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“Soy un sobreviviente” – What I’ve Been Doing 27 Aug 2012 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Aug 27th, 2012 by Dan

Imagen de 'Juan de los muertos'

The zombie apocalypse in Cuba (Picture courtesy Casa de América)

Busy week of prepping to move and moving, but that didn’t stop me from getting some media in…

Movies

Juan de los muertos – It’s not the greatest movie in the world, but it’s pretty damn awesome. I don’t get to see a lot of movies about Cuba or set in Cuba and this was a real pleasure. I mean, now that I don’t live in Miami, how often do I get to hear people speak Spanish the way I’m used to hearing it? I loved this movie and I’d recommend it to anyone who digs a zombie comedy.

TV

Workaholics – I’d heard good things about this comedy somewhere, but I was left feeling a little lukewarm. It’s not bad, but I don’t enjoy it as much as, say, The League. I do dig the unlovable leads, at least.

30 for 30: Unguarded – ESPN’s documentary series is pretty awesome, guys. A ton of them are on Netflix now too. I mean, I really don’t like basketball, but this documentary about Chris Herren’s struggles with drugs was very interesting. The story’s not groundbreaking, but it’s heartfelt and done well.

Top Gear – Jeremy races the other two across Japan in a sports car while they take Japanese public transportation. Very funny competition. I love it when they do challenges on this show.

Community – My S3 box set came in this week so I watched the first episode. Man do I love these guys. Can’t wait for their S4 return!

Breaking Bad – Bob Odenkirk’s debut was perfectly timed and this show is really on a roll in S2. His line, “Right now you’re Fredo,” was amazing and pretty chilling. I’m way back in.

Pretty Little Liars – Gotta pay your dues. Saw the first ever episode with Tiffany (she hadn’t seen it either). Not as terrible as you might think, but still a show that’s clearly not for me.

Music

B.O.B.’s dropped a new record recently. These two tracks (one with Andre 3000 and the other with Nicki Minaj) are pretty hot. I’m pretty sure they’ll end up on my tumblr in a few weeks, but enjoy them for now.

Books

Another week where I let my brain rot.

Video Games

Team Fortress 2 – It feels like ages ago since I first started playing Mann vs. Machine, but I love this mode. Can’t wait to get some more time in this week, but the move is gonna get in the way.

Iron Brigade – Only played a map or two, but Lee, Min, and I will save the world from the TV menace!

Orcs Must Die 2 – Decent tower defense game. Hope to play with Lee or Yin too since they seem to be pros.

The Last Story – Just started playing this and discussing it with David. Expect more in this space soon. Very interesting so far.

Persona 4 Arena – Finally starting to finish stories. Still one more big mystery to uncover.

Trine 2 – Finally started playing some with Min. I like the co-op and I really like the weirdness of the physics engine. Ninja rope for life!

Spelunky – Made it to Hell for the first time! I got a few levels in before I died too! Brutal, brutal stuff.

I’m Just Albert [Embedded Reporter]
Apr 19th, 2010 by Dan

One of the latest in the long line of pretty funny Sportscenter commercials.

Super Ichiban Travel Blog Part XIX: Epilogue [II]
Nov 6th, 2009 by Dan

No Game Overview today, we’re gonna finish this up since I didn’t get to it today (World Series business)

And so it came to pass that I went to Japan, saw some baseball, and came back home with a greater appreciation and understanding of Japan. If you remember the first entry in this series, I outlined a set of questions that I wanted to try and address while I was out there. Here’s what I found along the way:

1. What do they do during the 7th inning stretch out here?

I’ve addressed this myself in a previous article, but there are slightly different customs in the 7th for a Japanese baseball team. As recently as last year, there was a tradition of firing off a stream of balloons that make a streaming noise. It’s a really striking and cool sight, at least in video, but I didn’t get to see it in person.

Sadly, the tradition seems to have ended this year thanks to H1N1. When you’ve got a whole stadium full of person-filled balloons flying around, launching spittle everywhere, I guess you can forgive them for changing their mind about this tradition this year. I can only hope that it will return when the flu concerns start to disappear, but it’s also possible this great tradition is gone forever.

2. What kinds of crazy foods do they serve at the concession stands?

Yet another question that I’ve done my best to highlight as many times as I could in each entry. Each stadium had food ranging from typical American food, like hamburgers and hot dogs, to more typical Japanese food like takoyaki, miscellaneous bento, and curry. I’d say it was the highlight of the trip really, especially that seafood pizza I got in Fukuoka at the Hawks game.

3. Just how rowdy do the fans get during games?

Given the more typically restrained culture in Japan and the insistence on not bothering others (combined with the supposed American boisterous, wild behavior), I thought that Japanese games would be more restrained, controlled, and structured. I was half right on that.

The Japanese are plenty loud in baseball games, but in a very structured way, like I thought. Each team’s fans cheer for their own hitters with specific cheers for each batter, but, beyond that, they keep quiet and definitely don’t really boo the other team at all.

There’s only one rare exception: drunk fans. Since beer flows throughout almost the entire game, some fans drink without restraint and end up screaming randomly, but it’s rare. Very unlike a passionate fanbase.

4. How different is it to fly internationally on a Japanese carrier compared to a domestic carrier?

There was another article almost completely about this, but the differences are subtle and distinctly Japanese. I hoped that we might have more space on the plane, but the space was tighter, due to a smaller average size for Japanese people. Other than that, the expectations I had were all spot on. The food was way better, the service was more polite and more attentive, and, overall, I had a much better time of the flight than I’ve had on domestic carriers.

5. Do cities outside Tokyo get crazy during game releases? At least one major game franchise (Pokémon) will have an iteration released while I’m out, but I won’t be in Tokyo when it comes out.

I was a day off from catching this release and it didn’t seem all that wild out in the area, but within all the stores, the game was sold out and impossible to find anywhere other than a Pokémon Center.

6. How rock and roll do the Japanese get? If I can, I’m going to try and make it into a show somewhere.

Didn’t make it to any shows. I’ve got no opinion on this.

7. Is the fashion at Harajuku as crazy as everyone says it is?

Another shame, I was in Harajuku on a school day and during work/school hours too. I hear Sunday’s the big Harajuku day, but I didn’t see much.

8. Sumo. Great sport or greatest sport?

I’m torn on this one. Sumo is a great thing to see and experience, but I’m a little bummed at how long it takes for a match to happen. Just as soon as we’re ready to finally start, it’s done. It’s great to see and all, but I think that it might be better to just watch the highlights reel the way they do it at times on ESPN 2.

9. Is Akihabara still the mecca of electronics that it once was?

I don’t know why I end up inflating expectations on this sort of thing, but I always figured Akihabara for some kind of wild, Neo Tokyo, super-exaggerated, sprawling, mega-techno city. Instead Akihabara spans, at most, 6 blocks by 3 or 4 blocks filled with curry, music stores, movie stores, anime shops, video games, and straight-up electronics shops.

Was it ever bigger? I have no idea, but it doesn’t quite feel like the one-stop shop that it should be and it feels a lot less epic than people made it seem.

10. How much cool stuff can I find in a used game store?

Lots of cool stuff. From arcades with vintage games to the most obscure Famicom or any other random Japanese system you’ve never even heard of. The best thing I ever got were those great Mario noise keychains. Good stuff.

I wish I bought me a Dragon Quest slime too.

11. Is Coco Curry House Ichinbanya still amazing?

YES! So good. Oh man was it great. I need to go back out there or buy some curry mix and get it shipped in.

12. How long can Dave and I sing in a karaoke box before we’re kicked out to salvage what’s left of the clientele’s hearing?

Two nights, but, to be fair, we did travel from Hiroshima back to Tokyo to avoid the karaoke police. It was definitely fun.

13. Do I have the nerve to go to a public bath?

Turns out I don’t, but I also didn’t really go looking for them. It’s also possible that I wouldn’t have been admitted since there can be some anti-foreigner sentiment in those types of establishments.

14. Is the Japanese train system as punctual and efficient as advertised?

While it has its share of idiosyncrasies, the train system runs punctual to a ‘T’. Not only do they show up precisely when they say they will, but they almost never miss their arrival time. The only time a train was even remotely late was the shinkansen to Fukuoka. Even then it was only 10 minutes and I’d bet that the Amtrak never keeps it that punctual.

15. What’s the strangest item I can find in a vending machine?

Turns out nothing too bizarre for the States. Soda and the occasional alcohol or cigarette machine. Even those suckers are harder to buy from nowadays thanks to a crackdown on youth consumption of both.

Capsule machines are kind of a different story, I guess, but they’re mostly anime, video game, or sports team merchandise. Nothing like the famous women’s underwear stories.

16. Are Japanese arcades really dying?

Well, I saw a few, but it’s not so easy to tell what’s going on with arcades when you’re looking at them in Akihabara. I do know that I didn’t see all the fighting game cabinets that I thought I would, but they seemed to be doing ok when I saw them. I didn’t get enough exposure to the arcades to have an informed opinion.

About 40 Left. Hurry Up Fish! [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Aug 12th, 2009 by Dan

It’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

Baseball, sad as I am to say it, is nearing the end of its season. As pre-season stories begin to flood my RSS reader I can only lament the loss of the pure baseball period. That time of the year where the only professional sport being played in America is my favorite time of year. Turning on Sportscenter will only yield tiny stories and not spend long segments on the state of some team’s offensive line.

I don’t want to keep dwelling on the oncoming football season. Let’s talk some baseball instead.

Billy and Inaugural Marlins

Billy and Inaugural Marlins

Last week I went and attended the first of a three game series in Washington against the Florida Marlins. Josh Johnson was slated to pitch, so I figured I should see their ace rock the Nats. The inexplicable happened and Washington pulled out a win in the 8th inning. It kept getting stranger as the Nats swept the entire three-game series, stealing leads from the Fish rather like they did against the Nats all season long.

Set to roll into Philadelphia after the series, I was hoping for at least a win. You might recall that Florida was swept the last time they played, but, surprisingly, the Marlins pulled three straight wins for the sweep, even defeating Jamie Moyer, who is 13-3 lifetime against the Fish.

Thanks to those games, the Marlins are (as of this writing) sitting 3.5 games behind Philadelphia and 3.0 games back in the wild card behind the Giants, Rockies, and Cubs. The Phils are in Chicago facing those same Cubs, which can only be good for Florida as it will definitely advance in at least one of those races each night those two play.

As the title says, they’ve only got 40 games left. They’d better play some solid baseball if they want to make a playoff run.

June Results [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Jun 3rd, 2009 by Dan

It’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

Another month of baseball has passed and it’s a testament to the sport that things have gotten a bit crazy. As I write this on Tuesday, the standings look a little something like this:

AL East

Yankees
Red Sox
Blue Jays
Rays
Orioles

AL Central

Tigers
White Sox
Twins
Royals
Indians

AL West

Rangers
Mariners
Angels
Athletics

NL East

Phillies
Mets
Braves
Marlins
Nationals

NL Central

Brewers
Cardinals
Reds
Cubs
Pirates
Astros

NL West

Dodgers
Giants
Padres
Diamondbacks
Rockies

The biggest surprise would have to be the collapse of the Blue Jays in the face of stiff competition. They are a meager 6-9 in the East and have dropped from their pedestal of 3.5 games ahead at their best to 1.5 games back, amassing a nine-game losing streak to get them to where they are today.

As mentioned by Rob Neyer, the Rays are somehow leading the league in batting average, doubles, homers, RBIs, walks, stolen bases, extra base hits, and they lead the league in runs scored, among other feats. Despite all of this, the Rays happen to lie six(!) games back in the East. Hopefully things start breaking their way soon, they deserve it.

My beloved Marlins sit 6.5 back in the NL East and all the injuries the team is suffering from seem to predict that this won’t change all that much.

Zack Greinke is still murdering batters at a ridiculous pace. His ERA sits at 1.10 after 11 starts and he shows no sign of slowing down. Keep an eye out for him.

Matt Wieters made his debut for Baltimore and he’s doing alright. Expectations are high for the catcher to help turn the team’s fate around.

Evan Longoria is leading the All-Star ballot and I encourage each and every one of you to keep him on top.

Manny Ramirez just might get selected on the ballot, despite being suspended for fifty games following a drug test failure.

The Yankees set an MLB record by allowing no errors in 18 straight games.

Quick me plug: I got my e-mail read on Monday’s ESPN Baseball Today podcast. It was pretty awesome.

And for our last bit of news, good luck on win number 300 Randy Johnson. The Big Unit will go for win number 300 tonight against the Washington Nationals. There’s also a delightful bit of symmetry in the fact that Randy Johnson was first drafted by the Montreal Expos, the team now known as the Nationals, and will be facing them in this historic game.

6 April Web Gems and SportsCenter! [WMQ]
Apr 7th, 2009 by Dan

Sadly no mention of the Marlins’ amazing inside the park homer nor the grand slam. On the other hand, who doesn’t love great defensive plays instead of homers?

SportsCenter got it a little better with not one, but two Marlins plays in there, both by Bonifacio. Good stuff all around though.

SC Top 10 [WMQ]
Apr 4th, 2009 by Dan

I’ve discovered that these top plays seem to only stay active for a few days, at the most. I guess I don’t blame ESPN, their bandwidth requirements would be ridiculous. I’m gonna have to think about whether or not I continue this based on the fact that before the week is up I’ve already got posts with dead videos.

Only one baseball highlight in here, despite the fact that there were tons more (and better) highlights from these pre-season games. It’s cool, starting Sunday and Monday, we’ll see a lot more of baseball highlights.

SportsCenter 03 April 2009 [WMQ]
Apr 3rd, 2009 by Dan

Put me down as someone who hates Basketball highlights. Really, what’s all that interesting about a dunk? Sometimes they get the highlights right and have spectacular shots or blocks, but dunks in general aren’t all that interesting.

That being said, the two-balls-at-once dunk in today’s top 10 was pretty cool. For my money, though, the top play of the past few days was today’s #1, featuring a falling goal in ice hockey.

Baseball’s mostly winding down, but hopefully we’ll see the game return to top 10 this Sunday or perhaps web gems will start appearing.

The clip is below, enjoy!

Not Much [WMQ]
Apr 2nd, 2009 by Dan

Not much interesting to say about today. We’ve got a few things and we’ll combine in some highlights.

Gary Sheffield was released from the Tigers. Not altogether a bizarre move, but definitely unexpected. Unimpressive hitting last season and this spring combined to motivate the Tigers to instead field more defensively able players on their field. He’ll probably be picked up on the cheap somewhere, so no worries there.

Not quite sports, but only the heartless can’t appreciate adorable hadokens into babies.

And finally, SportsCenter top plays. My favorite: obviously the Marlins one!

UPDATE: The video continues to be “inaccessible,” even though I copied the embed code right from the page. Just click next and select SportsCenter top plays.

UPDATE 2: Working for now.

SC Top Plays 31 March 2009 [WMQ]
Apr 1st, 2009 by Dan

No Web Gems today, so we’ll just do the SportsCenter Top 10

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