Friday, November 30, 2012

Good People, Good Times

Recipe for a good time:

Step 1) Add Philmo. 

This is the most important step.

Warning: adding either too little Philmo or too much Philmo to the occasion could be counter-productive.  Philmo is highly combustible and should not be left unattended around any fuels or sharp objects.

You follow the rules and it's a great story with a happy ending, but if you drop the ball shit could get out of hand.

Step 2) Add football. 

This works even if the game features the Saints and the Falcons and Drew Brees plays he has been drinking more than we have.  Seriously, watching the Saints last night reminded me of playing a game of Madden against an idiot using a great team.  There will be moments of beauty and perhaps even flashes of brilliance, but in the end, it's not going to be pretty.

Step 3) Cook deer meat.

This is easily accomplished when Philmo (a.k.a. Deerslayer 2012) is on hand.  Have Lisa and Brandi cook it tag-team style for best results.  Serve with biscuits, gravy, and well, hell, if you've got deer meat, biscuits, and gravy, feel free to serve it up with anything else you find laying around.  I like your chances.

Step 4) Enjoy!

Evil Dick and Master Gibbs
Lisa and Gibbs
All you need are friends, particularly when they're friends like these.  If Jerry had been there, we could have reunited the band!  I feel so very blessed.  I go on and on about my family, but I'm fortunate enough to have great friends too, and good times come with family, friends, or both included.
I've had my share.

Cue flashback sequence:

A photo of Philmo and the Ten Pin crowd enjoying the music once upon a when
All right, guys, close your eyes and smile!
I bet he's playing a solo.

Jerry Dillard and the finest kit money ever bought.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Is Stephen King's Under the Dome Coming to CBS?

 I'm reading reports that Stephen King's Under the Dome is heading to CBS next summer.  That is good news indeed, as this massive tale represents one of the master's finest offerings.  I'm a big fan of King's work, and I think some of his most recent books should rank among his very best.  Under the Dome is as big as The Stand, and if handled appropriately, it should make for fantastic television.  Personally, I think it would be better-suited for cable television, but Showtime apparently shipped it over to CBS because they felt otherwise. 

Should the show become a reality, I'm going to cross my fingers and hope for the best.
In Under the Dome, a small town is inexplicably sealed off from the rest of the world when an invisible forcefield descends.  Planes slam into it and explode, people are maimed, and a tiny community is forced to fend for themselves as a slimy politician seizes the moment and makes things much worse in an ill-fated power-grab on an epic scale.

I greatly enjoyed Under the Dome and I thought that the everyman hero, an Iraq war vet turned short-order cook who everyone calls Barbie, was a fantastic character to root for.  This is a King novel we're talking about, so it's a bit difficult at times.  No one likes to put the screws to his readers in the pursuit of a good time more than King, and he was truly at the top of his game when he penned this one.

Anyway, I'm intrigued, and I'll be watching closely as the series develops.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

From the Archives: The Best of Times

What is it?
The Best of Times is a 1986 comedy starring Robin Williams and Kurt Russell.  In the film, the two reside in the small town of Taft, where lovable loser Jack Dundee (Williams) is still haunted by the pass from local hero Reno Hightower (Russell) that he dropped in the big football game 13 years ago.  Dundee decides to stage the game once again in the hopes of atoning for his biggest mistake, but first he has to sell this ridiculous idea to both the town and his former teammates.  Once he manages to do that, it will be a miracle if he can get his old team in shape, and speaking of miracles, do you think Jack can actually catch the ball this time out?

Why don’t I know about it?
The film didn’t win over many critics or audiences when it debuted, and despite being televised routinely after its release and gaining a meager following, The Best of Times never really evolved into a true sleeper either.

What makes it unique?
Before Ron Shelton (Bull Durham, White Men Can’t Jump, Blue Chips, Cobb, The Great White Hype, Tin Cup, Play it to the Bone) gained notoriety for creating some of the best-received sports films ever made, he wrote this little gem for Kings Road Entertainment.  Shelton got the idea for the film when the high school he attended in Santa Barbara actually re-staged several big games against rival San Marcos in the early 80s as part of a fund-raising effort.  The first such game was a huge success, selling out, and according to Shelton sub-sequent games were also successful until the practice was discontinued due to injuries.  

Ron Shelton
Shelton has some issues with the piece, most notably his displeasure in regards to an epilogue left unfilmed.  He also doesn’t like some of director Roger Spottiswoode’s choices, though he claims that the studio gave the director a tough time.  Shelton wasn’t pleased with the publicity the film received either, and as far as business relationships are concerned, he writes the whole thing off as a very bad experience.

Kurt Russell was already a budding star when this picture was made, but Williams was just a zany comic with some success in television and a few mediocre films under his belt who would hit the big time with Good Morning, Vietnam a year later in 1987.  They have great chemistry here, and the film works best when it is centered squarely on their shoulders, yet they have never shared the screen again. 

When I was composing this piece I couldn’t find any commentary from the stars themselves.  That leads me to believe that this film probably doesn’t rank among their personal favorites, though it is entirely possible that they have made comments to the contrary that aren’t currently available.
For the most part, this is a truly a forgotten film within the industry.  Despite the star power and the creativity at work behind-the-scenes, there isn’t a lot of fanfare for this one to be found.  In fact, while I was putting this piece together, I didn’t find any retrospectives or features devoted to The Best of Times, though I should not that there are a wealth of forums and reviews where fans express their strong feelings for the film.

Is it any good?
I have loved this picture for a long time.  I have loved this movie for at least as long as I have loved football, and that’s a very long time indeed.  It is a bit clumsy in places and I know the stars of this piece have certainly offered up better performances, but this will always be a personal favorite of mine for a variety of reasons. 

First off, Kurt was at a point here where he could no wrong, and his Reno Hightower is a joy to watch.  Kurt doesn’t miss a beat throughout this irreverent and ultimately heart-warming little oddity.  Williams is often a bit much for yours truly, but here he is subdued enough (and trust me, a subdued Robin Williams is still a lot like you or I on crack) to amuse me without annoying me.  His Jack Dundee is a wounded man, but seldom has another man’s misery been so incredibly funny to behold.  The scene where he goes to a massage parlor and pays someone to listen to his agonizing self-dissection, all of which is based upon dropping the football in the big game, is one of his funniest bits ever, and he is consistently amusing throughout. 

While clearly the stars of the piece, Russell and Williams receive a lot of help from a great cast.  M. Emmet Walsh, R.G. Armstrong, Pamela Reed, Holly Palance, and Donald Moffat are all game for this quirky comedy, and everyone brings some humor to the mix.  Everyone fares well unless they happen to be involved in a poorly-staged song and dance routine that is positively embarrassing to behold and nearly drags the whole affair into oblivion.  Yet the film survives and offers up several far more entertaining and memorable setpieces along the way.   

Williams and Russell are both at the top of their game throughout, and their reliable performances are a model of consistency.  This is my favorite film featuring Robin Williams, and in truth I like Russell’s Reno Hightower almost as much as I like Snake Plissken, Jack Burton, and R.J. MacReady.  That’s high praise indeed coming from yours truly. 

Additionally, the home stretch is definitely a crowd-pleaser.  The film that stumbles occasionally in the first and second acts really nails the big game in the third act.  Russell is truly magnificent, and the fire and determination he shows in this muddy battle makes you want to go out and block for him.  The film becomes surprisingly dramatic as the contest unfolds, and it’s hard not to get all mushy inside when fate is kind enough to offer Jack a shot at redemption in the closing seconds. 

The verdict:
The Best of Times isn’t a great picture, yet it still works.  Don’t be surprised if there are a few scenes in the mix that are so bad you can’t comprehend why they weren’t cut altogether, and yet don’t be surprised if you do find yourself incredibly moved by the silly happenings of this fun little film.  It’s whimsical, it’s absurd, it’s a little sloppy here and there, and it is anchored by two terrific performers in great roles who make us care about this imperfect movie that slipped through the cracks.  In the end, The Best of Times succeeds because it is fueled by warmth and a premise we can all identify with—after all, who wouldn’t like a shot to make up for at least one grievous error from the past—and even if it is a bit rough around the edges, it remains a lovable winner with a lot of heart.    

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Walking Dead: Season 3, Episode 7 (When the Dead Come Knocking)

Last night was another solid outing for The Walking Dead, and as we head toward this week's mid-season finale, the tension is incredibly high.  This show always leaves me wanting more, and there have been several fine cliff-hangers to close out episodes, but I'm particularly anxious for next week's show.  This season has featured an abundance of action, but the plot has been gaining steam slowly, setting up a looming conflict between Rick and the band of survivors he has led to the prison and The Governor and his people in Woodbury.  Next week these communities will finally clash, and the stakes are incredibly high.

I continue to marvel at Andrew Lincoln and his masterful portrayal of Rick, which has certainly proven to be an incredibly demanding role.  He is the heart and soul of this show, and he excels at giving the audience a compelling character to cement this epic program.  Having said that, the rest of the cast is incredibly gifted as well, and with every episode fan-favorites like Daryl and Michonne become even more important to The Walking Dead's success.  As with many of my favorite shows, this is a true ensemble piece, and if one were to ask me to name my favorite character, I'm not entirely sure that I could.  Even if I did, if you asked me the same question a week later it's entirely possible that my answer would change.

Steven Yeun
One standout had been under-utilized this season until last night's offering, but Glenn (Steven Yeun) definitely had a full plate in Episode 7.  "When the Dead Come Knocking" found he and Maggie (the gorgeous Lauren Cohan) imprisoned in Woodbury.  Merle (Michael Rooker) wants to know where his brother is, and The Governor wants the scoop on the other group's location, so Merle spent much of this episode working Glenn over.  Glenn's a tough nut, and he didn't crack, but The Governor managed to get Maggie to spill the beans. 

Meanwhile, Michonne found her way to the prison and met up with Rick and the gang, and they formed an uneasy alliance that should become stronger as time passes.  Michonne was struggling with a gunshot wound, but that didn't stop Danai Guriri from kicking a lot of ass.  Aside from Andrew Lincoln, I thought Jon Bernthal was the show's big find in the first two seasons, and now Guriri and David Morrissey (The Governor) are proving to be just as critical to the show's success in Season 3.  I think that there can be no doubt that Guriri is a stellar representation of the character fans of the comic just can't get enough of, and last night's episode only added to her appeal.  Morrissey is also doing a terrific job, but I'm still a bit on the fence in regards to the way AMC has chosen to depict the character.

Now, anyone who has read the comic series knows that the show has made a lot of changes.  Many of them have been relatively minor, slight alterations that serve to keep those who read the comic on their toes without really disrupting the plot.  Some have been major alterations, to include shocking deaths for characters who survived far longer in the comics, or the addition of stellar characters like Daryl and Merle.  The people behind the show are using the comic series as the basis for their efforts, but they aren't painting by the numbers.  Yet in spite of the liberties they have taken, some of the choices they have made with The Governor's character are particularly intriguing. 

Robert Kirkman, the mastermind behind The Walking Dead, has gone on record as saying that the show intends to show a more seductive side of the character and that they wanted to make him more political.  Yet in many ways, some feel that in giving us a more nuanced version of this character, The Governor has essentially been defanged.  Now, we're not even halfway through the season yet, and The Governor is proving to be a solid villain, but I do think that there is some merit to those claims.   

In the comics, Rick and Michonne (not Glenn and Maggie) wind up in The Governor's clutches, and since there is no Merle, it's The Governor who works them both over.  He promptly cuts Rick's hand off, and Michonne is beaten and raped repeatedly by this despicable menace.  He is utterly deplorable and his actions set him up as the finest villain the comic series has yet to produce.  The show is giving us a sound villain, that much is true, but I do believe The Governor that comic fans know and despise would eat the television version of his character alive.  To a certain extent I'm okay with that; television is a different medium with different requirements.  However, as much as I like this show, last night's scene with The Governor and Maggie hit me the wrong way.

Maybe I'm thinking about this too much, but I didn't like the way they arranged that scene.  I think I would have preferred if they had gone all the way with the material and allowed The Governor to beat and rape Maggie, though I think they should have found a way to do it off-screen.  Simply allowing The Governor to force Maggie to disrobe was a bizarre choice.  Was it an attempt to hint at the way the scene unfolded in the comic or was it a shameless attempt to titillate the audience?  Seriously, why have her disrobe to begin with given the way things played out?  Anyone who has read my work knows that (much like Kirkman) I don't believe in pulling punches, so I think they should have taken things to the limit, but in lieu of that, I would have abandoned the disrobing aspect altogether.  It was totally unnecessary given the direction they took, and that moment did serve as a compelling example of how the show's version of The Governor isn't nearly as demented or ruthless as his comic counterpart. 

The comic book version of The Governor
Now, this was still a terrific episode, and it really set the stage for the mid-season finale.  The Walking Dead remains the best thing going on television (at least until Justified starts up again) and the show is only getting better.  In truth, I firmly believe that whether you prefer the show or the comic, The Walking Dead is the best thing happening in horror in 2012, to include television, motion pictures, comics, and novels.  That's lofty praise, but Robert Kirkman and his bloodthirsty creation deserve it.  Next week's episode should be explosive.

Will Rick and The Governor square off?

Will Daryl and Merle have a reunion?   

Will Glen and Maggie be rescued? 

Will the show find a way to set their version of The Governor up as a figure who is just as terrifying and monstrous as the comic book's superior villain? 

Will there be another shocking death before the second half of the season gets underway? 

I don't know, but I do know this: I'll be watching. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Walking Dead: Season 3, Episode 6 (Hounded)

Season 3 continues to pack a wealth of excitement and terror into every episode, and last night's entry, entitled "Hounded", was no different.  We spent a lot of time with Rick and the gang at the prison, and we also spent a lot of time with The Governor and his underlings in their community.  There was action, there was gore, there was even a little sex, and there were some major developments that will eventually (I'm thinking sooner rather than later) bring our two bands of survivors into direct conflict.  This was a very effective episode and it spotlighted some of the newest additions to the The Walking Dead while also paying close attention to the regulars we've been following from the very start.

Michonne continues to impress, and with every episode she becomes more valuable to the show.  Should her character continue to progress, we may reach a point where (as in the comics) she is just as valuable to the story as Rick.  She is a strong presence who is equally adept at sniffing out a rat (The Governor has charmed Andrea into his bed, but he couldn't get Michonne to believe anything he said) and dismembering anyone living or dead who dares to threaten her.  I think that Danai Guriri has done a terrific job thus far, and I hope the show makes the best use of both her ability and the character's appeal as the series continues to evolve.

The Governor himself (or "Phillip" if he's looking to get into your underpants) continues to evolve, and I am more impressed with David Morrisey's nuanced performance with every week that passes.  I think the day is coming when he will be just as despicable as he was in the comics, but he's still walking a fine line between survivor and villain.  We know he isn't trustworthy, we know he can be heartless, and we know he's up to some really bad shit, but he's so charming and perhaps even fatherly that Andrea's willingness to stand by him doesn't feel contrived.  Perhaps the slow burn Morrissey has treated us to thus far will become positively incendiary now that Maggie and Glenn are in town.

Michael Rooker is always a joy to watch, and "Hounded" gave Merle plenty to do as well.  I think that bringing this character back was a fantastic idea, and like most of you, I can't wait to see what happens when the Dixon brothers are finally reunited. 

In the prison, Rick continued to struggle with his sanity, which is completely understandable given what he has been through.  After receiving some phantom phone calls (I thought this was handled well, but I also hope that he isn't finished with the phone just yet--I don't know why, but the telephone was one of my favorite subplots in the comics) it appeared that he was starting to find his way back, and the warmest moment of the show was easily the scene where he held his baby.  Andrew Lincoln did a great job with that bit, and he remains a stellar performer.  I don't know what's next for this guy after The Walking Dead, but I have to believe that the dude is going places.

While there wasn't a lot of time reserved for the rest of the gang at the prison, they continued to shine.  I'm as big a fan of Daryl Dixon as anyone, and while I prefer badass Daryl, the depth the last two weeks have added to his character is certainly appreciated.  Dude proved to be a natural with the babe last week, and this week he found time to be there for Carl while Rick was doing his best to get a grip.  Additionally, I really enjoyed seeing Daryl find Carol toward the end of the episode.  This season has been hard on our regulars, and I think that Carol and Daryl have some interesting chemistry.  Norman Reedus is on everyone's radar, but I think Melissa McBride has been a nice asset to this show from the very beginning as well. 

In my opinion, this has to be one of the best ensembles in the history of television.  I can't think of another show where there were so many people I enjoyed rooting for or against, and the talent involved here is truly exceptional.  Any of these players is capable of doing bigger and better things, and the way they play off one another is a huge part of what makes The Walking Dead so successful.  This is a big show, and it continues to impress both the members of the audience it is geared toward and those who may not typically line up for genre fare alike.  I thought this was another strong episode in what remains the strongest season thus far.

Can AMC sustain this momentum?  They have done a great job so far, and I can't help but think that the cast and crew are determined to continue to raise the bar.  I'm certainly quite eager to see what they come up with next week.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Django Unchained

I am woefully behind so far as the cinema is concerned. 

I have yet to check out Skyfall.

Hell, I'm waiting for Expendables 2 on Blu-ray. 

Honestly, though, I was there for The Avengers on opening night, and aside from that, Django Unchained has remained the next absolute must-see movie on my calendar. 
Don't get me wrong, I'm very stoked about Skyfall, and I'm eager to watch Sly and Arnold and the rest of the gang blow shit up, but Tarantino films warrant another degree of enthusiasm.  Maybe another twenty degrees of enthusiasm. 

QT is the best filmmaker of his generation, a gifted director who manages to tell the coolest and most compelling stories in the coolest and most compelling ways. 
I am ridiculously excited about this picture.  Quentin always delivers, and the pitch for Django Unchained is most intriguing.  I love westerns, particularly the spaghetti westerns that had such an impact on Tarantino.  I expect big things, and I'm eager for the film's release on Christmas.
In the meantime, check out the official site and get a closer look at Django Unchained, the latest potential masterpiece from a spectacular filmmaker. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Walking Dead: Season 3, Episode 5 (Say the Word)

The Governor
 So, here are a few things we learned during last night's episode of the walking dead:
Darryl has a way with babies.
Rick has gone insane.
Michonne is the badass she should be.
Oh, and surprise, surprise, The Governor is one sick dude. 
Though it may have seemed somewhat tame given the ferocity of Episode 4, this was a huge entry in terms of plot, and there was still plenty of action and gore to enjoy.  A lot went down and several key moments from "Say the Word" will undoubtedly shape the season as we move forward.
In a show this big, it's hard to give everyone their due, and I wanted more Glenn in last night's episode, and I would have preferred it if they had devoted a little more time to Carl as he reacts to last week's grim outcome.  Yet we got to spend  far more time with Michonne, and I'm really starting to like the direction they're taking her in.  She is different from her comic book counterpart in some ways, but she's still the fearless survivor fans know and love.  She had a couple of big scenes last night, and despite her impressive disposal of several walkers in one of them, I thought the strongest part of the episode was her tense standoff with The Governor. 

 Speaking of The Governor, let me be the first to acknowledge that I wasn't all that thrilled about the casting of David Morrissey in the role.  It wasn't that I thought it was a bad call, it just didn't grab me right off because I wasn't familiar with Morrissey and he doesn't resemble the comic version at all.  When they started releasing stills and I saw just how different the show's depiction would be, the jury was still out.  I mean, I figured they would at least give the dude long hair or a goatee or something.  Nope.  Now, the jury is still out, as this character is slowly being revealed to us, but David is really starting to pull me in.  He is doing a nice job of melding a lot of different elements together.  He seems likable at times, and strong, trustworthy even--and yet we see beyond that.  There is also a dark soul behind his rugged charm.  There's a mean streak lurking beneath the surface, and despite his effective facade, we know that he is a madman who cannot be trusted.

Right now, I think the cast and crew are on pace to deliver the most entertaining season of The Walking Dead yet, though I did see some chinks in the armor last night.  Generally, one of the most impressive aspects of this show is the presentation; I'm fond of saying that it's the best thing that's happened to zombies in quite a while, and it has been superior to anything existing within this sub-genre to hit the big screen in recent memory.  Having said that, there were some big moments in Episode 5, and whereas the program is typically on par with a feature, it definitely looked like a TV Show at times.  I thought I saw glimpses of the budget in both Rick's gruesome descent into despair and The Governor's party.  Now, don't get me wrong, everything is top-notch when it comes to The Walking Dead, and it is as great example of what the format is capable of, but I think there were a few moments that didn't shine as brightly as they should have during last night's show.
Still, it was a wicked ride, and I can't wait for next week's episode.  There are so many burning questions to contemplate right now.

Danai Guriri as Michonne
 What's next for Michonne?  I know there's more to come so far as she and The Governor are concerned, and that could wind up being the strongest aspect of this season. 

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes

How's Rick?  It's okay to lose your shit every once in a while so long as you come back. 
Come back, dude.

Laurie Holden as Andrea
 What will Andrea do next?  I absolutely loved the way Laurie Holden played her character's reaction to the big party.  We've all ignored good advice and made dumb decisions, and we've all had those moments where we realized it and made that face Andrea was making when we saw her last.

 What's next for our precious babe?  I am very curious to see how they'll handle this aspect of the program.  Comic readers have to be wondering how closely they will adhere to the source material for this particular subplot, though it as already quite clear that the writers of the show are mixing it up.  If handled well, this could be a tremendous asset to The Walking Dead.  If handled poorly, it could be a show-killer. 

That's all I've got; I'm eager for next week's episode and I'll share my thoughts again next Monday. Until then, stay scared, peeps, and beware gated communities and one-armed men!

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Right Answer

Do it. 
Pick up the phone. 
Make the offer.  Make the right offer.  In other words, offer up whatever it takes to do the deal.
It makes perfect sense.

It is time for the Zen Master to return, and there's only one destination that would suit the finest coach in the history of the NBA, a man I believe to be perhaps the finest coach of all time in any sport.  Yes, I have a bit of a man-crush, and yes, it is the right answer.

Do it! 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

David Arquette Dresses Down in a Big Way

Check out David Arquette:

On the positive side, the dude is in shape, but . . . well, I don't even feel the need to flesh this out for you.  There's already enough fleshing out to go around on display here.  Seriously, they say a picture is worth a thousand words, and perhaps in some cases a picture is worth a thousand bad words.
This is a shot (my man strolling down the stairs in typical human attire leads me to believe this is a promotional shot and not a still from the feature) tied to his new sci-fi film, Orion.  I'm closing this out by failing to guarantee that I'll be there to see this one on opening night.  Or when it hits Blu-ray.  Or Netflix. 
Or basic cable.
I have a feeling I might just close my eyes if you bought a copy and tied me to a chair in the hopes of getting me to view this potential gem.  Having said that, it will wind up being someone's favorite movie, so to each their own.

Blue Ridge Regional Airport Field Trip with the Fam

Today we visited Blue Ridge Regional Airport as part of a field trip set up for children who are home-schooled.  One of the cool things about home-schooling is being able to incorporate activities like this into the curriculum, and this was a true family affair.  This was definitely a cool outing, and I'm sure the kids learned a lot.  Heck, I learned a lot, and I thought the airport did a terrific job of providing us with an interesting and educational tour.

We started by scoping out a medical helicopter that is located on site 24 hours a day as a part of Wake Forest Baptist Health Care's Air Care program.  Scope it out:

Learn more about the program itself here:
Medical Helicoprter at Blue Ridge Airport story c/o WSET
The pilot was on hand to educate everyone about the helicopter, and he also allowed the children to get up-close and personal with his vessel.
Check out Alaina getting a closer look:

Here she is in the pilot's seat (Kristen is looking on in the background):

Taryn also got to sit in the pilot's seat:

Love the jacket, the cap, the gloves and the shades.  She kinda looks like a tiny version of the crazy chopper pilot usually found in one of those campy war films I frequently enjoy.  Here's another:

They were learning and having fun, and that's just the way it should be.
Next, we got to check out a jet:

I made sure that my main man Ash got a closer look:


Kristen would probably begin her explanation of this little field trip by noting that she was cold:

We also got to scope out a plane (a plane and a jet are quite different, that's one of the many things we learned today) and the maintenance hangar, and the kids got to see how the airport communicates with pilots who are approaching.  They learned a lot about aircraft and flight in general, and I salute the airport again for keeping things so educational and intriguing.  They really did a terrific job with this tour and I know that we enjoyed it a lot.

I'm also very proud of my wife for encouraging me to consider home-schooling.  After my experiences as a student and a teacher, it wasn't a tough sell, but I probably wouldn't have given it serious consideration if not for her.  Thus far, it has been a tremendous blessing for our children.  They're only 6, 4, and 1, and they're already getting to do so many things that I never got to.  Most importantly, the learning experience is tailored specifically to their wants and needs.
I'm sure that you'll learn more about our efforts to give our children the best education possible here in the Land of Way.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

WWE 13 Part II

So, let it be known: everything I said about WWE 13 last week when I was just getting started is completely true.  I'm tempted to say that I feel the same way about this title as Chris Jericho feels about the championship belt.
Truth: this game is even better than I initially thought it was.  I can't stop playing it, and my children are having a blast with it too.  It's not just that they want to play either.  When I'm doing the Attitude Era tasks and trying to unlock various characters, belts, venues, and matches, they might as well be watching a live show.
Taryn is 4, and she keeps coming up to me and saying "Daddy, why don't you play the wrestling game?"  Alaina is 6 and she can't wait to play another Royal Rumble.  She thinks it's the greatest thing ever.  I shouldn't be too surprised; the Royal Rumble has always been my favorite event to watch, and it has also always been my favorite event to play on a video game.  The Elimination Chamber earns a close second on both of those counts.  Ash isn't even 2 yet and he's getting in on the fun as well.  We are having a great time with WWE 13.
I don't mean to gush, but this game is utterly fantastic.  Reliving some of my favorite storylines from the last twenty years is incredible.  You get vintage video packages to build up the event, you're given a list of achievements (it is necessary to complete these to unlock content) which basically rewards you for playing out the match as it was scripted, and many of these segments come complete with highlight reels from the actual match.  Now, that's cool enough, but THQ has gone even further in their pursuit of a stellar wrestling game.  When you pick up your controller and jump into these matches, segments of the actual commentary play.  This includes spots from guest commentators like Stone Cold Steve Austin or The Rock.  It's super cool, and it makes you wonder when this same approach will be applied to some of the sports titles on the market. 
I wasn't a big fan of the last WWE game, and I know that many of you weren't either.  All I can say is this: believe the hype.  If you were waiting for the verdict on WWE 13 before you snagged a copy, don't wait any longer.  All of the good things you're hearing are true.  I could also go on and on about the gameplay and the graphics, which are superb, but the thought and the ingenuity that went into the presentation are what make WWE 13 a title worth raving about.  Get in the ring! 

Alaina Rachel trying to eliminate her opponent in the Royal Rumble

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Today is Election Day, and every citizen of the United States who is over the age of 18 will be able to vote.  Rest assured that this is isn't something that happened overnight.  When our constitution was ratified, it didn't offer this unique privilege to all of our citizens who are of age.  No, there was a time when only rich white men had the right to cast a ballot.  Over the years, countless activists fought to ensure that the right to vote wasn't restricted by race, sex, or financial status.  These were difficult battles that required dedication and sacrifice, and it would be wrong for any of us to take these struggles and the freedoms they provided us with for granted.
I don't care who you vote for, but I implore you to go out and cast a ballot today.  I hope you will make an informed decision, and I hope you will recognize what a tremendous act casting a ballot is.  Too many people have fought and died over the years to provide you with this privilege, and you owe it to all of them and to yourself to be an active part of the process.  Vote!

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Walking Dead: Season 3, Episode 4

Is it just me, or this season proving to be the most intense season yet for a program that has been very, very intense?
Last night's episode was gut-wrenching in so many ways.  The prison has proven to be a tremendous setting, and thus far Season 3 is as gripping and as challenging as anything I have ever seen on television.  There have been many stellar episodes of The Walking Dead thus far, but I think last night's offering easily ranks among the very best.  It may have been the best, and it was surely one of the most difficult to view.
The birth scene we witnessed was handled to perfection, and proved once again that fans of the comic series don't know what to expect when they sit down to watch the show.  The tone is the same, many of the characters are the same, but the show isn't bound to the comic in such a way that it can't shock fans who have already read the material.  They're basically adhering to the plot, but they have no qualms about mixing it up when they so desire.
Two fan favorites perished last night, so this was obviously a huge episode, and the impact was only heightened by the way these events transpired.  These were huge moments in a show that hasn't shied away from shocking the hell out of its viewers.  Last night was only the latest example of how far The Walking Dead is willing to go to tell a horrific and a dramatic story that is both incredibly entertaining and equally distressing. 
Andrew Lincoln continues to shine as Rick Grimes, but seriously, hasn't everyone in this cast shown that the producers did a fantastic job of putting The Walking Dead together?  Seldom do any of these performers strike the wrong chord, and the parts are rather demanding.  Last night's entry saw Rick sink to a new low in terms of despair, and though he keeps getting stronger and stronger in the face of adversity, it's fair to wonder how much more he can take. 
I still want to see more of Michonne, and I'm still getting a feel for the way AMC is depicting the Governor, but this show has rewarded me at every turn.  I still can't believe that the best thing happening in film and television so far as horror is concerned is airing on cable television.  Yet it's true, and I can't thank AMC enough for having the courage to serve up this gory delight.
I can't wait to see what's waiting for us in Episode 5.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Oh Glorious Sunday!

It's Sunday evening, and even though it got dark way too early I'm sporting a smile thanks to sports.
Yes, I'm a Seattle Seahawks fan, and the Beast and the rook both played well.

Wilson continued his effective rookie campaign by completing 16 out of 24 passes for 173 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions.  He added 27 yards on the ground and was only sacked once.
Marshawn contributed 124 yards on 26 carries with a single score, and he also caught 2 passes for 26 yards.
The Seahawks defeated the Vikings at home to move to 5-4.
After nearly three decades of rooting for Seattle, I've really learned to cherish every victory, so I would be on cloud nine right now anyway, but it gets better.
I've got Doug Martin on my fantasy team.

He's just some rookie who carried the ball 25 times for 251 yards and 4 touchdowns.  He probably scored more points than some of the teams in my league managed this week.  Well, maybe not, but the kid went off and I should certainly win my game as a result.  I'll keep you in the loop.

Now, it's time to settle back, watch a few highlights, and then . . .
The Walking Dead!