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September 07, 2007 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Friday, September 7, 2007 - 5

COURTESY OF MOTOWN

Snitch? Bitch? Whatever. This album rules.

COURTESY OF EA SPORTS

The Redskins? Doing well? Like that's realistic.

A producer with
Swizz' precision

Mad skills

gaming MVP comes
By Michael Passman

r

LaDainian Tumlinsun is the
smartest person in profes-
sional sports.
By turning down EA
Sports' offertobe the "Madden O8"
cover boy, the
reigning MVP
and fantasy- Madden 08
football god all
but guaranteed EA Sports
himself another Xbox360
league-leading
season. Maybe
he declined the offer because he
didn't want to deal with promot-
ing the game and not because he
was afraid of the "Madden Curse,"
but it's difficult to differentiate
between intelligence and laziness
nowadays.
So instead, Titans QB Vince
Young has all but doomed himself,
but if he can take any solace in his
upcoming ACL and MCL blowout,
it's that he's pitching a damn good
game.
For the first time on a next-gen
console, the Madden franchise
does not disappoint. While "06"
and "07" left gamers questioning
the necessity of next-gen gaming
beyond shinier looking helmets,
"08's" animations actually have a
tangible impact on the gameplay.
For once receivers will extend one
arm for a sprawling grab and actu-
ally try to stay in bounds while
making a catch. And multiple
linebackers will key in on players
to effectively gang-tackle, instead
of diving around in an attempt to
knock somebody over. In "08," it's
the collection of little things that
make the "Madden" experience
more authentic.

That said, this will probably
not be everyone's favorite "Mad-
den." In an effort to keep hardcore
"Madden"-heads coming back,
the game has gotten progressively
more difficult over the years. With
new features and options come
increased confusion and frustra-
tion from non-experienced play-
ers. More so than ever before,
"Madden 08" will challenge you
and force you to think before casu-
ally launching a bomb into triple
coverage.
The "Madden" experience has
never been this hard, but it's also
never been this rewarding.
Annual "Madden" gimmick:
With every installment of "Mad-
den" comes a new gimmick to
distinguish the game from years
past. This time, it's player weap-
ons. Any player with a 90+ rating
in an individual skill gets tagged
with an icon that marks them as
an "elusive back," for example.
The icon with the most significant
impact on gameplay is the "Smart"
QB or defensive player, which
allows players to see what play the
other team is running if they run
it multiple times over the course of
the game. The effects of the other
icons are not as obvious, but mak-
ing a receiver a "Spectacular Catch
Receiver" increases the likelihood
that he'll snag a jump ball in the
back of the endzone. Players can
acquire weapons through pre-
game training, which allows gam-
ers to level up players through
various mini-games.
Biggest disappointment:

While the franchise mode has a
number of player-management
options, just as it has in years
past, there's still one glaring omis-
sion: random player suspensions.
Unfortunately, this means your
franchise quarterback will never
be suspended indefinitely because
lie and his cronies decided to elec-
trocute Lassie and hang Balto.
(Sorry, too easy.)
Did they get rid of the damn
coneyet?:Yes. Fans willrecall that
"Madden05's" gimmick involved a
field of vision for QBs, otherwise
known as the passing cone. The
passing cone made it more diffi-
cult to throw the ball and is prob-
ably responsible for turning more
people away from the series than
anything else. Since the game has
been on 360, you have the option
to activate the cone. Doing so will
lead to more accurate passing, but
it also may cause you to throw a
controller through your television.
What if I like Calvin John-
son but don't want to give the
Fords a winning team?: No prob-
lem. A returning feature from last
year's game is the Superstar Mode,
which allows players to strictly
control one player in an attempt
to make the Hall of Fame. Gam-
ers can choose from created play-
ers, college players imported from
"NCAA 08," and now actual NFL
rookies to follow through their
careers. It's not nearly as fun as
the standard gameplay, but if you
want to ensure individual success
and distance yourself from your
joke of a team, you can.

Needs tinkering: The in-game
Hall of Fame is cool, but Trent
Green? After the first year of my
franchise ended, these players
were enshrined in Canton: Rod
Smith, Trent Green and three
others. Watching Charlie Sand-
ers's highlight reel was reason
enough to validate the virtual
Hall of Fame for me, but it could
use some work. Let's start with
not inducting players the year
after they retire - specifically
the guy who was pushed aside for
Damon Huard.
"____ Forest, ____:1" One of the
most inconsistent aspects of the
"Madden" franchise is the ability
to run the ball successfully. Last
year's game put an increased focus
on running, by allowing players to
control their blockers. This wasn't
exactly fun and was often more
cumbersome than useful. Players
are still able to control their block-
ers in "08," but it isn't necessary
to developing a viable running
game. The new player weapons
have made the Walter Jones's of
the world that much better, and
maneuvering around them with
the Highlight Stick to juke, truck
and slip out of tackles is a joy.
Guilty pleasure: Included in
the franchise mode this year is the
ability to relocate franchises and
build new stadiums. Moving the
Patriots to anywhere in Michigan:
good. Sending the Lions to Toron-
to: great.
Worth upgrading from "07":
Absolutely.

By CHRIS GAERIG
Daily Music Editor
When the cascading keyboards
of "It's Me, Bitches," the first sin-
gle from super producer Swizz
Beats' One Man Band Man, first hit
the radio - the
edited "It's Me,*
Snitches" is more
enjoyable than itsS
expletive-heavy $WIZZ BetS
foundation - they One Man
annoyed more Badan
than endeared. Band Man
Even die-hard Motown
fans of "The Price
is Right's" famed
game Plinko would run scream-
ing from the track's clicking, pop-
ping and, well, plinking. But as
the track engrains itself into every
radio station's playlist and MCs use
the beat for their respective mix-
tapes, Swizzy looks less like agame
show contestant and more like
the unstoppable producer that's
brought him immense amounts of
respect.
Taking a similar route as South-
ern, freak-lyricist Lil'Wayne, Swiz-
zy entered the game young, hitting
the scene when at 16. He released
his solo debut G.H.E.T.T.O. Stories
in 2002 to little critical recognition,
pushing him behind the boards
once again to continue his outland-
ish, spastic, yet intricate produc-
tion. With One Man Band Man, the
long-overlooked producer is able
to spit just enough good one-liners
over his otherworldly production
to garner him the praise he's long
deserved.
With a healthy dose of confi-
dence, Swizz Beats shows he's an
adequate MC but a more effective
producer. He flows on the opener
"Product man," "I got that product
man /You know I got that product
man / Beats, hooks, loops and sam-
ples." Knowing he won't drop any
mind-bogging rhymes, he boasts
his production skills more than

his lyrical prowess. And on the
aforementioned "It's Me, Bitches,"
Swizzy prudently decides to swipe
lines from the likes of Wu-Tang's
"C.R.E.A.M." rather than water
down his colossal beat with his
own tepid flows. He's not afraid
of a little name-dropping, either.
Insisting his own importance to
the rap game on "Bust Ya Gunz,"
he rambles off, "But Kayne know
my name / Timbo know my name
/ Pharrell know my name / Scottie
know my name," making himself
an idol among idols.
But Swizz Beats' confidence sur-
rounding One Man Band Man may
have hurt the album in the long run.
As he is only a functional MC, his
lackluster lines dumb down many
of the incredible beats that define
A sick producer
who can
actually flow.
the album. Though unproduc-
tively, Timbaland recruited every-
one under the sun to offer a guest
verse on his underwhelming 2007
release Shock Value. If Swizzy had
been more selective of his guests,
he could've accomplished exactly
what Timbo had aimed for on his
disc. As such, the guest spots from
Lil' Wayne, R. Kelly and Jadakiss
on the remix of "It's Me, Bitches"
make the club banger even more
phenomenal.
Unfortunately they don't stick
around. Swizzy's unremarkable
lines on "You Know Your Boy Did
That" diminish the track's hyp-
notic feedback and thumping kick
drum. Similarly, the grating chorus
See SWIZZ, Page 8

The long silk road
to int'l street cred

THE NEW SPIRIT OF COMEDY

By ANDREW SARGUS KLEIN
ManagingArts Editor
Well, no one said fixing the
quagmire that is U.S. foreign
policy would be easy. We're a long
way from, uh, anything, but that
doesn't mean our hardworking
government isn't exploring every
option in boosting our street cred
overseas.AsreportedintheChris-
tian Science Monitor, the State
Department, in conjunction with
the Lincoln Center Jazz Orches-
tra's "Rhythm Road: American
Music Abroad" program, is fund-
ing "jazz ambassadors" to repre-
sent the United States overseas.
What might be surprising to
the casual jazz appreciator is that
such endeavors have existed for
decades (Eisenhower sent jazz
musicians to combat those pesky
Communists), albeit inconsis-
tently. Equally surprising for
others might be the choice of
ambassadors.
The name Ari Roland isn't that
mainstream (a roomful of Music
School seniors in the Jazz Depart-
ment gave me blank looks when I
mentioned it), though he's been
in the New York City jazz scene
for years. But Wynton Marsalis,
the LCJO's musical director, is a
seriously mainstream musician
with a house full of awards some-
where. Regardless, it may be that
national recognition (and even
international recognition) on a
musical level is not as important
as the fact that the State Depart-
ment's Bureau of Educational and
Cultural Affairs is actively sup-

porting musicians and sending
them overseas. Score one for the
arts as a heal-all.
Obviouslythis isn't a silver bul-
let for anything, the U.S's image
or otherwise. But the Monitor's
piece pointed out the startling
(and I'd hazard largely unknown
in liberal-college circles) fact
that funding for public diplomacy
programs has more than doubled
since 2000 to about $465 mil-
A good idea
from the State
Department?
lion. Not bad, but then again, we
really need all the help we can
get. According to the Monitor,
the musicians from "Open Road"
have been touring the historic
Silk Road in Asia, consciously tar-
geting groups with little access to
American culture.
The intentions are fine. I can't
imagine arguments against the
legitimate spread of American
culture could hold much water
these days. And another positive
is that the State Department has
no qualms with the personal poli-
tics of any of the jazz musicians.
They can answer any and all ques-
tions freely and truthfully.
The effort is important. Let's
hope it stays afloat.

By JEFFREY BLOOMER
ManagingEditor
It's happened quietly.
Two summers ago a surprise
powerhouse called "The 40-Year-
Old Virgin" opened in American
theaters, and week by week, the-
ater by theater, it built into one of
the year's most successful movies,
let alone comedies. Though anoth-
er movie, "Wedding Crashers,"
released a few weeks before, far
overshot its pop-culture infiltra-
tion and box-office returns, the
film was well-liked by audiences
and critics, building to $110 mil-
lion on a mod-
est budget

and propelling a then-marginal
Steve Carell into one of the indus-
try's most important comedians. It
was a hit, and more important, its
success came with an uncommon
wave of goodwill. People liked to
like it.
This is perhaps because the co-
writer, co-producer and director of
the movie is Judd Apatow, a famil-
iar name in the industry who had
in the '90s and early '00s become
the foremost cautionary tale in
the television side of Hollywood.
His beloved series "Freaks and
Greeks" lasted just 18 episodes,
and his less aggressively followed
but still well-regarded follow-up
series "Undeclared" was canceled
after just 17 episodes in 2002. The
shows were funny, good-natured
and often beguiling in how much
they understood about student life
and how deeply they understood
it. Even in "Undeclared," a sitcom,
the usual grind of rush week and
other college-fiction tentpoles
became hilarious odes to the
faux-empowerment of stu-
dent groups on campuses.
His material is funny, but
that's the device, not the
point.
In "The 40-Year-Old
Virgin," a movie whose
title needs no expla-
nation, the hero isn't
belittled or even
difficult to under-
stand. The big fight
he gets into with his
first serious girlfriend
is partially over her
treatment of his toys,
and it's not played
for laughs. Though
we don't under-

stand his situation, we understand ter re-up before the really serious
his perspective. This guy makes fall movies start forcing you to
sense - we're never laughing at pretend to care about something
him, or at least we're never intend- other than sex."
ed to - and that's the chief appeal "Superbad," in contrast to the
of Apatow's work. bickering over "Knocked Up," has
This summer's pair of "Knocked benefited enormously from Inter-
Up," which Apatow co-produced, net buzz and become another
wrote and directed, and "Super- movie everyone loves to love. (On
bad," which he produced, proved IMDb.com, the film database, it's
not only two of the most successful already been voted the 120th best
but two of the most discussed mov- movie of all time.) The film, which
ies of the summer. "Knocked Up" follows two childhood friends
opened in June and has already about to head to college, is exu-
outgrossed "Virgin" by nearly $40 berantly filthy and almost gid-
dily unpolished, full of improvised
scenes and the unmistakable per-
sonal drive of its performers. The
Can Judd film finds balance between filth
and sweetness, and it ultimately
Apatow rewrite morphs into one of the most hon-
est movies about male friendship
American in years. It's paricipa"ry multi-
plex comedy with an uncontrived
message, a rare species in recent
comedy? man
C~me~y.mainstream cumedy.
._Contrast that with, say, "I Now
Pronounce You Chuck and Larry,"
released in July, a movie that
million, and the more modestly believes it has an affirmative mes-
marketed "Superbad" has amassed sage amid a string of jokes lifted
$94 million to date with strong inevitably from stereotypes. The
holdover every weekend since it Adam Sandler school of comedy,
opened last month. like the frat pack (both of which
Audiences responded, predict- Apatow has dabbled in at some
ably for "Knocked Up" and perhaps point), excels at this broad and
less so for "Superbad," and so did repetitive comedy, which is some-
the film community. The sexual times funny but almost never
politics and dance around abortion revealing. These movies are suc-
in "Knocked Up" spawned potent cessful, but studios spend huge
commentary from every ideology amounts of money on name stars
and viewpoint. As critic A.O. Scott ("Chuck and Larry" cost nearly
wrote of the movie in the New three times as much as "Knocked
York Times, "If you haven't seen it, Up" to produce and grossed con-
you've been AWOL from the most siderably less) when they could
entertaining battle in the culture
wars, and if you have, you'd bet- See APATOW, Page 8

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