E3 2016: Sony

 source:  playstation.com
source: playstation.com

Monday evening Sony started their press conference with a first look at the new “God of War“. Followed by an onslaught of game after game. “Days Gone“, “The Last Guardian“, “Horizon Zero Dawn“, a new game from developer Quantic Dream makers of “Beyond Two Souls” and “Heavy Rain” called “Detroit Become Human“. The Game looks very much in line with the tv show “Almost Human” which aired on fox from 2013-2014.

Next up Sony showed various virtual reality games for the upcoming “Playstation VR”. Resident Evil VII, “Star Wars Battlefront X-Wing VR Mission“, “Farpoint“, “Batman Arkham VR“, “Final Fantasy XV VR experience“. Followed by a look at “Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare”. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how much the gameplay looked like “Titanfall 2“. We won’t have to wait long to find out which game pulls it off better come the fall. “Crash Bandicoot” is getting a remaster of the first three games plus making an appearance in the new “Skylanders game that was shown. 

The biggest two reveals were the Playstation exclusive “Spiderman” game by Insomniac and Hideo Kojima revealing his first game since being fired by Konami “Death Stranding” starring Norman Reedus. Strand means to drive or leave aground or ashore. Which makes sense since we see Norman Reedus’ character in the trailer, naked ashore. Not sure why they just didn’t say stranded. Perhaps their combining strand and standing, maybe it’s just bad translation. Regardless the trailer was interesting and hopefully they reveal more in the coming months. What excited you the most? We’d love to hear in the comments. 

E3 2016: Microsoft Press Conference

 source: xbox.com
source: xbox.com

After a somber start to the conference with Microsoft acknowledging the victims in Orlando with a moment of silence. They kicked things off by announcing the Xbox One S. A device that is 40% smaller than the original, includes High Dynamic Range technology for games and 4K media playback. Microsoft also announced “Play Anywhere” whereupon buying a title digitally nets you the copy for both Xbox One and Windows 10 on select titles. There weren’t many surprises as many things had been leaked in the previous weeks. “Project Scorpio” Microsoft’s answer to fans who complained the Xbox One was under-powered. The usual suspects were on display with “Gears of War 4“, “Halo Wars 2” and it’s open beta starting today, Monday June 13th and lasting till the 20th. Dead Rising 4 was announced with the return of Frank West. “Forza Horizon 3” was announced, “Recore” had a quick showing, “Scalebound” has a 4 person demo and “Sea of Thieves” had a pre-recorded demo showing off some of the gameplay. Microsoft also introudeced “Xbox Design Lab” where fans can create their own unique Xbox One controller for purchase. Some welcome features like “Clubs” and “Looking for Group” have been added to Xbox Live. Overall it was a solid though not surprising showing from Microsoft. We’re excited to see what PlayStation has in store later tonight. 

E3: 2016 EA and Bethesda

 source:  e3expo.com
source: e3expo.com

The time has finally arrived for the annual E3 week. The time gaming fans have been waiting for all year to learn about all the upcoming news for their platform(s) of choice. EA kicked off the festivities Sunday afternoon detailing their new EA Originals program, the future of EA Star Wars games, a first look at “Titanfall 2” and a new “Mass Effect Andromeda” trailer. Following EA later in the evening it was Bethesda’s turn at their BE3 conference. Bethesda unveiled “Quake Champions“, “Fallout Shelter” updates alongside a PC release, new downloadable content for “Fallout 4“, “Doom” and “The Elder Scrolls Online”, a “Elder Scrolls Skyrim” remaster, a new IP Prey, and game play footage of Dishonored 2. Microsoft’s press conference which takes place today, Monday June 13th at 9am Pacific 12pm Eastern. Dinosaur Spaceship will be live tweeting and sharing our initial thoughts during the briefing. So be sure to follow us on Twitter for all the news. Followed by our overall impressions of Microsoft’s briefing and what it means for Xbox in the coming year.

Monday evening we’ll continue the E3 kick off with Sony’s PlayStation conference at 6pm Pacific, 9pm Eastern. We’ll follow the same formula as the Xbox press conference. 

We’ll be on the ground floor Thursday June 16th and will have detailed reports of our impressions, after we get our hands on the games. Later this week look for our first “Flashback Friday”. Our monthly series where we review older games and offer that unique Dinosaur Spaceship perspective. This month it’s “Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection” and find out how you can win “Uncharted 4”. 

Suspended Realities: What Movie Magic Is Made Of

 source:  giphy
source: giphy

Growing up through over a decade of John Hughes movies set the tone for films in much of my childhood. Hughes films are among the most popular and widely known between the 80s and early 90s. His greatest achievements ranged from “The Breakfast Club”, “Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, “National Lampoon’s Vacation, “Weird Science” and “Home Alone”. These were films that were unavoidable. They were widely discussed, often a point of pop culture reference and in the general consciousness of the average American throughout their popularity. In 1990, every kid below the age of 16 was throwing their hands on their face to let out a holler because Mackaulay Culkin did it on screen. These weren’t the only films that stood out to me, but his were among some of the most memorable. Later on I would grow to enjoy different genres from horror to slapstick comedy and even drama. In retrospect, across the many genres I enjoyed while growing up they all had a few things in common. These films had compelling storylines, evocative soundtracks and real-world objects driving their protagonists

These were the kinds of movies you could watch over and over just as I did as a child. In fact, I might be unfairly biased because they were so present and influential in my life.  Dad might be reading the paper and mom studying for school but there would always be a Batman movie or “Beetlejuice”, “Short Circuit” or “Jurassic Park” playing in the background; my sister and I a captive audience. Perhaps with the reality of adulthood in full-force, I don’t recognize these attributes quite the same as I did in my childhood. I am less engaged as an adult.  The whimsical feeling, I had as a child rarely comes over me and when it does, it’s a familiar throwback and welcome treat. I don’t think these traits have been lost in modern film but somehow I find much of what I’ve watched in recent years less interesting.

Last year, at a chance encounter I was reminded of this very sentiment. A few short weeks before Christmas I found myself in a movie theater enjoying a rather unique film. The movie, “Krampus“, was one I knew little about going in. I knew the genre of the film to be horror and knew a little of the lore around the goat-demon hybrid that was the anti-santa called Krampus. I was aware that writer/director Michael Doherty was the same film maker who brought us “Trick ‘R Treat back in 2007. I often avoid big theatrical releases as of late because I’ve become disappointed with the linear and rather predictable path many movies take to reach their end. I also have acknowledged Hollywood’s increased reliance on visual effects to create the mood. In addition, the horror genre seems to produce only a few gems between releases so it was by a roll of the dice I ended up seeing the film in the first place. “Krampus was a rare delight in an age of overused computer generated imagery and formulaic storytelling. I left the theater feeling a sense of nostalgia hearkening back to my child and teen years as it struck many of the same chords the films of my childhood did. I couldn’t immediately assess why I felt this way but I liked the movie enough that I recently pulled the trigger on a digital purchase and watched it again. It was then, upon my second viewing in my home that I realized a few key details that evoked my kid memories.

“Krampus” is far from a perfect film, as a matter of fact, when friends have asked me what I think of it, I’ve described it as a “solid six” on a scale of one to ten. Not exactly a glowing review, but let’s keep in mind this is a “horror” film. Now let me stop right there and explain – It is a horror film in the way that 80s movies like Gremlins straddled the line between horror and comedy. It is really horror/comedy. You could only fairly critique it as horror if it were edited without some of the goofy quips and cheesy dialogue that give it character traits placing it somewhere between one genre and the other.  Having this attribute and this sort of character however, is exactly what made it stand out. This, along with some of its well written jokes, its use of [mostly] practical effects and its soundtrack and design it became clear what the film was offering, steeped in a history of nostalgia going back decades before it. Listening to the eerie re-imagining of the holiday song “Silent Night” while catching a brief glimpse of “Krampus brought me back to a scene in “Gremlins” where the mischievous creatures first became a threat to the Peltzer family. In another scene, a giant clown-faced jack in the box opens its mouth first vertically and then horizontally to reveal a huge gaping jaw, lined with razor sharp teeth; somehow sparking a memory of sandworms from “Beetlejuice”. “Krampus” is a movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously and I that’s what I love about it.

If I look back at many of my favorite movies growing up, much of them have this in common. In 1996, Eddie Murphy played Sherman Klump in “The Nutty Professor”. Directed by Tom Shadyac, the film was in the same vein as Shadyac’s other hits like Liar Liar starring Jim Carrey. What the two films have in common besides being comedies; they rely heavily on the audience willfully going along for the journey and foregoing any foothold in reality. They both have a compelling protagonist and neither film takes itself too seriously. They fundamentally pull the audience so far out of the norm that laughter becomes a gut response, occasionally tugging just enough of our heart strings to keep us empathetic to the main characters. It’s that combination of a goofy premise, some slapstick humor and a cartoonish simple story-line that made both films so likable among audiences.

Looking back to my teen years this wasn’t unique to comedy/horror or the comedy genre alone. One of my favorite films in the 90’s was the Tim Burton classic “Edward Scissorhands“; categorized as a romance drama.  Again, this is a film that requires the audience suspend some level of belief to go on a journey with a protagonist who has scissors in place of fingers. We are led to believe that Edward was abandoned upon his ‘creators’ death in a mansion above a cookie-cutter housing development in suburbia, only to be brought into town by the local Avon lady who finds him during her door to door sales pitch. This is another example of a quirky storyline that works wonderfully when paired with the superstar talent of then budding actors Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder. Moments of sincere humility paired with the start of a romance and a theme of acceptance create a world where the audience feels something for a character that by all real-world accounts could not exist. The audience feels something because it’s a fantasy backed by a surrealist, exaggerated version of the suburban California towns many Americans saw cropping up all over the place in the 80’s. For all of its elements of fiction, there was a nuanced but very real sense of homogenized suburban life that was relatable. Pair that with the emotive music styling of Danny Elfman and you’ve got a dark modern classic.

The music holds a place so important in these films. You can’t watch “Home Alone” more than twice without the main theme sticking in your head when Kevin wishes his family would ‘all just disappear.’ You can’t forget the “Edward Scissorhands” moment when Edward does the ice dance with Kim, signifying the height of their connection. Try as you may, you can’t dismiss the sadness on Professor Klumps face when Dave Chappelle as “Reggie Warrington” tears into him at the comedy show during dinner in “The Nutty Professor”. These are the elements that keep the movies I’ve mentioned static in my memory. For some films it’s the relatable teenage angst. Others it’s the light fantasy and comedy applied to what would otherwise be horror and sometimes it is the drama and pain so quietly positioned in comedy. “Krampus”, wasn’t remarkable in any way other than that it was unique and it reminded me of the many attributes I miss from the films of my childhood. Light-hearted fun with an engaging plot, and a touch of whimsy. These are film choices that are a product of good writing, compelling music and amazing actors and real-world effects. For all of their suspension of reality, these are the things that make so many films great.

Elon Musk: Our Next Potential Visionary

 source:  luxe.co
source: luxe.co

When Steve Jobs died in 2011, the tech community and consumers alike were in shock at the loss of one of our generation’s most prolific and recognizable tech visionaries. Steve Jobs launched products that both disrupted existing markets and created new markets alike offering up the sort of visionary genius we so rarely find in the world. Today, our generation of entertainers and technology figureheads are more likely to spout bombastic claims rather than backing it up with a list of ground breaking achievements. In addition to being a visionary, Jobs was an entertainer in his stage presence, conviction and showmanship.  The combination of these traits is what Jobs brought to the table and since his passing the tech community at large has continued a search for the next visionary leader. The type of leader people came to see in Jobs is rare but does exist and occasionally, we see glimpses of those qualities in the lesser-known and up and coming names leading industries into innovation and change. When they disappear, or leave us as Jobs did, it seems equally difficult to point a finger at the next big influence who might make the sort of disruptive waves we have come to expect. Elon Musk may be among this generation’s select few visionary leaders.

Last week at the Re/Code Code Conference 2016,the highly regarded head of Tesla and SpaceX took the stage for a one-and-a-half-hour interview to discuss both of his company’s endeavor’s. Musk shared his thoughts on Artificial Intelligence and space colonization to name a few key points. I found myself in awe while listening to Musk answer the many pointed questions hosts Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher threw his way, as they pulled no punches in getting to the point. Part of the allure as a viewer was watching the slow and thoughtful responses Musk delivered, mostly with ease, as questions they chose were clearly on his radar. Through these types of interviews and his ongoing stage appearances, Musk has managed to create quite the name for himself in the tech-sphere in a fairly short time. If you asked someone ten years ago who he was it is unlikely the name Elon Musk would have rung a bell. This stands true today, even though Musk founded the currently well-known Tesla all the way back in 2003. What may be even more surprising is that his other company, SpaceX, was founded nearly a year earlier and continues to be a name that is slowly creeping into the spotlight. Though SpaceX is less commonly known than Tesla to the general public, it is certainly being followed closely by those more adventurous when it comes to seeking out tech news.

 source:  tesla.com
source: tesla.com

Tesla has been a vehicle (no pun intended) which has allowed Musk to define his place in our current realm of technology as an innovative and outspoken figure. He has done so particularly in the space of sustainable and autonomous transportation and more recently garnered much fanfare in disclosing his plans to build a Gigafactory for battery production – a move that will aid the rollout of the recently announced Tesla Model 3 car. He has ignited the internet with talk about space exploration and spent some of his time during the Re/Code interview detailing his thought processes around successful rocket launches and his future ambitions. Somehow, through what is both a combination of his actions, products and personality Musk has captured an audience that stands by his vision of the future. A vision that includes affordable autonomous transport, putting rockets into orbit and someday delivering humans to Mars for colonization. 

The tech industry, and those closely following it, haven’t always expressed this fondness for Musk. Early rumblings of Tesla’s aspirations have been met in the past with skepticism as a fairly new entrant in the automotive field offering high priced vehicles. Upon first watching Musk reveal the Model X in 2012 I didn’t see Tesla’s founder in the light of a visionary, rather I saw someone who occasionally stumbled over his words and didn’t seem to have the most compelling stage presence. However, I was quickly won over by his mission statement which was then, and still is, to solve the world’s fuel emissions problem with sustainable electric vehicles. Part of my reaction was based solely on his messaging, prompting questions around what the rest of the industry was doing and why there was no apparent cheerleader for electric vehicles elsewhereHis conviction and timeliness in delivering his mission statement was enough to win me over and has garnered more positive media attention in recent years as a result.

This speaks to the pervasive nature of the ideals Musk and Tesla have put forward. Notable not because Musk wants to sell us all cars, but because he is selling an idea people can align with. The idea is cleaning up our environment, creating sustainable means of transport for everyday people and pushing things forward for humanity at large.  There is no better proof that he is onto something than observing the rest of the automotive industry adapt to this change in how we power our vehicles. One could easily argue that the movement in this direction was alive long before Tesla started making big showroom announcements. The 2006 film, “Who Killed the Electric Car” chronicled the release and destruction of the 1996 GM release of EV1, the first consumer electric car. The film was aptly timed at the height of oil prices and helped spark an environmental discussion around gas emissions and pollution. Though the film alone was not a primary driver of change, it reignited questions and curiosity among the public and served as a precursor to conversations that would become ever more common in the coming decades.

While the rest of the industry has lackluster offerings and sub-par sales among the most eco-friendliest of cars, Tesla entered a market far outside the average purchase price and created a brand that was aspirational by most accounts. The messaging and brand was so clear about its mission that Tesla just needed a product that embodied their vision. When they announced the far more affordable Model 3 earlier this year, the response from the public was loud and clear with nearly 400,000 pre-orders to date. The true test going forward will be Tesla executing on the large-scale production of its more affordable vehicle and delivering the goods by late 2017.

 source:  bloomberg; Illustrations by The Red Dress
source: bloomberg; Illustrations by The Red Dress

In the interim, Musk and Tesla have struck the right balance between speaking to the desires of the potential consumer and vastly rethinking an existing market. Automobiles are not the only place Musk seems anxious to make an impact. Space is the next frontier as Musk expressed he will detail his plans to put humans on Mars later this September. The plan, which he calls the “Architecture for Mars Colonization” will see humans landing on Mars as early as 2025, complete with necessary resources and cargo. Musks’ plans for both companies are ambitious. When you look across the industry there is really only one other man who comes close when it comes to making bold business moves around products and jumping into the uncharted territory of exploration outside of earth’s atmosphere. That man is Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. The similarities between the two men are clear in that they are both entrepreneurs. Similar to Musk, Bezos also has aspirations that include space travel and has a company designed to do just that with his own side project, Blue Origin. The differences between the two however are much more nuanced to the casual onlooker. Where Musk plans a full-on colonization effort on Mars, Bezos looks to the stars to employ new distribution methods for solar power and industry. Bezos is without question the closest leading tech entrepreneur to parallel some of Musk’s vision. Though Bezos has arguably taken a more business-minded approach. Musk differs in that he embodies a position that speaks more to the dreamers out there.

When we think about leaders who have made ground-breaking achievements and done so exercising a personality rich with conviction and showmanship, it is Elon Musk who comes to mind. Musk has managed to capture the attention of both the consumer audience through his automotive products while simultaneously tapping into geek culture and dreamers in the world of tech. This is not to discount Jeff Bezos or any other significant leader of our time, but the media response to Musk’s presence is proof that at least for now, he’s got the spotlight. Musk may one day be considered among the great visionaries or our time as was Jobs. It will be a long road ahead for Musk to prove through his actions if this statement is accurate. Which will only happen through executing his ideas of grandeur with great success in the coming decades. The potential is there; we might very well be witness’ to something special. For Elon Musk, time and execution are the deciding factors.

The Great Baseball Stadium Journey

 source:  explorepittsburgh.com
source: explorepittsburgh.com
 source:  sports-logos-screensavers.com
source: sports-logos-screensavers.com

Starting June 25th in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Dinosaur Spaceship will embark on an epic quest to see all 30 major league baseball stadiums in the next couple years. We’ll share our thoughts of the overall stadium experience along with companion articles. Our companion articles will be split into two segments. “One thing to do in each baseball city” and the other “One thing you must eat in each city”. 

After kicking things off in Pittsburgh we’re on our way to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to see what the Phillies have to offer. We then head to New York City to check out Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. With our east coast leg ending in Boston to see Fenway Park. If you have suggestions of what we should “see” or “eat” while visiting each city please leave it in the comments and if we end up choosing your suggestions we’ll be sure to give you a shout out. 

Quarter Season Review: Giants “Even Numbered Year”

 source :  summer.standford.edu
source : summer.standford.edu

If the trends are to be believed “even numbered years” are the San Francisco Giants years to win it all. Since 2010 the Giants have won it all every other year. After a rocky start, the Giants are back on top the National League West leading by 5 games after taking two of three from the Los Angeles Dodgers this weekend. The Giants are doing it again this year with their typical formula of outstanding pitching (3.51 5th overall) and solid defense (.988 Fielding Percentage 3rd overall). The Giants always seem to struggle with offense and are not different this year ranking 17th of 30 teams. Yet somehow they always find a way to get the job done.  Though this year there are some serious contenders in the National League.

If the Giants seek to continue the trend they’ll need to deal with the like of the Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals and New York Mets to make it to the World Series. The Giants need Angel Pagan to come back from the disabled list and stay in the lineup. Kelby Tomlinson has been a nice surprise hitting .289 on the season though has struggled as of late. Buster Posey while doing a great job behind the plate has not been stellar on offense hitting only .251. Madison Bumgaurner has been his stellar self with a 7-2 record and 1.88 era. The Giants will need to have all cylinders firing if they’re to make it back to the World Series.

The Giants are always the team everybody sleeps on. Though the Cubs have dominated headlines let us not forget who has won 3 of the last 5 World Series. The Giants go about their business during the regular season and have veterans who are used to the postseason pressure and continue to win. One things for sure come October, even though things are cooling down in the States baseball will just be heating up. 

Quarter Season Review: Padres “A Tale of Two Teams”

                                                                    Source:  Fox5 San Diego
                                                                   Source: Fox5 San Diego

San Diego sports fans don’t have much to be excited about these days. When the Executive Chairman of the Padres Ron Fowler comes out and calls the teams recent play “pathetic and embarrassing” and overall “miserable failures” it’s hard to hold out hope. Fowler doing his best Ray Kroc impression expressed the sentiment of all Padres fans. It was a breath of fresh air to hear such candor from men at the top. Which led to the Padres are making the wrong kinds of national headlines.

The Padres sitting at 26-38, 12 games out of the National League West and firmly entrenched at the bottom of the NL along the likes of the Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds. Like many last place teams, the Padres have been frustrating to watch. One day they’ll deliver spectacular pitching with no offense and the next an offensive explosion with terrible pitching. Not being able to string it all together has cost them dearly this season. The high note of the season was taking 2 out of 3 from the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley. This was during the Cubs hot start where they went 25-6, with the Padres handing the Cubs their first back to back losses all season. The Padres returned to the real world in the coming weeks while the Cubs bounced back to their winning ways. The Padres have also shown an inability to close teams out on the series finale falling to 1-20 after their most current loss to the Rockies. In the year they’re hosting the All Star Game for the first time in decades it would have been a sweet treat for the fans to have fielded a good team. At this point expect only the mandatory one player to represent the team come the All Star game. 

Though it is not all doom and gloom there have been some bright spots for the Padres this year as long as some pleasant surprises. A couple which deserve All Star considerations. Wil Myers and Jon Jay are paying dividends both currently hitting .287 with Myers hammering 13 home runs thus far. Look for Jay to be involved in trade talks with Myers a possibility. Though don’t hold your breath on the latter as he’s under team control for a couple more years. Yangervis Solarte has also been a pleasant surprise despite his recent struggles this past week hitting .284 on the season. Melivn Upton Jr’s bloated contract makes him hard to trade though up until his recent struggles last month was hitting around .270 and supplying superior defense patrolling the expansive outfield that is Petco Park. On the pitching side of things Fernando Rodney and Ryan Buchter have been nice surprises though Buchter has struggled as of late. The brightest spot in the rotation has been Drew Pomeranz (5-6 2.44 era) showing signs of brilliance after some rough years in Colorado with the Rockies. No one could have guessed at the start of the season Pomeranz would be leading the pitching staff. While on the subject of the pitching staff, it’s disappointing to see once again this year so many padres pitchers on the disabled list. Tyson Ross, Robbie Erlin, Cesar Vargas and Andrew Cashner joining them this past week. The Padres are enduring one of the worst streaks in recent years of pitchers going on the DL. They must find an answer if they wish to compete in the coming years. 

The future is all fans can look forward to this year. This team has some pieces to build upon with the likes of Myers and Pomeranz. If the Kansas City Royals can win a World Series as a small market team it lends hope to teams like the Padres. Build from the ground up and make smart transactions in the free agent market. The risky experiment General Manager A.J. Preller attempted last year failed miserably. Trading James Shields even though it meant eating half of his contract was a good move. More high priced contracts like Matt Kemps and Upton Jr’s are needed as are getting returns from prospects. Which might mean brighter days ahead for America’s finest city. In the meantime enjoy the All Star Game. 

Dinosaur Spaceship at Panic! of the Disco Tour

 source:  panicatthedisco.com
source: panicatthedisco.com

Dinosaur Spaceship will be there live on July 5th in Camden, New Jersey to see Panic! at the Disco with Weezer. We’ll give our impressions of the concert and if it’s worth your time and money. Click on the source link for tour dates and more info. In the meantime check out some of our favorite songs from Panics! new album.