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Game news

To no one's surprise, EA is set to release the next installment in the Need for Speed franchise later this year in the form of Need for Speed: Undercover. In an interview with gamesindustry.biz, Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello said that the title is in development from one of EA Vancouver's two NFS teams. He also hinted that its inspiration comes from movies like The Transporter, though we'll have to wait and see what he means by that.

The single previous Need for Speed team was split into two last year to allow each of the two teams more time to create yearly updates for the franchise. Rather than giving one team only 12 months to create the next installment, each team would now have a full two years, with the teams trading release years, obviously. Being that the team was only split last year, the

Undercover team will only have a little over 16 months to create the title, but the extra breathing room must Certainly welcome in any case.

No consoles were specified for Undercover, but given the franchise's history, we'd expect to see it hit every major system.

The electro-rock outfit Metro Station is comprised of Trace Cyrus (vocals, guitar), Blake Healy (keyboards, synthesizer), Mason Musso (vocals, guitar), and Anthony Improgo (percussion). As is often the case in the band's native Hollywood, Metro Station owes its formation to a handful of well-placed connections. Co-frontman Cyrus is the stepson of country star Billy Ray Cyrus, and his half sister, Miley Cyrus, plays the title character on Disney's Hannah Montana. Similarly, Musso's younger brother plays the role of Oliver Oken in Hannah Montana, and the two older-sibling musicians met at the urging of their respective mothers. After adding keyboardist Healy to the lineup, the trio recorded a single -- the teenage anthem "Seventeen Forever" -- and were surprised by its sudden chart success at MySpace.com. The group's Internet presence attracted the attention of percussionist Improgo, who took note of the band's mix of '80s-styled electro and pop. Improgo soon joined Metro Station as the band's drummer, and the group set off to play shows in the L.A. area. However, it was MySpace that would (again) prove to be their biggest asset, as an intern at Red Ink discovered the band while perusing the website's music listings. A record deal with Red Ink followed in late 2006 -- the very same year as Metro Station's formation -- and the quartet headed to New York City to record its first full-length album. Featuring production from Motion City Soundtrack's Josh Cain and Justin Pierre on the leadoff single "Kelsey," Metro Station's self-titled debut was released in September 2007. ~ Andrew Leahey, All Music Guide

Metro Station makes their debut album thanks to their popularity on the net. MySpace had a lot to do with it, but they were also called one of the “22 Best Underground Bands” by Alternative Press magazine.

The band consists of Trace Cyrus (vocals, guitar), Mason Musso (vocals, guitar), Blake Healy (keyboards), and Anthony Improgo (drums). If you think “Cyrus” and think of Miley and Billy Ray then you're on the right track since he's Billy Ray's son and Miley's brother.

So there's potentially some Hannah Montana crossover there. The band is has an “electronic” feel, but they're still probably going to get some airplay since they have some extremely radio friendly tunes. The album has many energetic tracks beginning with “Seventeen Forever.”

My favorite tracks are probably “Shake It” and “Disco.” I don't think that Metro Station can be dismissed as a tween “Hannah Montana” wannabe since their songs have a somewhat infectious hook and are pretty upbeat.

They don't feel as popcorn as Montana, although fans of her might enjoy them as well. Give them a listen and you might want to get on the bandwagon that so many MySpace users (and Alternative Press) have gotten on.

By Shehtaz Huq

The world loves a good reality show. The real-life scenarios, the contestants with their convoluted love lives and their heart-wrenching stories, the flight of hopes and dreams as they take wing and take off in the general direction of Hollywood, Los Angeles…yes, it all makes good TV. But what makes better TV is not the tear-jerking dreams-come-true stories of the contestants who sign themselves up for months of torture, it's the people doling out the torture. Meet the judges.

Simon Cowell
He sits with his hands clasped behind his head, flashing his too-white teeth and catching you unawares with his comments. Meet Simon Cowell. Judge of widely popular talent hunt show American Idol, Cowell carries the show's season-topping ratings on his very capable shoulders. He does this by being mean. He's mean because he's awesome that way. He's awesome that way because viewers find his meanness funny (and help Fox Network rake in the moolah). People tune in Monday nights to watch him pick apart some unfortunate contestant or the other, saying things like “Why are you having a normal conversation with him? This is a dairy farmer dressed as a woman” and “The end of the animal trade would leave more time to trap or beat to death pop star wannabes.” Hopefuls who have their hopes dashed by this British media mogul derive great pleasure from cussing him out on live TV. No matter; Simon couldn't be bothered. He's fabulous. And he knows it.

Len Goodman
Len Goodman is dapper and charming. He's quick on his feet and pushing 60. He's also the head judge on Dancing With the Stars. He is easily the hardest judge to please, which piques contestants no ends. Len, like fellow reality show judge Simon Cowell, churns out the harshness (though Len's is tempered by his Australian accent). He once said to a contestant, "I think your hot air has a lot to do with global warming." A stickler for traditional ballroom dancing, Len is said to get majorly constipated when contestants don't play by the rules. Case in point: Len's remarks to Jill Halfpenny ("It was like a bowl of minestrone soup - lots of funny things floating around that I didn't recognise"). A man about town, Len also alludes to British cuisine ("The quickstep is like a souffle - light and fluffy. This was like a spotted dick") and pop culture ("The standing spin looked like you were kick-starting motorbike) every once in a while. He pulls it off, too with élan.

Gordon Ramsay
Gordon Ramsay is your no-frills kind of guy. He has eight very successful restaurants all over the world, two successful shows under his belt, and a temper to boot. Contestants on his show 'Hell's Kitchen' have had things chucked in their general direction. Restaurateurs featured on Ramsay's 'Kitchen Nightmares' have often broken down in tears when faced with the brunt of his potty mouth. Even Ramsay admits that he's loose when it comes to verbal etiquette. “I have a very assertive way,” he says. “It's wake up, move your @$$, or pi$$ off home.” He doesn't pansy around with celebrities (while talking about Joan Rivers in an interview Ramsay said, “She thought that the price of the meal would be on the house. I told her that the only thing on the house was the roof), or suck up to the calling of Tinseltown (“The problem with Yanks is they are wimps"). So if he hurts your feelings, go put a Band-Aid on them.

Tim Gunn
He sits in the shadows, the spotlights glinting off his glasses. He's tall and lanky and glides like the Grim Reaper. He's Tim Gunn, host of 'Project Runway' and his very own show 'Tim Gunn's Guide to Style'. He knows what he's talking about and won't take any bull excreta from anyone else. He can look you in the eye and grind your hopes of becoming the next Versace with a clipped “A couture post-office uniform is not going to work." Or he could go farther and say your design looks like “a pterodactyl out of a gay Jurassic Park." He's harsh, he kicks butt, and he knows it. Deal with it.

All this rampant meanness might make the more compassionate amongst us wonder why. Why crush the poor souls? Why reduce them to tears? Harsh as it may sound, television has evolved to a point where pain has become the new black. Violence, overt sexual behavior, catty behavior anything that puts down someone else, goes. For reality shows, most of which have less substance than a Nicholas Sparks novel, can't help rely on nastiness to rake in those elusive ratings. So if you plan on auditioning for American Idol next year, brace yourself. Things won't really get better.

All that washing and polishing for nothing

What you see in the pictures is a not a weapon of mass destruction. But it sure is capable of chasing one such weapon. Called the TIV-2 (Tornado Intercept Vehicle) is the star of Discovery Channel's "Storm Chasers" which debuted it's latest season in mid-October.

What makes it awesome
Remember the hit movie Twister about a gang of scientist chasing tornadoes? They used regular pickup trucks that blew away spectacularly. Well, this is to combat that whole being blown away scenario.

The original TIV was based around a two wheel drive Ford F-450 with a completely redesigned body optimized for protection and low to the ground with deployable ground anchors to keep winds from upending the vehicle. While the approach worked in concept, out on the trail of tornadoes it didn't turn out so well, getting hung up on road debris and downed trees. The original was more or less limited to on-road use. a type of geographic limiter tornadoes don't maintain. In addition to the low ground clearance, the incredibly high weight kept the truck's top speed to a mere 61 MPH.

The heart of the beast
That's where the TIV2 comes in. The first thing you notice from the new chase vehicle is it has sides fitted with hydraulic skirts that can be dropped down to direct high-speed wind safely around the truck. But at 17,500 lb. weight, the vehicle kept snapping snapping rear shafts. Power comes from a 6.7 liter Cummins turbodiesel outfitted with propane and water injection two methods for building muscle on demand, all the way up to 625 HP. That power goes to good use too, the truck has three driven axles with two sets of dual tires on the back, all of which can be locked in for total forward power.

The TIV2's turret houses super high resolution IMAX video for a mega-screen movie about tornadoes.

The next step
What's funny about this thing is with its 92 gallon fuel tank, the truck has a range of about 750 miles with this monster returning the same fuel mileage as a Hummer H2 at 12 MPG. How that works out is a mystery.

On the inside there's plenty of levers and buttons to confuse the most intense adget hound. Hydraulics lower this beast and make it hug the ground and provide the necessary ground-hugging downforce when an F-3 comes roaring overhead. They also have their very own mapping and topography system.

As if this wasn't extreme enough, there's plans for a TIV-3 to be a Baja pre-runner with the ability to really drop the truck to the lowest degree possible a mere 4 feet tall when lowered for tornado-bunkering.

You can see Sean Casey and the rest of his team, along with the TIV2 do their thing on the Discovery Channel at 10 PM eastern. We're wondering if we ask nicely, when the the TIV2 has lived out its years, if Casey and Co. will donate it to Jalopnik's Post-Apocalyptic Vehicle garage.

The show
Discovery Channel returns to the nation's heartland - Tornado Alley - for a firsthand look at one of nature's most destructive forces in an all new season of STORM CHASERS, premiering Sunday, October 19, 2008. Veteran research meteorologist Dr. Joshua Wurman, IMAX filmmaker Sean Casey and chaser prodigy Reed Timmer all race to capture rare footage and valuable scientific data.

Last season, Casey's tank-like Tornado Intercept Vehicle (TIV), raised eyebrows roaring down the nation's highways and byways looking for the shot of all time filming from inside a tornado. Now, his new and improved creation, the TIV-2, raises the stakes, providing not only astonishing footage and but also new information on how tornados are formed, grow and travel research that can be used to increase early warning systems and save lives.

“Mixing science, fear and a good old fashioned American road trip STORM CHASERS packs a torrent of excitement, knowledge and entertainment for the ultimate in television immersion,” said John Ford, president and general manager, Discovery Channel.

Casey and Wurman make an unlikely team. Casey risks his life to get the most elusive tornado footage ever shot. As the leader of the team, Wurman guides the TIV from inside his own vehicle command post, The Doppler on Wheels (DOW). He makes split-second life-or-death decisions based on information from Doppler radar; as the safety of the entire team rests on his shoulders.

Hot on their trail, and often one step ahead, is storm chasing Timmer, a PhD candidate in Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma and, ironically, a former student of Wurman. Timmer and his rag tag team of buddies Joel (driver) and Chris (hailstone collector), track storms in their unique way. Freed from complicated on-board computer systems and intricate vehicle design, the threesome set a course for surprise and adventure.

What is Tornado Alley?
Tornado Alley is a nickname in the popular media for a broad swath of relatively high
tornado occurrence in the central U.S. Violent or killer tornadoes do happen outside this Tornado Alley every year. Tornadoes can occur almost anywhere in the U.S., including west of the Rockies and east of the Appalachians and even in Canada and overseas.

[Sources: Discovery Channel, DiscoveryBlogs, TheDieselGarage, Storm Chasers Website]


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