Month: March 2004

Batman Begins

The comic book movie explosion continues as Warner Brothers releases the first photos from “Batman Begins” at the official movie website. First up, the Batmobile. Resembling a military inspired tank more than a car (which is fitting since the script has WayneTech creating a military prototype which Batman uses), it looks intimidating and totally incredible. This is the first time I’ve had a chance to glimpse the logo that I’ve heard a lot about, and I love it! It both pays homage to the original Bill Finger/Bob Kane design, and yet looks modern enough that I can see someone coming up with it today.This year’s comic book movie explosion launches on Friday with Hellboy, which will be followed in two weeks by The Punisher, then Spider-Man 2 (which has been bumped forward to June 30th), and Catwoman (which could be the all time worst comic book movie ever) on July 23rd, Blade Trinity on August 13th, and Man-Thing in October. With all but Catwoman looking pretty decent, this could be a really good summer to be a comic book movie fan.

I love how the summer movie season seems to be starting earlier every year, the unfortunate part is that the first three months of the year are now starting to really suck in terms of quality films. The fall has always been the time that studios try to put out “alternative fare”, which is usually my favourite movie time, and Christmas is where they position their prime Academy Awards contenders and their “winter tentpoles”, but January, February and March are just void of anything of quality.

A quick look at Greg’s Previews “Browse by Date” function shows that January’s only decent release was The Butterfly Effect, February saw The Passion of the Christ (which I still haven’t managed to steel myself enough to go see), while March has seen a few decent releases in Starsky and Hutch (hilarious), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Jersey Girl, and the Ladykillers.

Okay, so March is actually shaping up to be decent.

Serenity now

I finished Firefly: The complete series last week, having watched all 14 episodes, all of the extras, and had a little time to digest the show. I loved it, and it’s a shame that it ended just as the characters were all becoming interesting. River in particular finally became a semi-decent character in the last episode.The show mixes both the feel of the wild west, with the tone of a space opera. Not only is the romantic notion of the whole “One man and his gun” western feel there, but there’s tons of technology. It just feels like a cool place to live, a combination of a simpler time, with some of the nuances of our techno-centric information society.

I think the part I love the most is how loyal Joss Whedon is to his actors. Malcom played the big bad on the final season of Buffy, Zoe played the big bad on last season’s Angel, and the guy who plays Mal and Zoe’s old war buddy in “The Message” played a new vampire with a psychology degree in the final season of Buffy for one incredibly fun and memorable episode, before playing Knox in this season’s Angel.

I think that the feature film version of the show (to be called “Serenity” after the name of the ship) will be a lot of fun, especially if they play up some of the cool villians they created.

I added a couple of links to the side-bar. In particular the Looney Tunes DVD’s that I just got (6 discs in all), and Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale, both of which I’ll talk about here in the future.

The Evil Empire

Okay, maybe Microsoft is the Evil Empre, and Bill Gates is The Emperor (mind you, he’s an emperor who gives away billions to charities), but isn’t it time to give it a rest? The European Union is preparing to collect hundreds of millions from Microsoft (while letting the real pirates such as the freaking Oil Consortiums get away with murder).Real Networks is preparing to sue Microsoft for $1 billion because Microsoft engaged in practices that were anti-competitive…you know, like making a product that was cheaper, better, and just plain cooler than Real’s.

My MP3 player plays wma files, but it won’t play rm files. Why? Because Real charges a ludicrous amount for their codec. TSN.ca uses Windows Media for video because it’s cheaper than the per-stream charges that Real wants to charge…not to mention Microsoft has built some truly amazing encoding tools, while Real’s constantly buggy software makes encoding to Real a pain in the ass at the best of times.

Microsoft’s Windows Media Player, and Apple’s Quicktime player are elegant programs that don’t force users to install a half dozen other programs (like AOL Instant Messenger), they don’t force pop-ups on you when you try to close them.

Most importantly, it has taken Real about 7 years to build a media player that doesn’t constantly leak memory, cause unknown kernal errors, and generally just malfunction.

I gave up on Real with the G2 player in 2000, and I’ve refused to install it on my home PC since then. I use Quicktime almost religiously, I love Windows Media Player, but Real can bite me.

Newsflash for Real. Microsoft isn’t to blame for you being #3 in the market (when you used to be #1), you need look no further than your shoddy code, your ridiculous pricing structure, and your crappy customer service.

Cool Designs

White Space: Design Thoughts for Everybody had a really cool “Redesign Project Gutenberg” contest recently. I’ve been taking a look at some of the designs, and I’ve gotta say, some are really cool.This one from brightcorner.com really stands out for me (Bright Corner’s website is quite nice as well). It has a ton of white, and yet still manages to group things amazingly well.

This one reminds me a lot of one of my favourite CSSZenGarden submissions, Release One.

I like this one because it reminds me in a way of Writer’s Quill, which was a totally different site for me, I’ve never designed anything like it before, and it’s completely different than all of my other designs (mind you, this site right here is totally different than anything else I’ve ever built…so I guess it’s not that big of a deal now).

Finally, there’s this design, which reminds me a ton of BookMark, one of my Writer’s Quill templates.

More funny!

I’m a pretty funny guy (if I do say so myself), and I love to make people laugh. So it’s kind of ironic that my wrestling columns just aren’t that funny…this week however I decided to give the funny bone a tweak, and try to write up a column that played up the comedy, and made wrestling fun again.I think I succeeded in my “WrestleMania diary” up now on TSN.ca. I played up the fun we had in Mario Kart, and talked about how my mind kept on wandering back to the game while we were watching the show. Almost a week removed from the show, I find that I was disapointed, but I really enjoyed the night. That’s more of a testament to the guys who were there hanging out and having fun, than it is about the show at all.

Feelin’ the ‘Mania

Last night was WrestleMania XX, the culmination of 20 years of wrestling, the finale of many of the year’s stories, and most importantly according to the tag-line “Where it all begins again”.The good news; I have newfound respect for the GameCube and the goodness which is MarioKart…what a fun little game…and I realized that Jeff and I are the two most competitive dicks when it comes to each other…neither one of us cared if we came in first, as long as we beat the other one. If it wasn’t so funny, it would be sad.

I also won the WrestleMania pool with an amazing 6-4 upset victories over the cards of Jeff, Erz, Larry, and Josh (who won the stellar “bacon” prize “Exist 2 Inspire”, the Hardy Boyz Auto Biography).

The show could have been amazing, but the tag matches, which looked weak on paper, and the absolute black-hole of all that is good in the world, Brock Lesnar vs Goldberg, sucked everything good out of the evening…even retroactively! It was like “Okay, this PPV is not too bad, there’s been some good (Cena getting the US title even though the match was weak), some bad (the RAW tag match), some great (Foley doing a clean job to Orton out of nowhere), and some amazing (Christian vs Jericho with a heel turn by Trish).”

Then Brock Lesnar and Goldberg got in the ring. Suddenly all of the good from the previous 2 hours vanished, sucked up by the pure evil and awfulness that was Brock/Goldberg. It was slow…it was plodding, and it took them 5 minutes to actually put on a freaking HEADLOCK! It sucked. It was like neither man wanted to give an inch, neither one of them wanted to be in that ring, and neither one of them wanted to lose to the other. The fans were all over Lesnar, chanting “You sold out” (which is ironic considering that it’s Goldberg who won’t sell out for less money to McMahon), and singing “Naa naa naa naa good-bye”. The suck was so bad that it clouded up the entire arena, stopping the people from seeing the goodness that was the Angle/Guerrero match.

The suck continued with the UnderSeller coming out in his new personae of “The American Half-Ass”, his American Bad Ass personae with a cowboy hat and the purple lights…ooooooh. They could have done SO much with this…the crowd WANTED this to be cool…I wanted this to be cool. The match could have sucked to high heaven, but if they had done his intro right, all would be well. Instead he comes out all tanned (because there’s a lot of sun when you’re dead), looking healthier than Kane, and wearing a singlet and leather pants! WHAT THE?!?

This, from my TSN.ca column is how I thought he should have entered;

“That creepy video package starts playing, the blue lights hit the ring, and a lightning bolt hits the TitanTron. The static image of the creepy kids playing is on the screen, and a shilloutte of the old school Undertaker (hat, and ripped short sleeved shirt) appears, small at first, but getting bigger, walking towards the crowd on the screen. Another lighting bolt, and Paul Bearer appears out of smoke below the TitanTron, urn in hand. The figure on the screen continues to walk towards the screen, and then stops. It’s hand reaches out, and the Undertaker’s hand appears through the screen. Next his foot, then he steps through the screen (tissue paper on the front of the screen with front projection, rear projection behind it).”

Instead we get The UnderSeller at the top of the ramp, with the druids carrying torches dripping with fire.

Kane’s entrance saw the entire set (which was made up of tons of video screens depicting the city of New York) change from regular buildings to buildings on fire. It was one of the coolest entrances I’ve ever seen…and way cooler than the Undertaker’s.

I have to say that everyone in the room was into the Triple Threat match with Hunter, Shawn and Chris Benoit. Triple H tapping out in the middle of the ring at the end of the match was just icing on the cake, and it made everything better.

Thanks to Larry for yet another awesome meal (short ribs and rice), and to the rest of the boys for their money. I’ll spend it on a clue for whoever came up with the UnderSeller’s entrance!

Marriage for everyone

In a world where subways are bombed, office towers have planes crashed into them, and the world always seems to be on the brink of war…is two people, no matter what sexual orientation they are, showing their love and committment for each other really something to get our panties in a twist and pass amendments to constitutions?Good lord people, chill it out a little bit. Nobody is breaking any laws (except for the ones you now want to impose). More importantly, in the entire history of mankind, nobody died or was injured in any way, shape, or form as the result of two men, or two women declaring their desire to spend the rest of their lives together.

From TSN.ca’s press release yesterday

NHL trade deadline day continues to be an unwavering success for TSN as the network’s Web site, TSN.ca, recorded the highest single-day traffic in the Web site’s nine-year history with 41 million page views and 512,000 unique visitors.TSN.ca’s 41 million page views on Tuesday, March 9 is higher than the Web site’s total page views for the month of February 2004 (34 million) and shatters the Web site’s previous one-day record of 6.4 million page views, set during last year’s NHL trade deadline day.

My favourite shows that I don’t watch

When re-runs season starts, it’s the time to check out those shows that I always mean to, but never do watch. Since this time of the year is full of American Idol’s, Forever Eden’s, and various other wastes of my time, I like to watch those shows that I flip to during the rest of the year, but never regularly watch.Corner Gas

CTV’s comedy about a corner gas station in butt-hole nowhere should be everything I hate in TV. Sit-com, check, cheezy Canadian show, check, stupid stereotypes of characters, check…but for some reason, it’s so damn funny that despite how much I should hate it, I find myself giggling the whole 30 minutes (sometimes even through the commercials). That’s the sign of a good show.

Why I’m not a regular; Wednesday nights aren’t a good TV night for me. I’m usually doing work, and I try to stay away from the TV if “The Bachelor” or “Bachelorette” are on…they just make me uncomfortable. That said, I’m already TiVoing Angel and Kingdom Hospital, maybe I should add one more show.

CSI and CSI Miami

Fascinating TV, I love both of these shows. Their lead characters are awesome (Grissom is miles cooler than Horatio though), and I love the stories.

Why I’m not a regular; Thursday nights…Survivor, the ER, CSI should fit right in that donut, but I usually go and do something else for that hour. On Monday nights, I’m usually working or watching Wrestling. Both of these shows require the viewer to invest some mindshare in them, and when I’m working, I can’t offer that. I’d TiVo them, but there are already shows in their place that get recorded.

Arrested Development

This is the funniest show on TV, the narrator is hilarious, Jason Bateman is finally in the role he was made for, and it all works.

Why I’m not a regular; The time kept on shifting, and couldn’t find it for the first two months. Now that it’s settled in to Sundays at 9:30, I’m TiVoing it.

The West Wing

I loved this show the first season, the president was mythic, didn’t show up much, and whenever he did, it was to move the plot along. It got lame in the second season with too much president, but the whirlwind effect of the pacing was still there.

Why I’m not a regular; The whole Wednesday thing, and the fact that you actually have to invest some brain power in the complexities of the show.

What DO I watch? Well, here’s the list;

Las Vegas, 24, Angel, Kingdom Hospital, Friends, Survivor, ER, and various news magazines (I’m a sucker for a good episode of Investigative Reports or City Confidential).

Here’s a question to the masses…what else is out there I should love?

TSN.ca blows the door of our records

From the TSN press release today;TSN.ca recorded 30 million page views today as of 4 p.m. ET – more than 5 times the page views from last year’s NHL trade deadline day. To put this in perspective, TSN.ca had a total of 34 million page views for the entire month of February this year

TSN.ca recorded 550,000 unique visitors – nearly double the number of unique visitors from last year’s NHL trade deadline day

TSN.ca’s Real Time Trade Tracker was accessed by 225,000 people, compared to 60,000 people last year.

What wasn’t on the press release; we managed to do all of that without going down at all. These are preliminary numbers, and our final ones could be higher or lower than what we are reporting, but in either case, it’s just staggering!

Way to go TSN.ca!