Arts, Entertainment, Living

Microsoft Ups Xbox Live Fee: UPDATE

Tuesday, 31 August 2010 08:35 AM Written by

There’s been a slight change of plans.  Unfortunately, there will be no review of Mafia II or NHL 2K11 due to “mail issues.”  From what I've read, Mafia II was solid if you were a big fan of the first Mafia.  As far as Grand Theft Auto clones go it’s decent but lacking in replay value. 
As for NHL 2K11, it’s a serviceable sports title for the Wii, but true hockey fans will want to wait for NHL 11 next month. 
The big news today was from Microsoft.  The Xbox Live service will receive its first price hike, which will be effective November 1.  With the new plan, the online service will cost $9.99 a month, $24.99 for three months, and $59.99 a year.  This marks a $10 increase to the current annual fee. 
Microsoft hasn’t announced any additional features for the service other than an increase in voice chat sound quality, which will rollout with a system update closer to the release date of Kinect. 
Microsoft may have timed this increase with the release of Halo: Reach, the biggest first-party release of the year, which (coincidentally?) has an emphasis on online multiplayer. 
If you’re an Xbox Live user, be sure to pick up your one-year subscription before November to save a couple bucks.
Coming later this week, (seriously this time) the review of the throwback title Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game

UPDATE:  Also picking up my copy of Metroid: Other M for a review.  Time to dust off the Wii!

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'Scientastic!' Local science show for kids

Tuesday, 31 August 2010 12:00 AM Written by

scientastic_1It's easy for viewers at home (or on a TV critic's couch) to criticize television programs but the reality is they are difficult to make, especially in an era when viewers expect high production values. A million little decisions have to be made along the way along with sacrifices in the name of time and cost. Getting a TV show right is hard enough for the professionals in Hollywood but it's a near-insurmountable task for amateurs without the production background.

So it's always re-assuring when competent, quality television projects emerge from non-Hollywood sources. Matthew Craig's wonderful "Magic Woods" series was a pleasant surprise and so is the pilot of another proposed children's show, "Scientastic!" created by Duquesne University professor John Pollock.

"Scientastic!" airs on WQED at 8 and 8:30 p.m. Thursday and reruns at 4:30 p.m. Friday, 12:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday and 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Read more after the jump. ...

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More videos from the Wheeling blues fest

Monday, 30 August 2010 09:00 PM Written by

Tim Roolf sends along a link to his many videos from the Wheeling blues festival ... enjoy. I know he did.

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Download 'Hawaii Five-0' theme as ringtone

Monday, 30 August 2010 12:00 AM Written by

If you like the old "Hawaii Five-0" theme song, soon to be new again on CBS's fall remake of the series, the network is making it available as a free downloadable ringtone. (Last night's Emmy Live blog here.)

Find out how to get it after the jump. ...

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JJ Grey's new CD - "Georgia Warhorse"

Sunday, 29 August 2010 09:00 PM Written by

Here's a new release from last week that I didn't quite get to. And as a kind of spoiler alert, it's not really a blues album -- more like Southern roots music with some heavy soul thrown in, plus some fine songwriting. Make that very fine. Grey uses words like an artist uses clay to sculpt a piece of work that speaks to his feelings, and he hopes, yours.

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2010 Emmys live blog

Sunday, 29 August 2010 07:25 PM Written by

The 62nd Annual Emmy Awards, honoring TV's best, kicks off at 8 p.m. ET and I'm going to attempt to live blog and write a review for tomorrow's print edition. Have not tried that before so it may crash and burn, but we'll give it a shot after the jump. ...

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The return of “Phantom of the Opera” (cue those swirling drapes and organ chords!) for its fourth Pittsburgh visit (1993, 1999, 2006) has me thinking back on how large it loomed in my career as PG theater critic – reminiscence prompted in part by saying something about it this week on my regular Thursday slot on KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh Today Live.

I even went back and re-read some of my reviews, which is not something I usually have the inclination or time to do. But they aren’t bad. And since they express my thoughts about the blockbuster pretty well, I won’t go into any of that description or analysis again. (If you’re interested and your PG search box is working, you can find them. When mine comes to life, I’ll add the links here.)

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TV Q&A with Rob Owen
Submit questions for a future column.

This week’s TV Q&A (after the "Read more" jump below) responds to questions about “The Amazing Race,” “Damages” and the young woman in the TV mattress commercials. As always, thanks for reading, and keep the questions coming.
Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV writer

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