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Surprising Results From Finally Taking The Blu-Ray Plunge

9 Dec

I did it.  After fighting the advertising pressure for five years, I finally gave in and bought a Blu-Ray player over the Thanksgiving weekend.  I still can’t see spending $30 a movie, but there are a few surprising things that come with most Blu-Ray players that really made me happy with the purchase.

First off, there are so many internet streaming functions available through many Blu-Ray players and as a media box, it works worlds better than my Xbox 360.  I’ve used the Xbox over the years for a few different types of media streaming, but the functionality, ease, and number of content providers available through my Blu-Ray player is simply awesome.  I had no idea that I’d really like having YouTube hooked up to my TV, but I do.  And with Hulu Plus, Vudu, and some of the other services, I’m going to take a long hard look at cutting back on my cable bill and getting content elsewhere.  Plus, there’s Pandora.  I use Pandora a lot on my laptop, but some of the channels are ideal for pumping through my entertainment center and really enjoying the music.  Last.FM through Xbox just doesn’t compare.

Secondly, as a media streaming device, I expect it to be substantially easier to use video and audio that I ripped to our home network.  I still need some time to work on this, but after spending some time with the player, it seems like it will handle everything that I want it to without having to buy a separate media streaming box or dealing with the less than user-friendly Xbox.

Lastly, and the biggest surprise is the picture.  Of course, I know Blu-Ray is 1080p.  A true High Definition picture and I expected the video quality to be excellent.  I still may choose to buy or rent some films on DVD where I think the clarity of Blu-Ray hampers the film (i.e. cheap CGI which DVD blurs a bit, but obviously appears as crap on Blu-Ray).  Perhaps the companies are slighting us nowadays with the quality of DVDs, since the color pallete often looks a lot more drab than I thought was necessary on DVD, but there is no doubt that colors and the images really pop on Blu-Ray.

However, that’s not the picture that surprised me.  It was when I first tried out a DVD in the Blu-Ray player.  Amazing!  Simply amazing.  I have an Audio/Video Receiver that does a good job of upconverting standard definition video to high def and a brilliant Plasma television that does a great job upconverting.  So why was I surprised?  The perfect digital connection allows the Blu-Ray processing to really display it’s glory.  If you’re like me, then your DVD player at best has component cables (the red, green, and blue ones).  It really provides a nice picture, but it’s analog and therefore you inherently lose a generation of quality when you’re watching it.  Playing the DVD in a Blu-Ray player with the perfect digital signal passing through HDMI cables from beginning to end lead to the best possible picture.

Apparently I’m not going to have to replace my entire DVD library.  One film in and I”m totally impressed.  Looking forward to checking out some of my Superbit DVDs and the last Star Wars Special Edition package I bought (not Blu-Ray).  My wife doesn’t get it, but I’m so happy with the purchase.  I now understand why everyone always said that if you have a great High Definition Television and you don’t have a Blu-Ray player, you really aren’t seeing what your TV is capable of.


Revis Situation About Ego and Not Substance

22 Oct

Darrelle Revis, the Jets shutdown corner, is all the rage this week in New York for ending an interview.  Sports Talk Host Mike Francesca on WFAN pestered Revis continuously about his 100 yard interception return this past weekend and whether or not he was guilty of interference on the play.

You can read elsewhere about what happened in the interview in detail, but essentially, the host (Francesca) was enjoying getting Revis riled up and eventually the Jets PR man directed Revis to hang up.  Not surprisingly, Francesca doesn’t have a great relationship with the Jets, but his fan base was loving it.  Francesca knows that and kept pushing the agitated player to try to get more emotion out of him.

The problem, in my mind, with this is that Francesca was just feeding his ego and not pursuing substance.  As a radio producer and a host in my previous life, this is one of the types of circumstances that would most annoy me.  As entertained for the moment or the day Francesca’s fans were by the exchange, so much more could have come from a different approach.  Allowing Revis a more comfortable, non-combative environment, could provide an opportunity for him to share more about his insight on the upcoming game for the Jets and even better, a chance he could join the show again later in the season.

Granted most player and coach interviews don’t amount to anything and even some of the guys that give you their cell number and say, “call anytime” don’t really pan out, you always have the chance of developing a rapport with a player, coach, PR person, or other team insider that may give you more (on or off the record) than you could ever expect to get otherwise.  Or you could go for the moment of entertainment like Francesca did.

Yeah, I’ve made that choice too.  Anyone who knows my history knows that I personally killed any chance that Rick Sutcliffe will ever join Scott & BR again on XX 1090 in San Diego.  That being said, I hope I’ve learned some lessons over the years and though entertaining hosts are nice, I prefer mine to provide a little substance too and when you operate from all ego it’s hard to really give your listeners the information I think they really want.  Really want if they’re really fans of a particular team.  If they’re just listening for the entertainment, then you’re serving your clientele properly by focusing on the shallow end of the pool, but you probably won’t catch me tuning in anytime soon.

“Best Sandwich Ever” OR Ramblings about feeling at home?

18 Oct

I decided to join up with WordPress’ Daily Post and among other things, they give an idea daily to help you find something to write about.  I imagine some of the ideas are really great and some average.  Today’s post idea is your BEST SANDWICH EVER with a $5,000 limit on what you’d spend.  Though I love food and consider myself a bit of a foodie, I seriously doubt I could devote a great deal of passion and time into writing about the greatest sandwich.  Check that.  I could, but I don’t really want to.  Of course, the thought of the best sandwich ever leads me to two vivid memories.  The first was the unbelievable six-foot sub sandwich that my dad and brother built for my college graduation party.  Very tasty.  My dad discovered the key to a great homemade sandwich years ago and that’s Italian Dressing.  A splash of Salt & Pepper with Oregano will do the trick in a pinch, but Italian Dressing gives you the oily creaminess to go with it.  There are pictures of the spectacle, but it’s on another computer and I’m feeling lazy tonight.  There are also pictures of my face buried in my cake as a couple of female friends thought it funny to prank me.  I laughed.  And that corner of the cake was all mine.

The second image was that amazing egg sandwich Adam Sandler‘s Chef in Spanglish prepared for himself and sat down to eat at midnight with a stout beer.  What about that scene wasn’t awesome?  Coming home to a quiet (at that moment) house; preparing a perfect egg, bacon, tomato, lettuce, and cheese sandwich; pairing it with a hearty beer; and savoring the flavors all alone.  Too bad he didn’t get to eat it.  If you’ve never had the chance to enjoy a great egg sandwich, below is the video of the chef preparing the sandwich for Sandler and the recipe’s included at the end.

That image from the film got me dreaming of the day I’ll own a single family home.  A real, true, large, single family home with enough space and rooms that I’ll be able to enjoy myself in one part of the house as loud or quietly as I like without disturbing or being disturb by the rest of the house.

Currently, we own and live in a wonderful town home in Encinitas, CA.  It’s in a beautiful location and I feel truly blessed to live here, but the 1600 square feet started closing in on me as soon as the first child appeared.  Now with baby #2 seven months old, the toddler and infant “stuff” gobbles up more space daily, and now I finally just unplugged my subwoofer.

My very good $500 Mirage Sub Woofer.  I also have a 50″ Plasma TV with 7.1 Surround Sound and the four In Ceiling speakers all have 8″ woofers.  The system is auditory brilliance when running at full capacity.  MASTER & COMMANDER sounds incredibly realistic.  The thuds of heavy shoes pounding the deck above the Captain as he barks out orders is perfect.  Unfortunately, that level of bass disturbs the neighbors with shared walls (one neighbor told his little girl it was just ghosts) and those sleeping little girls under my own roof.  I tried to have a guys’ nite once where my wife took the girls upstairs and we gamed loudly downstairs until 1am.  Had fun, but it was tough on my wife and my eldest.  She’s not yet at an age where she understands that people are over, but they’re not here to see her.  And then there’s the noise that travel’s throughout the house.  Our master bedroom is fairly immune to noise pollution, but not six guys drinking and talking smack at midnight.

Now that I write this, I think I’ll try it again.  We just got new windows upstairs that should help cut down the amount of sound that travels out the front door and up through those old crap single pane windows and my eldest is 2 1/2 years old and a little more likely to understand.  Plus she’ll have mommy and a tv and probably a DVD of TANGLED to enthrall her.  Now, I gotta figure out the date.

So…the best sandwich $5,000 could buy…any one that I could eat quietly, all alone, in my home, late at night, with a Newcastle Brown Ale on the side.  Given the time, materials, and energy, the Spanglish Sandwich would be it.

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I don’t think I’m expecting to much for “Rocky Balboa” to follow logic.

17 Sep

For all the rips and slams that Sylvestor Stallone rightfully gets, we seem to forget that the man actually wrote and Oscar Winning Screenplay.  Yeah, that mumbling mess of a fighter is played by an actor who fought tooth and nail to get the starring role of the screenplay he wrote.  And yeah, ROCKY was pretty incredible.  So good, that almost every underdog story made into a film today is based on it.

For the past several years, Stallone had been relegated to remakes until he created a new franchise, THE EXPENDABLES, featuring a bunch of has beens.  Before the EXPENDABLES, we got GET CARTER, RAMBO, and ROCKY BALBOA.  Jokingly, you might expect a STOP OR MY MOM WILL SHOOT remake, but I think we all honestly could see COBRA getting a sequel soon.  Nonetheless, that’s the thing that separates Stallone from every other action star past and present.  He writes.  He writes very good stories and even if they’re not all Oscar quality, you do have to expect the man’s ability with the pen.

So, I was watching ROCKY BALBOA last night for the first time.  Yeah, despite my affection for his stories, I took a little time getting around to watching the 60 year old actor (in 2006) climbing into the ring as our favorite underdog.  Right there you gotta respect him as a writer.  Six films if I’m counting right and he always wins (or ties) and is always the underdog.  What boxing champion has ever held a championship belt multiple times and always, always, always been the underdog?

ROCKY BALBOA is a decent movie.  It’s not great, but it does have some Stallone gems in there.  In particular, the one speech about never giving up to his son:

  • Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!

“It’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward.”  That’s the line the pulled people into the theaters.  It’s an incredible line.  The whole speech is worthy as an audition speech for any actor with the stones to try to pull it off.  The entire filmed isn’t full of beauty like that, but there’s enough to remind you that this guy knows what he’s doing.  And that is why I don’t think I’m expecting too much of Stallone and ROCKY BALBOA.

His motivation in film number six, living up to the ideals of his late wife, Adrian.  Sort of.  It’s capturing previous glory that reminds him of the past and the love of his wife and all the good things that came before.  Her death lit a fire in his belly that must be extinguished and only giving his all in the squared circle will do that.  Obviously his decision on getting into the ring at 60 with the current heavy weight champion (Played by the then Heavy Weight Champion and surprisingly decent actor, Antonio Tarver) takes some convincing.  He risked brain damage to fight 20 years ago, so a fight at 60 seems risky.  In comes his new “love interest.”  She helps push him into following his heart and doing what he wants to do.  He has to honor the passions that burn inside him.

So she encourages the 60 year, brain damaged fighter to follow his desire.  A desire and passion he’s following out of memory and love for his dead wife.  Wait a second.  Didn’t Adrian fight to keep Rocky out of the ring in almost every one of the films?  Wasn’t she always about protecting him?  Sure, she always watched the fight on TV or in the audience, but she never, ever encouraged him to do it.  Not that I recall.  So, how can a major theme of the most recent film completely contradict a fundamentally part of Adrian’s role from every previous film?  Stallone didn’t miss that.  He knew what he was writing.  Maybe his new girl was hoping for brain damage and complete access to the champs’ money, but that story isn’t really told.  So, I’m left wondering why?  Why Stallone?  There seems like there might’ve been other ways to get Rocky back into the ring and not disrespect his dead wife.  That’s all I’m saying.  Or writing.  I just expected more.

All that being said, the big fight had me on the edge of my seat.  Not that I didn’t really expect the outcome, but I enjoyed it.  I was engaged.  At midnight and exhausted, the movie pulled me in.  RAMBO was a better remake for me, but Mr. Stallone, I am a fan.  I will be there in the theater for EXPENDABLES 2 and if you happen to go for ROCKY 7.  So, I enjoyed it and I think a lot of your writing and that’s why I expected more.


Hello world!

9 Sep

I’m a radio guy.  An actor.  A writer.  And most of all these days, a Daddy.  Yeah, pretty much everything took a backseat to being a Daddy 2 1/2 years ago when my first little girl was born.  I still tried to work (as much as 30 hours a week) with my wife full-time too, but when my wife’s work ballooned to some 90 hour work weeks and baby number 2 came along this year, things changed.  With my wife’s more regular hours now, we are now figuring out how to really get me back into the workforce (more than my current 1-2 days a week) and still avoid hiring a nanny full-time.

I hope you spend some time here occasionally, but mostly this page is for me.  I’m a talk radio guy and I need to share my life, my opinion, and my analysis of current events.  It’s just part of who I am.  One of the hardest things I have ever done was spend a week as a Juror Alternate.  I listened to a case for a week, analyzed facts, came to a strong opinion, and then once the defense was finished, I was excused.  Yep, as an alternate, you get excused without being able to give your opinion on the case.  It was awful.

So, you’ll find movie reviews here (my former blogging focus in my morning show days), sports analysis (I am a former sports broadcasting type guy afterall), video game rants (I still play after 30 years), Politics (since Washington makes me sick on an almost daily basis), and more than anything, ramblings about being a Daddy.  I think.  We’ll see how it develops.