Why Go Blue? (Or is it Blu?)

Leave a comment

The other day I was in the video section of one local store and I overheard one lady tell someone else she was with that she had a particular movie on VHS.  She said this so loudly that I thought she was actually proud of the fact that she still owned a VHS player and plays movies on it.

 

When I heard this, I almost hit the floor.  I thought was this lady serious?  If so, then stores like Blockbuster would still be in business today along with hundreds of mom and pop video stores in this country.  Maybe she hadn’t caught on to something called DVD yet or maybe it was just sarcasm at its worse.

 

Either way, the industry has moved ahead with a little new format called Blu-ray.  Blu-ray is not new as it has been around for several years now but is only just starting to come down significantly in price during this holiday season.

 

First off let me say that the players themselves have been available for under $50 this holiday season for a basic Blu-ray player, although a more sophisticated one can be had for well under $100.  These machines not only play the Blu-ray discs but also standard DVDs as well, which makes DVDs seem almost non-obsolete.  Many of the machines also can double as sort of “smart TV” as many have special apps that can play games, surf the internet, or connect to your favorite social media site.   Certainly these machines are very unlike the DVD players of years’ past.

 

The discs themselves have seen a remarkable drop in price especially during Black Friday a couple of weeks ago as some retailers were selling Blu-ray discs for as cheap as under $2.  Now while there are some lousy discs out there, gems could be found on the cheap as well.  Many of these releases were from this year but some were older than that.

 

As far as the packaging is concerned, this is where some find confusion.  So here is how I figure it with the various packages.  Let’s go through them individually:

 

  • Blu-ray disc only:  the package contains only a Blu-ray disc possibly with additional features.
  • Blu-ray disc and Digital HD: same as above with a special code or disc that allows for playing on a computer, phone, tablet or other device.  Note that these expire usually within 2 years and something I have never used or tried because of their short lives.
  • Blu-ray disc and DVD and Digital HD (aka combo pack): same as above but with the addition of a DVD copy of the movie.  However, it should be noted that the DVD could be just a movie only version and may or may not contain the same extras that the standalone DVDs would have.  Usually some of these discs contain the digital copy rather than the extras that would be on these discs.  Certainly this is the preferred purchase as you get both types of disc, but buyer-beware on what the DVD actually has.
  • 3D Blu-ray: sometimes sold most times in combination with any of the above these discs only work on 3D TVs.  While I don’t have a 3D TV, I can’t say how well these discs perform.  However, most 3D discs have no extras which make them a trade-off with the standard Blu-ray discs.
  • 4K Blu-ray discs: these are not available yet, but expected to appear on the shelves in 2015.  No details on if these discs will have any space for extras on them yet.  These discs are meant for the ultra-high resolution TVs making their way into the marketplace in the past few months.  Whether these discs will be packaged with other formats is the biggest question mark of all.

 

The best resource that I recommend is going to the website Blu-ray.com.  Here detailed descriptions of discs can be found along with movie ratings and prices.  The downside to the price part is that the majority of the prices mentioned is from Amazon along with links to purchase discs from them.  However, given that many stores will now match Amazon this is more of a feature than an inconvenience.

 

Finally, the quality picture and sound is superior to DVDs, but they do vary from title to title.  Again, the above mentioned resource is your best bet to get the real lowdown on new and old titles alike.

 

Overall, if you have a capable HD TV and wish to upgrade to Blu-ray, then I would highly recommend that this is the season and year to do just that.  So hop into those bargain bins and join the blue (or Blu) revolution, time is wasting!

 

Next week, in my last post of the year, I will be discussing quite possibly the worst customer service experience ever.  If you thought you heard me talk about bad before, get ready for the lowest point in customer service as so many things went wrong that you really will wonder if it is all real, but trust me it will be.  Get ready for possibly the longest and most enjoyable post of the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday Night Dies Hard

Leave a comment

For the second week in a row, I decided to watch Saturday Night Live.  Unfortunately, it was the worst 1 ½ hours I have spent in a long time.

 

I didn’t watch this episode for seeing Bruce Willis fumble around unfunny skits, I tuned into seeing Katy Perry perform her latest hit “Roar”.  Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed with that, but I wish I could say the rest of the show could have equaled what Katy did.  Compared to Miley Cyrus last week, Katy’s performances on the show were much more expansive and she was much less dressed than Miley was the week before.  However, Katy stole the show from Bruce.  She really should have done this show without him because she was nowhere to be found in any of the sketches as far as I could tell.

 

The only funny sketch in this episode was the “Boy Dance” bit.  Beyond that nothing was really funny except the opening sketch involving Bruce being an astronaut trapped by NASA government shutdown.  A second astronaut skit was not only not funny, but was simply dull as was much of this episode.

 

It seems to me that SNL is losing its mojo.  The skits aren’t funny even though they have funny people on the show and talented singers which can and could also act as well.  So why is this show failing so much?

 

I think it is that the cast just hasn’t gelled together.  Add to this some very poor writing and it all spells disaster.  Can this show be saved?  While it is still early in the season, it is not known yet who future guests will be, but I suggest that scripts be written to fit the person on the show instead of generic skits that just fail.

 

This week Katy was a winner and Bruce died hard on Saturday night.  Sounds like a great movie sequel to me.  Or not.

 

My score:  1 (Bruce Willis) / 8 (Katy Perry)

 

Summary:  Girl singers rule!  Unfortunately, Bruce was not funny, which stands to understand why he hasn’t hosted in over 20 years.  I saw what could be “Weekend at Bernie’s III:  The Die Hard Edition”.  It really was that bad.

 

Holy Crap, Don’t Look Ethel! — Swindle and the VMAS and Batman too

Leave a comment

To say that last weekend was boring would be the furthest from the truth.  In fact, it could be said that it got downright ugly.  At least to some, it would be.

First up, I have good news and bad news for Jennette McCurdy.

The good news is that her Nickelodeon show “Sam & Cat” has finally hit its stride after 8 episodes and finally looks somewhat promising.  The episode “#MommaGoomer” finally has characters from Victorious as guest stars, most notably Sikowicz. This show may not die a quick death after all.

However, the same cannot be said for the latest Nickelodeon movie “Swindle” that premiered last weekend.  This movie promised an “all-star cast” with actors from “Big Time Rush”, “Sam & Cat”, “Supah Ninjas” and the now-cancelled “How to Rock”.  The lead actress of this show was Jennette McCurdy, who played an over-the-top young actress and Noah Munck, who still seems that he was still playing the same character from the previous movie of “Nicky Deuce”.

The premise of the story was when a very old baseball card was found in a wall by a couple of teenagers and they decided to take it to a local collector shop to try to sell it.  He offered them a couple hundred dollars for it, when he knowingly knew it was worth well over a million dollars.

Unfortunately, this is where the real story ends.  What happens from this point forward is a mish-mash of scenes that have absolutely no connections at all with each other as they go chasing to get their card back from the swindler.

Sadly, this movie lasts for 2 hours and is probably the worst 2 hours I have seen in a long time.  Ironically, the script ended 20 minutes into this train wreck.

Oh wait, other worse Nickelodeon movies “Fred: the Movie” and “Best Player”, which also star Jennette McCurdy, could be considered a triple feature of bad movies that were just bad career moves, one right after another.  Somebody please get this girl a new agent before we find her like Amanda Bynes or Lindsay Lohan.

At the end of this movie, the viewer is given a very short preview of the next Nickelodeon movie called “Jinxed” airing this fall.  This movie stars Ciara Bravo from “Big Time Rush”, also in this movie as well.  Judging from this preview, this movie looks like another loser.  I will have a review after it airs later this year.

My recommendation:  Don’t be swindled by “Swindle”.  This is overhyped garbage with a lack of storyline.

My score:  2

 

 

Now onto another event of the past weekend: the MTV Video Music Awards.

I did not watch this show completely, only parts of it.  However, I saw enough to realize one thing:  it had its share of its annual shock value.

Most notably was the whole Miley Cyrus performance with Robin Thicke.  As this performance, it had enough gyrating as any stripper show would probably have and then some.

While many complained about someone so young doing this sort of thing, nobody held a gun to their head to watch this.  It is quite apparent that Miley is no longer Disney material anymore.  She has finally grown up whether we wanted her to or not.  I certainly have reluctantly accepted her post-Hannah Montana image.

Ironically, where were all these complainers when the movie “Spring Breakers” came out earlier this year?  This was a nudity filled R-rated movie that featured Disney darlings Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens along with ABCFamily (also owned by Disney) star Ashley Benson.  I think that this would be much more of a reputation killer than Miley’s VMA performance.

One thing I found interesting was that this show was scheduled for 2 ½ hours, yet this show clocked in at about 2 hours 25 minutes.  While it was nice to finally get a short show, it makes me wonder if they ran out of acts or whether people just got bored.  It was not uncommon in years past to see this show running close to 3 hours or longer.  Maybe the VMAs are finally running out of steam or maybe just running out of shocking things to feed us every year.

Since I did not see this entire show, I won’t give this show a score as it would not be fair, but from what I did see I would say watch if not easily offended.

Lastly, I must comment on Ben Affleck as the new Batman.  This is the worse choice ever!!  Did they pick the first name out of their alphabetic rolodex?  What’s next in their casting: Kirk Douglas as Robin and Lady Gaga as the Joker?  Seriously, I am not looking forward to this at all.  My expectations of the Superman/Batman movie have all but been ruined now.

Overall, it appeared that last weekend was full of bad performances and the anticipation of future bad performances.

Nicky Deuce — Sopranos Meet Gibby

Leave a comment

What happens when you stir in HBO’s Sopranos,  iCarly’s Gibby, a classic actress and a Degrassi cast member together?

 

You get Nicky Deuce, the latest Nickelodeon channel movie.  So is this movie really any good?

 

First off, it is a short movie clocking in at roughly 1 hour and 15 minutes long (1 ½ hour with commercials).  This really makes for one of the channels shortest movies and with the expansive cast, things get confusing quickly.

 

The movie stars Noah Munck best known as Gibby on the now cancelled popular show iCarly.   While this role isn’t a total stretch for him, it is good for him to play a smarter character than the one on iCarly.

 

The cast also consists of several people who appeared on the HBO show Sopranos.  While I never watched that show, it seems that this was more like a reunion for them than a movie.  We also get a highly unrecognizable Rita Moreno as grandma and Cristine Prosperi most notable from the teen series Degrassi as Donna, the new flame in Nicky’s life.

 

For those who love the Sopranos, this may be the perfect gem of a comedy crime movie.  The same could be said of fans of the iCarly as well.  However, the number of characters in this movie is hard to keep track of and thus makes it a little overwhelming if not impossible to keep up with what is going on.

 

While this movie is a standard type mob movie, it is lightweight with a decent amount of comedy mixed in.  Certainly not a perfect movie, but it is better than Nickelodeon’s previous movies of “Fred” movies, “Best Player”, and the somewhat good but uneven “The Boy Who Cried Werewolf”.

 

I was never bored watching this film but it was way too short and seemed rushed to get to the end.  This movie definitely needed 2 hours to tell its story, but I believe that the casting put a huge strain on the show’s limited budget.  Maybe there will be an extended version of this movie at some point, possibly even on the forthcoming DVD already slated for a mid-July release.

 

In conclusion, this movie is not perfect with what seems to be mostly stunt casting with the mobsters from Sopranos.  It was still enjoyable as is, but a yearning for more is not out of question.

 

The show premiered last Monday (Memorial Day night), but as I write this there is no scheduled airing in the next few days, which means that this will be a matter of searching for it across the Nickelodeon networks.  I expect this movie to turn up on Teennick before it airs on the parent station again in the near future.  One final plus as with most of Nickelodeon movies lately (unlike their TV shows) is that it is being shown in widescreen format, not the standard pan-and-scan version.

My Score:  7

 

Summary:  Good family entertainment, but just too short.  Better than past movies on the network.

 

 

Where We Are Now..It is 2013 Right?

Leave a comment

When I started this blog 7 months ago, I had no idea what it was going to be or what I would discuss.  Ironically 2 topics came up to me more often than not.  They were the lousy service provided by Time Warner Cable and the mass shooting violence that has happened around the country.

Unfortunately, there is no solution to either problem.  In fact, both problems seem to have escalated since the first of the year.  More murders have happened around the country and TWC has eliminated the Ovation Channel without lowering their cost by even one penny.

Here is what I would like to see for 2013:

Gun Violence:

  • Congress needs to toughen gun laws.  Forget the mental illness crap, one recent murder in Maine involved a guy drunk and killing 2 people who were his renters.
  • NRA needs to stop making foolish comments like they did after the Newtown incident.  Only banning automatic and semi-automatic weapons are the solution, no matter what the NRA says.
  • Stop blaming video games, movies, and music for the violence.  They are minimal parts of the big problem.
  • And finally, tighten gun registration and background checks.  This is a strong deterrent and must be enforced.

TWC:

  • Scrap the current navigator interface.  It looks bad and locks up all the time.
  • Fire the programmers.  These people are idiots and don’t get how to fix the errors in their navigator system.
  • Update the guide to show correct programming at all times.  Sadly, I many times have recorded shows that don’t exist because the programming guide was very wrong.  Unfortunately, TWC doesn’t get the idea that the guide needs to be current to work properly with the DVRs.
  • Lower the price of product or increase features.  Yes, you get more bang for the buck with satellite, but TWC could implement the same features if they really applied themselves and not even charge more.  Maybe they just don’t understand that concept.

I don’t expect either of these issues to be resolved in the near future as there are nobody who is interested in fixing the problems no matter how many people die or how many angry TWC customers there are.  I will continue to update on these topics when necessary.

Hopefully, next week I can discuss a more enjoyable topic like television or the next political nightmare.  But until then…stay tuned.

Gun Control and Mental Illness

2 Comments

Certainly there are no words that can express my feelings for what happened in Newtown, Connecticut this month.  What I can express words on is that this could have been avoided if only we had tighter gun control laws.

The bad thing is that it seems that everybody wants to blame “Mental Illness” as the cause of the events.  Seriously, is this the excuse to be used on every violent incident now?

It has now even gotten worse as other things have been blamed for all the recent violence.  Amongst them include:

  • Movies – Let’s stop blaming movies for all the violence.  After all, I don’t know of many cars that fly through the air and have weapons in their front grill.  The blamers want to convince us that movies are the problem.  This has been blamed for too many years and foolishly.
  • Video games – I have heard this one ever since the 1990’s when games like Doom came out back them.  Do killing monsters really make people want to kill people?  I have didn’t buy it then and certainly don’t buy it now.
  • Music – Poor Ke$ha.  She is being blamed for her song of “Die Young” for being the inspiration for the recent violent acts.  I have heard this song many times and I don’t think the blamers get it.  Yes, this song gets me pumped only because I like it, but I certainly don’t feel violent because of it.  Of course, I still get pumped up over Britney Spears “Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman”, but then again that’s just me.

What we should REALLY be blaming are the things that really count and amongst them are:

  • NRA – One of the largest political action groups buys the people who make the decisions in Congress.  They wave their second amendment rights around like they were the American flag.  We need to get people in Congress who are not puppets of the NRA.
  • Gun Resellers/Retailers – Many states don’t do background checks before they sell a weapon and sometimes they ignore the laws anyway.  The laws vary from state to state which makes matter worse.  I remember when I was working at Woolworth, the rules were that the gun application would have to be faxed to Augusta and then wait about 3 days to get a response.  However, one time there was no response after 3 days so the salesclerk went ahead and sold the weapon anyway.  It turned out that one NEVER should have been sold after the report came back as being a risky person.  Nobody ever heard the end of that one.  Resellers have to act more responsible and keep the laws in mind and abide by them.
  • People like Norman Hamann – This nutcase needs to be in jail or a mental facility.  He believes his own fears allow him to walk around with a gun in his belt.  Sadly, I believe everyone else is scared of when he might crack and start using it.  What bothers me even more is that he thinks that it is ok to film his encounters with the police.  If anybody is mentally ill, Norman is the top of the class.

Sad to say there will be more gun violence if the real issues are not addressed.  It does not matter what the President does or Vice President thinks he can do will matter.  Mental illness is just a rubber stamp that I believe that everybody has if pushed far enough.  Even I was once called mentally ill.  I will have more to say about that in a future post.

The biggest question that has been asked lately is “Are we really safe anymore?”.  My answer is “I don’t believe so and never will, just don’t scare the children with that information.”

For now the only things we should worry about is the fiscal cliff or even worse the Mayan’s prediction of the end of the world.

 

Notice to all:

I will not be posting to this blog until after the first of the year as I feel that both the reader and myself need a holiday vacation from everything that has been going on in the world lately.  I plan on being back right after the first of the year with possibly a look back at the previous year and my look ahead to the next one.  So until then Happy Christmas and Merry New Year or something like that.

 

Fun Size Rating Maybe Not So Fun Size

Leave a comment

Well, as predicted the Victoria Justice movie that opens in about 10 days has received the more fierce PG-13 rating.

Apparently, as the rating states of partying, suggestive language and such, that this is REALLY not a kid’s movie and thus parents should be aware of that.  I sometimes question why the MPAA rates movies the way they do as sometimes the ratings seem far off from where they really should be.

However, this time I believe that in part potty-mouth Chelsea Handler could be to blame for this.  Maybe if someone else was in the role of the mother maybe it might have gotten the more kid-friendly PG rating instead.

Certainly this rating will reduce the audience significantly as parents keep the kids away from this movie.  Only time with tell how little this movie takes in at the box office/

%d bloggers like this: