Jason Aldean – My Kinda Party

October 26, 2011

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I’ve never written anything related to music or an artist, and I am by no means a professional critic, but I do listen to music throughout my day and I know something is good by the amount of time I put into listening to it. What I’ve been listening to most is an album by Jason Aldean….My Kinda Party. Yes, it is country, so if you’re not a country fan at all then you’ve surely never heard of him. Or, maybe you have…Dirt Road Anthem, anybody? Definitely the biggest single off this album to date, Dirt Road Anthem mixes Aldean’s country background with a little bit of hip-hop/rap/pop (whichever you prefer to call it), but nonetheless, a great song. I’ve been an Aldean fan for a few years now, but hearing this song off of his latest (ok, it was released in late 2010 so I’m a little behind) album really got me listening to his other songs.

In the past few years, I’ve found myself actually listening to the lyrics of songs and trying to understand what they really mean. Call me crazy, I know. I have no idea what triggered it, but it really has made music more enjoyable for me. Possibly my favorite song on My Kinda Party is track #5, Fly Over States. If you get a chance, listen to the song, and try to understand the words. It’s a song about what the title says, Fly Over States – Indiana, Oklahoma, etc. Farms, back roads, highways, “small towns with funny names”…it all makes perfect sense. Not many people fly to Indiana, or downstate Illinois, or Oklahoma, where farmers are “bustin’ their @$$ for you and me”. I’m not trying to sell anybody on anything, but take 3 minutes and listen to the song. It really does make sense.

The rest of the album is upbeat, partyin’ country and slower country that has meaning. This summer, I heard Aldean was coming to the Illinois State Fair…just a short drive from me. Definitely was not going to miss it…and I was not disappointed. It sometimes can be hard to put on a show at a state fair, but Aldean found a way to do it. It was obvious which songs the crowd wanted to hear, and when it was Dirt Road Anthem time, the crowd went crazy. Possibly because it’s the song that’s easiest to connect to? In short, it talks about what you did growing up (in his case, in the country). It talks about memory lane, and “reminiscing about good times”.

I know I’m not coming anywhere close to doing his music any justice, but I have to say if you like country music at all, give him a shot. Listen to the words, connect to it, and you won’t be disappointed. I guarantee it.

Is Madden 12 The Best Football Game Ever?

September 9, 2011

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I know I asked the question, but I don’t even know that I can answer my own question. It’s very difficult to make an argument for anything being the “best ever”, but I do have to say that the makers of Madden made some SIGNIFICANT improvements in this year’s game.

Gameplay-wise, I think the biggest improvement is the all new collision system. The game is also “smart” enough to take the size of different players into consideration. If Darren Sproles gets hit by Brian Urlacher, chances are, he’s going to be hit backwards. The new system flows very well, using a players momentum in tackling. The days of 8 defenders suctioning onto a running back (or any offensive player for that matter) are over. Gang tackling, better and consecutive hits make the game much more realistic.

In previous versions of Madden, certain pass plays were always extremely easy. Slant across the middle, catch just about every time. Zone defenses seemed extremely easy to beat. Now, Madden has some enhancements that give defenders a clue on what their assignments should be, and it works! My first time playing the game, I immediately fell back on the same plays that I always use, and to my surprise, they weren’t bread and butter like usual. Good! Anything that makes the game more challenging.

Visually, the big change being promoted is 3D grass. Honestly, I can’t tell much of a difference. The graphics are indeed better this year than they have been in years past, but as far as being able to tell the grass is 3D…come on. Maybe it’s really there. But to me, that doesn’t matter. What does matter, is players kicking up grass, dirt, snow, etc, when running on the field. Actually seeing the elements is pretty cool, and you definitely can this year.

Play calling has been given a huge upgrade this year. Rather than cycling through every single play in your teams playbook, you can choose the game flow system, where a select few plays will be displayed and you can pick one. The plays to seem to line up pretty well with your teams situation (1st and 10, 3rd and 2, etc) from what I’ve noticed while playing. It does shed a few minutes off of your game time, meaning 1 game might take 45 minutes instead of an hour, but still pretty cool.

The Franchise Mode also received a big overhaul, adding in expanded rosters and also roster cuts during the pre-season, allowing you to trim your roster of bad contracts and obviously adding more realism. I haven’t made it to an off-season yet, but free agent bidding should now be much better than in the past. And maybe the coolest thing of all…if you’re in season 6 (or whatever season) of your franchise and you’re tired of your team, you can now switch to another team without needing to completely restart your franchise mode. I haven’t done this, but still seems very cool.

Overall, I love the game. On a scale of 1-10, I’d give it about a 9.5, simply because giving any game a full 10 is just hard to justify. But don’t let that deter you. This game is fantastic and I highly recommend it to any football fan.

2011 Fall TV – What Are YOU Looking Forward To?

August 24, 2011

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With the Fall TV lineup fast approaching, I figured (well, maybe Kosmo SUGGESTED) that I’d talk a little bit about what I’m looking forward to…and some changes we’ll see.

Changes? What changes? Well, at least one HUGE change. Ashton replaces Charlie on Two and a Half Men. Will the show ever be the same? Do you think it’ll be better, or worse? Personally, I don’t think it’ll ever be the same. Not that I’m a huge Charlie Sheen fan, or a fan at all. I just think that role couldn’t have been more perfect for him, based on his personal life (did the show make his personal life, or did his personal life make his role on the show?). And, once somebody plays a character on a sitcom for so long, it’s hard to imagine the show without said character. My favorite sitcom of all time, The King of Queens, could never have replaced Doug, Carrie, or Arthur. It just wouldn’t have been the same. And I get that Charlie will be “killed off” and isn’t just being “replaced”, but……I don’t know. I’ll give it a go, but my hopes are really really low.

My favorite new show from last year, Mike and Molly, will be making a triumphant return this fall, and could be one of the top rated sitcoms on TV. Like I said earlier, it’s difficult for me to like any show as much as I liked The King of Queens (TKOQ), but this one is fairly close. It does have a love story, but it’s more funny than anything and that’s what I like.

Speaking of a show close to TKOQ, The Big Bang Theory is extremely close. How funny can a group of nerds be? Very funny! If you haven’t given this show a chance, please do. I highly doubt you’ll be disappointed. Personally, I’m hoping for a Penny/Leonard reunion…..wonder what this season will bring?

Taking a break from comedies, my favorite non-comedy show has to be Criminal Minds (the original show, not this new Suspect Behavior nonsense). How the writers for this show can come up with so many crimes/storylines is beyond me, but they do. And they’re very good at it. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the Suspect Behavior spinoff is a bad show, because personally I’ve only watched a few episodes. I just like the original Criminal Minds so much that I don’t feel like the “new” show can come close. Maybe I should expand my horizons….

Last, but certainly not least, FOOTBALL! I know, I know, it’s not a “show”, but it’s TV/entertainment. I can’t wait to spend every weekend from September to January watching nothing but football (I think the wife is as excited as I am….OK, maybe not). When the NFL lockout first started, I thought to myself, “you know what, these overpaid bums need to just play the GAME that they have the opportunity to play…..I’m not going to watch if they ever start playing again”. I was wrong! I’ve never been so excited for a season in my life. Do you think they planned the lockout on purpose, to give fans a sense of what they might not have, and when the lockout ends the fans are more excited than ever?!?! Conspiracy, I say…

NCAA Football 12 Review

August 19, 2011

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When I purchased NCAA 12 Football for my PS3 recently, the guy that helped me at the game store said (yes, I quote) “This is the best football game I’ve ever played. If you’re a Madden addict, you won’t be anymore”. While I was skeptical, I thought to myself … Hmmmm, if this game is better than any Madden game, it’s must be REALLY good.

I could hardly wait to get home to play it. I have to say … I’m a little disappointed that he said that because it did nothing but raise my expectation to a level that were way too high. Don’t get me wrong, I think the game is good and I enjoy playing it. BUT, gameplay-wise, the game is very much equivalent to what NCAA Football ‘11 was.

EA did do some cool things with the graphics. Supposedly the grass on the field is 3D … but I honestly couldn’t tell a huge difference. There is a huge addition in adding in each school’s traditional game day routines, the LSU tiger in its cage for example. While that stuff is cool and overall they’re good additions to the game, it obviously doesn’t add anything to the gameplay itself.

When reading about the upcoming release of Madden, they’re seems to be a focus on a new tackling system. Playing NCAA 12 gave me a preview of that system, and I think it’s pretty cool. They’re calling it a collision system, but really it’s about making tackling/blocking/etc more lifelike. It definitely does that, but doesn’t take the game to the next level.

If you’ve read any of my other sports games reviews, you know I’m a fan of the Franchise mode in any game. Become a coach, and in this case, recruit players all while still playing the games. The big difference in this year’s Franchise mode is you have the ability to start off like most coaches do in real life, and that’s as an offensive or defensive coordinator. I haven’t played an entire season yet so I don’t know how it’ll play out, but it does add to the “cool” factor. If there is a downside to that, it would be that you then only get to play offense or defense, whichever coordinator you are. But in my eyes, that’s not much of a downside.

Overall, I’d give the game 4 stars on a 5 star scale, and that’s saying a lot. I guess I just expected more…..thanks a lot guy that helped me at the store!!

Maybe the most exciting part of my game buying experience … I gave my $5 to reserve a copy of Madden and CAN NOT wait until August 30th so I can get my copy!! Check here often for my review … because I am expecting BIG things.





Big Brother Week 5 – The Craziness Continues

August 12, 2011

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In last week’s article (read it here), I mentioned that both Rachel and Brendon were on the eviction block, with the power of veto to still be played. Bad news for all of us Brenchel haters….Brendon won the power of veto, which meant he’d remove himself from the….oh wait, he’s a completely moron and removed his bigger moron of a fiancé off the block (Yes, I’m a Brenchel hater). Danielle replaced Rachel with Jordan, who really had no shot at being evicted.

After voting, Brendon left the house, and the next HOH was played. Pretty non-eventful HOH, with Kalia winning the head to head trivia competition….I never really had an opinion on Kalia until she won HOH and immediately became Danielle’s muppet. I know Kalia said several times she’s making her own decisions as HOH, but I just don’t believe that’s true.

Earlier this week, Kalia revealed her eviction nominee plans, which included nominating Rachel and Jeff for eviction. As you can imagine, Jeff wasn’t a big fan of hearing it, and vowed that if he won the power of veto, or got evicted and got to come back as part of the “twist” that he would target Kalia. Undeterred by Jeff’s promise, she did in fact nominate Jeff and Rachel with the power of veto to still be played.

At the power of veto competition, Jeff and Rachel competed against Adam, Kalia, Shelly, and Jordan. Jeff eventually won…..thankfully! Back inside the house in the HOH room, Kalia was scrambling for a replacement nominee…..and enter Lawon. Pretty much a floater from the beginning, he told Kalia that he would go up as the replacement nominee, and also swore that he’d be back in the house with a “special power”…..which is in relation to the “twist” where one evicted houseguest gets to rejoin the game.

At the eviction ceremony, Lawon was indeed evicted, and the summer twist was announced. Lawon would face off against a former evictee (Brendon, Cassi, Dominic, or Keith) who received the most votes from “America”. Of course, it was Brendon…which is disappointing because the thought of him being back in the house with Rachel makes me want to puke.

It will come as no surprise that Lawon was terrible in the competition against Brendon (throwing 14 balls into a hole, in short summary)….and that means Brendon is back in the house…..BOO!

The moral of this week’s recap is….LAWON, you idiot! This could go down as the worst Big Brother move in history! You basically evict yourself, thinking you’re going to come back with a special power?!?! Really? Did you really think you’d automatically be back in the house THAT easy? Hope you learned your lesson….have fun by yourself the rest of the summer.

For those of you that are concerned with my DirecTV Sunday Ticket situation (read it in the link above), I’m getting nowhere with my demands. I’m beginning to wonder how far I need to go with my threats to cancel…..and hopefully they don’t call my bluff. They can’t lose MY business, right……?

Big Brother Week 4: Eviction Nominations

August 3, 2011

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Well, another week has gone by and 2 more houseguests are up for eviction. After Dominic was voted out last week, Julie (the host of BB) announced that the duo concept is no longer, and everybody would be playing for themselves. Jeff and Jordan and Rachel and Brendon will obviously still be playing together, but everybody else in the house will be playing for themselves.

After last week’s update, you know that Danielle’s plans came to a crashing halt, with Dominic getting evicted and with her master plan coming out to the entire house. After the eviction ceremony came the next Head of Household, and of course who wins? Danielle. Things could not have worked out better for her. It was no secret who she was going after either, Rachel and Brendon. Once the nomination ceremony came, she in fact did nominate the most annoying couple in BB history, thankfully. I have to think that one of them will be going home no matter what.

If one of them DOES win the veto tonight, it’ll be a tough sell to convince Danielle to backdoor somebody, and I highly doubt any other houseguest would get more votes for eviction than Rachel or Brendon.

Personally, I can’t wait until both of them go home, but it will be more fun for them to go one at a time. I know whoever stays will turn the house upside down, and I think I’d rather see Brendon stay, because Rachel would be much more annoying in doing so. Rachel is extremely good in competitions, though, so she could very well win the veto and save herself. Meaning Brendon will most likely be sent home. If neither of them win the veto, I think the houseguests dislike Rachel more, so she’ll go home. No matter what, I hope ONE of them gets booted.

On a completely unrelated note, I have a gripe about DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket

So, I’m a DirecTV subscriber. Once the NFL lockout ended, they started running promotions announcing that they were now INCLUDING the NFL Sunday Ticket for new customers at no extra charge (with the Choice Ultimate Package or above). This pisses me off a little bit….I mean, I understand signing contracts and such and that wasn’t included in my contract. And I understand they’re using that to lure in new customers.

But, as an NFL fan, WHY CAN’T I HAVE THE SUNDAY TICKET TOO?!?! And actually, our contract with DirecTV is expired, so I do have a little bit of leverage. My plan is to call and demand that they give me the Sunday Ticket like they’re going to give every other new customer that qualifies. Will I be the first existing customer to do that? No. If I threaten to leave and join the cable ranks, will they give it to me? I’m saying doubtful, but I’m going to give it a shot. I may even compliment them on using Deion Sanders as a little fairy in all of their Sunday Ticket commercials. If that doesn’t work, then I’ll tell them how annoying those commercials have already become!

Big Brother Week 3 – Veto Competition

July 28, 2011

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All sorts of things happened in last night’s episode of BB, before AND after the veto competition. Adam and Dominic were nominated for eviction, but would have a chance to remove themselves if they won the veto competition. Dominic struck a deal (or so he thought) with Brendon and Rachel to throw the competition, thinking that they would vote Adam out and he’d just be the pawn.

In the veto competition, players had to jump into a giant shallow pool and pull hairs out of a sunbathing woman’s leg, and the hair had a letter on the end. Whoever spelled the longest word in the allotted timeframe, won. Ok, the “hair” was more like a “noodle” that you’d find in most backyard pools…and the sunbathing woman was just a giant “statue” of sorts, but the rest of the game is the same. Spell the longest word, correctly, and you win.

Jordan spelled “little”…but I’m sure she did more than most of the other players were expecting. Dominic, who was supposed to throw the competition, ended up spelling a 9-letter word, and tied with Adam and Jeff. Rachel misspelled her word (Mouisturizing [sic]), surprise surprise. Brendon won the competition, and he and Rachel now have complete control.

Before the veto ceremony, Dominic talked to Shelly, and gave away his entire gameplan. He gave away that he and Danielle are a “team”, and that they’re targeting Jordan and Jeff, and eventually would turn on Brendon and Rachel. Shelly is a big fan of Jordan and Jeff, so she went to Jordan to spread the news. Not much longer, and they’re in the HoH room telling Rachel what’s going on.

Finally, they see that Danielle is NOT a good member of their alliance and her trying to convince Rachel to backdoor Jeff and Jordan is only for herself, and Dominic. Shelly, Rachel, and Jordan say they’re going to keep this whole revelation a secret, but can they?

Dominic thinks he’s safe and is only being used as a pawn to get Adam out of the house, but with last night’s episode I think it’s pretty clear that he’s going home. He spoke WAY too soon to Shelly, and really gave up his entire game. Tonight’s episode should be pretty entertaining…….

PREDICTION:
This is pretty obvious, but I predict that Dominic will be voted out, in convincing fashion. I also predict fireworks in the house! It’ll be interesting to see how Danielle reacts, since he’s the only person she really has in the house.

Madden 12 / Big Brother

July 27, 2011

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Madden 12……It’s On!

Last month, I wrote about Madden 12 and how the NFL lockout would impact the release of this year’s game (read it here).

No, this won’t be yet another story on the NFL lockout, because over the last several months I know we’ve all gotten more than tired of reading about it.  This is much more important….with the announcement earlier this week that the lockout is now over, Madden 12 is back on!  The most recent announced date I’m seeing is Madden will become available August 30th this year, which is a little later than usual, but still not bad considering the work that Madden maker EA will have to put in to release the title.

I do have to say, in the world of receiving software updates over the internet, this fairly quick release date is much more manageable.  With teams not signing recent draftees and free agents until now, it would be nearly impossible for those events to happen AND for EA to get rosters updated, etc in time for the release.  With today’s technology, and being able to receive roster updates via the internet, us Madden lovers can get the game we’ve been waiting for since…..well, last August!

Big Brother – What are they Thinking??

Last week, when Jordan and Jeff had control of the house, and ultimately had a chance to back-door Brendon and Rachel at the veto ceremony, they should have!  It was the perfect chance to get rid of the duo that ultimately is their biggest competition.  However, they felt it was too early in the game to go against their alliance.  Partially true, but still may be the only chance they get. 

Of course, Rachel won the last HoH, and now she and Brendon have the chance to do exactly what could have been done to them.  There was a luxury competition, with Jordan winning the chance to take 3 other houseguests to the viewing of a new show on CBS (Same Name, CBS, 9pm/8pm CT).  Of course she picked Jeff, and then picked Kalia and Shelly?!?!  What are you thinking, Jordan?  Rachel already won the HoH, and of course she’s going to get upset that you didn’t pick her and Brendon.

Of course, what does this lead to, Rachel getting upset and then arguing with Brendon, like they always do.  And, of course, this led to the other houseguests trying to convince Rachel to back-door Jeff and Jordan at the veto ceremony.  She nominated Adam and Dominic for eviction, and the veto competition will be tomorrow night.  If Rachel and Brendon or Adam and Dominic win the veto competition, I fully expect that Rachel will back-door Jordan and Jeff….which means Jordan and Jeff HAVE to win the veto competition.   Yes, if you can’t already tell, I’m pulling for Jeff and Jordan to win it all!!

Big Brother / Hell’s Kitchen

July 20, 2011

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Big Brother – Week 2

LAST WEEKS PREDICTION:
“PREDICTION: I think Keith will be going home, as his antics may have done just enough to scare his alliance. The veterans think they can convince Porsche to vote however they want her to for the next few weeks, so I think they’ll do just enough to keep her around.”

Not to say I was right, but I was right! It may be the only time all year that I can say that, so I have to get it out of the way. It looked like the house may be split on the voting with a 5-5 result and Rachel casting the tie-breaking vote, but it turned out 6-4, and Keith was sent packing. He just didn’t make enough friends on his side of the house, and it showed.

Jordan is the next HOH, which keeps the control of the house on the veterans’ side. NOT good news for the newbies, who have already lost one player in Keith. They originally had numbers, but now they’re down one person and loyalty looks to be weakening. After Jordan’s HOH tour, it’s time for the Have-Nots competition. Shelly, Cassi, Dominic, and Adam end up losing, being forced to eat slop and whatever other food America picked. Turns out, it was jerky and jelly beans! Not too terrible…I think I could eat jerky for a week!

Each newbie makes their way up to the HOH room to try to join the veterans’ team, and Jeff and Jordan aren’t sure who to trust. They end up trusting Dominic and Adam the least, as they are the duo that is put up for nomination. The veto competition is next up, with eliminations coming tomorrow night.

 
Hell’s Kitchen

I’ve watched this show on Fox since it debuted several seasons ago (Season premiere was Monday and Tuesday night this week on Fox), and I like it enough to keep watching. However, I can’t help but wonder about the casting. The purpose of the show is to bring on 18 “chefs”, with one getting evicted each week and the eventual winner becoming the Executive Chef at a prestigious restaurant located somewhere in the world. I put chefs in quotes because there is a wide range of participants, from line cooks to fry cooks to personal chefs to junior sous chefs, and everything in between.

The man behind the show is famous chef Gordon Ramsay, who I like a lot. He’s in your face, brutally honest, and is good for TV ratings. Back to my original thought….Seeing some of the contestants on the show in the first few weeks is entertaining, to say the least. Some of the cooks simply can’t cook, whether it’s cooking a steak right to cooking rice to cooking basic side dishes. If you’re going to be an Executive Chef at a famous restaurant, you obviously need to know how to cook the most basic foods.

Which leads to my point, I’d estimate at least half of the contestants on the show are chosen for ratings. Which, if I’m the producers, I’d have to partially go that route because that’s what gets ratings. So I’m not necessarily blaming anybody for doing that, just find it humorous.

Are there any shows on TV that you’d like to read about? I can’t say I’ll watch anything, but I can open up my TV viewing to whatever our readers are interested in!

Big Brother – Week 1

July 14, 2011

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It’s that time of year again…..BIG BROTHER IS ON (CBS Sundays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays)!! This year started off with a bang as it’s different from any other season of BB. Typically the houseguests are “introduced” to each other by meeting for the first time outside the BB house. That was the case this season, except there were only 8 houseguests when typically there are 14 (and houseguests are not allowed to speak to each other until they are INSIDE) the house .

If you’re selected to be on BB, there’s an excellent chance you know how the game works, so each of the houseguests KNEW something was up when there was only 8. Not long after they went into the house in groups of 2, Julie (BB’s host) announced that the 8 current players would be playing in pairs, and they needed to select their partner. Keep in mind that the houseguests had JUST met, so they really knew nothing about each other. After picking partners, there was a ring on the doorbell. In comes Rachel and Brendon (engaged), from last season. The new houseguests seemed star struck, but it wasn’t long before 2 other groups came in – Evel Dick and his daughter Danielle, and the couple Jeff and Jordan.

It didn’t take long for alliances to form, as the new contestants had already formed an alliance, and the veterans who were introduced later quickly vowed to stick together. The first head of household competition was held on the first night of the season, and the veterans made their presence known with Rachel and Brendon winning the first competition (she hung on to a giant banana longer than anybody else….yes, a giant banana). This gave the veterans control over who would be going home first……but another wrench was soon thrown into the game. For the first 4 weeks, if your partner is voted out of the house (1 person goes home each week), you automatically receive a “golden ticket”, which automatically gives you safety to make it to the top 10. You can’t be selected for elimination, but you also can’t participate in any of the household contests (head of household, veto competition, etc).

So, while you and your partner are up for elimination, you really are voting for your person to go home because that grants you safety to get to the top 10. Probably not a huge deal to the newbies, but it could get a little interesting for the veterans. There is an elimination tonight (Thursday), and a team of new guests is up for elimination – Keith and Porsche. Both are assuming they’ll be safe and think for sure the other is going to be voted out. Keith has been much more vocal throughout the game. The veterans want to keep Porsche, and originally all of the newbies wanted to keep Keith, but some are starting to question his moves.

PREDICTION: I think Keith will be going home, as his antics may have done just enough to scare his alliance. The veterans think they can convince Porsche to vote however they want her to for the next few weeks, so I think they’ll do just enough to keep her around.

Anybody else have thoughts? Am I way off on my prediction?

Stay tuned for the next couple of days to see a post on each of the teams on Big Brother and my thoughts on each.

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