert: “. . . . . .” [CHOP]

Isolde: "How many have you loved before me?"
Admiral James T. Kirk: "KHAAAAAN!!!"
Isolde: "And how many will you love after me?"
Admiral James T. Kirk: "KHAAAAAAN!!!"

Isolde: "How many have you loved before me?"
Tristan: "No-strings-attached sex?"
Isolde: "And how many will you love after me?"
Tristan: "No-strings-attached, kinky sex?"
Isolde: ". . .”
Tristan: "No-strings-attached, kinky, drunken sex?"
Isolde: ". . .”
Tristan: "No-strings-attached, kinky, drunken, high sex?"
Isolde: ". . .”
Tristan: "No-strings-attached, kinky, drunken, high sex where there are goats?"
Isolde: ". . . . . . fine”
Tristan: “Rock on.”
Goats: “Ba-a-a-a-a-a-a.”

Tristan: ". . . then I’ll have to go out on Tauntaun.”
Isolde: "But Tristan; my love. You’re Tauntaun will freeze before you reach the second marker.”
Tristan: “Then I’ll see you in Hell!”
Tauntaun: “NYOCKUM??”

Isolde: "How many have you loved before me?"
Isolde: “I can’t believe you. First, you tell me you love the Juggernaut and then on top of that you call me a ‘bitch’.”
Tristan: “No, look behind you. IT’S THE JUGGERNAUT, BITCH!!!”
Tristan: “What could make this moment anymore insane than is already is?”
Captain Caveman: “CAPTAIN CAAAAVE MA-A-A-A-A-A-A-N!!!!!!”
Tristan: “. . .”
Isolde: “. . .”
Juggernaut: “. . .”
Captain Caveman: “. . .”
Tristan: “I had to ask.”
Captain Caveman: “. . . I wonder what the fuck is on TV tonight.”

Isolde: "How many have you loved before me?"
Brad Wesley: "In here I keep a list of all the women I’ve had. It’s my trophy room."
Isolde: "How many will you love after me?"
Brad Wesley: "The only thing missing . . . is your ass."
Isolde: "How many have you loved before me?"
Tristan: "None"
Isolde: "And how many will you love after me?"
Tristan: "None; if we make a deal. Kill Spiderman. No. Bring him to me . . . alive.”
Isolde: "How do I find him?”
Tristan: ". . . Peter Parker; he’s always taking pictures of Spiderman."
[Isolde skulks away on her giant bionic arms]
Tristan: "Hey, don’t hurt Peter!”
[Tristan sinks back into his chair with a glass of Scotch]
Tristan: ". . . Parker . . . . . . douche-bag.”

Isolde: "How many have you loved before me?"
Tristan: "My son, daughter, and wife; they lived in Hiroshima.”
Isolde: "And how many will you love after me?"
Tristan: "None. I stop now.”
Isolde: "Teach me. I can do it.”
Tristan: "Why?”
Isolde: "To love you, Shidoshi-Tristan . . . . . UUUUAAAAAHHH!”
Tristan: "You are teached; MWU HU HA HA!”

Isolde: "How many have you loved before me?"
Tristan: "Love? I picked you up for a 5$ No Holla Hummer!"
Isolde: "and How many will you love after me?"
Tristan: "Oh Gawd! Mom?"

Isolde: "How many have you loved before me?"
Tristan: "Hey, did you know I played James Dean once?"
Isolde: "And how many will you love after me?"
Tristan: "I bet James Dean could do better then you Beeeyatch!”

Isolde: "How many have you loved before me?"
Tristan: "Huh? Lady, who are you talking too?"
Isolde: "Mmmmm, yeah, that's the stuff."
Tristan: "What is that? Aw, awwwwww! It sounds like a vacuum cleaner..."

Isolde: "How many have you loved before me?"
Tristan: "Well, there was this one guy, he saved my life when I was a child, and then brought me up to think performing oral sex on him was great which was funny because boys aren't supposed to perform oral sex on other boys at least that's what the church is supposed to teach us except that the church has more boy oral sex on boys than the regular world, anyway, he saved me and I was his love slave until I went to war for him and got hurt and then I somehow ended up here, and I thought your brother was hot but for some reason you seem to think I like you which is weird because"

Isolde: "How many have you loved before me?"
Tristan: "Who wants a mustache Ride?"
Isolde: "I do! I do!"
Tristan: "Then get ready for the OH DAMN DONKEY PUNCH!"

Isolde: "How many have you loved before me?"
Tristan: "None"
Isolde: "And how many will you love after me?:
Tristan: "Ride now, fly fly, ride for the lightning, and the pheces, and the Ring. One Ring to rule them all"
Isolde: "Yes, yes, and in the darkness bind them. Has anyone NOT seen that movie?”

Isolde: "How many have you loved before me?"
Tristan: "None, wait, one, no!"
Isolde: "7? You slut!"
Tristan: "Yeah, 7, there was jake, and heath, and Jason Priestly, gosh he was dreamy..."
Isolde: "For Christ's sakes!"

Isolde: "How Many have you loved before me?"
Tristan: "None"
Isolde: "After we do your job, we're gonna do another job."
Tristan: "Tell me about it."
Isolde: "Like I'm gonna put a bullet hole in your fuckin' forehead, and I'm gonna fuck the brain hole!"

"How many have you loved before me?" - Isolde
"None" - Tristan
"And how many men will you love after me?" - Isolde
"Um...wait...Men? How'd you know I was gay?" – Tristan

Ok, that’s all. Feel free to put up your own in the comments section.

Over the weekend, I’ve got a couple of movie reviews to get up: Music and Lyrics (short form; go see it with a chick you like...especially if you like 80's music), and then Ghost Rider (which I’m sure will be an artistic achievement in itself). Also, keep an eye out Monday for my NBA Trading Deadline blarticle with trades focused on the greatest basketball team of all time: the Detroit Pistons.

Have a great Presidents day y’all!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sugar, DRM’s Going Down.

DRM is going down. Mark my words. Everyone from Steve Jobs to Courtney Love to every techno geek in the world seems to have something to say about it, so it was only a matter of time before I needed to weigh in. Here’s what I see happening though:

DRM is going down.

For those who don’t know, DRM, or Digital Rights Management, is the techno-phrase used for the copyright protection on downloaded music. To use the most famous example: the iTunes store. They use a special type of protection on every file downloaded from the store making it so that you can only play those files on a limited number of computers through the iTunes program, or on any number of iPods.

The iTunes store to date has sold somewhere around 2 billion songs. That’s not bad, considering each song costs around 1$, that equates to around 2 billion dollars for those of us who aren’t mathematically inclined. That’s a decent amount of money added to the sale of all those 90 million iPods sold. Why on earth then would Steve Jobs bite the DRM hands that feed him? In early February, Steve published what essentially was an open letter titled “Thoughts on Music” that discussed possible scenarios involving the future of DRM. It’s a fairly decent read. He points out that, eventually, the music industry needs to pick one DRM for all of its music, or go open-source; non-DRM’d downloaded music as a way to combat piracy. Of course, one thinks, if there was no protection on downloaded music, why wouldn’t piracy blow up even more than what it does now with non-DRM’d CD’s being bought at 20 billion songs a year?

Anyway, the very next day, Mark Cuban posted an article on his blog titled “What the Music Biz should do next” which explained a very interesting way for the music business to profit from ridding itself of DRM with it’s music downloads. For those of you who’ve never read Mark Cuban’s blog, go do it. It’s almost always a good read, and the man has some very interesting ideas almost always related to how to make money from most technology situations when he’s not talking about the other love of his life, his NBA Dallas Mavericks. Anyway, his article raised a very interesting point on how non-protected music could easily make boatloads of cash for the publishers of said music.

Also, shortly after the Steve Jobs letter, another letter popped up on Digg. It was an open letter from Courtney Love (between or in another drug haze) entitled “Courtney Love does the Math” pointing out how much money from record sales really go to the artists that you’re trying to support. Reading this excellent article brings home one simple fact: going to the local music store, or Target, or Wal-Mart, or Best Buy, or Circuit City to buy a CD by your favorite band allows that band to see about as much money as they would if you had gone online, figured out how to run Bit Torrent, and downloaded the album for free.

The only people who are hurt from the music piracy, is the record labels, as the artists rarely see the money from the record sales. Most often, the artists are lucky to break even, if they ever do.

I wondered if there was going to be any fallout from Steve Jobs’ open letter. I saw a few smatterings here and there of record executives speaking out against it. In the weeks that have followed, I’ve yet to see an artist take a stand either way. Today, I checked out USA Today only to see an article that EMI is going to be pursuing distributing non-protected music through the net. I find this very interesting. I figured it would only be a matter of time.

Ever since I can remember, there have always been ways around DRM protections on every type of media. If you’re going to put it on a media, then expect it to be able to be copied. Course…I don’t know if you could copy a record, or an eight-track, but cassette tapes were incredibly popular because you could do that. Same with CD’s, VHS movies, and DVD’s. It just stands, if you want to find a copy of something hard enough, you’re going to be able to find it or find a way to make one. Especially with the influx of techno-geeks who have the time on their hands to figure out how to copy said media. I remember an article written by Mark Cuban some time ago relaying this fact, but pointing out that the industry’s best way to combat piracy is in availability. You’re going to have pirates forever. However, if you make your media available as easily and cheaply as possible, you’re going to cut down on the number of people who try to pirate your products. It can take a normal person hours to set up and use bit Torrent on their computer system, and then more hours to actually find the torrents and download them. If there was one place someone could go and, in just minutes, set up an account to preview and cheaply download the exact media they wanted, I’m sure they’d do that instead of going with the harder, more time consuming bit Torrent.

Also, let’s face it; pirated copies are still just that: copies. You could go out and download the newest movie you want to see in the theater, but it’s probably a crappy copy that someone has taped with a video camera, which then had to be input into a computer, and run through a filter dissipating it’s bit rate to the point where you’re not quite sure what you’re actually seeing on the screen. Not to mention, the sound quality is horrible and it takes you days to get the download slowing down your computer and using up valuable cable modem bandwidth in the process. The point is, the copy will never be as good as the original.

This brings me back to a personal example of what I view the non-DRM world could and should be:

In the beginning days of file-sharing, I was a sophomore/junior in college. I downloaded Napster. I used it not very efficiently, since most things back in those days were dialup. I also had a CD collection of over 1000 discs, 70% of which I didn’t listen to on any sort of regular basis considering most of them had 1 song I liked which hooked me into trying the CD, only to find that that 1 song was the only good thing on the CD. I was sick of wasting money, so I figured, why not try downloading first, and then I’ll buy if I like it. I was also a huge fan of the Barenaked Ladies. They were getting ready to release a new album, and their first single “Pinch Me” was just starting to be played on the radio. They took an extraordinary stance. They put on their site that they were going to release Pinch Me free on Napster. You could just go out and download the song weeks before the CD’s release. Free. No questions asked. Crazy, right? It was a good song. I had heard it on the radio, so I decided to try downloading it. I found it, downloaded it, and burned it to a CD to listen to the next day in my car. I pop it in, and what do I find? The song, but with clips of BNL talking in the middle of the song. One clip is them asking to get this song on Napster any way possible. Another is of them screwing around saying you shouldn’t trust sneaky Canadians. The song was still there, it was just broken up. I laughed so hard, I almost peed myself. It was great. It was original. It was taking advantage of the available media as a way to get their music out there and it was free advertising. The only people paying for it, were the millions of people downloading and uploading the song, free of charge to BNL. It was brilliant. I went right out and bought the CD the day it was released. I went that year to 3 BNL concerts. I bought T-shirts. Since that time, I’ve learned to go straight to their site and buy their CDs, pre-order it and get something extra. You can even pay a reasonable rate to download live concerts and other media from their site.

Now, imagine if all artists had this same savvy and stance. Loads of artists charge fan-club fees to allow you to download live and rare songs. Imagine though if it was all in one spot? It would be a boon for the music industry.

Hopefully, EMI will take the first step. Hopefully, other new bands will be able to follow suit and have their music hosted so they don’t have to go through a large distributor, and then the artist can see more of the money they should be seeing instead of having to rely more on touring and merchandise sales they have to develop on the side (with the record companies still taking a large cut).

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth - Go See It!


Welcome to my newly formed blog. This is something I’ve wanted to do for years now, seeing it as a place for me to get my ideas out in the open and keep in touch with people who I’m now removed from. Topics that you might find in the articles of this blog:

Current events that happen to cross my path
Reviews of everything (Movies, games, Technology, etc).
Neat Web Sites or trends
And many other things I’ll choose to write about.

And, if those things don’t interest you…check back and read anyway. Cuz, I’d read your blog if you wrote one. J

First up is a movie review.

The one major bonus of moving from Michigan to California (I just moved a month ago) is that there is now never a lack of something to do. The weather’s nice, and I’m in a major market now, so every show, every concert, every movie is going to be around me. As it stands, there are about 5 movie theaters within a 5 mile radius of where I live. Each of these theaters houses at least 20 screens; one of them has an IMAX too. It’s a nice change from the 10 and 12 screen theaters back in good ole Kalamazoo. Anyway, as a result, I actually was able to go out this weekend and see a movie that wasn’t playing on 2000+ screens, but only in 1082 theaters, per Yahoo Movies. It made over three and a half million dollars this last weekend, good enough for 8th place for the weekend. Of course, I’m talking about Pan’s Labyrinth.

First off, I have to point out something interesting looking at the top 10 movies for Superbowl weekend:

There were only 2 movies in the top 10 that were playing in less than 2000+ theaters:
Pan’s Labyrinth at 1082 and The Queen at 1850 theaters. The Queen placed 10th for the weekend and has been in the theaters for 19 weeks now. Pan’s Labyrinth has only been out for 6 weeks. Charting it’s weeks since it’s release, Pan’s has been placed in more and more theaters and, up until this last weekend, had been making collectively more and more money each weekend. In its third weekend of release (Jan 12th – 15th), it played in 194 theaters and made $13,464 per theater. That’s amazing. Even up to last weekend (Jan 26th – 28th) it was still making $5,800+ per theater even though it was now playing in 823 theaters. It finally hit a speed bump this weekend by only making $3,403 per theater, even though it was now finally playing in 1082 theaters. Of course, the box office was slow this past weekend, generally attributed to the Super Bowl. Still, Pan’s Labyrinth has been up there with the averages, so why isn’t it playing in more theaters?

Let me not be the first, but the latest to tell you, this movie rocks and deserves to be in more theaters across the country as a splendid fantasy tail set during the Spanish Civil War. The movie focuses on the journey of a young girl named Ofelia. She and her mother have come to live with the Captain of a division of the Spanish Army during the ongoing Civil War because her mother is pregnant with the Captain’s child. The Captain believes that the baby will be a boy, and that the boy should be wherever the father is, even if that place involves great peril.

Ofelia is a great fan of fairy tales. You see her carrying around a load of books throughout the opening scenes of the movie. As a result of her rather depressing surroundings, she immerses herself in a fantasy world where she has control of her situation, and where her life and suffering have a meaning as opposed to the very real world she’s essentially a prisoner in. As has been his calling card, Guillermo Del Toro has crafted a fantastically horrific figure in Pan, Ofelia’s guide through her trials and tribulations, with the promise of Ofelia once again joining her father (The King of the Underworld) at his left hand as his Princess.

Pan is played beautifully by Doug Jones, who seems to be the Andy Serkis to Del Toro’s Peter Jackson. Doug does a beautiful body-acting job portraying the frightening yet inviting faun Pan. The faun moves are jerky and precise, as you would expect a being made partly of tree roots would move. The scary figure is matched by the horrible face that still is able to betray hints of innocence, warmth, and also extreme anger. For most of the film, you’re not quite sure who the real villain is of the story: Pan or Captain Vidal. Vidal is sadistic, vile, and all around evil incarnate. He easily kills with the most extreme malice and efficiency. In cases where he doesn’t believe he’s getting the whole story, he resorts to a wide range of torture tactics to get the information he needs. He’s the worst type of villain: cold, calculating and completely without remorse.

Del Toro directs beautifully, displaying his ability to craft horrors both fantastical and then very real at the same time. There were more than a few times during the movie that a horrific being revealed itself, or a bloody wound was inflicted that made me think or say “I love Guillermo Del Toro.” He truly has a knack for portraying violence without making the violence become secondary to the story as many movies do nowadays (Hostel, Saw, etc).

Keep in mind, this movie isn’t for children. It is a fairy tale, yes. Think of it more as the same type of fairy tale as the original Grimm Tales. Those tales were meant more to scare children than anything else. This movie is violent, bloody, and a little bit depressing. Also, it’s sub-titled. So, unless your child can read well, leave them at home. As it was, two children were in my theater during my viewing. One looked around 3, the other around 6. Both looked bored through most of the movie, and then hid next to their parents for the rest.

Overall, I highly recommend the film. Go see it. Drive an hour to see it. You won’t be disappointed.

4 out of 5 stars.