Sunday, March 30

This Girl Made a Lego Resume

A resume should showcase your skills. For fellow Illinoisian Leah Bowman, her skills also include building herself virtually. Using the Lego Digital Designer, Bowman put her resume together, introducing herself as a blocked character. It's pretty fantastic, and I may need to play around with that Lego Digital Designer. Because I also enjoyed playing with Lego pieces growing up, but boy, did I hate stepping on them.

Ranking the Pokemon: #49- Clefable

Today I learned that in the most recent generation of Pokemon, Clefable (along with a Clefairy, who evolves after using a Moon Stone) has changed from a Normal-type to something called a Fairy-type. That's weird.

Luckily, we're only talking about Gen I, so here we goooooo!

I was never a big fan of Clefable when I initially played through Pokemon Blue, but after a second glance, it's pretty solid overall. None of the stats will blow you away: HP is good while everything else hovers around average. But not having a weakness statwise is pretty fantastic, and Clefable can learn an absurd amount of moves via TM. I'd go with Psychic and Thunder Wave for sure, then some combo over Thunderbolt, Blizzard, Fire Blast, SolarBeam, Body Slam or Light Screen, depending on how the rest of your team stacks up. Most Pokemon barely can learn four moves that are ever worth using, and Aesop's Fable learns double that. Not. Too. Shabby.

The main reason I like Clefable, though, is this weird theory about it and Gengar. You see, Gengar (who will be on this list later) is known as the "Shadow Pokemon," but the game never specifies what it's a shadow of. Fortunately, fans with even more time to kill than yours truly have determined that Gengar and Clefable look an awful lot alike. So I'm willing to roll with the idea that Gengar is just Clefable's shadow. It's further advanced by their types (Ghost and Normal, respectively) being immune to each other, meaning that one can never damage the other using their same-type moves.

Battling Grade: B-

Friday, March 28

This Generic Brand Ad Is Perfect

Dissolve Footage has a ton of stock multimedia, so it wanted to put it to good use. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

The above video is a generic ad, filled with the stereotypes you'll see in advertisements that drive us crazy. Things like a time-lapse of city traffic at night, a blue collar guy with dirt on his face, and rushing water. Lots of it. As a parody, it's almost so accurate that you might not even laugh. Because honesty is not funny.

Wednesday, March 26

The Phoenix Suns Imported Gerald Green Into NBA Jam And It's Awesome

People of my generation should remember NBA Jam, which is one of the best basketball games ever made, and absolutely a top five arcade game ever. The two-on-two action, the crazy powerups, the excitable announcer who only really said things like "He's heating up!" and "He's on fire!" It was magical.

Well, someone in the Phoenix Suns organization shares those same fond memories that I do. After Gerald Green put up 41 points against the Thunder, the team made a little video inserting Green into the game. And it's very well done. Highlights include Green's ratings (really? 6 out of 10 for passing? That seems generous), the on-point graphics, and the incredible dunk at the end. That's worth a "boom-shakalaka" for sure.

Monday, March 24

March Madness Coach Facts

Sadly, the best (i.e. the first two) days of March Madness are behind us, but I'm all about funky stats and cool college bball trivia. The folks over at CoachUp have made a cool infographic about some of the coaches that routinely make March the most exciting month of the year. Enjoy!

Get 10% off led grow lights for sale when you shop at Valid until April 2014.

Saturday, March 22

There's Going to be a 'Peanuts' Movie in 3D

That's right. The same folks who brought us Ice Age (Blue Sky Studios) are teaming up with 20th Century Fox to create a 3D Peanuts movie. I don't know how I feel about this, but I do love me some Snoopy and the gang, so I guess I'll give it a shot. This introductory trailer doesn't really do much, aside from showcasing Charlie Brown's wisp of hair. But the film's not due out until 2015, so I suspect we'll see plenty more in the coming months. 

NCAA Tourney Thoughts: Day 2

Warren Buffett can rest easy. He won't lose 0.00001% of his fortune by having to pay someone a billion dollars. No perfect brackets remain in his Quicken Loans Challenge, but hey, the Top 20 folks can still win $100,000. Let's do this!

Stephen F. Austin, who hasn't lost since the Nixon Administration, earn our Best Finish of the Day in their ridiculous comeback win against VCU. The Lumberjacks were down 10 with 3:38 to play, and down four with 10 seconds left and VCU shooting a free throw. But that didn't matter ONE BIT. SFA's Desmond Haymon caught a pass with about three seconds left, launched a three, and drained it. Lumberjacks down one, right? WRONG. Haymon was fouled by VCU's JeQuan Lewis, and that four point deficit disappeared JUST LIKE DAT. In overtime, the Lumberjacks continued making awesome plays, and they eked out a 77-75 win, their 29th in a row. Incredible. 

The Best Performance of the Day award is handed to Pittsburgh's Bryce Cotton. This man averaged 39.9 minutes per game during the season, and was even above 40 per game with like five games left to play. That's absurd, and what's more, he produced during those heavy minutes, scoring 36 points. Of course, Providence lost 79-77 to UNC, because heaven forbid I correctly predict an upset, but if Cotton wasn't on the Friars, this game wouldn't have even been close. As it was, it was probably the second-most entertaining game of the night.

The Worst Loss of the Day is an easy one. LOL Duke.

I should add a qualifier to our Most Boring Game of the Day: If you enjoy missed free throws, you'd absolutely love Oklahoma State/Gonzaga. I don't, personally, and seeing 61 fouls called in a game that had potential to be two entertaining squads playing against each other was kind of a bummer. Each team missed 15 free throws, and the Cowboys even adopted a "Hack a Polack" on Gonzaga's Przemek Karnowski (so dubbed by play-by-play announcer Andrew Catalon, which he then apologized for several minutes later). Karnowski went just 3 for 9 from the line, but the Zags won, so he gets the last laugh.

The Thank Goodness This Guy Is On The Team award goes to Desmond Haymon, for his aforementioned four-point play to force overtime. Seriously, even if you watched that game, stop what you're doing right now and check out the highlights again. SO GOOD.

Sorry, Baylor, your highlighter impression earns the Ugliest Uniforms award. But I won't be too harsh on you, because I actually predicted a win--unlike the pundits at ESPN, who said Nebraska would win because of their "hot" finish and Baylor's "stumbling" to the finish line. If you were scoring at home, coming into the game, Nebraska had won eight out of their last 11 games, and Baylor won nine out of their last 11 games. And these ESPN folk are all making at least six figures...sigh...

I guess the Region I Would Have Liked To Be At Live can go to Raleigh. They got to see Duke lose, Tennessee crush UMass in what had to have been the easiest upset to predict of all-time, then they watched a fairly close and entertaining Memphis/George Washington mid-major battle before seeing Virginia lose the first half against Coastal Carolina before storming back to win easily. But I love those Chanticleer unis!

We also have a new award (possibly just for today), the Get Out Of My Country award. This one goes to New Mexico. I learned a fun stat today: The Lobos have made the tournament 12 times since 1991, and have made it to the Sweet 16 precisely zero of those times. Yet I keep picking them to make the Sweet 16. After today's pathetic loss to Stanford, I got to thinking...what does New Mexico really have to offer as a state in general? Besides Breaking Bad, can you actually think of anything New Mexico does that another state doesn't do better? Sure, there's Tex-Mex, but Texas has that on lock. The Grand Canyon is Arizona. White Sands? I'll take Hawaii for that. The basketball team's incompetence has made me question the entire state. At least for the rest of March, I think they should hang out in South America.

Hope y'all's brackets ain't too busted. Happy watching over the weekend!

Friday, March 21

NCAA Tourney Thoughts: Day 1

Ahhhhhh, the Madness. It's already begun. Of course. I was a pedestrian at best 11 for 16 in my bracket after the first day, and I have some gripes to pick. But first, let's start with a positive.

Our Best Finish Of the Day goes to the Texas Longhorns, who blew a late 12-point lead, allowing Arizona State to take the lead and then later tie the game at 85. But no worries, Texas big man Cameron Ridley made an incredibly agile play to grab a loose ball after a rebound before tossing it up with the left hand for the win. Honorable mention to Dayton, whose Vee Sanford made a ridiculous floater with 3.7 seconds left, just seconds after Ohio State's Aaron Craft made a ridiculous driving layup.

The Best Performance of the Day goes to Michigan State's Adreian Payne. He dropped a school tournament record 41 points, and also pulled in eight rebounds, in the Spartans 93-78 rout of Delaware. The Fightin' Joe Bidens were sadly one and done. Payne also finished 17 of 17 from the free throw line. Quick math says that's 100%. You know who didn't shoot 100% from the free throw line?

The North Carolina State Wolfpack. In our Worst Loss of the Day award, the Pack missed 17 free throws in the most embarrassing collapse I can remember. They were up 59-45 over Saint Louis with five minutes left, and were leading by eight points with 80 seconds left. Of course, the Billikens didn't do much better, shooting just 12 for 26 from the line. Combined, the teams were 32 for 63 on free throws, good for about 51%. And these kids get free rides to school. What a joke. Get off of my screen, NC State.

The Most Boring Game of the Day Award goes to Pitt/Colorado. Yes, Wisconsin won by 40 over American, but at least the Eagles were leading for a little bit of the first half. I'm pretty sure the state of Colorado persuaded four other states to legalize marijuana before the Buffaloes even made a field goal. I believe it was 36-9 at one point, and of course that wasn't even the biggest lead, as the Panthers won by 29. Just a disgusting display of basketball all around for Colorado.

Meanwhile, the Thank Goodness This Guy Is On The Team award is going to Luke Hancock of the Louisville Cardinals. Rick Pitino's squad almost crapped the bed against an inspired Manhattan Jaspers team (bonus points if you can tell me what a Jasper is), but fortunately the three-point specialist...well, did what he does best: he hit two clutch threes in the final couple minutes, and the Cardinals escaped with the 72-64 win.

The Albany Great Danes gave the overall #1 seed Florida Gators a great scare, but they gave our eyes an even bigger scare with the Ugliest Uniforms award. I mean, look at these things. They wouldn't be THAT bad if not for the really weird shorts. I can't tell if they're coming or going. I guess they're going, since they're out of the tournament. 

Congrats, Spokane, you win the Region I Would Have Liked To Be At Live award. Harvard/Cincy, Louisville/Manhattan and San Diego State/New Mexico State all were fantastic games. Plus they got to witness the aforementioned history in the Michigan State game. That's a pretty solid haul. Here's to a fantastic Friday of madness!

Thursday, March 20

This Dude's Wheel of Fortune Guess Is What Dreams Are Made Of

Outside of The Price Is Right, Wheel of Fortune is probably the game show I'd most like to be on. I find myself solving the puzzles fairly easily, and it would really just come down to my spinning technique (which, if my recent foray into spinning a wheel in order to earn a free hamburger is any indication, is below-average, at best).

But even I would have had difficulty with this puzzle that a contestant named Emil saw in the final bonus round. Three words: three letters, four letters and five letters. All he got were the first two letters, "NE." Then a few seconds later, he had won $45,000 and had Pat Sajak frisking him. What an evening!

Ranking the Pokemon: #50- Nidoqueen

What a surprise, Nidoqueen again is right next to her male brethren. I'm nothing if not predictable. Anyway, Nidoqueen wins in this head-to-head bout because I like blue better than purple, and she's more ferocious. That hearing doe...

I also just realized her breast plate and pouch or whatever is on her stomach combine to look like a weird smiley face. That kind of creeps me out, but it's too late to do anything about it, so we'll allow it.

Battling-wise, Nidoqueen's stats are basically the inverse of Nidoking's: HP and Defense are the best, though Attack ain't bad, either. And the Special and Speed are aight. Also like Nidoking, the Queen Nido learns pretty much no useful moves naturally (Body Slam may be an exception), but can hold its own thanks to a wide variety of TMs. I'm pretty sure it's the same set as Nidoking, so...see that one, conveniently located just below this paragraph. Anything to generate more page clicks.

Battling Grade: B

Previously: #51- Nidoking

Tuesday, March 18

Q&A With Country Music Star Doreen Taylor

What's it like to sing a national anthem? Well, I have no clue, but award-winning songstress Doreen Taylor has a pretty good idea. After all, she's penned the anthem for the National Parks Conservation Association's Salute to the Parks Gala, and will perform it at the event on Wednesday, April 9 in Washington, D.C. The song, called "Colors of the U.S.A.", will be available for download at beginning on Friday, April 11 at midnight EST. I spoke with Doreen about this once in a lifetime opportunity.

A Hot Cup Of Joey: Talk about how this whole thing got started.

Doreen Taylor: It's been well over a year in the making. I was home in Buffalo doing a media tour, recording a radio show. The host and I get to talking about the preservation of land. I'm very big on that and preserving history. The host asked to talk to me off the record and eventually introduced me to a friend of hers. I had no idea of the magnitude of what I was doing, and all of a sudden, here I am talking to the execs at the NPCA. With the centennial coming up, I said, "let's do a song." I never turn down the opportunity for anything. I'm always listening. That's my advice to new artists: take any opportunity. You never know what it could turn into.

AHCJ: What's your creative process in writing a song? How was this anthem different?
DT: The release of [my most recent album] Magic happens to fall on the same date as the launch of this Parks song. During the recording of Magic, I loved letting it out, just writing and spending a lot of time in the studio. I was writing a song a day at one point. I've been a songwriter my whole life, and I had material that I brought in with me. But I started working and being ultra-creative and recorded everything brand new. There's none of the material on there that I originally brought in.

For this anthem, I had a hook in my head, a very simple thing. I thought that it had to be more complex than that, so I kept spending time trying to rework it. But I didn't have to–when you marry the music with the lyrics, that's when you know it's the one. I don't want to jinx it, but I really think this is my best work. I collaborated with [producer/arranger] Larry Gold, and honestly, he had so many platinum and gold records hanging up on the wall, I thought I'd pass out from the shine. It was incredible.

AHCJ: How has your opera and Broadway background helped your music career?
DT: I credit Philly for starting my career. I was chosen to sing in The Phantom of the Opera, at an amazing event that was all for charity. I was discovered there and had a private 1-on-1 experience with the master conductor, and it really started my career on Broadway. I gave it my best on that tiny stage, not knowing who was in the audience, and it opened up so many doors for me. In this business, a lot of it is who you know. Yes, you have to have talent, too. But as my career goes on, the talent part is almost second-nature. That's why I take advantage of every opportunity I get. Having a hand in so many hats is important.

AHCJ: You have a very cool bond with your fanbase. Talk about the importance of maintaining a good relationship with your fans.
DT: With my music, I love having control and being able to say that, sink or swim, I did it. It's something I put out there and gave it my all. Now, I have a really great staff, so it's a little easier to let go. And I have people that really care; that's why I'm succeeding. I just want to touch people, and this song is such a good cause. It's a wonderful opportunity to spread the word.

However, the interaction with fans is something I would never give up. You see other musicians "responding" to fans but it's a pretty obvious it's just a PR firm or publicist writing for them. Fans are like an army that fights for you. It might take me awhile to do it, but I answer everything I get on social media, and I've met so many wonderful people through it. When I tour, it's so great to finally see a fan you've interacted with, and get a hug from them and hang out. They're my supporters and I love giving back.

AHCJ: What's your favorite national park?
DT: I love history and I love what America has done: things like the Liberty Bell and Alcatraz are considered national parks. But nothing has surpassed what God has made. My family would go on two trips a year–it was exactly like National Lampoon's Vacation. It was always amazing, visiting all sorts of these natural creations...standing in front of Yellowstone and just seeing all that openness in front of you. We were fighting the whole way, but it was a tremendous bonding experience. A lot of the things we did as a family come through in the song. It's the ultimate art.

Monday, March 17

LA Earthquake Hits As Newscasters Are On-Air

Apparently there was an earthquake in Los Angeles today, at least according to all of my Facebook friends. Having lived through like four or five when I was out there (and feeling precisely zero of them), I can't say I'd know what to do in the case of an earthquake. The anchors at KTLA are a lot more prepared. Watch as an earthquake hits right in the middle of their broadcast. 

Best Block of the College Basketball Season

Pittsburgh's Cameron Wright took the ball to the basket in a game against Virginia during the ACC tournament, probably thinking he'd score. The Cavaliers had other ideas, though, and executed an incredibly rare triple block. Six hands on the basketball? Very impressive!

Friday, March 14

Cousin Sal Messes With Texas on Jimmy Kimmel Live

Jimmy Kimmel Live is filming right here in Austin, so it's only fitting that the show would send their rabble-rouser, Cousin Sal, for a little fun. They put him on the Kebabalicious food truck, which is literally a block from where I work. If only I knew, I could have maybe been one of the people they didn't put on the show because I'd immediately recognize Cousin Sal. Such a missed opportunity. In any case, I laughed at various parts of this, so maybe you will too. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 13

Honest Game Trailers: Mario Kart

The folks over at Smosh Games have put together a Mario Kart trailer, complete with the honesty you'd never actually hear from Nintendo. Their analysis of the blue shell is particularly apt, and I chuckled quite a bit at the tie-toting Donkey Kong being introduced as "Business Kong." Well done.

IKEA Bedroom Stories -- Frank the Cosplayer

Meet Frank: He's a cosplayer living in Singapore. That means he has costumes of all different varieties. Anime characters, movie stars, even computer game players. But of course, all those costumes can cause some clutter, as Frank and his mother so charmingly display in the above video.

I feel Frank's pain, and I'm not even a cosplayer. So it's cool that IKEA came in and gave him some organization. Next stop (hopefully), my apartment. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 11

Barack Obama Makes An Appearance On "Between Two Ferns"

"Between Two Ferns" is probably the best consistent series on Funny or Die. Zach Galifianakis is just so perfectly awkward in interacting with his guests, whether it's dishing out poorly-timed insults or not comprehending basic words. Check out the latest episode, where none other than President Barack Obama gets in some solid barbs. Yes, it's a plug for the Affordable Healthcare Act, but hey, young folks like me should know about things, and this is a wonderful way to spread the word.

Strangers Kissing For the First Time Is Strangely Mesmerizing

Yes, all of these people seem way too photogenic (and attractive), but it's still a pretty cute video. Tatia Pilieva put together this video of 20 strangers meeting and kissing for the first time. Not all at once, of course. It's ten pairs of people. But everyone seems to enjoy it, and that's what kissing is all about. Now go out and give someone you just met a smooch!

This Two-Person Trick Golf Shot Is Pretty Cool

That is, until one of the participants says "That was cool." That's the FIRST rule of being cool, man! Don't acknowledge it at all. 

Sunday, March 9

NBA Rush Pits Ballers Versus Aliens

After the Bulls made all my fair-weathered Miami friends start pining for the playoffs today, the basketball world is a great place. With the free iPhone app NBA Rush, you can take Bulls and Heat players (plus over 90 ballers from other teams) and turn 'em against aliens.

Tony Parker slamming one home for Mother Earth.
Starting off with the Spurs' Kawhi Leonard, Chicago's Joakim Noah, and Dallas' Jose Calderon, players run through a ravaged apocalyptic world as aliens chase them down. Utilize power-ups to make your NBA-er even better, and raise your tag meter (used to swap in other players) with crazy dunks and super jumps. Gain more NBA talent for your dream team by collecting coins and diamonds.

NBA Rush an incredibly simple premise, but it's definitely worth checking out. Plus the animations when your players get caught is pretty entertaining. And you can't beat the price–it's free, after all! Check it out right here in the iTunes store.

David Lee about to throw down on some alien scum.

Wednesday, March 5

Ranking the Pokemon: #51- Nidoking

Look at this hideous thing. Like a third of Nidoking's body is his tail, and it appears to be permanently hunchbacked. But his hearing is probably really good, so there's a bonus. Also, being Poison/Ground means Nidoking is one of the worst types in the game.

Ugly appearances and crappy type aside, Nidoking is a very well-rounded fighter. Apparently in Generation V he's even better, with higher Attack and Special Attack. But in Generation I we had to just live with Special, which wasn't too shabby (though not as good as the Special Attack nowadays). The King's strength lies in its Attack and Speed, so it works better as a physical sweeper, but...

...King Nido can learn so many TMs that you can really go in any direction. Nothing it learns naturally is worth keeping, but you could physical-move 'im up with Earthquake, Rock Slide, and some combination of Submission/Hyper Beam/Rest/Horn Drill. I don't really like Horn Drill since it only has a 30% success rate, but getting to kill some chump in one turn is pretty cool.

Alternatively, you could tell Nidoking, "Hey, Nidoking, let's be a special sweeper instead," and then Nidoking would yell "NIDOKING!" since 99% of Pokemon can only say their own name. And Nidoking is not in the 1%. Not coincidentally, Nidoking's stock market knowledge is quite limited. But with Blizzard, Fire Blast, Thunderbolt and Surf all available, you can theoretically take out most of the types that Nidoking is weak against.

Or you can mix and match. Go wild! Whatever TM you can think of that's worth knowing, Nidoking can probably learn. And that's pretty darn good in my book.

Battling Grade: B

Tuesday, March 4

Jimmy Fallon And The Roots Are Playing Classroom Instruments Again

This time with Idina Menzel, singer of that "Let It Go" song from Frozen. I don't think this song is anything special, but whenever classroom instruments are involved, I'm all for it. Leggggoooooo!

Monday, March 3

Ellen DeGeneres Kicks Butt Hosting The Oscars

I usually find the Oscars to be a pretty boring affair (and especially awkward during the pregame show), but with Ellen DeGeneres hosting, I figured I'd tune in. And I was actually glad I did. She killed it with some timely selfies, including the one above, which initially was just supposed to be her and Merryl Streep. The goal was to have the photo be the most retweeted thing ever. I'm not sure if it achieved that goal, but the last time I checked it had over 355,000 retweets, which impresses me, and that's all that matters.

Also, she invited a pizza delivery guy to come in and hand out pizzas to people. It's a long ceremony, after all, and bellies get hungry.

Saturday, March 1

Up & Comin' Searching For Season 2 Musicians

Up & Comin’ is searching for the next Country, Hip-Hop, Alternative, R&B, Rock or Pop complete artist, group or band for a chance to win a recording deal, a $10,000 cash prize and global exposure for their music. Season 2 of the competition returns for a worldwide search and a 25-episode run to ultimately discover the next complete artist.

The show is produced by Massey, Bob Holmes ("Christmas in Rockefeller Center"), Willie “Bum Bum” Baker (Record Producer for PINK, India Arie, BoyzIIMen) and a team of entertainment industry experts that have worked with the biggest names in the business.

A Hot Cup of Joey did a Q&A with Delano Massey, CEO of Jacob's Eye Music. Check it out below, and stay tuned on all the latest at Submissions are now free through March 31, so get your music together!

What are you looking for in an artist for Season 2?
Up & Comin’ is searching for the “complete” package, with original music, and the ability and desire to communicate with huge fan bases. We want music from all genres; and performers could be groups, bands, musicians, rappers as well as solo artists.

Are there tips or tricks that will make one submission video stronger than the others?
We are evaluating from all the information submitted. Of course reviewing the song and JPEG, but also considering their on-line presence through their social media pages. All things being equal, we’re looking for that intangible element ……. The “it factor”.

Tips for contestants once they get on the show.
Be active in social media. In today’s market, successful artists MUST be active within the digital landscape and interact with the fans online.

What is going to be different about Season 2?
Well the biggest change, and the one I’m sure everyone is excited about, is the $10,000 Grand Prize! Also, the contestant field has doubled from 25 to 50, there are 4 rounds this year instead of 3, and the three finalists will meet and perform at our final live event to determine the winner.

How have you seen the Season 1 winner's career affected by Up & Comin'?
We have seen a tremendous increase in all of the contestant's exposure. Some contestants went from two or three thousand views to 100,000 to 200,000 views for each piece of content. Our season one winner, Rachel Lynn Sebastian is currently on tour in China.

What inspired you to create this show?
We just feel that other shows have focused on celebrity judges and not the music. We want to focus on the artist that's creating and performing original content.

What artists are you influenced by?
I have always been a fan of the great singer/songwriters - Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Alicia Keys, etc... Rock acts like U2, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and some of the new Country artists like Rascal Flats and Eric Church.

What will artists gain by participating in Up & Comin'?
If an artist becomes a Up & Comin’ contestant, they will receive massive exposure opportunities on a world wide stage.
Season 2 will have 25 episodes, 85 music videos, plus a 2 part finale! That’s a total of over 8 hours of content streamed online to the world! If they win, they will receive a record deal with Jacob’s Eye Music; and then of course …….. TEN GRAND!