Thursday, August 28, 2008

AC/DC - "Rock N Roll Train"

As you know from this post, I'm an AC/DC fan. I have to spread the word that I am absolutely LOVING the new song called "Rock N Roll Train" from their forthcoming album called Black Ice. Check out the vintage AC/DC sound in their newest track:

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Concert Review: 3 Doors Down, Staind and Hinder

So I got the chance to see a couple of bands that I really like as well as 3 Doors Down. Don't get me wrong, I like 3 Doors Down (3DD) but find most of their tunes kinda the same thing; rock ballads. Once I heard of the show months ago, I immediately told my wife (as she loves 3DD) and we called and snatched up 6 tickets the day they went on sale.

The show actually started at 6:30pm on the nose with a opening band that I wasn't aware was on the bill (Jet Black Stare) and I didn't get to actually see them. I was busy meeting up with old friends as well as getting a cup of the summer nectar/drink called Summer Shandy. We all made it back to our seats on the main floor (about 30 rows back) in time for Hinder. Now I've seen these guys once back in August of 2007 and have listened to many Hinder interviews on Joe's Podhole so I knew what to expect. Not only did Hinder give a great show, they pulled out a new tune that will be on their forthcoming album, Take It To The Limit, coming out later this fall.

After those guys were done, Staind came out. They started out strong but as I expected, they went for the radio hits and mellow tunes that more or less broke the band into mainstream music. I was a little let-down as I remember seeing these guys way back when at those 93X-fest concerts where every tune ripped and they played with intensity. The final encore tune they played was their hit, Mudshovel which really disappointed me. Even though I love Aaron Lewis as a singer, he put no effort into this final rawk performance; he was casually walking the stage, flipping picks into the crowd as he should have been showing some passion into the song to really end the set with a bang.

Finally was 3DD. As far as stage show, these guys definitely put on the best out of them all. Well, when your the headliner and have the whole stage to yourself that what happens. They performed all the hits you would hear on the radio in sync with video on dual jumbo-trons, pyrotechnics as well as a LCD backdrop for the band. The sound for these guys was spot on; they sound just as good live as they do on the records. Crowds both young and old were there to enjoy their near 1.5 hour set. I like how these guys gave tribute to our military on a few songs by showing some video while they were performing songs. My only wish was for these guys to really rip with their heavier tunes; overall just too many rock ballads for me.

The final question: Would I see any of these bands again? Hinder- Yes, Staind - hmm...Probably, 3 Doors Down - Maybe (if the price was right).

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Apple TV

OK, I am not quite an Apple fanboy, but I must admit, I am extremely pleased with my Macbook Pro and 1st Gen iPhone purchase last year. So with my Best Buy Reward Zone cash (I got by buying my Macbook Pro from Best Buy last December), I contemplated between getting a new Xbox 360 game or the Apple TV. Well, It didn't take too much thinking (with the thought of me watching alot of downloaded video and podcasts on my Macbook) for me to opt for that Apple TV!

I've had this for about 4 months now and simply sits next to my 42" LCD. Its very slim, (about the size of 2-DVD cases stacked on each other tall) and very quiet (unlike the fan-blowing Xbox 360 that I have). And aside from its sleek look, one of the coolest feature this baby has is the ability to download DVD and HD quality movies for rent/purchase directly from the Apple iTunes store! You can rent movies at $2.99 and HD quality at $3.99. So far I've downloaded a few old school movies (such as Groundhog Day and War Games) for 99 cents which was very conveinien. I could pause, fast forward, rewind and all that stuff. Other cool features are the ability to browse/play podcasts on-the-fly as well as browse and stream videos. All this happens over a wired or wireless network connection!

Overall, the Apple TV essentially syncs with your iTunes application running on your Mac or PC. You can access and play music, music videos, movies, tv shows, podcasts, audiobooks as well as look at photos. So far its been a good little investment. There are some downsides such as hard drive space, lack of file formats you can play, but overall I give this 2 thumbs up. I have already been ripping a bunch of my DVD's and syncing them up with the AppleTV... another excuse reason to plop in front of the LCD TV!

Check out more info on the Apple TV here!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Movie Review: The Dark Knight

Title: The Dark Knight

Plot: According to - "Batman and James Gordon join forces with Gotham's new District Attorney, Harvey Dent, to take on a psychotic bank robber known as The Joker, whilst other forces plot against them, and Joker's crimes grow more and more deadly."

My Review: First off I have to admit, I am a huge superhero fan in general (and I've got the comics from back in the day to prove it) so I tend to like most of the superhero movies that have come out thus far. I own most of the old school Batman movies on DVD as well as the prequel to this one, so I knew going in, that I would more than likely be happy with this movie.

The verdict: This movie is darn good. I agree with some of the critics and reviews out there that it was a wee-bit too long but thought the storyline, action sequences on top of some great acting (mainly by Heath Ledger as The Joker) made this a must-see movie, especially in the theater. Initially I wasn't sure but after thinking about it overnight, I would put this a notch above the original Batman Begins. Characters such as The Joker, Gordon and Harvey Dent make this movie what it is. Sure Batman is what the movie is named after, but these characters make the storyline what it is.

Oh, and I did catch this movie at a local IMAX theater. I've seen Superman Returns there in 3D, so I know what a difference it can make for a big-time movie such as this one. The IMAX experience made the action sequences absolutely phenomenal.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Green Lake Triathlon results

I am now officially a triathlete. I finished my 1st ever mini/sprint triathlon yesterday in Spicer, MN. My wife, I and 3 other neighbors took part of this years'  Green Lake Tri. One of neighbors (whom has a summer home out near Spicer) told us about this race many months ago and said she wanted to do it. Asking some of that were around at some point, several of us volunteered. We trained for about 3-4 months doing various aspects of the race: swimming, biking and running.

The day of the race was chilly. It was a balmy 51 degrees when we took the short 4 miles drive to Spicer from the cabin which we stayed 2 nights beforehand. We got out 'station' setup with things we would need - towel (for drying off), shoes and socks (after the swim),  bike and helmet (for the biking portion) as well as water, sunglasses, etc. The first wave of the race took place at 8am sharp.

I was the 1st to go out of our group which was heat/wave 3. I was put in with the 34 yr old men and younger group so I was mixed in with all the young ones; guys ranging from my age down to 15 years old. We started out with the 1/4 miles swim. The swim was bad, except for all the people! I could have kept up with a front crawl stroke, but as we neared the first turn, the constant bumping and lack of space kept me from keeping a crawl going; I resulted in doing other strokes to keep some distance between me and the other competitors.

I was tired after the swim but I completed it in 9 minutes or so. I then had to run from the beach back to my transition station to get into my clothes for the biking portion of the race. I dried off my feet, put on my socks, shoes, shirt, sunglasses and helmet and ran out of the transition area to the road. I was breathing pretty good and realized by bike was not up to the competition as far as weight and streamline-ability. I was passed up by many people throughout this portion. I think I only passed one other guy...who was also on a 'off road/mountain bike'. The bike was 12 miles around Green Lake and I finished that in about 43 minutes.

The end of the biking portion landed you back into the transition area where you would park your bike and then do whatever to get ready for the last leg of the race which was the run. I dumped my bike and helmet, stretched my legs a bit (which in hindsight, maybe I shouldn't have done as it ate up precious time) and headed out the for grueling part. The run was 3 miles total; 1.5 miles out and then back. The run was almost all hills which made me feel like I wasn't running at all but rather walking with a running form. On this portion as I was heading back towards the finish line, I saw the other folks in our group. I ended up finishing the run portion in about 28 minutes...3 minutes slower than my previous 5k races this year.

Overall the race was as expected. I wasn't shocked by anything. I am fairly pleased with my time. IF I do this next year, I may want to reconsider what I ride for the biking portion...oh, and get better at running of course ;)

View the results of the Green Lake Tri here.