It’s always a treat to take out-of-town visitors to a minor league baseball game and explain the Toastman. He’s Rod Blackstone, a superfan and, oh yeah… the mayor’s spokesman. When opposing players strike out, Rod yells “You. Are. Toast.” And he hurls a piece of toast into the crowd.
Archive for the ‘Nerds’ Category
As a gamer, it’s not often that I think “I hope they do this next” and actually see the developer deliver. But it seems that Irrational Games has done just that with its newly announced Bioshock Infinite DLC “Burial at Sea.”
When I finished Bioshock Infinite, my mind raced with the possibilities of additions to the story. Irrational had already announced they would be releasing downloadable content, so it couldn’t hurt to dream.
“They should continue the game’s themes and included the same characters in an alternate reality!” Check.
“I’d love to see the setting of the previous game rendered in this game’s engine!” Check.
“Being able to see Rapture in its pre-apocalyptic state would be so awesome!” Check.
Are the developers reading my mind? Maybe that is the ability given to one by some new vigor or plasmid. Most DLC releases I’ve played through recently have been underwhelming, to say the least. Most are obvious cash-grabs with very little substance. The problem often is that the story just doesn’t have anywhere else to go, unless the game ended with some frustrating cliffhanger. Bioshock Infinite’s creators wrote themselves into a good place with the alternate universe motif, which affords plenty of freedom even after the game’s very definitive ending. And continuing that theme seemed the logical way to go, but many developers seem averse to logic these days. I’ve been conditioned to expect mediocrity.
From the looks of things, Irrational somehow managed to create an interesting in-between experience that fans of the original Bioshock and Infinite would equally enjoy (if said fans were not already in love with both games). Booker’s back. Elizabeth’s back. Rapture’s back, too. Maybe Andrew Ryan…? Well, I better not get my hopes up, but add that one to the dream pile.
The kind of story “Burial at Sea” will offer is hard to call, considering the returning characters’ Bizarro World personalities cancel out much of what we already know about them. Plus, the original Bioshock and Infinite both had very different approaches to the “Egomaniac with a City” narrative. Can this hybrid of the two games bring anything new to the table?
Either way, I’m excited to play through what will apparently be a two-part series of Bioshock prequels. Part one of the series is lined up for the end of this year, and part two is scheduled for next year.
In 1928, when the world first met a mouse named Mickey, no one could have predicted the ways in which Walt Disney would change the world. Walt built not just an animation studio that produced movies entwined with the childhood of millions around the world, but an entertainment empire encompassing films, television, theme parks, hotels, cruise ships and record labels.
Walt was not only the original voice of Mickey, but also the face of the Disney company. He came into the living rooms of countless Americans every week through Walt Disney Presents. It’s difficult for me to imagine a time when Walt Disney himself was promoting the newest animation and walking the streets of Disneyland. He has become a legend, a myth. To many, he’s the visionary genius who set the bar so high that Disney’s competitors have always been playing catch up. To others, he was a relentless task master who expected his employees to go above and beyond.
This December, Walt makes his return to the big screen. It’s not cryogenics that brings Disney’s Big Cheese back to life, but rather Tom Hanks. This weekend, I watched the trailer for Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks.” I had heard last year that Hanks had been tapped for the part and thought, “Hmm, that could be interesting.” I didn’t know the direction the movie was taking. I at first thought it was going to be a biography of Walt’s life. However, this film focuses on the production of “Mary Poppins.”
After watching the trailer twice, I of course, had to immediately research the subject matter. The tension between Disney and Poppins author P.L. Travers (played by Emma Thompson) is the center of the film. I had no idea the story behind this beloved classic was not exactly a spoonful of sugar. In fact, the real life Travers fought for nearly two decades and several studios before agreeing to have her nanny adapted for the silver screen. In addition to the $100,000 payday, Travers also received final say on the script. This was an unprecedented move for someone working with Disney.
Hanks seems to have captured Disney’s charm, attempting to persuade Thompson’s Travers to trust the studio. Travers, on the other hand, is concerned about the way her beloved character is rendered on screen. She is insistent on having no animation in the film. She doesn’t like the music composed by the golden duo the Sherman Brothers (who penned some of Disney’s most well-known tunes). In real life, she was adamantly against Dick Van Dyke as Bert and thought Julie Andrews was far too pretty to play the no-nonsense caretaker.
I’m curious to see the approach Disney will take to Disney. It marks the first time someone portraying Walt Disney is a starring character in a Disney movie. I wonder if Disney will skip over some of the dicier points of the tiff. For instance, Travers wasn’t initially invited to the Poppins premiere and had to beg Disney to let her come.
After seeing the finished film (complete with dancing animated penguins), Travers was devastated and wept with disappointment in the theater while other movie-goers gave it a standing ovation. She demanded Disney strike the animation from the movie, to which he replied, “Pamela, that ship has sailed.”
“Saving Mr. Banks” sails into theaters nationwide on December 20.
In addition to July 4 being the nation’s 237th birthday, it also was the supposed birthday of the First Avenger, Steve Rogers.
He’s supposedly 93, in case you were wondering.
What better way to mark it than with an awesome shield inspired cake? I saw this cake on the Internet somewhere—maybe Facebook.
It seemed pretty daunting. I’m not so good with the baking (that’s Grandma’s area of expertise) and I’ve never decorated a cake before. Sure I’ve frosted plenty of cakes, and eaten plenty of frosting, but I’ve never attempted anything like this. But I was feeling ambitious, and it was for the Star Spangled Man with a plan, so I gave it a shot. That’s what Cap would do if he baked.
The only guide I had was a picture. There were no directions, just a picture of the finished cake with a slice cut out. Hmm. OK.
I went over to Kroger and then to Walmart to get supplies and then I came home. Grandma saw what I’d brought home and asked what I planned to do. I told her it was going to be big and messy, she volunteered to help. I wanted to play it safe first, so I went the route of the tried and true—box cakes and canned icing. You can’t screw that up.
I mixed up the batter (two boxes) then poured it into two more bowls. I colored it the best I could with food coloring and poured the colored batter into three round cake pans.
I cleaned up my mess while it baked and then set them out to cool while I ran errands.
When I came home the cakes were cool and ready to assemble (see what I did there.) I cut them the way I thought they should be, cutting the red and white cakes in half lengthwise and then cutting a circle in the center of the blue cake.
Assembling and frosting the cake took some doing, but I managed to get it done. Then I put it in the fridge because I was tired of dealing with it.
The next morning, after cleaning my whole house and getting sucked into a Jane Austen movie, I went back to the cake. I’d decided I would try the starry-dot method (not official name but that’s what I’m calling it) instead of fondant. I don’t like fondant and that’s just the way it is. I’d been playing with piping bags and frosting a bit earlier in the week and I watched a YouTube video. I could totally do this.
I went with the white first. The first problem I noticed was that the icing was getting warm and not forming as well. Hmm. Back into the fridge. First the white ring, then I colored red frosting and did two red rings, followed up with a white star in the center.
I colored some blue frosting and filled in around the star. The rest of the icing was around the sides. Voila!
It took two days to make and by the time it was all done I didn’t even get to cut the first slice. My sister cut the first slice because I had to run out early for a press conference. But the cake came to the office Tuesday. The newsroom has never met a cake it didn’t like, and this one was no exception judging by it’s quick disappearing act.
Now I’m plotting my next cake feat. I was thinking a full on TARDIS for the Doctor Who premiere in November, though the question is flat or standing? Maybe a flaming mockingjay for Catching Fire in November? Decisions, decisions.
But there will definitely be another shield cake coming in April when Captain America: The Winter Soldier drops.
If you are a Kindle kind of reader, Amazon has a deal today (June 12) on a book by West Virginia native Homer Hickam.
“Crater,” which is about a mining colony on the moon, is priced at $1.99.
I’ve never read “Crater,” but here’s what Kirkus Reviews says about it:
It’s the 22nd Century. A tough, pioneering people mine the moon for Helium-3 to produce energy for a desperate, war-torn Earth.
Sixteen-year-old Crater Trueblood loves his job as a Helium-3 miner. But when he saves a fellow miner, his life changes forever. Impressed by his heroism, the owner of the mine orders Crater to undertake a dangerous mission. Crater doubts himself, but has no choice. He must go.
With the help of Maria, the mine owner’s frustrating but gorgeous granddaughter, and his gillie—a sentient and sometimes insubordinate clump of slime mold cells—Crater must fight both human and subhuman enemies. He’ll battle his way across a thousand miles of deadly lunar terrain and face genetically altered super warriors in his quest to recover an astonishing object that will alter the lives of everyone on the moon.
“Long-haul trucking on the Moon . . . with raiders, romance and a secret mission . . . High adventure on the space frontier.” —Kirkus Reviews
By the way, you can also get another Hickam creation – “Paco: The Cat Who Meowed in Space” — for $1.99. It’s a Kindle Single, which means it’s a shorter bit of reading at a relatively inexpensive price.
Have you been to one of those places where you make your own pottery?
And by “make your own pottery,” I mean the basic mug or cup has already been shaped and you add splashes of design and color to the best of your ability.
Well, I have, and I am a natural.
My kids took me to “The Pottery Place,” which is one such local establishment — although there is probably a different but similar place wherever you may live.
The first time I went, I selected a mug to decorate. At first it was plain, but I quickly gave it some character.
Or when I have had too much coffee.
I’m pretty sure I succeeded, artistically.
It was a creation of beauty, and I now drink my coffee from it when I am in the office. I have many admirers.
The next time I went to The Pottery Place, I strived to make a companion piece.
I chose a plate. And a monkey.
Using stencils, I quickly traced a monkey design. Then I put my steady hands to work at filling in my design with pleasing colors.
Once you have completed your pottery, you leave it at the store for a week so it can be put in the kiln and then … well, I’m not sure what all happens. It dries or sets or sits on a shelf, building you up with anticipation.
Then you return for your masterpiece.
My monkey plate is not only beautiful, it also enhances the delicious noontime meals I eat at work. Meals like leftover spaghetti.
Can you imagine my joy?
Well, yes, you can because I would like to show you a video.
What will you design at a Pottery Place near you?
I believe a wise man with long, blond hair and thick glasses once said, “We fear change!” But is that really what’s happening here?
Electronic music legends Daft Punk have just released “Random Access Memories,” the band’s homage to music of the 70s and 80s. It’s sure to be a polarizing album because Daft Punk’s signature style of endlessly repeating samples has been completely discarded. Instead, the lovable robots have decided to release a collection of studio recordings, collaborating with disco-era legends like Nile Rodgers and artists who sound like disco-era legends, such as Pharrell Williams. How does it stack up to the duo’s previous works? Strangely enough, I think it may be their best.
This is coming from a guy who has listened almost exclusively to electronic music for more than 15 years. Admittedly, I’ve always liked disco music and felt it had an undeserved bad reputation. Daft Punk and disco haters alike probably realize the soundtrack to a time of epic afros and explosive bell-bottoms was a bit cartoony. The difference is, Daft Punk have chosen to embrace the cartoonishness. After all, disco opened the way for them and countless other electronic music artists, so it is certainly deserving of respect. “Discovery,” the band’s highly praised sophomore effort has a major 70s vibe to it (One could say it was “Veridis Quo”). Now, with a wink and a nod, the robots have fully channeled the era and all of its eccentricities.
Indulgent orchestral intros, ridiculous guitar solos, synchronized clapping, and emotional robo-singing are all here, and all form an important part of the whole. Silly fun has been a cornerstone of Daft Punk music since the very beginning. So, really, “Random Access Memories” isn’t the out-of-left-field oddity some people would have you believe.
This album is both lush and crisp, boasting some of the best track mastering I’ve ever heard. Song placement could’ve used a little work, as the bulk of the great tunes are back-loaded. For the most part, it flows wonderfully. It’s almost as if it was meant to be heard…. as an album! Pretty nutty idea in the age of pick-what-you-want music services. One more throwback, I suppose.
My favorites of the album are “Give Life Back to Music,” “Get Lucky,” and “Beyond.” “The Game of Love” and “Within” are probably the weakest of the set, but mostly because they suck the energy out of the room after two electrifying pieces (“Give Life Back to Music” and “Giorgio by Moroder” respectively).
Now the story of viewers who lost their favorite show and the dedicated fans who kept hope alive. It’s “Arrested Development.”
The Final Countdown has finally begun.
They said they weren’t optimistic it could be done. But, we wouldn’t take not optimistic it could be done for an answer! Seven years later, we’re here to say “Mission Accomplished!”
The pipe dream that began when the final “Arrested Development” episodes aired is now a reality. We have Saved Our Bluths!!!
Netflix will release 15 new episodes featuring our favorite dysfunctional family on Sunday, May 26. One week from today!!! All the episodes will be released simultaneously, which will undoubtedly lead to all-night viewing parties for fans who have been dreaming of this moment since February 2006.
We wrote letters to Fox executives, we signed online petition after online petition and told everyone we knew to watch this show.
At the time we were bewildered. How could people not know about this show!?! Of course, much of the blame falls to Fox who didn’t know how to properly market a show that didn’t involve celebrities on ice, laugh tracks, or hordes of wannabe pop stars.
The brilliant writing revealing multi-layered, intelligent jokes in 30-minute increments is still unmatched. Many times, a joke was set up in one episode and would pay off three episodes later. There’s just never been anything like it before or since. Several shows, such as “Modern Family,” have tried to copy AD’s formula, but haven’t been able to execute it nearly as well. The cast’s comedic timing was impeccable and Ron Howard’s narration was the perfect tone. The best part? They didn’t care if you got the joke. You couldn’t watch this show while checking your Facebook wall and reading an article about French film. You were expected to pay attention.
Series creator Mitch Hurwitz never gave up on the promise he made when Maeby Funke pitched the series to Howard in the final scene.
The years of ‘will they, won’t they’ grew tiresome. Every now and then, we’d get a glimmer of hope from a cast member doing press for another project that yes, they were still working on the movie. But, no they didn’t know when it’d begin. When the AD cast reunited for a panel for the New Yorker, the bombshell dropped that the Bluths would finally get the fourth season they deserved.
Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Tony Hale, David Cross, Portia de Rossi, Michael Cera and Alia Shawkat celebrated this news with a cast-wide chicken dance.
Hurwitz initially planned 10 episodes, but had so much new material and story boards that the season swelled to 15.
The advance in technology since AD’s premiere has steadily grown the fan base, so it’s not just a “cult” TV show anymore. Through iTunes, Netflix, YouTube and other streaming video services, there are dozens of us now. That’s not including the cable outlets that picked up the series, such as IFC.
All the clips I’ve seen and the newly released trailer are making me more excited than winning ‘best hair’ in high school. This season will bring us up to speed on our Bluths since we last saw them aboard the Queen Mary. Each new episode will focus on one main character. Subsequent episodes feature the same events, but from different characters’ perspectives. According to Portia De Rossi, the order in which you view the episodes is unimportant, but can lead to some pretty incredible changes in your perception of the others.
For an inexplicable reason until we see the new episodes, an ostrich has moved into the Bluths’ Bolboa Towers condo. We also see George Michael riding Gob’s segway and a Michael Bluth Company logo.
Our revived Bluths will be joined by some of our favorite guest stars including the Bluths’ bumbling lawyer Barry Zuckerkorn (Henry Winkler,) the attorney with a mouthful of a name, Bob Loblaw (Scott Baio), George senior’s secretary Kitty Sanchez (Judy Greer), the Bluths’ vertigo afflicted neighbor, Lucille Austero (Liza Minelli) and rival illusionist Tony Wonder (Ben Stiller).
Add Tobias’ acting coach Carl Weathers and baby you’ve got a show going!
We’re planning to celebrate with some frozen bananas dipped in delicious brown treat and perhaps some new cut-offs for our chihuahua, Tobias, named of course, after the world’s first analrapist.
If you want the full viewing experience:
1. Start a viewing party at 11:30 PM on Saturday night.
2nd-of-ley. Prepare omelettes as an entree (since no one should ever order the Skip Scramble).
3. For dessert, serve frozen, chocolate covered bananas on a stick.
4. Have a John Grisham paperback or two on the coffee table (just in case Pop Pop comes down from the attic).
5. Send an email to Fox Network telling them that you’re watching Netflix and reminding them that they dropped a multiple Emmy Award winning/Golden Globe Winning/Future Classic/Television Critic/Writers Guild of America/Young Artist award winning show.
6. Hold a fundraiser during your party for TBA.
7. If you’re going to give out invitations, be sure to fill them with glitter and a tongue-in-cheek threat that “I know where you live! haha”, just in case they don’t show up.
8. Grab a juice box and whole thing of candy beans and happy viewing!
Lastly, enjoy. This show is not a typical television show, so don’t expect the dumbing-down approach of reality television.