New Cowboys Stadium the Picture of FAIL
Monday, August 24, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
What do you get for $1.2 billion? A grotesque new stadium where the scoreboard is so low that punt kicks hit it, apparently. Right now the NFL competition committee is looking into the issue, and thus far Jones has refused to fix the issue on his own. Here's an interesting quote from Bill Polian (courtesy of Peter King at sportsillustrated.com):
"The irony is that our stadium architect [at new Lucas Oil Stadium] wanted to hang the videoboards the same way in our stadium,'' Polian said. "So we put a metal beam about 90 feet above the ground and had our punter at the time, Hunter Smith, punt the ball up there trying to hit it. He hit it the majority of the time. That's why we put our replay boards on the wall.

Also, check out this amazing video from GeekBrief.tv, where we see the fabulous seats available in this brand new stadium:

Please note that apparently the cheapest seats in the stadium are $59. I can only hope that the seats shown in the video above are at least the cheap variety (in truth, I can truly only hope that the Cowboys wall off those seats and NEVER sell them).

Of course, if you happen to score seats in the luxury suites (available for between $100,000 and 500,000), you have the opportunity to pay $60 for a plain cheese and pepperoni pizza.
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Nerd Pin-up Girl Returns With Hilarious Music Video
Tuesday, August 18, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
Check out this new video from the excellent and hilarious crew from the web series "The Guild", entitled "Do You Want To Date My Avatar"?



Now, riddle me this: why aren't networks falling over themselves to sign Felicia Day to a long term contract for a TV show?

For those of you who aren't Felicia Day superfans and have no idea who she is, allow me to recommend a few works she's been in.

1) If you can roll with the idea of a show about people who playing World of Warcraft excessively, you absolutely need to check out The Guild. You can get it free on Xbox Live or Zune, or you can download episodes via Amazon.com and so forth. Even if you're not super familiar with WOW, you should be able to mostly keep up (though a few choice WOW jokes will probably go over your head)

2) Apparently some of you are STILL resisting seeing the greatest musical ever, because I have had several friends tell me that they haven't seen Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Do yourself a favor and go pick this up immediately. Not only does it star the lovely Ms. Day, it also features the fabulous Neil Patrick Harris as the title character Dr. Horrible, and cult favorite Nathan Fillion as his nemesis Captain Hammer.

3) Lastly, if you were following my Dollhouse posts, you may be interested to know that you can watch the fabled 13th episode of Dollhouse, "Epitath One", that never aired via Amazon on demand. I'll be reviewing the episode eventually. Anyway, Felicia plays a prominent role in this one-shot episode that hints at the dark future that awaits the Dollhouse and its members.
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Why You Should See District 9
Thursday, August 13, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
Since my last attempt to thwart the trend of mediocre movies earning box office receipts out of proportion to their actual level of quality fell short, I'm going to try a different tactic this week. This week I'm not asking you to avoid a movie that I suspect will be bad. Instead, I'm asking you to take a chance on a movie I strongly suspect will be one of the best films of the summer.

Before I launch into my tirade, let me get this out up front:
I have not seen District 9, and therefore it's possible I'll be wrong and the movie will be awful.

Let me tell you why that doesn't matter:
You bitches owe me for G.I. Joe.

Anyway, this movie's been on my radar for some time now. It'd had been getting great buzz among the geek and nerd community for awhile. While there are a few red flags with this film (no-name cast, a director with almost no resume to speak of), overall, all signs point to a good experience.

Reasons why you should see this movie:

1. The critics are going crazy over this. Right now, it's at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes (though that number will fluctuate as more reviews pour in). Now, let me put this in perspective. I had a commenter in my G.I. Joe post accuse me of "needing critics to tell me what to think about a movie." Well, no. I'm capable of making up my own mind. However, critics serve as an important litmus test, especially when looking at their scores in a batch, like Rotten Tomatoes does. If everyone universally loves a movie (or hates it) - that's a pretty strong indicator of what to expect. When a movie in a genre that traditionally doesn't appeal to the high brow set of critics (Ebert, the Village Voice) garners praise, you really need to look at that and say, "Wow, if [critic X] can be persuaded to love a sci-fi film, it may just be as good as he says." I don't take much notice of Roger Ebert when he bitches about a film having giant robots fighting, because frankly, that kind of movie isn't for him. But when I see an Ebert type raving about a film in a genre he normally isn't into, that makes me take notice.

2. It's a movie you probably know almost nothing about. And that's a good thing. Before you run out and read all the glowing reviews mentioned in #1, consider this: when was the last time you really got to see a movie without knowing all the details in advance? I went and saw The Hangover, and it was pretty good - but I didn't love it as much as my friends, and part of me thinks it's because the damn trailers gave all the jokes away. When you know too much about a film in advance, it colors the way you follow the action, because there's always this part of you going, "Well, I know so-and-so doesn't die, because he was in a scene in the trailer that didn't happen yet. I'm also pretty sure that the big twist will turn out to be [whatever]." What I'm chasing as a movie goer is that amazing feeling I had seeing The Matrix for the first time - the "holy shit, that blew my mind, I never saw that twist coming!" sensation that to this day makes me happy to even think about.

3. Peter Jackson is involved. Now, he's not the director, but he's been a big part of producing and promoting this film. And when you see Peter Jackson, you know that his WETA special effects shop is probably involved as well. That's a Very Good Thing. WETA's work in the Lord of the Rings trilogy was the first time I really felt like a CGI effect really looked real - you don't detect any hint of a green screen, and the actual physical work the shop does in terms of costumes and makeup is simple top-notch.

4. There are aliens (and what appears to be a giant robot).

5. It's set in South Africa. Face it - aren't you kind of sick of seeing the same locations (Paris, Washington DC , New York City, L.A.) blown up in movie after movie? Well, here's a change of scenery for you to enjoy. Also, aren't South African accents awesome?

6. I know almost nothing about the plot, but the tiny hint that I have picked up hints that story will be just as important as special effects in this one. Here's all you need to know on that front: aliens have landed in South Africa, they're shoved into a special ghetto (the "District 9" of the title), and they may be oppressed in some fashion. Hmmm... sound familiar to a social problem from that country about 2 decades ago? This is a movie that will hopefully provide more than "shit blows up, heroes posture, bad guys lose, the end" plot for once.

7. Despite the promise of plenty of plot and character moments, don't despair action fans. I'm pretty sure lots of things are still going to blow up. And again... with WETA involved, those things that blow up are probably going to be freaking awesome.

8. Show Hollywood that a movie can be a success even without an obnoxious marketing campaign and a trailer awash in douchey rock music. Check out the excellent viral site for the movie.

9. You already saw G.I. Joe and Inglourious Basterds doesn't come out till next week, so nothing else is out.

10. Maybe they'll show an Avatar teaser before this one. Who knows?

I'm not saying you need to buy into the hype, and I'm not 100% sure this will be the greatest action movie ever made or anything. But when I see a small budget film like this come along that I fear will slip under a lot of people's radar, I like to promote it and give it a chance.

If you really need to be persuaded by a trailer, watch it here in HD: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6PDlMggROA

If you do see the movie, please post your spoiler-free thoughts here (or wait till I review it early next week, where you can spoil all you want).
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Your Scarlet Letter Now Applies to Facebook
Wednesday, August 12, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
The governor of Illinois just signed a bill into law that makes it illegal for registered sex offenders to use social networking sites. In other words, no perverts allowed on Facebook.

On a emotionally charged level, it sounds good, because yeah... no one wants little Sally or Jimmy getting pop up chat messages from Danny the Child Molester. But consider the latest Economist cover article, which argues that the definition of "sex offender" is so broad in the United States that a lot of innocent people are going to get caught up in this.
Many people assume that anyone listed on a sex-offender registry must be a rapist or a child molester. But most states spread the net much more widely. A report by Sarah Tofte of Human Rights Watch, a pressure group, found that at least five states required men to register if they were caught visiting prostitutes. At least 13 required it for urinating in public (in two of which, only if a child was present). No fewer than 29 states required registration for teenagers who had consensual sex with another teenager. And 32 states registered flashers and streakers.
Imagine getting drunk one night when you're a stupid 21 year old. Imagine that in your drunken stupor you drop trou and pee on the side of a building in an alley. Along comes a cop, and boom! now you're a registered sex offender. And now you can't use Facebook anymore.

The Economist article is really quite well done - I highly recommend that you all read it. In the meantime, anyone concerned with free speech had better hope that the courts have some sense and strike this new law down as unconstitutional.

One of the more interesting points brought up in the article points out that the lack of granularity in the enforcement of sex offender laws ends up wasting a lot of time and money for local government.
If there are thousands of offenders on a registry, it is harder to keep track of the most dangerous ones. Budgets are tight. Georgia’s sheriffs complain that they have been given no extra money or manpower to help them keep the huge and swelling sex-offenders’ registry up to date or to police its confusing mass of rules. Terry Norris of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association cites a man who was convicted of statutory rape two decades ago for having consensual sex with his high-school sweetheart, to whom he is now married. “It doesn’t make it right, but it doesn’t make him a threat to anybody,” says Mr Norris. “We spend the same amount of time on that guy as on someone who’s done something heinous.”
Now factor in the fact that in Illinois, SOMEONE has to actually enforce this law regarding social networking. Will the state waste money hiring people to troll Facebook all day, attempting to match profiles there against known sex offenders? How can you be sure that someone's account is actually matched to a real life sex offender?

Smart criminals will easily circumvent this - it's ridiculously easy to set up a Facebook account under an alias. Anyone can go to an Internet cafe to hide their digital footprints, should authorities go so far as to monitor the network activity of each and every sex offender at home. Meanwhile, perfectly innocent people who made the mistake of having teenage sex once upon a time run the risk of being punished for logging on to Facebook to share pictures with their adult friends.

It's easy to revile sexual predators because we all assume they're all monsters, just waiting to pounce again. And certainly some of them are. But the current classifications are simply unacceptable, and hopefully people will start realizing that some of our laws are borderline cruel when it comes to how we treat sex offenders. A paroled murder might have a body count of a half dozen or more on his record, and he's allowed to move in next door to me, with nary a peep. But a guy who hired a hooker - well, he has to do the walk of shame up and down his neighborhood, announcing his crime to every single person. His name is in a database that anyone can search, including his employers, his friends and any person looking to enact a little vigilante justice on a "scumbag."

Look - this is like being scared of rabid dogs, and then deciding that you should kill any and all small mammals you see, just in case (including cats and bunnies and so forth). It's insane.
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Why You Shouldn't See the G.I.Joe Movie
Tuesday, August 04, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist

Don't be this guy. This guy is someone who, in the future, went and saw the G.I. Joe movie on opening weekend. He obviously regrets his decision. You've probably been this guy before, contributing to the opening weekend box office receipts of terrible films like Transformers 2 and X-men Origins: Wolverine.

I had a good friend email me and say, "Admit it. You're just a little excited to see the new G.I. Joe movie, aren't you?" The answer is, "No. No I am not. In fact, the only excitement I feel can best be categorized as 'frothing-at-the-mouth rage'."

Before I launch into my tirade, let me get this out up front:
I have not seen the G.I. Joe movie, and therefore it's possible I'll be wrong and the movie will be great.

Let me tell you why that doesn't matter:
If I'm wrong, you lose nothing but the chance to see it opening weekend. It will still be in theaters next week. If I'm right, however, you'll save some hard earned cash and the two hours you would have wasted on what I suspect will be awful.

Anyway, I've been dreading this release for some time now. Let the record show I warned you people over a year ago about my concerns. But, now that more details have come out, I've been able to refine my argument a bit. Here you go:

Reasons why this movie is going to suck:

1.
It has a Wayans brother in it. Now, in hands of a capable director such as Darren Aronofsky, Marlon Wayans is capable of turning in a nuanced and lovely performance like he did in Requiem for a Dream. In the hands of a bad director, Marlon Wayans is capable of turning in such stunning work as White Chicks, Little Man, and my personal favorite Dungeons and Dragons. It takes a lot of skill to be the worst actor in a movie like D&D, but Mr. Wayans pulled it off.

2. Speaking of directors, the guy who helmed this also directed Van Helsing and the first two entries in The Mummy series. All three of those movies were some level of terrible, and all three suffered from really awful special effects. Since "awesome special effects" and "popcorn movie" keep getting thrown around when talking about this movie, you should be very worried about Stephen Sommers's track record.

3. Don't be fooled by the 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Those numbers are skewed, as almost none of the top critics will get a chance to weigh in before the film opens. When a studio refuses to screen a movie in advance, that is a VERY BAD SIGN. Film.com has a good article on the types of films traditionally not screened for critics.

4. Another bad sign: the movie is being released in August. Traditionally, releasing an big action film in August is a sign that the studio doesn't have faith that the movie is very good. Everything I read from the studio execs smacks of bull.
"`G.I. Joe' is a big, fun, summer event movie — one that we've seen audiences enjoy everywhere from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland to Phoenix, Ariz.," said Rob Moore, vice chairman of Paramount Pictures.
Yeah. That quote (from this article) = "So screw you, East and West Coast. The heartland loves this crap."

5. Why is Sienna Miller famous? Can anyone explain that to me? She's pretty, yeah, but in a very generic kind of way. She's not a great actress. Her claim to fame seems to be more about who she's fucking and stealing away from their wife at the moment.

6. Remember that great theme song "A Real American Hero"? Well, forget that, because for some reason G.I. Joe is now an international squad. In fact, even though they've stolen the name from the comic and animated series, this movie seems to bear little resemblance to the original works.

7. Duke used to be an awesome second-in-command. For some reason Duke is no longer a seasoned First Sergeant, but a punk ass young guy played by Channing Tatum (a.k.a. the douche from Step Up and Step Up 2: The Streets). Yes, because what Duke needed was a more "hip" edge. Barf.

8. If reports are true that The Baroness is no longer Eastern European but now Canadian, then... WTF? What is she the Baroness of, exactly? Was the change made because Sienna Miller couldn't do the accent the right way?

9. Accelerator suits? Why?!

10. I have to believe that, on some level, even Hasbro knows this isn't the right way to tell a G.I. Joe story. I mean, yeah, they're going to take the money from toy sales, etc. But... there's a reason they went out and hired Warren Ellis to write an animated G.I. Joe movie. Because it was fucking awesome and it was everything that a G.I. Joe story should be - exciting, fast-paced, respectful to the original comic/series while still making a story that would resonate with contemporary audiences. And there was no reason that the story Ellis wrote couldn't have been made into a live action film if they really wanted.

In any case, like I said, if the movie releases and the critics rave over it, I'll gladly go see it. I'll be the first to say "my bad" if it turns out to be awesome, and then I'll post a full and glowing review. But the smart bet this weekend is to skip this (sample dialogue from this movie clip: “Emotions are not based in science, and if you can’t quantify or prove something exists…well, in my mind it doesn’t.”).

Here's a quick list of things you can do instead:
  1. If you want to see a movie involving the military, see the amazing Hurt Locker instead.
  2. If you want a fun popcorn movie, go see Star Trek again, catch Drag Me To Hell, or go rent Taken at the video store.
  3. If you only have money for one movie this month, save your cash and see what I suspect will be the true action sleeper of the summer, District 9.
  4. If you want a movie your kid will enjoy, rent Coraline or The Incredible Hulk instead.
Remember kids, knowing is half the battle.
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OMG Lingerie Football! Now Excuse Me While I Die A Little Inside
Monday, August 03, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
wtf?


Courtesy of Yahoo! Sports Shutdown Corner and Philly.com, allow me to share this video, where the QB of the Philadelphia Passion explains how they're going to pass and run and all that good shit this season in the Lingerie Football League.



"We're going to defense each other". Yes. Peyton Manning could not have expressed the essence of football more passionately and clearly. The "With Leather" blog has a hilarious comment on this new league that you should check out (far be it for me to reprint and ruin someone else's funny joke).

I assume that most of my readers out there don't need me to go on a rant about all the ways this offends me. I am going to trust that you people recognize on your own all the levels of total wrongness going on here. I will say that as a former rugby player, I cringed at the one girl tackling the other girl up around the shoulder pads. Also, as a former rugger, I wish I had a better body so I could play in this league, because I would totally lay those Buffys out.

I'm instead going to talk about women's pro sports. Sadly, the Lingerie Football League is probably the only way you're going to see women be paid for playing football. I know there are some pro women's leagues out there (in fact, I'm flirting with trying out for my own local team, the D.C. Divas). Still, here's my issue with the idea of calling that sort of league "professional":

1) You have no feeder league for the "pro" league. You can't be a professional player if you've never played the game before. The game of football just calls for too many specific skills and too much position-based knowledge to acquire in a year or even in 5 years. In addition, having no feeder leagues means your talent pool is diminished, because you don't have millions of young girls being introduced to the sport as players. You only get people like me, who are crazy enough to want to start playing football later in life.

2) The title of "professional" would indicate to me that the players make enough in salary to make a significant impact on their personal finances. I'm not sure they make ANY salary, to be honest, and not near enough to sustain a living without having another job. It sort of seems like "well-sponsored amateurs" would be a more accurate description of where the sport of women's football is at this point. Also, according to the Divas website, you have to PAY to tryout for the squad which... feels a touch sketchy to me, if I'm being honest.

3) As a fan, there's a certain level of skill you expect if someone's going to sell a game to you as "pro" level. And again... with no feeder leagues, you aren't getting anything close to men's professional football. You're not even getting close to high school football levels of play.

Looking at other professional women's leagues, I think they've come a long way. Again, the main leagues - the WNBA and WPS - do have great feeder leagues. More and more young girls are getting involved in soccer and basketball. Women's college hoops were already exciting at an almost pro-level, so there wasn't a big leap to make to go pro. Plus, there were already star athletes from the U.S. going overseas to play their sport professionally, so there was a good pool of experienced pros to choose from when the WNBA started.

However, obviously both leagues are struggling financially. It's well known that several WNBA players still need to play overseas in the off-season or carry some extra job to make ends meet. Several WNBA franchises were shuttered this season as well (no collapse was more devastating to me than the Houston Comets closing up). The WUSA league folded in 2003 after losing a significant amount of money. The new WPS league seems better poised to survive long term (though whether pro soccer - men's OR women's - will ever truly catch on to the levels of the big 4 in the US remains to be seen).

Part of me wonders if this is a chicken-or-egg scenario. Because you only get truly awesome levels of players when there's a strong incentive for those players coming up through the feeder leagues to work their butts off, to sacrifice and strain and push themselves to the limits of their sport. Men's pro leagues now benefit from players who have single-mindedly pursued the heights of their sports almost their entire life. That's because they can look at something like Matthew Stafford's rookie contract ($41.6 million guaranteed) and know that there's a substantial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

On the other hand, you can't get those kind of financial rewards unless interest in your sport supports that kind of revenue. And you can't get that kind of buzz and hype unless you have players who are remarkable athletes, who play at the highest level. Passion for the game is very important, don't get me wrong. On the other hand, passion alone never put food on the table (nor did it buy a yacht and a lot of bling).
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