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I will be the first person to admit, that before Avatar’s premiere, I thought for sure it would flop harder than You Don’t Mess With The Zohan. Granted, I didn’t have a whole lot to judge the movie on other than that damn Coke-Zero commercial, but there’s just not a whole lot about blue, giant-arrow-shooting, cat-people that I find particularly interesting. With the commercial’s odd looking creatures and large mechanized flying machines, I just saw Avatar as a sequel to all the worst parts (Jar Jar Binks) of The Phantom Menace shoved together. I had assumed that director James Cameron’s “revolutionary” 3D technique was just a gimmick, and I wasn’t about to put on goofy headache-inducing red and blue glasses to watch a glorified 3D movie that belongs at Six Flags.

My entire attitude changed one I read this review, and suddenly I was open to checking it out. My buddy found tickets for about $15 at a relatively close IMAX theater, so we decided to go see it on opening night. The “IMAX Experience” thick-rimmed glasses we received at the door weren’t red and blue, but still made everyone look like Harry Caray. At first, I was pretty disappointed in them (and at Gizmodo for writing such a persuasive review of the 3D technology) when the IMAX in 3D advertisement ran, only to find out shortly that the 3D advertisement was inexplicably shown in plain old 2D! This was realized just as the movie began, as the true 3D effect was completely unmistakable!

It was like nothing I’d ever seen before!* The CG was absolutely incredible! If it weren’t for the super advanced electronics, un-natural fauna and flora, and 8 foot tall blue cat people, I would have had a hard time figuring out which scenes were filmed and which were computer generated! I remember one scene vividly that made me feel uncomfortable. The depth in the shot was so extreme, my instinctual fear of heights made me clench both arm rests next to me!

Ignoring the monumental 3D aspect of the movie for a moment, I’m not sure how well the story would appeal to a wide range of audiences. For example, I’m a huge science fiction fan (and Fern Gully fan, for which most of the movie seems inspired by), but I’m not sure how much I would enjoy the almost 3 hour long movie if I had seen it in 2D. Several scenes seem relatively unimportant, but what’s there to complain about? They’re in freaking three dimensions! I can’t help but wonder though, if the appeal of this movie is simply due to the fact that it’s technologically the first of its kind. 20 years down the line, when 3D movies are mainstream, will Avatar be considered amongst the best?

It’s for those reasons that I wouldn’t recommend anyone see this outside of a 3D IMAX theater. If you do have the means to catch it in all its technological glory, certainly make a point to. Just remember, watching Avatar in 2D would be like buying a Corvette with an automatic transmission; you’d be missing the entire point.

*Not technically true, since I see things in 3D on pretty much a daily basis.

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Reebok Dictator

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When I used to think of Reebok, I certainly did not think of quality slow pitch softball bats.  If you are the same way, I suggest you rethink your stance.

In the beginning of this year’s spring softball season, my brother was persuaded by a sales representative at a local sporting goods store to pick up a Reebok Dictator.  He got the white ASA version of it for just over $120 on sale. Despite the deal, it was still a fairly large chunk of money to spend based on a salesperson’s word.

Before I continue, please let me share the fates of the three most recent bats my two older brothers and I have gone through.  Simply put, the way we treat them is illegal in 49 states (Missouri is the odd one out – everything is legal there).

  • Worth Mayhem – bent at a 10 degree angle after 7 hits in batting practice
  • Worth 3DX – flattened barrel after 2 games
  • Mizuno Wrath – broken into two after being used in 4 games

The first hit with the Reebok Dictator was taken by yours truly.  My brother took it out of its plastic wrapping, handed it to me, and said, “Go forth and dictate.” I remember thinking the feel of the bat was good as soon as I held it, but it was not until I took my first swing that I was impressed with the quality.  I hit a deep fly ball that cleared a 300 ft fence by about 20 feet.  I am no power hitter and was not trying to swing for the fences, but the bat rewarded me with the solid contact I had made on the ball.

Fast forward to the end of the same year’s fall season.  The bat had become a team favorite, and practically everyone was using it for every at-bat of our triple headers.  It was probably for this same reason that it had lost some of its pop, but it never bent, cracked, or broke on us.  Next on our agenda is to go out and buy a new one for the next season.

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I’m going to go ahead and get this out of way in the first sentence: this movie is not the feel-good movie of winter. Repeat, Brothers is intense, and not the movie you should take your grandmother to go see when she’s in town for the holidays. It’s about as much as a ‘war movie’ as Transformers is, but the emotionally charged script would make it difficult to watch for persons that could identify with the characters.  Although supporting actor Jake Gyllenhaal doesn’t think the premise of the story is all that realistic, I still wouldn’t recommend anyone in, or thinking about joining, the Armed Services let their girlfriends, wives, or mothers go anywhere near this film.

Warnings aside, Brothers is well done and worth at least renting in the future.  Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire convincingly play rough-neck brothers, but in my mind, the best acting performance of the film is by 10 year old Bailee Madison, who put a 12 year old Miley Cyrus to shame.  Maguire still manages to fit several blank stares into the film, and several story-lines seem to abruptly end before they’re resolved.  I had the feeling towards the end of the movie that director Jim Sheridan was simply giving as many emotional scenes as possible to his big-name actors in the attempt to glean some awards for their performances.


Worth Xtra-Dri Power Shirt

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The first thing to realize about this shirt is that it isn’t at just shirt; it’s a Power Shirt.  Made by Worth, this Xtra-Dri® “compression performance garment” is made by some super secret NATUREXX® material.  So secret and awesome, Worth felt the need to take the word ‘nature,’ throw a pair of x’s on the end of it, capitalize every letter, then register the entire monstrosity on the off-chance  another company  would think to do the exact same.  It’s doubly amusing since the fabric is about the furthest thing from ‘nature’ that I could imagine.  It’s pretty much just lycra, but really thin, and it doesn’t really do much compressing.

Although it’s not much of a compression shirt, it’s still super comfortable.  The cut seems slightly larger than a cotton shirt of the same size, and the color is super bright.  I’m just saying, I wouldn’t recommend wearing it while participating in the Running of the Bulls. I would recommend it for stop sign Halloween costumes and off duty firemen, though.

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