Archive for December, 2012

I was surfing through my feed on Facebook and came across a video that a couple of friends posted from FunnyOrDie.com. I think the group that came up with this video sat there and thought, “if we love both Samuel L. Jackson and Anne Hathaway for what they do, why not put them together?” The Sad Off is an attempt to both promote their movies and have a bit of offensive fun. Does this video make you laugh? “That it do!”

http://FunnyOrDie.com/m/7muc

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Hanukkah Mashup: Eight Nights

Posted: December 23, 2012 in Holidays, Judaism

I know that Hanukkah has already come and gone, but it is still the holiday season and I really love this video I came across. If you want to get some good Jewish references and a little understanding of the background of the holiday in a comedic a cappella setup, this video is for you.

It is always a tragedy when someone takes the lives of others into their own hands and this is no exception. It is incredibly disheartening that the lives of such a quiet, close community were shaken and cut short. This post merely stands as a tribute and remembrance of the members of the Newtown, Connecticut community.

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Wii U: Does It Live Up to the Hype?

Posted: December 10, 2012 in Video Games

As with the previous Nintendo systems, the Wii U had plenty of hype around its release this year, but not in the same way as when the original Wii was release. Other than knowing that there were improved graphics and a new tablet controller, the speculation around what this new system would bring was somewhat confusing. Was the new controller backwards compatible with the original Wii? Were 3rd-party developers going to take more to this new version of the system than they did with the original Wii? Was Nintendo going to be able to compete with the other systems and their stronger gamer bases?

The only one of those questions to be answered was the first one. The controller was part of the new system, which did make the older Wii obsolete (except if you want to go back to play Gamecube games). The Wii U was released in mid-November with two bundles to pick up. The first was the basic package: white, new controller, no game. This was actually the first time that Nintendo has released a system that does not even contain an introductory game. The second was the deluxe package: black, new controller, Nintendoland game, charger base for the controller. With only a $50 price difference, shoppers have been easily able to track down the basic models but not the deluxes. Luckily, I took a trip to NYC and was able to find one easily.

SONY DSCFirst, the controller is a rather interesting design. The tablet interface is rather responsive and allows the gamer to continue to play games on the controller screen while watching TV on the big screen. The contours fit the hand well, though it still remains to be seen if this will hold true for games that maximize the use of all of the controller’s buttons. The controller can also act as a TV remote once paired. The buttons on the remote are your standards one for any Nintendo controller, but the screen does add the possibility for a slightly larger set of button options depending on the type of gameplay you are enjoying.

The Wii U home screen is the same as the regular Wii with the difference in that the main screen shows the Mii plaza while the controller shows the menu. You can use the touch screen to select items and scroll through the system options.

On to the games…

Nintendo-Land_510First up is Nintendo Land…the distant cousin of Wii Sports. Armed with one of the most annoying and slow interacting guides Nintendo has created, it takes a moment during the first load to get to the actual gameplay. Once you do, you will be pleasantly surprised. Rather than simply putting together a random assortment of games to show off the controller, Nintendo chose to infuse some of their franchises into the mix. Included within the games are a Legend of Zelda-themed game where your character works through stages while taking down enemies with the bow & arrows, a Pikmin-themed game where you make your way through levels to reach the spaceship at the end, Metroid-themed game where you take out enemies from your ship and Yoshi-themed game where you collect fruit and try to draw lines on the tablet to make your way to each goal. Each of the games has decent replay value and a solid difficulty curve. I have not gotten to try out the games in a multiplayer setting, but I can imagine that they bring more of a party element to the gameplay.

New Super Mario Bros U

Besides Nintendo Land, I picked up Super Mario Bros U. While the game is not that different from the original Wii version, there are some new items and new playable elements. The new power-up is the flying squirrel, which allows you to glide and have a quick boost upward when needed. It also lets you cling to the walls. The basic map is not so basic anymore. There is not a necessary linear path you have to take after the first two worlds. The path splits and there are hidden paths that can boost you forward. The Star World levels at the end are out of control, as the difficulty level is ratcheted up. The other major addition to this game is the challenge mode elements, including coin grabs, survival levels, time attacks and 1Up challenges. These are quick and give a little bit of competition to achieve gold medals. I have not been able to play this in multiplayer yet either, but I am sure that it is a blast.

There is still a lot of room for this system to grow, as I am still not sure if there will be a great 3rd-party presence. Here are some of my can’t wait and hopeful games on the horizon:

Can’t Wait List

  • Pikmin 3 – coming soon
  • Legend of Zelda – coming in 2013
  • Super Smash Bros – in the future

Hopeful

  • Metroid Prime
  • Pokemon – still without an RPG console version
  • Mario Kart
  • Mario ??? – Galaxy or something similar
  • Final Fantasy – something closer to the PS games instead of the Crystal Chronicles
  • Star Fox

One of the biggest stories coming into the season (besides Peyton’s new home or the QB controversy in New York) was the draft class and rookie starters for 2012. Leading the way was Andrew Luck going to the Colts, closely followed by RGIII in a deal to the Redskins that included significant efforts to move up in the draft to get him. The Dolphins snatched up Ryan Tannehill within the top 10, followed by Brandon Weeden to the Browns to round out the first round. Later in the draft, Russell Wilson went to the Seahawks and Nick Foles to the Eagles in the 3rd round. All of these rookies either started the season as the starter or have eventually won the spot. Kirk Cousins got a moment of exposure and threw a touchdown, but there was no room to continue once RGIII was good to go again.

Regardless, let’s take a look at the progress of each of these players and their teams…

11-5-12-colts-luck-4_3_r560Andrew Luck (Colts): Coming out of Stanford, there was a lot of hype around his talent and ability to immediately make an impact at the pro level. Manning had moved on to the Broncos after a disappointing 2-14 season and recovering from an injury. The team was no longer looking like the one that won the Super Bowl or was competitive deep into the playoffs. Luck did not start with a win, but the city still saw a glimpse of something special. When Chuck Pagano learned early in the season that he had leukemia, the team was able to rally around his situation. Luck responded with proving that he has some great developing talent and is currently sitting with a 17-16 TD-INT ratio, 3,596 yards and a team record of 8-4. The team is poised to make the playoffs in his first season and will be in contention for years to come.

rgiiicrowd1012dRobert Griffin III (Redskins): Definitely the most dynamic player coming out of college, this Heisman trophy winner ended up getting Washington to take their typical route of giving up future picks to attempt to make a big trade up. The difference with RGIII was that he brought a spirit and hope along with him that DC had been missing for quite some time. The Redskins were not expected to be competitive overall, particularly after some quick injuries on defense, but RGIII helped push the team to a victory to start off the season. He was the only rookie QB this year to start with a win. The next set of games were a roller coaster ride, but his vision and abilities excited the fan base and brought an analysis of his play as that of a much more veteran player. His reputation is one that is respected, not questioned. With possibly the best overall personal stats, RGIII is sitting there with a 104.4 QB rating, 17-4 TD-INT ratio, 2,660 passing yards and rushing totals that include 714 yards and 6 TDs. His stats as a rookie have already placed him in the football Hall of Fame, with examples like his late-game scramble against the Vikings leading his charge. He has kept the Redskins in contention with a 6-6 record and only 1 game back from the Giants.

yahoo_ryantannehillinjuryRyan Tannehill (Dolphins): During the draft, there was an expectation that the Dolphins would take this young player out of Texas A&M because they had no one else at QB and failed to get anyone in possible free agents or trades. Walking into a tough situation and into a division that was dominated by the Patriots, he has performed decently with few weapons around him. With the team at 5-7, there are some building blocks necessary to give him a fair shake. So far, he has managed a 7-12 TD-INT ratio and 2,559 yards. He has still been better than Mark Sanchez…

Brandon WeedenBrandon Weeden (Browns): Ending up in a similarly tough situation, Weeden was a shocker out of Oklahoma State and untraditional with his graduation from college at the age of 28. The Browns were in a similar (and slightly more) tough situation with few offensive options and with less of a running game. The team is not doing well at 4-8, but he has slightly better than Tannehill with 13-15 TD-INT ratio and 2,820 yards.

la-seattle-names-russell-wilson-starting-quart-001Russell Wilson (Seahawks): The biggest surprise out of the season has been Wilson’s preseason victory over acquired Matt Flynn from the Packers. Picked up from Wisconsin, the two guys battled in preseason and training camp and somehow the rookie was given the nod over the highly paid transfer. Surprisingly, Wilson showed promise from the beginning. Losing in the first game, none of the teams loses have been by no more than 7 points and the team is enjoying a 7-5 record. Wilson’s stats have been better than Andrew Luck, with a 19-8 TD-INT ratio, 2,344 yards and a 95.2 QB rating. Although there was the controversial TD call at the end of the Seahawks-Packers game, there is no doubt that Wilson at least will make an impact in the shorter term and possibly longer.

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas CowboysNick Foles (Eagles): Probably not expected to see the field much during this season, this player from Arizona benefited from a struggling and injured Michael Vick. After watching the veteran QB fumble and toss INTs more than any other time in his career, a concussion opened the door to let Foles hit the field. His entry into the NFL was not a positive one though. The Eagles have failed to win a game for the past two months, meaning that the Phillies have won a game more recently than the Eagles. Foles has not had it easy with 2 games against Dallas, 1 against Washington and 1 against Carolina. Through 4 games, he is sitting with 2-3 TD-INT ratio, 6 fumbles and 793 yards. The Eagles are out of contention and will be sticking with Foles for the rest of the season.

There are still 4 weeks left, but this rookie class has some great potential to be consider among the best with talent that could dominate the NFL for years to come.