I keep watching this clip of Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart from the finale of The Daily Show. It has quickly become one of my favorite television moments from the last decade. The exchange between the two fantastic comedians was hilarious, touching, and skillful — lots of emotions packed into a five-minute bit. It starts off with an outstanding Lord of the Rings analogy by Colbert and turns into an off-book show of appreciation. The second half was especially excellent — one of the most earnest and genuine tributes I’ve ever seen on TV.
Aside from the great humor and heartwarming gratitude, I was impressed with Colbert’s steadiness during the second half of the clip. Stewart made halfhearted attempts to escape the adulation by scooting away in his chair several times. Colbert countered each move and, for the most part, didn’t miss a beat. I was just really impressed by how Colbert kept the tribute going while zipping around on a chair. Most comedians would have fallen out of the chair.
The tribute ended with a group hug among Stewart and the majority of The Daily Show’s correspondents (sadly, no Beth Littleford). You could tell that everyone was truly appreciative of what Stewart and The Daily Show did for their careers and lives…except for Olivia Munn. She was busy pretending that she gave a sh*t about anyone else on stage.
Anyway, check out the clip below when you have a chance. If you caught The Daily Show finale, please let me know what you favorite part was in the comments section.
Just when I thought Ronda Rousey couldn’t get any hotter…I discovered that she loves Pokemon! That’s right, the first lady of UFC and queen of MMA is totally into Nintendo’s pocket monsters. In the interview below, she discusses how she got into Pokemon, the numerous Pokemon games she has played, and some of her favorite creatures. Miss Rousey is clearly a most impressive physical specimen, but her encyclopedic knowledge of Pokemon takes her sexiness to a whole new level. It’s almost…too much.
Ronda claims to have put in more than 200 hours in her first Pokemon game. I wonder if she’ll be impressed with my nearly 700 hours on Pokemon Pearl. Yeah, that’ll be my in when I meet her. Ha!
Anyway, check out the video below and prepare to be dazzled by Ronda Rousey’s Pokemon mastery. It’s seriously impressive and completely hot.
While it doesn’t contain everything shown at Comic Con 2015, the Deadpool red band trailer is still pretty awesome. The silly humor and ridiculous violence that make the comics so much fun appear to be present in the movie. Of course the action and quips are fantastic, but I really enjoyed Deadpool’s interactions with Weasel. I’m a fan of the character and TJ Miller usually makes me laugh. My only disappointment with the Deadpool red band trailer is that the Negasonic Teenage Warhead joke was cut.
Anyway, check out the clip when you have a chance. While Ryan Reynold’s is partially responsible for the most traumatic superhero movie that I’ve ever seen, I’m cautiously excited for Deadpool. Reynolds seems to have the character’s tone down perfectly and the ludicrous violence is as it should be. What do you guys and dolls think? Does the Deadpool red band trailer give you high hopes for the movie? Or is the stench of Green Lantern still too fresh?
From the home office in Bonifacio Global City, Manila comes “The Top 10 List of Things I’m Happy I DIDN’T Do at My Father’s Wake and Funeral.”
10 — Sing “Dad in a Box” after seeing the box-shaped urn picked for my Dad. #JustinTimberlake
9 — Shout ,”The power of Christ compels you!!!” when it was my turn to splash the urn with holy water. #Exorcist
8 — Crash the wake next door so that I could snag some of the lumpia from their food spread.
7 — Call my eulogy speech a “eugoogly” as an homage to Derek #Zoolander.
6 — Crash the wake two doors down for a chance to hit on the really cute girl in attendance.
5 — During my eulogy speech say, “I consider everyone here family. And when I say family, I don’t mean blood relations. I mean it the way Vin Diesel says it in the Fast & Furious movies, which I think is more meaningful.” (Also, another Derek Zoolander homage)
4 — Drop the mic after my eulogy speech and say, “Crushed it.”
3 — Take the communion bread and tell the priest, “Thanks for the food, stupid!” #HoneyBadger
2 — Ask if you could follow my cousin’s beautiful performance of “Home” from The Wiz with a crappy but hilarious rendition of “Ease on Down the Road” from The Wiz.
1 — Forget to thank my Dad for the wonderful life he blessed me with.
The Hyon USA cease and desist controversy is the latest vaping “scandal.” For those of you not familiar with the situation, is involves the Hyon USA Pi2 atomizer by Haus of Zombi and the Ivogo Evil Monk atomizer. When I chatted with company president Fernando Solis at Vape Summit III, he positioned the Pi2 as the industry’s first postless atomizer. The Ivogo Evil Monk is positioned as a non-post RDA. The implication is that Ivogo “borrowed” some of Hyon USA’s designs and incorporated them into the Evil Monk. Ivogo is known primarily for its clone products. Earlier in July, several vape reviewers received Hyon USA cease and desist emails, or more precisely pre-cease-and-desist letters. Some of the reviewers interpreted the legal email as a threat and many of their readers/viewers attacked Hyon USA. Yesterday, I chatted with Fernando at Monster Vape Lounge to get his explanation on the Hyon USA cease and desist controversy.
In the interview below, Fernando explains his side of the Hyon USA cease and desist matter. He said that the letters were meant to start a dialogue with reviewers and were not meant to threaten them. In his mind, these actions are relatively banal and not the big deal that some are making them out to be. While I understand what he was trying to do from business and legal standpoints, I believe that company should have used a lighter touch. I mentioned my experiences reviewing products in the consumer electronics and videogame businesses to Fernando; in some cases legal inquiries were sent to my publisher and in other cases the situation was gently handled by PR reps. Of course those two businesses are much larger and more established than vaping; most popular vape reviewers don’t have publishers to answer to and proper vaping PR is mostly nonexistent.
Going after Internet reviewers is always a tricky thing. Many of them have thousands of fans that are influenced by their works. It’s easy for an established reviewer to get people to think highly of a company and it’s easier for reviewers to generate hate (it’s the Internet, after all). While I respect many vaping reviewers, for the most part they lack the professionalism of reviewers that I’ve worked with in gaming and electronics. Add it all up — relatively young business + unprofessional reviewers + a Hyon USA cease and desist letter — and you have a difficult PR situation. Again, I understand what Hyon USA was trying to do from a business standpoint, but I believe that the company could have handled the situation better.
My take is that there was no malice intended with the Hyon USA cease and desist action, but I definitely understand why people would disagree. I like Hyon USA’s products, I like how the company does business, and I like Fernando. Personally, I think he created more work for himself, but he also created an opportunity. The Hyon USA brand is getting lots of exposure and the company has a chance to turn some of the haters into new customers. See of yourself in the interview below. If you have a chance, please let me know what you think of the Hyon USA cease and desist situation after you’ve watched the video.
7 Days is Hell is a wonderfully absurd and surprisingly raunchy made-for-TV short film currently playing on HBO. Starring Andy Samberg and Kit Harington as a pair of polar opposite tennis players, the movie is a mockumentary that skewers so many things — tennis, sports documentaries, Sweden, sports moms, British talkshows, the Queen of England, and more. Although 7 Days in Hell parodies a wide variety of topics, director Jake Szymanski does an admirable job of keeping the movie focused. If you’re a fan of tennis or sports documentaries (think HBO Sports numerous documentaries and ESPN’s 30 for 30 series) and don’t mind smutty humor then you should definitely give 7 Days in Hell a shot.
Andy Samberg does most of the heavy lifting in 7 Days in Hell as Aaron Williams. The adopted brother of tennis legends Serena and Venus Williams, Aaron is a physical pastiche of Andre Agassi, but with the personality of John McEnroe…with the lewdness cranked up to 11. Samberg does a fantastic job of playing a character that’s brash and obnoxious, but charming and vulnerable enough that you don’t hate him.
On the other side of the net is Kit Harington’s Charles Poole. Trained to be a tennis superstar since he was a child, Poole has a terror of a sports mom and few redeeming qualities outside of his athleticism. While Samberg owns many of the scenes in 7 Days in Hell, Harington was pleasantly subtle as Poole. Best known as the heroic Jon Snow on HBO’s Game of Thrones, Harington plays a character that’s wonderfully dim and vacant — the perfect contrast to the over-the-top Williams.
In order to make 7 Days in Hell feel like an authentic sports documentary, there are several cameos from athletes, analysts, and newscasters. Serena Williams, John McEnroe, Chris Evert, Soledad O’Brien, and Jim Lampley help make the movie seem like a real HBO sports production. Fred Armisen and Will Forte help make fun of the overly serious tone of many sports documentaries as a pair of fictitious tennis historians. Rounding out the cast are a bunch of characters playing themselves in a tongue-in-cheeks manner, including magician David Copperfield and movie star Dolph Lundgren. Without spoiling anything, their involvement in 7 Days in Hell is most excellent.
As a fan of the game of tennis and someone that has watched dozens of sports documentaries, I had a feeling that I’d enjoy 7 Days in Hell. The movie was different from what I was expecting. It’s far more crass and sexual than I thought it would be, but the real surprise was how deftly the director managed the short film’s tone. I was very, very impressed by how seamlessly 7 Days in Hell alternated between crass humor and witty satire. Juggling the two contrasting forms of comedy into a congruous experience is difficult and director Jake Szymanski handled things excellently.
While I love the pomp and circumstance of Wimbledon, 7 Days of Hell is a refreshing take on a sport that many view as stuffy and elitist. While the over-the-top humor will appeal to many viewers, the real joy of the film will be had by those that know tennis and sports documentaries. That said, the mockingly serious take on an absurd situation featuring two absurd characters is so good, that there’s a chance 7 Days in Hell will be enjoyed by people that don’t like sports at all. With a runtime of 43 minutes, I recommend giving the movie a shot. If you like it, I recommend watching it again because there’s a lot of subtle and background humor that you’ll probably miss the first time around.
If you’ve watched 7 Days in Hell, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Please share your musings in the comments section. Now excuse me, as I’m about to give the movie a third viewing.
I’ve discovered that the cure to fluctuating between depression and ennui is watching Shia LaBeouf “Do It!!!” videos. The original motivational speech was entertaining on its own, but when you add it to various scenes in movies and television, it becomes pure gold. The following are a bunch of my favorite Shia LaBeouf “Do It!!!” juxtapositions.
Next up is Goku building up a “spirit bomb” to take down Frieza in Dragon Ball Z. Forget a power level that’s over 9,000. With Shia LaBeouf in your corner, your power level will easily exceed 9,000,000.
Even the King of Pop needed help back in his day. Forget “Beat It.” It’s all about “Do It!!!”
While Harry Potter achieved ordinary wizarding levels (OWLs) on his own, Shia LaBeouf helped The Boy Who Lived take it to next level in this epic showdown. I don’t know that Potter could’ve taken down Lord Voldemort in The Goblet of Fire without the extra motivation.
Shia LaBeouf can also help when grisly acts are required, as seen in Rorschach’s grand finale in The Watchmen.
Last, but not least, Shia LaBeouf has chosen a side in the conflict between Batman and Superman.
It was an absolute pleasure chatting with Unity founder and former CEO David Helgason. While it’s normally intimidating talking to someone that’s exponentially smarter than you are, David Helgason is such a nice and interesting man that the exercise was fun. We had a lengthy chat about Unity’s evolution, games that inspire him, and his eclectic taste in movies. Here’s an excerpt from the interview:
You know, we didn’t even call Unity an engine in the beginning. We thought of it as a tool to help developers build the games that they wanted to build. At first, we focused on small platforms, where the target specs were pretty low. When mobile started to grow, we targeted that — around the time the iPhone 2 came out. At the time, the hardware was super low end. As the market grew, our customers became more and more demanding, wanting to build bigger and bigger games. Then we started working closely with the console manufacturers. These days, AR (alternate reality) and VR (virtual reality) are really taking off, so we’re working closely with that as well. We’re constantly working to try to stay ahead of the curve and provide our customers with all the technology that they need. It’s very different when you’re working on a high-end VR game than an iPhone 2 game in 2008. [Laughs]
We’ve been very lucky that we have a lot of customers that are happy to pay. Unity doesn’t really cost a lot, but we have enough customers that are happy to pay the pittance it costs. That enables us to aggregate the revenue and hire a lot of great people. We’ve been hiring like crazy in order to invest really deeply and long-term into the Unity platform.
When we started, we were out to democratize game development. We wanted to significantly change how games were built and who could build games. We wanted to expand that universe, so we had to give people great tools.
Again, I’m really, really happy with how this interview turned out. Please, please, please hit the source link, give it a read, and let me know what you think. If you’re a male gamer nerd then I guarantee that you’ll have a man crush on David Helgason. If you’re a female gamer then it’ll more likely be a crush crush.
Here’s a brief chat I had with Alf Tan, head of games business development for Amazon. Prior to joining Amazon’s game team, he worked for Microsoft Game Studios and Microsoft’s Xbox team. His goals at Amazon are to make Amazon a great platform for developers to publish their games on and for customers to buy their games from. In the interview below, Alf talks about Amazon’s culture, how the company views developers and gamers as its customers, his favorite movie, and more. Here’s a brief clip:
We see developers and gamers as customers, and will relentlessly drive hard to deliver what both want. One of the core areas we are focused on is the set top box space to deliver a great gaming experience. Today, many customers have to find gaming experiences in their living rooms through a $300 console. We see an opportunity to deliver great games to customers at a vastly different price point. We have done that through providing fun and challenging gaming experiences on Fire TV with launches like Flappy Bird Family, Crossy Road, some of our own games like Sev Zero, and new experiences like GameFly Streaming.
Alf wasn’t as forthcoming as the other DICE Europe 2015 speakers I interviewed, but he has an interesting position at a powerful company. While Amazon has had success with its games division, the sheer size and influence of the company give it a chance to be a dominant player, especially as it pursues original content. I’m curious to see how big Amazon Games can get.
When you get a chance, please hit up my interview with Alf Tan and let me know what you think.
Another E3 Expo is in the books! Since we’re a few years removed from console launches, E3 2015 was gloriously software heavy. That said, virtual reality hardware was huge at this year’s show and generated lots of excitement. There were tons of great games on the show floor and behind closed doors. Special thanks to old friends and new friends that let me cut lines and sneak into demos that I didn’t have appointments for. Now here are some random thoughts on E3 2015.
Console Press Conferences: Sony crushed it. The company had lots of great original content and showed off juicy timed exclusives. The Shenmue 3 and Final Fantasy VII announcements won the hearts of millions of old-school gamers. Sony has come a long way with presentation too (remember those old Kaz Hirai PowerPoint slides?), largely because Microsoft raised the bar for E3 press conference theatricality. Microsoft put on a good show, but I found Sony’s press conference far more exciting. As for Nintendo’s latest direct-to-video presentation, the company had lots of games that I’m excited for…but the Nintendo executive muppets will haunt my dreams for the next few months (the Satoru Iwata muppet is terrifying).
Publisher Press Conferences: I’m probably in the minority here, but I was more impressed with Square Enix’s presser than EA’s or Ubisoft’s. While Square Enix’s presentation was flat and the company didn’t have the celebrity star power its competitors flaunted, the games were excellent. Square Enix simply had more games that I wanted to play. While many of my friends loved Ubisoft’s lineup, it didn’t do much for me, save for South Park: The Fractured But Whole. Ubisoft gets bonus points for Aisha Tyler hosting and for Angela Bassett’s appearance. As for EA, it had frickin’ Pele — one of the coolest and most legendary single-name celebrities ever. EA’s Star Wars Battlefront, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, and Mirror’s Edge Catalyst had me amped, but not as much Kingdom Hearts 3, World of Final Fantasy, Life is Strange, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Final Fantasy VII (more on that in a bit).
Virtual Reality: I played a bunch of VR games/demos and totally understand why so many people are excited about this type of gaming. It feels fresh and exciting. When VR works, it’s amazing and makes you feel like you’re playing a game from the future. When the frame rates are clunky, VR games give you a headache. What I’m unsure about is the business model. From what several people told me, making a VR game is very expensive. Gamers will need expensive hardware for the best VR experience. From the (admittedly limited) information I gathered, Valve has the best plans for making VR accessible for developers and consumers. I’m curious to see what the other VR companies will do to help make VR affordable for creators and gamers alike.
Wattam: Going into the show, I was certain that I’d be charmed by Funomena’sWattam. The creation of Keita Takahashi (Katamari Damacy) and Robin Hunicke (Journey), Wattam is wonderfully creative — a game that’s simple, but with complexity that makes it difficult to describe. Some people are calling it a puzzle game, while others feel it’s adventure, and some are calling it a platformer. Check out the trailer below and see for yourself. Whatever category you think Wattam fits in, there’s no denying that the graphics are cute, the gameplay is creative, and the sound design is adorable. I love that Sony publishes atypically delightful games like Wattam.
Final Fantasy VII: Some gamers feel that FFVII is the best game in the series. Others feel that it’s the most overrated. Either way, it’s a huge deal that the game is being remade and coming to PlayStation 4 (initially). While I enjoyed the original game, it’s not in my top five for the Final Fantasy series. Having said that, I’m a big fan of FFVII world, since Crisis Core and Advent Children helped make sense of everything. I’m going to dedicate a full topic to this column next week. No matter how good or bad the FFVII remake ends up being, I’m excited to watch the process and listen to the debates. I expect full fanboy fury over FFVII and gamers better not disappoint me.
Mario Tennis: I “accidentally” spent more than hour playing Mario Tennis Ultra Smash at Nintendo’s booth. I’m a longtime fan of the Mario Tennis games, both on home and handheld consoles. Even though the game is early and there were only two playable characters, I had a blast with Mario Tennis Ultra Smash. The core gameplay is tight, while the addition of power-ups gives it a wackier feel that make sense in the context of the Mario universe. I’ll give this one a full preview in a bit.
Sword Coast Legends: As a huge fan of the Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale games, I was really looking forward to learning more about Sword Coast Legends. After getting a demo and playing the game, my expectations were exceeded. It will surely satisfy fans of the isometric PC RPGs that I mentioned, but should also satisfy fans of pen-and-paper RPGs. The dungeon master features look awesome, powerful, and fun. While most of the game will have professional voice acting, I was delighted to learn that there will be opportunities for live action role-playing. I vow to make a character based on Azrael Abyss from Saturday Night Live and annoy the hell out of anyone foolish enough to let me be a dungeon master. I’ll be giving Sword Coast Legends a full preview too.
Your Take: Naturally, I didn’t get to play or see everything I wanted to. This is where you come in! I’d love to get your take on E3 2015. How did it play from home? What games are you excited for? Who do you think “won” the press conferences? Kindly share your thoughts in the comments section.