- Well, it's my birthday and it's clear to me that the only thing that my body is getting better at, as I get older, is producing more ear wax and ear hair.
- I stopped into Starbucks this morning to get a free birthday smoothie (quite nice of them, really) and saw that they had free iTunes codes for a TV show. This weeks code was for the ESPN Films presentation of Catching Hell, a great documentary about Steve Bartman.
Here's the code that I picked up for any of you iTunes users. First come, first served.
Please post a comment if you use it.
- The Islanders played a hell of a series against the Penguins, losing 2 of the 6 games in overtime, including the series clincher on Saturday night. That team really does look like it's got things heading in the right direction for the first time in a few decades.... hell, they haven't won a series since 1993, so I think they're due. With a bit more experience, I think they could be a tough Eastern Conference team for years to come.
- As far as gaming is concerned, I've been playing around with Sleeping Dogs on the PS3 thanks to its addition on Playstation Plus. The fighting engine really has a similar feel to the Batman Arkham Asylum/City games, and that is a great compliment. One other thing that I really enjoyed is that after you spend some time with certain characters in the game, it adds specific bonus items to your map so that you don't have to search the city blindly looking for them (health shrines, surveillance cameras, and jade statues being the ones that I've got added to this point.)
I know that I've sung the praises of the Playstation Plus before, but I really don't think about buying many games lately due to the fact that there are so damn many good games on the service right now. Best $50 I spend in gaming each year.
- Have a great Tuesday.
- After 2+ weeks of 60 hour work weeks, and a nice 5 day vacation up in Eagle River, things are finally starting to settle down for me...
- I finished the final book in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series and was happy with it's conclusion. Although I admit that I will be sad not to read any more of Mat, Rand, and Perrin.
- Also, I have started reading The Dark Tower series as I have heard good things about it over the years. I finished Book 1 on Wednesday and started up the 2nd book today. I don't have too much to say about it at this point, but I'm very curious to see what will be happening with Roland now.
- Really haven't done much gaming at all, but I am getting more curious to see how the new versions of The Show and MLB2K13 will turn out for this year.
- Another item that I have been enjoying is NHL Gamecenter on the PS3 as it gives me the opportunity to watch all of the Islanders games whenever I feel like. (Hold the jokes, I know that they're not a good team... but they are the team I grew up loving and can't give up on them now.)
- Lastly, Archer is back on the air and while it's been decent, last night's episode was absolutely terrific. I love the fact that Cheryl's marks on her neck after a "date" aren't even mentioned by the characters any more. Great stuff last night.
- Hope everyone had a great New Years.
We celebrated it with a few friends at our house by letting the kids watch movies in the theater while the grown-ups played Cards against Humanity. Personally, I think the grown-ups got the better end of that deal as the game is incredibly fun when played with the right people. I highly recommend it to anyone having a get together, as I can't recall the last time that I laughed that hard.
- Another part of my theater project has been completed as I have moved my gaming PC into my theater closet and have picked up a backlit gaming keyboard to start playing some games in there.
The first thing that caught me off guard was how great the audio for some games sound. I've always been listening to them on smaller speakers or via headphones and I was amazed how great (and loud) some of them could be. I think I'm really going to enjoy playing PC games on the big screen.
- Also, I got a chance to watch Looper last night and I have to say that I was really impressed with it. I had a few issues with a couple minor plot points, but overall I can easily recommend the film to any sci-fi fan.
- Another gaming note, I played a bit of Persona 4 Golden for the Vita over the holiday weekend and while I have spent a good bit of time with it, there is just so much there that I'm confused about (relationships effecting Persona's, finding a good balance to your schedule outside of school time, etc.) that I just don't know if I'll stick with it for all that long. Maybe I'll find a good balance as I keep going, but right now I'm confused about the aspects outside of the battle system (which I really dig.)
- It's hard to say that it was surprising that the Badgers came up just short yesterday against Stanford in the Rose Bowl. The Badgers didn't lose a single game by more than 7 points all season, and you just had that feeling that it was going to come down to the end after the first quarter. Also, it wasn't really stunning that Phillips last pass was picked off. He had been hitting linemen in the head with passes for a good part of the game (which you have to give Stanford's D-Line credit for... they were in his passing lanes all day.)
As a person who is becoming more of a casual football fan, it was an enjoyable game to watch, which is what I was hoping for.
- I'm really curious as to what Intel's pricing model for this will turn out, or how they will even pull it off, but something that would allow me to cut my cable channels down to the 4 or 5 things that I actually want to watch would be incredible.
- Lastly, I hope Dan is feeling better. Never want to hear of issues like he is having.
- My wife and I got a chance to watch Ted last week and can safely say that if you're a Family Guy fan, that movie will be right up your alley. There were a few moments where I had to pause it just to catch my breath from laughing, but then there were 5 to 10 minute stretches where nothing funny seemed even remotely possible. Worth a rental, I would say.
- Going to see The Hobbit at some point this week. Just trying to lock down some schedules with friends to determine when it will work for all involved.
- Over the weekend, I was up in Rochester, MN (My wife's father is waiting to get a heart transplant at the Mayo Clinic) and had a chance to get in a bit more time on the Vita.
I have to say that the difficulty on Hot Shots is crazy. I don't know what they were thinking when it came to this version, but they have really made the game a crap ton tougher than all of the previous versions have been. This is especially true if you're going for any of the Crown challenges. Still, having fun even if I'm frustrated by it.
I also started playing Gravity Rush over the past week and it has been a pretty impressive game thus far (especially so, considering it's included free in the Playstation Plus bundle.) The controls are taking me a bit to get adjusted to, but I've found myself thinking about the game after I'm done playing and coming up with new strategies to tackle some of the time based challenges that you unlock throughout your play through on the game. I do like it when I'm playing a game mentally even after I'm done playing with the system. Seems like a "mental value" at least at that point.
- Lastly, I saw over on Den of Geek that the IT Crowd might have their wrap up episode in the summer of next year. That really gives me something to look forward to for next year.
- Just finished watching the first episode of "The Newsroom.' Sorkin certainly does have a flair for dialogue.
- Just two more losses for the Brewers and they might just become sellers.. here's to hoping.
- I was almost set to order a new projector for my home... then I started reading too damn many reviews. Now I'm completely lost again. Thanks internet!
- I have some more thoughts on the Sandusky matter, but I"m going to put them on a different site. Just not the right forum for the topic, or at least how I'll be discussing it.
- Have a good rest of the week.
For those of you who are regular readers of the Blog, which is pretty much everyone here... (Our stumble upon odds are something akin to being struck by lightning,) you'd know that I'm not a huge fan of ESPN. In fact, if you had to press me, the only things that I enjoy from the entire network now are Scott Van Pelt's radio show and anything that Bob Valvano does on the radio. Their coverage of the US Open was horrendous and I couldn't wait for NBC's weekend for the event (on Thursday and Friday it was pretty much wall to wall "how much will Tiger win by" coverage, including airing of his entire press conferences... even when he wasn't leading).
What has really bothered me over the last few weeks was following Sports By Brooks and Deadspin and hearing about how little attention ESPN is paying to the Jerry Sandusky trial. Deadspin has a great feature of late that really shows what ESPN does with their SportsCenter coverage and how bad it has gotten.
Seriously, 45 seconds of coverage? As a news organization that is absolutely horrendous. I know that I'm interested in the story, due to my own personal background, on a different level than some people but to completely ignore it is journalistic malfeasance.
- I got my copy of Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor from Gamefly yesterday and installed it... but just couldn't bring myself to play it. The Kinect, in my opinion, has been a horrible failure as a control mechanism. Tiger Woods 13 was virtually unplayable if you used it exclusively. In fact, just about any game, outside of Mini-games, prove that the system cannot be relied upon for accurate constant control.
The original Steel Battalion was a game for the Xbox that I always wished that I would have had a chance to play just because of the amazing controller built for the game. So, when I heard about the new game being made I really wanted to give it a try. But, based on critic scores... it appears that the game is a giant turd.
It got me to thinking that the only games that the Kinect can do well are the games where it doesn't show what it is doing. Games like Dance Central, I believe, do well due to the fact that you never actually see yourself portrayed on the screen. When you don't see the fact that the Kinect has your left leg pointing upward instead of moving slightly to the side, you can really make people believe that it's doing a great job of tracking your body.
Obviously the Kinect is a huge success for Microsoft, but as a controller to base things on for the future... it has me very scared about where games will go from here.
- New wedges are waiting at my house for play today. Woo! Can't wait to hit them at the wrong time since I will have no idea how far I will hit them. heh.
- I have an interview set up with EA tomorrow to talk about NCAA Football 13. Drop me an email if you have any questions that you would like to have asked.
- Have a great day
- Ok, back to the normal stuff in life....
- Looks like we've made some good headway at getting the podcast back up on iTunes again. The name isn't exactly correct, but it should be updated in the next day or so back to the old 'Riding the Pines' that most of you knew and ignored for the last few years. I have updated the link to the podcast on the right side of the page. It should take you to it, even when the name changes back to the old name. Hopefully this whole process will make the podcast updating process a much simpler one in the future.
I'll even see if we can get a show put together in the next week or so with the rest of the guys....
- A few months back I picked up the Blu-Ray Extended editions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy on Blu-Ray. They came with digital copies for each film, but at this point, I already have copies of the movies on Cinemanow, the original Extended DVD editions, and now the Blu-Ray editions. I really don't need any more copies of the film, so if any of you would like the codes for the movies, just drop a comment, or send me an email and I'll send a copy of the codes to you. I'm sure they have DRM of some sort, but I have no idea what format they used, so they're yours if you want them.
- In golfing news, I have two new wedges heading to my house, and they should arrive tomorrow. I don't know what it is, but I've really gotten interested in golf again in a big way. Maybe it's due to the fact that my wife is taking an interest in playing now as well. Hard to say....
- Lastly... and I don't know how much I can stress this. You simply MUST watch Sherlock on Netflix. Find Season 2 somehow after you're done watching Season 1 as well. It is quite simply one of the best done shows in the last few years. Absolutely amazing. I'm debating asking the BBC to begin the filming of Season 3 much earlier, but for some reason I don't think they'll be listening.
- Have a good day.
- Well, I finished up my first run through Diablo III early Tuesday morning. It's so rare that I would play through a game and think instantly about playing through it again, but there you have it. Based on the statistics, it took me and my Barbarian 25 hours to finish my first playthrough on normal difficulty. Yesterday I started playing with a Demon Hunter and played all the way up to the Skeleton King before calling it a night. What surprised me was how much more fun I was having with the Demon Hunter than I did with my Barbarian. Sure it's fun to just hack away at things, but it seemed to be a lot more entertaining to cast my demon dogs and throw darts at any unsuspecting enemy that I was facing. The amount of strategic changes that I needed to make to handle a boss like the Skeleton King was refreshing as well.
Another nice thing that Blizzard has done is to allow you to share cash and your stash between your various characters. Gone are the days where you needed to get on an online game, give something to someone else, then sign back on with the character that you wanted to have that item. Being able to throw them into your stash with one character and then load up a different one and let them use it is a huge benefit and something that I really enjoyed seeing.
It'll be very hard to find another game that I will spend this much time on in the near future.
- This Brewers season has to be one for the record books. They now have lost their starting SS, 1B, C, and 2 starting pitchers to the DL for extended periods of time. I'm amazed that they have taken 2 games against the Dodgers considering the lineup that they are throwing out there. Still, they're my team... gotta stick with them.
- So, my new thought for my home television situation is to replace our Dish Network solution with a Tivo Premier box and subscribe to Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix. Along with a PS3 or 360 that can handle the MLB and NHL packages, that should get me almost everything I need, for a considerable savings over my monthly satellite costs.
The one thing that I really need to make everything work like I would want is the upcoming Tivo streaming devices. I don't want to think about having to put a Tivo box in every room that we have a TV, just so my wife can watch her shows in the living room and in the bedroom.
Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions?
- One of the reasons that I've been really glad that we've had Satellite for a few more months is because of the Stanley Cup playoffs. This years post season hockey has been tremendous and I am really pulling for the Kings to win their first cup. Although, I wouldn't be really all that upset if Brodeur got one last one either. Still, seeing an 8 seed roll through the playoffs like the Kings have, has been pretty damn impressive and I'd like to see them finish it off.
- Trying to figure out if things could be worse for the Brewers right now. Pitching is terrible. Hitting is terrible. Lost their 1st baseman for the year.
Quite a start to the year after winning a division.
- I have been very tempted to pick up the new Dish Network hopper DVR solution. I currently have a Dish 722 and a Windows Media Center PC that we can use for recordings but there is no good solution out there to integrate the two.
What I need is something that can handle broadcast TV recordings for the Mrs. and then something else that let's me watch live shows at the same time from my office.
Very frustrating. I will have to keep looking.
- Outside of that I have been struggling to keep up with work, family, and keeping active with running, hockey, and golf.
I would bet that by the time I turn 50 I might have a better way of handling it all. But probably not.
- Don't know if you've seen this, but this could possibly be the worst idea for a sports related video game ever. Bouncing an actual basketball in your living room? Oh, yeah.. that sounds like a brilliant idea.
- At home, we have had a psychotic bird attacking our house every single day for the last 3 days. He takes a dump on our deck... then stands in it... then runs into our patio door over and over again smearing crap all over the house. If it wasn't so damn funny to see, I'd be more pissed about it.
Anyone else ever dealt with behavior like this before?
- As I mentioned on Saturday night, I ran in my first 8K race, finishing in a humbling 46:10. What I realized after doing the race is that I really like the running part more than the biking and swimming parts that I've been doing in my triathlons. Next up is a 10K later in the summer... the proceeding towards a half-marathon next year... I think. I'm not doing it to win any contests... just want to enjoy the process of training for the runs and get the exercise.
- Also, while I was away, I finished up watching the Wire. If there was ever a character in television as compelling and interesting as Omar, I don't think I've ever seen it. A tremendous series from beginning to end, filled with wonderfully written and acted characters. Everyone needs to watch that show at some point. It's just so, damn, good.
- Time to get back to watching more of the NHL playoffs....
- Another week, another season of the Wire. Damn that show is good.
Honestly, I cannot remember another show where there wasn't a single character who didn't have massive flaws. Every time the story makes you start to like someone, they do something idiotic that makes you hate them again. Amazingly well written and acted. On to season 3.
- As far as gaming goes, I haven't had much time for anything lately. Other than work, I've been spending a lot of time on working on my running. I've registered for my first ever 8K race at the end of the month and ran that distance for the first time ever last Friday. I didn't complete it as quickly as I would have liked, but I guess that just gives me plenty of room for improvement.
After that, I just have to get back to swimming practice again. Seriously, I'm one of the worst swimmers out there. If I didn't have my wet suit, I wouldn't have a chance. Gotta work on that.
- Nice to have the baseball season back again, and it is refreshing to see the Brewers...um... give us an interesting game to watch tonight.
All kidding aside, it's just great to have baseball back.
I don't know if any of you saw the game on ESPN tonight, but what in the hell is up with the behind the ump camera angle. For the first 3 innings they gave you a view from about 20 feet behind the ump. You could see the ball exit the pitchers hand, then lose it as the batter and ump got in the way. You had no idea what kind of pitch was being thrown and it was nearly impossible to see the ball come off of the bat.
For years, in my opinion, the best camera angle is the one from CF. You can actually see all of the action tonight. Whatever horsecrap that was on ESPN tonight was just plain weird.
- If you have a chance to see it (I know it was on HDNet a few weeks back) check out 'Goon.' It's the first decent hockey movie that I've seen since Slapshot. It's not a serious film by any means, but it actually feels like the people who wrote it had actually seen and/or played the game before. Again, not a terrific film, but a fun hockey movie to watch.
- Back later...
- I haven't watched on minute of the NCAA championship due to a new found addiction to 'The Wire.'
I've gotten through 8 episodes in the last two days and might pass up on sleep tonight to finish the first season.
- Dan mentioned that PYS 2012 was released recently and that NCSX is offering it for $109. That's a bit too rich for my blood... even though I would love to really get back into playing that game again.
- Anyone know how to block specific posts in Google Reader? There are a few gaming sites that I actually enjoy reading, if they would stop covering cosplay for 10 posts a day.
- Congrats to Bill Harris on his efforts with his first ever game. Gotta give a guy credit for giving something like that a shot.
- Another crazy week at the office that didn't allow for much time for posting. In about 2 weeks things should start settling down. Installing a Cisco phone system and having to train all of the users how to use it, is a challenging process to handle and it's making me spend a great deal of time at work preparing for the whole cut over. Can't wait to get back to normal life activities again.
- I received my copy of Grand Slam Tennis 2 for the PS3 on Thursday and will be digging into it later today (as soon as my Move and Navigation controllers are fully charged.) I haven't looked at any reviews for the game to this point, so I have no idea what people have said about it. I kind of like it that way.
- Thinking of taking my daughters to see, "The Secret World of Arrietty" over the weekend as I've always been a fan of Studio Ghibli works. The first one I can recall seeing was 'My Neighbor Totoro' when I was around 18 or 19 years old. Whenever my nephew would come over to spend a night with my parents, we would sit up and watch the movie with him and he absolutely loved it.
My girls have seen Ponyo and a few of the other films, but this will be their first chance to see one of them in the theater. Should be a fun Sunday morning activity.
- Some decent gaming deals to be had at Amazon today (actually, they've been running through most of the week... but I'm just catching up now.) Dungeon Defenders for $2.99 (Steam), FIFA Soccer 12 (Origin) for $17.99, and Burnout Paradise: Ultimate Box (Origin) for $4.99.
Sadly, I have most of the titles they have out there for either the PS3 or 360, but if you don't have them, there are some good deals to be found.
- If you didn't catch Archer this week, you missed a fantastic episode. Not many other shows on TV where you will hear someone talk about "Creepy, old people, bondage, sex police."
Absolutely love that show.
- Have a great rest of the weekend.
Not happy about the results of the Super Bowl, but at least it was a good game.
I only saw one commercial that I liked.
- More crazy times at work preventing me from posting as much as I would like, but it's probably as much as you all want. heh. Moving on...
- Nice to see that SSX's online pass connection doesn't actually remove any sort of content from the game, but limits you from some of the online rewards. It's amazing to see how many different ways that EA is approaching the online pass component lately with titles. It's almost as though they are throwing darts at a board to see what seems to cause the least amount of terrible press for them. Or perhaps they don't really care at all and just want to ensure that every game has their $10 used game sales kicker. I could go either way with that.
- Last night I had a chance to attend my first ever cooking class, spending the evening learning how to make hollandaise, espagnole, bechamel, tomato, and veloute sauces.
When I was growing up, my mother never really exposed us to too many different kinds of foods, so it has been really up to me as I get older to finally take chances and try new things and I'm always disappointed whenever I get to try something new and realize how many great foods that I've missed over the years just due to the fact that I wasn't up to trying something new.
Hopefully classes like this will continue to allow me to try and bring new foods into our home and stop my daughters from only eating chicken nuggets and fries... perhaps.
- Lastly, through the wonders of You Tube, I've been watching a ton of old Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist episodes. Man, great comedy never gets old. Hearing some of the great stand up bits from Ray Romano, Dave Attell, and one of my all time favorite segments with Dave Chappelle.
I really wish that the DVD set wasn't $70+ on Amazon, because... damn... there are some really funny bits on there.