First Drive: 2015 Toyota Camry, Yaris & Sienna

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Testing new vehicles is always an adventure, but the opportunity to test new vehicles in Hawaii is just a whole different experience. Auto journalists love cars, but we also love to drive cars in adventurous destinations featuring incredible roads with twists and turns in places so grand that you realize how spectacular other places on earth can be. The sunny Kona District stretches for about 60 miles from Kona International Airport to beyond Kealakekua Bay on Hawaii’s lava-lined western coast. Along this expansive area, we found everything from coffee farms to historic Hawaiian landmarks. Our homebase was the Fairmont Orchid, which is a luxurious Hawaiian resort on the Kohala Coast inspired by culture, well-being and genuine Aloha. To take in all of the Big Island while driving a stable of new offerings from Toyota can make for eye-opening visuals in the 2015 Camry, Yaris and Sienna. These new Toyotas are so different and compete in three distinctive segments, but all shared the same careful design and manufacturing expertise that is synonymous with a Toyota.

There is no car more important to Toyota than the Camry, and for 2015, the folks at Toyota continued their quest to be king of the midsize car market with a new 2015 Camry that ups the stakes. Yes, the best-selling car in America for the last 12 years just got better! When redesigning the Camry for 2015, Toyota went bumper to bumper and floor to roof, changing or re-engineering nearly 2,000 parts. Only the roof remains unchanged, and it caps off the boldest Camry body ever. That provides an idea of the scope of the transformation that also endows the new Camry with a stiffer body structure, enhanced aerodynamics and its quietest ride ever. The redesigned, upscale interior and advanced instrumentation with intuitive controls help keep the driver safely focused on the road. The redesigned interior also looks and feels much more upscale, featuring premium, soft-touch materials throughout. The 2015 model is easily the best-handling and most comfortable-riding Camry ever. Beneath the bolder body lines, the Camry’s body structure has been bolstered with additional spot welds to enhance rigidity. Retuned suspension systems in all models put an edge on handling agility while taking the edge off bumps.

The exterior of the Camry just keeps getting sexier and the 2015 model is like no Camry we’ve ever seen before. An aggressive looking front bumper and grille, pronounced side character lines and low-profile LED headlamps give the new Camry a far more expressive style. It’s a sleeker look that’s also slightly longer (1.8 inches / 45 mm) and features a widened track (0.4 inches / 10 mm) that communicates a dynamic stance and presence. In profile, a pronounced body line starts from the Camry’s muscular front fender and spans across the doors and rear quarter panel, conveying a sense of motion. The fun doesn’t stop there, as the new cabin takes this segment upscale and will surely have some rivals looking for the medicine cabinet! Everywhere you look and touch, the Camry presents premium materials, an overall roomier feel and enhanced amenities.

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The future of mobile gambling, what we can expect

man using smartphone

The popularity of gambling has increased significantly in recent years and experts in the industry are pointing to a number of reasons why. Most agree, however, that the biggest single factor is the prevalence of mobile technology and the new-found ease of access to online gambling sites this has provided. These developments are not only aimed at seasoned long-term gamblers, they are also attractive to people who have always wanted to take part in this sort of activity, but were unable to do so because of a number of restrictions, both practical and cultural.

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Blu Tuesday: Draft Day, They Came Together and Night Moves

Every Tuesday, I review the newest Blu-ray releases and let you know whether they’re worth buying, renting or skipping, along with a breakdown of the included extras. If you see something you like, click on the cover art to purchase the Blu-ray from Amazon, and be sure to share each week’s column on Facebook and Twitter with your friends.

“Draft Day”

WHAT: After taking over for his father as general manager of the Cleveland Browns, Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner) finally has the chance to craft the team in his image when he trades for the number one pick in the NFL Draft. But while the Browns’ owner (Frank Langella) expects him to make the obvious choice, Sonny must decide what he’s willing to sacrifice in order to do what he thinks is best for the team.

WHY: In a strange case of life imitating art, Cleveland Browns fans experienced déjà vu when their team’s actual 2014 NFL Draft ended up being just as eventful as the film version, including the shocking fate of poster boy Johnny Manziel, who was drafted (by the Browns, no less) much later than anyone projected. For all the excitement of that night, however, Ivan Reitman’s “Draft Day” manages to make the stakes seem even higher by ramping up the tension with slickly edited sequences of Sonny striking deals with fellow GMs while he plans the next move with his inner circle. It takes split-screens to a whole other level, and though you’ll likely be sick of them when it’s over, the material would be much duller without the flashy tricks that Reitman employs. While not quite on the same level as “Moneyball,” “Draft Day” offers a similar look at the behind-the-scenes minutiae involved in running a professional sports team, and frankly, that’s far more interesting than watching the same old sports clichés play out for the millionth time. That’s not to say that the movie is any better than the typical underdog sports drama, but it’s a refreshing change of pace for Kevin Costner and the genre itself.

EXTRAS: The Blu-ray includes an audio commentary by writers Rajiv Joseph and Scott Rothman, a pair of featurettes and some deleted scenes.

FINAL VERDICT: RENT

“They Came Together”

WHAT: While out to dinner with their two friends, Joel (Paul Rudd) and Molly (Amy Poehler) recount the story of how they met and fell in love – an extraordinarily cheesy romance that sounds like the plot of a romantic comedy film.

WHY: David Wain’s latest movie may seem clever in theory, but while he’s clearly watched enough romantic comedies to recognize the various genre tropes begging to be satirized (and not just satirized, but completely skewered in some cases), he doesn’t do very much with the material. It’s almost too wacky for its own good, and though there are some good gags and a great cameo along the way, the joke wears thin after 15 minutes, especially when you realize that Wain is basically just pointing out rom-com clichés without delivering much of a punchline. “They Came Together” would work just fine as a sketch or trailer parody, but as a full-length feature, it starts to resort to the very conventions that it’s trying to send up. Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler appear totally game for whatever goofiness is thrown their way, but they’re so much better than this, as is a majority of the talent involved. Fans of Wain’s previous work (like “The State” and “Wet Hot American Summer”) will find more to enjoy than the typical moviegoer, but even those people will probably agree that “They Came Together” isn’t nearly as funny as it should have been.

EXTRAS: There’s an audio commentary by director/co-writer David Wain and co-writer Michael Showalter, a making-of featurette, deleted scenes and a table read from 2012’s San Francisco Sketchfest.

FINAL VERDICT: SKIP

“Night Moves”

WHAT: Three radical environmentalists (Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard) plot to blow up a hydroelectric dam in order to raise awareness. But when the mission doesn’t go according to plan, the eco-terrorists deal with the repercussions in their own ways, causing paranoia within the group.

WHY: Director Kelly Reichardt is best known for pensive, slow-moving dramas like “Wendy & Lucy” and “Meek’s Cutoff,” which is a big reason why I’ve stayed away from her films until now. But while “Night Moves” takes a very similar approach, the three leads deliver such great work that it doesn’t feel nearly as laborious to sit through as its minimalistic plot would suggest. In fact, that lack of complexity (at least from a narrative standpoint) actually works in its favor, because it allows Reichardt to really ratchet up the tension by stretching out seemingly simple tasks into nail-biting affairs as the trio plans and executes their mission. Unfortunately, while the first hour succeeds in building suspense, the payoff in the subsequent half – turning its focus to the fallout and the characters’ guilty consciences when they learn that an innocent camper may have died in the explosion – isn’t nearly as engaging. It’s a much stronger examination of the whole ecoterrorism movement than the likeminded “The East,” but it starts to come unraveled in the final 20 minutes when it shifts from thriller to horror, concluding with a quasi-ending that’s more irritating than thought-provoking.

EXTRAS: Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

FINAL VERDICT: RENT

  

Product Review: Luchiano Visconti Dress Shirts

paul-eide

Just like when Homer Simpson’s life immediately improved when he changed his name to “Max Power,” when you encase your torso in a shirt from Luchiano Visconti, you will instinctively begin using the hashtag #PowerShirt! Because that is exactly how you feel inside.

The picture says it all, doesn’t it? The voltage delivered by such a badass shirt could power the entire earth. Think about how much money we will save on gas!

Sure, you might be constrained by the office walls until roughly 5:00, but until then, you can let your freak flag fly with an incredibly loud shirt from Luchiano Visconti. But this isn’t just a loud shirt; this is a POWER SHIRT.

It’s a shirt that makes people take notice, to be sure. In an otherwise drab environment, no one within eye-shot can resist its allure. People have to look at you. It’s a shirt that, by itself, amplifies your mood and the situations around you.

But the shirt is so versatile that it isn’t about making people look at you, or you wouldn’t wear a shirt like this in the first place. The fact that the shirt makes the ladies take notice is an extension limited or enhanced by the man wearing it.

Then again, if the shirt was completely uncomfortable to wear, who cares how cool it looks? Thankfully, Luchiano Visconti has your back.

Visconti traversed the earth for his shirts. He uses only the finest materials imported from Italy, France, Portugal, Turkey and Hong Kong, and combines different prints together to produce contrast details on the collars, cuffs and a placket for a cohesive fashion statement.

“We use the best materials from around the world,” says founder Sheba Hourizadeh. “We are dedicated to bringing you the forgotten skills of the past and leading edge technology to create the perfect fit.”

The mission is simple: to create and deliver the best quality, the finest styling and most unique details in designer sportswear today.

What’s even more appealing is the price. As an owner of several dress shirts that cost in excess of $200, I assumed the Visconti line, based on the feel, texture and design would be around the same price. But I was amazed when I saw the $65 price tag. Frankly, I was floored. These are fantastic shirts with the look and feel of some of the most expensive designers on the market, at unbelievably reasonable prices.

But it isn’t just shirts. There is an entire collection of streamlined, refined and forward ready-to-wear collection of Italian inspired menswearfilled with jackets, pants, sweaters, scarves, vest, polos and shirts. Along with regular sizing, Luchiano Visconti also carries big and tall sizes. For example, in sport shirts, the line starts at size small and goes up to 6X.

The Luchiano Visconti line pens its designs as self-generated products of imagination blended with designers’ passion from experience and information. They aim to create meaningful luxury clothing, targeting both the fashion and social conscience of the customer.

For more information and images of the entire collection, visit the website here. Connect with the brand via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

  

Adidas teams up with NFL rookie Sammy Watkins for new Springblade Drive

With the NFL pre-season underway, the excitement is building for another epic season, so adidas and super rookie Sammy Watkins teamed up for the spectacular new Springblade Drive! We might not move like Sammy Watkins, but after testing the new kicks, it’s apparent the Springblade outsole of these men’s running shoe gives you incredible launch and power for a ride that must be felt to be believed.

Ultra-light polymer blades are tuned and angled to absorb shock and propel you forward with every step, while the simplified silhouette features a 360-degree engineered air mesh upper and a suede tongue and collar for additional breathability, comfort and premium details. Inspired by the Energy Boost 2, the one-piece heel to mid-fit cage provides extra stability. The shoe’s 16 individually tuned blades instantaneously react to any environment, compressing and releasing energy. For the first time, the blades come to life through vibrant color application.

Style is important, but when you combine style and performance in the new Sammy Watkins Springblade, you know you have a winner. The Springblade Drive is now available for $180 at adidas.com, adidas Sport Performance stores and select retailers nationwide in five different colorways for men: Solar Red/Black/Solar Red, Black/Onix/Silver Metallic, Blue Beauty/Black/Solar Gold, White/Black/White, and Black/Solar Red/Black.

  

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