Announcing the Digital Lust Google Music Giveaway Spectacular!

Greetings, internets!

I have returned from an unannounced, week-long vacation with some great news for my readers! I’ve gotten into Google Music, and I have 3 invites that I am very excited to give away!

That’s why I am announcing tonight my Google Music Giveaway Spectacular! All this week, we’re giving readers the chance to let their voices be heard, and get something in return! To enter, all you have to do is post a comment, on any Digital Lust post except for this one. Comments need to be well-thought out responses to the post, not a simple “I want the Google Music invite.”. Posts should also be at least 50 words or longer.

On Friday, August 12, 2011, I will announce the winners of the contest. Winners will be selected based on the quality of the content written in their post.

But wait! Theres more! I also have hundreds of Google+ invites to give away too. So, to make things even more enticing, all entrants to this giveaway will receive a Google+ invite, just for making a post (as long as it follows all rules listed both above and below). Everyone gets one. Winning!!!

Now that we have the basics down, let’s take a look at the official rules.

Official Rules
1. Comments posted must be 50 words or more, with relevant responses to the post you have selected to write about. Simply stating “I want a Google Music invite” in your post will disqualify you from the Google Music invite, as well as the Google+ invite.

2. Due to the friendly nature of Digital Lust, anything deemed inflammatory or inappropriate will not be tolerated, and will immediately disqualify you from both parts of this giveaway.

3. All posters must ensure that their Gmail address is listed in either their profile, or somewhere in their post. Failure to provide a Gmail account will disqualify you from the giveaway. Gmail accounts are available for free at <a href="http://www.gmail.com. It takes only a minute to register, and is the only email address permitted for use in this giveaway.

4. Promotion of any other website or product is strictly prohibited in all Digital Lust comments, and will disqualify entrants. Exceptions to this include links to other WordPress blogs that are listed ONLY in their profile (do not include these links in your post).

5. Contest opens August 7th, 2011 at 9:30pm EST and closes on August 12th, 2011 at 5:00pm EST. Winners will be selected after the closing time and will be announced shortly thereafter. For Google+ invites, winners will receive shortly after their post is approved.

I’m looking forward to reading your comments and responses. Be sure to check out Digital Lust all this week for some awesome features that I have planned, and especially check back on Friday evening for the announcement of the winners!

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Battle of the Apps: Tap Tap Revenge 4 vs. Guitar Hero 5

Welcome to the first edition of Battle of the Apps! This is an epic showdown of the latest and greatest apps. In this edition, we’re taking a look at the music game genre and it’s impact on Android with Guitar Hero 5 vs. Tap Tap Revenge 4. Which one is more in tune with the Android community? Read on to find out.

Guitar Hero 5
Guitar Hero has had a massive impact on the gaming world since the first title became so popular back in 2007. The game redefined the music genre, giving users a more interactive way to play the game. Equipped with a plastic guitar as your controller, your coordination and ability to play the plastic guitar shaped how well you did in the game–it worked for some, but others (like myself) had a hard time adapting. The game spawned many sequels, mobile games, and a large amount of competition. It was recently announced that there would be no more titles in the series, leading many to believe that the musical genre was bound to be short lived.

The mobile games, while great to kill time on, have never really been up to the superior quality that you would typically find in the console versions. Guitar Hero 5 Mobile, however, offers you the opportunity to play on the drums or base guitar, giving you a couple new options to play on. The sad news is, instead of playing full versions of the song you want to play, you’re stuck playing a crap-quality clip version of the song. This really brings down the quality of the game quite a bit. You’re done playing a track about half way through it, and it gives very little motivation to try on a harder difficulty. What makes it even worse is that some of the tracks are 8-bit recordings. Honestly, the tracks do not make this app good. At all.

Gameplay wise, even on expert mode, you move very slowly through each your clips…I mean songs. What would typically be a fast paced song was turned into a slow moving minute and a half of thinking “when will this be over?!” It really brings down the value of the game even more. The notes aren’t all that hard to hit, either, which takes away a lot of the challenge that would typically be associated with the Guitar Hero franchise.

Let’s talk about the appearance. The menus are pretty nicely done, graphically, but that’s about all it has going for it. Navigating through the menus gets confusing at times, and you may accidentally click on something you didn’t mean to. Oh, and the in-game graphics? They suck. Pretty bad. Everything appears very cheaply made and honestly, I’m pretty sure it was. If you’re a fan of the 8-bit fun, the graphics and audio on top of it may feel like an old game. In that regard, it’s kinda cool. But for an app that typically costs $7.99, it just doesn’t cut it.

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If it wasn’t for the fact that the app was free today on the Amazon AppStore, I probably would have never played this. For those diehard Guitar Hero fans that have to play the mobile game, it might be okay for you. But as someone who expects a quality app out of a major video game publisher…PASS.

Tap Tap Revenge 4
Tap Tap Revenge has a special place in my heart. The original titles were released at a time when the iPhone OS (now known as iOS) was the only operating system in the touchscreen phone market. Since the first release in 2007, the developers, Tapulous, has gone on to several more titles with much more success. They’ve gotten artists to provide their content for new songs, which has given their apps more value. Tap Tap 4 is the first game in the series to get ported to the newer Android OS. It has it’s flaws (some of which are kinda serious), but all in all, it’s a fun game.

When you first load Tap Tap, you’ll have the opportunity to create your account. No passwords needed, just an email address. If you need to add a new device to your account, or if you need to take a device off your account, all you need to do is have Tapulous send you an email and you just have to confirm. Seems safe, and a great way to switch devices and keep all of your purchased music.

The menus for Tap Tap are great to use, and are some of the best of any Android app that I’ve ever used. However, this leads me to one of those serious flaws I mentioned before. For some reason, when you tap on some of the menu options, it doesn’t register it, and it can take quite a few tries to be able to click what you’re looking for. It’s a little frustrating, but hopefully something Tapulous will address.

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Now onto the in-game graphics. They’re beautiful! Each song you play will either have the standard Tap Tap Revenge theme, or a custom theme, depending on the song. They look great, most of the time, and really capture your attention. There is one major flaw, though, and it’s something that really hurts the value of the game. On some devices, instead of showing the game in a full screen view, you’re left with a half screen view, which may make it more difficult to play. On my Evo 3D, for example, it generates these nasty black bars on the top and bottom of the screen, leaving the action in about half of the screen, in pixelated form. It’s extremely annoying, and hopefully something they will address soon.

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There is a wide selection of songs available for you to download in Tap Tap 4, which give the game an insane amount of replay value. Songs come from popular artists, even, and most of the time, they are full version, high quality tracks. The game utilizes the recently-introduced in-app purchasing system on Android, which allows you to quickly add new content to your game. There are also several free tracks to download, as well. Some of these will be clips, but others will be full version tracks as well. The game has a great variety, and you’ll be playing for hours.

Gameplay wise, we see a little bit of lag once in a while, but for the most part, it isn’t hard to hit your notes (even in half-screen mode). You have all the multipliers and bonuses that you get in pretty much every music game, which helps it out quite a bit. You’re able to get great scores, too–in a round of LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem (great song), on medium mode, I was able to get a score of almost 775,000. That gives gamers a sense of accomplishment, and really helps people want to play more.

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Overall, the game has it’s flaws, but is generally a fun game to play. As soon as Tapulous can fix some of the issues the game has, it’ll be nearly perfect. The game is available free (ad-supported) on the Android Market.

The Showdown
While Tap Tap Revenge takes a page from the Guitar Hero legacy, there is absolutely no question in my mind that it is a much better app than Guitar Hero. With Guitar Hero, you’re paying $7.99 for a very low-quality game that just isn’t worth it. I feel bad for anyone who even thinks about purchasing the game, as it just doesn’t live up to the Guitar Hero standards. Let’s run down the basics of both:

Graphics: Tap Tap Revenge 4
Despite having some flaws, the graphics for Tap Tap look much better than Guitar Hero. The game board is typically much cleaner looking and flashy, giving it a unique appeal, compared to Guitar Hero’s standard, stationary game board that doesn’t really have more than slow moving notes going across it.

Sound: Tap Tap Revenge 4
High quality, full tracks to jam out to, or 8-bit demos or low-quality audio ports? I think I would rather take the former. The $7.99 price point does not justify the crappy audio that you will get on Guitar Hero.

Gameplay: Tap Tap Revenge 4
Tap Tap just feels more refined and more fun to play. There’s much more happening on screen with more multipliers, accelerometer use, and the length of each track. Guitar Hero had potential to win, based on the franchise name, but ultimately failed in how slow each of your clips…I mean songs, is presented.

Price: Tap Tap Revenge 4
At a price point of free, with several tracks to choose from, and the ability to purchase whatever tracks you want to have in your game, Tap Tap is the clear winner here. It is ad-supported, but in a typically un-intrusive way. Guitar Hero is $7.99 and ultimately fails to deliver on practically every element.

Overall: Tap Tap Revenge 4
Its a clear choice here–Guitar Hero just flat out sucks. Tap Tap has it’s flaws, but honestly ends up being a much better game than a title in a long-lasting franchise. Tap Tap was designed to keep people entertained, and not bore them to death. My advice, skip Guitar Hero. Your wallet will thank you.

App Attack: WordPress (iPad)

In this edition of App Attack, I’m bringing the action home, giving you a behind the scenes look at how Digital Lust works, all thanks to the power of the WordPress app. For those looking to start blogging exclusively from the iPad, as I have done, will this app work for you, or should you find something else? Read on to find out.

The WordPress app is simple, clean, and extremely easy to use. You can add as many blogs as you’d like from your account, so if you’re a person who runs multiple blogs, then this will really be an advantage to you. Each of the blogs that you attach to the app will show up on the left sidebar when you first open the app. Click on the blog you want to work on, and you’ll be taken to a whole new screen with options to view your posts, your comments, your pages, and your stats.

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Welcome to Backstage Digital Lust! The main screen for the app shows your posts, your comments, your pages, or your stats, depending on what tab you click on from the bottom.

Let’s jump right into some of the portion that’s really going to make or break the app–creating a post. I will start out by saying that if you do not know the simplest of HTML codes, you are not going to enjoy creating posts on this app. When it comes to using bold, italicized, or underlined text, you’re going to want to learn those codes if you do not know them. It’s a plain text editor that you can use HTML on, though a WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) editor would have been more sufficient. The bottom of the post screen has an options menu, which allows you to change your post to a draft or a pending. You can also preview your post too, with all your formatting, to make sure you’ve gotten it right. You can also add images to your post, as well.

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The posting feature on the WordPress app would be better as a WYSIWYG editor, but if you know basic HTML, you should be okay to operate it.

The greatest thing about the WordPress app is that you’ll never have to do anything on the WordPress website, unless you’re out to redesign your page (Digital Lust 2.0 will happen…..eventually). Checking your stats and seeing what is popular, what is trending, and what your overall stats is incredibly easy. You can add, modify, and delete posts and pages, and filter your comments on what is appropriate and what is not appropriate for your viewers. The entire app is easy to use, and the functionality is perfect for the on-the-go blogger, or one who is in tune with the post-PC world (like myself). Again, the only gripe that I have with the app is the lack of a WYSIWYG editor, but honestly, it’s not all that bad. WordPress is available for free in the App Store.

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Review: Back to the Future (PS3)

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Back in 1985, Universal Studios released what would turn out to be one of the most classic films of our time–Back to the Future. It spawned into a trilogy, where the audience was truly able to connect to the characters in the movie and become somewhat attached to them. The trilogy is known as one of the greatest of all time, right up with The Godfather, Star Wars, and the original Indiana Jones trilogy. From trips to the past, to the future, to the far past in the old west, the trilogy took moviegoers where they had not yet gone before. It then spawned an animated series, a theme park attraction (which currently only exists in Japan, but was prior open at Universal Studios parks in Orlando and Hollywood, and closed to create The Simpsons Ride), a card game, fan sites, and much more. The series just celebrated it’s 25th anniversary last November, which sparked new interest in the series for a new generation.

At the Electronic Entertainment Expo in 2010, Telltale Games, creators of the hit episodic game series Sam and Max, announced a partnership with Universal to create new episodic games based on Back to the Future and Jurassic Park, with the former being the first to release. The game released it’s first episode in December 2010 on PC, with a console release in February. Every month, new episodes released, leading to the season finale late last month. Instead of trying to retell the tale from the trilogy, the game puts you in a new adventure that takes place several months after Marty returned to Hill Valley in 1985. Marty has not seen Doc since his return, and neither has Doc’s bank, leading them to auction off all of his belongings.

And then the DeLorean returns. Doc Brown is in trouble, and you end up on an epic time traveling adventure in order to save him and make things right with the timeline. In this episodic journey, you’ll travel to the Great Depression-era Hill Valley, to new versions of 1986, and straight back to the old west. You’ll meet new characters. You’ll catch up with characters from the movies. In reality, this game could be considered Back to the Future 4, which fans of the series have long been awaiting.

Story wise, this game lives up to the Back to the Future name and provides a good one. The game really focuses on Doc this time around, where previous versions had Marty in the spotlight. You learn a lot about Doc Brown’s past as he was growing up in his high school days. In the majority of the five episodes, you are tailing “young Emmett,” who has a fear of his family and begins to develop his passion for science. In the game, your goal is to alter Doc’s timeline, which you inadvertently altered in your first trip to the 1930s in episode 1. There are conflicts. There are challenges. But in the end, everything ends up okay…or so you think. There are also, however, several boring moments that just seem like fluff. With knowing what you’re supposed to do, however, you can easily avoid any of that.

Graphically, the game looks pretty good. It’s got a very cartoony feeling to it, which feels similar to that of what you would find in a Sam and Max game. Environments contain those small little details from the films that make them stand out. It feels like a Back to the Future game. And that’s a good thing.

The sound in the game is extremely familiar, though a bit overused. It’s practically all of the sound effects and music from the films, extracted straight from the soundtrack. The voiceovers, however, are where the game shines–Christopher Lloyd reprises his role as Doc Brown. Michael J. Fox could not do the entire game, yet the guy they got to fill the role of Marty sounds just like him. A welcomed cameo from Mr. Fox appears in the final episode of the series, and is much welcomed. It’s definitely good to have Fox and Lloyd working together again, even if it was only for a brief appearance.

The game is extremely easy, which is good and bad at the same time. It’s a point and click adventure, something that Telltale Games specializes in. Can’t complain there, the game is supposed to be more about the story. The game’s puzzles are extremely easy, to the point where it takes extremely little thought to complete them. This is good and bad at the same time. Good, because again, the game is supposed to be about the story. Bad, because each episode is extremely short, and the easy puzzles only make it shorter. If there is going to be a Season 2 (and the finale sequence really makes me think there will be), then I would really like to see a slightly more challenging game. There is also trophy support in each of the five episodes, which may cause you to replay it if you can’t get 100% the first time around.

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Controlling the game is not hard either–though, there were some issues throughout the five episodes of the controls not adjusting properly when you would switch to a different area. It’s not too hard to figure out how to fix it when that happens, but it’s slightly annoying anyway. That’s my only gripe about it, everything else seems to be in check.

Overall, the game is good, but could be better. The storytelling aspect of it is absolutely perfect, and the finale answered almost all of the questions I had about the story, while leaving it completely open for a second season. The graphics are good, and so are the voice overs but the overuse of some of the same audio tracks and the lack of challenge brings it down a bit. If you’re really looking to get back into the Back to the Future franchise, play this game. You’ll really feel like you’re in the middle of Back to the Future 4. I give BTTF 4 out of 5 stars, and a Digital Lust Silver Award.

YouTube Today: Epic Meal Time

Listen up, haters! On this edition of YouTube Today, we’re gonna get you all excited about one of the hottest YouTube sensations today, Epic Meal Time. It’s a YouTube cooking show with a Jackass twist–these guys always cook up the most ridiculous, calorie-powered meals you could ever think of, usually in extremely large portions.

Epic Meal Time began it’s course last October. A group of friends set out to create the most calorie-inducing, fattening dishes that they could think up. This isn’t cheap cooking that anyone could just do, like some other YouTube cooking shows. The ingredients behind all of this are legit, and well prepared. The show adds plenty of humor, alcohol, and of course, attractive women, to keep it fresh and keep viewers coming back.

Recently, Epic Meal Time became partners with online podcasting hub Revision3, and their newest episodes (which release every Tuesday) are available on YouTube, on EpicMealTime.com, and now, on iTunes as a podcast subscription. It’s rumored that the guys are even going to make it to cable television in the near future, with Comedy Central and Spike TV as the rumored networks of choice.

Warning: Many (all) of the recipes in the videos you’ll see below should really not be attempted by anyone who wishes to live a long life.

Candy BBQ

We’ll start this with something that actually sounds like it could be a lot of fun to make. The guys create a steak made out of cookie dough, candy burgers, and many of your other favorite barbecue meals out of nothing but candy. This is the only episode of the show that does not feature a single bacon strip or piece of real meat. Don’t get used to that though.

Grilled Cheese Tower

In this episode, the guys create a massive tower of deep fried grilled cheese goodness, with the help of musical artist Deadmau5. This thing is covered in bacon strips, cheese sauuuuce, and uses a variety of different cheeses. Grilled cheese has never been this epic.

Maximum Mac & Cheese

Here, the guys take to making extreme mac and cheese dishes made of practically everything that they’ve ever made before. There’s Four Loco Chili Mac and cheese, Mini Meat Log Mac and Cheese, Tequila Taco Mac and Cheese, Meat Lovers Mac and Cheese….and a giant, deep fried Mac and Cheese cake with a giant burger inside of it. It’s mac and cheese that only Epic Meal Time could create, and some of them probably should never be attempted by anyone.

Fast Food Lasagna

Here, the guys go to various fast food establishments (who are starting to recognize who they are by their extremely large fast food orders), and order 15 of their greatest burgers from each place. They even order a giant cup of that Big Mac sauuuuuce. They then create a massive lasagna out of all of it, with layers of Big Macs, Baconators, bacon, cheese, Teen Burgers from A&W, Big Mac sauuuuce, onion rings, more bacon, cheese….it’s a combination that is sure to clog your arteries for a long time to come.

Tequila Taco Night

In the final video we’re going to look at here, the guys take taco night to a whole new level–with plenty of guac…tequila guac, patron saaaaalsa, giant burritos, tacos with bacon shells…only something that Epic Meal Time could create.

There are so many other clips, and I wish I could sit here and post them all. Go to their website, check out their videos, and you’ll become an instant fan. This has become something that I look forward to seeing every Tuesday…and I can say the same for millions of other fans who have become addicted. Check it out. Now.

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There’s Going To Be a Casualty in the Smartphone War…

The Smartphone War has been brewing on for a couple of years now, with Apple, Google, Microsoft, and RIM duking it out to be the top competitor. As our mobile world continues to grow, and more people get away from their PC’s and spend more time on smartphones and tablets, it’s important to provide the most functionality possible to ensure your customer base stays loyal. That being said, there’s about to be a casualty in the smartphone war, and a significant one at that.

Research in Motion (RIM), until just a few short years ago, was the undisputed winner of the smartphone war when it was just between them and Microsoft. Blackberry phones featured an intuitive, easy to use email service that was met unrivaled. It had an amazing, exclusive messaging system that worked similar to instant messaging, with other Blackberry users. Blackberry phones were the thing to have at one point. And then came Apple’s Blackberry killer, the iPhone. Featuring it’s slick design and easy to use touch screen, the iPhone put a massive target on RIM, and up until recently, RIM has done just fine in competition. But now, it can’t keep up.

RIM announced yesterday that it was laying 2,000 of it’s near 20,000 employees off, citing that it was restructuring the company to better compete with Apple, Microsoft, and Google, it’s three main competitors. Not a good sign of a business that’s trying to create and sell quality phone products, if you ask me. It looks as if RIM is on the verge of losing the smartphone war, and bowing out very ungracefully.

Let’s take a look at two of the products that RIM has released in the past year. There’s the Blackberry Torch, which was the spiritual successor to the semi-popular Blackberry Storm, the first touchscreen device from RIM that was met with very mediocre fanfare. The torch featured a brand new version of Blackberry OS, which, according to sources that have used it, is miles better than the previous version…but still not all that great. The Torch featured a unique slide-up keyboard that was new to the Blackberry line, but also featured all of the functionality of a touchscreen phone.

Then theres the Blackberry Playbook, the seven-inch tablet that RIM released earlier this year. The tablet features everything you like in a tablet, with the Blackberry OS right on top of it. The Playbook has been met with some pretty terrible reviews, leading consumers to believe that they are better off using an Android tablet, or better yet, an iPad. In my time with the Playbook, I had a very hard time getting the device to even turn on, and when I did turn it on, I found it to be a little sluggish and not worth the hype. One cool feature that is being implemented into the Playbook is the Android Market, allowing users of the tablet to play games and use software that’s written for Android.

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With the mobile industry constantly evolving, RIM has definitely made some mistakes. Without it’s own proper app store (or market, or portal, or anything that won’t get them sued by Apple), they won’t get very far. Yes, they have one, but it doesn’t have the support of developers, which leads to consumers not having much interest either. Without superior build quality (let’s face it, some of RIM’s phones haven’t been built all that great, as of late), and superior customization options, RIM is doomed to exist as a smartphone manufacturer. There has been talk that the Blackberry Messenger will be developed for Android and iOS devices. The functionality of that would be superior to text messaging, and easy to use, as well. If only they could port over their superior email client, as well, then RIM could exist better as a software manufacturer, and let their three competitors steal the show completely.

It will certainly be interesting to watch the future of RIM unfold over the next few months. With these layoffs, and the lack of innovative hardware (the company is reportedly announcing a new phone today), it just appears that they are doomed to exist.

Nickelodeon Launches The 90’s Are All That

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Last night, the new Midnight Society began to take shape. Of course this is a reference to the hit 90’s show Are You Afraid of the Dark, which staked it’s claim as the greatest ghost story show of the era (if you grew up in the 90’s, anyway). The 90’s are back, in a big way. Nickelodeon has launched its new programming block, The 90’s Are All That, on the TeeNick network. Airing from 12am-4am on weekdays, and early evening on the weekends, the new block features everything that made your childhood television experience the greatest it could be.

Launching last night with an epic lineup of classic shows All That, Doug, Kenan and Kel, and Clarissa Explains it All, the lineup gives fans of “old school Nick” what they’ve been craving for years–a programming block full of everything that made Nickelodeon so great growing up. Other programs from Nick’s 90’s era will make their way onto the lineup as well, with Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Aahhh! Real Monsters, Rocko’s Modern Life, CatDog, Double Dare,, and many others airing in the coming weeks. And in between segments hosted by All That star and current Saturday Night Live sensation Kenan Thompson on the iconic Big Orange Couch, you might even see some of the classic bumpers, commercials, and segments that you love. Nickelodeon will also take requests to have new shows added to the lineup. In essence, The 90’s Are All That is…well, All That.

The concept behind the new block is pretty amazing, but the one complaint I have are the hours. Now, this likely could be the same situation that TeeNick was in when it first launched on the main Nickelodeon network–a block that started as an experiment, that led to a whole new network. Think of the possibility of The 90’s Are All That turning into a full blown network! Nick has enough content to warrant it, and it could be similar to how TV Land launched–everything retro with nothing new. Nick is reportedly observing the response to the new late night trip to yesteryear, in hopes of seeing whether or not people want this. My opinion: Make it the Nick at Nite of TeeNick–from 9pm – 6am. That way, they’ll get a little more viewership. If it works, then it’ll just be more evidence to launch a full network. The current hours, however–not so much, especially on weeknights when people have work and other things during the week.

If you’re truly interested in watching classic Nickelodeon make it’s grand relaunch, show support for the block. Post on the Facebook page, talk about it on Twitter, and most importantly, WATCH! The new block airs on TeeNick every night. See the commercial embedded below to see what all the fuss is about!