Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bengals Thump Chargers

The Cincinnati Bengals put together a complete game on Sunday and walloped the San Diego Chargers, 34-20. I was at the game because it wasn't sold out and frankly tickets were cheap. Rather than go through the standard recap, let's just use the title of the old spaghetti western, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly." (1966)

1. The Good: QB Carson Palmer threw for four touchdowns in one of his best performances of his career. WR Jerome Simpson caught two of those TD passes including a fourth quarter TD bomb of 59 yards.

2. The Bad: Chargers QB Phillip Rivers did not have a good day. One pick. And there were no big plays from the grinning quarterback.

3. The Ugly: The fat guys in front of me decided to take off their coats and shirts and go topless. I'm talking about fat men, folks. To make matters worse, one guy's pants were falling so he showed some butt crack.

Here are the video highlights. And below Ryan Parker sings a humorous song about Bengals WR Jerome Simpson who before Sunday was a sign of the Bengals bad drafting.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

Merry Christmas Readers! Here's your gift. It's the classic 1998 Saturday Night Live skit "Schweddy Balls" starring Molly Shannon, Ana Gasteyer and guest star Alec Baldwin.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tron: Legacy; 2D vs. 3D vs. IMAX 3D

So, you're going to see Tron: Legacy this weekend. And you won't be making a mistake by seeing the film. I've reviewed Tron: Legacy and it is a great movie. But which version do you see? It is playing in three versions at the theaters, 2D (2-D), 3D (3-D) or IMAX 3D. In my town, regular 3D costs about two dollars more than 2D, and IMAX 3D costs about eight dollars more than 2D. And in other cities, the costs are even more exorbitant for 3D.

Fear not. I've seen all three versions of Tron: Legacy. So, you don't have to stumble around in the dark, I will give my opinion as to which version you should see.

This judgment will be based on the following grading system. There will be three areas. Spectacle, Clarity, and Biggest Bang for Your Buck. Spectacle is an area where the 3D effects and version combine to make an event that must be seen for the maxi um movie going experience. Clarity is how good the picture looks on the screen, taking into account color and resolution. Biggest Bang for Your Buck is the category where taking into account how much a version costs, will determine how much entertainment value. And remember, I'm talking about 3D effects not the overall special effects which were spectacular. The scale will be from one to ten. Ten being the highest grade and one the lowest. Five is average. So, let's go.

A. Regular 3D (Digital 3D). I first saw Tron: Legacy in this version. For some reason, the picture was blurry and ghosting around the edges. I had to keep my head still. So, was it the film or theater or me? After seeing the IMAX 3D version, I don't think it was me. I'm guessing the theater was not using RealD projectors since my 3D glasses were not RealD.

Anyway, the 3D effects did not have the popping effect, i.e. stand out as if you could touch them. And with all 3D films due to the polarization, it was a little too dark. Thankfully, Tron: Legacy was mostly shot in 3D. So there's less visual mud in dark scenes.

1. Spectacle: The 3D effects add nothing to the story or made me say, "Wow." Even Avatar's (2009) 3D effects didn't do that for me thought that film had the best 3D effects so far. Score is seven.

2. Clarity: Again, it's a little dark. And maybe the theater I saw it, had issues with projection but there was ghosting of other images. But I'm going to grade here that ghosting is not a problem since I've seen many 3D movies without this problem. Score is six.

3. Biggest Bang for Your Buck: The 3D effects are nothing to write home about. And you pay an extra two bucks. Score is six.

4. Total Score: 19


1. Spectacle: IMAX screens are fatter and larger than most movie screens. According to IMAX's website, forty minutes were specifically shot for this projection system. 3D effects are better than regular 3D. You definitely notice them. They pop out. Still, even with the special footage, you don't get anything above and beyond either 3D or 2D version. Score is 8.

2. Clarity: IMAX provides better picture resolution than the average film projection. As for Tron: Legacy, there was no out of focus scenes or ghosting along the edges. The picture is crisp and clean. There is still a slight darkness issue. Yet, this is the best way to view the film in 3D. Score is 8.

3. Biggest Bang for Your Buck: This is the most expensive way of seeing Tron: Legacy. While it's the best way to see the movie in 3D, the special footage and clarity don't make this version so much better that you have to shell out the extra eight bucks to experience Tron: Legacy. Score is 7.

4. Total Score: 23.

C. Regular 2D

1. Spectacle: Well, it's in two dimensions or 2D. Yet, you can tell there is a third dimension by the effects which at times have epic sweeping camera movements. The effects don't pop but so what? Do you really get more when you see a memory disc fly by horizontally in 3D? Anyway, the score here is 6.

2. Clarity: Watching this movie in 2D is like that allergy medicine commercial You know the one where with hay fever, you see things in a haze. Then you take the medicine and your visions is clear. IN THE 2D VERSION, THERE IS NO DARKNESS ISSUE. The 2D picture is bright, crisp and clear.

For example when Quorra and Sam escape in the car, they drive off grid. In all 3D versions, it's so dark I don't notice the texture of the mountain road. In 2D, I see it. I see that she drives into an entrance in a wall in the 2D version to enter Kevin's home. That detail gets lost in the darkness of 3D. And the 3D weakness is made worst by the black color palette that the movie uses.

Oh, and I forgot. You don't need glasses. Freedom. The clarity of picture for 2D is unsurpassed. The score is 9.

3. Biggest Bang for Your Buck: 3D effects don't add anything to this film. You still get spectacular special effects in the 2D version and they are the same shots. Furthermore, 3D effects don't help the movie emotionally. And with 2D, you get a brighter, crisper picture. That's because of the darkness issue with 3D films. The score is 10.

4. Total Score: 25

D. Conclusion: And the winner is the 2D version. You heard that right. You get the same great special effects, a brighter and crisper picture and lose nothing in emotional terms seeing Tron: Legacy in 2D. But whatever version you choose, go see Tron: Legacy. And please buy me a drink at the "End of Line" bar.

I Was Right About the Bengals Draft

In this dreadful Bengals season, I get to celebrate my football acumen. Last spring I graded the Bengals' 2010 draft. I gave it an A.

So, how accurate was my grade? I praised the second round pick of defensive end Carlos Dunlap. Dunlap has lately become a stud. In the last four games he has racked up six sacks for a total of seven. That's AFC lead among rookies. First round pick Jermaine Gresham (pictured) is the passing catching tight end that QB Carson Palmer did not have before. He has the team record for receptions (48) for a rookie tight end. Third round pick Jordan Shipley leads the AFC in receptions (49) for a rookie. The future looks bright for these three.

Here's Cincinnati Enquirer's beat writer Joe Reedy's article on this year's draft class.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tron: Legacy; 3D vs. IMAX

I've reviewed Tron: Legacy and think it's a great movie. But the question becomes, "Should I see it in 3-D?" I've answered no, because the 3-D effects don't add anything. I do appreciate the fact it was shot in 3-D, so the effects are clean and sharp. In my 3-D review, I also note that I had trouble focusing on objects around the edges of the screen. It seemed to be ghosting. I had to keep my head centered to view the film. Was it me or the theater? Well, I found out it wasn't me because I just saw Tron: Legacy at the local IMAX theater. I did not have the focus problem.

So if you must see Tron: Legacy in 3-D, which 3-D version should you see, IMAX 3D or 3-D? I've seen the movie in both IMAX and 3-D. As with Avatar (2009), the answer is IMAX 3D. First, IMAX is designed to deliver greater resolution than the standard film projector. The screen is larger and fatter. The picture is sharper. The 3-D effects have a popping out effect. What I got with Tron: Legacy in IMAX was a clearer and sharper image. I noticed the 3-D effects on the fatter IMAX screen whereas on regular 3-D, I barely observed them. The downside is that IMAX costs six more dollars. While looking for a technical reason as to why IMAX 3D looks better than regular 3-D, I came across a bunch of technical answers, that frankly were way over my head. I can't tell you which of the answers are right. So, you'll have to trust my opinion on which is better. And that 3-D version of Tron: Legacy is IMAX 3D.

Of course, you could skip all the 3-D presentations and save yourself some money. Like I said, the 3-D effects don't add a whole lot to the film.

Bengals Run Over Browns

Oh my God. The Cincinnati Bengals won a game. They beat the Cleveland Browns in round two of the Battle of Ohio. The score was 19-17. Unfortunately, I missed the game because I was having dim sum with the family. It was also blacked out in Cinicnnati.

So what happened? From what I can tell the Bengals gave the ball to Cedric Benson and he ran over them. Game over. Oh, and by the way, everybody please stop with the "If the Bengals ran the ball more often, they would have won more games." No. There were games where the team was behind. There were big, explosive plays given up by the defense in some of those games. The Bengals just stunk in too many facets of the game. Anyway it's good to have a win. Here are the video highlights.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tron: Legacy Review

Back in 1982, Tron was a trippy sci-fi movie with state of the art computer graphic special effects. And while it was innovative and dealt with themes of religion and existentialism, the movie was hampered by goofy technobable and cute characters like Bit who was obviously inspired by Star Wars' R2D2. As time wore on, Tron became a cult classic.

Now in 2010, Disney has released a sequel to Tron, Tron: Legacy. Jeff Bridges reprises his role as Kevin Flynn. At the beginning of the movie, we see a flashback where Kevin Flynn is telling his young son, Sam, the story of Tron and a world of a unique existence in a mainframe of a computer. Kevin disappears and leaves his young son, his controlling stake in the software company, Encom. Later as an adult, Sam (Garrett Hedlund) breaks into his Encom and releases software that the company hoped to make a large profit on into the Internet for free.

Later, Sam's defacto father and friend of Kevin, Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) tells Sam that he has received a page from Kevin's old arcade. Sam investigates and finds a secret compartment which has laser. He inadvertently activates the laser and is digitized into the world of the Tron (also Boxleitner). Sam is immediately forced into gladiator games run by Kevin's alter ego-computer program Clu. Its purpose as programmed by Kevin is to seek perfection among the programs inhabiting the mainframe. Unfortunately, Clu. has a megalomaniac complex. As Sam is about to get killed in a light cycle fight, Quorra (Olivia Wilde) saves him and take him to his real father, Kevin. (Jeff Bridges) At Kevin's hideout, Sam decides to escape and try to shut down Clu from the real world.

When you watch Tron: Legacy in 3-D, the first thing that Disney tells you is that parts of it were filmed in 2D and some were shot in native 3-D. Why the honesty? I don't know but maybe it's to acknowledge the backlash against 3-D conversions. The film itself benefits from shooting in native 3-D as the special effects take full advantage of the medium. Broken pieces of programs look like glass flying at your face. Unfortunately, I had trouble focusing on the edges of the screen and had to keep my head centered. And with all 3-D films, the picture was still too dark. This was made even worse by the color palette which was black. Yet, I'm grateful for the native 3-D because the film had a cleaner look. So, should you spend the extra bucks for 3-D? No. I'm not as mad as I was when watching "The Last Airbender" (2010) but the 3-D doesn't do a whole lot for the film.

And speaking of special effects, they are spectacular. The filmmakers didn't break away from the first Tron as far as art design. The light cycle races were cool. There's also a light jet chase that's as good as anything in Star Wars. Then there's the de-aging of Jeff Bridges by CGI. It's seamless and revolutionary.

The acting is also very good. Jeff Bridges reprises his Kevin Flynn role and channels his inner "Dude" from The Big Lebowski for comic relief. (1998) Bruce Boxleitner hasn't missed a step as Alan. Whereas, Garrett Hedlund plays Sam in a realistic and understated manner. That could not be said for Michael Sheen as Castor. I'm guessing he got tired of playing Tony Blair (The Queen) because he goes to town as the flamboyant club owner, Castor. Olivia Wilde conveys Quorra's ingenue with grace and beauty.

Joseph Kosinki's direction is detailed and skillful. Here, the story comes first over flashy action. The screenplay by Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis is smart and pays homage to the first movie without becoming parody. It has a more sophisticate approach then its predecessor. Yet, it maintains the themes of religion and existentialism. The filmmakers make the same mistake as the first one by hiring electronic music experts. This time it's Daft Punk. The soundtrack was more like musical wallpaper. Still, it didn't hurt the movie.

Tron: Legacy is intelligent and thought provoking science fiction. It's better than its predecessor. Take a journey back to the world of Tron. The grade is A.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ryan Parker sings for hapless Bengals fans

Ryan Parker does a cover of Eminem-Rhianna's "Love the way you lie" but puts original lyrics about Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown. Sing it Ryan. Maybe almighty God will soften Mike's heart. Okay, that's a miracle. You know there's a line in "Oh God" where God (George Burns) says his last miracle was the 1969 New York Mets. It's time for another miracle. Bengals win the Super Bowl. How's that for a new miracle?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bengals win Super Bowl, Madden that is.

The Cincinnati Bengals win the Superbowl and visit President Barack Obama. Okay, it was done with the football game, Madden. First video was done by Machinima with poetry. The second video was done by a fan and unaltered.

What should I do on Sunday?

Okay, I'm watching another dreary Cincinnati Bengals game. This one was at Pittsburgh against the Steelers. After an opening touchdown drive, the Bengals' offense goes to sleep. But during the game, I flipped channels and noticed that the film, "The Natural" was on. Okay, what do I do? Watch the woeful Bengals or the inspiring movie, "The Natural?" (1984) Easy question but I watched the disaster film, the 2010 Cincinnati Bengals.

The game? Three picks thrown by QB Carson Palmer. Maybe one was not his fault. But two of those picks went for touchdowns by the defense. What can I say when your best offensive play is a penalty by the other team. Bengals had no chance. Those bums from Pittsburgh beat the Bengals 23-7.

Now watch a winner.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Let's say a prayer for Aretha Franklin

There's a report from the Huffington Post that the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin has cancer. Dear God, please help her. Cure her. Answer our prayer. Below: Aretha covers the Burt Bacharach song, "I say a little prayer for you." It was originally a big hit for Dionne Warwick but Aretha covered it and made a hit also.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Saints Go Marching On

The Cincinnati Bengals season can be summed up in one play. Today against the New Orleas Saints, Jeremy Shockey made a one hand catch at the five yard line. There may have been a question as to whether he trapped the ball. Bengals head coach was running down the sideline with the red flag in his pocket but couldn't get it out to throw it and challenge the play. Saints run the next play, touchdown.

Yes, the Bengals played a heck of a second half. They actually had the lead for about a minute in the fourth quarter, 30-27. But these are the Bengals. The Saints get the ball back and march down the field. On a fourth down and two in the fourth quarter with less than a minute, the Saints drew the Bengals defense offside. First down. Saints QB Drew Brees throws to his go to man, Marques Colston. Touchdown. Game over. Saints win 34-30.

So how did the Bengals bungle this time? Big plays by the Saints. And of course that off side penalty that QB Drew Brees was able to get. Look, fans don't think the Bengals are going to win. They find ways to lose. Go to the game and think the Bengals will lose and you'll be much happier.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Time to Think About the Cincinnati Bengals 2011 Draft

The Cincinnati Bengals season has been over for some time. At 2-9, the Bengals will draft third behind the Carolina Panthers and the Detroit Lions. So who do the Bengals draft with their first pick?

Well, first you must determine what are the team's needs. When it comes to the Bengals, it's everywhere. There is not one place that the Bengals are set. That's because of weaknesses, and free agents that the Bengals will lose. For example, Chad Ochocinco has an 6 million dollar option and Terrell Owens only has a one year contract for this year. If you don't sign either, you've got a need there. Cornerback Jonathan Joseph becomes a free agent in 2011. And the Bengals have a poor pass rush.

My preference is to improve the pass rush. The Bengals haven't had a stud at defensive tackle in years. Drafting the best player available at defensive line would help, even it is a defensive end. There is a possibility that the Bengals will have a shot at the best quarterback in the draft, Stanford's Andrew Luck. (Pictured.) That's assuming that Panthers will stay with Jimmy Clausen. If they do, don't expect the Lions to pick a quarterback when they have Matthew Stafford. I like Carson Palmer a lot, but let's face it, he's not having a good season even though he's been given plenty of weapons. I can agree it's not all his fault but the Bengals can't pass up a franchise quarterback.

So what does Walter Football think? Here's their mock draft for 2011. And by the way, I was right when the Bengals picked TE Jermaine Gresham.

Baseball's Rich Get Richer

The Boston Red Sox have recently obtained San Diego Padres' best hitter Adrian Gonzalez. The price? Four prospects. Now I'm not an expert on Padres baseball but I do know that in their lineup, he's the guy that avoid when the game is on the line.

The Padres dumping their best player reflects the problems with baseball. Yes, the middle income Cincinnati Reds, San Francisco Giants, Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers made the playoffs. But payroll still plays a big part as to who makes the playoffs. A big payroll has certainly helped the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees.

Jeffrey Passan of Yahoo Sports calls the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, big bullies. When those teams can force lower revenue teams to cough up their best players, he's right. Baseball needs a salary cap.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Keith Olbermann is a Trekker!

Last night, Keith Olbermann showed his Star Trek chops by correcting a NASA scientist on the correct name for an original series episode. He correctly cited "The Devil in the Dark." And he gave the Vulcan salute. Oh, he also noted that the Horta can be impervious to phasers. Huh? What was the story about? Oh, something about NASA scientists discovering that life can be made of other elements other than what was considered essential. Which means that life can exist on other planets without our scientific rules. Video below.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More Leslie Nielsen, Monday Night Football Promo

As we celebrate the late Leslie Nielsen's life, it's time to bring back the Monday Night Football promo he did for the 2004 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Denver Broncos. In the video he ponders why the Bengals were missing from the Monday Night game. Um,.... back then the Bengals sucked. And today they still suck. Anyway, enjoy the video. By the way, the Bengals won 23-10.

Two Greats Pass Away

Long ago, in a far away place, I was a projectionist at a movie theater. One of the movies we ran was "The Empire Strikes Back" aka Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back. (1980) It was directed by Irvin Kershner, who passed away three days ago. I've must have seen Empire hundreds of times since its release, TV broadcast and I also own the DVD. And it never grew tiresome.

Some consider Empire the greatest of the Star Wars movies. And for good reason. Kershner kept the characters center to the film. The romance between Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) is something out of the best love stories that Hollywood has ever told. But that doesn't mean he didn't know how to film an action scene. From the attack on ice planet Hoth to the asteroid chase to the climatic light saber duel between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, Kershner made iconic images that cling to your mind. And don't forget the special effects of Industrial Light and Magic and the writers. Kudos to the writers. George Lucas wrote the the story. Leigh Brackett who wrote the screenplay for "The Big Sleep" (1946) and Lawrence Kasdan (Body Heat, Raiders of the Lost Ark) completed the screenplay.

Actor Leslie Nielsen passed away two days ago. I knew him initially as the star of the classic science fiction film "Forbidden Planet" (1956) Later I would watch him on television. His characters would never smile and they would display a super serious masculine sensibility. He would later smash that characterization to smithereens in Airplane. (1980) Delivering his lines in a dead pan authoritative manner, he would utter the silliest and most awful yet funny puns. The result? Comedy magic.

Surely, we will mess these great artists. And I'm not calling you Shirley. Oh, Leslie let him RIP.

Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back Trailer

Keith Olbermann salutes Leslie Nielsen even though he was in that right-wing movie, An American Carol. (2008) Keith is still fair and honors him.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sometimes, I hate being right, part 2.

On Thanksgiving, the Cincinnati Bengals lost again to the New Youk Jets, 26-10. Sigh. I predicted the following:

1) Pick six thrown by Carson Palmer
2) Heartbreaking fumble
3) Jets Gadget Play for a Touchdown

Well, most of it happened. Carson did throw a pick but it was picked off by the Jets in the Bengals endzone. Not a pick six but painful all the same. On a Jets punt, the ball hit Andre Caldwell in the head. There's your fumble and bumble. Doh! Jets recover. The gadget play for a touchdown? Jets ran a reverse for a TD.

Sometimes, I hate being right.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part I, Movie Review

If you haven't read the books and are a Muggle like me, you might get lost watching the seventh film installment of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books. Based on the alleged last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I is a continuation of the storyline in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. (2009) At the end of Half Blood Prince, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) must find all the horcruxes and destroy them in order to destroy Voldemort. (Ralph Fiennes) Okay, for those of you who have not read the books or saw the movies, the horcruxes contain parts of Voldemort's soul. Got it?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows starts out with the Ministry of Magic trying to hold on as the dark forces of Voldemort, the Death Eaters, gain strength. Voldemort is hunting down Harry so he can kill him and thus live forever. This sends Harry on the run. His protectors are what's left of the Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore's Army. Unfortunately, the Death Eaters seize the Ministry of Magic and take power over the wizard world. Good witches are forced into hiding while Harry is now in full retreat, trying to stay alive and also hunt down the Horcruxes with pals Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint).

Screenwriter Steve Kloves has written all the Harry Potter movies with the exception of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. (2007) Unlike his adaptation for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) which was a heavy and elongated version of a Scooby Doo mystery, Kloves returns to the lean and character driven style of the sublime Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. (2004) Thanks to Kloves' screenplay and the direction by David Yates, the film takes off from the beginning. Yates knows how to direct an action sequence. Flinging spells is something out of a Star Wars laser fight. The action comes close to his masterful direction with the Order of the Phoenix. The film does lose its way about an hour and twenty minutes in. This could be because of the idea to split the book into two films. Thus, when Harry, Ron and Hermione wander the wilderness so does the movie. Some tightening up here with more exposition would be helpful. That's because not everyone has read the books.

Eduardo Serra's cinematography is beautiful in a desolate way. I'm guessing that Yates and Serra choose to drain the film of much of its color. Obviously, that's a reflection of the darker times. The predominant colors are grey-white for the snow, black and more grey. This topic of cinematography brings me to my pet peeve, the 3-D conversion. Fortunately, Distributor Warner Brothers decided not to release this film in 3-D as a conversion from 2-D. Warner cited quality concerns. If you see this movie, you'll realize why it was so difficult to convert. A lot of this movie takes place at night or during dreary cloudy days. Conversions to 3-D are usually too dark. If they converted the Deathly Hallows, it would be too dark and you couldn't see the special effects, such as the streaks of black smoke from the Death Eaters against a dark sky. Let's just hope that Warner will scrap Part 2 in 3-D because I have yet to see a quality conversion. Memo to movie studios. If you release a movie in 3-D, film it in 3-D. No conversions.

As for as the performances of the main trio, they have matured as they have literally grown up in the this film franchise. Emma Watson now plays Hermione not as a precocious little girl but a confident woman. Rupert Grint as Ron is no longer a clumsy boy but man who must deal with adult emotions. Daniel Radcliffe, no longer is the wide eyed boy filled with wonder but a knight on a quest that may kill him. The supporting cast is also solid. There is not one false note. A special kudos to Helena Bonham Carter who plays Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange. In previous Potter films, she came off campy. Now she is a full blown monster with a sadistic urge to inflict pain and death. She gives Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort) a run for his money as far as badness goes.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I is a tense, and thrilling fantasy film. It's packed with real emotion. While it seems that splitting the movie in two was for increased profits, this first part works on its own. It serves as stand alone film while fulfilling the task of setting up the last act. The grade is A-.

Joey Votto, MVP

The Cincinnati Reds first baseman, Joey Votto, was named NL MVP. St. Louis Cardinals Albert Pujols was second. Here's the story. Look Votto and Pujols numbers are comparable. But Votto leads him in one big category that I believe determines whether you can perform in the clutch. It's hitting with runners in scoring position. If you drive in runs with runners in scoring position, you are a clutch hitter. For 2010 with runners in scoring position, Pujols batted .343. Votto batted .369 with runners in scoring position, more than twenty points higher. Case closed. Below is video of Votto's walkoff home run filmed by sports talk show host Lance McAlister of 1530 Homer. The boy to the right is his son, Casey. Listen to the chants of MVP. Ah, you Reds fans had it right. (Here's the official video and story. Watch early and often, because I don't know when MLB will take it down.) Congratulations, Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The NFL Turkey

Ah, this Thursday is Thanksgiving. And you will get NFL football. Unfortunately, it's the playoff bound New York Jets and the NFL version of Thanksgiving turkey, the Cincinnati Bengals. This could get embarrassing for the 2-8 Bengals.

So, what do I expect? There will probably be a Carson Palmer interception for a touchdown. Expect a heartbreaking fumble. Look for a Jets gadget play that will fool the Bengals for another touchdown. Does this sound like the Steelers game? Yep. So, I'm sure the Jets are saying this phrase from he words of White Goodman in the movie Dodgeball (2004), "Prepare to be humiliated on cable television!"

Okay, want me to say something positive? The Bengals upset the Jets on national television.

Epic Loss

Biblical. That's how I describe yesterday's loss by the Cincinnati Bungles, er, Cincinnati Bengals to the Buffalo Bills. At one point during the first half, the Bengals were ahead of the 1-8 Bills by twenty one points. At half time, the Bengals were leading 31-14. For any competent NFL team, that's enough to win. But these are the Bengals.

And then came the second half. QB Carson Palmer threw two interceptions. He threw one pick in the endzone. Of course, we need a fumble. RB Cedric Benson fumbled the ball which was returned for a touchdown. How about getting burned by a seventh round draft pick? Wide receiver Steve Johnson caught three touchdown passes as the Bengals defenders decided they didn't want to get hurt. The vaunted defense was absolutely dreadful in the second half. The result? Thirty five unanswered points.

How ludicrous was this game? Bengals' first play on offense. Guess what? False start. Gee, when has that happened? Hint: Not unusual for the Bengals. At a zero question news conference, hapless Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said, "I guess you all are speechless, too." Um, coach, you think? Finally the ineptness is everywhere. As Bengals' safety Chris Crocker was lying in agony from an injury, the scoreboard showed his picture and name, "Chris Cocker." (Here's the picture and story from WhoDeyRevolution.)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fair Game Movie Review

I am going to admit that I'm very angry about the 2003 Iraq War. Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11, did not attack us, and did not have weapons of mass destruction. So for me, it might make reviewing Fair Game, a film about the exposure of CIA agent Valerie Plame in retaliation for her husband's criticism of the Iraq War, a difficult proposition. Knowing the film is based on two books by both Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame, would I lose my objectivity? So what I did, was to evaluate this movie on its filmmaking and try to ignore what I already knew about the 2003 Iraq war.

Fair Game is the story of real life CIA agent Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) and former ambassador Joe Wilson (Sean Penn). We find that Plame and Wilson do their best to live normal lives despite Plame being a CIA agent. They have twins. The have dinner with friends in which it's quickly established that Joe Wilson cannot conceal his opinions even if it means embarrassing friends. How obnoxious is this? Later in the movie, a cab driver from Sierra Leone talks about his home in glowing terms. Wilson who's been to all parts of Africa and Sierra Leone, tells him that his home is a s..thole. Of course, that's an accurate assessment because the cabbie readily agrees.

When stories about Iraq's leader Saddam Hussein was trying to buy uranium yellow cake from Niger came out, the CIA sent Joe Wilson to investigate. His evaluation was that there was nothing to the story. But then President George W. Bush in making his case for war, uttered the famous 16 words during the state of union address, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." That set Wilson off. In July of that year, Wilson wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times detailing that he did not find Hussein bought uranium from Niger. In response administration officials leaked information that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame was a CIA agent. The purpose? To discredit Wilson, to make it look like Wilson was sent to Niger as a junket.

Director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity), writers Jez and John Butterworth have made a film that tones down as much political rhetoric as they can, to give the movie a documentary feel. Liman exhibits a love for the hand held camera which is okay here since he uses it for dialogue scenes. You won't get nauseous looking at the screen. But keeping the film as fact based as possible also sucks some of the life out of it. For example, a scene in which Plame must recruit a female American- Iraqi falls flat because there's no emotion. Fear and angst are missing. Later on, there's a scene where the woman accuses Plame of failing her. This scene fails because it's too subdued. Where the direction succeeds is the focus on the effect of the outing has on Plame's family. It nearly disintegrates Plame's marriage until she realizes what Wilson did was the right thing.

As for the acting, its all excellent. There's not one wrong note in Naomi Watts' performance. Watts exhibits Plame's strength during the crisis and when it comes to almost breaking her, she uses that moment to drive her to action. Sean Penn is his usual spectacular self. Penn's voice is a force. It exhibits his emotions as much as his face.

The Iraq War killed thousands and cost the country billions of dollars. And for what? There were no weapons of mass destruction. Fair Game is a sincere look at choosing politics over truth. It's a little dry. But the performances of Watts and Penn lift the film The grade is B.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New Green Lantern Trailer Is Here

The new Green Lantern trailer is here. From what I can tell, the movie takes a lighter approach to superhero stories. Still there looks to be aliens in the film. Sweet. It's posted below. I see Abin Sur, Tomar Re, and KILOWOG!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Crazy Scientists Propose One Way Trip to Mars

Scientists Dirk Schulze-Makuch, and Paul Davies propose sending people to Mars on a one way trip. The goal would be to jump start Mars exploration. The people who would be idea for this one way trip? Over sixty. That's because of the radiation and the damage that would be done to reproductive organs. Their proposal was called "To Boldly Go" and was published in the latest issue of the Journal of Cosmology. Here's an article on the proposal. Of course "To Boldly Go" is from Star Trek. Here's your prologue.

"Space. The final frontier. And for you it is. This is the voyage of the Mars Ship Hemlock. It's mission. Dump your ass on Mars. And if a Martian tries to eat your brains or you get fried from the radiation. Tough luck. That's because we ain't coming back for you."

Anyway, Keith Olbermann of Countdown did a segment on it.

Stephen Colbert Takes On Airport Security

Last night on the Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert took on airport security. Take a look the video below. It's a riot.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Bill Clinton is in Hangover 2 ?!

Say it isn't so. Former President Bill Clinton will have a cameo in Hangover 2. At least that's what TMZ is reporting. I don't think this is something that a former president should be doing. Especially one known for a sex scandal. I mean, come on, President Clinton shouldn't you be more dignified? I mean was the cameo about you dry cleaning a blue dress?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Glenn Beck Has No Shame

This week on his radio show, Glenn Beck in an effort to tear down liberal billionaire George Soros, went too far. During World War II, a teenage George Soros, trying to survive because he was a Jew had to hide as a non-Jew. He spent a brief period accompanying his protector hand out deportation notices to Jews. But in his obsessed effort to destroy the man, Beck accused him of helping to send Jews to death camps. His words were, " Here's a Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps." Jewish groups have blasted Beck. Check out this Atlantic Wire story. Look there's a big difference between what Soros did and collaboration.

Here's a video from Keith Olbermann on Countdown.

Depleted Colts Beat Bengals

Here's the challenge. In one sentence, describe today's most recent loss by the Cincinnati Bengals at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts. (23-17) Here it is. The Bengals used five turnovers to lose to the Colts. There, I did it. Okay what about the game? The Bengals had an interception for a pick six and a fumble. All in the first quarter. Those two turnovers in the first quarter gave the Colts fourteen points. (Okay, the fumble led to a Colts touchdown in the second quarter.) Game Over. You don't' spot Peyton Manning and the Colts fourteen points.

The Bad? Five turnovers. Cedric Benson and Jermaine Gresham fumbled the ball. Terrell Owens again played a disinterested game. CBS color man Dan Dierdorf pointed out that TO cut short a route that led to a pick. And during the last minute, Dierdorf kept yelling at TO to get back to the line of scrimmage after an incompletion. You see he was lackadaisical at getting back to the line, eating valuable time. That's what you can expect from TO and that's probably why nobody wanted him. The Colts went into this game, depleted from injuries. They still found a way to beat the woeful Bengals.

The good? Except for the last minute, the line passed blocked well. QB Carson Palmer had tight spirals on his throws. I know, so what? The defense was not bad either. Sigh.

So how does a Bengals fan get over this? You've got to assume that the Bengals are not going to win. Once you accept that, you can get over Bengals losses.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Paul Daugherty on the Cincinnati Bengals Lost Season for 2010

Cincinnati Enquirer columnist wrote this about the 2010 Cincinnati Bengals. It describes this miserable year and every other miserable year. And it' s funny. Check out his line.

"Bengals fans are the Kevin Bacon character in Animal House, the frat pledge begging for another paddle-whacking:

"Thank you sir, may I have another!''

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mass Effect 2: The Lair of the Shadow Broker Tips for Beating the Bosses

This article will discuss how to kill, defeat and beat the bosses in the downloadble content (DLC) for Mass Effect 2, called "Lair of the Shadow Broker." (LOTSB) I usually play this mission last and by that I mean after I've defeated the Collectors in the Endgame mission. Why? Like the other DLC mission Stolen Memory, you face some stiff opponents and bosses. However, you probably want to finish Stolen Memory before "Endgame" mission because you want to get Kasumi's loyalty. Without further adieu, let's get to the bosses.

1. Vassir. First, let's discuss the preliminary things you should do before facing the first boss, former Spectre, Vassir. Before you face her, you crash on the top of Hotel Azure. There you face a few waves of mercs. And watch out for these guys. They will flank you. This is the first time in the game that you can fight with Liara T'Soni, your ally from the first Mass Effect game.

Ah, remember Liara from the first game? Her standard powers are Asari Scientist, Singularity and Warp. You can add Stasis as a unique ability. Well, once you crash on the hotel, you gain control of the squad. Pause the game. Allocate talent points to Liara's powers. Focus on Stasis and Singularity. Singularity forms a mini-singularity which traps enemies and causes them to float. They are vulnerable to attack. Stasis forms a bubble around an enemy and freezes them. You can't attack the the enemy in the bubble. But once the bubble ends, the enemy falls to the ground, helpless for a short period where he can be attacked.

Okay, you fight off your way to the first suite. Here, you discover some funny things about the nature of the hotel and Asari anatomy. You then find Vasir's burning car. Make your way to the second suite. There's a weapons locker. Save your game because you're about ready to face Vasir.

Step through. Vasir is bleeding blue blood or did the artist spill ink? Vasir takes a hostage. Okay, if you have sufficient Paragon points you can diffuse this without shooting the hostage or losing ammo. Liara will throw a table knocking Vasir into the pool. Vasir then springs up and the battle is joined. How she fights this hard while being injured is beyond me. Vasir has "Flash" like speed. She also has barriers, armor and health. She runs around the roof. This is where Liara comes in. Use Liara's Stasis power to freeze Vasir. She will be frozen and then will fall to the ground. Unload your ammo into her.

Once you take out the barrier and the armor, she calls on help. This includes a troop carrier of two Salarians and rocket drones. Take cover and defeat them. There's plenty of ammo lying around. Vasir will again make an appearance. Same strategy. Assault rifle is a good weapon here. Okay, she goes down again. She calls on her minions again. Defeat them again. Vasir makes her final appearance. This time she only has armor. Same strategy. Use Liara's Stasis power. About three quarters of her armor is depleted, you should break out the heavy weapons. Eventually, you take her down.

2. The Shadow Broker. I'm not going to go through the fight outside of the Shadow Broker's ship because it's straight forward, seek cover and shoot. I will give you two quick tips. Use electric capacitors, i.e. shoot them to shock and damage enemies. Two, the power to have here is Slam. Why? Slam lifts an an enemy high into the air. The strong winds grab him and hurl him away to an instant death. Believe it or not, the power Pull is not as effective. That's because you don't immediately throw your guys into the winds. Same with Throw. But Singularity can push bad guys high enough for the winds. But again, Slam works the best.

Okay, you've fought you way inside. After two hallway firefights, you reach the prison cell for Feron. I usually snipe the first guard. Once, you've defeated the guards, you talk to Feron. After that conversation, you have to fight a biotic and three soldiers. Defeat them and run through the door that was previously locked. Only one more soldier left. Kill him. Collect the credits and ammo. Go through the next door. Save your game because you will face the Shadow Broker in the next room.

Kill the Shadow Broker. A cutscene starts the battle. You find out that the Shadow Broker is a Yahg (pictured), a member of a primitive race. Now if you remember you were allowed to choose another squadmate before you boarded the ship. The Shadow Broker will do some trash talking, calling out your other teammate in a unique piece of dialogue for each one chosen. It's cool since that increases the replayability of the game. Liara surmises that the Yahg was captured and either a trophy or pet before he killed the original Shadow Broker, thus becoming the new Broker. This enrages the Shadow Broker who is gigantic. He destroys his desk and hurtles pieces at the team. Your chosen squadmate gets knocked out and can't help you. You and Liara are left to face him.

You start out by a barrier. Use it for cover. Take out your heavy weapon, like the Collector Particle Beam. This is the best place to use it because you will have trouble shooting him later because of an arm shield. One thing about the rocket launcher. I've used an assault rifle first then towards the end I used the rocket launcher. You can use it later when the Broker brings up the arm shield. There's enough splash damage to hurt him. You can use Liara's powers. However, they don't work the usual way, i.e. Stasis won't drop the Shadow Broker but they will weaken him. Unload your heavy weapon on him. Once you bring down his shields and armor, a cutscene tells you that his barriers make him invulnerable to weapons. You are forced to rush him and melee attack him. You are treated to a sweet mano e mano fist fight.

After the cutscene, you start out again behind the barrier. By the way if the Broker gets too close he will crush your cover and you with a melee attack. This time the Broker has a hand shield making it hard to hit him Take out your assault rifle or other rapid fire weapon that you can aim. There will be open areas to hit the Broker. Now, here's where Liara's power will help. Use Singularity, it works the best. That seems to freeze him. At times he may double over exposing his back. Unload your ammo on him. He again freezes. You are prompted to rush him and use a melee attack. Anther cool cutscene. Liara then tells you to get him to raise his shield again. She sees his power source.

The battle starts up again. Take cover. Same strategy. Take out his shields and armor. Remember, you can use the rocket launcher. The splash damage will hurt him even if you get part of his arm shield. You're prompted to melee attack him. Do it. Another cutscene follows. It shows Liara destroying the Broker's power source with her biotics. You've defeated the Shadow Broker.

The Bengals Should Follow the Colts

Why do the Indianapolis Colts, this week's opponent, continually have winning seasons and the Cincinnati Bengals do not? Here's why:

1. General Manager The Colts have a general manager. He is Chris Polian. The Colts GM is not the owner. So, he can be held responsible for poor decisions.

The Bengals don't have a general manager, well at least one that can be fired. the Bengals are run by Mike Brown, who is the owner of the team. So when Mike makes bonehead decisions, there's no responsibility. By the way, with the loss to those bums from Pittsburgh, the Cincinnati Bengals have lost 200 games out of 311 during Mike Brown's watch.

Let's look at some of the bonehead decisions of Mike Brown. Staying with head coach Dave Shula for an agonizing four years. (1992-1996) Easily the worst coach in the history of the team. I knew after his second year, this guy was terrible. His record? A craptastic 19-53. He's out of coaching and working his dad's restaurant business. Then there was Akili Smith. He was the third pick overall in 1999. The Saints offered all their picks for the Bengals first draft pick. Mike Brown liked what he saw when he saw this guy throw the ball in his shorts. The Bengals held their ground and the team got stuck with what former football analyst Bob Trumpy called an idiot. He was later released in 2002. Let's hop to the 2009draft. The Bengals drafted offensive tackle Andre Smith. Yes, he's talented. But he left the NFL combine. He could have stayed and had a bad workout but no, he left. Okay, folks that' s like leaving a job interview and demanding you still get the job. And lest I forget, he got suspended for his college team's bowl game. Want more? Andre held out, broke his foot. He ended up playing in just six games. This year, he showed up out of shape. As a right tackle, he can be counted on to make a false start or some other stupid act every game. By the way, the Bengals could have had Michael Oher, you know the guy from the movie, "The Blind Side." And what about the cherry on top of this crap sundae? This year the Bengals signed wide receiver Antonio Bryant who they knew had bad knees BECAUSE HE WAS COMING OFF TORN KNEE CARTILAGE SURGERY. They gave him eight million dollars in guaranteed money. Because of his knees, he never played a down for the Bengals. Oy vey.

There's more bonehead decisions but at least two of the above examples would get any GM fired. The problem? Mike Brown is basically your GM. He is also the owner of the team. I wish he would step down and just collect the money. But stepping down is akin to firing himself. Ain't going to happen.

2. Scouts. Here's what I gather from both team's websites. The Bengals employ five scouts. I include director of player personnel Duke Tobin. The Colts employ 10 scouts. That's without including the Colts player of personnel. See the Colts easily double the number of scouts that the Bengals have. That's more eyes on the who to draft and obviously included double checking of talent.

3. Conclusion. Success starts at the top. If the Bengals followed the Colts on the football operation side, they would succeed. It starts with the Bengals hiring a GM. One can dream.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sometimes I hate being right

First, the Cincinnati Bengals lost on national TV last night to those bums from Pittsburgh, 27-21. If you're a Bengals fan, this game was over when Bernard Scott fumbled the ball on the opening kickoff. Yeah I know they made it close and took the game down to the last minute. But let's face it. You root for this team, you're rooting for losers.

Okay, remember I said this would happen on November 7?.

1. False start by Andre Smith.
2. Heartbreaking error by a Bengal. See Cedric Benson's contact free fumble against the Falcons.
3. Steeler gadget play that completely fools the Bengals.

Okay, let's go over the scorecard.

1. Andre Smith did better than a false start. He had a holding penalty and was later removed from the game.
2. Opening kickoff fumble by Bernard Scott. Then a Kevin Huber blocked punt. Both led to scores.
3. Flea flicker by the Pittsburgh leads to a touchdown.

Sometimes, I hate being right.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bengals-Steelers Monday Night Football Preview

Okay this Monday night, the Cincinnati Bengals face the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals are 2-5 and stink. The bums from Pittsburgh are 5-2. I'm sure the Steelers are saying this from the movie Dodgeball. "Prepare to be humiliated on cable television!"

What can Bengals Nation expect to see from their team?

1. False start by Andre Smith.
2. Heartbreaking error by a Bengal. See Cedric Benson's contact free fumble against the Falcons.
3. Steeler gadget play that completely fools the Bengals.

I hope I'm completely wrong. What do I want to see? The offense wake up. The Bengals play smash mouth football and ram it down their throats. And somebody on defense shut up Hines Ward. Go Bengals.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sparky crosses home plate

The late Cincinnati Reds radio broadcaster Joe Nuxhall would sign off with the tag line, "This is the old left hander, rounding third and heading for home. Good night everyone." Today Sparky Anderson. former manager of the Cincinnati Reds, rounded third and crossed home plate. He passed away at 76. He was the first manager to win World Series in both leagues with the Cincinnati Reds and the Detroit Tigers. We called him Captain Hook for his penchant to remove starting pitchers before they failed. This started a revolution on how managers would go to the bullpen before their starting pitcher would weaken. He was able to manage a team of superstars and mold them into the greatest baseball team in the history of the game. The Big Red Machine. They won two World Series from years 1975-1976. He was the manager of my team during my childhood. He was the manager of my field of dreams' team. Good night Sparky. God bless you.

Stephan Colbert Does A Better Job of Defending the Democrats Than The Democrats

Stephan Colbert defended the Democrats better than the Democrats. In this video he talks about the great things they have done in two years. Yet angry Americans voted them out. Faux conservative celebrates the Republican's victory while Democratic leadership got the country out of the ditch.

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Keith Olbermann and Nate Silver on Tuesday's Election

Last night on Countdown, Keith Olbermann and Nate Silver discuss Tuesday's midterm election.

Washington Post's E.J. Dionne discusses yesterday's election.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

God bless Sparky Anderson

Today, it was announced that former Cincinnati Reds manager Sparky Anderson was placed in a hospice for dementia. Sparky Anderson was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds during the Big Red Machine era. (1970-1976) Some say he was lucky to be a manager of such a talented team and that caused his success. I'll tell you that it takes talent to manage such big stars, know when to remove a pitcher and eventually mold a diverse group into a champion. The 1975-1976 Cincinnati Reds were one of the greatest teams in the history of baseball. Sparky was the best Reds manager that I have ever seen.

Mike Lopresti of USA Today wrote that Sparky was a nice guy who finished first. Yes he was. Dear God, if Sparky wants it, please give him extra innings.

What the Democrats Must Do

What drives me nuts about the Democratic Party is that they allow the Republicans to define them. This has been happening since Ronald Reagan made "liberal" a bad word. Republicans have attacked the Democrats for the last two years. They called the stimulus a failure. And the Democrats did virtually nothing. The Democrats should have said if there was no stimulus there would have been Great Depression, Part Two. Where's my proof? Here is one of many articles that says the recession is over. The Democrats need to fight back.

Since it looks like Rep. John Boehner is going to be Speaker of the House, the Democrats must do to him what he did to soon to be Speaker Nancy Pelosi. I'm sorry. They started this and the Democrats must finish it. In 1995, Boehner is a guy who was distributing contributions from lobbyists on the House floor! Democrats and progressives must keep track of these right-wing people for conservative stupidity. When they screw up and they will, the left must strike. That means liberals must not be feeble. The Republicans aren't feeble neither should the Democrats.

Democrats must stop running away from their liberal roots or friends. Is this counterintuitive? No. The Republicans turned hard right as in embracing the Tea Party. It did help them. Yet there was one race that shows the country has not turned as right as the Republicans are saying. Senator Harry Reid was in serious trouble in Nevada. His opponent was Tea Party darling and nut, Sharron Angle. He won. The Democrats have powerful friends in groups like Move On and the unions. Use them. President Obama raised a ton of money from his liberal friends. The Democratic Party does better when they are united with its progressive friends.

I'm all for compromise. But if the conservatives in the Republican Party move to hard right positions, then the Democrats must fight.

Divided Government

Now that the Republicans have gained control of the House of Representatives, will they be able to work with the Democratic Senate and President? I am not encouraged. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell (KY) said "[T]hat his top priority in the next Congress is to ensure that President Barack Obama serves only one term." How can you have government that works for the people when your primary goal is to drive out the President? That's because there will be no compromise from this new congress. I'm not trying to be partisan about this. But folks the Republican Party has stripped all the moderates from the party. Former President Gerry Ford would not be welcome in this Tea Party dominated party. The right-wing would not compromise with any moderates or liberals. Stand by for divided government.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Best Halo Game

I called Halo 2, the best of all the Halo games. I took a quick look at other reviewers rating the Halo games and discovered the usual complaints. So let me address them and then go over why Halo 2 is the best of the series.

1. The Complaints.

a. Complaint One: The game ends with a cliffhanger. Well, this is act two of a three act play. There's nothing wrong with having an ending that's going to lead you to act three. There are many who believe that Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is the best of all the Star Wars movies. And that film ended with a major plot point unresolved, the fate of Han Solo.

b. Complaint Two: You finish the game not playing the Master Chief. Yes, you don't play the Master Chief in the last level. But come on, you do play the last level. You still get to wield awesome guns. And as the Covenant Arbiter, you get a short burst of invisibility. It's still fun. A player should not be so human centric.

2. Why Halo 2 is the best of all the Halo games.

First, like all Halo games there's wonderful multiplayer. Halo 2 is the first of the series to introduce online multiplayer. And it was done with a console, introducing console players to online multiplayer.

Second, the gameplay retained the superb gun mechanics of the first game while improving other facets of gameplay. While driving the Warthog could still be difficult, driving other vehicles was made easier. The Banshee allowed altitude control via jet boosts thereby increasing flight accuracy. You could now double wield certain guns. Improvements in gameplay demonstrates that Bungie who made the game was listening to the complaints with the first Halo game.

Level design in the campaign mode has improved. Unlike the first Halo game, levels are different. I won't say the game is easy but of all the Halo games, the player always has a chance of surviving a level. There are less opportunities for cheap deaths. Combat is a blast. And Bungie improved the tank mechanics so it's now fun to blow things up.

The story is more complex. That's a good thing. Instead of just shooting a generic bad guy, the aliens in the Covenant, you get detail of your adversary. This is where I argue that Halo 2 like other good science fiction makes points through metaphor. When you play as the Arbiter, the Elite warrior, you gain insight into opponent's society. You may feel tolerance. Obviously the writers were delivering a message about religious fundamentalism and the blindness that can lead to disastrous results. Halo 2, Mass Effect and Half Life are pushing the envelope of storytelling in video games. It's no longer rescue the princess.

I've had the most fun playing Halo 2 than all the other Halo games. The story is compelling. The gameplay is sublime. That's why I rate it an A+.

Here's the short trailer for the game, where the sultry A.I. Cortana says "I bet you can't stick it." Cool. Oh, I forgot one more thing. Cortana looks the best in Halo 2. She's absolutely beautiful.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bengals Suck

Okay, it's official. The 2010 Cincinnati Bengals suck. Today, they lost against the Miami Dolphins, 22-14. It started out good with the Bengals scoring two touchdowns in the first half. Heck, on the first drive, the Bengals drove for eighty six yards for a TD. They led the Dolphins 14-12.

Then came the second half. Five straight three and outs. The offense stuttered. The defense had no pass rush. The Bengals had to blitz to get a pass rush. There was a ninety six yard TD drive by the Dolphins. Game over. Is it too much to ask Terrell Owens to finish routes and fight for the the ball? On the last Dolphin interception, Solomon Wilcots pointed out that TO could have finished the route. Then TO was open in the endzone and Wilcots commented that he could have come back to the ball and catch it. Instead he waited for it, giving the defensive back the opportunity to make a play on it. Maybe TO needs to protect his face for his future television show.

The Bengals are now 2-5. Is the season over? I would say yes. Next week the Pittsburgh Steelers come to town probably licking their chops and looking to humiliate our beloved Bengals.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Keith Olbermann on the Tea Party Candidates

Last night, Keith Olbermann on Countdown, went over the radical ideas of a group of Tea Party candidates. While I may agree with maybe one idea that these nuts have, I agree more with Olbermann. Below is his Special Commentary. Watch it and find out what the Tea Party, which is basically a form of conservative Republican, believes in.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Tribute to Jen Taylor

For nine years, she's voiced the sultry voice of the AI character Cortana in the Halo video game series. She is the lovely and talented Jen Taylor. If you listen to the commentary on the Halo: Combat Evolved, writer Joe Staten identifies the voice of the dropship pilot as Taylor. The point? Taylor also plays Cortana in the same scene. It sounds like two different people. I bet you didn't know that Jen is also the voice of Dr. Halsey in the new Halo: Reach game.

Here's the mini-documentary, Cortana Chronicles: In Search of Halo Fandom featuring the sublime Jen Taylor.

Part Two.

And check out this funny Jen Taylor faux interview.

Finally, check out her body of work at IMDB.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bengals Bungle Again

This game was over at half time. Yep. I know the Bengals got off the mat and went ahead by one point in the second half. But the Atlanta Falcons crushed the vaunted Bengals defense to take a twenty one point lead in the first half, 24-3. And when the defense needed to stop the Falcons, they couldn't. I'm talking after the Bengals went ahead by one point. Falcons receiver Roddy White killed the Bengals. And what Bengals loss could happen without a heart breaking mistake. In the fourth quarter, RB Cedric Benson, untouched, fumbled the ball. Game over. 39-32. That's because the Bengals couldn't stop the Falcons.

One last thing. Chad Ochocinco sent T-shirts to the Falcons defensive backs to advertise his new videogame and to taunt them. That inspired Falcons' Roddy White to play a great game. Memo to Chad. Just shut up and play.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Another Crazy Republican Tea Party Candidate

Stephen Broden, Republican and Tea Party darling, is running for Congress in Texas' 30th District. He also says that violent overthrow of the government is on the table if there isn't change in the leadership. Let's go over the list of crazy GOP Tea Party candidates. Carl Paladino. Sharron Angle. Christine O'Donnell. Now Stephen Broden. Here's Keith Olbermann's piece on this right-wing nut.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rating the Halo Video Games

Now that Bungie has produced its last Halo videogame, it's time to rate their five games. Now there are similarities in all five games, some bad and much of it great. I can point out Bungie's sense of humor by making the cannon fodder Grunts into cowardly Munchkins. Note to those making a Halo movie, leave these adversaries out. Yet all of them have excellent gameplay and compelling storytelling. In that light, there is not one bad or even average game in the series. So let's countdown to the best of the Halo series, starting with number five.

5. Halo 3: ODST. (2009) It's the hardest of the series because you play a regular human soldier. You have no special armor. So that means you have to hunt for health while avoiding getting shot. There are times when you're confronted with a foe like a Hunter and the program doesn't offer you a heavy weapon. And finding the next mission can be tough since you have to find a small artifact to boot the next mission.

But as with all Halo games, the first person shooter (FPS) mechanics are stellar. There's a nice feeling of loneliness as you are cut off from the squad and are searching for them. Nice jazz music. And I appreciated the romance between Tricia Helfer's intelligence officer and Nathan Fillion's foot soldier. The grade is B.

4. Halo: Combat Evolved. (2001) The gameplay is inconsistent. Some missions are straight forward and accessible while others are very difficult. Try navigating through the library level with hundreds of Flood attacking you. And having the last mission to be a race against time in the near uncontrollable Warthog was an act of sadism by the programmers. It's made even more difficult by having ridiculous obstacles put in your path.

Okay, does that mean this is not a great game? Absolutely not. Firing guns has never been more fun. Gameplay is addictive. Controls are magnificent. The storytelling is nice mixture of science fiction and action. It was the success that the first person shooting genre needed to flourish on consoles. This is the game that saved XBOX. The grade is A.

3. Halo: Reach (2010) All the great game mechanics in the series are here. The dogfighting level in outer space is a blast. But Halo : Reach's strength is its story. It's a tragedy. And it exists in a videogame. When you finish the epilogue mission, you might feel sad but you realize the sacrifice was worth it as hope arises out of the fall of planet Reach. It's bold storytelling. The grade is A.

2. Halo 3. (2007) This is the first Halo game for the XBOX 360. It fully utilizes the hardware because the graphics are gorgeous. The mutating Flood troops are remarkable. The action is compelling. Though, I could have done without the deaths of Miranda Keyes and Sgt. Johnson. For some reason, writers want to make drastic changes in the last act of a story. Why? I don't know. Regardless, it's a satisfying conclusion to Master Chief's story. The grade is A.

1. Halo 2. There has been griping about the cliffhanger ending of Halo 2. Yeah, so what? It's the second act of three act play. Some consider Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back as the greatest of all the Star Wars movies. That also had an unresolved plot point. Halo 2 expands on the Halo universe in sophisticated ways. There's greater depth to all the races involved especially the when the story deals with Covenant. There's also lessons in tolerance.

Halo 2 also fixes some of the problems in the first game. Flying the Banshee is now a snap. Driving the Warthog is still hard but driving the tank is logical and fun. While this game is not easy, it's more digestible as far as the difficulty of the missions. The game also introduces online multiplayer. Everything is bliss as far as gameplay. Halo 2 is the perfect game of the series. The grade is A +.

I look forward to what new games Bungie will develop. I also am curious as to what direction, Microsoft who now will be producing Halo games, will take the franchise.