DirecTV is about to enter the world of provider-creating original programming pioneered by Netflix. Its debut series is Rogue, a psychological cop drama that will launch on DirecTV’s Audience channel beginning tonight at 9 pm eastern.
Thandie Newton stars as Grace Travis,
“a morally and emotionally-conflicted undercover detective, is tormented by the possibility that her own actions contributed to her son’s mysterious death. In her quest for the truth, Grace finds herself striking out on her own and falling deeper into the city’s most powerful and dangerous crime family. As Grace struggles to become the wife and mother her family now needs, her life is further complicated by a forbidden relationship with crime boss Jimmy Laszlo. In order to stay alive, Grace needs to help Jimmy find the traitor in his midst, while knowing he may have played a part in her tragedy.”
That’s what the publicity campaign says about the show’s central character and driving plot. Unfortunately, that’s about as good as the writing gets across the show’s two debut episodes. The whole production looks stylish but has a lazy heart.
Early in the first episode, Grace does turns as an undercover cop trying to get inside gangster Jimmy Lazlo’s (Marton Csokas) empire, and mom who never sees her kids. Her husband (Kavan Smith) is a tattooed, muscular Mr. Mom whose outward appearance hides a big softie. In real life it’s hard to see how a police investigator as tough and courageous as Grace could put up with such a whiny man. By the end of the second episode, that problem seems well on its way to being solved. Body builder husband and bad boy Lazlo are equally implausible cardboard characters. Why Grace would bother tearing herself up over either one is never answered. Mobster or marshmallow: Why bother making that call?
Comic Jim Carrey takes to the august pixels of the Sideboob Gazette to hit back, again, at those of us who don’t care much for people who make their livings pretending to be other people lecturing us about reality.
For those who say I’m a hypocrite because I have an armed bodyguard, lets make one thing clear: No one in my employ is allowed to carry a large magazine and NO ONE IS ASKING ANYONE TO GIVE UP THEIR RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS, though it is in the vested interests of those who profit by gun sales to make it seem so.
Alrighty then. So if you happen to get into a shootout with Jim Carrey’s bodyguards, you can just wait them out.
Next up, Carrey compares himself to Ronaldus Magnus.
And to the bullies who will try to marginalize and discredit me by saying, “Shut up, you’re just an actor,” while they brag about what a great president the ACTOR Ronald Reagan was, who threaten me with the demise of my acting career and much worse, I say SO BE IT!
Reagan was also a union leader and successful governor who spent decades formulating ideas and plans to dismantle the Soviet Union. Carrey has spent decades turning his face into rubber.
Don’t read these two lines and then call Jim Carrey a hypocrite, though.
These horrific events are also an invitation for us to become more civilized and to deal with our addiction and entitlement to violence.
Later in the same piece…
These thugs, though menacing, are a minority but they will have their way if good people don’t step forward now and make a difference.
It’s as if Carrey knows words, and knows how to put them together into a sentence, but does not know what the words actually mean.
Through the years Neverhood fans have asked for another game, and I’m partnering with my EWJ and Neverhood buddies Mike Dietz and Ed Schofield to make a full sized, PC and Mac point and click adventure game in clay and puppet animation. New characters, but in my usual style.
TenNapel’s “usual style” is mind blowing. The Neverhood debuted on the Dreamworks Interactive label in 1996. It was a point-and-click adventure built entirely in clay and animated via stopmotion. Here’s a taste, and keep in mind that he did this in 1996 on PCs that can’t even compete with today’s smart phones for processing power.
SXSW Monday: I’m here today to check more sessions and events out. Most that I’m interested in are in the afternoon. In the morning, a man needs his coffee, and as I’m walking from my parked car — wherever that is, somewhere blocks away from the action — to the convention center, a man asks me out of the clear blue sky:= “Hey, would you like some free coffee?”
Um, yeah. I would. Very much. He ushers me over to this trailer, which it turns out belongs to GE.
Those two white arms are robots. The barista attaches a syringe to to what, I guess, is its hand. The syringe is full of condensed coffee. She doesn’t start you on a coffee IV, which is a pity.
They snap a photo of you, or a logo that you’re wearing or have handy.
I happened to be wearing my PJTV shirt…
So, after a few seconds, the robot gets the image and passably writes it onto the foam on top of the coffee.
Thanks to Vivian at RetailMeNot for letting me snap pics while the robot was making her coffee. Click on the next page to see the holographic tour guide.
Austin, TX, home of SXSW, is known for its live music and its food. The fact is, you’d have to work pretty hard to find a bad meal in Austin. The people here take pride in being one of the food capitals of America. The weary SXSWer may have a hard time sorting the great places from the merely good, though, so as a local, I’m here to help out. Here are the places and meals you shouldn’t miss while you’re in town.
10. Pluckers Wing Bar. Locations: All over town. This chain of wing stops was started by some UT students. Pluckers isn’t fancy but it’s local and good, and has restaurants all over town.
The bazillionth episode in the tomb-raiding life of Lara Croft hit Tuesday. Most of the previous episodes have not been good. Many came with flaws that rendered them nearly unplayable in spots. Unlike most of the previous, and especially the most recent, installments, reviews for the 2013 installment have not been mixed. Lara is scoring about a 9.25 across the board on video game-review sites. But is this hype fanboys falling in love with a game babe, or a reflection of a strong game that may just bring a storied but troubled franchise back from the dead?
I spent about an hour with the new Tomb Raider, so while I don’t yet have a comprehensive view of the game’s full story arc, I do have some strong first impressions.
Tomb Raider 2013 is an origins story, picking Lara up on an expedition to find a lost civilization off the coast of Japan. A nineteen year old on her first adventure, Lara isn’t yet the boss chick who greeted the gaming world in 1996. She’s young but determined, and convinced that if the expedition changes course, it will find the lost civilization they’re looking for. Changing course also risks entering the Dragon’s Triangle, an allegedly dangerous region of the Pacific similar to the Bermuda Triangle off Florida.
Things go about as you’d expect when a game amps up a threat — the expedition suffers a shipwreck and Lara finds herself stranded and alone. A knock on the head later, and she’s in a creepy, gory cave filled with bones and hanging corpses. It’s environments like this, and Lara’s tendency to lean on a couple of swears when she reacts to threats, that earn the game its M rating. No longer a cartoon, Tomb Raider is a cinematic beast.
The younger Lara is vulnerable. She picks up knocks and wounds. She scavenges and improves weapons as she goes. She gets hungry and has to hunt, which turns this Tomb Raider into more of an open world than any previous episode. She learns skills and, based on the dialogue, learns to overcome her fears. She thinks.
This Lara develops as the story goes, and is far more interesting and more realistically rendered than in any previous episode. She also eats meat, so she is more Duck Dynasty than Morrissey.
The story of Tomb Raider works extremely well, at least in the early going of the game that I’ve played.
On Wednesday Sony announced its next-gen gaming console, the PlayStation 4. Sony expects the new console to be available by the Christmas season of this year and is being coy about the price. When the PS3 arrived, it carried a hefty price tag of about $600, scaring some gamers off for a few months. Rumors are the new console will come in at around $450, but that’s just a rumor at this point. That’s one of the mysteries surrounding the new box. More about the other mystery later in the article.
The PS4 will not just be another console with beefier hardware. It will have that, with powerful new graphics processors capable of taking the visuals to another level of realism, while not presenting a quantum leap over the current hardware. But it will truly be a next-gen console in the sense that it comes with capabilities that up to now have mainly been available on game streaming sites like OnLive (which I reviewed, here). In fact, the PS4 may kill off the ailing OnLive service.
That’s because the PS4 is a social gaming console right out of the box. One of OnLive’s chief fun features is its ability to allow gamers to watch and interact with other gamers without being in the game themselves. Gamers can spectate in the Arena, picking up tips and tricks, jeering and cheering and generally checking out games before either buying them or downloading demos. The PS4 allows spectating and, with a push of a button on its new controller, sharing and uploading action clips. Some games currently allow this, but the new hardware makes sharing a universal feature. It also allows demos to be played the instant a gamer chooses them, putting it on par with one of the other great OnLive features. Along with that will come features that already exist, such as Amazon Video, Netflix and Hulu apps and Plex serving that turn the PS into a full home entertainment system. PS3 users can also already control their consoles when surfing YouTube via iPhones and iPods. Expect Sony to build on that capability as well.
The PS4 also builds on a feature currently found on the PS3 and the Wii U, remote play. Currently PS3 can be controlled via a handheld PSVita, while the Wii U can act as a server, with game play actually taking place on the screen in the controller. So it doesn’t really need a TV screen. The PS4 allows games hosted on its hardware to be played on the PSVita. So like the Wii U, the PS4 can free up your TV while still delivering the top level gaming experience.
The PS4 controller, the Dualshock 4, also builds on the current competition, adding Move capabilities, the aforementioned social gaming capabilities, and a new touchpad in the middle.
So, there’s the controller. But where’s the actual PS4? In its entire demo Wednesday, they never showed the PlayStation 4 itself. That has sparked a debate:
There are two rather polarized angles being tossed about this week as the Sony show (or no-show) of the PlayStation 4 was let loose. One side says it’s terrible that Sony made a 2+ hour presentation for the PlayStation 4 without actually showing the hardware, relying instead on the controller and a variety of promises from software developers to do all the talking. The other side says awesome! We know the PlayStation 4 is coming now, and we’ve got confirmation from some of the biggest-name developers that they’re on board, so we’re happy!
My own take is that Sony wants a second bite at the buzz apple, so they’re withholding images of the console for a later date, maybe E3 in June or SIGGRAPH in August. If they do that, they get to have another big moment, and may announce the price along with giving us a look at the beast. Sony usually goes the route of making their consoles dark and artistic (or odd, in the case of the PS3s that look like bbq grills). I would expect something smaller and sleeker than the PS3.
The bottom line is that we now have concrete specs on the next-gen system, a catalog of major titles that it will debut with including new material from heavyweights like Blizzard and its own in-house Killzone and InFAMOUS series, and solid information about the new things it will be able to do. And the things it won’t do, which brings me to the “bad” part of this article. Sony says that as things stand now, backward compatibility is not built into the PS4. Gamers will not be able to play legacy games on the new system, which may impact some of this year’s bigger releases like the Tomb Raider reboot. They say they’re working on it. They may be setting up to sell multiple forms of the PS4, some that will include backward compatibility for a price, and some that don’t. Backward compatibility can be gotten around via streaming games, but that requires hefty bandwidth that most American households still don’t have, or via downloads, which will take up valuable hard drive space and may create other issues. We’ll see. But the failure to provide backward compatibility from the get-go is an ominous sign that Sony may be looking to roll out their new box at one stated price, which is not the actual price gamers will end up paying if they want to keep playing their old Call of Duty titles on their shiny new systems.
The Dallas Sci-Fi Expo wrapped up on Sunday, February 10. We snapped photos of some of the best, most creative and most disturbing costumes of the show. Click on a thumbnail below to view photo galleries. They’re divided into Girls, Groups, and Guys.
You can see more costumes from the Dallas Sci-Fi Expo here.
We interviewed Battlestar Galactica’s Tricia Helfer, here.
And ran into MickeyDeadMau5Trooper here.
This thing caused a stir this weekend at the Dallas Sci-Fi Expo. I call it…MickeyDeadMau5Trooper. I saw it coming up the escalator and had to grab some video before it got away.
Battlestar Galactica bombshell Tricia Helfer gave us a couple of minutes during her busy time at the Dallas Sci-Fi Expo. Helfer portrayed Number Six, a far future Mephistopheles who twisted minds as her Cylon race waged war to exterminate humanity. But there turned out to be more to Number Six, and it turns out, there’s much more to the woman behind the sexy robot in a red dress.
Today I’m at the Dallas Sci-Fi Expo (which is actually taking place in Irving). Kevin Sorbo and Morena Baccarin will be here today and tomorrow, along with stars from Back to the Future, Battlestar Galactica, Tron, comic book artists, and of course, just about every superhero and villain imaginable.
Let’s walk the exhibition floor and see who turns up.
I don’t know what they’re selling, but they had a lot of buyers.
Even a Sith.
This could be interesting and fantastic. It could also be horrible.
Yesterday, The Walt Disney Co. unveiled plans to make a number of spin-off movies set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away — in addition to the post-Return of the Jedi trilogy that had already been announced.
Entertainment Weekly has learned details on two of the spin-off projects: A young Han Solo saga, focusing on the wisecracking smuggler’s origin story, and a bounty hunter adventure with Boba Fett at the center of a rogue’s gallery of galactic scum.
The Han Solo story would take place in the time period between Revenge of the Sith and the first Star Wars (now known as A New Hope), so although it’s possible Harrison Ford could appear as a framing device, the movie would require a new actor for the lead — one presumably much younger than even the 35-year-old Ford when he appeared in the 1977 original.
The Boba Fett film would take place either between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, or between Empire and Jedi, where the bounty hunter was last seen plunging unceremoniously into a sarlacc pit. Exactly who would play him isn’t much of a complication – in the original trilogy, he never took off his helmet. And in the prequels, we learned he was the son of the original stormtrooper clone, played by Temuera Morrison, who’s still the right age for the part if his services were required.
On the plus side, Han Solo and Boba Fett are two of the most interesting characters in the SW universe. Movies featuring their backstories have massive potential. On the double-plus side, George Lucas won’t be directing, so the actors may come off as living, breathing human beings. That’s something we haven’t seen in a Star Wars film in a long, long time.
The Star Wars empire is running on fumes. If Disney doesn’t get this right, the galaxy far, far away could collapse.
Disney could do this right, or they could Disney-fy it. Will we get the gritty Republic Commando treatment that both of these characters deserve, or will we get a more candy-coated take aimed at reviving the Star Wars video game and toy empire? A gritty treatment, especially of Boba Fett, could be amazing. I hope for that but dread and fear the Disneyification of the whole thing. Another way they could screw this up, in typical Star Wars fashion, would be to have some extremely unlikely connection between the two characters revealed in the movies. There’s no need for that. Darth Vader didn’t need to build C-3PO for the Star Wars saga to work. Han and Boba Fett don’t need to be schoolyard buddies or enemies, or fellow recruits at the imperial academy.
I’m trying not to write that I have a bad feeling about this, but honestly, I do.
Updated February 9: See Bryan’s photos from today at the Dallas Sci Fi Expo
Is this an assault weapon?
It is a semiautomatic with a fancy stock and a pistol grip and it does look mean, especially with that scope on top. But look closely at the trigger area in the center.
That’s a pistol. It’s the Beretta U22 Neos. The stock and elongated barrel are part of the kit that Beretta offers to turn the pistol into a carbine rifle. The kit does not make the pistol any more powerful, though it and the optional scope can help you fire it with greater accuracy.
Not that an increase in accuracy is needed. I had the opportunity to fire a Neos at a local gun range recently and found it be extremely accurate right out of the box.
The Neos is Beretta’s latest entry into the .22 caliber semiauto handgun market. Without the carbine kit, it comes in three different models. Two are solid black, while one sports silver styling on the grips and the barrel. It also comes in two barrel lengths, four inches and six inches. It is manufactured entirely in the United States, in Accokeek, MD. That’s 10 miles outside Washington, DC. Here is the silver-styled model.
The first noticeable thing about the Neos is that it’s a very good looking weapon, typical of all Beretta products. The second thing you may notice when you handle it is the way the grips fit and how well the weight is distributed. The grips feel absolutely perfect in my hand, which speaks well of Beretta’s attention to ergonomics. The six-inch model feels a little bit front heavy to me, while the four-inch model feels perfectly balanced. It feels like an extension of your hand.
South Korean rapper Psy — you may have heard of him — spent time during the last decade attending anti-American protests in his country. He even rapped the following about the Americans:
Kill those Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives/Kill those Yankees who ordered them to torture/Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law, and fathers/Kill them slowly and painfully
Psy is meeting President Obama Sunday and will be in a Christmas TV special with him that airs on December 21. Those old lyrics about killing Americans “slowly and painfully” are suddenly a problem for him.
“As a proud South Korean who was educated in the United States and lived there for a very significant part of my life, I understand the sacrifices American servicemen and women have made to protect freedom and democracy in my country and around the world,” said Psy in a statement. “The song – from eight years ago – was part of a deeply emotional reaction to the war in Iraq and the killing of two innocent Korean civilians that was part of the overall antiwar sentiment shared by others around the world at that time. While I’m grateful for the freedom to express one’s self I’ve learned there are limits to what language is appropriate and I’m deeply sorry for how these lyrics could be interpreted. I will forever be sorry for any pain I have caused anyone by those words.
The statement continues, “I have been honored to perform in front of American soldiers in recent months – including an appearance on the Jay Leno show specifically for them – and I hope they and all Americans can accept my apology. While it’s important we express our opinions, I deeply regret the inflammatory and inappropriate language I used to do so. In my music I try to give people a release, a reason to smile. I have learned that though music, our universal language we can all come together as a culture of humanity and I hope that you will accept my apology.”
His “Gangnam Style” video has been watched more than 902 million times since it was uploaded to YouTube in July. It has spawned more imitations and copycats than Elvis. Now it turns out that it came from a bona fide America hater.
The two innocent Koreans were two schoolgirls who were killed in an accident involving two U.S. soldiers stationed in Korea. Their accident in no way justified rapping about killing Americans “slowly and painfully.” Nor did the bad actions of a few U.S. troops in a war zone that Psy cannot comprehend.
This fellow lived in this country and is from a country that America has protected for 60 years. More than 50,000 Americans died protecting his country, and countless Americans put their lives on the line to protect his country across the decades.
For what? So ingrates can turn around and fantasize about killing Americans? Why do we do this?
I think I’m done with the world. It’s not just this idiot, it’s how the entire world treats the United States like a fool and a villain. Maybe it’s time to pull all of our troops out of every nation that we currently protect and cut them all loose. No more military protection. No more disaster relief. No more foreign aid. Nothing. We take care of our own and no one else.
Midfielder and former England captain David Beckham has announced that the MLS cup final on Dec. 1 will be his last match with the LA Galaxy.
The 37-year-old Beckham isn’t retiring, but the superstar he gave no hint of his next move.
”I’ve had an incredibly special time playing for the L.A. Galaxy,” Beckham said in a statement. ”However, I wanted to experience one last challenge before the end of my playing career. I don’t see this as the end of my relationship with the league, as my ambition is to be part of the ownership structure in the future.”
Beckham has played in Los Angeles for six seasons since his groundbreaking move from Real Madrid, reaching three league finals and winning one MLS title last year during his best stateside campaign.
He agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Galaxy in January after playing out his initial five-year deal, turning down potential moves to wealthy Paris Saint-Germain and other clubs – including at least one Premiership team, according to Beckham.
Beckham hadn’t given any overt indications he was planning to leave the Galaxy after this season with a year left on his deal. Last week, the longtime England captain pointedly denied rumors linking him to a short-term stint in Australia.
Beckham has been among the chief reasons to watch MLS action during his years in Los Angeles. At 37 he is not the player who dominated both the Premiere League and Spain’s La Liga, but he has remained one of the most consistently threatening players in the league. He has been plagued by injuries but his vision is as sharp as ever and his precision has only barely dimished. At just about any moment and from just about any position, Beckham can lob one of his trademark overhead passes to a forward for a one-touch shot or bend a free kick or corner into the net.
The question now is, where does Beckham go from LA? Rumors have him returning to Europe, going to South America or even Australia to play in that country’s A-League. One intriguing rumor has him remaining in the MLS, where he does have an interest in ownership eventually, and moving to New York to join the Red Bulls. The Red Bulls have one of the league’s highest salaries but have underachieved for years. In New York, Beckham would play alongside former Arsenal and Barcelona striker Thierry Henry, who is one of the finalists for MLS MVP this year. The Red Bulls were dumped out of the playoffs this year by DC United. Beckham could be the leader and threat that the Red Bulls have needed. A team featuring Henry’s guile and power and Beckham’s leadership and precision would be an instant threat for the title, provided both could stay healthy for enough of the season to lead the line. Beckham and Henry played for arch rivals Manchester United and the Gunners respectively during their time in the English Premiere League. Having both on the same side in the twilight of their careers could be expected to knock ticket sales up a bit for the Red Bulls and any team they play against on the road. It would be good for Red Bulls and for MLS itself.
Beckham has enjoyed two seasons with similar talent around him in Los Angeles, playing alongside US international Landon Donovan and Irish international Robbie Keane. The Galaxy reached this year’s MLS Cup final by beating Western Conference rival Seattle Sounders 3-0 in the first leg at home and losing 2-1 in the second at Seattle on Sunday. They will host the Houston Dynamo in a rematch of last season’s final, which the Galaxy won 1-0.
During Beckham’s years in Major League Soccer, MLS has gone from relative obscurity to become the world’s seventh most watch soccer league.
The Walt Disney Company announced today it has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm and is planning Star Wars Episode 7 for 2015! In a later conference call, Disney revealed that they are planning a new trilogy starting in 2015 with a new movie coming every other year. They were also asked about “Indiana Jones,” but said that they were going to concentrate on the “Star Wars” franchise for now. This is following such big purchases as Pixar and Marvel Entertainment.
At first blush this sounds like horrible news. Outrageous, even. But giving it a second thought, it’s probably the only thing that can possibly save Star Wars.
George Lucas has absolutely destroyed that franchise. He tinkers with the good ones and the prequels were disasters for the storyline. The only part of it that still holds any interest to me, a Star Wars fan since Han actually did shoot first, is in the games. The Force Unleashed was solid and probably more than half of the LucasArts games have been worth playing. The Battlefront games were pretty good. But the movies…eh. Out of the six, two and a half are still watchable. The prequels aren’t among those.
To kids, Star Wars is not cool. I don’t know if it was the prequels or the Clone Wars stuff, but kids now just don’t pay the whole thing any mind. I tried watching the Clone Wars series just to see if it was worth my time. It covers an interesting part of the story but the way it’s done is somewhere south of meh.
Can Disney make it any worse? Possibly, but not probably. They want to make money and they’re very good at not wrecking properties that they acquire. If you’re worried about Disney cartoonifiying Star Wars, well, Lucas already did that. He also made it political and ham-handed and kind of stupid. Lucas selling to them at least means that he’ll stop tinkering with everything that has managed to survive his butchery. It also means that we’ll actually get a new Star Wars movie directed by someone who knows how to direct real live people in a couple of years. Maybe Disney will hire Spielberg or Joss Whedon to direct one. Disney owns Marvel, Whedon did The Avengers. It could happen.
So after the initial feeling of outrage wore off,
If Disney fixes Star Wars, great. If not, well, I didn’t sink $4 billion into the swamps of Degobah.
Update: Heh, look who else is buying stuff. Obama is buying ads in Michigan for very different reasons than Disney bought Star Wars.
In real life, there is no Batman. Many evil men plague our world, as we saw today in Colorado. These villains try to make up for their lack of good purpose by becoming something bigger through an evil, twisted act at their point of maximum exposure. But there is no Batman to stop them.
The third and final episode of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy landed today, and I had planned for two weeks to see it on opening day and write a review for this space. Lunatics should get no veto on the rights or activities of the innocent, nor should their acts be used to justify restrictions on anyone else. The Dark Knight Rises’s opening day comes only once.
This film springs from the same comic book world that powered the first two and the whole Batman universe before them, but lands in a real world of political subtext and drama. Most notable is the so-called struggle between the 99% and the 1% and the occupations of various city parks associated with it. For a time that movement animated the political left in this country, before eventually turning into an urban Lord of the Flies and then petering out to irrelevance.
Mercenary Bane steps into the Batman world with this real world context behind him, announcing that he is liberating Gotham City from the 1%. Bruce Wayne is the .000000001 % which makes him the natural target. Catwoman is the amoral, opportunistic independent, only looking out for herself while warning Wayne that a storm is coming for him and Gotham’s other wealthy citizens.
But The Dark Knight Rises is not primarily a political film.
It is a moral and historical film, drawing most of its true inspiration from the French Revolution. It stands on the side of civilization against the rabble and those who would bring down Freedom either through intent or neglect. Though, in a nod to the Occupy movement, Bane does literally occupy the stock market to launch one of his schemes. The tattered American flags drooping in Bane’s Gotham attest to where he takes his “liberation.” Postmodern Hollywood may no longer believe in patriotism or even objective right and wrong, but it does know how to use them all to tell a good story.
Another summer off-season has brought on another crisis for the Premiere League’s Arsenal FC. In 2009 the red and white lost power talents Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor to rivals Manchester City in summer transfers. In 2011, they lost world class midfielder Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona and playmaker Samir Nasri, along with defender Gael Clichy, to Manchester City. The club has mostly replaced such lost talents with cheaper, younger players, many of whom have not stepped up to fill the lost Gunners’ boots. This year, as the Gunners ruthlessly climbed the table after an awful start to the 2011 campaign, striker and captain Robin Van Persie emerged as the massive talent that the club’s fans suspected he was, but which a string of injuries had prevented from full revelation. He scored when he wanted in the 2011 season, it seemed, banging in 37 goals in all competitions and netting the Premiere League’s Golden Boot and both Player of the Year awards. At times Van Persie carried the Gunners on his back.
But throughout Van Persie’s incredible campaign, there was a nagging doubt that he would not return for another season. He was in the penultimate year of his contract, and had put off any extension talks until the end of the season. Arsenal finished third in the table, and RVP joined his countrymen at the Euro 2012 championships, no new contract inked. On Wednesday, he declared that he would not sign an extension.
His announcement has sparked condemnation and a raging debate: Should Arsenal sell him and buy other players to replace him, or should they hold him to that final year?
Van Persie is no youngster by soccer standards; he turns 29 in August. He has been injury-plagued throughout his time at Arsenal, and was once accused of rape. That charge was false, and the club stood patiently by him during that ordeal and the many months he has spent off the pitch and on the doctor’s table. One great and complete season later, though, he questions the club’s ambition and says that he will not extend his contract. Here is how he framed his decision to leave in his statement to the club’s fans:
I personally have had a great season but my goal has been to win trophies with the team and to bring the club back to its glory days.
Out of my huge respect for Mr Wenger, the players and the fans I don’t want to go into any details, but unfortunately in this meeting it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal should move forward.
I’ve thought long and hard about it, but I have decided not to extend my contract. You guys, the fans, have of course the right to disagree with my view and decision and I will always respect your opinions.
I love the club and the fans, no matter what happens. I have grown up and became a man during my time with Arsenal. Everybody at the club and the fans have always supported me over the years and I have always given my all (and more) on and off the pitch.
The timing is interesting: Arsenal have already bought two world-class strikers in Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud before the summer transfer window has even officially opened, and are said to be chasing the signatures of a new goalkeeper and one or more established midfielders including American Clint Dempsey, who is coming off his best season at Premiere League stalwart Fulham. They are also in the hunt for Belgian defender Jan Vertonghen. Podolski carried his German club last season, and Giroud led the French league in scoring on the way to his club winning the title. None of Arsenal’s moves to sign them and other players show any lack of ambition. Despite his protestation that he has “huge respect” for club manager Arsene Wenger, Van Persie’s statement says otherwise: The player is questioning the manager’s and the board’s vision for the club. His public statement caught the club off guard. It was designed to damage the club going into its transfer window, and may reduce the price it could have gotten for him had he stayed quiet. That’s disrespect, and the club and its fans expected and deserved better from him.
A few months back I blogged the wonders of the Five Guys burger, declaring it the best burger on the planet. Food blogging can be more perilous than politics or just about anything else; people are passionate about their palates. So that post generated quite a bit of feedback and a little bit of hate mail. People wanted to know: how could I declare Five Guys the best, when I had never even had the pleasure of the In-N-Out burger?
That was a good question, but I didn’t have an answer. I could only shrug. I grew up on Whataburgers so I could authoritatively rule them great but Five Guys better. Ditto for Sonic, despite its unstoppable cherry limeade. We all have our local haunts that can’t be topped. Around Austin, that’s Mighty Fine. Up in Baltimore, Burger Bros. is amazing and I cannot recommend them highly enough. Every town has its own best burger. But among the big chains that inspire fanatic loyalty, which is the best?
Let’s throw another bit of fire in the fight: Five Guys is an east coast franchise spreading west, while In-N-Out is a west coast franchise spreading east. They’ll meet in the middle at some point. There will be burger blood. But I’m a man from the middle of the country, and am a fair judge of both coasts in that I largely condemn the culture and politics of both.
So anyway, while I’d been to the west coast several times, until last week I’d never eaten an In-N-Out burger. Something always got in the way. But at the end of a visit to PJM world headquarters in glamorous El Segundo, CA, on Friday, Daves Swindle and Steinberg and I hit the In-N-Out on Sepulveda on the way to LAX. So now I can weigh in.
When I assess competing burgers, I look at a few basic criteria: Presentation, Bread, Meat, Veggies, Fries, and Overall Taste. So let’s break it down.
On June 27, 1972, Atari Inc. was incorporated in the state of California. That makes today the 40th birthday of the company that pioneered coin-op gaming, and six years later Atari would unleash the Video Computer System, later renamed the 2600.
The console gaming industry was for all intents and purposes born with the Video Computer System, and home entertainment would never be the same. The console with the one-button joystick and the game cartridge changed everything and introduced some great interactive entertainment along the way. Here are my Top 10 Atari 2600 Games.
10. Realsports Football. Atari’s first football game was horrible. It was barely football at all. But with Realsports Football, Atari tried and mostly succeeded in creating a decent football sim. You only had a Pop Warner size team, but the players looked pretty good and you could do most of the things you could do in the real sports world: Breakaway runs, first downs, passes, interceptions, punts and so forth. The AI was pretty stupid, and before long every player had figured out how to blow it off the field 99-0. But Realsports Football and the other Realsports games foreshadowed the massive Madden, MLB, NBA and FIFA simulation franchises that dominate today.
9. Missile Command. Defend Cities. ‘Nuff said.
8. Star Raiders. This game required a pad separate from the joystick to control all the various functions of your space ship. It was way ahead of its time for its complexity and replayability.
What if the American Civil War was not two conflicts, one settling the human rights questions presented in the Declaration of Independence and the other resolving federal versus state powers carved out in the Constitution, but three, the third being a war between living and undead states? Benjamin Walker stars in what has to be the most absurd, over-the-top Gothic horror action movie ever made, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, opening nationwide today. In this film’s alternative rendering of history, buried somewhere on the bloody battlefield of Gettsyburg is a silver fork bearing the initials “A.L.” that came from the White House via an unorthodox railroad, played a small part in driving back Pickett’s infamous charge, and helped usher in a new birth of living freedom in the United States.
As crazy as that sounds, the movie is crazier still. Vampire Hunter begins when the boy who would become our 16th president is about 10 years old. An encounter on an Indiana dock with an evil local business baron leads to the death of Lincoln’s mother, which in turn leads to young Abe’s discovery that vampires are real and one of them is his mother’s killer. These vampires are not the twinkly teen heartthrobs of Twilight. They are ravenous, evil monsters thriving in the antebellum American south to build themselves a slave empire. The peculiar institution of slavery provides the vampires with a captive population on which to feed, as well as build commercial and political wealth. Young Abe, already turned abolitionist by his mother’s anti-slavery beliefs and by his friendship with a free black boy named Will Johnson (Anthony Mackie), becomes an axe-wielding action hero at first bent on avenging his mother’s death, and later on eradicating slavery itself to break the power of the vampire empire. Abe meets Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper), a mysterious man who saves him from a vampire, offers to train Abe in killing what is already dead, and provides him with targets upon whom to wield his trusty, silver-edged axe.
Gothic design fetishist Tim Burton and director Timur Bekmambetov team up to deliver the film adaption of Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel of the same title, which itself was a fun, page-turning romp that takes actual events in the life of Lincoln and drapes them in a massive layer of vampire violence and horror. The novel worked far better than it had any right to, and Graheme-Smith wrote the film, so it preserves the spirit of the novel quite well. Burton adds his larger-than-life design flair, and Bekmambetov brings bullet time effects, 3D blood splatters, flying decapitations and a visceral visual energy to the film, which never lets up once the killing starts. Quentin Tarantino would have a hard time surpassing the surreal level of violence that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter delivers, but with higher-minded dialogue and ideas driving the bizarre plot forward.
Ridley Scott’s Prometheus opens with one of the most spectacular and beguiling scenes ever put on film. The camera sweeps across a planet that might be ours, or not, to find a creature who might be human, or not, in the act of what might be suicide or seeding the world with life. Or both. A large, unidentified space ship twists away into the clouds as the creature drinks some goo, shows a look of surprise, and disintegrates. Or more accurately, falls apart from his DNA outward. It’s the kind of scene that would have been impossible to create just a few years ago, and that leaves you wondering “What did I just see?” while you await more.
That thought — What did I just see? — kept pace with me throughout the entire movie. From one plot turn to the next, What did I just see? was my most common reaction. Something moves at a character’s feet — What did I just see? The android, a machine Alien fans know not to trust, does something quickly with his hands — What did I just see? That uncertainty is not due to image quality or camera work; in fact, Prometheus is visually staggering. Incredible. The film editing is understated, not choppy the way many action films tend to be. The cinematography and special effects are as good as any that have been put to film. With one exception, the cast is top notch. Michael Fassbender as the android David is pitch perfect, sometimes childlike, sometimes outwardly evil, though as a robot he cannot be. His true motives stay off screen, obscure and inscrutable. Charlize Theron is regal and icy; Noomi Rapace as scientist Elizabeth Shaw combines Sigourney Weaver’s tough mind with the vulnerability of Newt, the little girl from Aliens. The one case of miscasting is that of Logan Marshall-Green as scientist Charlie Holloway. He is never believable as a scientist driven to spend years traveling to the other side of the galaxy just for the sake of knowledge, and is a drag on the film.
Prometheus‘ pace is fast despite the long, steady shots of underground caverns that may or may not be natural, and the too-few face-offs with actual aliens who may be something more or less than mere living things. The pace is almost too quick to allow the audience to figure out what is motivating the characters to do what they’re doing, and one particular plot twist involving the geologist made no sense at all, other than to insert a very standard horror film trope of separating the characters to commence the kills. I won’t say too much about it, though, because like nearly all turns in this story, saying too much gives too much of the plot away.
It’s all come down to this: Two singers, six songs, and millions of people texting their votes to decide the fates of two young, talented singers. Jessica Sanchez, 16, and Phillip Phillips, 21, faced off Tuesday night in three rounds of singing. One of the two will be crowned the 11th American Idol on Fox tonight.
Jessica opened with this Whitney Houston classic, “I Have Nothing.” It takes courage to take on anything by Whitney Houston, but Jessica has taken on Houston and Mariah Carey hits, and done an incredible job on them. The first round was hers.
Phillip countered with one of the greatest ballads of the last several decades, Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.” As usual, Phillip put his signature on the classic.
Knights of Columbus! I was in a glass case of emotion when I saw this last night. A flute-playing Ron Burgundy appeared on Conan to break the big story, about himself.
EW fills in some of the details:
Will Steve Carell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, and David Koechner also be returning? Will more than eight years have elapsed in Ron Burgundy’s time-period, or is he still smack in the middle of the 1970s? When will this movie begin shooting or hit theaters?
Like any smart newsman, Burgundy didn’t stick around to answer questions.
EW got in touch with Paramount for some of the details.
Carell and Rudd will definitely be coming back, though all others are still up in the air. Ferrell and Adam McKay will co-write the script, and McKay (who made the original) will be back to direct.
Gary Sanchez Productions will produce along with Judd Apatow Productions, and the movie is expected to get underway toward the end of year for release in 2013.