Tuesday, November 28, 2006

the coldest blood runs through my veins

There have been lots of things to talk about lately, but I just haven't had time with everything I've been working on for classes. I'm lagging way too far behind on my history research paper, so I'll keep this short. After this week all I'll have are exams, and then I get going on posting more and finally revamping my blog layout.

Casino Royale is easily the best James Bond film since Goldeneye. Since the three after that were terrible, I guess that statement isn't necessarily a huge compliment, but take my word for it: it's just what the Bond-franchise needed. Sure, the plot requires you to suspend a certain amount of belief and doesn't hold up to any deep scrutiny. But it's a James Bond movie; you're not supposed to take the entire thing seriously. There's a difference between making it so unbelievable that it's just stupid (like Die Another Day) and making it believable enough as long as you don't sit down and analyze it too deeply afterwards. Of course, anyone who expects something deep from a James Bond movie is missing the point entirely. Daniel Craig is fantastic. He may not be quite as sophisticated as Pierce Brosnan, but he's much more rugged, which is exactly what this movie calls for. James Bond is a man who isn't afraid of getting his hands dirty. The film is the grittiest entry into the franchise in a long time, which is one reason why it's so enjoyable.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

they tortured and scared you for twenty odd years

As far as sports go, things don't get much better than this past weekend. The Ohio State game ended up a little closer than I wanted it to be, but that did not matter in the end as the Buckeyes were victorious and are going for their second BCS Championship in five years. I really wish I'd gone to the Cincinnati-Rutgers game but I was just too exhausted to be out in the cold. I did watch a lot of the game while napping, and it was just what I hoped it would be. The defensive played admirably against a good Rutgers offense, and our 92nd ranked offensive did their part as well, especially on that fantastic 83-yard touchdown reception by our tight end Celek.

In UFC 65, Georges St. Pierre had his way with defending Welterweight champion Matt Hughes en route to a second round TKO. It was fantastic to see St. Pierre get redemption for the sole defeat in his career and win the belt. Unfortunately, Heavyweight contender Jeff Monson could not overcome 11-inch height and 10-inch reach disadvantages to beat title-holder Tim Sylvia, losing in a five round judges' decision. It was almost sad to watch Monson struggle to get inside Sylvia's reach, only to get stuffed on the takedown attempts, and the one time Monson did get Sylvia on the ground he was unable to submit him. Sylvia was surprisingly impressive on the ground, but his lack of motivation to finish an obviously dispirited Monson on his feet was very disappointing. But St. Pierre looked spectacular as he systematically picked Hughes apart on his feet while defending any takedown attempts. The fight would have ended in the first when a huge left from Pierre put a stunned Hughes on the mat, but the bell rang as St. Pierre pounced to finish him off. But the fight didn't last long in the second round as St. Pierre put Hughes down for good with a great kick to the head and then finished him off with some punches and elbows before the fight was stopped.

The game against New Orleans was a must-win for the Bengals, and while it wasn't pretty, the team put up big plays when it needed to. Chad Johnson has just been phenomenal the past two games: 17 receptions, 450 receiving yards (an NFL record for consecutive games), 5 touchdowns. He and Palmer have really turned around what had been a down year for both of them and Johnson now leads the NFL in receiving yards. And yes, give the defensive credit for the big turnovers, but something has to change. The defense is now dead last in the NFL in passing and total yards allowed. We can't count on those turnovers to always come at the most vital moments; they didn't against San Diego and that's the more likely result if this defensive play continues down the stretch. Every game is a must-win still and this week's game at Cleveland likely won't be a cakewalk, and then we face a short week with Baltimore next Thursday. Injuries are still eating us alive on the offensive line and nearly every position on defense. By the way, Palmer is up for Fed-Ex's Air Award for his passing against New Orleans (but to be fair, can someone explain to me how Drew Brees could throw for over 500 yards against us and not be up for this award?!).

Monday, November 20, 2006

down by the river

Bored at work? Got some time to kill? Check out this live streaming web cam from a watering hole in South Africa. Why? Because it's Africa; you might see something cool.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

when we bleed we bleed the same

The good folks at Penny-Arcade have launched their annual Child's Play charity drive again this year. It's a great charity where people donate toys, video games, and money to different children's hospitals. This is the fourth year for the charity, which has expanded to cover twenty-nine different children's hospitals in five different countries. Last year the charity raised over $605,000 for the hospitals. Cincinnati's Children's Hospital is not featured, but there ones in Akron, Indianapolis, and Louisville. I would definitely recommend checking out the site; I think it's a great cause.

Friday, November 10, 2006

i'll just wander my own road

Alice in Chains played a phenomenal two-hour set at Cleveland's House of Blues last night. The band played a fantastic set that did an excellent job covering all the albums and EPs from their catalog. They covered almost all the hits and played so many songs that I can't complain about the one or two that were left out. The venue was small enough to provide an intimate setting for the show, especially during the acoustic set in the middle of the show.

The band seemed to be having a great time and there was a lot of interaction with the audience. William Duvall did a remarkable job filling the very large shoes left by the late Layne Staley. It's remarkable how similar he sounds to Layne, and he had no problem performing any of the songs. Jerry Cantrell was fairly stoic and mellow for the majority of the show, but his performance was amazing. Duvall may have adopted the role of frontman and Mike Inez was the most playful, pulling out goofy props and attempting to distribute cans of beer to the crowd, but Cantrell was obviously the quiet force driving the show. I'd also argue that he's probably one of the most underrated guitarists ever. Anyways, the show was well worth the trip.

Set List:
Bleed the Freak
It Ain't Like That
Them Bones
Dam That River
Rain When I Die
(Layne Staley video tribute)
Don't Follow (acoustic)
Brother (acoustic)
Killer Is Me (acoustic)
No Excuses (acoustic)
Got Me Wrong (acoustic)
Down In A Hole (acoustic)
(Alice in Chains video montage)
Sludge Factory
We Die Young
Angry Chair
Man In The Box

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

how the mind does shout for rest

Never let it be said I don't listen to my readers. All six or seven of you.

What to say about last week's Bengals loss? They look like the mediocre team their 4-4 record says they are. Yes, we all know that deep down the Bengals are more talented than they are playing, but so what? It doesn't matter how much talent you have, in the end all that matters is whether you have
a "W" or an "L". The offense looks sloppy, the defense couldn't stop a team of girl scouts, and the roster is riddled with injuries. Emotions are running too high right now: everyone from Rudi to Willie to T.J. to Carson is getting frustrated and upset. The team needs to mature and step up when the game is on the line, because we're about to go 4-5 when the Chargers come to town this weekend.

Yes, we should have had a pass interference call on that play near the end, but by now it has become apparent that those critical calls are not going to go our way. Poor officiating cost us the game in Tampa Bay and possibly in Baltimore as well. So yes, without the terrible calls (or lack of) we should be 5-3 or 6-2, but we should never have been in those situations in the first place. If the team was playing up to their potential, Tampa Bay would never have been that close that late in the game, and we would not have been trying to dig our way out of a 14 point hole after five minutes in Baltimore. NFL referees are terrible, but the Bengals need to not let the game get in a position where the refs are going to make or break it. Now as we all saw in the Super Bowl, sometimes the officials will be so terrible that it doesn't matter what you do, but poor performance by the Bengals has been as much of a culprit as bad calls.

Now on to the Wii... I'm not sure what else to say about it, Kel. I certainly think it will be the victor of the next generation console wars, with the Xbox 360 in second and the PS3 flopping and taking Sony down with it. The price tag is much more consumer friendly; I think Nintendo made the right choice in focusing on affordability and gameplay over the most technologically advanced system with cutting-edge graphics. Yes, Gears of War looks absolutely amazing, but I don't want to pay twice the cost of the Wii to get a 360 in order to play it. That said, I'm not one of the people lining up the buy the Wii when it comes out. I intend to wait and see how the games are that will be coming out for it (like Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Red Steel), and most importantly, how I like the Wii-mote controller before I'll think about buying it. Since Craig is getting one I'll get to try it hands on for awhile before I make any decision.

I desperately need to fix some things with my PC. First of all I need to replace this crappy default Dell case. Why you would ever design a case that opens up like a book is beside me. To open up the case you have to unplug everything connecting to it, pick it up, lay it on its side, and pull it open. That makes it far too much of a chore to take a look inside the PC, when on most cases all you need to do is pop open the side. I also need a new cooling fan; my current one keeps sputtering and sounds like it will croak at any moment. Figuring out why my excellent Zonet wireless adapter won't reinstall is also gaining in priority. The Belkin one I'm using now is nice as a backup, but the signal is weak and it cuts out far too often.

come ye masters of war

The Gears of War hype is kicking into full swing. I'd say the decision the release the best game for the Xbox 360 around the same time as the Wii and PS3 was a pretty smart decision. GoW is going to be the Halo of the 360, at least until Halo 3 comes out. It's the first game released for the 360 that makes me want to own it. Madden 2007 seems to have been the only big draw to the 360 until now, and my boycott of that game and most things Electronic Arts isn't going away, no matter how pretty you make the field turf look.

Company of Heroes, a real-time strategy game centered around the Allied invasion of France in World War II, is one of the top computer games I've played this year. I used to love RTS games like Starcraft, Red Alert, and Total Annihilation but over the past few years there have been few games in the genre that piqued my interest. The WWII setting has been beaten to death in first-person shooter games but is less cliched in RTS games. CoH combines the right amount of RTS-style action with tactical and strategy elements from typically more realistic turn-based WWII games. Take all the historically accurate units and thrown in a great physics engine with fully-destructable environments, and the game delivers gritty combat straight out of Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers. The single player campaign comprises 15 extremely challenging missions and also allows skirmishes against the computer for extended play. Multiplayer consists of skirmishes either against human opponents or team games against the computer AI. Doug and I have had a couple good battles teamed up against the computer.

Heading up to Cleveland tomorrow to catch Alice in Chains with Dougie and Justin. Throw in Navs Fall Conference this weekend, and it's going to be a good weekend.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

crucify the ego before it's far too late

When our forefathers were laying down the foundations of this republic, I don't think they intended for us to feel as dirty after voting as I do right now, having finished filling out my absentee ballot. That said, Vote-Smart is a really good site that Justin had pointed out on his blog. Most candidates didn't answer the NPAT questions, but for those that did, it is a really helpful guide.

How did I ever use the Internet without RSS feeds? I know that this isn't exactly new to all the uber-savvy web geeks out there, but its something i just ignored until the other day. Now instead of going to twenty or thirty different websites checking for updates (or forgetting to check many sites) all I do is go to Bloglines to get all my updates at once. It's amazing how much simpler it makes checking updates and getting news online.

I had no idea that Nirvana's
Live! Tonight! Sold Out! VHS video was coming out on DVD next week.

I'm planning a major overhaul of the layout and content of this blog when I find the time. There's a good chance it won't be till after this quarter ends in December, but we'll see.