Is Bill Pullman that big?

For the last week, last night’s episode of Law and Order: SVU was advertised as having guest star Bill Pullman. In my experience with a television show, when someone is the guest star, the show revolves raound them, partially because they’re the guest and not on that often so they get screen time, and partially because of the star part.

According to the commercial, Olivia was dating Bill Pullman’s character, who happened to be a newspaper editor.  This is, of course, controversial.  It also causes people to throw bricks through windows at Olivia.  Yes, that is how big of a deal being a cop who’s dating a newspaper editor is.  Or at least according to the commercial that’s how big of a deal it is.

In the show, it’s kind of a big deal for about 10 minutes.  5 of those minutes contain Bill Pullman.  Then he fades into obscurity for the rest of the show, only to mentioned in passing at the end because Olivia broke up with him.  And that wasn’t even the reason the brick went through the window.  That actually had to the do with the person the episode was about.  So tell me NBC, is Bill Pullman really that big that you make an entire ad campaign for a show about his controversial appearance when it turns out that situation isn’t that controversial and he’s only on for 5 whole minutes?  I’m just curious.

In other news, I saw this video on Jeff Green’s blog today, and since my wife and I love the channel it promotes, I figured I would pass it on to you.  Enjoy!

Kick Off the Week with Jazz

When I was younger, I hadn’t listened to much jazz, but I didn’t really see what was so great about it.  Since hindsight is always 20/20, I really can’t understand why I thought that.  I’m not sure when the great switch in my mind turned on, but at some point it did and I realized that jazz was a beautiful thing to be enjoyed by all people.  Ok, I’m done waxing poetic now and ready to get to the point.

The point is that the local university had their annual jazz band concert this evening, and it was quite enjoyable as always.  Some friends, my wife, and I got together at the university auditorium for a night of jazz.  It was really quite the interesting compilation of music.  I’ll be honest and say that while I love to listen to jazz, I’m not a jazz connoisseur so I couldn’t identify for you all the different styles.  I can say that there were pieces where my legs and arms and fingers and head wanted to beat to the rythm and stare at the skills of the drummer as drool dripped out of my mouth, while other songs had this almost serene feeling that nearly put me to sleep, not out of boredom but just contended happiness.  It was like that feeling where you’ve eaten a big meal and then crashed onto the couch in the sun.  You drift off with a smile on your face.

It was a great evening, the company was wonderful, and the band was incredible.  Some of the student compositions were amazing and the guest conductor/composer was surprising and talented as well.  All in all, I can’t think of a better way to finish off the first day of the work week.

Good Deals and a Bad Turn

The Hollywood Video in our town is closing down.  This means they’re selling off all their inventory.  Unfortunately, I’m a little late to the party on this one, which means what I would consider the good stuff, or at least a majority of what I was looking for, wasn’t there.  However, I was able to find some good deals on some used DVD’s and a game.  Namely, I grabbed a copy of The Bourne Ultimatum, which finished off my Bourne Trilogy DVD collection at home, a copy of Stranger Than Fiction, one of the few movies with Will Ferrell that I enjoyed and didn’t feel uncomfortable through most of, and a copy of Batman Begins for the Gamecube to play on my Wii.  And I grabbed it all for less than $20 after tax.

The game was the first thing to emerge from it’s case when I got home.  That was when the first unfortunate turn occurred.  This one was actually my fault.  I recently picked up a wireless no-name brand Gamecube controller from Wal-Mart so I could have a total of 3 people play Smash Bros. at one time on the Wii.  It’s a lot cheaper than shelling what comes to $60 for a new Wii Remote plus nunchuck.  I figure, “I have the controller already, I can just throw the game in and play,” which is true to an extent.  Unfortunately, even thoug the Wii is equipped with a hard drive, you cannot save Gamecube save-games on the hard drive.  You must have a Gamecube memory card, which I don’t have.  So I can play the game all I want.  I just have to start over every time until I shell out more money.  Which leads from the unfortunate turn to the bad turn.

This afternoon, my no-name wireless Gamecube controller decided to fritz up and stop working.  I could explain how it’s not working, but it would be a waste of virtual paper.  Needless to say, two weeks after purchase, it looks like I’ll have to return it, and I’m not inclined to replace it with another one that will just break.  But as with anything that’s been opened I don’t much think I’ll be getting a refund either.  Next time I guess I’ll learn my lesson and get a Nintendo brand controller with a wire.  I don’t think I can go wrong there.  I hope…

Free Gaming? I’m in!

Along with enjoying a variety of movies and shows, I have to admit that I really enjoy video games as well.  In fact, gaming easily takes up more time than the movies and tv.  And the only thing better than getting a new game is getting a new game for free.  Here are couple of upcoming free games and another online option you can give a shot.

First off is Battlefield Heroes.  This game is developed by EA and Dice and follows in the path of other Battlefield games: a first or third person shooter, 2 teams, a variety of classes.  The two main things that set this one apart are the cost (FREE) and the art style, which is more cartoonish, similar to Team Fortress 2.  And as of this point in time, the system requirements are fairly low. The game is set in a World War II style setting as well with teams based on a fictional Axis and Allies.  Currently the game is still in development but there’s a trailer and website online if you want more info.  Also, the game is free but to my understanding monetized in some interesting ways.  One is through advertisements on the website which you’re required to log into the game through.  The second is through the sale of costumes and other items which would help you play the game, but not give you an unfair advantage over others.

Another game currently in development is Mythos.  Everything I’ve heard about Mythos so far has been great, including word from Jeff Green, editor-in-chief of PC Coverage for the 1up Network who said it actually took him away from World of Warcraft for a bit. As a former World of Warcraft junkie (who still has withdrawal symptoms occasionally) this sounds like my kind of game.  It’s top down in a style similar to the Diablo games, but the spell system, UI, and art style seem more connected to WoW.  Again, this one is going to be free, with monetized items within the game.  The developers haven’t been clear as to what those items will look or work like, but again, probably not unfair to those who do choose to pay.  If you’re interested in this one, rumors are that public beta could fire up as early as this month, so keep your eye on the website.

Finally, speaking of websites, there’s Kongregate.  Kongregate is almost the ultimate Flash games hub.  If you’re like me, you might here “Flash games” and immediately tune out muttering something about how we don’t need another Bejeweled clone.  I understand where you’re coming from, and let me be clear that I’m not a huge fan of that type of Flash game either (except for Peggle).  This site is instead a massive community of gamers and developers and there’s some really cool stuff here.  You can find really violent platform shooters if that’s your thing, puzzle games like the Flash version of Portal, and even turn based RPGs.  Plus, what makes it even more addicting is the fact that many games have achievements, and as you earn achievements you get points which increase your level.  At this point, that doesn’t really do much for you, but it does create a potentially addicting mechanic which keeps you coming back to Kongregate for more.  And again, it’s absolutely free.

So if you’re looking for something fun for your PC, you can keep your ears to the ground on the first two, and enjoy some really fun games at Kongregate in the meantime.

The Price of the Review

I wouldn’t call what I write on this blog professional reviews by any means.  In fact, they’re nowhere close.  I would say they are closer to the rambling opinions of a guy who just likes to be entertained.  I also happen to enjoy reading reviews and recaps of other things.

Sometimes I read a review because I just want a good laugh or to be entertained.  Other times I want an honest opinion of something before I go into it.  But that can cause some problems for me.  You see, I’m a fickle review reader.

One of the worst feelings in the world is to watch a movie or a show after reading a review and wondering “Would I have liked this better if I hadn’t read the review?”  It’s a serious question for me, because at times I’m easily swayed by other’s opinions.  I avoid thinking things through, because it just takes too much work.  Or it seems like something I would agree with anyway.  But perhaps the review says something negative, and suddenly, whether I like it or not, there has been a bad image painted in my head.  It’s stuck in there and some part of what I’m watching, reading, or playing will feel ruined because of that experience.

What makes it worse is if it happens when I’m reading reviews for affirmation.  For example, let’s say I grab a new game for my Wii or PC and I’m absolutely loving it.  I want to see what other people think, partially because I’m interested, but if I’m honest it’s mostly because I want other people to affirm my purchase, telling me I made a good choice.  And somewhere in that reading and research it happens.  Someone points out something they didn’t like.  I probably didn’t notice it before, but suddenly because they pointed it out and didn’t like, it’s glaring.  It’s like a giant pimple on an otherwise immaculate face. (OK, that was a gross simile.)

That is so frustrating.  Because when I think about it, my ultimate goal with the game or the TV show or the movie is to be entertained.  Being forced to think about tough issues can be a great part of that, but at the end, I just want to know that it’s been a worthwhile experience, and when it’s ruined by even one negative point in an otherwise positive review, it bothers me.  There are a couple of things to consider.

First, I probably shouldn’t let it get to me.  I made a decision, and I should be happy with it.  There is nothing I can do about it now.  Second, I could always stop reading reviews.  But that would be disappointing, because for every negative point that might ruin the experience, there are probably ten great points that I would not have noticed were it not for the review.

Why does the Studio have such a high number?

I made a mistake last night.

It all started at a friend’s house.  I weekly spend my Monday night’s at this friend’s with the guys watching our favorite shows (depending on the season).  Usually it’s the collection of Monday night shows with everything from Heroes to Chuck to 24.  Right now of course, all those shows are on hiatus, but luckily we have been saved by Battlestar Galactica, a show which has yet to disappoint this season.  If you haven’t watched Battlestar, I really can’t talk about it, because I’d be ruining 3 seasons of some pretty great writing (on the whole).  However, this post isn’t about Battlestar Galactica, it’s about a show that’s no longer on the airs.

Because you see, I got home last night at around 11pm with nothing to do and two glasses of Mountain Dew in my system.  Sleep was a distant drean.  So I checked my email, browsed my video game news at 1up, and then pulled up Hulu.  Hulu has been a fun past time for me lately, allowing me to rewatch some of my favorite shows (Battlestar Galactica for example), rewatch some older shows (The Pretender for example), and suddenly stumble upon shows I’ve never seen before.  Last night, that show was Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

I’ll be honest when I say I didn’t really have much interest in the show when it was on besides following the news that it was dying a slow and painful death.  I had too many other shows to watch at the time, and when I had time I didn’t want to dive into a show in the middle of the season.  Then last night, wide awake from too much caffeine, I see that I can watch the entire series (22 episodes) on Hulu.  I thought about stepping out to the living room for a Super Smash Bros. Brawl session, but something made me want to hit play.  So I said, “I’ll give it a shot”, pulled up the pilot and hit play.

Let me say this: the jury is still out on this show.  I guess technically it was sentenced, but my personal jury is still out.  It’s interesting so far, but I can tell you two things about last night’s viewing session to wrap up my story.  First, the starting 10 minutes of the pilot of Studio 60 were amazingly entertaining and captivating television.  Second, before I went to bed I watched a second episode, and right now, I’m paused on episode 4 to finish this point.  Like I said, the jury is definitely still out.