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The Ultimate Fighter (US vs UK) episode 10 June 4, 2009

Posted by crarence in MMA, Shows, Sports, Television.
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Last night was a particularly good episode of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF.) If you didn’t catch it, here are some of the highlights:

  • Really, what was Pierce thinking? The man knows that he’s on a reality TV show, surrounded by cameras watching and recording his every move and conversation. Why lie about his dealings withthe UK team when he can’t escape getting caught?
  • The first round between DaMarques and Nick was one of the best fights in any TUF season. DaMarques was leading for the first four and half minutes until Nick unleashed a salvo of punches at the end that left DaMarques reeling. I thought Nick could have finished the fight there, but DaMarques refused to give in. Good stuff.
  • It’s hard not to like DaMarques as the episodes roll on. The man has  a good blend of eloquence and smack talk. He’s a bit of a showboat, which I’m sure would annoy me if I was on the show with him. However, he’s also the top dog on that show and can back up anything he says. With Nick out, I can’t see Frank or James posing any real threat to him.

I wonder if there will be more spin-offs like this should ratings show that this season was successful – US vs Brasil? US vs Canada? East Coast vs West Coast? In the meantime, I’m going to hang on as the season nears the finish.

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Star Trek: Crarence’s Review May 20, 2009

Posted by crarence in Celebrity, Movies, Shows.
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Just came back from watching Star Trek, and I had a great time. Even if you aren’t a Star Trek fan, I predict you’d have alot of fun watching it as well. The visuals are great with the right mix of clean and gritty, and they pay respect to the original series without looking silly.

  • All the characters were done really well and get a fair amount of screen time. I’m particularly impressed by Zoe Saldana, as she really brought Uhura to life.
  • There are a lot of inside jokes and homages for Star Trek fans (Kobayashi Maru, red shirts on away missions, wriggly brain worms, exotic green women, and lots of catch phrases.)
  • Rather than simply being a prequel, the movie goes far beyond this scope by…well, I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. Suffice to say, I’m on the edge of my seat for the sequels.

If you haven’t seen it yet, do not wait and get out there now to check it out. In a summer of blockbusters, this one is going to stand out.

The Ultimate Fighter May 14, 2009

Posted by crarence in MMA, Shows, Sports.
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I remember a Saturday, years ago, when I was just enjoying a lazy afternoon. I was flipping through the channels when I stumbled across Spike TV as they were running The Ultimate Fighter3 marathon. After one episode, I was hooked, and I have enjoyed that TV series (and most things UFC) immensely over the years.

The basic idea behind the show is you have a group of aspiring mixed martial artists who are put into a house. They are separated into teams and coached by famous fighters. Each week, you get to see them train and face off against each other in elimination matches. At the end of the series, there is a sole winner (per weight category) who earns himself a 6 figure contract with the UFC. I like the show a lot because:

  • Unlike Wrestling, which I watched growing up, there is no script in the UFC. Everything is real – the fighting, the techniques, the rivalries, the emotions – it’s all genuine.
  • If you’re a fan of the UFC, it’s really cool to see how the famous coaches act outside of the octagon. Many of them act in a very different way than you might expect. For example, Tito Ortiz seems like a loud mouth braggart, but he may just be the best coach to date in the entire series. BJ Penn radiates confidence when he fights, but he made for a horrible leader on the show.
  • MMA is simply exciting to watch. There is a real science to the sport and it’s crazy when the underdog wins through superior technique or simply having a larger set of tools to beat a larger, more aggressive opponent.

MMA has really blown up over the years, and no small part of it is due to The Ultimate Fighter. If you want to see the next generation of champions get their shot at glory, you can buy the DVDs or follow the latest series Wednesday nights at 10:00PM on Spike.

Deadliest Warrior May 7, 2009

Posted by crarence in MMA, Shows, Sports, Television.
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At first, it’s hard for most guys not to enjoy SpikeTV’s new show Deadliest Warrior. It’s bursting with loads of testosterone goodness like weapons, blood, and  explosions. Basically, they pick two warriors/soldiers/fighters from different eras and compare 4-5 weapons, have the expert hosts decide which weapon is superior, crunch the “data,” and re-enact a fight based on the results. While highly entertaining at first, the show quickly loses it’s sense of realism and scientific authority, and rapidly gets stale.

  • In an effort to keep you on the edge, the weapon match ups always end up being close, even when it makes no sense to do so. Deadly accurate throwing knives loses to Trident and net? Bomb with crushed glass to the eyes loses to Spear?
  • The re-enactments get sillier and sillier as the fighters have to carry most (if not all) the weapons that were showcased, or they conveniently find them behind a rock or something. Sometimes the fights are poorly choreographed too – at times a fighter is dominating but then leaves an opening or gives his opponent some recovery time that no-one in a real life would do.
  • They never take “skill” into account and assume it’s all about the weapons. For example, in Mafia vs Yakuza, they compare the nunchuks vs a baseball bat. The Yakuza expert clearly states that the nunchuks can be used to distract, disarm, and strike blows. And yet, the baseball wins due to the sheer damage it inflicts.

All in all, I’ll probably still keep watching the show because it does scratch that guy itch in me for senseless violence. I’ll just have to endure the tired format they’ve sunken themselves into. If you’re interested in checking it out, new episodes of Deadliest Warrior can be seen on Spike TV, Tuesdays at 10:00PM.

The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe May 1, 2009

Posted by huymix in Shows.
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James RandyfplusThe Skeptic's Guide to the Universe LogoI like to think I do not prescribe to a particular ideology, but if I really had to give a name to what I believe,  I’d have to say Skepticism. I cannot credit this podcast for opening me up to Skepticism (or really just verbalizing it to me) but I can say this podcast has definitely helped solidify my belief in the strength of healthy skepticism. I enjoy listening to the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe because:

  • They keep very up-to-date on the topics of the day and make sure to include some very noteworthy news items. The news is a bit of a sore point for these guys because the news generally gets it very wrong.
  • While they like to present what is known in the science community about a topic, they often admit when they do not know enough or where the current situation can change with new research. A lot of podcasts/people need to admit when they lack certain knowledge (ahem Mr. O’Reilly).
  • Its very relaxed but serious and mature podcast. So, they do have a lot of fun during the show, but the issues they talk about they are quite serious about. I find its a nice balance between hard science and humour.

If you’re looking to learn more about the issues of the day without the usual mainstream, somewhat superficial, coverage, I would suggest giving the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe a whirl (btw, its free all you need is a way to play an .mp3 file). Just watch keep an eye out for the occassional snarkiness…it can be frustrating dealing with some of the bigger jerks out there.

Note: the picture of the old guy is James Randi, the founder of the James Randi Education Foundation (a leading organization in skepticism). In the skeptical community he is “the” guy. Maybe not for all-encompassing knowledge but rather as an inspiration. The Amazing Meeting is proof of that.

Links

Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe Podcast

James Randi Education Foundation

Mantracker April 22, 2009

Posted by crarence in Shows, Television.
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Mantracker is another show on OLN. The basic premise behind this show is that two people (sometimes friends, sometimes paired up randomly) are trying to evade the “Mantracker,” – Terry Grant. They are usually given a 2km head start, and Mantracker must use his forensic skills and intuition to track them down before they reach their destination point roughly 40km away. I tried following the series but quickly gave up because:

  • The show is predictable. It has to run for an hour! Every time they are about to cut to a commercial break, Mantracker is just about to catch his prey. When the show resumes, they escape. As the next commercial break comes about, Mantracker is just about to catch his prey again. Of course, when the show resumes, they get away. The show is an hour long, people – Mantracker is always going to catch them at the end of the show, or they are going to get away. So the sense of tension quickly diffuses.
  • There is a growing feeling of skepticism as you watch the show. Mantracker is hunting down his prey who are trying to keep a low profile. At the same time, Mantracker doesn’t want to draw a lot of attention to himself. Yet…both Mantracker and the prey have a camera crew filming their every move. Even if the camera crew is just one guy, a lot of  “what ifs” start popping up. What if the camera guy accidently exposes the prey/Mantracker? What if the prey’s  camera guy is in cahoots with Mantracker and can communicate with him? What if the camera guy ends up slowing either party down? The concept behind the show starts to fall apart when you realize the camera guy can screw it up in so many ways.
  • The characters aren’t very interesting. None of the “prey” in the handful of episodes I watched were paticularly remarkable. And Mantracker himself makes Frankenstein look like Robn Williams in terms of personality.

If you’d still like to catch the show, you can watch at 9:00PM EST on the OLN. You can also visit the official website at

http://www.mantracker.ca/

Jerry Seinfeld live at Massey Hall April 18, 2009

Posted by crarence in Celebrity, Comedy, Shows.
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Today I had the chance to see iconic comedian Jerry Seinfeld perform live at Massey Hall. I didn’t follow a lot of TV series back in the day but I was an avid fan of Seinfeld. I was curious to see that kind of material he would perform – would it be more observational humour, or a totally new side of Seinfeld I had never seen. I had heard that he does an exceptional amount of swearing during his routine, so I really wasn’t sure what to expect.

First, I want to quickly praise Tom Papa for his opening act. As opening acts go, he did his job flawlessly – he got us laughing and in the mood in about 30 seconds flat. I had never really heard about him before but I am curious to see what he does in the future.

Comparatively, Jerry got the ball rolling a little more slowly. Unsurprisingly, all his jokes were based on everyday observations. However, all his jokes were fresh and new, so the entire audience was rapt with attention. A few of the topics that he covered was doing things to seem like you have a life, the haughtiness of big name coffee drinkers, the impersonal nature of e-mail, relationships, parenting, and the mad obsession with the i-phone/blackberry.

I’ve seen Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle,  and Russell Peters live, and I probably laughed out loud  the least during Seinfeld’s performance. That isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy his jokes – there were many times I found myself smiling and nodding along, muttering “that’s soooo true.” However, Jerry takes way less risks then the above comedians, which tends to give his performance a more PG family-friendly feel. At the end, for his “encore,” he actually had a small Q&A with the audience. Naturally, someone asked him about Michael Richards, and Jerry cooly gave some non-committal answers. Overall, the show was very entertaining, and it was good to see Jerry work his skills and charm live in person.

P.S: I will share my favorite joke of the night. What is with the doors in the public bathroom? They are the cheapest, crappiest doors out there, and yet they still can’t put the effort in lowering it by a foot to hit the ground. It is the most embarrassing thing when you walk by and see the shoes and the puddled pants sitting on the floor – the worst is when it’s at the office and you recognize whose shoes’ it is. And why can’t the doors close snugly against the wall? Why is there always a crack? Sometimes if you’re unlucky you catch a glimpse in the crack and see the terrified person sitting miserably on the toilet.

This was one of the few moments that I was actually laugh out loud during his act. This is also why I avoid using public bathroom stalls like the black plague.

Survivorman April 16, 2009

Posted by crarence in Shows, Television.
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Hi everybody! Thanks for taking the time to read my first post on Snuh Zone. Today I’d like to ramble a little on one of my favorite TV shows, Survivorman. Basically, the premise of the show is this survival specialist named Les Stroud gets dropped off in some remote destination and is forced to survive on his own for 7 days with very little gear. And by “very little,” I mean often he has no water and food, no camp gear, no weapons, no allies, just a small multi-task tool. One of the most remarkable things about the show is that Les has to do all the filming himself. This means not only is he lugging around 50 pounds of camera gear, he has to walk many paths three times! Why? To get footage of  himself walking, returning back to his starting point for the camera, then taking the path again!  I’m giving the show an F+ because

– It’s interesting! Les truly has a wealth of knowledge in survival skills. For example, in most episodes he demonstrates several varieties of edible plants, how to collect fresh water, how to make a shelter from scratch…etc. Some part of you can’t help but think as you’re watching: “hmmm…good to know just in case.”

– It’s tense! Even though you know that Les is going to pull through at the end of each episode, there are alot of sketchy moments where he’s gone 4-5 days without any food, or the environment is so extreme (artic tundra or a tropical rainforest) that it it baffling that he’s survived so long with so little.

– It’s honest! This is no glitzed up reality TV show, as the days wear on Les gets grittier and scruffier, you can see his energy wane and his morale fluctuate. Often he quotes that the biggest key to surviving in these conditions is simply having the will to live. Often, your worst enemy is yourself and the psychological burden of being alone in a dangerous environment breaks down your efforts to survive.

Sadly, the show has stopped at season three due to the stress and effort in filming each episode. Les still does interviews and book signings across Canada. You can catch episodes of Survivorman on the Outdoor Life Network (OLN.) At the time of writing it shows at 6PM, 9PM, and 12PM. You can also keep up with Les on his website:

http://lesstroud.ca/

We Will Rock You Musical Soundtrack March 30, 2009

Posted by huymix in Music, Shows.
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I’ve actually seen the Toronto-based production of this show twice and had an awesome time. Really, it’s a lot of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed my time. Despite my overall satisfaction, I have to say the soundtrack is more than a sticking point for me. Mostly because:

  • It’s not the same without Freddie Mercury. Impossible to duplicate, Freddie Mercury is too high of a standard to try and mimic. Never karaoke him, NEVER.
  • No Bicycle. Well, they do tease it, but then they don’t actually sing it! Bah!
  • Bohemian Rhapsody was a fakeout. People had actually left before hearing it, and that is kinda bull. I know it’s their fault but they should know people will do that. Not a fan, I would have been disappointed if I missed out on Bohemian Rhapsody.

Really, the first point is all you need to know. I had a ball at the show and would recommend it to almost anyone, but I would run fast to the Queen Greatest Hits and Queen Classic CDs when presented with the We Will Rock You Soundtrack. Just watch the show.