Monthly Archives: August 2016

Apple Music Festival 2016

The 2016 iTunes Festival is continuing last year’s theme of a 10-day affair, instead of the full month of festivities that it used to feature.

The Roundhouse in London will once again be the site (for the 10th straight year)  and can be watched on Apple Music.

Some highlights from previous years include Ellie Goulding last year:

and Paramore back in 2013

This year’s lineup features a lot of heavy hitters, and runs from Sunday, September 18 thru Friday the 30th:

  • 9/18 – Sunday – Elton John (2nd appearance)
  • 9/19 – Monday – The 1975 (2nd appearance)
  • 9/20 – Tuesday – Alicia Keys (2nd appearance)
  • 9/21 – Wednesday – OneRepublic (2nd appearance)
  • 9/23 – Friday – Calvin Harris (4th appearance)
  • 9/25 – Sunday – Robbie Williams (1st appearance)
  • 9/26 – Monday – Bastille (3rd appearance)
  • 9/27 – Tuesday – Britney Spears (1st appearance)
  • 9/28 – Wednesday – Michael Buble (1st appearance)
  • 9/30 – Friday – Chance The Rapper (1st appearance)

This will be the first appearances for Britney, Michael Buble, Robbie Williams and Chance the Rapper.
It’ll also be the 2nd time headlining for Alicia Keys and Elton John, while The 1975 and OneRepublic have both appeared once before as “Lesser Names” on their previous days of performing (to Bastille and Matchbox Twenty, respectively).
Bastille is making their 3rd appearance, their 2nd headliner, with the third time sharing the day with Emeli Sande and Gabrielle Aplin.
Calvin Harris is on his fourth time around (and third time headlining), after one sub-performance to David Guetta.

Apple Music Festival 10 Poster

Ticket Fail at the @USOpen

I’ve gone to the US Open in previous years, generally buying tickets day-of the event.

This year I went last week, during the free entry qualifying week, and had planned on going yesterday for the Opening Day of tournament matches.
I went so far as to reserve a space in the Chase Lounge, so I could grab some air conditioning and refreshments in between matches.

But then I went online yesterday morning, to the US Open Ticketing via Ticketmaster as well as secondary sellers (such as StubHub and TiqIQ) and found that the tickets for yesterday were no longer listed…

Let me explain the conundrum: The time on the tickets is listed as 11AM, so the US Open (and resellers) pull their tickets at 10:59:59.
But unlike a typical sporting event, these 11AM tickets get you onto the Open grounds from 10AM-4PM, and especially during this first week, can get you tens of matches to watch, both in the main stadium and the side courts, as well as lots of practice sessions.

Now you might ask: Why don’t I just buy tickets at 9AM? Well…they get cheaper at 11:30 🙂 While tickets at 9AM tend to be in the low $50 range, I’ve gotten tickets later in the day for $20…allowing me to spend that extra money on merchandise!
US Open 2016 Shot Glass

Northlandz #Review

Northlandz, in Flemington NJ, is a model train museum, with over 8 miles of track and great “scenic views” for the trains to run through.
The location also features hundreds of dolls from around the world, a 94-room dollhouse, and all different types of pianos/organs.

These trains were going across huge bridges, through mountains and rolling through towns. While enjoying the trains themselves it was equally impressive to see the amount of work that must have gone into putting this all together.

Behind the building they have a miniature train ride, that roams the backyard, including a train tunnel and some RailRoad Crossings. We got lucky and actually had deer along the tracks as well.

One complaint from my trip there: The place was filthy.
I understand that the vast track areas might be hard to keep from getting dusty, but the areas where people walk aren’t that large. The place had cobwebs, dead spiders in displays, and the bathrooms were downright filthy.

The museum experience was a 9 out of 10, the cleanliness was a 3 out of 10.
Fortunately for them, the experience is worth a lot more, and overall the Northlandz experience gets a 7.5 out of 10.

Prices and hours can be found here, and you could read a blurb on them in the current issue of Wired Magazine.

Northlandz Town 2Northlandz Trains Northlandz Organ Northlandz Bookshelf Dollhouse Northlandz ET Doll Northlandz People Train

 

 

Carpool Karaokes with James Corden

We’ve all watched many of them by now, but the focus of late night television needs to be on James Corden.

Corden, when he took over The Late Late Show knew that the way to grab market share was to make videos and segments that can be easily digested online and spread virally.

And he hit the golden jackpot with Carpool Karaoke.
Simply driving around town, with celebrities and artists in the car with James, singing their songs (and other popular songs), just like us regular people do on a daily basis.

Last night he had Britney (b**ch) on the eve of her new album release Glory, and they sang some of her old-time hits mixed with some new songs.

Previous great hits included Lin-Manuel Miranda (from Hamilton), Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Adele.

There has been recent talk of a spin-off show based on this segment (with a still unknown host), but if Lip Sync Battle taught us anything, doing this too frequently (and with B and C level celebrities) will cause it to burn out…let’s hope it doesn’t 🙂

US Open 2016

Monday is the official kickoff to the 2016 US Open, the 4th and Final Tennis Major of the year, held annually right here in NYC.

Tennis play begins this week with the qualifying rounds. Tens of players are trying to get into the remaining slots and while many of them may never have their names printed in a newspaper some winners have emerged from these rounds to take previous titles.

Admission is free all week, before the festivities next week, which include lots of free giveaways from the event sponsors, just by visiting their booths on the grounds or heading to their buildings for the week.
One of those examples is Chase Bank, who has a lounge open for RSVP’d card holders, where they can pick up refreshments in between matches.

The grounds are a great place to explore before/after you watch some tennis, with some great history points showing the greatest players in the sport, as well as lists of all previous winners.

US Open Winners List US Open Wall of Fame

This year also debuts the new retractable roof on Arthur Ashe stadium and center court for the tournament.

Arthur Ashe Stadium

Another perk of this early week of play is that a lot of the matches are happening on the side courts, allowing you to get up close and personal with the players and the matches.

US Open Action Shot 2 US Open Action Shot 1 US Open Action Shot 3

If you go to the US Open in the next few weeks be sure to let me know who you get to see!
A few years ago I had the pleasure of watching my favorite player Maria Sharapova face off against Victoria Azarenka.

And remember what Arthur Ashe said:

From what we get, we can make a living; What we give, however, makes a life.

Arthur Ashe Quote

Madden 17 Review

Madden 17 came out yesterday, but after playing it for the weekend on Xbox One (with EA Access) I’m gonna say it’s better than last years and give it an 8.5 out of 10.

PRESENTATION

The graphics package this year is again top notch, and EA is about to launch a new engine with Frostbite for FIFA, that may kick Madden to an even higher level in upcoming seasons.

Announcing has taken an interesting turn this year, with a new combination of Brandon Gaudin and Charles Davis. Gaudin is the current announcer at Georgia Tech and does the play-by-play, while Davis is the NFL analyst currently working for FOX Sports and the NFL Network.

On-screen statistics have stepped up again, with a live ticker on the bottom of other scores in the league, including “Upset Alerts” and “Rival Games” being highlighted (so that you can see how your playoff spots are holding as you roll through Week 17).


MODES

They have added a new interesting way to play through Franchise mode, and it makes it really enjoyable, especially if you like to play some football but also run team operations over a long term (and long seasons slow that process down).

When you go into a game you can choose to play it straightforward like a typical game, or go with one of three new modes

  • Offense Only – Play only the offensive plays for your team
  • Defense Only – Play only the defensive plays for your team
    These two options are great if you are trying to develop a playbook, or work on getting certain players stats high, and just want to focus on one side of the line.
  • KEY MOMENTS – This is the new speed option for games, where it simulates most of the game, and just brings you in for big moments. These include on both sides of the ball 3rd Downs, 4th Downs, Field Goals, Red Zone plays, Opening Drive (on offense) and 2-minute Drills.

GAMEPLAY

Special Teams defense has been boiled down a little clearer allowing better  chances at blocking kicks/punts.

The speed of the game also feels a lot faster from when the ball is snapped until the end of the play, but not too fast that you feel rushed and not able to see your options opening up on the field.


COIN TOSS

I was picky on this over the last few years, after they eliminated it a few years ago, but while it has disappeared from the game itself, you can still select in the settings for your “default choice” should you win the toss…which takes out conditions like “wind” or “opponent” from making your decision.
You do get to decide if your team wins the Overtime toss, as that one obviously plays a larger role in the game.


FINAL THOUGHTS

I have yet to run into any of the issues that I came across in Madden 16, and documented here, and hopefully the game will keep up the stellar play!

Madden 17

Captain America Comes Home

75 years ago Steve Rodgers was introduced as Captain America, and the Brooklyn-born hero has been given the homecoming he deserves.

Marvel built a 13′ tall statue and debuted it at San Diego Comic-Con before he made the cross-country trip to Brooklyn, where he was born.

Inscribed with “Hometown Pride” and “Est. 1941 – Celebrating 75 Heroic Years”, the statue also contains a quote of Rodgers’

I’m just a kid from Brooklyn

The statue is currently in Prospect Park (next to the Carousel) and will make it’s way to the Barclays Center (September) and Sunset Park (in front of BB&B in October) before they announce a permanent location somewhere in the Borough.

Captain America Statue (2) Captain America Statue