Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Crazy Mascot Dunk

Milwaukee Bucks' mascot Bango, climbs a ladder which takes him above the basket. He back flips and dunks the ball. This is just plain old stupid. Crazy. Whatever. Kids, don't try this at home.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Buy Your Very Own Cruise Missile

Rachel Maddow is reporting that a Russian company will sell you your very own cruise missile. While terrifying, it's kind of funny, because it's so crazy. Anyway, here's the story.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Bengals Draft Grade

First, let's get this out of the way. I was right about the Cincinnati Bengals first pick. Okay, I've just done my touchdown dance. The Bengals did pick TE Jermaine Gresham. By the way, if you look at the draft and my prior blog post, both the Bengals and I agreed on the needs. In fact, they even signed a kicker, Mike Nugent a few days before the draft. But overall how did the Bengals do?

This was a great draft for the Bengals. They addressed almost every need. I love the second round pick in defensive end, Carlos Dunlap. Yes, he's got red flags. DUI before SEC Championship game. It's reported that he lacks intensity. But look at his new coach, Mike Zimmer. Did you all see last year's Hard Knocks? There's no way Zimmer is going to let this kid take plays off. Dunlap is first round talent that the Bengals got in the second round. He will help put more pressure on the quarterback. In the third round, I would have taken Mardy Gilyard over Jordan Shipley. Gilyard makes violent cuts in the open field, but Shipley is a possession type receiver. This is kind of a strawberry ice cream versus chocolate argument. The best example of how well the Bengals did was their sixth round pick. The Bengals could have panicked and forced a safety. Instead, they picked the best available at an area of need. They picked wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe. He has excellent size and strength. Look for him pluck balls away from corners and run them over after the catch. While there are character red flags, I trust Marvin will read him and everyone else the riot act.

Here's the Bengals draft. 1. TE Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma. 2. Carlos Dunlap, DE, Floria. 3. Jordan Shipley, WR, Texas. Brandon Ghee, CB Wake Forest. 4. Gino Atkins, DT, Georgia. Rodderick Muckelroy, LB, Texas. 5. Otis Hudson, OL, Eastern Illinois. 6. Dezmon Briscoe, WR, Kansas (See video below.) 7. Reggie Stephens, OL, Iowa State.

The grade for the Bengals draft is A.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Kick-Ass Kicks Ass

If you see Kick-Ass, you will believe an eleven year old girl can dual wield Colt 45s. This is no warm and fuzzy father-daughter movie. You get that point in the first scene with eleven year old Mindy Macready (Chloe Moretz) getting shot by her father, Damon Macready. (Nicholas Cage) Damon's motive to shoot his kid? Toughen her up. Of course, she's wearing a bullet proof vest, so there's no harm only pain.

Based on an actual comic book, Kick-Ass is the movie of high school nerd, David Lizewski. (Aaron Johnson) David is no different than any high school kid going through puberty. He fantasizes about his English teacher and can't get noticed by the hottest girl in school, all American beauty, Katie. (Lyndsy Fonseca) He and his buddies Marty (Clark Duke) and Todd (Evan Peters) spend their time at the comic book shop wondering why every day people don't become superheroes.

Fed up with his dull life, David decides to become a superhero. He buys a scuba suit and becomes the superhero Kick-Ass. Hey, Batman didn't have supernatural powers, it can happen. Now his first mission ends horribly when he gets stabbed and run over by a car but that just shows this movie takes notice of reality. After he recovers, as Kick-Ass, he stumbles on a gang beating up guy and defends him. It's caught with cell phone cameras and an Internet sensation is born. Kick-Ass is now a superhero.

Meanwhile, Damon (Cage) is raising his daughter, Mindy (Moretz), to be a superhero vigilante. They have a big target to take down, mob boss Frank D'Amico. (Mark Strong) They harass his drug dealing operations, leading to D'Amico's obession to kill the superheroes. It's during one of Kick-Ass's mission, a plan to stop Katie's ex-boyfriend Rasul from bothering her that all our superheroes come together. You see Rasul is an inner city drug dealer. Hold on, did I say Katie, who looks like she stepped out of WASP beauty contest, had an inner city drug dealing ex-boyfriend? Look, the movie may have realistic violence but it's still a fantasy. Anyway, Kick-Ass is about to get killed by Rasul when Mindy saves his um, ass. Mindy is Hit Girl and father is Big Daddy, crime fighting superheroes. Unfortunately, Hit Girl slaughters the drug dealer and his men who also happen to work for D'Amico. He now believes it's Kick-Ass who is the problem and now wants to kill him.

Kick-Ass is not a movie for kids. It may feature a high school protagonist but it's extremely violent. Look, if you're going to spear people, fire guns, and throw knifes, blood is going to be spilled. Kick-Ass is also funny in a dark comedic way. There's some controversy over an eleven year old girl spitting out profanities but it's funny as you would never expect a child to cuss like a sailor. This is not a new thing. Remember Bad News Bears? (1976)

Kudos to director-writer Matthew Vaughn for not pulling back on the adult topics such as the cussing and violence. At the same time, Vaughn doesn't take it so seriously to wipe out the comedy. Come on, you've got Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Mc'Lovin from Superbad) running around in spandex. The action scenes are well done. It's reminiscent of the Matrix, with Hit Girl running up walls and doing back flips. In real life, I hope eleven year old girls don't go out and become superheroes but there is something feminist about this movie. Watching Hit Girl kick ass is empowering. That's what I call girl power.

As for the performances, what can I say about Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl? Awesome. She cusses like a veteran. British actor Aaron Johnson does a great American accent. Nicholas Cage is a hoot as Damon and even funnier as Big Daddy, a kind of low rent Batman. As Big Daddy, he channels both Adam West's Batman and William Shatner with a halting, staccato delivery. Mark Strong is believable as the mob boss. It's good to see Yancy Butler (Witchblade)again. And what can I say about Christopher Mintz-Plasse? Mc'Lovin is back!

Kick-Ass is a cross between Superbad, Dark Knight and Goodfellas. It's a wild ride of comedy, sex and violence. Quentin Tarantino would be proud. The grade is A.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mass Effect 2 Video Game Review

BioWare's Mass Effect 2 (ME2) is the sequel to the award winning action RPG Mass Effect.(2007) So, does this sequel measure up to its predecessor? Read on, my fellow gamers.

ME2 takes place right after your character, Commander Shepard has defeated Saren and the Reaper, Sovereign. You see the Reapers are machine like creatures out to conquer the Milky Way Galaxy. Their allies are the sentient robots, the Geth. What's left of the galactic government, has sent you to hunt down the Geth. The government does not believe in the Reapers but wants your character to finish off Geth resistance. On the first mission, your ship, the Normandy, is attacked and destroyed by a mysterious ship. You are thrown into a planet's atmosphere and you die. The end. Okay, that would make this the shortest game in history. It's not the end but the beginning.

A shadowy pro-human group called Cerberus has saved you. Remember them from ME1? They did all kind of unethical experiments. Anyway, you are resurrected. A new threat has arisen. The Collectors are an alien species that is kidnapping thousands of colonists. Cerberus wants you to investigate the threat, form a team of kick-ass samurai and find a way to stop the Collectors.

BioWare has been listening to your complaints from ME1. If you hated ME1's Mako, the Moon Patrol like buggy, you'll be glad to see it's gone. Frankly, I didn't understand all the guff it got. People complained about the Mako's targeting. I mean just fire the guns from a first person view. But I digress. You are delivered to planets by shuttle. Speaking of targeting, remember how hard it was to hit anything in ME1? That's been fixed. Your guns do put bullets on the enemy. If you hated the elevator loading screens, you'll be happy to see that they are gone and replaced by neon graphics loading screens. The confusing weapons upgrades and armor are replaced by a simplified upgrade system which features less weapons of the same type. For example, there are only three type of assault rifles. Additionally, the game wants you to spend your money to upgrade rather than hoard all your money and wait for better weapons at the end of the game. You have to find upgrades and spend money to upgrade weapons during the game. It's kind of a Keynesian RPG.

Unfortunately, ME2 has massive flaws. First, the text on your character's computer is too small. And if you have a SDTV, forget about reading 70% of it. On many missions, you cannot revisit the planets after completion. That means you had better save your game before you try to open that vault. And by the way, they corrected the way you open things. On ME1, you had better have a good tech member. This time you don't need that guy. However, instead of the simple button pushing mini-game, you must now match colored lines at the top with scrolling codes. Or you have to match four pairs of buttons which is much easier. It's not fun. You must mine planets to get raw materials to upgrade your armor and weapons. In ME1, it was a one button touch. In ME2, you drag a target over the entire planet's surface and launch probes. Absolute tedium. Trust me, if you need a sleep aid, this will do it.

So with those problems, should you skip ME2? Absolutely not. Let's start with the voice acting. BioWare has recruited top notch talent. There's Oscar nominee, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Battlestar Galactica's Tricia Helfer, Futurama's Phil LaMarr, Star Trek's Michael Dorn, the Matrix's Carrie-Anne Moss, Keith David, Seth Green and Chuck's Adam Baldwin and Yvonne Strahovski. Oh, before I forget, Martin Sheen plays the Illusive Man. The acting is great. You believe that these characters exist. When you put off a character's romantic advances (Liz Sroka), you hear disappointment in her voice.

The graphics have improved. There is more detail. Colors are richer. In a nod to the film Star Trek, there are lens flares. Cut scenes rival the best that Hollywood can produce. While, the RPG elements have been reduced , RPG fans should not fret. You still control the sex and looks of your character. I did the best I could to make my Shepard, a chubby Asian guy. You also benefit from gaining higher levels, so it's still got many RPG elements. The music also is on par with any Hollywood movie. During the last mission you will actually feel as if you are in a race to save mankind.

All of this is driven by some of the best writing for a video game. Mac Walters and Drew Karpyshyn have written a deep piece of science fiction. It's as good as anything written by Frank Herbert, Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke. The story has terror, humor and heroism. You have characters discussing the ability of sentient beings to create art. In one scene, a Geth discusses existence. Who says video games are for kids?

The gameplay is addictive. Unlike ME1 where you see repetitive warehouses, combat missions take place on multiple locations. Battles are exciting. It's harder than ME1 but to make up for the difficulty, your targeting is better from the start and your away team is pretty good. I recommend you play ME1 first and import your character to ME2. Choices you made in the first game show up in the second. So, if you saved a character from a side mission in ME1, he might show up in ME2.

Mass Effect 2 is one of the best games of the year. It may be a flawed masterpiece but it is a masterpiece nonetheless. The grade is A.

Here's a trailer that doesn't depict the actual gameplay but it is cool.

Here's a more accurate trailer that features actual gameplay.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tina Fey at the Masters

Saturday Night Live did a riotous skit about a fictional Tiger Woods mistress (Tina Fey) doing commentary during the Masters Golf Tournament broadcast. Here it is. Enjoy.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Sarah Palin Network!

Last night Tina Fey reprised her impersonation of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live. The skit was about a proposed Sarah Palin network with shows that meet Palin's approval. Hilarious! Here's the skit.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Prediction for the Reds' Season

It's Opening Day! And in Cincinnati, that means it's a holiday. Time to review the team and predict how the Reds will do this year.

1. Pitching

a. Starting Pitching. Aaron Harang needs to rebound to the Harang we saw from 2005-2007. Bronson Arroyo will give you over two hundred innings and keep you in the game. I expect Johnny Cueto to only get better from more experience. Homer Bailey has learned that he cannot just blow the ball by people all the time and must change speeds. First round draft choice Mike Leake was a surprise, making the team without appearing in the minor leagues. But remember he played college ball.

If you look at the competition for the fifth starter, one should be optimistic about the depth of the starting pitching in the Reds organization. Leake beat out Aroldis Chapman, who might have the best stuff in the organization. And he's going to AAA. There's also Travis Wood, and Matt Maloney waiting in the wings. Oh, and don't forget about Edinson Volquez who is coming off Tommy John surgery. He should be ready by late August.

It's been some time since we could be excited about the staring pitching. But it looks like the Reds emphasis here is about to pay off.

b. Bullpen. The Reds are solid here also. All Star closer Francisco Cordero returns. Nick Masset will set up, a definite upgrade over David Weathers. Arthur Rhodes, who's forty but still gets it up there at 90 m.p.h. plus will anchor the left side of the mound.

The rest of the bullpen is decent. If Mike Lincoln makes a comeback from injury, he could be a good long man. Danny Lee Herrea may not throw hard enough to break glass but he great against lefties and his numbers are good. (3.06 ERA in 2009) Logan Ondrusek did not allow a run this spring and forced his way on the roster. Micah Owings can not only spot start, he's a very good hitter which allows Manager Dusty Baker to use him as a pinch hitter.

2. The Infield. The Reds started out last year very young. GM Walt Jocketty added two veterans over the year. Last year, he traded for Scott Rolen in a widely criticized trade. Jocketty cited his veteran leadership as the need for the trade. It worked. When he played, the team was 27-13. Reds nation, think Greg Vaughn. This year, the Reds signed Orlando Cabrera to play shortstop. Look, it's clear that Paul Janish can't hit. This is probably a stop gap for Zack Cozart or somebody else to take the job in one to two years. Brandon Phillips is only 28 and gives you speed and power at second. Though, I wish the team would not bat him fourth. Joey Votto, first baseman, is the star of the team. He hits for power and average.

Who's going to be on the bench for the infield is interesting. Why? The Reds will have to move somebody to make room for Leake on April 11, the projected day for a needed fifth starter. I don't think putting Juan Francisco on the bench is a good idea. He needs at bats and frankly is likely your third baseman or left fielder of the future. Paul Janish and Miguel Cairo are nothing to get excited about.

3. Catchers. Ramon Hernandez is a solid hitter. At 33, he will hold the job until the Reds finally are able to develop a starting catcher. Ryan Hanigan could be that guy. Good defensively.

4. The Outfield. If Jay Bruce can stop trying to pull outside pitches, he could be a future All Star. Center field is up for grabs. I like Chis Dickerson for his athleticism, but he can't stay healthy. Drew Stubbs was a first round pick on 2006 but I'm not sold on him due to the limited number of major league bats. He has surprising power which we will need to see in parks other than Great American to see if it is real. Jonny Gomes is the most underrated outfielder in baseball. He can play defense and has excellent power. Laynce Nix has power from the left side of the plate but he also has a hole in his swing that keeps him from regular playing time.

5. The Projection. Reds win the Central Division. Yes, you read that correctly. I am depending on the pitchers doing the job they've done before. Since baseball is almost always about pitching, that's a good thing. Because if Harang, Arroyo, Cueto, Bailey do their stuff, the Reds will win a lot of games.

Now, where's the big question mark? It's the outfield. The Reds will need offensive production here. And I mean hitting with runners in scoring position. If Jay Bruce can play to his potential, Jonny Gomes does what he does best and either Stubbs or Dickerson breaks out, the Reds will produce enough offense to win it all.