Friday, August 26

The Best Viral Video You've Ever Seen, Probably

Birbiglia, Keegan-Michael Key">The Viral Video: The Most Popular Short Film Ever (By Mike Birbiglia) from Funny Or Die

Mike Birbiglia's film Don't Think Twice just saw a nationwide release, and, predictably, the studio has asked him to make a viral video to help promote the movie. Unfortunately, the cast all have different thoughts on what will stick...can anyone come up with a winning idea? 

Tuesday, August 23

Let's Just Relive The 2016 Olympics Closing Ceremony

The 2016 Olympics in Rio were marred by all kinds of controversy, from pools that allegedly had dangerous levels of toxicity to Ryan Lochte's fictional account of being robbed at gunpoint. But the closing ceremonies were a good reminder of why the Olympics are so cool. And one of the highlights was the "passing of the torch" from Rio to Tokyo, the host of the 2020 Olympics.

After a montage of Japanese athletes flipping, kicking and jumping over the architecture of downtown Tokyo, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made quite the grand entrance: through a giant green warp pipe dressed as Mario. Might the mustachioed plumber make an appearance in the next summer games?

Monday, August 22

NBA 2K Releases Trailer For NBA 2K17

For basketball enthusiasts, the NBA 2K series is THE place to be. I'm still partial to the earlier gems in the series – NBA 2K11 set the standard for greatness, and I've spent the most time with NBA 2K12 – but, at least the last few titles on the new generation have made efforts to advance the game as a whole. 

It doesn't always work, as last year's "My Player" mode with Spike Lee's cinematic direction felt clunky and forced, and even the gameplay wasn't on par with previous years (wayyyy too many blocks and missed layups), but it is always beautiful. 

NBA 2K17 is keeping that trend going, as this #FRICTION trailer released today shows. Players celebrate, rock their signature moves and looks, and, as always, the atmosphere looks fantastic. We'll see if it translates to the gameplay, but for now, this'll keep us bball fans plenty satisfied until the season starts.

Little Mermaid's "Kiss the Girl" Sounds Radically Different in a Minor Key

Music is wonderful in how it can stir up emotions deep inside of us. It's similarly terrific in the way that you can slightly change it and it sounds completely different, for better or worse. I personally think this version of "Kiss the Girl" by Chase Holfelder, who moved The Little Mermaid into a minor key, is quite the jam. 

Instead of a catchy pop song that has everyone throwing their hands up and singing "sha la la" till the cows come home, we get something that sounds like an R&B track you'd hear at the club. It's pretty delightful. Enjoy! 

Saturday, August 20

Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea Plays Bass With Koko the Gorilla

Sometimes things happen for a reason, and other times you get a video of Flea, the bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, playing a bass guitar with Koko the Gorilla. Flea was visiting the Gorilla Foundation in Woodside, Calif. and realized this gorilla can jam with the best of them. Pretty fantastic.

Oh, and fun fact: Flea is 53 and Koko is 45. Less than a decade apart – who knew?!

Thursday, August 18

Von Miller Chanels His Inner Justin Bieber For Madden Commercial

Fresh off a Super Bowl MVP award and appearance on Dancing with the Stars, Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller is eager to show us his moves. It just so happens Madden '17 is about to come out, so Miller has a terrific platform in the form of a commercial for the game.

Miller takes it one step further, though: instead of just dancing for a bit, he does his best Justin Bieber impersonation, with a parody of the Beebs' "Sorry." This one's called "Start Me," and it features a heavily autotuned Miller suggesting you, the GM of your fictional roster, should make Miller your cornerstone, because, after all, he's got a 99 rating. That's the best you can do, so why not start him?

Sunday, August 14

Seth Rogen Pranks Shoppers to Promote "Sausage Party"

Seth Rogen's new movie Sausage Party hit theaters this weekend, and to help celebrate, he went into a Los Angeles grocery store and set up animatronic produce. If you ever wanted your melons to talk, or your sausage to swear at you, well, you're in luck. Especially if you're a hipster. Turns out talking food doesn't like them very much.

Friday, August 12

Philadelphia Eagles Tight End Brent Celek Goes Undercover at a Wawa, Fits Right In

With NFL preseason games getting underway, it's time for athletes to take a break from whatever they were doing over the summer and get back to football. In the case of Philadelphia Eagles tight end Brent Celek, that meant retiring from his job at Wawa, a chain of convenience store/gas stations.

Okay, maybe Celek didn't actually work at a Wawa this summer, but he did film some scenes with customers as he mulled around in a prank video from Whistle Sports. And very few people recognize him, despite a number of references to the fact that he plays professional football, some more obvious than others. 

To be fair to the citizens of Philadelphia, Celek kind of just looks like a nondescript in-shape man. I hope he makes more of these, though, because his wit and improv skills are pretty solid.

Wednesday, August 10

Horace Grant, Draymond Green and Michelle Williams Star in Terrific Foot Locker Commercial

A fun part about growing up in the Chicago area means I got to play basketball against the sons of some Bulls players. Naturally, the kids never lived up to the hype of their fathers, but it's still cool to say "Hey, I knocked the ball away from Jeffrey Jordan," or "I played defense on a potential game winning shot that John Paxson's son missed."

Another Bulls kid I played against was Horace Grant's son, Horace Jr. So it's nice to see the elderly Horace starring in hilarious commercials (and looking like he hasn't aged a day at all). In an ad for Foot Locker, Grant tells Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green he needs to find a way to stand out on a team full of All-Stars, and gets a little advice from former Destiny's Child singer Michelle Williams. Enjoy.

Monday, August 8

U.S. Olympic Swim Team Does Carpool Karaoke

The Olympics have already been riveting, with plenty of intrigue and strong performances. The swim teams in particular have done great, with Katie Ledecky breaking world records by like 67 seconds, and my second cousin Ryan Held helping the men's 4x100 freestyle take home the gold. It's spectacular to watch.

Equally as spectacular is these many carpool karaoke performances the swimmers do. It's weird, it's silly, and it's 'merican. Enjoy. And for a full list of Olympians in each car, here ya go:

* Car #1
Elizabeth Beisel – IG/twitter: @ebeisel34
Caeleb Dressel – IG/twitter: @caelebdressel
Ryan Held – IG/twitter: @heldilox
Melanie Margalis – IG: @mmargalis / twitter: @melmargalis
Jordan Wilimovsky – IG: @jwilimovsky / twitter: @j_wilimovsky

* Car #2
Michael Phelps – IG: @m_phelps00 / twitter: @MichaelPhelps
Allison Schmitt – IG/twitter: @arschmitty
Amanda Weir – IG/twitter: @AmandaJoWeir
Kevin Cordes – IG: @kevincordes / twitter: @KwCordes
Connor Jaeger – IG/twitter: @conjaeg

* Car #3
Maya DiRado – IG: @mayadorito / twitter: @MayaDiRado
Missy Franklin – IG: @missyfranklin88 / twitter: @MissyFranklin
Dana Vollmer – IG: @dana.vollmer / twitter: @danavollmer
Abbey Weitzeil – IG/twitter: @abbeyweitzeil
Cierra Runge – IG/twitter: @CierraRunge

* Car #4
Katie Ledecky – IG: @kledecky / twitter: @katieledecky
Anthony Ervin – IG/twitter: @AnthonyErvin
David Plummer – IG: @plumm006 / twitter: @davideplummer
Molly Hannis – IG: @hannis707 / twitter: @mollyhannis
Kelsi Worrell – IG/twitter: @kelsiwhirl

*Car #5
Conor Dwyer – IG/twitter: @ConorJDwyer
Chase Kalisz – IG/twitter: @chasekalisz
Gunnar Bentz – IG/twitter: @thegunnybunny
Hali Flickinger – IG: @haliflickinger / twitter: @Hali_Flickinger
Jay Litherland – IG: @jaylitherland / twitter: @j_litherland

* Car #6
Simone Manuel – IG: @swimone13 / twitter: simone_manuel
Lia Neal – IG: @lia_neal / twitter: @LiaNeal
Townley Haas – IG/twitter: @TownleyH
Jack Conger – IG: jack_conger

* Car #7
Leah Smith – IG: @leahsmith19 / twitter: @lgsmith19
Olivia Smoliga – IG: @osmoliga / twitter: @oliviasmoliga
Cody Miller – IG: @codymiller / twitter: @swimiller
Lilly King – IG/twitter: @_king_lill

* Car #8
Ryan Lochte – IG/twitter: @ryanlochte
Cammile Adams – IG/twitter: @CammileAdams
Katie Meili – IG: @katiemeili / twitter: @katie_meili
Jimmy Feigen – IG/twitter: @JimmyFeigen
Kathleen Baker – IG/twitter: @KathleenBaker2

* Car #9
Nathan Adrian – IG/twitter: @NathanGAdrian
Tom Shields – IG/twitter: @BeefyTShields
Ryan Murphy – IG/twitter: @ryan_f_murphy
Josh Prenot – IG/twitter: @joshprenot
Jacob Pebley – IG: @jacob.pebley / twitter: @jacob_pebley

Saturday, August 6

Review: Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Image: RadioSega
Once every four years, we're treated to arguably the most spectacular world event: the Summer Olympics. This year was filled with unease, as up until days beforehand (and even quite possibly currently), infrastructure had not been entirely built, the Olympic Village was not the paradise athletes expected, and things like mosquitoes and toxic water levels threatened to ensure that nobody would have a good time.

That may still turn out to be the case, but luckily, there's an alternative that's a lot safer and still plenty of fun: Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

I've never played any of the previous installments in the series, but Nintendo was nice enough to send me a complimentary version of this one to check out. It's jam-packed with 14 different events (17 if you count some of the "doubles" matches that...well, double up on an existing one), with characters all throughout the Mario and Sonic universes available at your disposal.

The game opens with a montage of different events, but once you can control your character you have the option to do a series of either solo or multiplayer events. You'll have to channel your inner T-Pain here: "All I Do Is Win," because you'll need to take home first place in five events before you can actually qualify for the Games themselves.

Image: Nintendo
Luckily, that's not difficult to do at all. The majority of the games against the computer allow a bit of leeway–for example, in the BMX race, I slipped on two consecutive oil slicks and fell far into last place, but still had plenty of time to come back and take home an easy victory.

Anytime you win an event in any capacity, you'll take home coins and rings. Earn enough and you can get new outfits for your character, which ups your abilities. You're also able to earn flags and tips by talking to other Miis running around on the main beach. While this collection goal can be a bit tedious, each Mii offers a fun fact about their country. Not everyone knows the Ivory Coast is the world leader in chocolate production, for instance, so it's a cool way to try and educate gamers of all ages that, hey, there's a great big world out there, let's try and enjoy it.

Once you qualify for the Olympics, a monument with some Toads pops up. Chatting with Toad allows you to compete in different tournaments against other players. Again, winning here earns you more coins and rings, and you can improve your Mii. That's important, because during the Olympic events, you can't use any characters from the Mario and Sonic franchises; you have to use your Mii. The difficulty ramps up a bit here–it's not nearly as easy to coast to gold after gold, though the challenge isn't going to make you throw your controller out the window.

Image: Nintendo
As for the games themselves, a screen appears the first time you do the event, providing instructions on how to emerge victorious. A few times I found myself not really understanding what to do as I began, but once things got rolling it's pretty intuitive. On-screen button commands also appear on the screen in case you've forgotten what you're supposed to be doing.

As with any kind of party game like this, certain events are a lot more fun than others. I'm a big fan of the longer events–the BMX and Equestrian ones give you some wiggle room to be creative–and the Archery event, which featured different targets popping up and moving around, was also very fun. Who knew a giant tie-sporting ape had such precision bow and arrow skills?

Overall, Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games isn't going to revolutionize gaming, but it's not setting out to do that. For a good way to celebrate the Olympics and have some fun building up your Mii, it's worth checking out, especially if you have family or friends to participate with. The online capabilities are nice, but it's so much more satisfying defeating someone in the same room.

(Review copy provided by Golin)
Platform: Nintendo Wii U and Nintendo 3DS (this review is for the Wii U version)
Developer: SEGA
Publisher: Nintendo
Players: 1-4
Release Date: June 24, 2016
Price: $59.99
Score: 4/5

Friday, August 5

Matisyahu Surprises Fan Singing In Coffee Shop By Doing a Duet With Him

It's safe to say Matisyahu is probably not the most recognizable of singers. Particularly now, when he's drastically changed his look from his peak fame. So you'll forgive Kekoa Aloma, the young man singing Matisyahu's "One Day" in a Maui coffee shop, for not immediately recognizing the stranger who started singing with him. Turns out it was Matisyahu himself. And when Aloma finally realizes who he's been crooning with...well, it's a cool moment. Check it out. And next time, camera man: hold that phone horizontally!

Monday, August 1

DeAngelo Williams Recalls First Time He Met Kris Jenkins

DeAngelo Williams is one of the best follows on social media. He's not afraid to make some controversial statements, like when he said Peyton Manning's 2015 season was overrated, calling it crap. He also actually stands up for real issues, and is a big proponent of breast cancer research and awareness, as he lost both his mother and aunt to the disease.

He's a great storyteller, too, and with an assist from ESPN's SportsCenter, he's shared a terrific story with us about the first time he met former teammate Kris Jenkins. Jenkins was a defensive tackle for the Panthers and the Jets, and is a large bear of a man. Thus, Williams' first encounter with him was...intimidating, to say the least. Enjoy.