Wednesday, December 17, 2008

December 12, 2008 LCVG Meet


Met up with some members of LCVG, the online gaming community I participate in, over the weekend.  Dave's (Wetwork) family were traveling so he invited a few of us to spend the weekend at his place in Old Bridge, New Jersey.  Only three of us made it but a fun time was had regardless.  Todd (Union Carbine), who I've hung out with before at some movie meets and even played handball with, spent the entire weekend.  Anthony (Quicksand), who we all met for the first time and apparently lives about 10 minutes away, arrived sometime after Dave and Todd and would leave to go sleep and return the next day.  

I went home Friday after work and readied a bag to sleep over along with some videogames, Guitar Hero guitars, my controller and Xbox 360 memory unit card.   I went prepared to stay over but originally I was planning on returning home since I had to be at work at 8am the next day.  Good thing I took my pillow and tooth brush.  After watching the blu-ray version of The Dark Knight on Dave's impressive home theater, we played some games (Scene It, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, etc) all while chatting about various movie and videogame topics.  Before I knew it, it was 4am so I set my cell phone alarm for 6am and went to sleep. Took me 15 minutes from the moment my alarm went off until I was in my car and ready for the drive back to NYC and straight to work.  But not before gassing up.  Was amazed that gas was down to $1.55 per gallon in Old Bridge (still $1.95 in the Bronx) so took advantage.  With my tank on empty, was able to fill her up for only $26.  At one point in the summer, it took $78 to fill her up.  Nice.

After working Saturday, went home to freshen up and get a change of clothing.  After spending a little time with the family, made my way back to Old Bridge to meet up with Dave, Todd and Anthony for some dinner at Damon's and then back to Dave's for The Ultimate Finale on Spike TV.  Afterwards, I threw on Rock Band and played a bit while Todd and Dave watched.   They didn't take to the rhythm game so instead settled on choosing the tracks for me to play.  I should've brought over my drums and mic so we all could've played co-op.  :)

Ended the night attempting to watch The Proposition but ultimately called it a night around 2:30am as I needed to be in NY at 6am.  Spent the rest of Sunday shopping but mostly remember the day being in a fog as I was running on fumes from only getting 2 and 2 and a half hours of sleeps the previous 2 nights.  Throw in an 8 hour work day and I don't know how I did it.  I tell you though, Red Bull works for me.  

It was good meeting up with Dave and Todd once again and look forward to doing it all over again real soon.  As for Anthony, it was good meeting him and talking to him the brief time he was conscious.  :D

video

Monday, December 15, 2008

Montefiore Children's Hospital (MCH) Child's Play Charity

I've been invited to participate in a charity to help kids get toys/videos/videogames for the holidays.  I'm posting this here with hopes of finding one or two others to join me.  I know economic times are hard but any little amount will help in purchasing something fun for a kid this holiday season.  Currently there are 3 different ways to participate:

  1. Call Of Duty: World At War - Do you have Call Of Duty: World At War for the Xbox 360 and $20?  Then join me this Wednesday night at approximately 9pm for a CoD:WaW charity game night.  Your $20 donation will go towards the purchase of one or two Nintendo DS's and games for kids at MCH.  The event will be approximately 60 to 90 minutes.  Look for me online, gamertag TheEvilEmpire.  $20 CoD:WaW game night donation can be made via Paypal to captds9e@nyc.rr.com and is due Wednesday.  In the message box, you can mention that you're a friend of Angel or TheEvilEmpire for you XBL gamers out there.
  2. Paypal donation - Don't have CoD:WaW?  Maybe you do but don't want to play or have the time.  $20 a bit much at the moment?  Whatever the case, you can still make a donation of any amount via Paypal.  Any amount would be greatly appreciated and can be made to captds9e@nyc.rr.com and is due by this weekend.  Again, any amount.  $10, $5, even $1 will be added to the game night donation total and will go towards MCH Child's Play Charity.  
  3. Amazon wishlist - Gaming not your thing?  Maybe you want to be more involved in the toy/games chosen for the kids.  If that's the case, you can make a purchase on Amazon that will get delivered directly to the hospital via the wishlist set up by MCH.  
MCH was chosen since most taking part in the CoD gaming event are from NYC so Montefiore was chosen.  If you want to donate a gift by making a purchase to a hospital closer to your region, there is a list of hospitals on the left side of the page.  

Thank you.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Back in the day

For awhile now, I've been promising to put up some photos I had found of my friends and I from the late 80s.  Well, I finally got around to it and decided to not only put them up here on the blog but also on my Facebook page.  Enjoy.  :)



Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Here I go again

Wow, can't believe a whole month has passed since my last post.  Matter of fact, can't believe December is here already.  By the way, doesn't it seem the older we get, the faster time goes by.  Sheeesh!  Let's see, what has happened since I last posted?  

Video Games
 
Finished Dead Space, twice.  I really really enjoy a good survival horror game.  And Dead Space was more than good.  Part Doom 3, part Alien, with some resemblance to Event Horizon... Dead Space worked effectively well for me since I'm one that really invests my attention and emotion to the experience.  Very tense and parts creepy, I was on the edge of my proverbial seat many times.  Heck, once on my first time through the game, I spun around and damn near unloaded a whole clip on a can that was rolling on the floor.  Freaked me out, yet had me laughing all the same.  :)

I finished Gears Of War 2 on my second day of owning it.  Great game with an even better multiplayer mode (Horde).  Wish I could say the same for Call Of Duty: World At War.  Multiplayer has some issues which need to get patched while co-op was good but not great.  Don't like being one of four in a squad that gets assistance from a dozen other AI-controlled Allied soldiers.  And what's with being sent back to the lobby after every mission.  Weird.  Tried and loved the Mirror's Edge demo.  Didn't pick it up though as I've vowed to not pick up anymore games until Christmas.  So Mirror's Edge goes on the holiday wishlist along with Left 4 Dead.  The L4D demo, which is no longer available for download, lets 1 offline (or 2-4 online) players run through 2 levels of pure zombie mayhem.  Another definite for me.  Plus I still need to pick up Guitar Hero World Tour.

Reunions

Thanks to Facebook, I was fortunate enough to come across some of my buddies I grew up with.  Ray, Junior and I have been constantly keeping in touch and we've even had a "guys night out" about 2 weeks ago where we met up with my brother Jorge for some dinner and to reminisce on old times.  Another buddy I grew up with, David, came from Florida to visit his family for the Thanksgiving holiday and we too spend some time bringing up the past with Jorge.  Funny, funny tales we have.  

TV Shows

One of my guilty pleasures, Dirty Sexy Money, was cancelled by ABC.  Bummer.  Meanwhile, True Blood and Sons Of Anarchy completed their first seasons on high notes.  Two great shows that I hope get picked up for another season.  I'm watching so many shows and loving most of them but Dexter has got to be the one with the most build up of tension.  This season will most definitely end with an explosive conclusion between Dex and Miguel.   November saw the return of Jack Bauer but, alas, I have yet to watch 24: Redemption as I'm busy catching up on old shows.  Hopefully, this weekend. 

High Definition Gear

We were fortunate enough to have received a free 32" Sony LCD HDTV thanks to Maria achieving top sales honors at her job, her second such accomplishment since the summer.  First one earned her a Nintendo Wii.  Upon receiving the Sony, I went out and picked up a hi-def DVR from our local cable company (Cablevision).  Although HD channels only output 1080i and the TV is only 720p, it can upconvert to 1080p.  Looks pretty damn good considering it only has a 2000:1 constrast ratio.  :)

My home theater is getting ready for a make-over.  Ever since dropping DirecTV (No TiVo, no sale), I jumped back over to Cablevision's IO service.  Pretty good quality but ho-hum hi-def DVR.  One month was enough of that shit before I jumped on the TiVo HD DVR this past weekend.  So far, loving it.  Nothing like going back to an old friend.  I'll soon be picking up a second unit and installing a 1TB hard  drive to up the capacity from 20 hours to 145 hours of high definition goodness thanks to WeaKnees.com!  That one will find permanent in my home theater while Maria gets the 20 hour unit.  Thanks to the TiVo Wireless G USB Network Adapter, I'll be able to stream high definition programming on a TiVo other than the one it was recorded on. Picked one up today from Amazon for only $40 but will still need another one.  Will get it with the second TiVo.  

In addition, I was able to take advantage of a Black Friday deal where I picked up the Sony BDP-S350 blu-ray player from PC Richards for only $180.  Not a Sony fan personally, I was doing homework on both this and the Panasonic DMP-BD35K which has been hovering around $250.  But, with that black friday deal, I just couldn't pass up.  Hooked it up to the bedroom 32" LCD, i was stunned at how gorgeous Wall-E looked at 1080p resolution.  I decided to have the s350 take the place of my Playstation 3 in my living room home theater while the PS3 got demoted to the bedroom LCD.   With very little games that interest me on it and basically just a blu-ray player at this point, I relegated the George Foreman grille-looking behemoth to the bedroom.  :)

I now have my eyes on the Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K receiver, which I should've already purchased had Best Buy gone and price-matched J&R's online price of $429. When they refused, I decided to go to J&R that weekend but I ended up using some of the money on the TiVo HD when a $100 off deal suddenly materialized.  I'll should have the Pio 1018 in my clutches by Christmas.  That now leaves upgrading my rear projection. Hopefully, Santa will see how good I've been this year and put the Samsung HL61a750 under my tree. Or, at least the receipt since that bitch is big.  

Hope this made up for the month-long absence.  Looking forward to reading some replies.  

Cheers.  :D

Monday, November 3, 2008

Turtle Beach X3 Wireless Headset - Afterthought

So after a week of putting the X3 wireless headset through it's paces, here is my impression:  While I don't play much multiplayer, I do enjoy playing co-op online so having independent volume control for in-game audio AND online chat was definitely a plus when choosing this headset.  I used the headset this week with Dead Space (no chat), just yesterday with Scene It? Box Office Smash (online chat) and movies/tv (more on that later).  While it doesn't do wireless 5.1, (that's the $200 X4), it has a "stereo expander" option via a switch on the headset to expand the sound.  More info on that feature and others, check here.  

The headset has nice weight to it.  Not too heavy to the point where you get tired of wearing it nor too light that you would forget you have them on after awhile.  Deep ear cup cushion was very welcome but i'm someone that only wears in-ear headphone buds when listening to my ipod so having my ears pressed against my head takes getting used to for me.  The mic is adjusts to move closer or farther from your mouth or have it pointed straight up away from your face if you're not going to use it.  I was impressed with the sound when playing Dead Space as the little creepy sounds from the game were transmitted quite impressively.  I can just imagine how the X4 would sound with 5.1.  It does, however, leave you totally oblivious to your surroundings.  I was playing Dead Space last Monday with a mostly empty apartment.  Everyone but my daughter Angelise was gone for the day.  She stayed home sick and was sleeping while I fired up a round with the headset so as not to disrupt her sleep.  While crawling along a corrider, tense as all hell, here comes Angelise, bolting from her room.  Didn't hear her coming and scared the bejesus out of me.  

Another impressive feature is microphone monitoring.  Ever have headphones on while listening to music and talk to someone very loudly, only because you can't hear your own voice giving you the assumption that the person you're talking to doesn't either?  Well, the boom mic on this headset allows a small amount of your voice volume in so you actually hear yourself in the headset when you chat.  A nice feature considering the people you're chatting with don't have to hear the audio from your game.  Pretty cool.  

The headset isn't without it's drawbacks.  When connected, I get a faint hissing sound which I can only imagine is feedback.  It's all dependent on where I place myself in my home theater room.  It's not obtrusive as it's mostly audible when there isn't any audio coming through the headset, but it's there.  While chatting during my Scene It? session last night, the chat wasn't as good as the xbox 360 wireless controller.  I was told I sounded ok but the other party sounded too muffled.  I didn't think about it at the time but I should've told my opponent (who has the same headset) to pull his boom mic away from his mouth to see if that would clear up the audio.  I'll test it out more this week as I plan on getting in some Vegas action with my brother Jorge and friend Junior.  They'll let me know.  

Finally, since I have all audio from my hd-dvd player, ps3/blu-ray and dvr pumping into my receiver AND the IR transmitter is connected to my receivers headphone jack, I can now enjoy late night movie and tv marathons without disturbing the family.  

One last thing, the headset isn't wireless in the truest sense of the word.  Unlike the Xbox 360 wireless headset, which connects wirelessly with the console, the X3 needs to connect to the 360's controller in order to chat, similar to the original headset that comes with the 360.  But that's only if you want to chat.  The cable that plugs into the controller can be detached from the headset in addition to the controller for it to be truly wireless.  No chat, no cable needed.

If someone wants me to post pics, let me know.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Coming up short...

10 movies. TEN MOVIES!!! That's all I could muster for this years HTF Scary Movie Challenge. I used to watch that many in a week. Oh well, don't have as much time as I used to. Besides, I have a Halloween themed excuse: After 10 chapters, I've put 16 hours (and counting) into Dead Space. Hey, that counts for something... right? 

RIGHT?!?

Anyway, here's the list so critique away:

First time viewings are in bold.
  1. The Thing (1982) [HD-DVD]
  2. Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954) [DVD] 1/2
  3. The Wolf Man (1941) [DVD]
  4. An American Werewolf In London (1981) [HD-DVD)
  5. Wolf Creek (2005) [HD-DVD]
  6. Hostel: Part II (2007) [Blu-ray] 1/2
  7. Fright Night (1985) [DVD]
  8. Rest Stop (2006) [Blu-ray] 1/2
  9. The Happening (2008) [Blu-ray]
  10. Prom Night (2008) [Blu-ray] 1/2
I did go to the movies with Jeanette tonight and caught Saw V (enjoyed it although I still haven't seen IV) and could've added it to the list but didn't want to "pad" the list by being dishonest. :)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Guitar Hero World Tour

Still busy playing Dead Space but my pre-order for Guitar Hero World Tour has come in.  Now, Rock Band has become my go-to music game of choice so Guitar Hero really has to innovate to pull me from RB but here's hoping.  In the meantime, here's a commercial for GHWT starring Alex Rodriguez, Kobe Bryant, Tony Hawk and Michael Phelps.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Official 9th Annual HTF October Scary Movie Challenge

I've been taking part in the Home Theater Forum's annual October Scary Movie Challenge since 2003.  With the exception of last year, which I didn't participate in, I've done just ok and have to admit that I'm not the movie fiend I used to be.  The rules are pretty simple:  watch as many horror movies (tv shows are excluded) as you can in the month, list them on the forum and maybe even write a few words about them.   When I first heard of it, I though... eh, why not.  Although geeky by nature, it was a fun way to interact and discuss with other forum members who share a common love of horror movies.  What I really like about it is that, by reading what others have been watching, I'm introduced to some movies that I haven't heard of before with the intention of someday getting around to watching said movie(s).   So every year, a group of members stock pile a bunch of horror movies to watch during the month.  The goal is to watch a minimum of 13 (unlucky, get it?) movies either theatrically, on cable/satellite or any form of dvd.  Averaging 1 per day gets you into the exclusive "Splatterhead" club.  I've only cracked 31 once but have managed at least 13 every year that I've participated.

Last October was an unusually busy one for me with a handful of some great new tv shows that I got hooked into in addition to the favorite returning ones.  On top of that, September through November is usually when the best games are released so, being an avid gamer, I was consumed with some great games.  This year, I'm not doing so well as, again, I'm being consumed with great tv shows and games that are too good to put down.  With just 2 more days until the end of the month, I'm still 4 short of my goal.  Let's see how it goes.

I'll post a follow-up this weekend.

Turtle Beach X3 Wireless Gaming Headphones


I picked up the X3 today after reading some online reviews and a resounding recommendation from fellow LCVGer Joey.  The X3 is replacing the Xbox 360 Wireless Headset which was a very good headset but died a very mysterious death.  I've had the headset about a year and never had any issues with it other than an occasional annoying buzz sound within the first few months of purchase which was eliminated upon an update sent my Microsoft.  

One day, can't remember when, I plugged the headset in to charge to have it ready for my next online adventure.  That was the last time the headset was operational as it never turned on after that.  Normally, that wouldn't deter me from picking up another since I was quite fond of my wireless friend but since it had happened three times to my godson Brian, I decided that once was enough for me.  For the next few months, I used an old wired Nokia headset while I looked online for a replacement.  It worked but the quality and convenience wasn't the same.  I had seen the X3 mentioned around but thought the $100 price tag to be quite steep.  Well, after reading many positive reviews online, I finally took the leap.  I'll return with some opinions on the headset after putting a few hours into it this weekend.  In the meantime, here's one of the reviews I read online that finally sold me on the product.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Currently playing: Dead Space

Dead Space is a third-person survival horror-action game.  Set in the distant future, Dead Space revolves around Isaac Clarke, a space engineer who works for the Concordance Extraction Corporation (C.E.C.), a company that operates giant mining ships throughout the galaxy.  When the C.E.C. receives a distress call from the USG Ishimura, a "Planet Cracker"-class ship that destroys planets in order to extract valuable ore, Isaac and four other C.E.C. employees set out to rendezvous with the Ishimura in orbit, all the while assuming that a mechanical failure is the only problem.  At the same time, Isaac repeatedly watches a video sent to him by his girlfriend who is currently onboard the Ishimura, along with about one thousand other residents/workers. What Isaac and his crew find instead is a stricken mining ship infested with Necromorphs, a hostile virus with the ability to reanimate the bodies of the dead, turning them into grotesque monstrosities.   Source: Wikipedia

What I love about this game is how atmospheric it is.  I've played scary games before: Doom 3, the Resident Evil 4 and even BioShock had it's fair share of scare moments.  Dead Space has them all beat in the tense department. Being a fan of horror movies growing up, you would think that I wouldn't find a video game scary.  But what a game does better than a movie is that you're put in the situation where your every action (and reaction) is the determining factor in your survival.  I can watch a movie and get scared but mostly it's of the cheap variety.  In a game like Dead Space, I'm not watching as this character makes his way through the unknown but controlling him. I ask myself how many times I've watched a horror movie and said "I wouldn't go there if it was me" so when playing these games, you can actually choose to not take certain paths until you feel more readily capable of handling whatever situation may rise.  

This game is unique in that the character you play, Isaac Clarke, is not this super soldier with all the necessary firepower to handle the extreme conditions he's about to be thrown in.  No, Isaac Clarke is only an engineer assigned with task of repairing a mining ship.  So, guess what, all he has to defend himself with are mining repair tools.  Mind you, they get the job done but they're not your typical shotgun/rifle/rocket launcher variety.  

Another thing that is unique about this game is the combat.  Where most shooters are basically about getting the most powerful weapon and getting that "headshot" to take the enemy down.  In Dead Space, getting a headshot is about the worse thing you can do as all it will do is piss off the creatures.  "Strategic dismemberment" is the method used to achieve success in battling the Necromorphs.  Trying the conventional method will only have them adopt new stances and tactics, eventually sprouting new limbs and even giving birth to more creatures in the process.  The limbs need to be individually severed in order to have a chance at defeating them.  

I'm currently sitting in chapter 7, half way through the game and have had numerous "creep out" moments.  Playing late at night with the lights out and the 5.1 surround turned up is the only way to play this game.  

There are more games coming out between now and the end of the year but Dead Space, although not through with it yet, already has Game of the Year written all over it.

Available for the X-Box 360, Playstation 3 and PC, I can't recommend this game enough.


Cutting costs

In a move to help our economic situation, I no longer park my car in a private lot.  I'm now at the mercy of vandalism which I've experienced a few times before.  Also, I canceled my account with Storage Deluxe and have started to bring everything that I'll be keeping over to the apartment.  I gave my 10-day notice and will have everything out by Halloween.  Wow but we sure have alot of junk stored away.  

Eliminating the parking and storage will save us $300 a month.  :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Finally...

Well, it's been a couple of hectic months with all the overtime I've been putting in but am happy it's over.  Lots to write about and am looking forward to sharing some thoughts with my friends.  Also want to thank those of you that helped Jeanette out with the 2008 Walk To Cure Cancer Charity.  Your help was appreciated.  :)

October is here and it can only mean one thing.... well, ok, two.  Halloween is almost upon us but more importantly, for us gamers, the top titles are releasing in time for the holidays so there seems to be a solid game coming out just about every week.  I already picked up and started Dead Space and am absolutely loving it.  I've been wanting a Doom-style game to hit the next-gen consoles and Dead Space is it.  Don't want to spoil it for those that want to play it but will get into it more at a later date.

Already pre-ordered are Guitar Hero: World Tour, Call Of Duty: World At War, Left 4 Dead, Gears Of War 2, Mirror's Edge, Scene It and Prince Of Persia.  Yes, I'll be doing alot of gaming in the weeks to come.  :)

Can anyone believe the Tampa Bay Rays?  Last I blogged, the Yanks were trying to stay close to the Red Sox while the Mets were sitting pretty in 1st place.  I stopped blogging and the baseball world stopped spinning on it's axis.  No need to recap how the season and play-offs turned out but the Rays are something special.  To say that all of NY would be pulling for them is an understatement.  Mets fans should want the Phillies to lose the Series while Yankees fans should want the Rays to win it all as a thank you for taking down the hated Sox, even if the Rays themselves are division rivals.  

Been trying to keep up with lots of TV and am really liking some of the new shows while old favorites (Shield, Smallville, Prison Break, Bones, House, Dexter, Entourage) and 2nd year offerings (Life, Dirty Sexy Money, Californication) are still holding my interest.  New to my TiVo season pass this year are True Blood, The Mentalist, Fringe and Sons Of Anarchy.  Can't say there's a bad show in the bunch.  


Sunday, September 14, 2008

2008 Walk to Cure Diabetes

What's up everyone?  I know I haven't been on in awhile and I'll start throwing some blog posts in the coming days to bring up the things that have been going on but I just wanted to come on and let everyone know that my good friend Jeanette is taking part in the 2008 Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's Walk to Cure Diabetes.  Some of you know from last year that Jeanette has been doing this for a few years now and this year continues to do so with one-half million other walkers across the country.  Please help fund research for a cure to type 1 diabetes by making a donation.  Any amount will go a long way in helping.  

If you would like to make a donation, please visit Jeanette's Walk To Cure Diabetes Fundraising page.  

Thank you.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sweet and Sour Weekend

Just a few words to follow up on some topics I touched on in my last post.

For the most part, it was a good (sweet) weekend.  The Yankees won 2 out of 3 over at Fenway Park, and I'm ecstatic about that, but it's hard to not want to take all three after winning the first two.  I went to the movies with my good friend Jeanette on Saturday to see The X-Files movie and, while I enjoyed it, felt it could've worked as a movie by any other title.  The film was very light in the paranormal department but made up for it by putting the spotlight on the relationship between Mulder and Scully and their respective inner struggles.  I'll be looking for this when it releases on blu-ray later this year along with Fight The Future.  

I worked overtime on Sunday and am happy to have some extra cash coming in real soon.  

To put a cap on the sweet weekend is finding out how The Dark Knight continues to dominate at the box office.  As of today, it owns or shares 30 records in it's 11 days of release.  Amazing.  But this brings me to the one sour note for me: the box office take for the X-Files movie.  I so wanted this movie to do well so the franchise can continue on the big screen.  As a matter of fact, I previously stated that it would  "be lucky to make more than $25 million" and "I wouldn't be surprised if the new Will Ferrell movie Step Brothers does better".  Well, both happened.  Final weekend tally for X-Files: I Want To Believe?  $10 million.  Even Step Brothers made $30 million so it wasn't all about The Dark Knight.  Heck, Mamma Mia made $30 million last weekend in direct competition with TDK.  I want to believe that the X-Files franchise isn't dead but I'm afraid it is.  RIP X-Files.  You'll forever live in my dvd collection.  :(

On a lighter note: after much thought process, I figured out who would be ideal to follow Heath Ledger should the suits over at Warner Brothers decide to bring the character back.  Actually, I have two candidates as I can't chose one over the other.  I'll let you decide:

 
 

WB would be foolish not to seek out these clowns.  :D

Friday, July 25, 2008

A few thoughts...

Weather
Can this weather get any more miserable?  New York has been mired in a mini heat wave of late with temperatures barely getting under 90, and when it has, the humidity has been uncomfortably high.  At least it was comfortable today but upper 80s/low 90s is what's in the forecast for the foreseeable future.  

Baseball
What a difference a month makes.  Not too long ago, the Mets were the talk around baseball with the badly handled firing of Willie Randolph as the the team stumbled along the NL East while the Yankees basically underachieved with a sub-.500 record.  As of this writing, the Mets are currently in 1st place after beating the Phillies in the 1st of a 3-game weekend series.  Meanwhile, the Yankees are 12 games over .500 and have moved to within 2 games of the 2nd place Red-Sox after beating them 1-0 in the 1st game of the 3-game weekend series.  

Movies
The Dark Knight juggernaut continues as the movie has basically broken every record held for biggest box-office earnings on a daily basis.  What I mean by this is that there's a record holder for highest box-office earning after 1 day, 2 days, 3 days, etc.  It's currently on pace to break the record for fastest movie to $300 million previously held by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest which did it in 16 days.  TDK should reach the triple digit century mark on Sunday, it's 10th day in release.  Wow!  

I'm real happy that it's doing well since it's up there with Iron Man as my favorite movie this year but it doesn't bode well for the new X-Files movie which has received mostly negative reviews and has been marketed very poorly by Fox Studios.  Commercials have been seen sparingly at best and most people that aren't faithful X-Files franchise fans didn't even know this movie was coming out.  I wouldn't be surprised if the new Will Ferrell movie "Step Brothers" does better this weekend.  With The Dark Knight continuing it's box-office domination due to positive word of mouth and multiple repeat business, the X-Files will most definitely get creamed in it's release weekend.  Which is a shame since creator/director Chris Carter basically said that any possibility for future X-Files movies will rely on how "I Want To Believe" performs commercially.  Translation: This will be the last X-Files movie released theatrically. Bummer as I believe there are still good stories to tell in the X-Files universe.

TV
Man, August isn't even here yet and I'm already looking forward to September and having my favorite shows back on the air.  Shows I'm looking forward this fall season are: 

Monday, September 1
Tuesday, September 2
Wednesday, September 3
  • Bones (FOX) 4th Season Premiere [2-hour]
Sunday, September 7
Monday, September 8
Tuesday, September 16
  • House (FOX) 5th Season Premiere
  • Fringe (FOX) Series Premiere
Wednesday, September 17
Thursday, September 18
Monday, September 22
  • Heroes (NBC) 3rd Season Premiere [2-hour]
Wednesday, September 24
Sunday, September 28
Monday, September 29
  • Life (NBC) 2nd Season Premiere
Wednesday, October 1
There will be more shows that will be premiering this fall season that I may look into but I usually wait to base my decisions when Entertainment Weekly releases their Fall TV Issue.  I believe Lost and 24 won't return until sometime in January.  Shows also returning next year that I'm anticipating are Reaper (CW), Big Love (HBO), Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO), Damages (FX), Nip/Tuck (FX), Rescue Me (FX) and In Treatment (HBO).

I realize that most won't share my taste in TV shows but, other than The Ultimate Fighter, I stay away from reality TV shows like the plague.  :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mirror's Edge (videogame trailer)


Scheduled for release later this year, Mirror's Edge is a first-person action game similar in gameplay mechanics to Breakdown in which the whole game is viewed from the main character's perspective.

"The story follows Faith and her struggle to free her sister from a corrupt government. Her parents were killed while protesting against the government and she was forced to grow up on the street, later becoming a runner. Faith was taught not to rely on modern forms of communication, partially because the ruthless police state prefers eavesdropping every chance they get. As Faith attempts to rescue her sister, while running messages for the criminal underworld, she gets caught up in a series of events which lead to her being pursued by the government".

"Though set in a seemingly utopian city environment with low crime, clean streets, and sterile architecture, it is ruled by a totalitarian government regime that conducts unbridled levels of surveillance on citizens. In this world of communications monitoring, the only way to deliver confidential information between parties is to employ couriers (called runners) to physically deliver the information". Source: Wikipedia

I'm really looking forward to seeing how this game turns out.

Box Office Gold


In my July 4th blog, I posted that The Dark Knight was expected to break some box office records. That was an understatement as TDK has currently shattered 9 records including biggest midnight preview gross (of which I was a part of), single day and 3-day weekend grosses. Source: BoxOfficeMojo.com

And it's not done as it's probably going to break 4-day, 5-day, 6-day, etc. records as repeat business due to excellent word of mouth amid stellar reviews will push this film into the record books.   I'll be doing my part as I plan on taking in another screening but on the highly recommended IMAX format.


This Friday, the new X-Files movie debuts in what I think is a head-scratching move by Fox Studios. Instead of releasing this earlier in the summer or in mid-August, X-Files: I Want To Believe will try and get moviegoers away from The Dark Knight. Something I think will be very difficult with the little marketing I've seen from Fox Studios and the fact that it's been a few years since the X-Files tv series has been off the air. Not to mention repeat business for TDK, I think the X-Files movie will be lucky to make more than $25 million, which will probably be less than half what TDK pulls in. As an avid X-Files fan and someone that's waited years for this latest film, I'm hoping it's at least entertaining and makes enough money to warrant the creators (Chris Carter in specific) to seriously consider making more X-Files films.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I'm Back

After dealing with internet connection issues for the last 2 days, I'm finally back up and roaming. First things first, updated pics on my site (which you can get to from link on lower right) and will have a few things to share here about events that went on the last few days soon enough.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Mighty Rays

My brother was able to get 5 tickets from a tenant at his job for the July 9th game between the Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays and asked me to find 3 friends to go with us. After a whole day of back and forth texting amongst friends from all boroughs, we finally were able to get Todd, Ulises and my cousin Javier to join us for the 1pm game. We were all looking forward to the game for various reasons: the tickets were free, it's the last season at the current Yankee Stadium and it was the Rays. I understand this last reason may be a head scratcher.

As of this writing, the Rays have the best record in baseball and are a major surprise among baseball fans everywhere. Since their inception in 1998, the Rays have always been the doormats for the rest of the American League as opposing teams have always looked forward to playing the "Devil Rays" in an attempt to pad their division lead or gain ground on opposing teams. Not only have they never had a winning season but they have finished dead last in every season but one AND are the only team left in the major leagues to have never been to the play-offs. The one season they didn't finish in last, 2004, saw them reach a franchise high in wins when they ended the season 70-91, good for 4th place.

With help from some key trades, rare free agent signings and excellent farm system, the Rays are on pace to win 95 games this year and ensuring that, whatever happens the rest of the way, their manager Joe Maddon will be in serious consideration for manager-of-the-year honors. Outside of my team, I have no problem rooting for the Rays to make the play-offs.



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Monday, July 7, 2008

Good Weekend

After a boring first week on vacation, I finally had a good time worth talking about. On Saturday, fellow LCVGer Phil and his girlfriend Diana came over to watch the UFC pay-per-view. Although the PPV in general was mediocre, the main event between Forrest Griffin and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson was edge-of-your-seat excitement and worth the price all on it's own. It ended a fun night which started with Phil and I sharing funny stories, playing some Rock Band and feasting on home cooked spanish food. But the fun didn't end there. Oh no.

The next day, Maria and I took the kids with us to Queens to meet up with Phil and Diana where Phil and I played some handball while the ladies went shopping. Phil played pretty good for someone who claims to not have played in a good while. We played one close game against each other in which I was able to squeak out a victory with a score of about 21-17. We were going to play another singles game but thought we should ask the young kids (they looked like they were in their late teens) on the other court if they wanted to play us. Hadn't been watching them play or practice so I didn't know how good they would be. But I thought we were in for a long game when they agreed and proceeded to take the court each with a cigarette in one hand. I thought, if these guys are gonna play with just one hand, either they're dumb or they're gonna smoke us (pun intended). Well, it ended up being the former and not the latter. Once they saw we were serious, all hands were on deck for them but it wouldn't be enough as Phil and I beat up on them 21-11. They agreed to a rematch to which they asked for the game to only be limited to 15 points. Don't know if this was because they had to be somewhere else or they foreshadowed a beatdown based on how dominantly we put them away towards the end of the previous game. I'd like to say it was the latter as Phil and I steamrolled over them 15-1. I take great pleasure in beating on opponents that are about half my age. :)
I'm sore as I type this but, as you can imagine, with a big ass grin on my face. Need to get back on the handball court this week to get the soreness out.

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Day The Earth Stood Still

Trailers.  I absolutely love them.  Also known as movie previews, trailers (and teaser trailers) get audiences worked up and helps word-of-mouth spread for a movie that is probably still a few months off.  One of the best cases of this was when Transformers was released in summer 2007.  A trailer for a movie came on that didn't have any known actors or a hint of what was going on other than a city under attack.  Towards the end of that fantastic piece of screen tease, all that was shown was the name of executive producer JJ Abrams and the date: 1-18-08.  That was the release date for Cloverfield.  Like the trailer before it, I absolutely loved the Cloverfield movie.  But even people who didn't like the Blair Witch shaky-cam style of film making in Cloverfield admitted that the teaser trailer was extremely well done and the main reason why they went to see the film.  This brings me to The Day The Earth Stood Still.
 
Before the screening for Hancock on Tuesday, we were shown a trailer for The Day The Earth Stood Still.  Starring Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly and Kathy Bates, DTESS is a remake of the 1951 black and white film of the same name.  I've never seen the movie but have heard about it many times and how it "tells the story of a humanoid alien who comes to Earth to warn it's leaders not to take their conflicts into space, or they will face devastating consequences." Source: Wikipedia

Being a big fan of alien invasion films, the trailer has me very anxious 
to see this one. The original is currently sitting on the top of my 
Netflix queue. It should arrive by mid-week. Can't wait.

The Dark Knight: Ticket Purchased!

Batman Begins was an excellent reboot to a franchise that was in desperate need of one. Seeing that Marvel Comics (now Marvel Studios) was having much success with their superhero characters on the big screen, Warner Brothers decided to bring back their vigilante hero with the creepy mask. But how do you do that and get the bad taste of the Joel Schumacher films out of everyone's mouth? Quite easily, actually. Hire Christopher Nolan (Memento, Insomnia, The Prestige) to direct and work on the screenplay with David S. Goyer (the Blade films, Dark City). Then surround yourself with talented actors such as Christian Bale, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Ken Watanabe, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine. Even second hand villians were played by excellent actors Tom Wilkinson and Cillian Murphy. The only questionable hires were Katie Holmes and Rutger Hauer although they both held their own, IMO. Although a critical success, I was always surprised Batman Begins didn't make more than the $200 million it made. Although $200 million is nothing to sneeze at, it didn't make as much as other vastly inferior superhero movies. Hopefully, The Dark Knight will make up for this.

The creative team behind the first film return with some familiar faces. Bale, Oldman, Freeman, Caine and Murphy all return and are now joined by Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckart and Maggie Gyllenhall who steps in to replace Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes. Buzz around the intrawebs suggest that The Dark Knight is poised to break some records. Which ones? Remains to be seen but apparently advance ticket sales have been through the roof and most of the tickets for opening weekend in major cities have been sold out. "As of June 27th, Dark Knight has sold eight times as many tickets on MovieTickets.com as Spider-Man 3 at the same point in the sales cycle - 21 days from the films official release." Source: FirstShowing.net

For those that don't know, Spider-Man 3 currently holds the record for biggest 3-day opening weekend with $151 million and sits 3rd for overall grosses on the superhero genre list with $336 million. The only negative thing I can say about this upcoming release is that it's quite unfortunate that the late Heath Ledger won't be around to bask in the glory of the films obvious success and potential oscar nomination that he most certainly deserves. That being said, ticket for the Friday July 18, 12:01 am showing has been purchased. I'll get to work later that day running on fumes but a happy camper. :)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Vacant Vacation

Vacation time finally comes around and it finds me in a rut.  Normally, I'd have a travel plan mapped out where we would visit a friend or family member we hadn't visited in awhile.  My preferred mode of transportation is driving but with the escalating cost of gasoline (which doesn't bode well for airline tickets either), vacation travel this year has been postponed.  

Haven't done much of anything lately and that includes playing handball or videogames.  The only thing that I've actually gotten around to doing is finally watching some movies.  So I thought I'd finally update this blog with my thoughts on the movies I've recently seen.

On the big screen:
  • Hancock  Will Smith stars as a superhero with amnesia and serious character flaws.  Also stars Charlize Theron and Jason Bateman (who's great in just about everything he's in).  1st act of the movie was great while the 2nd and 3rd acts go in totally different directions.  Comedy was great while action sequences including the special effects were hit and miss. These problems notwithstanding, I quite enjoyed Hancock as I'm a huge Will Smith fan and the dialogue in the 1st act were golden.  Not his best film but far from his worst (Wild Wild West and Bad Boys franchise). Looking forward to his next film titled Seven Pounds with Rosario Dawson and Woody Harrelson scheduled for December 12, 2008.
  • WALL•E  What can I say about Pixar that hasn't already been said? These guys keep bringing out exceptional movie entertainment with every release. Won't get into the story only to say that it's not toddlers since there is practically no dialogue for the first 30 minutes.  I'm a big fan of the Pixar films and have to go way back to A Bug's Life in 1998 for the last time I thought one of their movies was just ok.  Since then, Toy Story 2, Monster's Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars and Ratatouille have all gone to huge commercial success and become some of my favorite animated films.  Even their animated shorts that play in front of the feature films are great.  Looking forward to their next projects, Up releasing in 2009 and Toy Story 3 scheduled for 2010.
  • Wanted  James McAvoy and Angelina Jolie star in this over-the-top action film with elements of The Matrix sprinkled in.  Morgan Freeman and Terance Stamp (in his 2nd "bad guy" role this summer behind Get Smart) co-star in this hugely entertaining film loosely based on the comic book miniseries by Mark Miller.  
  • Get Smart  Although I haven't watched all the episodes of the TV show, I was always a fan of the show when I was fortunate enough to catch them on reruns.  So, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that a big screen version was being readied and that Steve Carell would play the bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart.  Also starring Anne Hathaway, Dwayne Johnson and Alan Arkin, Get Smart is a very enjoyable summer movie.  
  • The Incredible Hulk  Following the disappointing box-office of Ang Lee's Hulk in 2003, Marvel Studios decided that Hulk was too big of an IP (intellectual property) to just die under the bad reviews of that film.  So, a reboot was in order and out comes this summer's 2nd (behind the awesome Iron Man) excellent superhero flick. Starring Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth and William Hurt, this iteration of the Hulk does right what the previous version fails at. Where the 2003 version was basically a drama with action sequences sprinkled about, this one is action with drama sequences mixed in.  
On the small screen:
  • Juno  A charming movie about a teen (played by Ellen Page best known for Hard Candy), who gets pregnant after her first sexual experience, decides to give the baby up for adoption to a couple (Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman) who have been having problems conceiving children of their own.  Film also stars Michael Cera (SuperBad) as her boyfriend and J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man, Oz) as her father.  Rainn Wilson (The Office) has a small amusing part as a store clerk during the opening scene in the movie.
  • The Girl Next Door  Not to be confused with 2004 comedy of the same name which starred Elisha Cuthbert of 24 fame, this documentary (filmed over the course of 2 years) chronicles the life of Oklahoma housewife Stacy Baker and how, on a dare from her then-husband, submitted a topless photo to Hustler magazine.  The photo won her top honors and helped launch her career in the adult industry as Stacy Valentine.  An interesting look into how working in the "porn" industry has affected and changed her personal life.
  • 28 Weeks Later  Sequel to the very popular 28 Days Later about a virus that turns the population in the UK into blood-crazed psychopaths bent on destroying the uninfected.  I enjoyed this very much but wished that filmmakers would abandon the "MTV-style" camera work where they think getting an intense scene to work means the need to film up close and with nauseating abandon.  Makes me wonder if the director himself was  infected with the "rage" virus.
  • Michael Clayton  George Clooney headlines an excellent cast of actors in this boring thriller about a "fixer" who must retrieve a colleague that has suffered a mental breakdown after getting off his meds and comes to realize that he may have vital information that can jeopardize the firms 3-billion dollar, 6 year class-action lawsuit that he's been working on.  Also stars Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton and the late Sydney Pollack.
  • Untraceable  Diane Lane stars in this thriller as an FBI agent within the cybercrime division that is tasked with trying to find a killer that is using his website to display live executions where the number of visitors to his site factors in the amount of time the victim has left to live.  The murders are quite imaginative ala Saw.  Although a bit predictable, hard for me not to like a movie with Ms. Lane involved.  Also stars Tom Hanks son, Colin Hanks of Roswell fame.  
  • Rambo  After the very successful and entertaining Rocky Balboa, Sylvester Stallone reprises his role as one of the 80s most iconic characters, Vietnam veteran John Rambo.  Living in Thailand, Rambo joins up with mercenaries to rescue a group of Christian aid workers kidnapped by a ruthless local infantry unit.  Very violent yet enjoyable.  Also stars Julie Benz (of Dexter fame) and long-time TV actor Paul Schulze (of 24 fame).

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Christmas Lights

Happy Holidays.... in June.  :)

Evolution of Dance

A funny 6-minute dance sequence.  

What a trooper

I like that even after planting his face into the floor, he still attempts to complete his nunchuk demonstration. :)

Can anyone spare $400 million?


I remember getting excited when the Yankees (and the Mets, for that matter) announced plans for new stadiums.  Although I'll miss the current Yankee Stadium, the chance of a domed stadium to better enjoy the games during the brutal weather conditions here in New York had me thinking I just may want to attend more games (even if it meant slightly higher ticket prices).  Unfortunately, the plans for a domed stadium never came to fruition but I was optimistic the stadium would still be state-of-the-art.
A recent article in the NY Daily News claimed the Yankees are seeking an additional $400 million in public funding to help complete construction of the new stadium. Yankees president Randy Levine refutes this claim by assuring the completion of the stadium regardless of whether the funds are granted or not.  On August 16, 2006, Yankees officially broke ground on the New Yankee Stadium (November 13, 2006 for the Mets' Citi Field).  I've seen video of the Mets new facility and although having construction begun some 3 months after the Yankees "park" broke ground, the stadium in Queens looks farther along than the one in the Bronx.  Both stadiums are slated to be ready for opening day April 2009.  

The following pictures were taken aboard the south bound #4 train just last week.

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