Coffee Talk #101: Giacchino’s Incredible Career Started in Games

Last night at the 82nd Annual Academy Awards, Michael Giacchino snagged an Oscar for best original score for Up, adding another accolade to his phenomenal career. While he’s gained fame for his work on Lost, The Incredibles, Ratataouille, and more, Giacchino got his start in games. From The Lost World: Jurassic park to numerous Medal of Honor titles to several Call of Duty games, he has composed some of the best soundtracks in gaming.

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, the Oscar Awards, the outstanding HBO documentary on Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird, or wrestling’s Monday night wars, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

New Coffee: Totally forgot about this, but I opened a bag of Colombia La Piramide Reserva from Stumptown last week.

Last night at the 82nd Annual Academy Awards, Michael Giacchino snagged an Oscar for best original score for Up, adding another accolade to his phenomenal career. While he’s gained fame for his work on Lost, The Incredibles, Ratataouille, and more, Giacchino got his start in games. From The Lost World: Jurassic park to numerous Medal of Honor titles to several Call of Duty games, he has composed some of the best soundtracks in gaming.

As someone that’s followed his career for more than a decade, I’m thrilled for Giacchino’s success. Every time he snags an award, he creates an opportunity for people to learn about the gaming world. His success brings attention, prestige, and legitimacy to the relatively young business of videogames. I know he’s busy with movies and television, but I hope he still has time to create music for the medium that helped get him to where he is today.

Out of curiosity, do you have a favorite Michael Giacchino soundtrack? I absolutely love the score for The Incredibles. Giacchino’s music is one of the reasons The Incredibles is high on my list of all-time favorite movies. Let me know some of your Giacchino favorites when you have a chance.

American Idol Recap 3/3/10: Top 10 Girls

One-sentence summary: White girls try to be soulful with mixed results.

The false idolatry continues with a recap of tonight’s episode of American Idol, featuring the top 10 girls. While there were a few dull performances, the girls as a whole were way better than the top 10 guys. Here’s how it went down.

Crystal Bowersox “As Long as I Can See the Light”: The sick chick went first. I’m pretty sure the producers are pissed at her for screwing with this week’s schedule by going to the hospital. She rocks the hell out of this Creedence Clearwater Revival song, but I have to wonder if teens and tweens know who the hell CCR are. I sincerely doubt she’ll win, but I’m rooting for Crystal because she isn’t the typical “beautiful person” and my friend Christian is convinced that she’s really a lesbian. Randy Jackson’s brilliant judgement was, “I love that girl! That girl is hot!!!” Considering that she was hospitalized 24 hours ago and put on one hell of a performance, the other girls should be scared. The two things going against her are looks — because let’s be real, the beautiful people get more votes than they ought to — and (possibly) song selection that might not resonate with the youngins. If America votes her off this week, I’m leaving for Canada or Thailand.

Haeley Vaughn “The Climb”: This 16-year old girl is super interesting. Unlike other Idol teens, she doesn’t seem like she was manufactured by a stage mom. She comes off as a genuinely goofy teen and it’s pretty cute. She’s also an African American teenager that loves country music; I can honestly say that I’ve never met an African American (of either gender) that enjoyed country. Haeley went with a Miley Cyrus song, which should help her get votes. She’s not shouting half the song like last week, but her vocals weren’t the best — lots of pitch problems and several moments of weakness. The judges dig into her, but tell her to keep smiling. Kara DioGuardi said that Haeley needs another year to “strengthen her instrument” because “it’s a muscle that needs to be worked”. How many men have heard the same thing from Kara…in private. Anyway, Haeley could be in trouble, but I think her cuteness will keep her around for another week.

Lacey Brown “Kiss Me”: This chick is beautiful, but she mangled “Landslide” last week and I’m a little surprised that she’s still here…then again, she’s really, really pretty and has great hair. I’m pretty sure a lot of teenagers want to be her. She put on a fun performance of this Sixpence None the Richer song from She’s All That. It was definitely better than last week and a much smarter choice (she does not have the pipes to pull off Stevie Nicks), but she’s just not that good. She sounded like a shopping mall performer. Only Ellen liked her, calling her performance “adorable”…which made me think, “You know Ellen, not all women with short hair are lesbians.”

Katie Stevens “Put Your Records On”: Here’s Wired.com Kohler’s favorite. Since she has a square-ish face and Kohler digs her, I’m going to call her Box Head. She can say “give me a kiss” in six languages. Can the tramp stamp be far behind? Box Head does a decent job and she makes out with camera nicely, but I keep hearing Megan Joy’s performance in my head. Megan Joy knocked it out of the park last season and Box Head’s version is a bloop single in comparison. That said, it was good enough to keep her on the show…well, that and her looks.

Didi Benami “Lean on Me”: Music aside, this is my favorite female contestant. She’s beautiful and her name reminds me of Konami’s Bemani games. Plus, she cries during greeting card commercials, when old ladies struggle to get off the bus, and when leaves fall — she can’t help it! It’s funny that I mentioned Megan Joy in the last paragraph, because Didi is like a less talented and less interesting version of Megan Joy. On the plus side, she doesn’t have all that nasty ink covering her right arm. Her version of this Bill Withers classic sounded like a white girl trying to sing like a black girl. It was decent in the beginning but was all over the place towards the end. It left me with a whole “wannabe” vibe. Naturally, Didi was tearing up and couldn’t talk after getting railed by the judges. Don’t worry Didi fans, she’s too sexy to get voted off at this stage.

Michelle Delamor “With Arms Wide Open”: Michelle works with kids, teaching them how to yell, “Whooooooo!!!” like Ric Flair. I didn’t know that was a job. I could do that. Before she started singing, I was worried about a woman of color singing a Creed song. I’m pretty sure it’s a law in 37 states that Creed can only be sung by white people. Michelle showed why this law makes sense. It was just…weird. She’s a good singer with great looks, but the song choice was all wrong. The judges were split on this one. Randy and Ellen weren’t into it, but Kara and Simon liked it. Kara’s a moron, but I was surprised that Simon approved.

Lilly Scott “A Change is Gonna Come”: Some of my friends like this chick, but I don’t trust anyone that dyes their hair white. Why the hell would you want to look older?!? Lily is rocking a twelve-string guitar for this brilliant Sam Cooke song. I was scared that she’d absolutely blow it, but she did really well — my second-favorite performance of the night behind Crystal. Unlike Didi Benami, Lilly managed to impose her own style on a soulful song. It was like a Lilith Fair performance (in a great way). The judges loved her, rightfully so. If she keeps this up, she’s in the overall top 10 for sure.

Katelyn Epperly “The Scientist”: To steal a joke from 40-Year Old Virgin, do you know how I know you’re gay Katelyn Epperly? You like Coldplay. *joke* On a side note, I love telling hardcore U2 fans that Coldplay is a much better band (I don’t really believe that). They get so flustered. Anyway, Katelyn has great stems, but her hair looks like a beehive. Still, she’s showing so much skin that it’s hard to look at her face…except when you focus on the beauty mark between her eyebrows. I really want to jab it with my finger for half an hour. As for her performance, she did a good job with a somber piano performance of “The Scientist”. The only issue I had was that her camera faces were kind of creepy. Ellen wasn’t into it, saying that it made her sleepy. Then again, Ellen thought she was playing a guitar, not a piano. Anyone else get a Brooke White vibe from Katelyn?

Paige Miles “Walk Away”: Picking a Kelly Clarkson song written by Kara DioGuardi — the ultimate kiss-ass move. This was absolutely the wrong song for Paige. It did nothing to highlight her huge voice. She didn’t do poorly, but it was totally forgettable. She’s good enough to stick around for a few more weeks, but she needs to start picking songs that highlight her awesome voice. Three of the judges conveyed similar sentiments, with Ellen the only one that was into it.

Siobhan Magnus “Think”: I’m always scared when American Idol contestants take on Aretha Franklin. It rarely works. For Siobhan it was half awesome and half horrible. It was a very strange performance — some of it was soulful and some of it was shrilly. On the plus side, she pulled off the season’s first Adam Lambert scream. The downers were pitch problems, poor phrasing, and spots of weakness (yes, everyone is weak in comparison to Aretha). Siobhan is super cute, but she makes ugly faces when she sings. Randy, Ellen, and Kara loved her. Simon thought it was part incredible and part terrible. She should stick around and I hope she sticks around because she has great potential.

American Idol Recap 3/2/10: Top 10 Guys

Yes, I’ve finally gotten around to writing an American Idol recap. I’m pretty much doing this for three people, but I hope some of you RPad.tv regulars enjoy it too. Anyway, let’s get on with the false idolatry. Last night was supposed to be the top 10 girls performing, but Crystal Bowersox (and her smoker’s teeth) threw a wrench in those plans by ending up in the hospital. Instead, the guys went a day early. Some of them were good and some of them truly sucked. Either way, an extra day of practice wasn’t going to help any of them. Here’s how it went down.

Michael Lynche “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”: Big Mike took on a big song by James Brown. I didn’t think he could pull it off because he’s a lovable teddy bear and JB was a lovable bastard. Surprisingly, he started the show off with a strong performance and didn’t have to rely on the “I just had a baby” card. It was a good performance that will surely keep him around for another week. I’m pretty sure that the judges are soft on him because he’s frickin’ huge. Would you criticize a singing version of Michael Clarke Duncan?

John Park “Gravity”: The lone Asian-American male on the show looked extremely nervous or incredibly disinterested (or possibly high) during his pre-performance interview. Dude was totally staring into space instead of flirting with the camera (eye-f*cking the camera gets you at least 10 percent more votes). Park told Ryan Seacrest that he chose this John Mayer song because it’s relevant. Yeah, I’d say gravity is pretty relevant. I was really pulling for Park to succeed but he was completely boring last week and was only slightly better this week. He’ll probably stay around a bit longer, but I doubt he makes the overall top 10.

Casey James “I Don’t Want to Be”: Kara DioGuardi’s object of lust busted out some mean guitar licks on this Gavin DeGraw song. Unfortunately, American Idol is (allegedly) a singing competition and his vocals were flat. He sounded small and several Idol singers from several seasons did a much better job with this song. That said, it wasn’t a bad performance by any means. A decent performance and his looks will keep him on the show a bit longer. Confession: I really like this song and I have no idea why.

Alex Lambert “Everybody Knows”: Lambert revealed that he made up his own language in sixth grade. This kid keeps getting better all the time! His awkward dancing from last week, obvious stage fright, and incredible mullet has made him my favorite contestant so far. He actually has a really good and really unique voice too — as if Rod Stewart’s pipes were transplanted into a younger man. As for his performance…I loved it! I wasn’t expecting an “unplugged” version of John Legend from this kid, but he totally nailed it. I’m pretty confident that he’ll be around for several weeks, but I worry about nerd-hating teenagers overlooking him. He does bear a striking resemblance to Gollum, after all.

Todrick Hall “What’s Love Got to Do With It”: Major sucktitude two weeks in a row from this dancer-singer. Seriously, this kid needs to stick with musicals. He completely sucks as a soloist. He butchered this Tina Turner song with a funky (in a bad way) arrangement and weak vocals. Simon Cowell laid a pretty mean zinger on Todrick by telling him he should dance…and not sing.

Jermaine Sellers “What’s Going On”: The show went from suck to blow with this horrendous rendition of Marvin Gaye’s classic. Sellers should apologize to all of Gaye’s relatives, anyone associated with Motown, and…well, to his parents for embarrassing them. Just when I didn’t think I could dislike Sellers more, he told the judges that he’s safe because he knows God. While I don’t believe in God in the sense that Sellers does, I’m pretty sure He has better things to do than protect crappy American Idol contestants. This guy needs to go!

Andrew Garcia “You Give Me Something”: After wowing the judges during Hollywood Week with an acoustic version of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up”, this son of an LA gang banger hasn’t impressed. He hasn’t done anything wrong, but he also hasn’t done anything as distinct, original, and good as his “Straight Up” performance. Perhaps he peaked too soon…or perhaps he’s just Danny Gokey Light (with Gokey’s homophobic Christianity replaced with gangta values!).

Aaron Kelly “My Girl”: The judges were right to praise Kelly for his vocals (probably the night’s best) and rail him for an old-fashioned arrangement. Last week they were on him about his confidence. This week they’re on him about not being a distinct artist. The kid is 16! He was disowned by his parents! You really think he’s going to have his sh*t together? I’m impressed that he can walk out on the stage and flash (what appears to be) a genuine smile! Like others have said, Kelly reminds me of David Archuleta. The only difference is that I wanted to beat the crap out of Archuleta whenever he appeared on my television screen. Kelly is way more vulnerable and I feel like I should protect him.

Tim Urban “Come On Get Higher”: This guy shouldn’t be on the show. He was axed once, but got a second chance due to a contestant having a recording contract. He was — by far — the worst performer last week. He’s totally skating by on his looks and I hate all the people that voted for him just because he’s handsome. While he wasn’t as wretched as last week, his performance was still lame. Thankfully (for him) Jermaine Sellers and Todrick Hall made him look better than he actually was. Ellen gave him an awesome backhanded compliment by saying that he should look into acting because he’d excel as a handsome actor that can also (kind of) sing. On a side note, Ellen wasn’t nearly as useless tonight. She actually gave a few pieces of meaningful advice (by Idol standard).

Lee Dewyze “Lips of an Angel”: Another good-but-not-great performance. This guy has a great voice, but his song selection is way off. As Simon likes to say, he was “forgettable”. He did well enough to stick around, but he should be doing better. [Side note for Christian: Doesn’t this guy remind you of Rocker?]

Last but not least is this one-sentence summary of last night’s Idol: The skinny black guys completely bombed.

Is the WWE Attitude Era Coming Back?

Last night’s episode of WWE Monday Night Raw was one of the best I’ve seen in a long, long time. The wrestling was decent, but the mic work was truly memorable. There was a certain edge to a number of promos — an edge that has been missing ever since the WWE made the decision to go with PG programming. Perhaps it’s because the company is a month away from WrestleMania or perhaps it’s because it will soon be competing head to head with TNA Impact, but last night felt a bit like the old “Attitude Era” of WWE. Here’s why.

Triple H was great on the mic. Hunter is one of the best WWE Superstars in the company and he works really hard, but his promos usually bore me. He was outstanding putting Shawn Michaels over. His promo was passionate, strong, and meaningful. For a guy that’s often accused of only putting himself over, he was superb at reminding everyone in the WWE Universe that HBK has been the company’s best performer for the last several years.

Cena was great on the mic. Sixty percent of the audience loves Cena. Forty percent of the audiences loathes him. His promos are often all over the place. He can be too cute. He can cross the line between being passionate and just yelling at the audience. Last night he was calm, strong, and purposeful. He also managed to help Batista — a guy that usually needs a ton of help on the mic — get over. That was probably the best aspect of his promo. Cena has never been great at carrying people in the ring or on the mic. Last night he did a good job with the latter.

Batista cut the best promo of his career. Never mind that he looked like he just arrived from the Blue Oyster Bar (see Police Academy). Big Dave was awesome on the mic last night. Keep in mind that I am not a Batista fan at all (he’s a hack in the ring and his promos usually blow). Batista was ruthless and funny (love his line about accusing Cena of kissing kids and fat chicks). I was genuinely shocked by his promo and for a few seconds thought I was transported to a Bizarro universe where Batista possessed superior mic skills.

Sure, last night’s show had some problems. Cheech and Chong getting high on Hornswaggle’s Lucky Charms was silly. Bret Hart using a crutch with the wrong arm to sell his “broken” leg was lame. The Divas pillow fight…well, Gail Kim looked really hot so I didn’t mind that at all. My point is that the three promos I listed above were unusual for this era of WWE. They were great and edgy (if you can forget that Batista looked like a member of The Village People 2010). I’m hoping it’s a sign that WWE is getting its attitude back.

What do you think? Was last night an aberration? Or is WWE kicking off the Attitude Era, part II?

EA Puts Dante on WWE’s SmackDown Roster

In a clever bit of promotion for Dante’s Inferno, EA has made a deal with WWE to place Dante on the WWE SmackDown roster. Ha! His signature move is listed as:

Supreme wielding of Death’s soul-reaping scythe and a command of the holy powers of the cross.

That’s just awesome (unless you’re THQ).

Source

Coffee Talk #92: Three Reasons Why You Should Watch WWE NXT

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, Jaime Kennedy missing Jennifer Love Hewitt’s birthday, how the WrestleMania card is shaping up, or the Taylor Swift backlash, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

As some of you know, WWE NXT debuts tonight. The show pairs eight WWE “rookies” with eight seasoned mentors. It’s a fun concept that should lead to some cool storylines, but I’m super excited for NXT for one reason: Bryan Danielson (now Daniel Bryan). Here are three reasons Danielson will make NXT worth watching.

1) You might be watching a legend in the making. Danielson has been one of my favorite indie wrestlers for years. Whether it was with Ring of Honor or Pro-Wrestling Guerilla, his matches almost always delivered. His technical skills are amazing — as good or better than 90 percent of the current WWE roster — and he can fly a bit too. When it comes to pure skills, he’s already one of the best in the business and hopefully he makes the most out of his WWE opportunity.

2) He might be the second coming of Chris Benoit. Remember Benoit in his prime? He had the perfect blend of mat wrestling and charismatic aggression. Fans didn’t care that his mic skills were below average and that he wasn’t the biggest guy on the roster. He connected with fans through outstanding skills that were utilized in an appealing fashion. Danielson has similar qualities, though he’s slightly better on the mic. I’d love for the WWE to push a guy with excellent mat skills, similar to how it pushed Benoit and Eddie Guerrero.

3) Danielson and The Miz are the perfect team. The pairing is genius. Anyone that knows wrestling understands that Danielson can wrestle circles around The Miz. They also know that The Miz’s mic work is extraordinary and Danielson can learn a lot from it. It will be fun watching The Miz try to teach Danielson how to be a “star”. It’s a nice clash of styles and personalities that should lead to some great television.

I’m not saying NXT is going to be the best WWE show starting today. I’m saying that it will be worth watching because it will be a chance to watch a star-in-the-making from his first day in WWE. It’s a loose analogy, but it kind of reminds me of watching Derek Jeter in the minor leagues and following his entire career to this day. With a bit of luck, Danielson will go from The Miz’s sidekick to WWE world heavyweight champion. He’s certainly talented enough.

Are any of you planning to watch WWE NXT?

Edit: Here’s a bonus clip of Bryan Danielson vs. Jack Evans. Danielson puts Jack over and does some cool comedic spots at a PWG show.

Analyzing the WWE Elimination Chamber PPV

Yesterday I was still recovering from DICE and having visitors over the weekend, which made me completely forget about the WWE Elimination Chamer pay-per-view. Thankfully, N8R reminded me about it. Let’s take a look at the booking and talk about it.

WWE Championship — John Cena Wins: I hate saying this because John Cena is a really nice guy and he works extremely hard, but I hate watching him wrestle. He is my second-least favorite “top guy” in WWE. I was extremely annoyed that he was booked to win the WWE strap at this PPV. I couldn’t think of anything worse until….

Batista Beats Cena for the WWE Championship: Mr. McMahon made Cena defend the belt right after the first elimination chamber match ended. Batista beat him for it. Ugh. Batista is awful. I want to like him because he’s half Filipino and his book was a 9.5 on the unintentional comedy scale, but he just sucks. He can’t wrestle. He gasses on the way to the ring because he suffers from asthma and his second wind lasts about 90 seconds. Unlike Cena, “Big Dave” doesn’t work hard and is, by most accounts, a dick. I was hoping it would be Batista/McMahon vs. Cena/Hart at WrestleMania, with no championships on the line, but it doesn’t look that way.

Chris Jericho Wins the World Championship: This was great booking. The world championship match came down to Jericho and The Undertaker. ‘Taker was about to win when Shawn Michaels appeared and gave him “sweet chin music”. This sets up Jericho vs. Edge and HBK vs. ‘Taker at WrestleMania. The mic work leading up to Jericho/Edge will be fantastic, while HBK and Taker will probably steal the show again.

And the Rest: That was a Gilligan’s Island reference. It worked (really). The rest of the PPV looked crappy on paper. The one highlight was The Miz talking about mentoring Bryan Danielson (now Daniel Bryan in WWE) on NXT. The Miz said something like, “Bryan may be an Internet legend, but when I look at him I see the first guy in line at a Star Wars convention.” Danielson is a damn genius in the ring, but he definitely needs help on the mic. The Miz should help him get over in a big way.

American Idol’s Kara DioGuardi Poses for Maxim, Says Dumb Crap

American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi — also known as “the useless one” or “the horny cougar” — recently posed for Maxim. There’s no denying that she has a beautiful body, but this video interview shows that her moronic comments are real — she’s just as stupid and annoying in Maxim as she is on Idol!

Poll: What Was Your Favorite Super Bowl XLIV Tech Commercial?

[poll id=”24″]

First off, congrats to the New Orleans Saints on winning Super Bowl 44! Now that we’ve been bombarded by 52 Budwesier commercials (that still won’t make it a good beer), let’s discuss your favorite tech commercials that aired during the game. I’m disqualifying all the GoDaddy.com spots because I’m tired of Danica Patrick. Dante’s Inferno was the only videogame commercial I recall (I could have missed some). The choices in this poll are Google, Vizio, Intel, and Motorola. Let’s check out the videos and get to the poll!

Google’s ad was the most romantic and a lot of people were raving about in the Twitterverse. I thought it was cute…but that’s about it.

My personal pick is this Vizio ad, simply because Tay Zonday rules. “Chocolate Rain” forever!!!

Motorola promoted its upcoming Devour phone (a mid-level Android phone coming to Verizon) and MotoBlur with Megan Fox (with her circus-freak thumbs) in a bath tub.

I thought Intel’s commercial was lame, but it made drool for a MacBook with an i5 or i7 processor.

Stephen Colbert Busts Out iPad at the Grammy Awards

Stephen Colbert is awesome and funny…and apparently on the cutting edge of technology since he busted out an Apple iPad at the Grammy Awards two months before it goes on sale. Check out this video of the cute clip that boosted Colbert’s geek cred by a factor of (at least) five.