Taco Bell debuted in Downey, California in 1962. That was back when you could actually establish a new business in the people’s republic without being regulatorily hammered to death or run off to Texas.
Frito-Lay launched its Doritos tortilla chips in the 1960s before releasing Nacho Cheese Doritos into the wild, in 1971. The majority of Americans alive today never knew a world that did not include both Taco Bell and Nacho Cheese Doritos.
Put those dates together and one thing becomes clear: The world should have had cheap greasy hard shell tacos with a nacho cheese flavored patina available in every nook and cranny of this great land a very long time ago. Why it took so long is a mystery.
For lunch today I decided to end my lifetime of doing without, by taking on three of these new fusion tacos. They come in two versions, the Doritos Locos Taco, and the Doritos Locos Taco Supreme, the difference being that the Supreme includes tomatoes and sour cream. I like my tomatoes but don’t care for sour cream on a taco, so I went for the purer version. Straight, no sour cream chaser.
Be forewarned: You will get dirty eating the Doritos Locos. There’s no avoiding it. Tacos by themselves tend to be messy. Then add the orange dusting your fingers get when you munch Nacho Cheese Doritos. Try not to think about what the whole concoction is doing to your insides. If you did that, you wouldn’t be at Taco Bell at all.
The Doritos Locos is a very good Taco Bell taco. How could it not be? The nacho cheese dust around the outside just makes sense. They could tone down the nacho cheese flavor a little bit, but the whole idea works. It’s a combination of two of the best worst foods Americans have ever come up with.
If it succeeds, the Doritos Locos is probably a sign of things to come. Doritos debuted as a simple tortilla chip, but has since become a cuisine all its own. Doritos’ web site lists 18 flavors. There have actually been more than 100 varieties of Doritos released on an unsuspecting but grateful world. Taco Bell and Frito-Lay can take their time, going through the flavors and releasing taco versions of them every six months or so or maybe in complementary pairings. Some of the most exotic, like Coconut Curry and Crispy Salmon, never saw action in the US and are unlikely to work at all. But Fiery Jalapeno? Habanero/Guacamole? Cool Ranch?
Oh yes. Bring ‘em on. Bring. Them. On.
The film was shot by George Mann in 1938, at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City. It’s like a two-minute time machine: Full color film, not colorized, with beachgoers in the background having a good time while the original Stooges play their parts. Plus, it’s Atlantic City in its heyday. Atlantic City was the vacation spot on the eastern seaboard at this point. Today it’s a mere shadow of that old, rambunctious self.
This wasn’t a commercial film. It’s a home movie that happens to have been directed and shot by a professional, using professionals who would become legends. And it happens to follow the basic storyline of nearly every Three Stooges film ever made.
According to this site, it’s among 50 reels in the archive left by Vaudeville comedian George Mann. He is the tall Ric Ocasek look-alike that appears in the film as the Stooges’ foil. He was half of the Barto and Mann duo, and was a big deal at the time. You can see a photo of the pair, with George in a fetching evening gown, here. Here’s a photo of George and Moe, probably from the same moment in time: It’s 1938, and Moe is already doing his Hitler bit. Moe appears to be wearing the same shirt as in the home movie. Maybe one of the other Stooges, or the woman in the film, took the photo.
The woman is George Mann’s wife, Barbara Bradford. The YouTube posting says Taylor was a successful model who appeared in Coca-Cola ads and was voted the most beautiful woman in New York in 1937. She had also appeared on the cover of Cosmopolitan, so she was already famous when this film was shot. She and George might have been the Brangelina of the day, though hardly anyone today is even aware that they ever existed.
Barbara was either tall as models tend to be, or the Stooges were really short. Or both.
The Three Stooges would have been about five years into their long film careers when George shot this home movie, so they might have been recognizable to the people on the beach. Five of the most famous celebrities of 1938 were thus captured here, and now have a kind of immortality on YouTube. One YouTube commenter notes that at about 1:17 it looks like some on the beach have started watching the filming. In the still above, it does look like one woman on the right is watching. Even if the stooges weren’t familiar faces (they really became popular when their films started appearing on TV in the 1950s), the sight of a group of people clowning around for a film camera might have been enough by itself to attract attention, in 1938. Movie cameras, let alone one capable of shooting in color, were exotic at this point in time. But the camera and the film were harbingers of things to come: Feature film took over and crowded out acts like Barto and Mann, who would dissolve their partnership five years after this film was taken.
Another YouTuber has taken the time capsule and done the one thing to it that could possibly improve it: He added the Stooges’ theme and sound effects.
*The model’s name is Barbara Bradford, not Taylor as I originally wrote. I cross-Googled myself.
ESPN is reporting today that #18, the face of the Colts for the past decade plus, will be a Colt no more. The team will make an official announcement Wednesday.
With Peyton Manning running their offense during the past 14 seasons, the Colts were perennial contenders and won a Super Bowl. Without Manning, who was injured all of last season, the Colts were just 2-14. Their dismal record earned them, if you want to call it that, the first pick in the upcoming NFL draft. They’re expected to pick Stanford’s Andrew Luck.
On the field and off, Peyton Manning has been a champion and an ambassador for the game and for his team.
The question ahead is a double: Will Peyton Manning play football again, and if he does, where? Reports over the past month have indicated that his arm strength is back after several procedures to repair injured nerves in his neck. His football brain is among the best the NFL has ever seen. If his arm is really back, several teams will be interested in him either as a back-up or even a starter. He would certainly make for a fantastic mentor to a younger QB. Manning is likely to look for a team that will contend, if only to try to match his brother’s two Super Bowl wins.
Where will the great Peyton Manning end up?
The big news in video games this week, is this image:
Setting Assassin’s Creed in the American Revolution? That’s a bold move. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a single decent game set in that time period. There have been a decent RTS or two set in the Civil War, and a million games set in World War II and later conflicts. The Revolution is, if anything, unexplored as game territory.
Crazy Taxi is Back
Gamers of a certain age should remember Sega’s Crazy Taxi. CT was an arcade-style rampage that foreshadowed deeper games like the Driver series, the Need for Speed series and Grand Theft Auto. The game’s premise is simple: You drive a taxi, you pick up passengers and drive them to their destinations, and they pay you. The money you earn is your score. But that premise gets nowhere near describing the sheer mayhem you can wreak behind the wheel.
Crazy Taxi lets you careen through a city full of streets crowded with other cars, buses, pedestrians, and vendor carts. You’re not confined to the road. You can drive your car full speed right across city parks to cut corners or just because you feel like it. Pedestrians scurry, other cars avoid you and flip, when you smash into them, and you make mad dashes to get your fares from point A to point B. Crazy Taxi is absolutely nuts.
Crazy Taxi has come and gone since it debuted on the Dreamcast in 2000, but OnLive has brought it back for good. It’s part of the cloud gaming service’s PlayPack, which costs $9.99 a month and includes over 100 games ranging from Crazy Taxi to Batman: Arkham Asylum, three of the Tomb Raider games, Bioshock and several other recent major game hits. The PlayPack also includes three other Dreamcast classics: Sonic Adventures DX, Sega Bass Fishing, and Space Channel 5 Part 2.
Is it wrong to hope that this movie turns out to be good? Is it wrong to anticipate this film four months ahead of its June release? If it’s wrong…
Seth Grahame-Smith’s 2010 novel, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter sounds like a ridiculous spoof but it wasn’t, really. It was a straightforward rendering of an unambiguously heroic figure as a man with a secret life. But unlike most secret life takes, this secret life of Abe Lincoln doesn’t tear him down. It makes him even more of a giant. Not only is Abraham Lincoln a self-made man, a thinker far ahead of his time and an American leader without peer, Lincoln secretly spent his entire life hunting down and killing vampires with his trusty axe. The novel weaves major events of Lincoln’s real life — the death of his mother, the visit to antebellum Louisiana that turned him forever against slavery, his political career and the Civil War — into the fictional story of vampires invading young America from their home in Europe. Slavery provides them their ideal world; they can set themselves up among the plantations in the South and use the slave culture to serve themselves an infinite feast. Abe Lincoln aims to stop them.
The whole premise of our 16th president as strapping slayer of immortal fanged monsters shouldn’t work at all, but in the novel it does work, thanks to solid writing and a serious tone that captures the melancholia of 19th century America and Lincoln’s life in particular. It works as alt history, Gothic fiction and action horror. It keeps the good guys good and the bad guys bad; there are no tame prettyboy Twilight vampires here. This Abe Lincoln might make Chuck Norris think twice before taking him on. The novel is a dark, fun page-turner, moreso if you’ve studied Lincoln’s life in any detail. Hopefully Tim Burton’s movie can live up to the book.
I have a confession to make: I’m a bit of a soccer nut. I don’t know how I got it, it certainly doesn’t run in the family. But I have the bug and that’s that.
That’s not to say that I’m a soccer or nothing kind of guy. I watch the NFL, college football and college basketball, and MLB when the playoffs arrive. But soccer usually wins out on faceoffs if there’s a good game on (I can’t stand the Italian league, that bunch of divers), and there’s no better sport to play as a video game than the beautiful game.
So my blog monastery and lair are like this: For the NFL it’s the Cowboys, for college football it’s the Longhorns, for college b-ball it’s the Tarheels, and for soccer it’s Arsenal. Gooner for life, in Arsene We Trust, and hooray to the return of King Henry. And up to now, when I play soccer as a video game it’s FIFA, always FIFA. Electronic Arts’ take on soccer has been the only game in town for quite a while.
But with Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer 2012, that could change.
Konami’s take on soccer has long been a reserve player behind EA’s FIFA, which is the biggest selling video game title on the planet. Bigger than Madden. Bigger than Call of Duty. FIFA is the king, because soccer is truly global.
For Pro Ev 2012, though, Konami has tweaked the game’s look and mechanics, and gotten a whole lot about both right. Combining Pro Ev 2012 with OnLive’s streaming game play could be a game-changer both for the game and the cloud gaming service.
The Pros of Pro Ev 2012
This game looks gorgeous. Though it doesn’t have a large number of real stadiums available to play in, the stadiums it does have look fantastic. The colors and shaders Konami used create the pitch, the players and the atmosphere look real, so much so that the first time I fired up the game on my living room TV, one of my son’s friends thought I was watching a Premiere League match and asked “Who’s playing?”
When you’re playing Pro Ev in Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu stadium, you’ll see signage in the stands in Spanish. When you play the Asia cup in Japan, you’ll see background signage in Japanese. Play CSKA Moscow and Russian signage hangs from the railings. Play in Manchester’s Old Trafford and the the signage and chants are, well, worthy of the place. The crowds chant in their appropriate languages, too, and most teams I’ve played against on the road have crowd songs and chants individualized to those teams and nations.
Pro Ev goes to the trouble to include branding from the different cups and leagues as well, and incorporates the different cups within league campaigns. So, for instance, as I’m playing through the Spanish Liga BBVA as Real Madrid, I’m juggling league matches with the UEFA Champions league and the Spanish cup. The graphics and thematics, and stadium signage, change depending on which type of match you happen to be playing. The branding is authentic and adds a level of realism to the experience. Most of the player models look great too, as good as and in many cases better than their counterparts in FIFA 12. Gervinho’s unique haircut looks more authentic in Pro Ev than FIFA, Ronaldo looks closer to the real deal, Messi is a scruffy little goal scoring machine, Robin Van Persie looks like his speedy, angular self and John Terry looks even more like a thug. This attention to detail runs throughout the game.
Thanks to OnLive’s cloud gaming technology, between campaign road trips I’ve been able to play through the first hour or two of Snowblind’s Tolkien-inspired adventure game, The Lord of the Rings: The War in the North.
The game’s storyline takes place in parallel to Frodo Baggins’ heroic quest to destroy the Ring. War in the North covers some of the off-screen action of Middle Earth’s battle to hold off the evil hordes. Players can play as one of three uniquely skilled and outfitted characters, a melee dwarf, a human ranger and an elf with mostly defensive and healing powers who can also jump into the melee fray. The co-op play opens up offline multi-player.
War in the North’s visuals and environments are stunning, as good as Skyrim’s though the game play here isn’t as deep and the world isn’t nearly as vast. You can obtain new items for your characters and outfit them, giving them new abilities as the story progresses and you level up. But War is more story-driven and less of a sandbox game than Skyrim, and thus feels a bit smaller, and also a bit less of a chore to figure out.
The combat in War is graphic and brutal without crossing the line into M rating territory, which may be a selling point to parents struggling to keep young kids from delving into mature-level gaming too soon. It’s as violent and graphic as any of the LOTR movies, but not more so, and from what I’ve seen the killin’ is confined to those creatures and villains that need killin’. It’s very satisfying to find yourself in the midst of a swarming horde of orcs, commence swinging your sword or axe and see enemy limbs go a-flying. Especially after a long day of writing about politicians. When your health gets low from sustaining injuries in the battle, your elf mage (if you’re one of the other characters) can heal you, bringing you back into the fight. If you’ve ever pondered being in the middle of one of Tolkein’s epic battles then War in the North should be on the “buy” list. The combat can get a bit repetitive, but that’s true of pretty much any game on the market. The three characters could be more customizable and interesting, but they’re not bad. The game’s focus is more on what they do than who they are or what they say, making them a bit forgettable.
For me, the bottom line on any game is whether I find the story, strategy and button mashing compelling enough to keep wanting to play. Some games look great but just don’t bring it, and you lose interest. The story in Batman: Arkham City, which I reviewed here in November, on the other hand, is as strong as any Batman movie and motivates you to burn up hours to get to the end, and the game looks and plays fantastic. War in the North’s story isn’t that strong and the combat isn’t quite as compelling, but it’s strong enough to have held my interest despite my being on the road so much lately.
It’s Tolkein’s world, brought to life in co-op close combat. I give The Lord of the Rings: The War in the North 3 stars out of 5.
Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey comes to theaters Dec. 14, 2012. The first trailer has hit the web, and here it is.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey depicts the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Not seen in the trailer: The novel’s dragon villain, Smaug.
With both The Hobbit and The Dark Knight Rises both hitting theaters next year, 2012 is shaping up to be an epic movie year.
If you haven’t seen or heard of OnLive yet, prepare to have your mind blown. OnLive may be the most interesting innovation in video games of the past year. Here’s a brief taste of what it does.
Gaming in the Clouds
OnLive is cloud streaming video games. That means that it delivers quality video game entertainment while mostly doing away with going to the local game store, with the need for an expensive game console, or with being locked into gaming on a single PC. OnLive plays where you are, on your PC, Mac or TV. Instantly.
The way it works is simple. OnLive’s game library is installed in the cloud. You access that cloud in a variety of ways through your internet connection. First you create an account for free at OnLive’s web site. Then you download and install a small app to your computer, or you hook up the “microconsole” to your TV. Once installed, sign in to your account and you have instant access to hundreds of video games. You can install the app on as many devices as you want, and when you buy and play a game, your saves and progress get tied to your login account. So your game progress goes to whatever device you happen to be on at the moment.
OnLive also does away with the need to download the games or their demos, at all. In this respect, it gains an advantage over its most obvious competitor, the Steam game network, which requires local downloads for all the content you choose to access. So where, in the Steam universe, you might wait hours just to sample a demo of a game you’re considering purchasing, with OnLive, once you click on the Game Trial button, you’re automatically and instantly allowed to demo the game.
OnLive’s optional microconsole also gives it an edge over the more expensive XBox360 and PS3 consoles, in cost, portability and ease of use. Because the games are installed in the cloud, there is no need for discs, and therefore no moving parts inside OnLive’s tiny box. No red rings of death, no DVD readers that suddenly die. And at just a bit larger than an iPhone, the OnLive console will fit anywhere, while at $129 off Amazon for the box and a wireless controller, it fits just about any budget too. Apple fans will appreciate the packaging in which the console arrives; it’s a sleek black box reminiscent of the packaging in which Apple places the iPhone.
The Batman universe ought to have been fertile video game ground for years now. It has everything: a righteous yet complicated hero, a solid cast of supporting characters, and probably the best villains of any comic universe. But Batman video games have tended to be forgettable disappointments.
That changed with Rocksteady studio’s Batman: Arkham Asylum. Released in September 2009, Arkham Asylum blew the video gaming world away with its great story, tight yet layered game play, and its crisp, atmospheric visuals. Asylum put Batman in a sprawling, gritty and Gothic world worthy of him, and set him up against the usual villains in a way that was true to the comic books, yet grown-up, fresh and even real. Asylum got the details right from Batman’s gadgetry to the rats and roaches infesting the creepy island sanitarium, and by staying away from the TV cartoons and both the Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan movie versions of the franchise, created its own viable space in the Batman culture. Asylum won game of the year awards and was the first real runaway hit in Batman video gaming.
Rocksteady’s Batman returned this week to an expectant gaming universe, in a huge new adventure called Batman: Arkham City. Its release has been the equivalent of a big movie opening; one Gamestop near me had an opening night party that included a screening of The Dark Knight, food and giveaways leading up to the midnight hour when discs could go home with gamers. The game’s trailer promised to deliver a massive, open world with you at the center, as Batman. Sign. Me. Up.
As the title implies, in the second episode Batman is no longer confined to an island asylum in Gotham harbor. The mayor of they city has taken Gotham’s villains, the thugs and the insane, walled off a chuck of downtown, and put them there in what amounts to a kind of free range madhouse. As you might imagine, both Bruce Wayne and Batman have a problem with this and decide to investigate. Dr. Hugo Strange presides over the insanity, and opens the game threatening to expose Batman’s deepest secrets.
So there’s your setting: Every major Batman villain lurking or ruling within some part of an ultraviolent, even sadistict, world, called Arkham City. This, as you might have guessed, isn’t really a kid’s game. The grit comes with some coarse language, so parents might want to keep that in mind when evaluating whether to buy the game. It comes with a teen rating for a reason.
Kirk even manages to work in a dis of Princess Leia. Dude.
Original “Star Trek” captain William Shatner is sharing his thoughts on the “Trek” versus “Star Wars” feud, and he isn’t shy about telling it like it is. On video, even.
“First of all, ‘Star Wars’ is derivative of ‘Star Trek’ … by what, 10, 15, 20 years? DERIVATIVE!” declared the man who once played the dashing Captain Kirk. (It’s actually nearly 11 years. “Star Trek” debuted in September 1966, and “Star Wars” in May 1977.)
” ‘Star Trek’ had relationships and conflict among the relationships, and stories that involved humanity and philosophical questions,” he also said during the taped interview, which he tweeteda few days ago. ” ‘Star Wars’ was special effects! It was (visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic) at its best.”
But Star Wars was better until the pre-quels ruined everything. After that, Shatner may have the better argument.
It’s funny. As a kid, I couldn’t get enough Star Wars. I ate it, breathed it, slept it, everything. I had the action figures, even the Electronic Battle Command game. And I hated Star Trek. It was nerdy, cheesy and overdone — just awful.
But we grow up, we put away childish things, and now Star Wars has become a hacky, overdone and over re-done mess while Star Trek still seems to work. Deep Space Nine was one of the best, most underrated series in TV history. It lacked a princess in a gold bikini but it did have a viable plot and interesting characters. Star Wars’ The Clone Wars ought to be cool but it’s unwatchable, self-derivative pap. I can’t sit through five minutes of it. Having a young Anakin save a kidnapped son of Jabba, really? Is the entire galaxy nothing but the same ten or fifteen characters spiraling around each other in ever more absurd configurations? Only George Lucas could manage to ruin the frickin’ clone wars.
Star Trek has been rebooted. There’s talk of more Star Wars movies. Star Wars needs to be handed off to someone like Joss Whedon who could do something interesting with it. A Boba Fett movie helmed by the man who made Firefly might do the trick, but Lucas will never let that happen. They’ll have to pry that galaxy from his cold, dead fingers.
These days, I’m spending time in the Warhammer universe as Captain Titus of the Ultramarines, slaughtering Orks and Chaos Demons with glee. Star Trek games remain terrible, while Star Wars games work about a million times better than the movies do. So there’s that.
Everything is derivative of something else, and all sci-fi recycles elements from other sci-fi and other genres. Star Wars drew from Kurosawa, while Star Trel drew from Shakespeare. But Shatner is right, I think. Star Trek has outlasted Star Wars in creativity, caught up on the special effects, and become a more interesting universe than Lucas could ever create.
And…Han shot first.
Over the past couple of months, Netflix has gone from being a tech darling to, well, something else entirely. Their latest move has the entertainment industry and Wall Street doing a lot of head scratching.
In an e-mail sent to Netflix subscribers on Monday, CEO Reed Hastings said the company is renaming its DVD rental business “Qwikster” and the Netflix name will only be used for its online-streaming service. The move will also split Netflix and Qwikster into two separate Web sites, with separate access and billing procedures.
Under the company’s latest plan, customers will no longer have their lists of DVD and streaming videos integrated into a single queue; instead they will have to go to the different Web sites to manage their videos.
For Netflix users, and I am a former one who canceled after the company split streaming and DVDs into separate services to hike up the price, this makes no sense. Netflix’s greatest strength isn’t and never was the size or currency of its catalog. Netflix was always a little bit behind RedBox and brick and mortar DVD rental stores in release dates, but they made up for that in a big way with the integration of streaming and mail, and in their ability to suggest titles based on your previous rentals and streaming choices. Netflix made the whole process of renting or streaming movies about as painless and cheap as it could be. You could stream to your AppleTV, your phone, your computer, your gaming system, etc and track DVD rentals in one go — movies, documentaries, TV shows, you name it. That service demands integrating, not segregating, streaming and DVD rentals for as long as physical media remain viable. By spinning out Qwikster and separating their web sites, Netflix has ripped the heart out of their company’s greatest strength.
Streaming is the future; DVDs and even Blu-Ray are rapidly becoming the past. Netflix has that part right. But they’re going about getting to the future in the wrong way, and it may well kill a once great company.
Update: The Qwikster decision could really have benefited from some online research. The name already exists on Twitter, and isn’t what you’d call a good corporate citizen.
Yesterday was my birthday, and as birthdays go I got to make the family choice on where we went for dinner. You have to work pretty hard to find a bad meal around Austin, and the town is known for its wide variety of places to get your chomp on. Everything good and worth experiencing, from great Greek to serious Japanese to just about anything is within a 30 minute from wherever you are around town. Among all of the Austin area’s fantastic eateries, with its great Mexican food stops like El Arroyo and Mesa Rosa, and the steakhouses from one end of town to the other, there was only one place I wanted to go on my birthday: Five Guys Burgers and Fries.
Five Guys started out in Arlington, VA in 1986 and for years was a few-shop cult favorite in the DC area. They spread north to Baltimore when my family and I lived there, and from our first taste of the restaurant’s massive, juicy burgers and peanut-oil cooked fries, we were hooked. Now Five Guys is coast to coast, and America is a better place for it. Five Guys is more than a burger: It’s a big, gloppy, sloppy work of burger art.
There are other great burger joints, of course. Every town has a local shop that everyone there swears is the best. Towson, MD has a great one called Burger Bros. that comes close to the Five Guys experience. The Austin area has Mighty Fine, a local burger beast that isn’t to be missed when you’re in town. I’ve never had an In-N-Out so I can’t compare them head to head with the others, athough friends rave about them. That West Coast chain is making its way into Texas now so I’ll have one soon enough. I’ve had White Castle’s legendary minis, but as good as they are, they just don’t match the Five Guys meal. Whataburger and Sonic are great, but let’s be honest: Their burgers are not the hand-made masterpieces that Five Guys delivers.
Five Guys burgers bring something that no other burger I’ve ever had has duplicated, replicated or otherwise brought to bear. Maybe it’s the double meat. Maybe it’s the sloppy juiciness that makes them impossible to eat without making a bit of a mess. Maybe it’s the bag full of fresh-cut fries that come to you so hot you can barely touch them. Maybe it’s all of that and how it combines to make the Five Guys burger experience the best around.
I don’t know exactly what it is. I just know that a Five Guys burger fills your hands with the best burger on the planet. It commands your full attention. It satisfies every burger need. I usually take mine with mayo, bacon, cheese, the usual fixins plus grilled onions and jalapenos. The fries and the free peanuts serve as the perfect cohorts to the massive mountain of meat that a Five Guys burger is. Last night’s Five Guys foray was long over due and as great as the very first one I had all those years ago. So, you know, happy birthday to me!
I assume that most readers here aren’t English soccer fans, so overlook that for a minute just to check out the sweet tech that the BPL is working on.
The Premier League has unveiled ambitious plans to introduce an ‘Avatar-type’ interactive, virtual reality viewing experience to fans around the world.
With television making the move from standard definition to high definition in recent years – and 3D products increasingly penetrating the market – the Premier League have engaged Sony and Electronic Arts to look at ways an improved viewing experience can be brought to fans across the world.
Skip a few graphs, and we get to the meat of the thing.
“There’s immersion technology being developed right now where you can sit down with headphones and a screen in front of you, and reproduce the feeling of being in a stadium,” he noted. “If you turn your head one way you’re looking at the left-hand goal and the other way you’re looking at the right-hand goal.
“You’ll be able to decide where you want to be: you could be on a Saturday at 3pm, English time, in Hong Kong deciding whether you want to be on the Kop end at Anfield or the Holte End at Aston Villa. There’ll be a drop down menu and you’ll be able to choose where you want to be and watch the game.
“It’ll be like an Avatar type of thing available in your own home. It might sound pie in the sky, but it’s not.”
The Barkley’s Premiere League is the most watched sports league in the world, and as the vessel of several of the world’s most valuable sports brands (including the most valuable as well as most loathesome, Manchester United, and Arsenal at #7) the BPL has the wherewithal to develop this tech that other leagues might not have. As an Arsenal fan living thousands of miles from Emirates Stadium with little hope of ever catching an actual game there, this strikes me as wildly cool. It could put me virtually at midfield to watch most of the action, then hop from end to end to follow the action and watch all the chances the Gunners whiff on. And you know that this will trickle out to other sports, concerts, events and movies once perfected.
And then they’ll add this tech to the next gen game consoles, just to make sure we never accomplish another thing in our entire lives. Can’t wait!
Could a Boba Fett movie really happen? If it does, and if certain things happen the right way, it could be the best thing to happen to the Star Wars franchise since Battlefront. Or, it could continue to ruin a huge slice of my childhood.
[M]ight director Joe Johnston have the key to another film? Johnston, who is doing the press rounds for Captain America at the moment, told Screen Rant, “I’m trying to get George [Lucas] to make a feature based on Boba Fett.” When then asked if it’s a film he’d like to direct himself, he said, “I would like to. It would be a lot of fun.”
Now that’s all a long way away from the project happening, but until Johnston mentioned this, we didn’t even know it was a vague possibility.
For whatever reason — the wicked rocket pack on his back, the dents in his helmet, the way he just seemed to slither about the few scenes he was in — Boba Fett was the coolest SW character outside the main band of rebels, right up to the time he apparently got snarfed up by a giant sand worm. That character offers up a huge range of possibilities for spin-off stories and story lines. A movie featuring him could be to the movie side of the SW universe what Republic Commando was to the game side – a grittier, fresher take and a chance to look at the universe between the Jedi and the Sith. Boba Fett makes for a very interesting anti-hero, or could. But Lucas can’t direct. I mean, he literally can’t direct. He gets zero in performance from even the great actors in his films (other than the pair who played Obi-Wan).
Boba Fett, if it happens (and it should), has to be helmed by someone other than Lucas or it will be yet another towering digital wall of wood. Boba Fett and the audience both deserve better than that.
(Bumped to top.)
I know, another post about soccer. But I have to say, this has been one of the most entertaining tournaments in any sport I’ve ever watched. The US team is doing the nation proud and the Japanese team is shocking the world.
The US team faced off against France in the semi-final today, and took the lead in the 9th minute with a little angled chip shot from Lauren Cheney. But probably mindful that they came from behind at the last second to tie and then defeat England in the quarters, France didn’t give up. Soon they were dominating. and in the 55th minute, they equalized the score at 1-1. The next 20 minutes saw the US look tired as the French surged on attack after attack. The power was all their way until the 79th minute, when Abby Wambach headed a shot in from a perfectly delivered corner kick by Cheney. With the score 2-1 and about 11 minutes to go, the French frantically pushed forward to equalize, but the US found a counter attack and capped it with this finish from Alex Morgan, the youngest player on the US women’s team:
After that goal it was all over but the clock. The USA won, 3-1.
Japan pulled off yet another shocker, cruising past Sweden by the same score. The Swedes scored first but the calm, technically brilliant Japanese kept to their game and reeled off three unanswered goals over the course of the game.
Japan is extremely dangerous. They defend very well and when on offense, they have a way of slipping unnoticed past opposing defenders. What they lack in shot power, height and foot speed, they more than make up for in possession and skill on the ball. At times they passed rings around the bigger Swedes, forcing them to chase shadows for minutes on end to wear them down to the 3-1 finish.
The final pits Goliath vs Cinderella. The superpower US is the top-ranked team in the world and their counter attack has proven to be lethal while their defense has held up against hurricanes from the Brazilians and the French. They seem to be unbeatable because the never give up, and Japan has never defeated the United States in women’s soccer. They have never even been to a final. They were using this year’s World Cup as a tune-up for next year’s Olympics.
But the tune-up is over. Cinderella is going to the big dance. The strongest pair of teams meet in the World Cup Final on Sunday at 2:45 ET.
I have a love/skittish relationship with Apple. Whether it’s my Mac laptop, iPhone or Apple TV, I love the products. I told a friend of mine the other day, who is considering switching to the iPhone, that I consider mine to be the best thing I own other than my house. The thing just works, and it works so well that you tend to forget how well it works. Ditto for the laptop and the Apple TV. All three are tech pinnacles.
But then there’s the attitude of Apple itself. The company seems to think that, even though I have plunked down my own hard-earned money for Apple products, they can still dictate how I actually use said products. They place unnecessary limits on their products that are not dictated by the hardware or software. This is less true of the Mac, but the iPhone and Apple TV, while drenched in awesome sauce, are both limited by Apple’s vision of how you’re supposed to use them. You cannot buy or install any software that Apple has not approved on your iPhone without jailbreaking it. The Apple TV is similarly limited. I don’t know about you, but the thought that something I own can do so much more than its manufacturer allows it to do, but the manufacturer is essentially wagging his finger at me and telling me “No,” gets on my last nerve.
Don’t get me wrong; the Apple TV is a great little piece of tech, allowing instant access to Netflix, YouTube, the iTunes store and my own iTunes-approved media on my TV. It’s slick, simple, easy to navigate and couldn’t be easier to install. Like everything else Apple, it just works. But it’s also limited to what Apple wants you to do with it. Other than Netflix, Apple sees its TV appliance as little more than a way to sell iTunes content. But it could be and do so much more. The hardware is there, but so are Apple’s limitations.
Netflix is cool and all (though its new price structure is making me reconsider it), but say I want to get away from the DVD world and collect all my media on a NAS and stream it through my Apple TV to my big screen? Out of the box, Apple TV won’t let you do that. Say I want to listen to last.fm, or access online content via XBMC, or heck, just surf the web? Can’t do that either — even though Apple built Safari into the ATV, and then hid it from ATV owners. There are probably a couple dozen things to do that come to mind the first time you experience the Apple TV, only to figure out that thanks to Apple’s limitations, you can’t do them. Why? Because Cuppertino says so.
But actually, yes, you can. For some video formats that aren’t native to the ATV, there’s an app (two, actually, for full control). For others, you just can’t do it without doing something Apple doesn’t want you to do. You have to jailbreak your Apple TV.
First, the apps. If you have an iPhone, first get Remote, which is free and lets you control the ATV with your iPhone (or iPod or iPad). Then get AirVideo, an incredible app that’s elegant and well worth the $2.99 price tag. AirVideo lets you stream video content from your PC or Mac directly to your ATV, either by converting it before you view it or even converting it while you view it. This automatically frees you from iTunes’ limitations. And its converter is fast and delivers high quality.
Second, the jailbreak (which, yes, is legal, in case you were wondering). Until recently, there wasn’t really a good jailbreak method that left your ATV free of having to be tethered to a Mac or PC. That’s changed recently, thanks to FireCore’s SeasOnPass. SeasOnPass makes jailbreaking painless. And once jailbroken, your Apple TV will allow you to install FireCore’s aTV Flash app. This costs $19.95 for the beta or $29.95 for the full version when it comes out, but it’s easily worth the price. Simply put, aTV Flash tricks out your Apple TV while also leaving its essentials intact, turning the little black iTunes box into a home theater beast. You keep the same clean Apple look and feel, while adding Plex media streaming and acquisition, XBMC (which by itself is a massive upgrade to the Apple TV’s capabilities), last.fm, NAS storage and streaming (if you have a NAS, of course) which respects your DVD’s menus and navigation, even little things like easily accessible weather forecasts. ATV Flash adds true web surfing as well — combine that with the Remote app, and you have the keyboard to your Apple TV in the palm of your hand, instead of the clunky input method native to the ATV. PJTV content plays and looks pretty good up on my flatscreen, by the way.
ATV Flash is a robust suite of fully developed software that takes your Apple TV several steps beyond the “next level.” This is the “convergence” we’ve been hearing so much about over the past few years. If you get the Apple TV, you owe it to yourself to check out aTV Flash. And AirVideo is just a no-brainer. It’s one of the best apps in the entire App Store.
Let me stipulate that soccer is a fringe sport in the US, and women’s soccer is even fringier. I watch the English Premiere League and some MLS, but can’t get into the women’s game. That’s just the facts of life; soccer will never be our top sport. Let’s also stipulate that US goalkeeper Hope Solo may be the best women’s keeper in the world, and that she’s hot (that’s her over on the right). That’s not (necessarily) the reason to watch the US team play. Solo is also a commander in the net, as authoritative a figure as any in sports when the game is on the line. Unlike some NBA stars who make a lot more money, Hope Solo can play a full game and win it at the end. Ahem.
Having gotten all of that out of the way, the 2011 Women’s World Cup has provided some fantastic and memorable soccer this year. The US women’s team comes into the tournament ranked first in the world, but struggled to qualify for the tournament. They played some great soccer during their first two group stage matches, then fell apart and lost to Sweden to close out that stage. They faced speedy and skilled Brazil in the quarterfinal, and ended up having to overcome terrible officiating along with the opposing team and their five-time world player of the year to win in what, if we weren’t talking about women’s soccer, might stand alongside the 1980 Miracle on Ice for its dramatic fireworks and national mood lift. Check out the match highlights from ESPN:
The semi-final pits the US against France. In its quarterfinal, France dominated England for most of the game but couldn’t find the net until the 88th minute, tying the game at 1-1 to force extra time. Several English players nursed injuries through the extra time but neither side conceded a goal, so it was off to the penalty kick shootout, where France managed to squeak by for the win. So both teams got to the semis on last second comebacks to set up shootout victories.
That was on Saturday, which also featured yet another dramatic game as Japan defeated host and favorites Germany, 1-0 in the 117th minute. Germany came in ranked second in the world (Japan is fourth) and had not lost a Women’s World Cup Match in 12 years. Brazil, by the way, is the world’s third-ranked team and had not lost a game at all for two years, until the quarterfinal versus the US. Japan faces Sweden in its semi.
The USA vs France semi-final match is Wednesday at 11:45 eastern on ESPN. The US is expected to win, but it’s worth an Admiral Ackbar warning: The match could be a trap game for them. Given how both teams arrived at this point, it’s possible one may crack under the stress. But in all likelihood, we’re set for yet another dramatic match as both are set to use their comeback wins to push themselves as this year’s team of destiny.
Government Motors gives British government broadcasters a first look at their new concept car, the EN-V. That’s short for electronic networked vehicle. It’s based on a chassis by…Segway. For reals.
From inside the bubble, the futuristic EN-V feels like a living organism as it slowly rises from a crouching position, before balancing on two wheels as if they were legs.
Unlike a motorcycle, which has one wheel in front of the other, the two-seater electric car has one wheel on either side of its flimsy body.
The light-weight design makes it as agile as a ballet dancer. Turn the steering wheel hard to the side and the car, if that is indeed the best way to describe this peculiar vehicle, turns on a sixpence.
Push the wheel – which is more of an iPad-inspired joystick – forward and it surges ahead into a sprint at speeds of 25mph (40km/h) or more, depending on how the computer is programmed, delivering a 25 mile (40km) range per charge.
Travelling at such speeds may seem hazardous, given that the car has been designed without bumpers, air bags or any other conventional crash protection devises.
But according to the people who make it, the EN-V – short for electric networked vehicle – is smart enough to avoid collisions.
“Unlike a conventional car, which is designed to prevent its passengers and pedestrians in the event of a crash, the EN-V is more like an aircraft, in that it is designed to avoid crashing in the first place,” explains Tom Brown from the research and development department at General Motors (GM).
The EN-V has sensors including GPS that allow it to drive itself. It could, say, drive your kid to school and then swing back to grab you for the trip to work. But it’s so delicate a little eggshell that it can’t live on the same roads as Escalades and Excursions. It would lose every interstate highway battle of the fittest. So for now, they will be confined to specific zones, but there’s already speculation of changing urban laws to mandate the things, or something like them, in major cities.We would all be happy little drones in our glorified Segways.
I predicted something like the EN-V in a sci-fi story I never finished a few years back. Now real tech has already made the story obsolete.