Saturday, July 31, 2010

Lilith Fair Boston - Pictures and Videos

Last night I went to Lilith Fair Boston (really in Mansfield, MA, which is closer to Providence than it is to Boston) and while I'm still disappointed about Kelly Clarkson's cancellation, seeing Sarah McLachlan live made the night worth it (though again, it's worth pointing out that if I'd known Kelly wasn't going to be performing in Boston when I bought my ticket, I'd have saved a tank of gas by going to this Sunday's Hartford show instead). Sarah was at the top of my list of people I wanted to see perform live, and her voice really is amazing.

OK, enough writing. I wanted to post these pictures and videos when I got home, but it was 1 a.m. and YouTube was being really slow, so I had to wait until I woke up. Enjoy!

Videos after the jump...

Friday, July 30, 2010

This Week in Comics: July 28 (Angel, Black Cat)

I finally got a light week at the comic shop. While it was a blessing to my wallet, it wasn't so good for my enjoyment.

Angel #35

I was going to do a whole separate post on this week's "Angel", but it really would have felt like piling on. After a couple issues where I started to like the story, this issue went completely off the rails for me. Even dating back to the TV series, "Angel" has always been a little more "out there" than "Buffy". Just compare the main characters: an immortal vampire with a soul compared with a teenage girl. But the "Angel" comics have taken that to a whole new place (and I'm not just talking about the time they spent in hell) and the characters no longer feel like the characters from the TV show.

In this issue, the soul-eater finally confronts Angel and Spike (after an issue of mostly meaningless build-up) and she says she's disappointed because Spike doesn't have a soul. Now, at first, I was willing to think that maybe the demon was just wrong (because, let's be honest, isn't that something Illyria should have been able to detect as well?) but from reading some interviews with people involved with the book it seems that in fact Spike doesn't have a soul, and that's the reason he's been acting so out of character.

I'm sorry, but soulless Spike wouldn't act how Spike's been acting in the comic. People always want to focus on the fact that Spike developed attachments to Drusilla and Buffy while soulless and also that he was a nice person before becoming a vampire, but they ignore the 100 years of horror, during which he earned the name "Spike" by driving railroad spikes into his victims' heads and killed two slayers. That's not the Spike I've seen in the comics. Also, the "no soul" thing, if true, raises a whole bunch of questions that I don't trust this creative staff to answer competently.

One last thing on this issue: at one point, Spike hired a bunch of writers to write new prophecies in which he was the hero. Then he decided to have them make Angel the villain, and added, "give him some poncey, drama queen, prissy name like Dusk, or Sunset, or The Fall of Darkness." Now, if I had any confidence in this book, I'd assume they were bringing it in line with "Buffy" continuity, but instead this comes off as more of a petty shot at the "Buffy" comics and Angel's role as Twilight.

Black Cat #2

After reading "Angel", I was in the mood for something that wouldn't piss me off. And while "Black Cat" wasn't great, at least Felicia Hardy felt like the Felicia Hardy I know. She was confident, snarky and dedicated to her family. Still, I'm getting a little sick of the Kraven family, who dominated so much of the "Amazing Spider-Man" run over the past few months. I bought this book to get a change of pace from that book, and it's not really giving me that. However, it does still manage to be enjoyable for 24 pages, which is more than I can say for "Angel".

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"NCAA Football 11" PS3 Early Impressions

I know that this isn't "early" in relation to the game's release, but  I just picked up NCAA 11 last Saturday, and I wanted to give it some reasonable play time before I shared my thoughts on the game.

First, understand that I skipped last year's edition of NCAA Football, so some of my thoughts are about how the game has improved over the last two years, and many of these improvements may have first been implemented in last year's game (Team Builder, for example, which I did use online last year before deciding to skip the game).

I've spent most of my time in the game in two modes so far: Dynasty and Road to Glory. The latter is the upgraded version of what used to be Campus Legend, but other than the new name and the Erin Andrews involvement, the gameplay itself is practically unchanged from two years ago. This isn't a bad thing, since on the field there wasn't much wrong with this mode, but the off-the-field options are still wanting, especially when compared with an in-depth "create-a-career" mode in a game like MLB The Show. It also pales in comparison with Dynasty mode, which features an incredibly upgraded recruiting center.

What I love about recruiting in Dynasty mode is you can do it until it stops being fun and then let the AI take over, and the AI will do a reasonable job, so you can get back to playing football quickly. I'll admit, I bought all the DLC recruiting boosts (I had some extra money sitting in my PS3 wallet), but they work reasonably, so it's not like my school turned into Florida overnight.

As for which school I'm using, well, I had a lot of debate over that. Back in '09, I used West Virginia, and before that I usually went with Miami, but I wanted to try something different this year. I hit up Team Builder and was getting ready to create my alma mater -- Towson University, an FCS school in Maryland -- but someone had already done it. I took a cursory glance at the roster, and aside from having the school's most legendary AD as a punter (a nice Easter Egg), it looked pretty accurate. So I inserted them into Conference USA (in place of UAB) and I was off.

Now on to the actual football playing. In recent years, the NCAA series has moved more controls to the right analog stick, and I'm still getting used to that. For my first few games, I'd find myself going to make a defensive move and instinctively hitting the shoulder buttons, which obviously did not have the intended effect. I honestly prefer the old controls, and I may try and customize them at some point.

I always play NCAA at the "All-American" difficulty level, which is just short of the most difficult, and is a reasonable challenge without making the game unplayably frustrating. I considered dropping the difficulty level down when I was struggling through my first season with Towson, but I stuck it out and ended up 4-8. I remember in the early 2000s, running the ball was way too easy, then at some point it went completely in the opposite direction, meaning your only real way to have any success in the game was by using nothing but options. Over the last few years, NCAA has found a nice balance, and you can actually run a normal run-focused offense without wanting to smash your controller through a coffee table.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Desktop Girl of the Week: Anna Camp

Every once in awhile, I'll be watching a TV show, and an actor or actress will pop up on the screen that I know I've seen before, but I can't place him or her. 

Such was the case Sunday night while watching the "Mad Men" premiere. I knew I recognized the actress that played Don Draper's date, but I couldn't recall her name or where I'd seen her before. Well, thank goodness for IMDB, because I was able to pinpoint that the actress was Anna Camp, and I'd seen her before as Sarah Newlin in "True Blood". 

That works out pretty well for me, because "Mad Men" and "True Blood" are really the only two summer series I watch, so the more crossover between them, the better (and that is some fanfic that's just begging to be written... can you imagine Eric Northman and Roger Sterling hitting a bar together in 1960s New York and picking up some loose women?)

I couldn't find a high-res screen shot of Camp as Bethany, so I settled for this one of her as Sarah in "True Blood". For those with short memories, Sarah was the duplicitous wife of Rev. Steve Newlin in Season 2, the one who ended up sleeping with Jason Stackhouse (though let's be honest, it'd probably be easier to list the women on True Blood who haven't slept with Jason). Still, for those that missed Sunday's Mad Men, here's how Anna looked:

As always with DGOW, I’ll provide a widescreen (1680x1050) image for downloading. If you want to see past DGOW, then just check the archive album.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mad Men Season Premiere, "Public Relations", Reaction

The best thing about "Mad Men", the thing that sets it apart from other shows on television, is its willingness to challenge what we think we know about how a television drama works. Never was that more evident than in last night's Season 4 premiere, "Public Relations".

For me, the episode was notable not for what it did, but for what it didn't do. A lesser series would have picked up the timeline right after the Season 3 finale, and probably would have settled for a season of Don Draper either trying to save his marriage or dealing with the fallout from it. But "Mad Men" didn't do that. Instead, the show jumped ahead 11 months, with Don and Betty divorced and Don living in an apartment while trying to get his ex-wife, now married to a different man, out of the house they once shared.

A lesser show would have also done more to ease the blow of the massive changes that occurred in Don's work life in the Season 3 finale. In fact, on some level, I expected to see the new agency of Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce humming along, having brought in former colleagues like Ken Cosgrove (who is still in the opening credits) or Sal Romano or Paul Kinsey, working in a huge building and making the new home feel just like the old one. But again, "Mad Men" never settles for the easy way out. The new firm is definitely in a better place than when we last saw them (working out of a hotel room), but they're still struggling

In some ways, those things are what hold the ratings for the show down, and make it prohibitively difficult to jump into, but they're also the things that make the show great. Last night's episode started with Don Draper being interviewed by a reporter from Advertising Age and being asked the question, "who is Don Draper?". That question has been at the core of the first three seasons of the show, whether overtly via Don's stolen identity or more subtly by his escape to California, but even through three years of the show, it seemed like the one person unable to answer that question was Don Draper himself. But by the end of the episode, we got a glimpse of a different Don Draper, one who if he didn't know who he was at least knew who he wanted people to think he was.

It's easy to point to the second scene with the Jantzen Swimwear people as the turning point for Don, but that's exactly what it was. You can actually see the moment in the meeting where something in his mind clicks, and he even verbalizes it, though he's speaking to the client, not about himself:
"You need to decide what kind of company you want to be: comfortable and dead, or risky and possibly rich."
Replace the word "company" with the word "person", and Don's no longer talking about Jantzen, but about himself. He's comfortable being mysterious and not letting people into his life, but that's no longer an option for him, and it's going to be amazing to see this journey play out over the rest of the season.

Jersey Monday: Lamar Odom

Back before he was a Laker, Lamar Odom was actually one of my favorite players in the league. I know he never quite lived up to the potential he showed in high school (when he was the national Player of the Year and looked like he could have been an evolutionary Magic Johnson), but he was fun to watch.

Odom joined the Miami Heat in 2003, the same year as Dwyane Wade. After watching their surprising run in the playoffs in 2004, I thought that they would be a perfect complement to each other for years to come, so I had no qualms getting an Odom Heat jersey in the Summer of 2004.

Of course, shortly after getting this jersey, rumors started to spring up of a Shaq-to-Miami trade that would send Odom to the Lakers, who I really disliked (I respected the hell out of their championships teams, I just never really liked the team, outside of Shaq). Of course, that trade ended up happening, making this jersey a throwback less than a month after I got it. I think I've only worn it a handful of times, and none since that summer (though until about a year ago, it was the only jersey filling the Heat slot in my collection).

While the jersey may be packed away, my fandom of Lamar Odom lives on via my team choice in NBA Street 2 -- the Clippers. The game, which came out before Odom signed with Miami as a free agent, is still the best in the Street series, and the Clippers have a ridiculously good 3-man lineup. That lineup is anchored by Odom, who is the perfect player for Street: long, athletic, a good shooter and a great shot-blocker. Still, he's not AS good as the game makes him out to be; in the game, he's like a cross between Jordan, Magic and Kareem, which makes playing as the Clippers both unfair and insanely fun.

Jersey Monday will continue every Monday until I run out of jerseys to spotlight. And since I’ve got more than 150 of them, that could be awhile.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

This Week in Buffy History: July 25-31

July 25
1973 - David Denman born (played Skip on “Angel”)
2007 - Season 8, Issue 5, "The Chain", released by Dark Horse Comics

July 31
1967 - Rudolf Martin born (played Dracula in Episode 5.01 “Buffy vs Dracula”)

Remember, you can always get your Buffy anniversary updates at The Ultimate Buffy Calendar (now featuring the release dates of the Buffy: Season 8 comics)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Does Anyone Want a Free Ticket to Lilith Fair Boston?

The headline speaks for itself, but I'll expand on it a little bit. Earlier this year, I bought my ticket for Lilith Fair in Boston (which is happening Friday, July 30), because I wanted to see Sarah McLachlan live and Kelly Clarkson was scheduled to perform in Boston (but not Harford). When I went to buy my ticket, Ticketmaster was offering a buy one, get one free deal, so I got an extra ticket (at no extra cost).

Now, Kelly Clarkson has since pulled out of the tour, but Sarah McLachlan is still playing (obviously, since she's the tour organizer), so I'm still going... and I've still got that extra ticket.

You want it? It's yours. It's in section 6, row R, so center stage under cover (and if you don't think that cover part is important, you haven't been paying attention to the weather lately in New England).

Currently, I'm only planning for going up for the main stage portion of the event, since I've literally never heard of a single act in the lineup aside from Sarah McLachlan. Again, to be fair, I'm not exactly in the Lilith Fair target demo... then again, I'm not exactly in the Kelly Clarkson target demo either... I'm just weird. So again, if you want to join me this Friday, just let me know.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Futurama "Lethal Inspection" Review

In my book, Bender-centric episodes of "Futurama" are second only to Zapp Brannigan episodes, so I was excited for last night's episode, "Lethal Inspection". Toss in a heaping helping of Hermes, and I'd say the stage was set for one of the best episodes of the new season.

And while the episode didn't always deliver on its promise, it was still pretty good, with an ending that managed to be both sappy and funny at the same time.

The episode started off with a relatively useless "Sith War" reenactment, which was only needed to get Bender into one of his "humans are so fragile and stupid" rants. Still, hearing Scruffy quote "Blade Runner" was hilarious.

Once it actually got into the meat of the episode, it was much better. Bender dealt with mortality in his own Bender-riffic way, calling MomCrop to complain about being made defective, which unleashed the full forces of Mom's death bots on him. And seeing Hermes in what passes for "action" for a bureaucrat was phenomenal. Hermes has already had some of the best lines of the season, and he continued that streak in this episode.

Just like last week with the "Hi Anamatronio" bit, there was a recurring joke that teetered just on the right edge between stupid and funny -- Mom's death bots kept shooting each other when one of them said a gun-related word. The first time it happened, I laughed. The second time, I groaned a little. But the third time brought it right back to funny. Also funny, in kind of a satirical way, was Hermes walking away from the explosion near the end. Bender even calls it out, just in case you didn't get the obvious reference.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Amazing Spider-Man #638 Review: One Moment in Time, Part 1

And now for the review I've been dreading all day. I put this one last of all of this week's reviews for two reasons: first, I needed more time to digest this than any of the other books I read this week and second, it has the lowest grade of any book I read this week.

Well, technically it has no grade. I'm giving the issue an "incomplete". I can't truly grade any individual piece of the "One Moment in Time" arc until I've read all of them. But let's just say this is a disappointing start to the set of issues that's supposed to finally answer all the questions from the "One More Day" fallout.

It's hard to believe that it's been two-and-a-half years since "OMD", but at the same time, it's also been 92 issues. Still, I'm not sure that this is quite the right time for OMIT. If Marvel had done it sooner, then maybe there wouldn't have been so much animosity toward what happened, and if Marvel had waited longer than this (say, putting OMIT around issue 700), the wounds wouldn't have been quite as fresh. Instead, here, it feels like they're taking a step back from what had been a pretty solid series of storylines (my personal feelings on "Grim Hunt" aside).

The very first pages of this issue directly answer the question of what Mary Jane Watson-Parker (accurate, because at the time they were still married) whispered to Mephisto before he did his evil magical reset. And the lines we've waited two-and-a-half years to hear were...
"I know Peter. He will never make this deal with you, never, EVER -- unless -- I ask him to. But if I do, this is the end of it -- -- you will leave him alone for the rest of his days."
OK, I may not have been an "Amazing Spider-Man" reader from way back in the day, but I know the storylines, and I know that Mephisto hasn't exactly been a thorn in Peter/Spidey's side... at any point. So "you will leave him alone for the rest of his days" isn't really much of a request on MJ's part AND it fails to pack the punch of any of the speculated possible things MJ could have said to Mephisto. Also, that text makes literally no sense following MJ's "because of what I can offer you" proclamation from ASM #545 (which is included in this issue on the first page of this issue). Peter had already said yes to Mephisto, and it appears the only thing she offered him was the ability to convince him to say yes... which he'd already done. So, in answering that, the issue has already failed.

From there, the issue goes into MJ showing up at Peter's door, only this must be happening in some alternate universe where instead of being a supermodel/actress, MJ is an average looking redhead who probably works at a vintage record store and instead of being a superhero/unemployed guy, Peter is a shapeshifter who can go from being fat to skinny with the mere turn of a page.

If you think I'm being too harsh on Joe Quesada's art, well, you're probably right, but only because I couldn't draw anything resembling a human being. Then again, no one's paying me to draw anything, much less one of the most anticipated story arcs of one of the most revered characters in comics. After a few pages of commiserating, the story shifts to a flashback, pulled directly from the pages of Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 (commonly known as "the Wedding issue"). Those pages are interspersed with new pages by Paolo Rivera, showing where the story "changed". Rivera does the best job he can with these pages, but the fact is even the slightest differences would have stood out, and his pages look noticeably darker than the ASM Annual 21 pages, which just pulls the reader out of the story unnecessarily.

Charmed Comic Review, Issue #1

Back in March, when the "Charmed" comic was announced, I wrote a post titled "'Charmed' Comic? Count me... out?". Well, not to go all "Godfather III" on you, but just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in.

Actually, to be entirely honest, Zenescope pulled me back last month with the "Charmed #0" preview issue that recapped the series and set up the characters for this comic. The preview didn't contain any surprises, but I figured it wouldn't be fair to write off this book, based on what had been one of my favorite TV series, without giving it a shot first.

The first issue of the series isn't bad. First of all, there's no Billie, so that eliminates the largest problem with Season 8. Secondly, it's set a reasonable amount of time after the series finale, so there have been some changes to the characters (Phoebe and Coop now have a child, and Piper and Leo are on kid #3). The time jump works well particularly with Phoebe and Coop, who weren't really a couple until the series finale. I'd much rather just see them together than have to suffer through any dating hijinks (I got enough of those stories in the last three seasons of the show). Overall, the first issue establishes the day-to-day difficulties The Charmed Ones have dealing with family/work life, while also introducing a pair of demons who seem to be hell bent on re-establishing the underworld (pun fully intended).

I never got the sense that the two demonic villains introduced were anything more than low-level demons with serious ambition, and I don't see exactly how they're going to pose a challenge to The Charmed Ones, unless Piper, Phoebe and Paige are woefully out of practice, but that could easily change in future issues. It's not like they've laid out all the cards regarding these demons, so I'll give writer Paul Ruditis the benefit of the doubt here.

As for the artwork, Dave Hoover's style isn't normally what I'd pick up, but it's not bad. He does a great job capturing Alyssa Milano (Phoebe) and Holly Marie Combs (Piper), but at no point did I get a Rose McGowan vibe from his Paige. Also, maybe it's just married life, but Phoebe is wearing way more clothing than I think we ever saw her wear on the show.

Overall, this was actually a solid first effort for the "Charmed" comic, and wasn't as disappointing as I'd feared. I'm still a little worried about what's going to happen when The Charmed Ones actually face off with a demon (rather than the magic of their out-of-control kids), but for now the series is worth the $3.50 a month for "Charmed" fans.

Grade: B

Previous Issue
#0, The Sourcebook
Charmed #1
Charmed Lives
Next Issue
#2, No Rest For The Wicca

True Blood Comic Review, Issue #1

With the release of IDW's "True Blood", we now have a comic book based on a TV series based on a series of novels. And while that may seem weird, there are enough differences between "True Blood" the TV series and the Sookie Stackhouse novels to support another written version.

The "True Blood" comic, which debuted this week from IDW Publishing, is a nice throwback to Season 1 of the show, before all our favorite characters got thrown about the Southeast. The first issue takes place entirely in and around Merlotte's, and all the key characters -- Sookie, Bill, Eric, Sam, Jason, Tara and Lafayette -- are there. For fans of the show, it'll be nice to see everyone all together again, especially since everyone has been so split up so far this season.

The writing for the book is perfectly in tone with the series, which isn't surprising since series creator Alan Ball was involved in the plotting of the story. Ball got an assist on the story from Kate Barnow and Elisabeth Finch, a pair of writers on the series. IDW's Mariah Huehner and David Tischman get the writing credits, likely for taking the story and crafting it into a true comic script. However, Ball's touches remain obvious throughout the book, as you can actually hear the characters speaking the lines of the script. It's even called out when Sookie says "Bill" and the demon responds "Beel?". Eric then chimes in with "You get used to it", which is exactly what I'd expect him to say there. Also, literally every single word Bill Compton says is dripping with his... Bill-ness (fans of the show will know exactly what I'm talking about).

There isn't a single line of dialogue or thought in the story that sounds out of place with what the characters would say in the show. That said, there is something missing -- profanity. With IDW taking an HBO show and selling it to a mass comic book market, that had to be toned down (there's also no nudity in the book, though that would have been out of place with the story that's presented). The book does come with a "Suggested for Mature Readers" warning on the front (in tiny, tiny type, right under the bar code), but there's only one "fuck", which is well below what I've come to expect from "True Blood".

The plot itself isn't like what you'd see in the show, but that's actually a good thing, as the writing group has used the medium to break out from the boundaries of what television can allow, and introduced a new type of demon that would either look terrible or cost an absurd amount of money to produce via makeup and special effects. The demon's motives aren't particularly clear as of yet, but his actions suggest where this story is going, which is good enough for a first issue.

As for the artwork, well David Messina has always been one of my favorite IDW artists, dating to his work on the early Angel tie-in books. Messina does a great job of making the characters his own, while also making them true to the actors who play them. There's one page where Sookie looks like she may be too tall to be Anna Paquin, but that may be more a trick of the page layout than anything else. Otherwise she's a good enough likeness to please "True Blood" fans without forcing a photo-realistic comic down our throats.

The last thing I have to mention is the cover, or should I say "covers". The one pictured above is Cover B, drawn by J. Scott Campbell (I love his take on Sookie) and the main cover is drawn by Messina. There's also a supporting character focused cover by Andrew Currie, and another main character cover by Joe Corroney. There's then a Virgin Sketch variant of Campbell's cover, a cast photo cover, four retailer specific covers (which are just variations of one of the four main covers) and two IDW con exclusive covers. For those that lost count (and I wouldn't blame you if you did) that's 12 covers for this single issue. I know IDW loves its alternate covers, but that's a little much. I'm happy with the two I bought (Cover A and Cover B), though I could see myself getting the photo cover at some point too. Still, I hope future issues limit themselves to two or three covers at most, for the sake of those people out there who want complete sets.

Grade: A-

This Week in Comics: July 21 (Black Widow, Spike)

A week ago, when I reviewed last week's comics, I casually mentioned that I'd have a TWIC this week even though it was a "light" week. Well, I guess I didn't take too close of a look at the shipping list for this week, because as it turned out, there were five books I ended up buying (well, technically 7, but we'll get to that).

There are three issues I want to give a full review, so those posts will come later today. They are:

Amazing Spider-Man #638
Charmed #1
True Blood #1

So this week's TWIC only has two entries, Black Widow #4 and Spike: The Devil You Know #2

Black Widow #4
This series always seems to do just enough story wise to bring me back for the next issue, and this issue fell squarely into that classification. I didn't feel engaged with the character as she explored her past, but once the tables turned on her in the end and she was back on the wrong side of the law, I was re-hooked. With that said, the art style -- sort of a washed-out painted look, is starting to wear on me. It's really a personal preference more than anything else, and I can see how some readers might actually like the style, but I just don't think it's working for these characters anymore.
Grade: C

Spike: The Devil You Know #2
And here's a case where the art bothers me for a completely different reason. With Spike, we have a character who was originated on TV, and throughout his comic incarnation has always looked like his TV counterpart (James Marsters). However, in his vampire form in this issue, he almost looks unrecognizable, at least in the face. Still, that's the only disappointment for a book that is otherwise turning out to be a shining star in the overflowing swamp that is IDW's Angel tie-ins. The story advances just enough to not be stale, and the majority of the book is spent in action scenes, where Spike can shine. The interplay between him and Eddie feels a lot like how Spike and Angel never really quite got along, even when they were working toward the same goal. And what comes through Tansy's Hellmouth is both unexpected and awesome -- and a nice way to tie together some "Buffy" lore (the Hellmouth) with some "Angel" lore (the... well, I don't want to spoil it for you...)
Grade: B+

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Revenge of the Ramblings!

Thanks to Twitter, it's been a long time since I've done a "ramblings" post. For those that don't remember, the ramblings were posts where I would share quick opinions on various things. The last one was posted in February, and the last one before that was in January of 2009. So, while I wait to attack my review of "Amazing Spider-Man #638" (aka "One Moment in Time"), here are some thinks that have been kicking around my head.

• I finished re-watching all of "Alias", and despite my initial thoughts, I did end up watching all five seasons. While Seasons 3, 4 and 5 all had the same problems I remember them having, the series finale was better than I'd initially remembered it. There was a pretty significant body count among series regulars, which is a pretty daring move to take, especially when you've had them survive for five years.

• Speaking of "Alias", I decided to watch the special features and one of them was on Rambaldi. They showed the prop room where the production company kept all the Rambaldi "artifacts", and it all just looked so cool. While there were so many impressive looking props throughout the series' run, I think the thing I'd want the most would be Page 47 (pictured above). I tried searching for prop replicas or poster versions, but I couldn't find anything. If anyone knows if they're out there, please let me know.

• As mentioned above, I hit up my local comic shop this week, for what turned out to be a busier week than first expected. And despite my earlier reservations, I did pick up issue #1 of "Charmed". I figured it was only fair to give the series a shot before writing it off, especially since it had been one of my favorite TV series (one that coincidentally ended the same year as "Alias"). I'll have a review of it at some point this week.

• I also picked up the "True Blood" comic, which had a really impressive alternate cover by J. Scott Campbell. I know I didn't post a review of this week's episode, but I really liked it -- even the Tara stuff. There wasn't enough Jessica in it for my tastes, but the cast has grown so large than even in a 56-minute episode, some characters are bound to get the short shrift from week-to-week. Also, is it too much to ask for Jason Stackhouse to get his own sitcom spinoff where he serves as an incompetent womanizing cop? I know I'd watch that every week.

• Speaking of things I'd watch every week... only 4 more days to new "Mad Men"! Are you as excited as I am?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Desktop Girl of the Week: Ellen Page

I know Ellen Page doesn't fit the traditional mold of a DGOW, but I'm still thinking about "Inception" three days after seeing it, so I had to give this week's honors to her.

The 23-year-old Canadian has been acting since 1999 and had a supporting role as Kitty Pryde in 2006's "X-Men: The Last Stand" but really broke out with her starring role in 2007's "Juno". Last year she co-starred in the Drew Barrymore project "Whip It", which was a critical success but a box office disappointment.

Page has been a darling of critics for awhile now, probably dating back to the little seen 2005 thriller "Hard Candy" (a disturbing movie that I highly recommend checking out on Netflix). And while "Inception" has been another critical success, at times it seems Page is more along for the ride, rather than standing out on her own (then again, you pay so much attention to the visuals of the movie, that all the supporting characters tend to get lost at times).

Oh, and I'd be remiss if I did a whole post on Ellen Page without mentioning her adorable Cisco commercials. Sure, they're advertising products I'd never have any reason to purchase, but I can't get enough of them.

As always with DGOW, I’ll provide a widescreen (1680x1050) image for downloading. If you want to see past DGOW, then just check the archive album.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Jersey Monday: Bo Jackson

So for some reason last week I found myself watching the MLB celebrity softball game (which aired after home run derby), and I was stunned at just how OLD Bo Jackson looked. Now, it's been almost 20 years since Bo played a football game, and more than a decade since he played baseball, so he is old, but when he played, he was such a physical specimen that it was hard to ever see him getting old.

As out of shape as he may have been, he still blasted a home run in the game, one that almost cleared the real fence at the stadium (for the softball game, they construct a temporary fence in the outfield). In that moment, Bo reminded us of just how good he was. One of my favorite all-star game moments remains his leadoff home run in the 1989 game, which was the last time the All-Star Game was played in Anaheim prior to last week.

I can reminisce about Bo as a baseball player all I want, but I really still think of him has a football player first (even if he didn't). But somehow I only ended up with this Royals Mitchell & Ness throwback, instead of a Raiders throwback. Maybe eventually I'll add a Bo football jersey to my collection, but for now, this one will have to do.

Jersey Monday will continue every Monday until I run out of jerseys to spotlight. And since I’ve got more than 150 of them, that could be awhile.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

This Week in Buffy History: July 18-24

July 21
Jack Stehlin born (played Dr. Angelman in Season 4 of “Buffy”)

July 23
1970 - Charisma Carpenter born (played Cordelia Chase)

July 24
1981 - Summer Glau born (played Prima Ballerina in Angel Episode 3.13 “Waiting in the Wings”

Remember, you can always get your Buffy anniversary updates at The Ultimate Buffy Calendar (now featuring the release dates of the Buffy: Season 8 comics)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Thoughts on "Inception"

"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange."

I just got back from seeing Christopher Nolan's "Inception", and I'm not sure where to begin sharing my thoughts on the movie, so instead I'll start with a personal anecdote.

When I'm in a dream, and I'm about to die (or someone is attempting to kill me), I do everything I can to stave off death. Not just because of the natural survival instinct in all humans, but because I know, somewhere in the depths of my mind, that if I die in the dream, I'll wake up. Sometimes I'll be in a lucid dream, and be able to manipulate the world so I avoid death, but other times there'll just be something in the back of my head, telling me to keep going. In some ways, it is the survival instinct, but it's not about my survival, it's about the world's survival, the dream world's survival.

Have you ever tried to get back into a dream after waking up? I'm not talking about having a recurring dream, but trying to re-insert yourself into the dream (and the dream world) from the exact moment when you woke up, allowing you to continue the story. It's hard, near impossible, and I've found that the more interested you are in getting back into the dream, the harder it becomes. 

The study of dreams -- why they happen, how they work and what they mean -- has been something of a side interest of mine dating back to high school, so I went into "Inception" with a different state of mind from the casual movie viewer. What impressed me about the movie, aside from the striking visuals, was just how ... I'm not sure "accurate" is the right word, but "believable" the dream science felt. Once you suspend disbelief on the concept of shared dreams, the rest of the facts given in the movie about how dreams work definitely feel like what we experience in our lives. 

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sideshow's Throne of the Slayer Arrives

Back when Sideshow Collectibles announced their new Buffy line, with the Throne of the Slayer as the first item, I was excited, but concerned. The first images of the Throne of the Slayer -- featuring Buffy Summers on a throne (obviously) -- weren't particularly promising. I even expressed my reservations early on.

But when I received this item, I was pleasantly surprised. I still don't get the theme of the piece, since it doesn't match anything we've seen in any canonical piece. But the likeness is much better in person than it look liked in the pictures online. It really looks like Sarah Michelle Gellar, though not necessarily when she was playing Buffy.

It may come as a surprise to most collectors, but the throne doesn't attach to the base in any way. I can't think of a single other Sideshow maquette or comiquette I have that's like this, but I also don't have any others where a character is sitting on a chair that's itself is sitting on a base. Buffy herself attaches to the throne via what can only be tactlessly described as a butt plug, though it's non-magnetic (some of the other Sideshow pieces I've received recently have taken to using magnetic connectors). The stake is attached to the hand and non-removable.

Futurama "The Duh-Vinci Code" Reaction

Upon first viewing, I wasn't that impressed with last night's episode of Futurama, "The Duh-Vinci Code". I felt like it was another "Fry is stupid" episode with a new shiny wrapper around it, but upon watching it again, I found that the episode was just goofball enough to be enjoyable.

The main plot of the episode went like this: Prof. Farnsworth discovers a secret Da Vinci blueprint, the Planet Express crew goes on a mission to discover its meaning, ends up finding out that one of Da Vinci's flying machines was actually a spaceship that takes them to his real home planet... where it turns out that he's actually the dumbest person there (which is why he came to Earth in the first place). Farnsworth is also relatively dumb on Vinci (the name of the planet) and ends up learning what Fry must feel like in the future.

If that sounds like a not-great episode, well, you're kind of right. The story of the episode itself isn't anything special, but there are enough "moments" in this episode to make it worth watching. For example, in the scene pictured above, Fry is on a "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" style episode and he answers "nail". It seems like just another stupid joke at Fry's expense, but then later in the episode, he actually hammers a nail with another nail. I have to admit, I laughed at that. Also, Bender battling the fountain monster was funny enough, but when they both pulled out guns, I completely lost it.

Here are the other lines of the episode that had me laughing like a Da Vinci-esque moron:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The "Alias" Cliffhanger Conundrum

I've been using the lack of summer TV worth watching to catch up with old shows that I loved. The current one on my list was "Alias", which I started over the 4th of July holiday weekend. I'm currently up to Season 4, which means I just passed what I have to consider to be the most frustrating moment in the series for "Alias" fans.

Each of the first four seasons of "Alias" ended on a cliffhanger, and the ones for the first two seasons were both reasonably resolved. However, season 3 ended like this:


Now, in Season 4, we learn that one of those black pages contained the information that Jack (Sydney's father) had asked the CIA for permission to execute Irina Derevko (Sydney's mother) without telling Sydney. And sure, that's something that would upset Sydney, no doubt, but it makes ZERO sense as a resolution to the end of Season 3.

This Week in Comics: July 14 (X-Men, Iron Man, Spider-Man)

I didn't go to the comic book shop last week, which turned out to be the right move, since my local shop didn't get last week's comics until this Tuesday. So Wednesday's trip covered two week's worth of releases, and a nice stack of reading for last night. One thing it didn't include was "Iron Man Legacy". I mentioned last time that I was considering dropping this book from my pull list, and with most books now going for $3.99 (including the last few issues of "Amazing Spider-Man", which comes out 3 times a month, rather than monthly like most other major books), now was the time.

I did replace the book in my rotation with "X-Men", which launched another monthly title last week. Before I get to the issue itself, I need to point out that there are WAY too many X-Men titles on the shelf. I knew I wanted to buy this particularly issue, but finding it among the various titles was absurdly complex, and it had nothing to do with the layout of the store. There had to be at least 14 different X-Men related titles, not even counting the ones that focused on an individual character. I know there are so many X-Men characters that the group is capable of carrying multiple titles, but you're asking a lot of fans when you put out that many books in a month. That can't be good for the industry as a whole.

OK, on to the books.

X-Men #1
X-Men vs Vampires? Fuck yes. When I first heard about this storyline, I knew I'd buy it, no matter who was writing or drawing it or which X-Men were actually involved. And I'm kind of glad I bought it without looking into that last one, because Jubilee plays a major role in the book (fuck Jubilee). Still, I really enjoyed this, because, again, it's X-Men vs. fucking vampires (who, ya know, actually kill people and don't sparkle). Paco Medina's artwork is on point for the entire issue, and the story itself is solid -- not great, but a good first issue for what appears to be a lengthy story arc. Also, Wolverine decapitates a vampire at one point, which needs to happen in every comic book, video game and movie from here to eternity.
Grade: B

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

True Blood "9 Crimes" Reaction

"True Blood" is one of the weirder shows on television, and as a viewer, you have to accept that weirdness. But when the last episode ended with Bill having sex with Lorena (his maker) while Lorena's head was twisted backwards, that kind of exceeded the weirdness quotient I'm willing to accept.

However, after a week off, "True Blood" returned to the airwaves with an episode that seemed much more grounded, at least in the reality of the universe in which the show exists.

For once, I thought the highlight of the episode was Sookie. Her reaction to Bill's break up was surprisingly real, first in its disbelief then in its heartbreak. I loved when Bill first said he was breaking up with her and her response was to say "shut the fuck up", then when she realized he was serious (or at least, purporting to be serious to keep up his cover), she totally lost it, crying just like I would expect someone to if they'd just been unceremoniously dumped by the love of her life.

Then she went undercover with Alcide (the werewolf) to help him get his fiancée back and learn more about the werewolves that took Bill, and she looked incredibly hot while doing so. In fact, I insist that Sookie dress like this and do her makeup this way for the rest of the series. MMM...

Back in Bon Temps, Sam's family was still being white trash-ish, but at least now that story is advancing, with Sam bonding with his brother over their shit-tasitcness. I've been bored by this story all year, but it was significantly less pointless than it had been in prior episodes.

Desktop Girl of the Week: Deborah Ann Woll

I'll have my thoughts on this week's episode of "True Blood" later tonight, but first I wanted to give this week's DGOW honors to Deborah Ann Woll, who plays Jessica on the show.

Over the past two-and-a-half seasons, Jessica has gone from being one of my least favorite characters to one of my favorite, and a lot of that is due to Woll. Yes, she's easy on the eyes, there's no doubting that, but a large reason for the success of the character is the depth Woll has brought to the role. She no longer plays her as a whiny, annoying little girl, which is basically what she was after her turning. There's an increased maturity to her, but also a bit of a sadness, which came across this week when she encountered someone from her human life (again, more on that coming in the post later tonight).

Outside of "True Blood", Woll hasn't appeared in much. She grew up in New York and went to USC before landing a handful of guest appearances on scattered TV series. Since rising to prominence as Jessica, she's landed a few movie roles, which should start to hit theaters this year.

As always with DGOW, I’ll provide a widescreen (1680x1050) image for downloading. If you want to see past DGOW, then just check the archive album.

The Guild Season 4 Premiere Reaction

I've never watched "The Guild" in episodic format before. I didn't really get into the phenomenon until a few months ago, and by that point I could watch each of the first three seasons straight through. I'd assume watching it in five-minute clips on a weekly basis makes for a much different experience.

So, with that in mind, I watched the first episode of Season 4 of "The Guild", which premiered on Microsoft platforms (Bing, Zune Marketplace, Xbox Live) this morning. The episode itself picks up shortly after the end of Season 3, when Codex (Felicia Day) woke up in bed with Fawkes (Wil Wheaton). Fawkes doesn't appear in the episode, which is taking place at least later that day, if not a day later, but the episode centers around Codex's dilemma on whether or not to tell the rest of the guild and their reactions when she spits it out. Then, SHOCKING TWIST, at the end of the episode, Codex's computer catches on fire. What will she do? Will she get her computer fixed in time to help the guild get enough gold for a guild hall? Will the guild reject her because she slept with the enemy (literally)? Will she end up heartbroken because Fawkes was just looking for a quick fuck, not a relationship? Will I stop asking questions?

Well, I can answer that last one: yes. But seriously, for something that's only about five minutes long, "Epic Guilt" does a great job of setting up the core conflicts of Season 4 while also reminding us why we love these characters. Codex is the most grounded of them, but she's clearly neurotic and is STILL using the game to escape from her real-life problems, to the point that she doesn't notice that the line between her real-life problems and the game hasn't just blurred, it's completely gone.

Also, "Epic Guilt" is just flat-out funny. My personal favorite has to be the squid hat on Clara's head (just a stupid visual gag that completely works), but Bladezz asking for clarification between "boff" and "bang", "with details" was pretty good too.

Watch "Epic Guilt", the Season 4 Premiere of "The Guild"

Old Spice Extends Marketing Campaign to Twitter, YouTube

Unless you live under a rock or don't have a TV (note: the first is more likely than the second, at least in my world) you've seen this Old Spice commercial:


OK, but if you're Old Spice, you can't keep airing the same commercial forever. You can't even just bring back Isaiah Mustafa for another round of commercials (though they HAVE done that). You need to take it to the next level.

What is that next level? Well, in this case, it appears to be taking questions via Twitter (@OldSpice) and answering them with customized YouTube videos, where Mustafa personally responds -- shirtless in a bathroom of course. This is brilliant. The YouTube videos are just as funny as the original campaign, if not funnier, and provide the company a way to continue a successful campaign while also keeping it fresh. 

So, if you want to kill some serious time and laugh while doing so, head over to Old Spice's YouTube channel and check out the "Old Spice | Responses" playlist. It's great.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Catching Up With "The Boondocks" and "Sons of Tucson"

So I took a break from my "Alias"-athon last night to watch some new TV. But rather than watching "True Blood" -- which I saved for tonight when there's exactly nothing on -- I caught new episodes of "The Boondocks" and the canceled-but-running-off "Sons of Tucson".

First, "The Boondocks", with the episode "Lovely Ebony Brown". I've always found that Robert-focused episodes can be hit or miss, but when they're dealing with his dating life. This episode was the antithesis to Season 2's "Attack of the Killer Kung-Fu Wolf Bitch", but it was just as funny. I thought despite their minor role, Huey and Riley really carried the episode with their reactions to Robert's dating, and their surprise/mistrust when they finally meet Ebony Brown. The only part of the episode that fell flat was the ending. The whole "it's only been 16 hours" thing was SO telegraphed, and I thought "The Boondocks" was above the easy joke.

Still, no matter how good this episode was, it wasn't going to top "The Fundraiser" as the best episode of the season. The episode, which aired a month ago, centered around Riley starting up his own fundraising company to compete with the school's except the only cause he was raising funds for was himself ("Cause?! I'm the cause! 'CAUSE I wanna house. 'CAUSE I wanna yacht. 'CAUSE I wanna get this guap."). Of course, it all goes horribly wrong, but Riley is defiant to the last, leading to the greatest rant in the history of the show. I can't do it justice here, even though I referenced it in my earlier Jersey Monday post. It must be seen.

As for "Sons of Tucson", well, it's not like it MUSN'T be seen, but it's not really must-see-TV either. Last night's episode, "Kisses and Beads", followed pretty much the same formula all of them have so far. Ron has some kind of scheme to get money that once again involves the kids in an inappropriate way, Gary is controlling and offputting and doesn't realize how everyone around him sees him, Brandon is oblivious to the world and somehow that works out for him and Robby is weird. Sure, there are some funny moments in the show, but it's entirely disposable. Once you've laughed at a joke, you don't remember it, even five seconds later. Whereas with "The Boondocks", I can recite the funniest moments from memory, even dating back to the first season. The are worse shows than "Sons of Tucson" that have lasted multiple seasons, but that's not a good enough reason to keep this show around. Now, "Better Off Ted", that's a different story.

Jersey Monday: Dwyane Wade

Presented without comment....

No, wait. I need to comment here. Ya know what Miami?


Look, f*ck you. 

F*ck the plane you flew in on.

F*ck them shoes.
F*ck the socks with the swoosh on them.
F*ck yo weak ass South Beach accent.
F*ck them cheap ass cigars.
F*ck yo yuck mouth teeth.
F*ck yo bald head .
F*ck yo chocolate.
F*ck Pat Riley.
F*ck Mickey Arison
F*ck Chris Bosh
This is Cleveland.
My head coach is black and my alt jersey is blue.

Now get the f*ck out my hotel room.

And if i see you in the street, I'm slapping the shit out you.


(Yes, I'm still bitter about The Decision, even if I do already own a D-Wade jersey that I bought like 3 years ago. And if you don't get the Riley Freeman reference, just watch this video. Hell, even if you do get it, watch the video again. It's that funny.)

Jersey Monday will continue every Monday until I run out of jerseys to spotlight. And since I’ve got more than 150 of them, that could be awhile.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

U-Verse on Verge of Losing AMC

While AT&T continues to provide the wireless service that barely serves as an upgrade over two tin cans and a string, it's TV service, U-Verse, has actually been pretty good. For the most part, I've been happy with the channel options, and the DVR is easily the best one I've ever used (though, to be fair, I've never actually used TiVo, just cable operator and computer-based).

However, U-Verse is on the verge of pissing me off royally, by potentially losing its rights to carry AMC, along with a handful of other channels. I found out about this a couple days ago, when I turned on my TV and a message popped up that barring a contract extension, AMC would be gone from U-Verse after July 14.

Now, for approximately 350 days of the year, not having AMC is not a problem for me. But AMC airs "Mad Men", one of my top five favorite shows currently on TV, and the new season of Mad Men starts on July 25 -- exactly two weeks from today and 10 days after U-Verse might drop the channel. What I love is that in the little pop-up message on my U-Verse box, AT&T said something like, "we're working to get the best deal for you" or something like that. That's a bunch of BS. It's not like if AT&T loses AMC (along with the other Rainbow Media networks) they're going to drop the price of the service. And even if they get the "best deal" for us, they're probably going to use the contract negotiations as an excuse to raise the price, as they've done multiple times in the two years I've had the service. The price increases have sometimes come in the form of direct increases, but more often they've come via moving channels or placing new channels on premium tiers, which is something that could definitely happen after these negotiations.

There is the possibility for something good to come out of this. Currently U-Vere doesn't offer AMC in high definition, which means I have to watch "Mad Men" in SD. Only 480 scan lines to see the lovely Joan Holloway? How unbecoming!

So, AT&T, get your shit together. You've got two weeks. If you keep AMC, I'll be satisfied. If you manage to get AMC HD, well, then, I might consider not immediately dumping my wireless service the day my contract is up.

This Week in Buffy History: July 11-17

July 13
1999 - Episode 3.22, “Graduation Day”, airs on The WB

July 14
1956 - Vladimir Kulich born (played The Beast on “Angel”)

July 16
1974 - Robinne Lee born (played Charlotte, Sired Vampire in Episode 7.08, “Sleeper”)

July 17
1978 - Katharine Towne born (played Sunday in Episode 4.01, “The Freshman”)

Remember, you can always get your Buffy anniversary updates at The Ultimate Buffy Calendar (now featuring the release dates of the Buffy: Season 8 comics)

Friday, July 09, 2010

Futurama "Proposition Infinity" Reaction

Oh, "Futurama". Thank you for giving me a 30-minute break from my LeBron malaise. And thank you even more for, you know, actually being good this week.

Once again, the show set 1,000 years in the future seemed intent on doing an episode ripped out of today's headlines, but this week's episode was so funny and full of the "Futurama" style one-liners we've come to love that it was much more tolerable than the "eyePhone" shenanigans of last week. The only time I cringed at the now-ness of it was when Bender actually held up the "Proposition Infinity" paperwork. At that moment it hit me that "infinity" was the sideways 8 (don't know why I didn't make that connection earlier).

One of the strengths of this week's episode was its Bender-centricity. I'd argue that episodes that revolve around Bender are second only to Zapp Branigan episodes on a comedy level (though occasionally Zoidberg can crack that top two). The whole thing with the "mysterious" tile art, and how it landed Bender in jail, was great. And when Bender takes up a cause, he really takes it to a level that's beyond normality, to the point of cracking me up. This week's cause was "robosexuality", with Amy breaking up with Kif then falling in love with Bender, only to find out that human-robot marriage is illegal. This episode could have been really preachy, but instead it was just absurd and full of laughs -- even when Preacherbot was involved.

It also really helped that this episode's "moments of randomness" were so much better than the two-headed goat from last week. Hermes's "circusitis" that turned him into a clown was good for a laugh. I really liked the everything about the tornado planet, from Professor Farnsworth using the cattle prod to get the crew out of the ship to the completely FUBAR plan that somehow worked out. Oh, and speaking of Professor Farnsworth, his objections to robosexuality and the rants that came from it was just the right touch of "crazy old guy".

LeBron James: The Decision and The Reaction

I am not from Cleveland.

Prior to 2003, I was not a Cleveland Cavaliers fan.

Prior to 2007, I'd never spent a second in Cleveland, and couldn't relate to the plight of their fans at all

But, somewhere along the line, that all changed (well, not the part about being from Cleveland. I'm still from Connecticut.). Thanks to LeBron James, I fell in love with the Cleveland Cavaliers. And thanks to LeBron James, last night, I had my heart ripped out.

First, a little background. As recently as 2007, when asked about my basketball allegiances, I would always say "I'm a LeBron fan, not really a Cavs fan". My failed trip to the 2007 NBA Finals -- remember, I had tickets to Game 5, which obviously didn't happen -- didn't change that. I blamed LeBron's teammates for failing him, rather than being upset that the Cavs didn't win a championship.

Over the last 18 months or so, my allegiances started to shift. It was no longer just about wanting to see LeBron win a championship, I wanted THE CAVS to win a championship. People would ask me where I wanted LeBron to sign, and I wouldn't hesitate to say Cleveland. Sometimes I'd get a follow up question along the lines of "wouldn't it be easier for you to see him play if he was in New York or New Jersey", and I again wouldn't hesitate. I didn't care. I've flown to Cleveland to see him play before and I was absolutely willing to do it again.

Part of it was wanting to see LeBron become a champion in his hometown, but part of it was wanting to see the Cavaliers win a championship, period. I wanted Zydrunas Ilgauskas to win a title, I wanted Mo Williams to win a title, I wanted all the guys on the team to win a title, and I wanted to be at The Q when the Cavaliers hung that banner.

So last night, I drove to Greenwich, CT, with mixed feelings. I had every reason to believe the reports that LeBron was going to announce that he was signing with the Miami Heat, but I held out hope that it wouldn't be the case. I specifically wore my road LeBron jersey, because it was the one that said "Cleveland" on the front. People approached me and asked me if I was a Cavs fan. I didn't hesitate to say yes. People asked me if I wanted LeBron to stay in Cleveland. Again, I didn't hesitate to say yes. People asked me where I thought he was signing. Then? I hesitated. The logical part of me wanted to say "Miami", since that's where all signs were pointing, but the hopeful fan in me wanted to say "Cleveland". In the end, I usually ended up saying "I don't know."

Livestreaming the proceedings from Greenwich definitely made the event go better, but when the decision came down, I got out of there as quickly as possible. The hundreds of Knicks fans who were there were angry, but they couldn't understand. The Nets fans in attendance were pretty much resigned to their fates from the beginning. The Celtics and Lakers fans were confident that their teams were still better, and the two (yes, I literally saw only two) Heat fans there were celebratory.

Cavs fans (and yes, I wasn't the only one)? We were just sick. After walking the half-mile to my car, I just sat there. I don't think I drove away for at least 20 minutes. I wasn't sure what to think. To quote Comic Book Guy, "there's no emoticon for what I'm feeling" was probably the most apt description.

As I drove home last night, my sick feeling turned to actual physical illness. I didn't break down and cry like some fans. To make another "Simpsons" reference, it was like when Laura Powers ripped out Bart's heart, then drop-kicked it into the trash. About 15 miles into my drive, I had to pull into a rest stop and vomit. Yes, I actually vomited. Sure, I could say that it was a combination of the oppressive heat, frequent walking and the fact I hadn't eaten since 9 a.m., but I knew that wasn't the case. It was LeBron-induced illness.

The rest of the drive home was a blur. I had my iPhone on shuffle, and the songs seemed to reflect my mood: "Good Girl Gone Bad", "I Will Always Love You" "Cat's in the Cradle", "Another One Bites the Dust", "Cruel Summer", "Where is the Love". Sure there were other ones mixe in there, but those were the ones that stood out. The one that stood out more than any was Rihanna's "Take a Bow", in particular these lyrics:
Don't tell me you're sorry 'cause you're not
And baby when I know you're only sorry you got caught

But you put on quite a show, really had me going
But now it's time to go, curtain's finally closing
That was quite a show, very entertaining
But it's over now
(But it's over now)
Go on and take a bow
It wasn't just last night that was the show, it was the past seven years. All the talk about wanting to bring a championship to Cleveland, about Akron being his home, about being "the King of Akron", that now appears to have all been part of the show too.

I tried to pinpoint what I'm feeling on the 5 stages of grief, but what I'm feeling isn't there. It's not denial (I know LeBron's gone, and he's not coming back). It's not anger, though it might have been if I'd actually been watching the decision on TV. It's not bargaining or depression, and it sure as hell isn't acceptance. It's really some combination of all five, with an emphasis on "why" and "how". I really just want to know, without the spin, why LeBron did this and how he possibly could think he could do this and still be able to call Cleveland/Akron home.

At some point in the future, I'll eventually reach acceptance. I'll break down and buy a LeBron Heat jersey, because somewhere inside I'm still a LeBron fan, as I've been for 10 years (yes, dating to his sophomore year of high school). And at some point I'll be able to look at my LeBron Cavs jerseys without getting that sick feeling in my stomach. But I know it's going to be awhile before I can put a pair of LeBrons on my feet.

Come next season, will I be a Heat fan? Unlikely. At best, I'll be back to being a LeBron fan, with no real allegiance to his team. And come October, will I still be a Cavs fan? I don't know. I wish I could answer that question right now, but I can't. And I guess on some level, the fact that the answer to that question is no longer an immediate no shows how much things have changed for me. My loyalties aren't as easily swayed as LeBron's are.

Watch a replay of the livestream from Greenwich, CT

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Desktop Girl of the Week: Kristinia DeBarge

Once again this week I was hurting for inspiration for the Desktop Girl of the Week. And once again, inspiration struck at just the right time. As I was driving to work this morning, Kristinia DeBarge's "Goodbye" came on my iPhone. It includes this lyric:
"I don't care if I never see you again. I'll be alright."
Given how stressed I've been about this upcoming LeBron decision, it was just the thing I needed to hear at just the right time.

It also reminded me how much I enjoyed seeing Kristinia in concert four times last summer (as an opening act for Britney Spears), even if she only performed a two-song set each time. The two songs, "Future Love" and "Goodbye" were singles off her debut album "Exposed", which I downloaded after I think the third concert. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the album. It's not a masterpiece by any stretch, but the daughter of the youngest DeBarge brother definitely showed some potential.

It also helps that Kristinia is easy on the eyes. I'd say check out my pictures from the Britney concerts last summer, but apparently the opening acts never made the transition from MobileMe to PicasaWeb (my bad). Still, just check out that smile.

As always with DGOW, I’ll provide a widescreen (1680x1050) image for downloading. If you want to see past DGOW, then just check the archive album.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Breaking Tradition With "Alias"

Every Fourth of July holiday since 1996, I've watched the movie "Independence Day" -- usually on the 4th itself, but sometimes the day before or day after if it was on a weekend -- sometimes even going as far as to watch the movie multiple times (most notably in 1996 itself, when I saw the movie in theaters seven times between July 2 and July 4).

However, this year, I broke from that tradition. I had plenty of time to watch the movie, in pretty much whatever format I want (I own it on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray), but instead I spent the weekend catching up with an old friend: the TV series "Alias."

A few days ago, I saw a tweet from former "Alias" star Kevin Weisman. That tweet that had NOTHING to do with the show, but it sparked some positive memories of "Alias", and so I decided to rewatch it from the beginning. Since I last watched "Alias" when it went off the air, I've probably watched the entirety of every Joss Whedon series at least twice, and even watched every episode of "Lost" multiple times, but I've completely ignored the "Alias" DVDs sitting on my rack.

Jersey Monday: Steve Nash

I don't buy nearly as many jerseys as I used to. As recently as four years ago, I was working at a job where the dress code called for a T-shirt, so I would pretty much wear a jersey over that every day (I kept working at that job part time for a couple years after I left full time, and would work almost every Monday. After I left, some my co-workers made Monday "jersey Monday", which is where this special feature has its origins). However, since I no longer wear them daily, I no longer get them as frequently.

Fortunately, I have an awesome pair of parents, who are willing to indulge my crazy obsessions. And since I'm still obsessed with completing my collection of NBA jerseys, I had my dad pick me up this Steve Nash swingman jersey when he was in Phoenix a couple weeks ago.

There was a time when I didn't like Steve Nash, but he's grown on me as a player. I still don't know if he'll ever reach the NBA Finals, but I'm kind of rooting for him (not as much as I'm rooting for LeBron, obviously, but I'd still like to see him get there).

By knocking the Suns off my need list -- with a two-time MVP nonetheless -- I'm down to 7 NBA teams for which I don't currently own a jersey: the Bobcats, Pistons, Warriors, Grizzlies, Hornets, Raptors and Jazz. Well, technically I don't have a Thunder jersey either, but I do have two Kevin Durant Sonics jerseys (home and road from his rookie season), so I'm counting that.

Jersey Monday will continue every Monday until I run out of jerseys to spotlight. And since I’ve got more than 150 of them, that could be awhile.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

This Week in Buffy History: July 4-10

July 6
1978 - Adam Busch born (played Warren Meers on “Buffy”)

July 7
1970 - Robia LaMorte born (played Jenny Calendar on “Buffy”)

July 8
1979 - Iyari Limon born (played Kennedy on “Buffy”)

Remember, you can always get your Buffy anniversary updates at The Ultimate Buffy Calendar (now featuring the release dates of the Buffy: Season 8 comics)

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Verizon iPhone: Don't Believe the Hype

So when I woke up this morning, I had this waiting for me in TweetDeck:

@adamreisinger a little birdie told me the Iphone is coming to Verizon. :)Sat Jul 03 09:21:52 via web

My guess is that Tunesha is referring to this week's Bloomberg report that Verizon is going to begin offering the iPhone in January. I read that report too, and while it sure seemed believeable, I refuse to get excited about a Verizon iPhone until both Apple and Verizon actually announce the product.

You have to understand the history of this rumor, which literally dates to the original announcement of the iPhone back in 2007. Back then, USA Today reported that Verizon was approached by Apple about offering the iPhone, but turned it down because it didn't like Apple's terms. Eventually, that decision is going to be taught in business schools as an example of what NOT to do (it's also worth noting that it's entirely possible that Verizon PERMANENTLY burned that bridge with Apple back then, and if the iPhone does eventually end up on other U.S. carriers, it could be T-Mobile or Sprint before it's Verizon, but that's an unlikely scenario).

Because of the public knowledge about AT&T's exclusivity deal with Apple on the iPhone, the rumor mill was pretty quiet for the next couple years, but starting in 2009, Verizon iPhone rumors have run rampant.

Sept. 28, 2008 - reports that the iPhone will be headed to Verizon in 2009, possibly as early as MacWorld San Francisco (held in early January). Of course, that ignores this USA Today report that the exclusivity deal between Apple and AT&T was extended into 2010.

April 16, 2009 - The Wall Street Journal reports on Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg's comments that the iPhone is likely to come to Verizon in 2010, when Verizon rolls out its 4G network.

Oct. 29, 2009 - Seidenberg says the decision on the Verizon iPhone is in Apple's court. Apple continues to be too busy counting its piles and piles of money to respond.

Nov. 6, 2009 - OTR Global cites sources in the Taiwanese manufacturing chains that say the Verizon-compatible iPhone (remember, because of network differences, Verizon requires a different iPhone handset than the one that's currently being used) will be released in Q3 2010.

Nov. 22, 2009 - Fortune reports that AT&T's iPhone exclusivity expires in June 2010. Which, ya know, would have meant this week. Did you buy your Verizon iPhone on Thursday? No? Really?

January 6, 2010 - An analyst claims Qualcomm is developing a 3G chip for a Verizon-compatible iPhone. Of course, this same analyst also claimed that Apple was preparing a Verizon tablet for release in late 2009. I know I use my vPad every day... in opposite land.

April 6, 2010 - Seidenberg says that he has told Apple that Verizon wants to carry the iPhone. This coming about 5 months after he said the ball was in Apple's court. If both these stories are true, then does it really sound like Apple is desperate to offer a Verizon phone? Or does it sound more like Apple's still sticking it to Verizon for the rejection back in 2007?

May 11, 2010 - Now there's a report of an ad agency working on a campaign for the Verizon iPhone. Four weeks later, Apple announced the iPhone 4, now available on AT&T and Verizon.  Oooh, no. Still not Verizon. But I bet that ad campaign is SWEET!

May 12, 2010 - Digitimes reports they've identified the manufacturer of the Verizon iPhone. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that the new iPhone will come out in the summer (not exactly a scoop, since a new iPhone has been released every summer since 2007) and the Verizon iPhone will begin manufacturing in September (we'll see...).

May 28, 2010 -, Jon Stewart's favorite financial web site, says Apple has bumped up its production plans and will have a Verizon iPhone ready for holiday release.

June 29, 2010 - Bloomberg strikes again! Well, now the exclusivity ends after this year, not in June, and the Verizon iPhone is coming in January 2011, not in time for the holiday season.

So we've gone from 2009 to early 2010 to Q3 2010 to now January 2011. And all those old reports weren't good, but THIS one is! We swear!

Look, is it possible that this latest Bloomberg report is right, and that the iPhone will be available on multiple U.S. carriers starting in January? Sure. It's also possible that the Cavaliers will trade for Chris Bosh and Chris Paul and re-sign LeBron James (something that's also been reported in recent days). Of course it's also possible that none of those things will happen.

If I had to make a long-term bet, I'd bet that the iPhone will come to Verizon SOME DAY, but I wouldn't even feel particularly strong about that bet (remember, Steve Jobs is the kind of guy who holds a grudge, and as long as Apple keeps breaking sales records with the AT&T iPhone, there's not a huge incentive to open it up to other domestic carriers). But I'd never bet on it coming "soon", much less setting a specific date on it.