Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Sony Releases 'The Interview'

When the major theater chains pulled Seth Rogen & James Franco's film The Interview, Sony took a lot of heat, including from me. They originally said they didn't have plans to release it in an alternate way. They've changed course, with a number of theaters around the country showing it starting on Christmas Day.

The chains who pulled it are: Bow Tie Cinemas, AMC, Regal, Cinemark, Cineplex and Carmike. However, if you live near a medium sized chain (such as Alamo Drafthouse) or a locally owned theater, you might be in luck. Click here for an updated list of all the theaters showing the comedy.

Though there is even better news for those of you who aren't near a theater showing it, or are just too lazy to leave the house this Christmas, the movie will now be streaming on the cheap online through various sources. Its just $5.99 through each of the available sites. Visit to see how you can stream it through your computer, Xbox or TV. Go ahead, its your duty as anyone living in a free country! 

Suck it, North Korea!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

SONY Cancels 'The Interview'; North Korea Behind Hack?

The Interview, the new comedy poking fun at North Korea and leader Kim Jong-Un from Seth Rogen & James Franco, has been cancelled by Sony. This is following the Sony hack and 9/11-like threats against theaters showing the film. Major movie theaters dropped the film which caused Sony to just pull it altogether. Sony then announced they were not planning to release it on DVD or Streaming services.

Following news of the movie release being cancelled, an official from the US Government announced that the North Korean government was in some way behind the hack and threats to Sony. 

Am I the only one who finds it oddly amusing that two stoners have caused another international crisis between the United States and North Korea? And lets be real...what could North Korea really do to act on any threats? Launch a missile that would just break up in 3 seconds anyway?

One theater in Texas will be showing a screening of 2004's Team America: World Police, which also spoofed North Korea. The studio (Sony) and the theaters who caved in to the hackers/North Korea should be ashamed for allowing them to dicatate what we do in a free country. Sony is showing a clear lack of guts by not releasing the movie on DVD/VOD right away. I understood them pulling it from theaters once the movie theaters companies all pulled their support, but for the studio to not even release it digitally? That is a WEAK move by Sony. What a great message it would have been if Sony had just released the film for home viewing...but instead they've just backed out completely. We all know it'll leak eventually anyway, but still.

*Update* Team America has now been cancelled thanks to Paramount, because I guess these corporations are all scared and have no guts. Now, Sony has said they are looking at ways to distribute the movie. They've reversed their earlier stance which made it seem like they wouldn't release it in any formate once the theaters pulled it. But, now it looks as if they will be releasing the movie in some form, which is a smart decision. Hopefully they can get it out there soon.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Full 'Jurassic World' Trailer!

The park is open! Well as expected the first trailer for 'Jurassic World', the fourth Jurassic Park movie, was released to the Internet by Universal early. We get our first glimpses of Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and Judy Greer with dialogue. The only original returning character, Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong), is absent from the first trailer. Laura Dern, Sam Neill & Jeff Goldblum will not be in the film barring cameos that have been kept under wraps. However, Steven Spielberg was once again involved with the film.

Jurassic Park IV has been in production in some form or another since Jurassic Park III came out in 2001. Several versions were discussed and then scrapped over the past 13 years before finally being settled on the current version titled Jurassic World. It deals with humans creating a brand new man-made dinosaur which is rumored to combine the DNA of a Velociraptor, Cuttlefish, T-Rex and Snake (and hopefully the DNA of Jeff Goldblum as well). That was obviously a terrible idea, and the dinosaur wreaks havoc on the Park. So how do you stop a hybrid dinosaur? Well, "life finds a way"...

Jurassic World is out on June 12, 2015.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

'Jurassic World' Gets Teased (Finally!)

The full trailer for Jurassic World will premiere on Thanksgiving during the NFL on NBC Thursday Night Football game. If you're sleeping from the tryptophan induced food coma, then I am sure it will leak early or be uploaded to YouTube before the game. A brief teaser of that one showing off some dinosaurs, as well as Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, was released to whet your appetite.

Its an absolutely perfect teaser. The music, the gates opening up, the Gallimimus running... it all brings you back to the original Jurassic Park. The film takes place on the original Isla Nublar 22 years after the first movie, this time with a fully functioning theme park of dinosaurs. Attendance apparently starts to sag (that would never happen), so scientists start to create dangerous new man-made dinosaurs by mixing DNA (bad idea), and of course things go terribly wrong.

We all know if this were real, attendance would never drop. But this is a fantasy film after all, so we can all suspend disbelief.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Best Pumpkin Products at Trader Joe's

Thanksgiving is almost here, time to amp up your pumpkin intake. Trader Joe's is known for all of the delicious pumpkin products they carry during autumn. And these products use real pumpkin, you don't have to worry about controversial flavorings/ingredients like in the Starbucks pumpkin spice latte which has recently been making the rounds. Which are the best to stock up on from Trader Joe's?

1. Frozen Pumpkin Pie - Pumpkin Pie is a fall & Thanksgiving staple, even going through early winter as a Christmas dessert as well. Trader Joe's has the absolute best pumpkin pie you'll be able to find, and it isn't all that expensive. They also make an equally tasty fresh pie, but if you aren't sure when you'll be using it, know that the frozen version doesn't sacrifice any flavor. Add your own whipped topping and maybe you can even pass it off as your own on Thanksgiving.

2. Pumpkin Butter - It's not actually butter, it just makes for a good name. This contraption is a nice spread that you can put on anything to make it taste like pumpkin. I like to put it on morning toast, and all of a sudden you have pumpkin for breakfast. It also tastes like heaven when you mix it into some plain or vanilla yogurt. They sell pumpkin yogurt too, but with the pumpkin butter you can get loads of pumpkin yogurt just by mixing some in.

3. Pumpkin Bread Mix - This box of pumpkin bread mix is just $2.99 and is absolutely the best packaged mix you can find. Its simple to make and has a strong enough taste so it doesn't feel cheap or like you need to add your own pumpkin to it. Its all right there, and packs a ton of flavor. Many people will buy multiple boxes in January/February (they tend to sell this popular item longer) to stock up for spring and summer.

4. Organic Pumpkin Toaster Pastries - Basically these are pop-tarts without all the crazy ingredients. Probably the easiest way to get a morning pumpkin fix. Put them in the toaster on the lowest setting, and soon you have a warm and gooey pumpkin treat with some added nutrition as well.

5. Pumpkin Ice Cream - This one is marketed under the "Pilgrim Joe's" label. Get it? It tastes just like pumpkin pie in ice cream form, and is absolutely delicious and creamy. One gripe is that they use caramel color in it, which is a questionable coloring.

6. Pumpkin Joe Joe's - Oh thank you for inventing these. I believe they are new. Anyone whose had Joe Joe's will agree they are better than Oreos, as the filling uses real Vanilla Bean. Well now you can get them with a pumpkin cream filling as well as pumpkin cookie around it. Try not to eat the entire box in one day.

7. Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins - Starbucks has a similar product, but the Trader Joe's version is tastier. Plus, you get four in a package for what about two cost at Starbucks. Its a nice pumpkin muffin with some pumpkin cream cheese in the middle of it all. They also sell a pumpkin cream cheese, but I haven't tried that one yet.

8. Pumpkin Joe O's - Joe O's are incredibly awesome. They're basically cheerios, but I find them better as the O's are a bit bigger. Well they also sell Pumpkin O's, which is a great way to add some pumpkin to breakfast. And as a bonus, you can drink up the milk with the flavor after.

Monday, November 3, 2014

'The Walking Dead' and 'Homeland' Hit Their Stride

Sunday delivered two of the most satisfying episodes of two of the most talked about shows on TV. Both The Walking Dead and Homeland have really hit their stride. Some complained that while enjoyable, both shows had uneven seasons last year during the 2013-2014 season. They've come back refreshed and with a bang.

First The Walking Dead, which finally answered the question of "Where's Beth"? Beth (Emily Kinney) got the spotlight, stuck in a hospital after being found fighting off a walker on the road. Multiple new characters were introduced in the episode (titled "Slabtown"), further proving that The Walking Dead has a knack for making you invested in new characters in a one hour span. 

Beth herself has instantly become one of the most interesting characters on the show, along with Carol (Melisa McBride). Both characters have been developed from flawed and vulnerable to strong survivors. Carol went from being an abused wife, to now rescuing Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the rest of the survivors by blowing up Terminus. Beth went from contemplating suicide a few seasons ago, to helping newbie Noah (Tyler James Williams from Everybody Hates Chris) escape the hospital. She got caught, but with a smile on her face. Just as she was about to launch an attack against other newbie Dawn, Carol is wheeled in and she stops, realizing a new plan can form. It'll be great to watch these two together, The Walking Dead's version of Thelma and Louise (minus the driving off a cliff part).

Homeland has also returned to form. Carrie (Claire Danes) is back in a vulnerable state following two big revelations at the end of the episode. The biggest addition of the season was Ayan (Suraj Sharma). They built him up all season as a sympathetic character caught in the middle of a battle, and we thought he would be a major factor possibly beyond this season. Then his situation deteriorated quickly, and he was shot dead by his terrorist Uncle Haqquani. Haqquani showed he only cares about using his family and is not afraid to sacrifice them, becoming the fiercest bad guy Homeland has seen. Oh, he also has Saul (Mandy Patinkin) in his grasp, keeping him alive knowing the CIA won't use a drone attack on him.

Brody (Damian Lewis) may be gone, but that was necessary to keep the series moving. It would have been too implausible for him to continue to survive. This season has returned to feeling like Season One, with lots of mystery and not knowing which way it will turn. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Avengers: Age Of Ultron First Trailer

The first trailer for Marvel's highly anticipated upcoming blockbuster Avengers: Age Of Ultron has been released. It doesn't give too much away, but offers the first glimpses of Ultron (James Spader), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). All of the returning heroes from the first Avengers are back as well.

Avengers: Age Of Ultron is out May 1, 2015.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Hear the Foo Fighters New Single: "Something From Nothing"

The Foo Fighters have released the first single from their upcoming album Sonic Highways (titled "Something from Nothing"), which is out November 10. And before that, the HBO series with the same name begins airing Friday October 17th in the lead up to the release of the album, showcasing the music of different American cities, which is where the influence from each song on the album came from.

"Something From Nothing" is the first single, and it represents Chicago. The nearly 5 minute track builds up from a slow burn into a loud release, with Dave Grohl eventually screaming fuck it all, I came from nothing. It should easily please every fan of the band, with a gripping sound from the start, and it even gets a little bit funky.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Landon Donovan Retires

Landon Donovan has retired from the United States Men's National Soccer Team at just 32, still in his prime. He became the most recognizable male soccer player to ever come from the USA, doing for them what Mia Hamm did for the Women's Team, providing a spark in being able to both score goals and set others up with assists, a quality that isn't found often. His late goal against Algeria in the 2010 World Cup to save the US will always be remembered as one of the best goals of all time.

He didn't have the best relationship with current coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who left him off the 2014 World Cup roster. However, considering he's taken breaks from soccer before, it was clear he has other interests outside of the game. People saying he retired just because of Klinsmann are off base. He'll also be retiring from the LA Galaxy in Major League Soccer (MLS).

As for the future of the Men's National Team, the excitement continues to build off of 2014. It's now at a place where just getting out of the Group Stage will no longer be considered a success. Looking at the team since the 1994 World Cup they've done quite well:

1994: Lost in Round of 16.
1998: Last place, Lost in Group Stage.
2002: Lost in Quarterfinals (with an awful non-called handball against Germany).
2006: Lost in Group Stage.
2010: Finished top of the group, lost in Round of 16.
2014: Lost in Round of 16.

They've gotten out of the Group Stage enough to where the stakes are now raised. Its time to finally equal or better that 8th place finish at the 2002 World Cup.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Walking Dead & U2

AMC released two new trailers for The Walking Dead with "The Troubles" by U2 featuring Lykke Li off their new album Songs of Innocence as the soundtrack to both.

It helps build up the tension nicely, with the haunting song a perfect fit for the vibe of togetherness we get from our survivors as they face their toughest task yet. The trailers don't offer up too much in the way of plot, but some great footage is spliced together giving it a theatrical feel for a show that thrives on details. The Walking Dead season 5 premieres Sunday October 12 while the deluxe non-free version of Songs of Innocence hits stores October 14. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ultimate First World Problem: Complaining About a Free U2 Album From iTunes

When news broke that the new U2 album Songs of Innocence would be released free on iTunes automatically in every users library, many people were happy. And many people were not happy, from regular users on twitter to Sharon Osbourne, that it downloaded into their library.

But the uproar about an "invasion of privacy" (even though there is a thing called a user agreement that you accept when you get an iPhone/iTunes...) and complaining about an album taking up space on your phone is ridiculous.

I mean picture this: a person (probably a hipster) is sitting in a nice air conditioned Starbucks with their complicated coffee order in hand. They turn on their 500 dollar iPhone and all of a sudden the new U2 album is in their music library for free. They immediately go onto social media and start complaining about it furiously. I about a first world problem. If the worst moment of your week was a free album by a talented rock band being downloaded into your music library, well then you've probably had a pretty good week.

Maybe all these people should walk into a local homeless shelter or hospital and then complain about how awful it was to be gifted a free album by Apple. Let's see how that works out for you.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

New U2 Album "Songs of Innocence" Out NOW...for FREE

How do you combat the lack of people buying albums? Well, you just give it away for free apparently.

The Temporary Cover of the Free Version of "Songs of Innocence"
U2 (Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr, Adam Clayton) announced at the Apple iPhone 6 event that their new album, Songs of Innocence, is now out exclusively on iTunes until October 13 for Free, automatically in every users iTunes around the world, where you can listen or download the album for free. Of course that means the album will not count towards the Billboard charts, but for a band like U2 who have sold millions upon millions of albums that really isn't a big deal. You can check for the album here:

On October 13 the physical album will be released on CD and Vinyl, containing acoustic versions of the songs as well as four new tracks not on the free digital version, plus other goodies like a book. This may be a smart idea in this age when album sales are at record lows. More people will listen to the free album that normally wouldn't pay for it anyway. Then when the deluxe/physical version comes out the fans who would buy it anyway will get that one. Bono also stated that another album called Songs of Experience may be released in the not too distant future.

So far my favorite song would be "The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)", with fuzzed out guitars that scream ROCK. Sorry Gene Simmons, but Rock is not dead, just ask U2, the Foo Fighters, and Paramore among others.

The track listing:
1. The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)
2. Every Breaking Wave
3. California (There is no End to Love)
4. Song for Someone
5. Iris (Hold Me Close)
6. Volcano
7. Raised By Wolves
8. Cedarwood Road
9. Sleep Like a Baby Tonight
10. This Is Where You Can Reach Me
11. The Troubles - Featuring Lykee Li

New U2 Album Being Revealed At Apple Event

The updated U2 iPod from 2006
It's been 5 and a half years since U2 last released an album, 2009's No Line On The Horizon. That is about to change, as rumor has it U2 will be releasing some information about the new album, with the date of release soon.

According to the New York Times, U2 (Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr, Adam Clayton) will be at the Apple event September 9th. Apple will be revealing the iPhone 6 that day, which should go on sale shortly after. Now the rumor is U2 will be streaming the entire album on the iPhone 6. One can assume the album will then be released shortly after that. They may also be performing their new single at the event. This all comes with little hype or warning, which worked for David Bowie & Beyonce among others. 

There may be more in relation to Apple, but that is being kept under wraps. The music industry has changed with album sales at an all time low, and artists are finding new ways to get music out there. We can possibly expect some unique new thing U2 and Apple will be trying to improve the listening experience in the digital age. The album will be released in an "innovative" way according to some. We'll find out soon what innovative actually means. 

This isn't the first time the two have linked up. Their hit song "Vertigo" was featured in the memorable silhouette iPod commercials in 2004 and 2005. Apple also released a Special Edition U2 iPod in 2004 and video iPod in 2006. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Joan Rivers: Ultimate Trailblazer

Joan Rivers passed away at the age of 81 due to complications of an outpatient throat surgery. She was on life support, and daughter Melissa Rivers had to make the tough decision to take her off. It was a preventable death, as the spry & sharp comedian had plenty of years left in her, yet something went wrong while under anesthesia and questions will now persist on just how safe it is to go into surgery as an outpatient rather than in a hospital.

Rivers steamrolled through the comedy world at a time when it was tough for women to make it. She opened doors left and right, and we now live in a society where women are all over the comedy landscape. She also didn't care what other people thought or who she offended, which has always been a breath of fresh air. Her reasoning was that you should try and laugh about anything and everything, because it takes some of the power away and can make a tragedy a little easier to deal with. I can laugh at anything, so Rivers was perfect for my style.

She had also managed to pick up new fans through her many decades in the business. It can be difficult for people, especially comedians, to pick up and relate to younger audiences. Joan showed how it was done though, with new fans from various generations getting a laugh from her.

I know it shouldn't be shocking if someone over the age of 80 dies, but its different with someone like Joan Rivers. She was still a fixture on TV, having two shows plus an online talk show. She had written two books in the past two years, was constantly performing stand up comedy at venues big and small, from big cities to the smaller ignored towns. She was always wonderful to her fans, taking time to answer their questions and take pictures. She was also a regular on the Howard Stern Show, giving some of the best interviews, never fearing any topic. She could have easily lived another ten years or more much like the great Betty White, which makes it all the sadder.

However, she would want us to laugh, so every Christmas i'll remember the joke she made saying that she was starting a charity for Paris Hilton called "Toys for Twats" and instantly put a smile on my face.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Foo Fighters Ice Bucket Challenge

The Foo Fighters have just done the Ice Bucket Challenge to fight ALS, and nobody can top this creativity, so don't even try.

Dave Grohl channels his inner Sissy Spacek as the band re-create the scene in the 1976 film Carrie where they dump pigs blood onto poor Carrie at the prom. Only this time its the ice bucket being dumped onto Grohl, complete with prom dress and crown. Grohl also nominated John Travolta (who was in the original film) and Stephen King (who wrote the book of course). Taylor Hawkins takes on the Tommy Ross role, getting hit in the head by the bucket.

Remember to donate: The Foo Fighters new album Sonic Highways will be released November 10, 2014 with an HBO series documenting the making of it leading up to the release date. The eight episodes show the recording of each song in eight different United States cities, with each song representing the music that has come from the city where it was recorded.
'Sonic Highways' Album Cover

Celestina Warbeck Gets The Pottermore Spotlight

J.K. Rowling has added more new content to the Harry Potter universe via the Pottermore website. This one is also directly connected to Universal Studios Orlando and the new Diagon Alley section that was added to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Celestina Warbeck was a character mentioned in the books as one of the most popular singers in the wizarding world, and Molly Weasley's favorite singer. It's one of numerous new backgrounds given on a Harry Potter subject which is mentioned but not delved deeply into.

The character is portrayed in Diagon Alley, performing shows at different hours of the day, so it was only fitting to add some background to the character, with a full biography written about her from Rowling. It's located in the Chamber of Secrets area of Pottermore in the "Floo Powder" section. It also allows you to listen to a song which is performed at Universal Orlando called You Stole My Cauldron But You Can't Have My Heart. Can't get to Orlando? You can watch the entire Universal Orlando performance by Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees below:

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fan Runs Onto Field; Takes Free Kick in West Ham-Tottenham Match

At the West Ham United-Tottenham Hotspur opening day Premier League match Saturday, a fan ran onto the field during the game when a free kick was being set up. He took the free kick and actually had it on target after getting it over the wall, though it was easily easily saved by the goalie. All the players turned to watch the ball as well, which was quite funny. I'd love to hear their reactions.
Still impressive considering he was wearing jeans, regular shoes, and being chased by security guards. Not only that, but it was more on target than the actual player's following free kick. Maybe he can help Manchester United, who lost their first opening day home game since 1972 at the hands of Swansea City.

Though the fan was promptly arrested after his kick. Maybe Ted Lasso put him up to it.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Robin Williams Dead At 63

Actor Robin Williams was tragically found dead in his home at age 63, confirmed by his wife and publicist.

Apparently it was a suicide by asphyxiation, and police in Marin County, CA were alerted around 12 PM and found him in his home. The news had caused his wikipedia page to briefly crash with so many people flooding to it. 

Williams had battled alcohol and drugs in the past, and recently went back into rehab this past July. He talked openly in the past about dealing with depression and recently it had returned, possibly triggering his suicide. Its sad news, and we often forget that just because someone is a famous comedian playing happy, funny characters in big movies and TV shows, that doesn't mean they can't have problems in real life just like anyone else. 

Since rising to fame in 1978 on the show "Mork and Mindy", he made millions laugh with roles in many incredibly popular movies, especially during the 90s with a string of hit family movies. However, he also took on many more dramatic roles as well. Here's just a sampling:
1987: Good Morning, Vietnam. 
1989: Dead Poets Society
1991: Hook
1992: Aladdin
1993: Mrs. Doubtfire
1995: Jumanji
1997: Good Will Hunting
1998: Flubber
2002: One Hour Photo
2006: Happy Feet
2009: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
2013: The Butler

Friday, August 8, 2014

Ted Lasso Makes Triumphant Return

You can't keep a good lad down. Former Tottenham Hotspur coach, for six and a half hours, Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) is back and in a brand new role. After being fired from his new job as an NBC Sports anchor, Lasso teaches us some life lessons like "Early drinkin' means early drunkin" thanks to the early start times in America. We also learned his nickname, Wanker, and that all soccer teams must now be sponsored by a Middle Eastern airliner.

USA Men's National Team World Cup hero Tim Howard makes an appearance as well. I'd probably pay to listen to Sudeikis do actual commentary for one of the Premier League matches in character as Ted Lasso.

He also gets a call to coach a new Premier League team at the end! Check out the entire video:

The Premier League is back on NBC/NBC Sports Network August 16. They've done a great job with coverage. One can only hope FOX is able to step up their game when they begin World Cup hosting duties for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup from Canada.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Portland Stakes its Claim as Soccer City USA

19,123 Fans Watching the Portland Thorns in Action
Portland, Oregon, the quirky city in the Pacific Northwest featured lovingly on IFC's Portlandia, has made it known to the world that it should be prime candidate for Soccer City USA. The amount of buzz they generated in the lead up to the MLS All Stars vs Bayern Munich match has been outstanding. It delivered as well thanks to a raucous and appreciative crowd. Though it will be remembered for Pep Guardiola not shaking Caleb Porter's hand after being a bit angry with a rough challenge in a friendly. The Portland Timbers are one of the best run franchises in Major League Soccer (MLS), with a waiting list for tickets as games are routinely sold out. Now, Seattle does average 40,000 fans per game at CenturyLink Field, which is more than the 20,000 that the Timbers home (Providence Park) holds, otherwise Portland would have at least 30,000 per game and probably more if there were more seats. Seattle has certainly done a fantastic job, but you just have to love Portland. Its a smaller city than Seattle, and not nearly as high profile.

There really is another big reason for Portland getting an advantage over Seattle...their support of their National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) team, the Portland Thorns FC. Sunday night on ESPN 2, the defending champs were in a must win situation against the Houston Dash and managed to pull off the win. This was in front of 19,123 fans, an NWSL record. This isn't just some fluke though, they routinely get around 14,000 fans to games, and have reached 10,000 season ticket holders, which is a huge number for a women's team anywhere in the world. It's more than some MLS, NHL, MLB and NBA teams have. They also were profitable in their very first year, a rarity for any new sports franchise. The Thorns feature Alex Morgan (USA), Christine Sinclair (Canada), Nadine Angerer (Germany), Tobin Heath (USA) and Vero Boquete (Spain) among others. But even players who aren't big International stars have become fan favorites.

The current NWSL leaders, Seattle Reign FC, have done well by boosting their attendance above 2013 numbers to see the likes of Hope Solo (USA), Nahomi Kawasumi (Japan), Sydney Leroux (USA), Megan Rapinoe (USA), Jess Fishlock (Wales) & Kim Little (Scotland). They do have a ways to go before catching Portland in attendance, but are building a strong fanbase. Granted, they aren't affiliated with the MLS owned Sounders and the Thorns are owned by the Timbers. However, you can just feel that even if the Thorns were not owned by the Timbers, they would still be pulling in big attendance numbers. The Thorns simply have one of the best stadium atmospheres in all of sports. Fans bring creative signs and tifos led by the Rose City Riveters supporters group. They constantly chant and cheer until the end of the match, light up flares to send up red smoke when the Thorns score and cheer on their team even in a loss. One can hope they rub off on the rest of the NWSL.

The Pacific Northwest rivals of Portland & Seattle have given rise to enthusiastic & involved soccer fans, and it is now starting to spread elsewhere.

Monday, July 28, 2014

'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Teaser

The first teaser for 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1', one of the most anticipated movies of the year, was released at comic-con and is now online for your viewing pleasure. It shows Julianne Moore as President Alma Coin and Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of his final roles. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) briefly appears at the end, declaring that she will lead the fight against the Capitol. Some battle scenes are included, possibly upping the action to a new level from the first two films.


'Mockingjay Part 1' will be released on November 21, 2014. Unlike 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' Parts 1 and 2, which were released a few months apart, fans will have to wait a year for 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2' to be released on November 20, 2015.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Wonder Woman Revealed

The first picture of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman (see below) in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice has been released. The costume is in a similar gritty style to Ben Affleck's Batman costume that was recently revealed. They're putting an emphasis on the warrior aspect of the character, with the costume drawing comparisons to the costume of Xena. Its been well received so far on the Internet, seemingly getting more positive buzz than the reveal for Henry Cavill's Superman costume and the new Batman costume. I'm seeing the word "badass" tossed around the most, which has to make everyone involved in the film smile. The brown looking color is something new, as we're used to the red/blue/gold look. It works in this setting though. The sword is an awesome addition. Besides the sword, you can glimpse the traditional lasso that Lynda Carter typically used in the 70s TV Show on the side of her waist.

There have been some comments that Gadot should have bigger muscles, but you can see she has certainly been working hard and has packed on some muscle compared to when she was announced in the role. And let's be real...these are superheroes from other planets who are supposed to naturally be strong, with or without big muscles. We can suspend belief for a fictional movie where heroes can fly. So calm down, nerds.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will be released on May 6, 2016 and serve as a launch for a Justice League movie. Aside from the introduction of Wonder Woman to the fold, Aquaman (Jason Momoa) & Cyborg (Ray Fisher) have also been announced, though in minor roles.
Gal Gadot

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Is Another Harry Potter Short Story on the Way?

J.K. Rowling made headlines when she wrote a short story in the style of a Rita Skeeter gossip column about Harry Potter and the rest of Dumbledore's Army on the Pottermore website early in July, following with more information courtesy of Skeeter at the Quidditch World Cup. These were released around the time that Diagon Alley opened to much fanfare (and 5 hour waits for the new ride) at Universal Studios Orlando. Skeeter mentions during the gossip column that she has a book called Dumbledore's Army: The Dark Side of the Demob coming out on July 31st at Flourish and Blotts. Does this mean Rowling could post more from Skeeter to the Pottermore website?

Some fans found the updates on Harry, Ron, Hermione and friends, the first since the Deathly Hallows book came out in 2007, too negative. The whole point of Rita Skeeter is to poke fun at tabloids and the embellished information contained in them, as half the stuff Skeeter says are lies anyway. It was meant to be fun, and came across that way just fine.

The live updates on the Quidditch World Cup final, with dueling posts from Ginny Weasley (now Potter, of course) and Skeeter, ended in comical fashion. Ginny got tired of Skeeter making up stories about Dumbledore's Army and put a jinx on her. Some nice tidbits about our favorite characters were included as well. Harry has a new scar on his face, possibly from a battle during his time as an auror. He also remains friends with Viktor Krum. Krum won the Quidditch World Cup with Bulgaria for the first time. Ron now co-runs the Weasley Wizard Wheezes joke shop. I for one hope we do get another Pottermore update from Rita Skeeter on July 31, and I'm sure many people will be logging onto the site to see if this will be an actual story. There is a Flourish and Blotts section of the site, which lends some hope for fans.

Monday, July 14, 2014

2014 World Cup Review

The 2014 FIFA World Cup is in the history books, with my pre-tournament pick Germany winning their fourth World Cup title. The final was okay, the extra time picked up after a disappointing second half. It was better than that awful Spain-Netherlands 2010 Final. However, the past few Women's World Cup finals have been much better than the past few Men's World Cup finals.

Worst Team: Cameroon. Not only did they finish as the worst team with 0 points and a -8 Goal Differential, players even fought with each other. How do you expect to win with no chemistry? The best team was obviously Germany.

Best Fans: Japan. They actually cleaned up their section in the stadium, despite some poor results from their team, who couldn't live up to expectations. The fans stayed positive and respectful. USA fans come in a close second for redefining American soccer fans, showing up in outstanding costumes and big numbers, becoming favorites of the Brazilians.

Unexpected Star: Miguel Herrera, Mexico. His goal celebrations became legend. He became the face of joy. As a US Soccer fan you're supposed to dislike everything about the Mexican team, but Herrera changed that. Just as Graham Zusi of the US will always hold a special place in Mexico fans' hearts. We built bridges!

Best Goalkeeper: The Great Wall of CONCACAF! Alright, I'll rank them.
1. Tim Howard, USA. - I wanted to put Navas 1st, but Howard had one of the greatest performances by a Goalkeeper ever seen in the World Cup against Belgium in the Round of 16. That 16 save performance had to elevate him to the top of the list.
2. Keylor Navas, Costa Rica. - Navas was one of Costa Rica's biggest assets in helping the island country to its best showing ever at a World Cup, losing to the Netherlands in a penalty shootout in the Quarterfinal.
3. Guillermo Ochoa, Mexico. - Ochoa's performance against Brazil was the best Goalkeeping performance until Howard's. CONCACAF proved to be tough in this tournament, and worthy of getting a 4th spot guaranteed at the next World Cup rather than having to go to playoff, which Africa should do. Outside of CONCACAF, Thibaut Courtois of Belgium and Manuel Neuer of Germany were both outstanding.

Most Disappointing Teams: 1. Japan - I know...Spain were poor and everyone expected more. But they've also won two straight Euro's & the 2010 World Cup. They were bound to crash eventually. Japan seemed to be on the upswing though to build on 2010, but they only came away with 1 point. And that point was against a 10-man Greece. They lacked creativity in the attack, the opposite of their Women's team who won the World Cup in 2011.
2. Spain - They followed in the footsteps of France in 2002 and Italy in 2010, defending champs who went out in the group stage. I was torn between them and the Netherlands when I made my picks. Sadly I went with Spain to get out of the group with Chile. The "experts" swayed me on it, even though I had a hunch. Never again!
3. Brazil - They were lucky to finish 4th, aided by the post against a superior Chile and gifted a Penalty Kick against Croatia. They seem very stagnant when they play. Maybe fans should show more support to the superior Women's team, who still manage that Brazilian flare the men lack, even as they get less than half of the support from the Brazilian Federation (as most South American teams do).

Tightest Jerseys: 1. Uruguay - They always win this award. It's as much of a tradition as Luis Suarez biting people. 2. Algeria - One of the more improved teams. 3. Ivory Coast - They failed to get out of the group again, but at least they get something.

Best Goals:
1. Tim Cahill, Australia. Cahill's volley into the net against Netherlands was incredibly difficult and it made for a beautiful and unexpected goal. It came on a long distance pass, with Cahill moving around a defender to send it in.
2. James Rodriguez, Colombia. James' goal against Uruguay, which came off his chest and then sent hard into the top of the net was the best looking goal of the tournament. The Colombian dancing to make Shakira proud after each goal only helped. His goals and celebrations helped make him a favorite of many fans.
3. Robin Van Persie, Netherlands. His flying header against Spain became the meme of the tournament, inspiring people to do what con only be described as a flying plank.
4. Jermaine Jones, USA. Jones curled his shot into the net with power and precision at the most crucial moment for the United States against Portugal. It was also pretty far away, expertly moving past a host of defenders.
5. Mario Goetze, Germany. Goetze's goal in extra time in the final against Argentina wasn't an easy shot. He sent it in from an angle after chesting down the cross, falling to the ground after the pinpoint goal.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

15th Anniversary of USA Winning the 1999 Women's World Cup

Brandi Chastain Celebrating The Win
It's hard to believe 15 years have gone by, but July 10, 2014 marks the 15th Anniversary of the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup final between the United States and China, which the USA won on Penalty Kicks in front of over 90,000 fans at the Rose Bowl. Brandi Chastain lined up to take the 5th kick, with a chance to win the World Cup for the United States after Briana Scurry had made a save of China's 3rd kick. It seemed like everyone in the country was glued to the final, including President Clinton who was practically falling out of his seat.

Chastain had missed a PK against China earlier in the year that saw China beat the US at the Algarve Cup. She had also been cut from the team for the 1995 Women's World Cup and had to work her way back for the Atlanta 1996 Olympics. The player who had been cut a few years earlier, now had the fate of the US resting on her foot. She nailed the kick and fell to the ground after ripping her jersey off, her sports bra celebration becoming the defining moment in US Soccer history. The hugely successful tournament that filled football stadiums and got millions of TV viewers redefined soccer in America, becoming the talk of the summer of 1999. Since that time, soccer has continued to grab headlines in America for big tournaments.
It was of course a big moment for Women's team sports as well, which until this event were mostly looked over. Female athletes only got attention in individual sports such as tennis, gymnastics, swimming, track & field and figure skating. Then players like Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastian became household names, and did it in a sport that had been looked over in the United States even when it came to men. We've never looked back, as soccer remains a force in the United States.

Also of note, the USA Women in 1999 are the last home team to win a World Cup with the Brazil men now failing to do so in 2014. France is the last men's team to do so, in 1998 and along with the US Women are just the only two to do it after Argentina in 1978.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Growth of Soccer in America

The US Men's National Team were eliminated in overtime by Belgium, but became the biggest story of the summer. Tim Howard had one of the greatest games ever, his 16 saves the most since the 1966 World Cup. The huge TV ratings in the United States for the 2014 World Cup aren't a shock to me, as they have been building for some time. People packed bars, watch parties, and stadiums to watch the matches just like they do in other countries. This wasn't some overnight sensation. Soccer is here to stay, so get used to it Ann Coulter. And it all began in the 1990s.

The first World Cup was held in 1930 in Uruguay. The USA finished top of their group but lost in the semi-finals (there were 13 teams, so the 4 group winners advanced) to Argentina, finishing in 3rd place. It is still the best finish by a non-European or South American team. In 1950 they defeated England in one of the biggest upsets of all time. After that...nothing, as the US didn't qualify for another 40 years. Then came the 1990's, which helped launch Soccer in the US as we know it today.

In November of 1989, Paul Caligiuri scored a game winning goal that saw the US defeat Trinidad & Tobago 1-0, which caused the United States to qualify for the 1990 FIFA World Cup, their first since 1950. USA finished last in the group in 1990, but the future was set. FIFA also held the first ever Women's World Cup in China in 1991, and the US Women's Team won it all after beating Norway 2-1, which became the first time the United States had won an international FIFA Soccer competition. Huge crowds turned out in China to watch the matches, but when the US team returned home people didn't pay attention.

Cut to 1994...the men's World Cup was held in the United States for the first time, and the US made it out of the group stage after their surprising win over Colombia, but lost a close match to Brazil in the Round of 16. TV ratings went up, and the US set a World Cup attendance record that still stands to this day, even though the tournament was expanded to 32 teams in 1998. At the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the Women's team captured the gold medal in front of sold out stadiums, while Mia Hamm started to become the first well known American soccer player.

Also in 1996 we saw the creation of MLS (Major League Soccer). Though it started slow as any new sports league does, it has grown significantly. Currently there are 19 teams, but two more will be added in 2015 (New York City FC and Orlando City SC) and another in 2017 (Atlanta). Miami, owned by David Beckham, will also join the league at some point. Multiple teams now turn a profit. The Seattle Sounders (who began MLS play in 2009), average over 40,000 fans per game and are now worth $175 Million. The Portland Timbers have a waiting list for season tickets.

Then came the Summer of 1999, and Soccer in America was about to reach a whole new level. The FIFA Women's World Cup took place in the United States, and they were having it in big gridiron football stadiums. The idea and hard work paid off. The tournament began on June 19, 1999 the United States beat Denmark 3-0 in front of a sold out Giants Stadium. People tailgated in the parking lot, painted their bodies, and soccer had taken off. They made it to the final, playing China in front of over 90,000 fans at the Rose Bowl. 18 Million people watched, and an estimated 40 million when factoring in bars/watch parties. USA won with the infamous Brandi Chastain penalty kick where she pulled her jersey off showing her sports bra following the euphoric victory on home soil. The women had become household names, and were on the cover of every magazine and newspaper from Newsweek to Sports Illustrated. The 1999 Women's World Cup wasn't just big for women's sports, it was a pivotal moment for the popularity of soccer in the United States, and we've never looked back.

The Men's team became the big story of the 2002 World Cup, making it to the Quarterfinals defeating Portugal and Mexico along the way. They played Germany tough, but lost 1-0. A German handball at the goal line went unnoticed, otherwise they may have made it to the semifinals. Landon Donovan became the first really well known American male soccer player. The 2010 World Cup saw the ratings build upon 2006, and some nail biter games turned them into water cooler talk. The US Women's team again made headlines in 2011 after the dramatic last second Abby Wambach header against Brazil to tie the game, which they won in Penalty Kicks. They lost the final to Japan as ESPN got its most watched non-NFL/NCAA football game, topping the World Series. At the 2012 London Olympics their 4-3 win over Canada became the talk of the Games, rare for a team sport during the Olympics. The final, a rematch against Japan, equalled the viewers of the Men's Dream Team final. The NWSL (National Women's Soccer League) was created, and the Portland Thorns turned a profit in their first year, while approaching 10,000 season ticket holders. The men's team has earned the respect of other nations at the 2014 World Cup, and the American fans became some of the most popular and well liked in Brazil. Soccer is a big sport in the US, and the interest will continue to stay strong as it has since the summer of '99.

Part of the reason people may think the US doesn't care about soccer is because its simply not the only sport we care about. We have a large population with a variety of tastes and it shows. Professional leagues (MLS, NWSL) still need to grow, but that will take longer. Americans also pay attention to foreign leagues, as the English Premier League does well in the ratings on NBC.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

USA Makes The Knockout Round Again

The USA Men's National Team have qualified for their second straight knockout round for the first time in history. So many "experts" picked against them, some even saying they wouldn't score a goal, though they made short work of the Group of Death by being better than both Ghana and Portugal. They fought hard but lost to Germany 1-0, though thanks to Portugal beating Ghana the US is in and will (most likely) be facing Belgium on Tuesday. Ronaldo scored Portugal's winning goal which sealed the deal. CONCACAF has three teams in the Round of 16. Asia has 0, Africa has 1 (Though Algeria can make it 2). Yet both have more spots in the World Cup...time for a change.

Belgium will be tough, as shown in the last meeting between the two sides where Belgium dominated. We've seen this US team work so hard in this World Cup though, and the game should be a close one. USA will need to do better on the attack than they did against Germany. They did have moments though, particularly in the first half and late in the game with Clint Dempsey almost knocking a header into the net. There is a chance that Jozy Altidore could be back which would help in that department.

A wild fact: USA have finished above England & Italy at two straight World Cups. USA also finished above Italy in 2002 when they made the Quarterfinals. This is some great progress, and nobody can say both the Men's and Women's team doesn't give us a ton of excitement. And in this world cup: Spain, England, Italy, Portugal are all out at the group stage while USA is moving on.

As a side note, the torrential rains in Recife have opened our eyes to the poor drainage and infrastructure in Brazil. Kind of sad they spend so much money on stadiums with so many problems. They should have used fewer stadiums, I'm not quite sure why they needed to use more stadiums than previous hosts have.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

2014 World Cup: Luis Suarez Takes (Another) Bite

The 2014 World Cup had quite an interesting day in more ways than one. First, Costa Rica finished on top of one of two Groups of Death after their draw with England. USA has a slight chance to do the same, but 2nd place seems more likely for them after the late tie with Portugal. Then, Greece beat Ivory Coast with a 91st minute Penalty Kick, as Japan failed to find the net more than once again...thus sending Greece to the Knockout Stage for the first time ever. Costa Rica and Greece will play each other, meaning one will make it to the Quarterfinals for the first time ever.

The biggest news of the day came in the Uruguay-Italy match. Luis Suarez has struck again, this time intentionally biting Giorgio Chiellini. I wonder if Italian flesh tastes as good as Italian food? Yet, the ref didn't give Suarez a red card even as Chiellini pulled down the shoulder of his jersey to show the bite marks. This is the THIRD time Suarez has intentionally bitten a player during a game. We all know FIFA will barely punish him though, because they have no guts and only care about money as evidenced by Qatar getting the 2022 World Cup. 

Twitter exploded with Memes galore...and I instantly thought of that original Pokemon names Raticate when I thought about Suarez and his giant teeth and made my own. 
Suarez said in a statement after that "these things happen." Uh, no they don't, unless its on an episode of The Walking Dead. I love how each time he bites someone he ends up falling to the field in pain, pretending to be hurt to make it seem like he didn't bite a person. Uruguay captain Diego Lugano actually blamed Chiellini. I wish FIFA had the guts to ban Suarez for life and take away all the goals he scored, thus sending England in their place to the round of 16 (on Goal Differential over Italy). They won't, so hopefully Colombia will dominate Uruguay as they should when they meet in the knockout round. Another note: biting someone usually puts you in jail. How come on a sports field its a slap on the wrist? US Women's goalie Hope Solo got into a fist fight with her sister & nephew and promptly got arrested. But why is it okay to assault someone during a game? FIFA (and other leagues) are making it so.

This is my favorite spoof video of the incident, as Suarez gets the role he so desperately desires, the lead in Jaws:

Sunday, June 22, 2014

2014 World Cup: USA-Portugal Draw

USA had it in the palm of their hands. A second straight win for the first time since the 1930 World Cup. Becoming the first team to qualify out of the Group of Death with a 2-1 victory. It was not to be, as in the final 30 seconds of the game, Michael Bradley lost the ball at midfield and soon an open Ronaldo sent it in to Varela for the goal on a sleeping US Defense and a 2-2 draw. Bradley should have booted the ball ahead, but mistakes happen...and they shouldn't have left Ronaldo open anyway.

When the World Cup groups were announced, US fans were hoping for a win over Ghana and a draw against Portugal to put them in good position. It has happened, as the USA are in good shape. But nobody is happy with a draw against Portugal after the way in which it happened after outplaying Portugal all game. A victory mere seconds away ended by some mistakes.

Portugal took the lead on another big mistake 5 minutes into the game when Geoff Cameron's clearance went sideways right to Nani. Something like that doesn't happen very often, but it did tonight. USA stormed back and dominated the game. Ronaldo was a non-factor, doing nothing (though he did dive well, as did Nani). Jermaine Jones tied the game with an outstanding rocker of a goal from distance, easily being one of the goals of the whole World Cup along with Tim Cahill's strike for Australia and the Van Persie header for the Netherlands. USA kept it up and eventually took the lead on a goal from Clint Dempsey, who scored with his belly button. Yes, his belly button.

The draw is a big buzzkill. They miss an opportunity to finish on top of the Group and avoid Belgium in the Knockout Round, as the group winner will likely face Russia or Algeria (South Korea is an outside shot). They also now have to recover from dropping a win. But, the US is still in good shape even though they face their toughest test in Germany. A draw sends them through in 2nd place. If the US loses to Germany, they still may qualify if Ghana and Portugal draw. If Portugal wins, they would most likely qualify based on Goal Differential, unless Portugal blows out Ghana or USA loses a blowout...both seem unlikely to happen. Now if Ghana wins it gets tricky, as Ghana doesn't have as much to make up. Let's not worry about that though. Go out there and get a big win or draw, then it won't matter.

Monday, June 16, 2014

World Cup 2014: John Brooks and USA Stun Ghana

US Soccer
John Brooks Makes US Soccer History
Michelle Akers (1991 Women's World Cup). Shannon MacMillan (Atlanta 1996 Olympics). Landon Donovan (2010 World Cup). Benny Feilhaber (2007 Gold Cup). Carli Lloyd (Beijing 2008 Olympics). Abby Wambach (2011 Women's World Cup). Alex Morgan (London 2012 Olympics). Who would've thought that John Brooks, in just his 5th appearance for the United States National Team, would join that list of US Soccer players to score a late game winning/tying goal in a major tournament? Not many...but it happened, breathing life into what was about to be a poor draw for the USA with games against Portugal and Germany ahead.

It was a game mostly dominated by Ghana. Clint Dempsey scored the sixth fastest goal in World Cup history after 34 seconds. After that, Jozy Altidore went down with a hamstring injury. Ghana took total control, and by the second half it was rare for the US to have any offense. Tim Howard came up with a few big saves, and Ghana sent some shots flying high and wide to keep the 1-0 USA lead. Starting defender Matt Besler left the game with a hamstring bothering him...which led to John Brooks coming in. Ghana finally scored in the 82nd minute, and it looked dire for the US. Then on a corner kick in the 86th minute and a rare chance to score, Brooks headed the ball into the back of the net much like Abby Wambach at the 2011 Women's World Cup. It sent the US up 2-1 and they held on for the win and 3 points, as well as redemption after being eliminated by Ghana in 2006 and 2010.

Many thought Brooks might not even make the squad. But the German-American made it and made a difference. The United States' German coach Jurgen Klinsmann won't be second guessed about that move. Germany has done well to help the USA during this World Cup.

Phew. Losing Altidore hurts, and the United States will miss him. However, Portugal will also be missing some key players. USA will need more possession than they had against Ghana, as you can't imagine Ronaldo missing as many shots as Ghana did.

Watch Abby Wambach lead the "I Believe That We Will Win" chant as the Women's National Team watch party:

World Cup 2014: Can USA Capitalize?

Group G started off with a German Blitzkrieg, as Germany dominated Portugal 4-0. That puts Portugal in an early hole, having a minus 4 Goal Differential which would hurt them if it comes down to a tie for second place. 

Pepe was also sent off the field with a red card, and will be suspended for Portugal's match against the United States on Sunday, which is a bit of a blow to them. There were also some injuries to a few starters, while Ronaldo was pretty much shut down by the Germans. 

That provides a huge opportunity tonight to both the USA and Ghana. Should USA win, they would go into the match against Portugal needing only a draw to set themselves up nicely to get to the Round of 16. One major downside about Portugal getting dominated by Germany would be Portugal will be throwing everything at the US. Even with the team reeling following a big defeat to Germany and some key starters missing, Ronaldo against the inexperienced US defense might provide an opportunity for Portugal. 

First thing's first though, the USA must do something they failed to do in 2006 and 2010...BEAT GHANA. The match airs tonight on ESPN at 6PM ET. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

2014 FIFA World Cup Preview

The 2014 FIFA World Cup is here...even if Brazil isn't quite ready with the stadiums. For the 2011 Women's World Cup, I correctly predicted Japan would defeat the USA in the final, which I'm sure makes me one of the few. That probably means I am going to get this completely wrong, but I'll try my hand at the 2014 World Cup.

Group A: 1. Brazil, 2. Croatia, 3. Mexico, 4. Cameroon. This is one of those groups where the 2nd place team could really be anyone after Brazil, who are the odds on favorite to win the group at home, and clearly the most talented of the bunch. Mexico have been struggling, Cameroon is hit-or-miss as is Croatia, though Croatia has a slight talent advantage over Cameroon. On top of their lackluster year, Mexico just lost a starter.

Group B: 1. Spain, 2. Chile, 3. Netherlands, 4. Australia. This group should feature some great match-ups between four capable teams, and Chile could definitely take out the Netherlands, who will need to be on their A game against Chile. Spain should take it, but we've recently seen previous winners falter in the group stage 4 years later (Italy in 2010, France in 2002 both finished last after winning the previous Cup). Australia is good but probably the odd team out. They can still give teams a tough test.

Group C: 1. Colombia, 2. Japan, 3. Ivory Coast, 4. Greece. This just might be the hardest group to pick. All of these games should be exciting, and you won't have any idea which way they'll go. Japan has the technical ability, and with Honda & Kagawa they can get a needed goal at any moment even if they may be weaker in other areas compared to the other three teams. Will seeing their Women's team win the 2011 Women's World Cup be a boost to Japan? Group C will probably be the closest group, with no team being eliminated before the third round of games. Colombia's star Falcao is still recovering from tearing his ACL, so will he be 100%? Many questions in the most exciting group.

Group D: 1. Italy, 2. England, 3. Uruguay, 4. Costa Rica. What a group, featuring three previous World Cup winners (Just Eight countries have won). I like England coming in with lower expectations to take it. They might finally have an underdog mentality, after their arrogance of 4 years ago led to them finishing 2nd behind the USA. Costa Rica shouldn't pose any threat. Italy, England and Uruguay all have their question marks, so it will be fun to watch it play out.

Group E: 1. France, 2. Switzerland, 3. Ecuador, 4. Honduras. After a disaster in South Africa 2010, France should be able to make their comeback in this group, which may be tougher than it looks thanks to an increasingly improved Switzerland and Ecuador playing close to home.

Group F: 1. Argentina, 2. Nigeria, 3. Bosnia & Herzegovina, 4. Iran. Argentina got quite the gift, and should have little trouble finishing on top of the group. Nigeria vs Bosnia should decide the fate of 2nd place, though Iran won't be an easy opponent for anyone and could play spoiler.

Group G: 1. Germany, 2. USA, 3. Portugal, 4. Ghana. It was agonizing to choose between Portugal & USA for 2nd...USA famously beat favorite Portugal at the 2002 World Cup and Portugal never recovered. Will the Americans be able to do it again? First, they'll have to take on Ghana, who eliminated the US in the 2006 & 2010 World Cups. Never before have they had such an important first game. Cristiano Ronaldo is battling an injury, and though he'll be playing, will he be at his full capacity? Jozy Altidore seems to have fallen out of his slump, and him paired with Clint Dempsey may help with the absence of Landon Donovan and his goal scoring ability.

Group H: 1. Belgium, 2. South Korea, 3. Russia, 4. Algeria. Belgium is my dark horse pick for the whole tournament as a potential semi-finalist. South Korea and Russia should clearly battle for 2nd place, and Russia is likely the better team, and South Korea struggled in qualifying before firing their head coach. But we need upsets at the World Cup, so I'm going with South Korea to get that done.

Round of 16: Brazil over Chile. England over Colombia. France over Nigeria. Germany over South Korea. Spain over Croatia. Japan over Italy. Argentina over Switzerland. Belgium over USA.

Quarterfinals: Brazil over England. Germany over France. Spain over Japan. Belgium over Argentina.

Semifinals: Germany over Brazil. Belgium over Spain.

3rd Place: Brazil over Spain. Final: Germany over Belgium. Belgium has given us awesome waffles and fries, which may or may not be swaying my decision to send them so far, especially past Argentina, who very well could win the Cup. I like Germany though to become the first European country to win the World Cup in South America.

Favorites: Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Spain.
Dark Horses: Belgium, Colombia, Italy, England, Netherlands, Japan.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

2022 Winter Olympics Dilemma

The bidding cities for the 2022 Winter Olympics are dropping like flies. Stockholm, Sweden was the first to go in January due to the lack of political support for the bid. Krakow, Poland was next to go with the public opposition being too high for them to want to continue.

Two more bids are in jeopardy. Lviv, Ukraine is unlikely to win even if they continue with their bid due to the current volatile situation in the country. Oslo, Norway is on shaky ground as support has been low from the public and politicians. Beijing, China and Almaty, Kazakhstan are the other two and come with their own concerns. Kazakhstan for their poor human rights record and Beijing for the terrible pollution, which was a question mark during the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics. The snow events would also have to be held 100 miles Northwest of Beijing.

Countries are becoming increasingly worried about the costs for the games not being worth it. Sochi spent $51 Billion on the Olympics, which was more than ALL previous Winter Olympics combined...and now all the tourists are gone. It was basically a big fat expensive ego stroke for Vladimir Putin. Many countries/cities who host end up losing money. If every city would come together to submit cheaper bids utilizing more locations that are already built, the IOC would have no choice but to award it. I've always thought Lake Placid or Salt Lake should make a statement bid and purposely spend as little as possible by using the exact same venues they previously used, spending as little as possible for upgrades. The IOC will eventually need to change their tune on the outrageous cost to host the Olympics.

Not every city loses money. Los Angeles (1984), Salt Lake City (2002) and Atlanta (1996) all made a profit. London (2012), Seoul (1988) & Beijing (2008) are some foreign cities that have made money. Atlanta utilized their venues, turning the Athletes' Village into college dorms. The Falcons and Braves took over the stadiums after the Games ended. For some odd reason though, both those stadiums will be demolished as new expensive ones are built. The Georgia Dome was built in 1993 and Turner Field in 1996. I'm not sure what Atlanta is smoking in spending money on new stadiums when the current ones are just 21 and 18 years old. Especially since half the fans at Braves and Falcons games cheer for the opposing team anyway.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint Return to Harry Potter

These are the cars riders will sit in.
Its official: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint are returning to play Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley respectively in Universal Orlando's new ride "Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts".

Bellatrix LeStrange (Helena Bonham Carter), Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and Griphook (Warwick Davis) are also featured in the ride and the original actors filmed scenes as well. Not too much about the state-of-the-art ride is known, other than it will be based on their adventure during "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows". A new video has been released giving a look at the ride with concept videos and artwork, as well as descriptions.

Better book your rooms now, because Orlando will be packed when "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley" opens this summer at Universal Orlando.

The Harry Potter news doesn't stop there, as WB has announced that the first film in their "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" based trilogy will hit theaters in November 2016. JK Rowling wrote the screenplay that fleshed out the book she released in 2001. All we know is it takes place in New York City 70 years before the Harry Potter books.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Solange Attacks Jay Z

Solange and Jay Z After The Fight
Well file this under bizarre news for the day. Solange Knowles, sister of Beyonce, and Jay Z walked into an elevator at the Met Gala and all of a sudden Solange started punching and kicking at him before someone who was with them pulled her away. Um..okay then! Video footage was leaked by TMZ (watch below), and pictures of them leaving clearly show an angry Solange and startled Jay Z. Now while it is kind of messed up someone would release this assumed private moment to the world, I don't feel too bad about it. When Beyonce had her baby they closed off the hospital wing for her and inconvenienced people. If you're going to use your celebrity for that, then don't complain about something like this leaking out to the public. You take the good with the bad just like everyone else in life has to. Suck it up and move on.
Jay Z stood there and took it which must take a lot of restraint when someone attacks, even if you know them personally. Of course it helps when you have a bodyguard with you. Beyonce was somewhere in the back staying the hell away. Solange has a mean right hook, and her first hit in years. The bodyguard also hit the emergency stop button on the elevator. But, we live in a world of cameras...of course people were going to find out. Solange must have been pretty pissed off about something that he did...I don't think she should be taking pointers from Chris Brown though!

There's a "Jay Z got 99 problems and Solange is 1" joke in there, but I'm sure that will get played out on Twitter enough.

Michael Sam Drafted by Rams; Don Jones Tweets "Horrible"

New St. Louis Ram, Michael Sam
Michael Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams and became the first openly gay football player to be drafted by an NFL team. We must always stress openly gay, as many other gay athletes have come and gone while staying closeted and taking on a beard wife, like Gisele Bundchen! Kidding.

Anyway, a backup Miami Dolphins player named Don Jones tweeted "Horrible" after ESPN showed Sam and his boyfriend kiss, which is customary for many athletes who get drafted, only this is the first time its been two males. He was suspended by the Dolphins for the time being but we'll be back with the team most likely. Of course, that sent a bunch of scourges on twitter to start crying "but he has freedom of speech!"

A little lesson: The first amendment protects a person from being arrested by the Government for their speech (unless that speech threatens the life of a person). It does NOT mean others have to listen to your speech, and it does NOT protect you from your employer. The Miami Dolphins have the right to their freedom and they chose to suspend him from the team for a period of time.

And congrats to Michael Sam! Good moves by both ESPN and the Dolphins as well.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Its Morphin' Time Again! Power Rangers Returning to the Big Screen

In another 90s throwback, The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers are returning to the big screen. Lionsgate and Saban are working together to start a new franchise, and it will presumably be based on the original and most popular form of the Power Rangers before they started having a new concept every year.

The Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers ran for three seasons from 1993 to 1995 along with a successful movie in 1995 before reverting to using entirely different characters each season, which is actually still going to this day. The second movie in 1997, "Turbo", with new characters flopped at the box office. No word on if the movie will be as campy as the TV Show and original film, or if they're looking to make it a more serious version along the lines of modern superhero movies.

One thing we know they probably won't do with this movie...they won't have the black power ranger be black and the yellow power ranger be Asian like in the original. I mean the producers had to realize they did that.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Justice League Movie Confirmed

DC Comics is trying to catch up to Marvel's mega hit "The Avengers" by making a "Justice League" movie right after filming is complete on "Batman vs. Superman". That film will introduce some of the characters, obviously Superman (Henry Cavill), Batman (Ben Affleck) as well as Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher).

Not much else is known about the Justice League movie yet, although Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson will apparently be in it as well. The original Justice League consisted of Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman and Martian Manhunter, with numerous characters added in years following. No word if they'll look to go with just the original lineup, or add in a few more as well. It looks like Cyborg will be included, so maybe they'll change it up a little.

Another interesting factor is if they would bring in Arrow (Stephen Amell) from The CW's popular show "Arrow", which had been floated around before.

A Wonder Woman movie would follow the Justice League film depending on the success of it. We can assume it'll most likely make a ton of money even if it gets a lukewarm response from critics.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Nirvana Takes Grunge To The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Nirvana was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame during their first year of eligibility, also 20 years after the death of Kurt Cobain, marking the first Grunge band to enter the Hall. Want to really feel old? Green Day will be eligible next year, as their first album came out in 1990. Michael Stipe did the honors, which was fitting as Cobain was a huge R.E.M fan. A big question has been if Cobain would have even cared about this, being that he was uncomfortable with the unexpectedly massive success of the band and the mainstream nature of something such as this ceremony. However, its better to just leave that alone and enjoy the moment.

Dave Grohl gave a typically awesome speech as he always does, thanking the previous drummers that were in Nirvana before he was, such as Chad Channing and giving him props for his inspiration. Courtney Love even gave Grohl a hug on stage. Did that signal them burying the hatchet?

Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear then took the stage with rumors of who would perform vocals for them. A bunch of kick ass women filled in. Joan Jett was first, taking the tough task of performing "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth then gave a passionate rendition of "Aneurysm". St.Vincent/Annie Clark then came out for "Lithium", with Lorde (who wasn't born yet when Kurt Cobain died) closing it out with "All Apologies".

The 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony will air on HBO on May 31.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

US Soccer Abruptly Fires Women's Coach Tom Sermanni

The United States Women's National Soccer Team is coming off a 2-0 friendly win over China. Yet just hours later, they abruptly fired head coach Tom Sermanni. Maybe this was due to a 7th place finish at the Algarve Cup, which had the first back-to-back losses for the USWNT since 2001. Sermanni reportedly had no idea this was coming and is shocked.

However, why play a match against China and fire him afterwards with another match in a few days instead of right after the tournament, if it had to do with the poor Algarve Cup performance? Rumors have circulated that players have been unhappy with his approach and the constant tinkering with the lineup to try and find the perfect one in time for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada. It has come out though that players were not behind it, and many spoke about how they liked him. However, nobody seems to know exactly why this happened yet. Of course, it will come out soon, especially with a game on Thursday and the start of the NWSL (National Women's Soccer League) on Saturday. In an update, it seems his laid back style did not mesh well with what Sunil Gulati and US Soccer wanted.

Nadeshiko Japan has seemed to have the United States' number since the 2011 Women's World Cup in big matches. Of course, USA defeated Japan for the London 2012 Gold Medal, however an obvious handball that was missed by the ref which would've led to a Japan PK, and likely goal, helped with that. Japan has been a model of consistency, discipline and technicality. Will one year with a new coach and new scheme be enough for the United States to roll through the world's best teams, particularly Japan, next summer? Sweden is another contender who have played very well against the US beating them at the 2011 Women's World Cup and 2014 Algarve Cup. And now they've got former US Coach Pia Sundhage coaching them. Though if any team is built to do it, it would be the United States.

Monday, March 31, 2014

New Michael Jackson Album: 'Xscape'

Eight previously unreleased Michael Jackson songs will be released as a new album, titled 'Xscape', on May 13. This is the second album being released after his death in 2009. The first, called 'Michael', came out in 2010. Some songs were well received, but others were questioned as to their legitimacy of if Jackson was even singing, and the suspicions were quite valid as a few songs sounded a bit odd. Timbaland will be the main producer of the album.

The lead single will be "Love Never Felt So Good" and will feature Justin Timberlake. The songs have been "contemporized"...I hope that doesn't mean they've been auto-tuned and turned into EDM songs. Just in case the "contemporized" versions suck, a deluxe edition will be released with the songs in their original forms. This is the current track listing:

"Slave To The Rhythm"
"Blue Gansgta"
"A Place With No Name"
"Love Never Felt So Good"
"Do You Know Where Your Children Are"
"She Was Lovin' Me"

Sunday, March 30, 2014

'The Walking Dead' Season 4 Ends on a High Note

The Walking Dead had seemed to get a bit of a lukewarm response from some in recent episodes. Any doubts should have all went out the window with the Season 4 finale. The episode was a thrilling nail biter throughout, and ended with the return of bad-ass Rick (Andrew Lincoln) after the group gets locked in a old train car by those at the Terminus. Good news main character died! I'm glad they flipped the switch, as it seems before each season or mid-season finale people wonder who will die, since they've pretty much killed someone each time.

We still don't know much about the Terminus yet, except that they almost make the Governor (David Morrissey) look nice in comparison. The people look very robotic. The creepy room of candles seemed to suggest they no longer trust outsiders, so something obviously happened before. People will also be wondering why they wouldn't just kill Rick & Company, instead shooting at their feet. Maybe they're a cult of cannibals? Hence why they lure people towards the Terminus and then trap people instead of killing them. The new slogan should be "Those who arrive survive...until they become next week's dinner." The whole idea of Terminus furthers the message of the show that we've come to expect, which is you need to fear the living as much as the zombies.

Many questions have been answered recently, such as how Michonne's (Danai Gurira) son died and why Rick became a farmer at the prison. The finale left more questions to be answered in regards to the Terminus, setting us up nicely for Season 5. Also...where the fuckity fuck is Beth (Emily Kinney)?! When she was kidnapped in that car, maybe it was someone from Terminus? I assume we'll find that out come October, as well as what will happen to Carol (Melissa McBride) & Tyreese (Chad Coleman) as they make their way towards Terminus.