This week the knockout stages of the Euro tournament got underway with European’s soccer powers and emerging Cinderella stories keeping an eye on a path to the tournament championship in France. On Monday, England jumped out to an early lead on Iceland but failed to score another goal the rest of the way while Iceland scored two goals to capture a surprising win to advance to play France in the next round. Days removed from the historic vote by citizens throughout the United Kingdom opting to leave the European Union, this was just another tough day for those residing in England. You’d think they’d be use to this sort of stuff by now, but the latest setback has led to plenty of criticism of the English national team.
The worst defeat in our history. England beaten by a country with more volcanoes than professional footballers. Well played Iceland.
There is no disputing Nintendo will pop open many eyes at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo by allowing those attending to get the first opportunity to play the brand new title in the storied Legend of Zelda franchise. It is a game Nintendo has been teasing for two years at E3, and they will continue to tease it at E3 for one more summer. The problem for Nintendo is this is pretty much all that they will have to offer this year. E3 does not open its doors for another month, and many are already speculating Nintendo has swung and missed in the grand scheme.
Timing is unfortunate for Nintendo this year at E3. Nintendo recently announced its new home console, going by the code-name NX for now, is slated for a release next March. With the release date so far away, and at an unorthodox time for a new console as it misses the coveted holiday season, Nintendo will have no new hardware to show off at this year’s E3, again. To make things even worse, this new Legend of Zelda game being shown off to the public will not be released until 2017. Nintendo has confirmed the new Legend of Zelda title will be released on both the WiiU and the NX, similar to how the company released slightly different versions of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess in the final days of the GameCube and the early days of the Wii.
Nintendo has a history of coming up small at E3, and all signs are pointing to another down year at E3 for Nintendo. This is particularly stunning because a brand new Legend of Zelda game should be one of the big winners at E3, even if it is not to be released until next March on either a home console few have much interest in (WiiU) or a console nobody has laid eyes on just yet (NX). This is especially rough for Nintendo given the highly-anticipated Star Fox title recently released for the WiiU has drawn a good amount of criticism for sticking to the basic formula of past titles in the franchise a little too closely in some respects and having difficult controls.
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Of course, while Nintendo has laid out the basic agenda for its E3 event, Nintendo is also known for throwing a few curve balls and surprises along the way. It is likely Nintendo will actually have a few more cards to play at E3. With Nintendo pushing into the mobile market with its recent launch of the Miitomo social network and upcoming mobile projects related to Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing, Nintendo may have a bit more to share with the masses than it wants you to know.
Nintendo came through with some very pleasing surprises for the WiiU last year with Splatoon and Super Mario Maker. Updates to either would not be unexpected from Nintendo at E3 (for example, could we please get a Super Mario Bros. 2 tile set for Super Mario Maker?), but updates to older titles could just as easily be put on the shelf for their next incarnation on the NX. Again, that leaves a bit of an empty feeling for Nintendo loyalists.
For Nintendo, this year’s E3 will be a bit more low-key, which is odd considering they are going all out with Zelda. But with no new hardware on the agenda and few titles to look forward to coming to the WiiU, Nintendo will look to the bigger picture and focus on a big 2017. Next year at E3 should be a much bigger event for Nintendo.
Mountain Dew sent me a box with some free stuff to promote Mountain Dew Black Label. I appreciate the opportunity to help spread the word about this product, but unfortunately I received some damage goods.
Let me get this out of the way real quick. THERE WILL BE NO SPOILERS HERE. Carry on…
I was fortunate enough to have a great opportunity to view the upcoming Captain America: Civil War on Thursday evening almost a full month before it is scheduled to be released in theaters. My wife actually got the opportunity to accept free passes to the prescreening, but I ended up going alone since she has little interest in the movie and I have become a bit of a junkie when it comes to superhero movies over the past year or so. So, I saw this movie by myself (and I got to sit in a section with just one seat, so I was pretty comfortable).
So, my first impressions…
Oh my goodness, this was good. It honestly was. There are some good things that were shown in the film that were left out of the trailers, which was nice. The new stuff that was not seen already was really well done and you can tell why it had to be left out of the previews and commercials. It was worth it because it made the moment so much more enjoyable.
This is not giving anything away, but this movie introduces the character of Black Panther to the party, and man does he come in ready for action. Because I know very little about the source material, I did not know entirely what to expect, but when Black Panther shows up, he does so in style and he is one bad cat. the film does a good job of giving the character a reason for fighting and sets him up for his future role in the MCU.
And let me say this about the action or fight scenes. They are exhilarating.
BUT WHAT ABOUT SPIDER-MAN???
One of the big selling points of this movie is the introduction to Spider-Man to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Marvel handled it perfectly. Without giving anything away, I will say they find the right time to introduce the brand new Spider-Man, the perfect way to bring him into the fold using a character we have already come to know in this MCU, and they do not bog you down with an origin story while still managing to give you the basic rundown of who Spider-Man is and why he does what he does. Oh, and this is clearly the funniest Spider-Man we have seen on film. The best part yet? They didn’t overuse Spider-Man so you leave the movie satisfied with what you saw from him and you want to see more. I for one cannot wait to see more of this Spider-Man, because I feel like they finally nailed it with the character.
SHOULD I STICK AROUND AFTER THE MOVIE?
This is a Marvel movie, so leaving as soon as the credits roll is always frowned upon. That remains true here. There was some talk about multiple post-credits scenes in the line going into the movie, but we only saw one, and it happens a couple minutes into the credits. It is definitely worth it to stick around to watch because it helps offer some closure on one character and gives you a glimpse of what is to come with another. But once that scene is done, you can walk out and go home and start counting down to Doctor Strange.
Note: Might want to consider the possibility Marvel could always add another scene or two to the post-credits agenda with the final released version of the film when it is officially released. Apparently some people seeing an early screening saw no scenes during the credits.
WHAT SHOULD YOU KNOW GOING IN?
I would recommend making sure you have watched the last Captain America movie, Captain America: Winter Soldier. The story continues to pick up and expand off of what the previous Captain America movie mapped out, so having that knowledge helps. That said, I think this movie does a decent job of providing enough context for someone who has not seen the previous film to have a basic understanding of what is going on.
It also would benefit the viewer to have at least a basic understanding of the relationship between Captain America and Iron Man, which can only be understood by watching the previous Avengers movies. But if you wanted to skip them, know that the two icons have different opinions on some things, and that leads to an argument. Some of the characters that were introduced in the previous Avengers movie are fleshed out a bit more in this film, most notably Scarlett Witch.
I could not help myself but have an unsettling feeling the moment Marcus Paige dropped a three-pointer from long distance off a double clutch to pull North Carolina even with Villanova with just under five seconds to play Monday night. Villanova had blown a 10-point lead that existed just about four minutes prior to that unbelievable shot from Paige, and the sequence of events was something that seemed right out of the script for Philadelphia sports as I have grown to know it.
It started when Villanova pushed their lead to three points following a pair of successful free throws on the other end with just 13 seconds to play, but Daniel Ochefu went for a steal as the ball was passed to Paige. Ochefu fell to the ground, leaving Paige free to create a largely uncontested shot. Paige found the shot but was forced to make an adjustment as Ryan Arciadiacono came in to challenge the shot before wisely holding up and letting Paige take the awkward shot. Of course, this time Paige dropped it.
After working their way back from a 10-point deficit, North Carolina had all of the momentum, seemingly, and just needed to prevent Villanova from scoring with a little more than four seconds left on the clock. After chipping away and putting the pressure on Villanova, North Carolina should have felt a bit confident heading into overtime, and maybe they would have won. It would have been another disappointing chapter in Philadelphia sports history.
Of course, Villanova isn’t a Philly school, right?
Kris Jenkins inbounded the ball to Arcidiacono, who ran up the court and tried to find room to create one final shot. Jenkins rushed up the court after getting the ball in and called for a pass from the senior Arciadiacono, who got it to the big man from beyond the arc. Again, a wise (and unselfish) move, and it paid off.
My sports fandom began in 1993 when I first developed an interest in the Philadelphia Phillies. That season ended in heartbreaking fashion for me as I experienced, for the first time, the agony of defeat as a sports fan. Joe Carter’s World Series-clinching home run off Mitch Williams was a punch to the stomach for me. It was a pain that would not truly be healed until 2008 when the Phillies returned to the World Series and took care of the Tampa Bay Rays in five games. By then I had experienced all of the local teams fail on the championship stage. The Philadelphia Flyers were swept by the Detroit Red Rings in the Stanley Cup Final. The Philadelphia 76ers were taken out in five against a clearly better Los Angeles Lakers squad. The Philadelphia Eagles came up short in the only Super Bowl I have seen them play, against the New England Patriots. I watched an undefeated Penn State team finish second in the major polls before the introduction of the BCS and College Football Playoff and have yet to see the Nittany Lions sniff that championship setting. The Phillies winning the World Series in 2008 let me know that sometimes good things can happen to the teams I follow.
Eight years later, Villanova reminded me of that fact and it could not have come at a better time as a Philly sports fan.
On the day the Phillies opened what should be a losing season (although one with plenty of young talent to watch grow up for some interest) and as the Sixers continue to flirt with one of the worst records in NBA history and as the Eagles inch closer to the first draft of the Doug Pederson era (one I have minimal interest in at this point), Villanova avoided falling into the typical Philadelphia failure story, which is something the basketball program was no stranger to under head coach Jay Wright. Not this time.
You have to love the age we live in where we have 10-second teaser videos to promote the debut of a trailer for an upcoming movie. The bets part is you get maybe two seconds of footage in those teasers for trailers. Such is the case for this quick snippet for Rogue One – A Star Wars Story (which I am only guessing is the correct name for the first chapter in the Star Wars sage not to focus on the usual cast of characters from the Skywalker family and their allies.
In our first glimpse of what is to come in Rogue One, we see a dark-colored Storm Trooper character looking around in front of something that appears to have exploded. I’m sure there will be much more to come from the first teaser for the film, which is due out in theaters on December 16, 2016.I typically try to avoid much conversation about the plot to upcoming Star Wars movies, but I have read from a number of sources since the announcement of the film that the story will focus on a group of Rebels attempting to steal the plans to the Death Star, which takes us back to somewhere in between Episode III and Episode IV.
The teaser for the first trailer for Rogue One will air during Good Morning America on Thursday, April 7.
PERSONAL EVALUATION My first race of 2016 was quite the eye-opener for me, and will serve as much needed motivation to get back in running shape. My first race since the Rock n Roll Half Marathon in Philadelphia last fall, the Fireside Frostbite 5-Miler proved to be much more challenging for me after months — yes, months — of letting running fall out of my routine. This was on me, as this five-mile race was just the third or fourth time I think I have gone out running this calendar year. I knew going in I was not in the shape I would like to be for this race, and I ended up not being happy with my performance one bit.
For the sake of comparison, I looked at my results from this year and last year. I ran this same race in 45 minutes and 52 seconds, which was also in much colder conditions. This is also my sixth five-mile race in my Garmin’s history, and it is the first time I have finished a race of that approximate distance in more than 50 minutes. Not good.
SMASH RUN STATS According to my Smash Run stats, I burned 664 calories during this five-mile race, which they calculate to be about the equivalent of six mozzarella sticks. Too bad later that day I stuffed my face with a couple slices of pizza, tortilla chips and queso, a leftover cranberry Sprite, some pretzels and a mini apple pie dessert and two cupcakes when he had some family over for a game night. Eh, I’ll do better next time, I promise!
FAVORITE SIGN Unless I was completely oblivious, which is possible, there were not a ton of signs out on the race course this time, and nothing certainly stood out to me. But there were some people dressed like penguins, which appears to be a tradition during this particular race (a penguin is in the race’s logo).
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THOUGHTS Despite my poor outing, I do really enjoy this race. There are a good number of hills, which makes it a tough five miles for me, but it is a good challenge and the course is pretty nice. There are stretches running through the town and a stretch through a nice neighborhood (except for the guy who attempted to back out of his driveway with an apparent disregard for runners). Having done this race two years in a row now, I can say it is a well-run race in Ambler and I look forward to doing it again next year.
The race starts and ends at Wissahickon High School, which holds a slight sentimental spot in my heart as it was the home of my first marching band competition in high school. The race is well organized and well managed and they get a solid turnout. There were over 1,000 runners in this year’s race and the price is in the low to mid $30 range. Not bad considering you get a nice long sleeve tech shirt out of it and there is plenty of food afterward once you complete the race. The Fireside Bar & Grille serves up some hot chili and soup. Hatfield also is there to serve runners and volunteers hot dogs and you can even get some sauerkraut if that’s your thing. There were also soft pretzels, tomato pie, carrot and celery sticks, bags of veggie chips, apples and bananas and bottles of water. This race hooks you up with some good food.
NO MEDAL The only way to get a medal in this race is by finishing in the top three in your five-year age bracket. Needless to say, I did not qualify for such an honor. You do get a long-sleeve tech shirt guaranteed if you pre-register, and that is fine for me. In the two years I have done this race, the long-sleeve shirts I have received have been nice.