Monday, February 28, 2011

At The Commercials: T-Mobile Girl and Fake Kim Kardashian

So lately, there have been two commercials with very fetching models in them. The first would be the woman from the T-Mobile commercial above. To me, she looks like a prettier, less angular (smaller nose) Anne Hathaway.

According to Teh Internetz, and the source of the above photo, the T-Mobile girl is a Canadian model and actress named Carly Foulkes. Outside of the T-Mobile spots, she's been in… Well, pretty much nothing. Still, I kind of like her acting ability too. She seems pleasant enough - She should ditch that dweeb guy in the commercials and just go solo.

(Also, every Carly I know is a pretty cool person. My real-life friend Carly? She's cool. Carly Googles? Again, she's awesome, and I haven't even met her. However, we are FB friends, so that counts for something.)

The other attractive woman in commercials lately has been the girl that E! News appropriately calls Kim Fauxdashian. I saw the Old Navy commercial a couple times and thought to myself, "Well, that's not surprising that Kim would take their paycheck…"

The fact that it is apparently NOT Kim is more surprising to me. It is a performer along similar lines though - It is Melissa Molinaro, a frequent Making The Band and Pussycat Dolls reality show competitor. The resemblance is pretty uncanny, although she hopefully hasn't been run through as many times as Kim K. The picture from the E! article is below:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Wherein Steve defends the Perkins trade.

Although there is a lot of hand-wringing going on about the Kendrick Perkins deal in Boston, let me go on record as being for it. The factors in my liking of it:

1) If you're assuming that O'Neal and O'Neal are healthy, then Perkins kind of duplicates what they give you already. And if you're assuming that they won't be healthy, Perkins isn't exactly a paradigm of health either after experiencing a significant injury last year. He also was hurt at the time of the trade.

2) The Celtics got back the best player in the deal, in Jeff Green. After his rookie year, I wasn't the biggest fan, and I don't think he's a future superstar. But he's a good to very good wing player, and he gives the Celtics a clear upgrade over the flotsam they were using to back up Pierce and Allen. I imagine he'll get close to 20 minutes a game backing up both players down the stretch, and help to preserve their stamina for the playoffs.

3) Perkins was leaving anyway after this season. I believe at that point, he was a restricted free agent, and given how insane teams are about 7-foot centers, there was little chance the Celtics could retain him. Look at the deals signed by guys who can barely play, like Darko, Mark Blount, Jerome James… Pretty much all of them became millstones around the necks of their various teams.

4) While Jeff Green is in the same sort of contract limbo after this year (I believe), because he is a wing there is a chance the Celtics can re-sign him somewhat cheaply. It took Rudy Gay a long time to convince a stupid organization he was worth the money, after all, and Glen Davis didn't get a ton of interest this offseason.

5) Nenad Krstic can actually play a little bit, you know. He was starting for the Thunder. He is a completely different kind of player from Perkins, O'Neal and O'Neal, which I think helps. Depending on match-ups, you can throw him out there to get a guy like Howard away from the basket for a couple possessions. Sure, he will get demolished on defense, but he's probably the third or fourth center anyway.

6) The loss of Nate Robinson isn't a huge deal to me. With Green on the second unit now, you presumably don't need a creator who also plays the point. This is especially true if Delonte West can stay healthy (always a big "if", of course).

7) Finally, I think the Celtics are probably going to get the best of whatever they can from the contract buyout guys. There is already talk that Troy Murphy is on his way to the Celtics, and he's the type of player fans will love - Big tall white guy who rebounds. I imagine Ainge also has his eye on a back-up point guard. TJ Ford would be perfect if he gets bought out.
The photo is from

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hey, I actually liked Final Fantasy 13!

First things first: I'm going to call it Final Fantasy 13 throughout this entry, because I don't want to keep typing out Final Fantasy XIII. The latter is more letters, and it's easier for me to leave off or add an I by mistake and inadvertently refer to another game. If you don't like it, well, too damn bad.

Also, it goes without saying that this entry has massive spoilers on the game, potentially. If you've held off on playing this game even longer than I have, well, please don't read this entry.

Anyway – As the title of this entry implies, I was a fan of the game. On the Internetz, it gets quite a bit of flack for being far more linear than previous games in the series, but I looked at this aspect as a positive.

Without 20 side areas and towns to explore between missions, I felt the main storyline had more of an urgent feel than past games in the series. For example, in Final Fantasy 6, you're threatened with the idea that Kefka can strike at any time... Except that you can literally spend 100 hours fighting dinosaurs, exploring castles buried on the ocean floor and fighting ghosts in your characters' dreams, and nothing bad will happen.

(I feel like a developer could make a ballsy statement by offering a “real-time” mode in a game. i.e. If you don't beat Final Fantasy 15 in 100 hours, then the bad guy does win. Just make an optional mode that you get an extra trophy for, or something. The Persona games kind of limit you with a certain number of days to get things done, but this affects you much more when it comes to social links, not battles.)

For the first 20 to 30 hours of Final Fantasy 13, you are on a hard-wired path that I found pretty interesting. You're mostly focused on staying alive, either by running from the people out to kill you or by attacking their headquarters yourself. In this respect, I found it somewhat similar to Final Fantasy 2e / 4j, which forced you to have certain parties and characters with well-defined traits.

Once you get to Gran Pulse, the game does open up a bit like the World of Ruin in Final Fantasy 6, and all the presentation values truly shine. After spending your first 20 hours in confined areas and a steampunk environment, it's incredibly refreshing to see 250-foot tall beasts stomping around the plains. (It's also neat to see that there is a vague sort of ecosystem at work – You'll see beasts that dislike each other attacking one another. I think they should have pursued this angle more, actually. You can watch them fight for 10 minutes, but one side won't ever actually win, and creatures are always in the same spot.)

Of course, once you get there, you run into another common complaint – Half the crap you run into can kill you very, very quickly. Final Fantasy 13 makes it hard to level-grind by not re-spawning enemies easily. For example, if you just beat a group of enemies that drops something you can sell, or that gives you a good amount of experience, you either have to save-and-load or venture well off screen to get them to re-spawn.

If you're someone who loves to over-power enemies, then this is incredibly frustrating. You don't really have the opportunity to get super-powered until 75 percent of the game is over. If you're like me, and mostly playing just to enjoy the plot and not engage in fetishistic item collections, then you're perfectly fine with the challenge most of the game presents.

As far as the story goes, I thought it was one of the better ones. They took some very un-Final Fantasy-like risks with it, which I think I appreciated more than others. Examples: People already in love, as opposed to falling in love while the world is ending. Popular people capital-D dead instead of being revived. A woman is legit the bad-ass of the story, and she's not some weird lady with a short haircut and mannish appearance (sorry Paine). A story told with some interesting flashbacks. Characters who have done legit bad things – like punching a hole into a world – in the past. Not taking the easy way out with the ending.

However, I will say that I wish they'd up the ages on some of the female characters. Now that I'm 27, it feels... creepy. Even Sazh is caught leering at Vanille, who is pictured below:

She's dressed like that for the entire game. Oh, did I mention that she's 16? yikes. It's awesome that Final Fantasy 13 had two awesome female characters who basically kicked ass and took names later, but a bit of that is unraveled when Miss Lolita 2010 is also on display.

When it comes to young, female characters, I sometimes feel like the Final Fantasy developers do nothing but watch Hayden Pantiere, Hilary Duff and Miley Cyrus tapes. To close out the post, here is their idea of an appropriate 15-year-old as featured in Final Fantasy 10:

The picture of Vanille is from this site. The Rikki and Light images are from a bunch of random forums.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Let's talk about Glee – Part 2

Let's talk about where I'd like to see them take some of the plots on Glee.

- For starters, Santana and Finn should be an item. For one, I think it would be interesting. Santana is the evilest person on the show, next to Sue, so it would be nice to see her actually get into a sort of relationship. Her sass would counteract his dumb sort of aloofness.

Secondly, it's one of the few matchings that they haven't really done on the show. They hooked up briefly in the “Like A Virgin” Madonna show, but didn't actually do anything couple-ish.

And third, it gives plenty of fodder to other characters, such as Rachel and Quinn. Also, if Finn is firmly established in a relationship, it means we can all finally move on from the boring relationship storylines they currently tease with him.

- Speaking of Santana, she needs her own episode. Her and Brittney are the best “kids” on the show now, and pretty much everyone else has been explored, with maybe the exception of Mike Chang and Mercedes. Specifically, I'd like a look at her home life, since I think it'd be interesting.

- We need to stop with the Rachel-centric storylines. A little bit of Rachel goes a long way. Yes, Lea Michele has some killer pipes. However, her character doesn't have much depth at all, since she swings from boy-based neurotic fits to talent-based neurotic fits. If you can't find something else for her to do in an episode besides obsessing over a boy or who else is getting a solo, leave her on the sidelines for an episode.

- I'm OK with the “Kurt falling in love” stories for now, but honestly, his dad is a much more interesting character. Mike O'Malley is awesome. Find some way to get him involved with Kurt and his dreamy boyfriend, like having him give awkward advice to Kurt about impressing a boy.

- I'm not sure how I feel about Puck chasing after his new girl. To be honest, the whole thing feels a bit forced and over-the-top, even by Glee standards. I know some guys who like a thicker woman, but most of them were not sleeping with essentially models beforehand (Dianna Argon) and even then, it was more bubbly personality thick girls, not horrible wenches. I'm hoping the payoff with the whole angle is good, but it wouldn't surprise me if it's yet another “will they won't they?” storyline.

- And finally, Sue. Sigh. How far you've fallen! You've gone from being the show's most compelling villain to, as I allude in my previous post, the show's Wile E. Coyote. Hopefully her new role as a consultant for another glee squad lets her flaunt her villainous nature again, properly.

To me, the bigger problem is that the show hasn't properly softened her character. They take baby steps, such as having her vote for the home team glee squad, and having her have sweet relationships with her sister and Becky, and having her confront her over-aggressive mom. However, it's as if the show has amnesia about these moments, and the very next episode, she's trying to rip apart the club from the inside or faking a suicide attempt.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Let’s talk about Glee – Part 1

So, after catching Tuesday night’s episode of Glee this morning, I have some thoughts. And seeing as how my Glee posts are always my most popular, I thought I’d share them. If you don’t like it, well, go spit.

(By the way, pictures for this entry will come later, since I’m away from my desktop laptop computer, and typing this on my work one. For the record, I’m a huge, huge fan of the non-Cheerios look for Quinn, Brittney and Santana.)

- I’m now officially sick of any romance angle involving Finn, Quinn, Sam or Rachel. Seriously, I hope they all end up alone and crying. All of the possible combinations of these characters just bore me to tears. We’ve had so many “will they won’t they?” moments between them that nothing they air now can possibly live up to all the false starts.

Although people knock Jim and Pam from The Office for getting boring once they actually ended up together, I think it needed to happen from a narrative standpoint. Otherwise, you get what Glee is getting – Something lacking in interest because it has been teased to death.

- Brittney remains my favorite character. It’s not even close at this point. I’m not sure how they do it, but she remains fresh and surprising from episode to episode. I especially liked how she turned the arm-warmers into a fashion thing. Way to go, gurl.

I’m also a big fan of Santana. She is so evil that she is interesting. And easy on the eyes! That certainly doesn’t hurt either. Like they did with the Brittney-Brittney Spears episode, I imagine they’ll have to do an entire plot on her background at some point, which would be awesome.

- Sue’s character has gone from one of my favorites to just one of the ensemble cast. I’m not sure why they felt the need to essentially strip the character of its power; getting the Cheerios budget slashed should have been a season finale thing, not something in the middle of a season. It would have setup season three pretty well. (The interview with “Diane Sawyer” was pretty god damn hilarious though.)

Anyway, for this entire season, she has essentially been the Wile E. Coyote of the cast. Every plan she has goes awry, including the one last night, where Mercedes and Rachel embraced after the “diva” contest. While I didn’t want her plan to succeed, I kind of wish Sue wasn’t in the position of being the spoiler.

Instead of that, why not have her do her own storylines each week? She’s one of the few people in the cast with real acting chops, and I wouldn’t mind seeing more of her relationship with her mom or sister or someone else each week instead of her constantly trying to sabotage the glee club.

… Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for now. Coming Friday: Some plots I’d like to see the show pursue.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hey, stop defiling my birthday!

I agree heartily with the sentiment expressed in this Slate article. Then again, my birthday is on Valentine’s Day, so maybe I’m a bit biased…

I’ve maintained for many years that I like my birthday being on the holiday, because regardless of whether or not I’m dating someone, I get candy and cards and presents. It’s a win-win for me, yay! This year, the high school newspaper staff that I advise has strongly hinted that they will have a cake for me, so that should be awesome.

(Although, I should note that I still find it odd that several of them read this blog. They’re the young looking folk in the “Followers” section. Thankfully, I haven’t written about anything super embarrassing in here, or really gotten into great depth when it comes to my guiding of their young minds… Maybe I should stop talking about this before they REALLY comb through everything I’ve written on here, or I actually do say something that gets me into trouble…)

One of my Patch freelancers has a list of her favorite romantic songs, which you can read here. It comes complete with YouTube links, so it’s definitely worth checking out. It got me thinking about my favorite romantic songs, which I’ve listed below in no particular order.

(Note: Yes, I’ve been watching Glee, but I haven’t had a chance to write about it yet. Sorry! I’ll do a two-part entry on it, folks – Wednesday, I’ll look at the new episodes since I last blogged, and Friday, I’ll talk about what I’d like to see them do.)

Without further adieu, the list of songs I like to listen to when I’m thinking of romantic things, and following Mel’s lead, I’ve provided YouTube links:

- "Call Me" by Yoko Kanno (Note: Cowboy Bebop spoilers)
- "Come Pick Me Up" by Ryan Adams
- "Emaline" by Ben Folds
- "Falling For You" by Weezer
- "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" by Death Cab for Cutie
- "Maybe I'm Amazed" by Paul McCartney and Wings
"Such Great Heights" by The Postal Service
- "We Will Become Silhouettes" by The Postal Service
- "Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Top 20 Stephen Greenwell Music List: This One Does Not Go To Eleven

10) “(If You Are Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” by Weezer – 24 plays.

Stupid song name, horrible verses, but my goodness, Weezer sure knows how to make a catchy beat and nifty chorus. My friend Pat and I discussed this, and even with all this song's obvious shortcomings, it's still really great in some parts.

9) “Gives You Hell” by The All-American Rejects – 25 plays.

I'm surprised this one isn't a little bit higher, but I've only had it in my iTunes for about a year, so some other songs no doubt have it beat. It's probably got the highest playrate, considering its age. I make no apologies for having it on this list; it's a fun little song. If you don't like it, well, go spit.

8) “Sink Into Me” by Taking Back Sunday – 27 plays.
7) “Savior” by Rise Against – 30 plays.

If I'm not mistaken, Rise Against is a fairly popular band. However, this is the only song I have by them, so I couldn't really comment on this. I think this one because it is loud and angry. Sometimes, you need a loud and angry song to listen to. The same thing applies to Taking Back Sunday – I realize that they have a following of some sort, but this is the only song I've really been exposed to, and that's primarily because it got some mainstream radio play.

6) “Adelaide” by Ben Folds Five – 31 plays.

I'm generally a slut for anything Ben Folds does, and this song combines the best of his traits. Hypnotic piano riff right off the bat? Check. A chorus and other lyrics you can sing along to loudly in the car? Check. A song actually about something? Check! It's good times all-around.

5) “Let's Dance to Joy Division” by The Wombats – 33 plays.

I'm not normally a huge fan of WBRU nowadays, since they've shifted from the angrier, punkish rock of my generation (the 1990s and early 2000s) to, frankly, weird shit. One exception would be the #1 song on this list, and another one would be this song. It has enough of an edge and a catchy chorus, enough to keep me quite interested.

4) “Naive” by The Kooks – 36 plays.

Okay, confession: I've only ever heard this song on my iTunes and on one of those Guitar Hero or Rock Band games. However, once I start hearing it, I can't stop it midway through and move on to something else. It's a good song to sing along to in the car, the bass / guitar line is very, very catchy.

3) “The Underdog” by Spoon – 38 plays.

Just a straight-up awesome song. Great lyrics, and it has everything – Drums, guitar, some horns, a tambourine... When Adam Carolla complains about bands that don't really have chops anymore, he should listen to some Spoon instead. Because they're awesome.

2) “Safe European Home” by The Clash – 40 plays.

I really got into The Clash a little while ago, once I learned that “Train In Vain” was by them. (Actually, I'm a bit surprised that that song doesn't beat this one out.) Like many of my favorite songs though, this one is loud with heavy guitar and features yelling. These are two important qualities for almost any song.

1) “Cousins” by Vampire Weekend – 44 plays.

This tops the list for several reasons. One, because it's only 2:25, it makes it a relatively easy listen. Two, I really like this song. Heck, I wrote a blog about it in the past. And three, it is somewhat-acceptable cool music, whereas most of the crap I listen to doesn't really have any artistic cache.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Top 20 Stephen Greenwell Music List: This One Goes To Eleven

I have pretty horrible taste in music, and it is well-documented on this blog. Ke$ha, Ace of Base, the Glee soundtrack, every remix and cover song known to man... They all figure prominently into my iTunes library.

In an attempt to provide a more accurate read on what I listen to though, I decided to do this list. It will not include deep tracks on albums – this is a bit of a holdover from paper-time in college, and not really reflective of what I listen to, which is mostly singles. I will also sadly note that the total count was reset about two years ago, when I got a new computer. I'm sure all of these songs will turn out to be completely fantastic.

… Okay, probably not. But on to the list!

20) “Tik Tok” by Ke$ha – 21 plays.

This fine artist is the only one on the list with two songs. I’ve written past entries about how awesome she is, so I won’t dwell so much on it here.

19) “Sick, Sick, Sick” by Queens of the Stone Age – 22 plays.

Like many other songs on this list, this one popped into my playlist after a Guitar Hero or Rock Band session. Also, I think they played it on Saturday Night Live at one point, which is also one of my favorite ways to be exposed to new music.

18) “Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)” by The Offspring – 22 plays.

Honestly… I’m not sure how this song got so high on this list. I don’t really like it that much, and it’s no longer 2001. It makes me wonder if I mistakenly let it rack up 20 plays or something some night.

17) “Yeah Yeah Yeah” by New Politics – 22 plays.

This was a big jam for me in the summer of 2010, I believe. (Maybe a bit before then? I’m old, I can’t remember the exact date.) I remember listening to it all the time on my way to and from The Westerly Sun. It was a magical time in my life, except for the part where I was living with my parents, and barely making enough money to do like, anything.

16) “Your Love is My Drug” by Ke$ha – 22 plays.

The aforementioned second Ke$ha song, and probably my favorite of hers. I love how over-the-top the lyrics are.

15) “Mountain Man” by Crash Kings – 22 plays.

I actually think that I burnt out a bit on this song – Whenever it comes on the radio or my iTunes now, I just skip past it.

14) “I Gotta Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas – 22 plays.

… okay so my taste is pretty horrible. Sorry.

13) “Takedown” by Yellowcard – 23 plays.

See above. I don’t even know how this is my most-listened to Yellowcard song, since “Ocean Avenue” is my favorite by them.

12) “Shut Up and Let Me Go” by The Ting Tings – 23 plays.

Ah, back to songs I like, and one by one of my future wives. (Katie White, I’m still waiting for a call – Feel free to do it collect, I’ll accept the charges.) It helps that The Ting Tings also produce some pretty decent tunes, with this one being my favorite.

11) “Zero” by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs – 24 plays.

And the final song for this installment.

The Spinal Tap picture is from this blog.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Don't call it a comeback.

Much like LL Cool J, I've been here for years. But where have I been?

Well, unsurprisingly, running a news website is a bit more work than being a general assignment reporter. I mean, especially with the stuff I was doing, which was mostly court beat and Friday night emergency coverage – Unless something was blowing up, I generally had five to 10 free hours a week at “work.” Yay for journalism!

Now that I am the boss again, and more importantly on salary, the dynamic changes a bit. There is more of an incentive for me to do things quickly and correctly, especially since I work for an online news site. (In case you're unawares: Narragansett Patch. It's an AOL venture, and now in 22 states; you can see if one is near you by clicking here. If you want to help me out, feel free to randomly click on a bunch of stories all over the place - Relax, I won't tattle.)

The first couple months have been ones of adjustment – Both from the perspective that I suddenly have more work to do, and from the perspective that the company I work for is still young and trying new things out. It's pretty exciting, and I can honestly say I haven't been this psyched about a job since I ran my college newspaper. (Then again, one of my friends dubbed my Patch site Version 2.0 of our college paper, since half the staff are people I knew from college. Hey, gotta network.)

So, I have been looking to restart this blog for a couple weeks now. At first, my plan was to do so on or about January 1, but life interfered. Likewise, I thought February 1 was a splendid day, but unfortunately, I've alternated between chills, sweats, fever and flu. Also, I did finally get a Playstation 3, so I've been picking away at Final Fantasy XIII for the past month or so. (General impressions: Like the game, especially like story.)

Consider this my “welcome back to blogging” post. Thanks for all of you who have gently and not-so-gently needled me into this – It's nice to see I wasn't completely forgotten. (Somewhat sad note though: My average hits per day increased by 50 percent ever since I left. Go figure.) I will be dropping down in post frequency and length, from seven days a week to just three – Monday, Wednesday and Friday. However, more posts will be time-delayed and queued up, so I should be better with sticking to the 7 p.m. EST schedule. (We'll see!)

The photo comes from this site, and you can buy it on a shirt! Awesome!


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