Saturday, February 22, 2014

'Heroes' Returning to NBC

During prime time coverage of the Sochi 2014 Olympics, a strange commercial appeared. It showed a view of the Earth in darkness, kind of looking like an ad for Revolution. Then the Heroes logo appears on screen followed by "Reborn" underneath it with a date of 2015. NBC will be bringing back Heroes in 2015, titled Heroes Reborn as a 13 episode miniseries. There will be bran new characters, and some of the original cast members may be returning as well.

Heroes premiered to much fanfare and big ratings in 2006, proving to be a needed hit for NBC not long after Friends left the air. Tag line "Save the Cheerleader, Save the World" became one of the most well known marketing tools. Season Two was just as big, but then the wheels seemed to fall off. Season Three bled viewers every week and reviews were mixed. Season Four came along and continued to drop viewers until being cancelled in 2010.

Apparently NBC hopes to recapture the original magic of the show, which was an addictive X-Men like thriller. Watch the teaser below.   

Thursday, February 20, 2014

USA Women's Hockey Stunned By Canada

Canada Celebrates Snatching Gold Away from USA
The stunned part of the USA-Canada Women's Ice Hockey match at the 2014 Winter Olympics comes from how they lost, not that they lost to a team considered their equal. USA & Canada are the two powers of Women's Ice Hockey, after all.

USA looked the better of the two for most of the game, and led 2-0 late in the 3rd period. Canada scored with about five minutes left to make it 2-1. They then pulled their goalie as time wound down some more. USA got the puck and launched it across the ice towards the open net. It just hit the post and bounced away, barely missing the game winning goal. Canada got the puck, and with less than a minute left, scored the game tying goal. It was a crushing five minutes, and after that you just had a feeling that it was now in Canada's hands. Sure enough, they stayed tough in Sudden Death Overtime and capitalized on US penalties to get a power play goal and their 4th straight Gold Medal.

You can't help but feel for the US players, who have worked so hard only to come up short. They won the Gold at the Nagano 1998 Olympics, but since then have settled for Silver in Salt Lake, Bronze in Torino, and silver in both Vancouver & Sochi. However, their play against Canada has reminded people just how exciting of a sport Hockey can be. The fast pace in a down-to-the-wire game with everything on the line sets it apart.

The USA-Canada ice hockey rivalry keeps going when the Men face off in the Semifinals tomorrow. Winner goes on to the Gold Medal match against either Finland or Sweden, loser goes into the Bronze Medal match.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sochi 2014: Week 1 Stories

The ugly Sochi 2014 Logo looks a little better this way
The first week of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics are in the books, with plenty of story lines of course from the funny to the inspirational.

- Oshie in Sochi! The USA-Russia men's hockey game delivered on every level, and it ended with TJ Oshie giving the US the victory in the Shootout. Oshie was on the bubble before the Olympics, but the US took him to the Olympics because of his success in Shootouts, and it paid off. USA men's hockey will be looking to win their first Gold Medal since Lake Placid 1980, which featured the "Miracle on Ice" victory over the Soviet Union. Oshie 2014 shirts are now being sold online playing off the NBC Sochi logo.

- USA-Canada Women's Hockey. It was a back and forth heated battle, much like the USA-Canada Women's Soccer match from London 2012. Canada ended up on top in this one after trailing to start the 3rd period, scoring 3 goals in that last period. The Women's Hockey tournament as a whole has been much improved over Vancouver 2010, which featured a large number of blowouts. Canada outscored opponents 41-2 in Vancouver, but in Sochi 41 goals were scored by all teams combined, with much closer games.

- Sochi Problems, or #SochiProblems, taking social media by storm. Even though Russia spent $51 Billion on these Olympics, more even than Beijing 2008, various buildings were still being completed up until the start. Everything from yellow water to doors locking, to uncovered manholes to worries about the Russian Government using cameras to spy on people. Controversy has also been rampant, from questions on if they were killing stray dogs, to some of that $51 Billion being pocketed by officials.

- Bob Costas and his pink eye. It started out in his left eye, but by Monday had moved over to his right eye as well, creating the ultimate Sochi Problem. This may have been prevented had he just wore a condom over his left eye like Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes from TLC did in the 90s. Always use protection! Meredith Vieira & Matt Lauer have taken over, though Costas will be back this week.

- Opening Ceremony snowflakes fail. In what quickly became a meme, 5 giant Snowflakes were supposed
to transform into the Olympic Rings. However, one of them failed to "come out"...maybe in protest of Russia's horrendous "Gay Propaganda" law? Suck it, Putin! Russian TV cut to stock footage of all 5 rings open during one of the rehearsals...even though it was instantly shared from the stadium by people all over social media. You can't fool anyone with Live TV nowadays.

- Noelle Pikus-Pace made a fantastic comeback to win Silver in Women's Skeleton. She missed the Torino 2006 games after her leg was broken badly by a Bobsled in October 2005 that failed to brake and ran into her. She then barely missed out on a medal at Vancouver 2010, finishing 4th. She kept her spirits high through it all and won the silver, jumping up into the crowd to meet her friends and family, showing viewers what the Olympic spirit is all about.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Michael Sam Comes Out

Football player Michael Sam has made headlines, smack during the headline making 2014 Winter Olympics, by coming out. The reason being he will become the first active openly gay male athlete in one of the "Big Four" American sports (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB). Of course, every league has many gay players in it, but most pretend to be straight during their careers because its easier. But it shouldn't have to be that way, players like Sam should be able to be themselves the way they were born to be, and he is helping to create that culture. He will enter the draft in the Spring, coming off a season where he was a consensus All-American, and first team All-SEC...which is the most popular and toughest conference in College Football.

Robbie Rogers of Major League Soccer (MLS) is out, though well it is growing more popular, MLS isn't quite on the level of the "Big Four" yet, save for some places like the Pacific Northwest.

Besides the positive reaction, one other reaction has been, "well, who cares? Why do I have to know, why not just keep it quiet whether you like men or women?" Well, first of all, his teammates and coaches at Missouri knew. Some in the media had heard, but weren't sure. He wasn't hiding it from them, and it would've eventually come out to the public. By coming out before the draft, the media attention will die down by the time the NFL season begins. If he didn't come out now, someone in the media would have mentioned it possibly when the NFL season starts. This was the best way.

It also tells people, especially young male athletes, that there are other gay male athletes out there. Having a role model who is like them is the best way to help a young person love themselves for who they are. I have to give props to ESPN for their positive coverage of the story, and straightforward interview with Michael. The NFL is ready. If the 5th ranked College Football team in the country had nothing but love for him, then his NFL team should be mature enough to as well.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

U2 Releases "Invisible" For (RED)

"Invisible" Cover Art
U2 have released a new song "Invisible", for FREE on iTunes, available only today on Sunday February 2nd through Monday February 3rd. The song is off their upcoming album, but not the first single. It was released in a partnership with Bank of America, who have donated $10 Million dollars to (RED) to fight AIDS. They will donate an additional $1 for each Free download, so get downloading it on iTunes by clicking here. *Edit* The song is now available through Amazon & Google Play as well. It's no longer free, but all proceeds are still being donated to (RED). $1.29 is not steep at all, please download to support the cause!

The song is a change from anything on their two most recent albums, No Line On The Horizon (2009) and How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb (2004). The intro really threw me for a loop, and the entire song sounds incredibly fresh. To compare to other artists, it sounds a bit like Kraftwerk meets The Killers, but certainly very U2 more than anything else.

They've made a career of expanding their musical palette, from starting out as a Post-Punk band and moving on to Americana and Blues, to Alternative Rock and Electronic influenced rock. They can do it all, and this song is U2 continuing to push themselves. If I had to pick two U2 songs to compare it with I'd go with "Zoo Station" from Achtung Baby & "Kite" from All That You Can't Leave Behind. Bono is in fine form vocally, and Larry Mullen Jr really stands out on drums in the commercial. Hopefully his drums are featured more in the actual song on the album version.

Part of the music video for the song will debut in a commercial during the Super Bowl, reminding people to download the song for Free to help promote & raise money for (RED). The full video will be on YouTube later. Bono describes the song of his feeling back in 1979 walking out of the London Subway and feeling uncool being from the Dublin suburbs as the original inspiration for the lyrics before moving on to what we hear now. If this is just a taste of the new album, I'm even more pumped to hear it all this Spring/Summer. You can watch a video detailing the making of the song/video below: