Sunday, March 28, 2010

Will Sacramento Ever Host NCAA Basketball Again?

Last September, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said on his blog that Arco Arena was no longer considered an ideal place to hold NCAA basketball regional playoffs. Compared to some of the newer NBA arena that are hosting such games, this may have been inevitable. The city is finally getting closer to building a new arena near downtown, which is bound to bring the NCAA back.

That being said, it's too bad the NCAA women's basketball regionals didn't attract more of a crowd, considered they'll be the last playoff games that will be played at Arco for some time. After all, Stanford's there, and that should have brought in more fans. However, look at this....

The moments before

Only the lower sections were available, while the men's games three years before sold out all of the seats. Sure, for 20 bucks you get a fantastic view of the action that you'd never get if you were watching the Kings play. I just think the whole arena should have sold out. Heck, when the arena hosted the NCAA women's volleyball final, that sold out.
Still Arco is a basic, generic arena back when you could do well with such buildings. Now, it's all about the luxury suites, bells, whistles, sports bars and such. They're about as important to an arena as a floor. You should see the concession stands around and inside AT&T Park, or stand outside Staples Center. That proves my point.
So, Arco Arena II not only has to have more seats and luxury boxes, but a mall, too. The important thing, of course, is that it gets built, period. The unspeakable phrase, "Las Vegas Kings", isn't heard much these days. Once ground is broken next year, hopefully, it never will be heard again. However, we will hear from college basketball fans from out of town...a lot.

Now, here's some of my faves...

The banner that didn't get on TV

This was not shown on TV, because there were many signs anyway. This teaches me to think fan signs can cover the stands as much as in the WWE. Sorry, Knights of Good.

Hey, is that a new horror movie?

You know, those shirts should be plugging a horror movie. According to Georgia's basketball team, it was...namely them getting clobbered by Stanford

The Ultimate in Bi-Partisanship

I can't recall Stanford's band playing the National Anthem anywhere. That's why I called this the "ultimate in bi-partisanship".

The Tip-Off

One of the few good action shots I got.

Nice game, but when do we play?

Knitting during a basketball game? Baseball, sure, but....Well, they were waiting for the second game, Xavier vs. Gonzaga

So when does HE gets his ESPN moment?

Maybe we should fear the Tree, but it should be in an ESPN ad

No, she is NOT taking my picture

I doubt she is taking my picture

I hardly ever come to Arco because I don't usually have a reason. I just hope if we do get a new arena near the rail yards, I'll have a reason

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Battle For Comic-Con's Future

Well, the fight to house Comic-Con has reached "Keep the Colts in Baltimore" levels.
Facebook is already in the fight thanks to two new pages: one who wants the event to move to Anaheim in 2013, and one who wants the place to stay. There is another that has less fans but the only difference is that it has no exclamation point. I guess that proves the importance of a catchy title in your Facebook page.

So far, the Anaheim page has more people making clear arguments for a move. They claim it's bigger, close to Disneyland, and there are more hotel rooms that won't rip your wallet to shreds. I've never been there, although I will soon. The best thing about San Diego is that there are a lot of places to go and eat in between panels. There's also a CVS and a Ralph's. It was great for me when I first went to Comic-Con, but not when it's getting so crowded.
Those who favor keeping Comic-Con in San Diego rely on tradition. It's been around for 40 years. It's more iconic that the Padres, but not as much as the Chargers. Besides, there's light rail. Anaheim doesn't have that.

I see this as a city hoping to attract a sports franchise who isn't happy with its stadium anymore. I've seen this before with the Raiders going to Los Angeles for a few years, the Colts leaving Baltimore, the Rams leaving L-A, and the Kings leaving Kansas City for Sacramento. Currently, Comic-Con has had to rely on a new hotel for some of its events. Hall H isn't enough anymore, and...well...waiting for panels that attract a modest following is becoming too much like waiting in line at Disneyland for anything.

San Diego officials are aware of the problem. They have asked nearby hotels to add more available space while they try to get the center expanded...and that may be easier said that done. They know Comic-Con means Ewoks, Zombies, Slayers and such in bars and restaurants..and that also means money. They want Comic-Con to stay in San Diego.
But, as Walter O'Malley decided Ebbets Field was just too small and antiquated for his Dodgers more than 50 years ago, Comic-Con officials may look at the San Diego Convention Center the same way. Besides, while San Diego may try to expand its facilities, just moving will get that extra space immediately. Thus, we may have to practice saying Anaheim Comic-Con in 2013.

Personally, I think moving to the Los Angeles Convention Center would be a perfect compromise. It's also big, and you can use the subway, which is better than you think, to get there. It also widens the number of convenient hotel spaces a lot...and who wouldn't like to use the Nokia Theater as the new Hall H? Maybe by 2013they can also add a few fast food places, too.

We may know for sure just after Wondercon ends next week. At least the Moscone Center in San Francisco is still big enough for that event.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

It's More Than Training A Dragon In 3-D

I'm a sucker for free movie passes, even movies in 3-D and Imax.
That's why I decided to skip the second half of St. Mary's vs. Villanova and take in a preview of How To Train Your Dragon at the local Imax in Sacramento. All I knew about it is that it involves a bunch of Vikings who had their own version of the Olympics. At least, that's what they did during the Olympics coverage.

Actually, it's an adaptation of a kid's book, with some changes to make it more epic and prone to 3-D wonder. It's why the ads include one critic saying some of the 3-D imagery is just like Avatar.
The story is about Hiccup, a young boy who's also the disappointing son of a Viking chief. The tribe has been battling dragons for centuries because they steal livestock and burn their homes. They're very familiar with the types of dragons, but not about the mysterious Nightfury, who's fast and deadly.
Somehow Hiccup brings a Nightfury down, and looks for him the next day. He's supposed to kill the dragon to prove himself. He's also surprised to learn the Nightfuly can't fly because its tail has been injured. Hiccup decides making a friend out of this dragon is a better idea. This is what makes the movie something special. Also, Toothless, the Nightfury, is actually kind of cute.

Hiccup undergoes training in dragon killing with the local teens, including Astrid (who serves as the romantic interest). The tribe becomes interested in Hiccup after he finds ways to fight dragons without a weapon. Astrid is interested, too, but mostly out of jealousy. She soon learns the truth about Hiccup and Toothless...and even why the dragons have been attacking the village for so long. Let's just say they have a bigger problem than the Vikings do.

The voice talent is pretty good, especially Gerard Butler as Stoick, Huccup's dad, and Craig Ferguson as Gobber. Other notables include America Ferrera, Kristen Wiig, Johan Hill and McLovin himself, Christopher Mintz-Plasse.
Animation is getting even more attention thanks to 3-D. While Up is still the gold standard in 3-D animation, we will get stiff competition from Toy Story 3 and Despicable Me this summer. How To Train Your Dragon is a good effort, especially with the Hiccup/Toothless angle. It's not enough to make podcast king Adam Carolla like dragon movies, which he never has, but I'd like to see what he thinks of this movie when he takes his kids to see it...and he's bound to do that.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

No Conan, No Peace...But A Sold-Out Tour Will Do

From time to time, we are told the real reason why "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" exists: it was cheaper to fire Conan than let Jay Leno go. There are reports he could have pocketed 120 million if the Peacock kept Conan. Thus, Conan isn't worth 120 million, but is worth 45 million....reluctantly.

Well, geniuses, considering how quickly seats for this "Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On TV" tour are selling, Conan is worth 45 million...and more.
It's been revealed slowly he'd do a 30-city tour to meet with fans, and maybe try out some ideas when he comes back to TV, preferably at Fox so it can prove to itself it doesn't need 24 and American Idol to exist (but should have admitted having a Dollhouse or a Firefly would have been great).
Anywho, when I woke up to discover the news, I immediately got a $57 dollar ticket to the show on April 22nd at the Masonic. Sure, with convenience fees, it's 74 bucks, but at least I am getting a decent seat at a 3200 seat facility. I was hoping the Orpheum was available, because that's where he had his show three years ago. Well, it should be some night.

Now, I didn't know there was a list of the 30 cities on the tour. Still, it wouldn't include Sacramento....but it did. He's coming two weeks after the SF show. I blew at least 50 bucks because I thought Conan would consider Sacramento too shoddy to be considered...just like the guys who decide where the NCAA Final Four regionals should be held. Not only that, I could have gone for a 40 dollar ticket if I could.
Sure, I jumped the gun, but looking back, it's better to be quick. I'm already hearing of Conan tickets being scalped big time. Does that ever happen to Jay Leno when he does a stand-up comedy show in Vegas or Thunder Valley Casino? Nope.

So, the point is, I'm going. If I'm lucky, maybe I'll see him wandering around the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium, discovering that the most gourmet thing he'll get near that place is Wolfgang Puck Pizza. Actually, he'll have better luck at the Hyatt or Sheraton nearby. Maybe he'll be seen at either place. I'd be stunned if he stopped by KFBK, since his Sacramento stop is immediately after a show in San Jose the night before. He does have two days to rest before the next stop in Colorado. We'll hope for the best.

With the popularity of the "Prohibited" tour after just one day, you have to wonder if NBC could ever make 125 mil from Leno is just one day. The network certainly will as long as he's there, likely after ten years. It might take even longer, once Conan returns to TV. If people can pay between 50 and 75 bucks to see him for one night, after seeing him for free, what does that say about Jay Leno?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dear Comcast: Please Upgrade When Nothing Is Happening

I got a notice a couple of days ago from Comcast saying it was going to do some rewiring as part of its efforts to bring me better service and not get near those socialists, Dish Network and DirecTV.
I thought nothing of it because I thought they'd probably get to my street on a Tuesday. Instead, they arrived last Saturday....and nearly ruined my Oscar weekend.
They spent about 20 minutes doing their job, then left. I thought my service would be restored, and I'd get to a long evening of catching up on my DVR stuff, including the Independent Spirit Awards. Instead, I had NO DVR service, or premium service or OnDemand service. Oh, and no news, USA network, or sports. All I had was the local digital channels, which would be enough if the ABC channel would be there for me Oscar night.
Yesterday, I wound up having no channels at all. I called AND texted Comcast to at least give me the Oscars so I can mock them MST3K style through Twitter (as were millions of others worldwide). To their credit, Comcast did come through. It seems I wasn't the only person who was panicking. Of course, it means I won't get a chance to see what a movie awards show is SUPPOSED to be until later this week (and yes I mean the Spirit Awards), but at least I'll still have it.

So, my anger will hopefully mean a refund, and maybe an offer to give me a free OnDemand movie or six months of HBO. I think if Comcast is going through all the trouble of trusting them with our entertainment needs, even relying on Shaquille O'Neal, they should make sure the "upgrades" actually work. After all, even though the Oscars are over, the preparations for NCAA basketball playoff action is getting into full swing. Take cable away from a guy during that, and you deserve all the grief you make

Thursday, March 4, 2010

At Last! The Latest Cinematic Titanic DVD Review

I've had the new Cinematic Titanic Live DVD for nearly a week, but I've been sidetracked by bobsleds and the best hockey game on TV since the Miracle on Ice.
Now, I've had the chance to look over the second live show, which is also from the Largo in Los Angeles when they had a three-day run there late last year.

I had thought they would have Danger on Tiki Island, which the CT crew wrestled with last month. Instead, they had The Alien Factor, which is about a small Maryland town being attacked by alien animals in completely embarrassing ways.
Or maybe the movie is the thing that is embarrassing. At least you can't blame Independent International Pictures on this tripe. It's locally owned, operated and filmed, and looks like it.

Aside from the aliens, there's political intrigue as the Mayor tried to get the local sheriff to hush the whole thing up, or the new amusement park won't be built. There's a reporter who is determined to find the truth, but likely can't find her car. There's a weird looking guy who apparently can handle these aliens, maybe a little too well. There's also long, thoughtful walks in the woods to pad whatever lack of drama the movie has.

Naturally, it's the riffing that makes the movie worth watching, because it illustrates why the movie wasn't worth making.
A sampling:

A "police" car responds to a guy getting killed by one of the aliens who looks like his skin was duct tape: "Has there ever in history been a two-door cop car?"

Some guys walk to the sheriff to offer their help: "It's Three Dog Night!"

A girl sees one of the aliens and tries to run away: "Even the film is trying to escape."

One of the locals gets zapped, then the film cuts to three kids playing with a ball: "Childhood syphilis can happen to anyone."

A local band sings to pad the film: "They're actually a tribute band to themselves."

A mysterious guy named Benjamin Zachery asks the Mayor to come in his house to discuss the aliens: "I was right in the middle of my Chevy Chase lessons, but come on in." (possibly a ripoff to a Mike Nelson joke from "Laserblast")

The Sheriff battles another of the aliens: a tall bulky fellow who looks like a cross between an ant and Bigfoot: "Dark Horse presents Godzilla vs. McCloud".

The climax involves Zachery battling the worst of the Iguana ghost that's really an SFX shot so bad, it would make Ray Harryhausen throw up: "What has two arms, no legs and has made this movie even worse?"

The DVD, at least, has the guts to list the entire cast at the end, but for three seconds and in very small font. There's also a preview of "East Meets Watts", guaranteed to convince you to get this DVD, too.
As for the future, another live DVD is coming, most likely the "Danger on Tiki Island" movie. After that, let's hope they go back to the traditional style, including comedy bits to interrupt the movie. After all, the premise is they're riffing on bad movies against their will, like the other guys. We can't have them enjoy it, or we'd unleash them against Avatar or Transformers 2. Say....

TV Life After Vancouver

Well, it's been four days since the snow-ish carnival that was the Winter Olympics. It may have had a less-than-perfect start but had a perfect ending with the US-Canada hockey final, and that way out closing ceremony. I still say Bill Murray would have been a better choice for the musical number with those inflatable Mounties and such. Can Nick Poutine really outdo Michael Buble? Hell yes!

So, what now? Well, in Canada, there's the NHL, and the Memorial Cup. We Yanks, on the other hand, have lots of options: the Oscars, spring training baseball, and the NCAA Final Four.

As far as TV is concerned, it's basically Lost for me. I suspect the Islandverse and SidewaysVerse will collide a lot sooner than the two Earths battling for survival on Fringe. I just hope JJ Abrams will not go to "it's all a dream" copout, like SPider-Man (the comic book) did. I just have the feeling the destinies of Flight 815 will be "adjusted" in the final battle, whatever it is.
For the first time in years, I am skipping 24, and don't think I am missing anything. Besides, the real point of this season won't happen until maybe mid-April, as it always does.

Personally, my month is going to be dull until three weeks from now, when I head for three big events: the NCAA Women's Basketball Regional Finals at Arco (cheaper ticket, Stanford may be there, and a much better seat), WonderCon (on Easter weekend this year, which better mean more movie previews for Memorial Day) and Wizard World Anaheim (only because I want to see Miss Dushku, and whether Anaheim can possibly handle Comic-Con if it steals it from San Diego the way Indy stole the Colts from Baltimore).

For now, I just wait for March to get warmer, although I have this fear (not in CA, thankfully) we may get an Easter blizzard somewhere in the US. I'd like the self-appointed weather experts explain this.

ETA: just found out that Eliza Dushku won't be going to Anaheim after all. Apparently an unexpected awards ceremony...oh, wait, that's someone else's, she has a new film role.
Maybe she'll send someone with confirmation that she will be filming a new movie with Joss at the helm. It would be nice to know a silly rumor turned out to be true...and a good one.
While I am REALLY disappointed by this, since this was the reason I wanted to go to Anaheim, there are still plenty of other Whedon celebs, too, from Jewel Staite (fresh from CreationCon four months ago) to Juliet Landau and Miracle Laurie.
Maybe Sarah Michelle Gellar...nah....but if James Marsters can commit to some Wizard events later this year.....whoa.
It's still several weeks away, though. I can still grade the event on whether Anaheim can handle Comic-Con