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.

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