Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Remember What I Said About NHL 09?

Ignore that gibberish.

I dunno what happened but after only a few small tweaks the penalty situation seems to have either fixed itself or my sample size of four games (with one penalty total) was an aberration. Either way, penalties aren't a problem.

Difficulty IS, though.

Like both Todd and I said last year -- more Todd than me -- there needs to be a difficulty between Pro and All Pro. On Pro I routinely win rather easily. On All Pro I am 0-7. Most games aren't that close. Yes, I am playing with Columbus so I don't expect to dominate but I'd like the games to be competitive. With limited sliders....I'm sort of at a loss here. Practice will help but the AI on All Pro just flat kicks my ass.

Stat of the Day

Found this stat while reading this article at The Detroit News this morning:

Michigan has outscored its opponents, 46-19, in the second half this season.

Now, if they can just stop getting murdered in the first half there just might be a quality season to put together here after all.  Go Blue!

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Better Summation of the Comeback

One of the reasons that, despite the name of this blog, I don't write that much about U of M is that no matter what I say about the program, its players or about, well, anything really, Brian at M Go Blog says it better. What I called a colossal relief (and it was), Brian summed up this way:

After it was over I did something I hadn't done since I was a kid making paper airplanes out of the free programs and throwing confetti* in the air whenever Michigan scored. I went down to the tunnel as the players exited the field and watched them go: Taylor boisterous, high fiving anyone he came across, Warren stoic, the Coner completely neutral until someone thumped his shoulder pads in congratulations. The only thing that betrayed Kevin Koger and his old man beard as an 18 year old, not an Antietam veteran, was the kid-on-Christmas-morning smile stretching from ear-to-ear. A blood-soaked band-aid hung from Thompson's chin, gamely sticking to a couple of hairs in his ragged beard. Barwis looked like he was stuck in a paint shaker.

These are no longer strangers. I know how they run, and they are mine. I wanted to say something to them, to wrap everything that had just transpired into a sentence and give it to them, to tell them about ashes and hope and the future. But nothing came.

This is what I should have said: "Those who stay will be champions."

On my best day I wouldn't have come up with anything nearly so cool to write as that.

He also pointed out something very important about the game that I failed to mention. If you go to a college sporting event as a fan of the home team and you boo said home team, you, sir, are an asshat. If you didn't show up to cheer your team on then either sit down and shut up or go home. You serve no useful  purpose whatsoever by booing a bunch of college kids.

NHL 2k9: I Defy You, Critics!

After spending the better part of two weeks playing NHL 2k9, I just shipped a review of it off to Bill, which I'm sure he'll link once it's posted.

It'd be easy, on first impression, to write this game off in the face of EA's NHL 09. There's not much flash to it. But it plays a very, very solid game of hockey and I'm at a loss to explain the 70 Metacritic composite score it's getting.

I read a few of the reviews and either I'm crazy or some of these guys are, because we're clearly not playing the same game. There are criticisms of the AI over-pursuing the puck like crazy and of goal scoring being way too easy that, once I bumped the game up to the All-Star level, just didn't seem to be the case. I'm not saying it's perfect, but I think it's way better than these composite review scores suggest. In fact, if you can get an open slapshot in front of the goal on All-Star you must be better than I am (probably not saying much) because I could hardly draw the stick back in prime scoring position without getting plowed or pick-pocketed by somebody. (Also, with some slider adjustments, your mileage will vary too.)

Also, nobody seems to mention the puck physics in the game, which I think is a huge perk. EA's game has good puck physics too, but 2k's is a cut above, IMO.

The only truly killer grievance I've got with the game is with the Franchise Mode, where too many all-star caliber players go unsigned. That is just a horrible, horrible oversight. (Season to season stats are also low, in terms of scoring, but not egregiously so.)

I can't say this game is better than NHL 08/09, but that's not because I think EA has a smarter hockey game. There's just something about the EA NHL series right now that, for me, makes it more fun to play. It's got a panache to it that 2k lacks. But that said, if your sole criteria is getting an authentic, challenging hockey game, you should give NHL 2k9 a serious look. Just don't play on Pro (where it is way too easy to score because the defense is horribly lacking) and check the Operation Sports forums for a decent set of gameplay sliders. (I don't have the patience for working up my own set of sliders.)

How Do You Spell Relief?

If you're a Michigan fan who watched the first half of the Michigan/Wisconsin game on Saturday you surely needed to break out the Rolaids at some point. Fortunately, I was out disc golfing with friends and I missed a first half in which Michigan had: 21 total yards, no first downs, and five turnovers. When I got home, as the first half expired, they trailed 19-0. (And the fact that Wisconsin only had 19 points after all that is a testament to how well the defense played.) It's a good thing too, because if I had seen it, I'm not sure I'd of tuned in for the second half.

And what a second half it was. Michigan rallied, putting up 20 points in the span of about seven minutes (on the game clock) and ended up winning 27-25 after Wisconsin had a last minute, game-tying two-point conversion called back on a penalty. (They then failed to convert on the second attempt.)

When it was finally over there was much hooting and hollering at casa del Brakke, but more than that, I felt enormous relief. Those guys needed that win, very, very badly. Not for the sake of salvaging the season but for the sake of believing that this whole regime change will work. You tack a whole game like that first half onto the way things looked during the Utah and Notre Dame losses and it doesn't take much imagination to picture the media headlines, nor the insane fan base taking to the radio call-in shows. (Incidentally, I hate radio call-in shows.) It's already too easy write off the season and I've been increasingly worried we'd see the public narrative prematurely write off the coaching change too.

It's gonna be interesting to see where the season goes from here. Was the first half the fluke? Was the second half a fluke? I'm sure we'll see a lot more of the same for the rest of the season. Long stretches of horrendous football followed with stretches where the team can do no wrong. It'll continue to be schizophrenic, I suspect, but hopefully we'll see more and more of the Michigan we saw in the second half, especially if QB Steven Threet -a freshman who sat out a year after transferring from Georgia Tech- can continue to progress. It's easy to forget the kid was a four-star prospect that Rivals.com had rated as the No. 9 QB in the nation.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

NHL 09

I'll have some football thoughts tomorrow but I have spent some time (finally) with NHL 09 and while this is undeniably a 'fun' game (especially multiplayer) why do most reviews fail to mention:

A) The serious lack of gameplay sliders
B) The fact that there are hardly no penalties called

How can you review a hockey game without covering that? I'm not saying you need to bag the game because of it but still -- it's like reviewing a baseball game without walks, which we know the media doesn't seem care about either...

But if you were considering buying a hockey game be it 2K or EA, isn't that sort of...important?

Friday, September 26, 2008

I Know Nothing

Well, that's not entirely true but when I see Ohio State get BLASTED by USC, then see Penn State manhandle Oregon State and then see Oregon State dominate USC (that game wasn't as close as the score) it leads me to take some aspirin and go to bed and then to rationalize that Penn State is the best team in the nation and will beat OSU by 40.


OK, maybe not.

The Minnesota game on Saturday will tell us, I think, a lot about what Ohio State will really be in 2008. When OSU traveled to USC it was a team that, if you believe the former players who were on the sidelines, had lost its confidence. A team that was waiting for something to go wrong.

It started when OSU marched down the field in the 1st quarter and had the ball 1st and goal at the 5 -- and then proceeded to lose 15 yards and had to kick a FG. For all intents and purposes the game was over right there -- with Ohio State leading 3-0. It was over. The team on the sideline started doubting. "Here we go again," said one of the starters. When Boeckman tossed the TD pass to Robiskie that was called back for a weird holding call (the guy tripped over his own foot)-- it was game, set, match. The team was done.

I know a lot about nothing but I do know that in sports if you lose your confidence - your belief that you can and will win -- you're dead meat. OSU lost that when Chris Wells popped his foot against Youngstown State and Sr. QB Todd Boeckman failed to take command of the team. Without Beanie to lean on, OSU was in serious trouble and USC smelled blood in the water.

But here's the rub. The team that played against USC and thought coming in that it needed to play a perfect game to win has a chance to redeem itself because Wells makes his return this week and Terrelle Pryor is the full time starter at QB. I hate Freshmen QBs. Hate them. They're idiots. It's part of the journey.

But Pryor brings a needed spark and (I hate this word) "swagger"to the team and his 4 TD performance against Troy (who is actually pretty good) turned a lot of heads. He looks effortless on the field -- like Vince Young used to at Texas. If Pryor continues to develop into the star that many feel he will be and Beanie is healthy and gets his Heisman form back -- don't rule Ohio State out.

I know that made some of you throw up in your mouth a little. But don't overlook the Bucks.

IF OSU catches fire with Pryor and Beanie and starts to put away teams like they should -- beating highly ranked teams like Wisky, PSU and Illinois they're going to be right back in the mix and I'll bet you a shiny dime that the media will start to look at OSU different with Pryor calling the shots.

I like OSU's chances more than I do USC's right now mainly because USC plays zero ranked teams the rest of the way. The computer will hate them. OSu even though they lost bad at USC -- they lost EARLY. Big wins against ranked teams will smooth that out a bit -- if in fact that happens. OSU is #13 right now. Think that's out of the question? Know your history, folks.

Of course this brings me back to Minnesota. It's a game OSU should win -- at home -- Beanie back -- Pryor getting more comfy. If OSU wins 21-20 ignore everything I just said. (If they lose...well...that would be like losing to Stanford at home...which will suck)

If they win 31-6 and dominate the game with this new offense -- it could start the train a rollin.

It's still very early and much can happen -- unless you're a Browns fan.

That team is done.

Hiding Under the Bed

As I've said in posts of Christmas past, I know precisely dick about economics, financial markets, etc. I do, however, know that what's been going on these past few weeks on Wall Street and in Washington scares the ever lov'n sh#@ out of me.

$700,000,000,000 of tax payer money on a Wall St. bail out?


And all that money is gonna do what exactly?

Seems to me if you're gonna be in the business of saying we should have free markets, as these hosers on Wall St. have been for years, then those markets should be free to fail, especially when those failures are the results of mass greed, short sightedness at the expense of the long term, and outright incompetence. These guys aren't victims. They gorged themselves on a trough full of filling, but empty calories and then want the rest of us to pay the hospital bill because they're sick.

Would letting these institutions fail hurt all of us? I have no doubt. But I don't see how we're not all going to be hurt, for a long, long time, no matter what the government does or doesn't do. The question I'm asking is, long term, what's going to cause the least amount of pain? What's gonna be best for the next generation and the one after that? Somehow I don't think tacking on another trillion dollars to a ridiculous national debt, quite probably giving the value of the dollar a Judo chop to the neck in the process, is in the best interests of my children or anyone else's. (This $700B has got to come from somewhere.)

I've been doing *a lot* of reading this week, trying to understand what the stakes are. The consequences of a bailout. The consequences of doing nothing. It's enough to make me want to pack up and move to Canada, to tell you the truth. (If we have any Canadian readers, do any of you need an editor?) I'll tell you this, it's a strange week when I find myself siding with House Republicans in saying that throwing $700B tax payer dollars at Wall Street is a load of hooey. That shouldn't, however, be confused with me saying I think they've got any good solutions either. I don't trust House Republicans any more than I'd trust a pyromaniac with a Zippo. I just know they're the only ones saying the Administration's plan is dubious at best. Meanwhile the dems seem to be lining up to say, "You can have the money, Mr. President, because we're afraid to fight you on any issue in which we could be accused of not acting during a crisis. But we're not going to stand in line with you until we get to dangle our own ornaments on this Christmas tree so that it looks like we're paying attention to the little folk." As if adding restrictions on executive compensation and throwing in a Milk Bone for people facing foreclosure somehow makes the bailout itself more palatable. (And for the record, some -not all, but some- of these people facing foreclosure deserve to. You don't take money from someone that you have no hope whatsoever of paying back.)

Right now the dems look they're doing what they always do when this administration trots out something completely beyond the pale: Accepting the premise. After eight years of watching the catastrophic misadventures of this administration it seems to me the last thing you should do is accept anything they say at face value.

Like I said. I don't know sh#@. I just know it's scary as all hell. But, if you're interested in digging into this a bit more, here's some of what I've been reading. What do you think?

EDIT: Another good one: The Great Bailout Brouhaha

If you want to read a worst case scenario, check out the Seeking Alpha piece. Also, while I know that some people hate Daily Kos with a white hot passion, the Bill O'Reilly hysterics that they're some kind of hate site is just ludicrous. Like any political advocacy site there's a fair amount of junk there, but there's a lot of good stuff too if you separate the real content from the noise machine. As for the Gamers With Jobs link. It's just a forum thread (a long one), but there's some fascinating opinions in there from a handful of guys who sound like they know more of what they're talking about than the average bear.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Road to Power Recovery

When you lose power for a time and your job depends on...power...you tend to get a tad behind. That's the main reason for the lack of blogging from me of late. (Todd just sucks at this.) My workload is so backed up that I just don't have the time.

I'm slogging through Warhammer Online, which is great, and I still need to really get into NHL 09. Lots to do. Plus getting PC time is proving difficult as Ashley and Mary are both utterly hooked on Spore. Crazy hooked. Ok, yeah ...I am too.

Last night we ran into Todd's creation -- Two-Eye -- in our game. Ashley wandered around and saw this three eyed monstrosity with the name two-eye and said she didn't understand why it was called that.

"It's Todd's creature, honey. It's 'special.' Just play nice with it."

I understand the complaints about Spore -- I do -- but damn if this game isn't a blast to play even though it's a casual sorta of thing. Charm goes a long way.

Football Season!

I dunno about you guys but I can't wait until football season cranks up.

The Browns are coming off a 10-6 season with an amazing offense and a rebuilt defense and should make a serious playoff run AND Ohio State is bringing back nearly every starter and gets the chance to play at USC.

This is gonna be great!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Millen's Out. Yay?

According to Fox's Jay Glazer, Millen is out as the GM of the Lions. I saw an ESPN report that said he was fired, but the Fox report was unable to confirm if owner William Clay Ford fired him or if he stepped down voluntarily in the wake of Ford's son, Bill Ford, Jr., saying publicly a few days ago that if it were up to him Millen would've been fired already.

Either way, it's easy to react as though this were good news for the Lions. And it at some point, hopefully, it is. But I'm reminded of a parable told in Charlie Wilson's War re: a monk who responds to every bit of news with, "We'll see."

The fact is, Ford has owned this team for more than 50 years and in that time it's won just one playoff game (which I attended in 1991). Is there reason to believe that after decades of ineptitude he's suddenly going to hire somebody that can actually turn this franchise around? This franchise needs what the other franchises in Detroit have, a Dave Dombrowski (Tigers), a Joe Dumars (Pistons), or -most ideally- a Kenny Holland (Red Wings). Until they are able to do that, this franchise will be stuck between being completely and utterly hopeless, or simply mediocre. Although, a return to mediocre doesn't sound too bad anymore.

So what happens after a new guy takes over the reigns? I think Marinelli will be out. Personally, I like him, but he doesn't seem to have the make up of a head coach. (Remember, he was Tampa Bay's DL coach before taking over in Detroit. That's a pretty big jump.) And the bottom line is that his strength is supposed to be the defense and the DL. So why is it that in year three of his stewardship that the defense, the DL in particular, is the weakest point of the team? That just doesn't speak well of his impact.

I think you're looking at an almost total tear-down of the roster that is built back up by drafting for defense. Our only first round pick in the Millen era that played D was Ernie Sims two drafts ago. And he's probably the only all-pro caliber player on the defense. But what that really says is that this team is not capable of finding impact players in the third round and later. That is probably the biggest reason this team has continued to fail, so it seems to me a complete overhaul of the scouting system is in order. But that's just fan speculation, which means precisely dick.

For this season, what I'd like to see the Lions do is get the young guys out on on the field. LB Jordan Dizon, QB Drew Stanton, the slew of DL guys they've drafted the past two years. This team's gonna lose a ton of games regardless of who on the roster plays. Let's at least find out if these guys have a future in the NFL. Lord knows the guys who've been here awhile already can't get it done.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Head Coach Patch (360)

Here's the latest from Josh:

PS3 should be out later this week or early next week.

Here is the change list:

Fixed the Bug that caused players to remain injured when you go into play creator.

Fixed the ability to call plays within the two minute drill.

Fixed the Brett Favre career stats issue.

Fixed the ability for us to change team philosophies in the roster update. If you have the previous roster update, you should see some major changes in ratings.

Fixed the bug that caused low rated players to ask for a very large deal when re-signing.

Fixed the Draft Day trading issue that allowed the user to force every team to trade their pick to another team.

Fixed the ability to change a QB to WR and change him back to QB again.

Fixed the bug where teams would not kick a FG at the end of the half.

Fixed fumbles. We put in a fix that should make these much more realistic.

Fixed CPU fatigue subbing. Running backs will now come out of the game more quickly and be replaced by their backup.

Fixed FG distance. Kickers will be able to kick longer FGs now.

Added the option to turn off CPU Downloaded Plays.

Fixed the bug that was causing RFAs to not show up after year 1.

Fixed the bug that wouldn't take a player's current salary into account when figuring out if you had enough cap room to re-sign him.

Fixed a big issue that we believe was causing 99% of the crashes or more.


I haven't tried the patch yet but if it does all of this -- it takes Head Coach 09 from a very good yet frustratingly flawed game to a top shelf must buy.

Superb support guys. Truly great.

No Art This Week, Just Pain

Yeah, so about those Lions. This week their losing to a bad San Francisco team had no artistic merit whatsoever. It was just bad, ugly football. Seriously, how does GM Matt Millen keep his job? Even owner William Clay Ford's son is publicly calling on Millen to walk away. It's just sad.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Spore Widget

The creations of father, mother, and daughter. We're hooked on Spore.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

NHL 2k9 - First Impressions

I've had NHL 2k9 for a few days now and I've gotten five games in using the standard Pro difficulty and default sliders (7 minute periods).

It appears to play a decent game of hockey. I'm not finding it as fun to play as NHL 08, but that game was really frigg'n good. Puck physics are fantastic. Players look great skating along the ice and I'm not a hockey strategy guru, but they appear to play sound positional hockey. There are, however, yellow flags all over the place. For example, goal scoring -in terms of what types of shots will go in and what types won't- is very, very narrow.

I haven't played 2k hockey in a long, long time, so I was relieved to see that at least the super goalies aren't there anymore (probably haven't been for awhile). But 90% of the goals I've seen scored come from directly in front of the net, and usually from within a few feet of the crease. I've had one shot from a defenseman near the blue line find its way to the net and I've had absolutely nothing go in that came from a steep angle rather than straight on. For my next set of games I'm going to bump up the difficulty a notch and see how that affects things. 

Penalties also need some re-balancing. The AI rarely gets called for a 2-minute minor. (Again these are defaults only; changing the sliders could help.) In fact no AI controlled skater is called for a penalty very often. The vast majority of minor penalties I've seen have come as a result of me trying to use the Pro Evolution stick (the right stick) to swipe the puck, only to end up tripping a guy. Occasionally I'll get a roughing call if I get reckless with the check button. In one game I got tagged with a legit boarding call, which was pretty cool. But there has not been a single interference or obstruction call in five games played. And I've been trying to cause them. You can pretty much take out any player on the ice whether they have the puck or not and the only call you risk getting is roughing. I'm really hoping the sliders can address this as you can really make life hard for the AI by interfering with any player in front of the net that's waiting on a centering pass.

Here's the stats I've been tracking from each of the five games I've played.

Game 1     AI-Pit     Hu-Det
Shots         25          30
Goals         3            2
Pass %       88           84
Face-Offs   23          6
Hits           5            9
PIM            7            17
PK%            100        67

Game 2     AI-Pit     Hu-Det
Shots         21          34
Goals         2            4
Pass %       88           90
Face-Offs   15          15
Hits           11           14
PIM            0            10
PK%            0           100

Game 3     AI-Pit     Hu-Det
Shots         13          31
Goals         0            5
Pass %       91           82
Face-Offs   21          11
Hits           2            12
PIM            7            7
PK%            100        100

Game 4     AI-STL     Hu-CHI
Shots         25          42
Goals         6            5
Pass %       83           80
Face-Offs   30          20
Hits           2            16
PIM            12          20
PK%            100        80

Game 5     AI-STL     Hu-CHI
Shots         22          34
Goals         3            8
Pass %       88           80
Face-Offs   16          20
Hits           11           14
PIM            12          19
PK%            0           50

As you can see, my shooting percentage is probably a bit high. As I've gotten used to the controller set up it's mostly gotten easier and easier to put the puck in the net just by getting a puck carrier in front of the goalie and shooting a wrister. (I cannot find a control for manual vs. auto shot aim. It feels like it's on auto.) God I hope upping the difficulty settings will address this. Pass percentage has got to be too high, but I can't find a site with the stats I need to confirm that. (NHL.com wasn't working for me this morning. If you know I site where I can get league-wide stat averages please let me know!) Penalty minutes, as noted above, are out of whack since the AI rarely takes a minor. Face offs seem decent for 7-minute periods and I'm very happy with the shot totals per game, which are usually always inflated in video hockey games. I am consistently outshooting the AI, but again, we'll see what happens at higher difficulty.

Right now, I'd say if you're a fan of 2k hockey, there's a lot to like here, barring the issues with goal variety. But I loved NHL 08 and I've read enough good things about NHL 09 that if I were to buy just one, right now I'd have to go with NHL 09.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Getting the Band Back Together

I haven't posted much this week. Unlike Bill I can't blame the power company. I can attribute a couple days, however, to having a 102 degree fever and, in my delirium, not being able to tell a keyboard from a couch pillow. Gotta love that.

Fortunately, the week hasn't been a total loss. On Sunday Rock Band 2 came out. It's a good thing they released it on a weekend because a release during the week would cause the sorts of work absences normally attributed for the Monday after the Super Bowl.

Hyperbole. Ain't it grand?

I haven't had a lot of time to play it yet, but I can tell you they addressed my biggest complaint with the first game. What I said back when:

The Band World Tour mode has everything. You can create a band member for every player in the band. You can design band logos and associated stuff to put it on. You can actually "tour", choosing different geographic regions, different locales (and locale sizes) and generally grow from a small, local band to a band that has a huge "fan" following and travels the world. Plus, you can take on set list challenges and create your own concert set lists. As I've said many a time before, it's liquid awesome.

So why the hell is none of that in the Solo Tour mode?

This time Harmonix did absolutely the right thing with RB2 and combined the Solo and multiplayer World Tour modes. So, as someone who only got to do the multiplayer as part of a party atmosphere (where everyone's drunk and really awful at the game), I can finally play it solo and actually progress in the World Tour, which is sooooo much better than being stuck with a single list of tracks that you have to progress through in order. Finally, my band -Green Eggs & Mayham- can truly thrive!!!

They also made it possible to be a solo player and still have your own bandmates. In RB1 you could make your musician, but your band mates were entirely random and they changed as you progressed in the song tiers (6 tracks per tier in RB1, so that's a lot of changes). Now you can create multiple musicians for your band and assign them roles in it so that you can be a single player and still have it feel like a band experience on the TV screen. Plus, you can change your own role in the band (say, from lead guitar to drums) without having to go back and create a new character/band.

These changes, given that the solo and multiplayer modes are basically the same thing now, also carry over to the actual multiplayer. The fact that band members can change their roles without having to create and select new avatars will greatly aid RB's accessibility as a social party game. (As will the new No Fail option.) I've read some complaints that the World Tour itself hasn't changed much since RB1, but since I barely got to scratch the surface of it, I really can't say I care all that much.

Also, the ability to import all but three of your Rock Band 1 tracks into RB2 is a godsend. Yeah, it costs $5, but it's totally worth it. (As I'm sure you've read, any downloaded tracks are immediately available in RB2.) What I really like, though, is that when building a set list in Tour mode, there are icons next to each track indicating if it's part of RB2, downloadable content, or something imported from RB1.

The game also now includes the ability to play in Tour mode via Xbox Live. I haven't attempted to exploit this yet, but hopefully I will at some point in the next week or so. All-in-all, this isn't a genre-changing release, but it's a fantastic evolution of the formula. Now, if only they'd get us some frigg'n Tom Petty. Seriously, there's something like 300-500 tracks available for the platform and I can't get a little Runn'n Down a Dream? Come on, guys!

Anyway, I received NHL 2k9 from Bill yesterday so RB2 will have to be set aside for a bit while I put that through its paces. I haven't played a 2k hockey game in years, so it'll be interesting to see how it's evolved.

I Live!

Man...what an ordeal. I am back (firmly) online after the wind storm which knocked Ohio off line.

Real quick -- link time:

Here's the NFL Head Coach Post Release Q&A.

Here's the Warhammer Battle March Review:

Here's the Quick Take on Warhammer Online

BTW if you are playing WAR I'm on the crazy popular Skull Throne server as Dimzad the happy go lucky Black Orc. Look me up.

I have NHL 09 and need to start playing it. Todd has NHL 2K and better be playing it. (har har.)

Lots for me to do today so in the spirit of as Inigo said in the Princess Bride -- 'let me sum up.'

Ohio State got embarrassed. I was sad.

The Browns scored 6 points at home and managed the clock like a band of monkeys. I was sad.

Our soccer team tied 2-2 Saturday thanks to my coaching brilliance of yelling at the kids to "Score! Score! Go! Run!"

Having no power is oddly serene. We had a small generator to keep the fridge running and a few lamps on but it was ...calming. Now we're back online and it feels sorta...I dunno, different. In a way I miss the "quiet" of it all. Talk about seeing first hand how we're a slave to technology -- go without consistent power for 72 hours .

Monday, September 15, 2008

About the Michigan/Notre Dame Game

So. 35-17. Looks pretty bad.

It was and it wasn't. If you could've just factored out the turnovers, this should've been a very competitive game. Unfortunately, you can't, and it wasn't.

The thing is that while Michigan's defense was weak, the offense was able to move the ball on the ND defense. (Although I suspect Northville High could move the ball against the ND defense.) The problem was nobody in a winged helmet could hold onto the damn football. They lost four fumbles and turned the ball over six times. And it could've been worse. They had at least two more fumbles that they didn't lose. (I say, "at least," because I didn't watch the last half of the fourth quarter.)

But it wasn't just that they fumbled four times, it's the fashion in which those fumbles occurred. ND turned three of those fumbles into touchdowns, which wasn't difficult given that two of them were within the Michigan red zone. Another, in the second half occurred inside the Notre Dame five yard line when a score would've put Michigan within striking distance of taking the lead.

Bottom line: This should've been a good game (between two bad teams), but Michigan blew it.

That's gonna be a familiar refrain this season, I'm afraid. I know I called for this to be a year in which Michigan eeked out a winning record and scraped their way to a bowl game. Having now watched them play, I'm not nearly that confident. Hopefully they can execute better as the season goes on, but I'm starting to think a game under .500 or worse is a pretty realistic bet.

On the bright side, freshman RB Sam McGuffie looked like the real thing on Saturday. He put up 131 yards on the ground and 47 more receiving (one of which was a beauty of a 40-yard TD run). This guy is fun to watch because he's basically Gumby. While on the move, he contorts himself into every bizarre angle you can think of to keep defensive players from getting a hand on him. It's gonna be great watching him run in the maize and blue for the next few years, especially by the time he's a junior when, hopefully, the team should start to peak again. (Knock on wood.)

Power Out

Lots I want to talk about but Ohio was shocked by 50-75 MPH Ike winds all day Sunday
and much of the state is w/o power.

I am posting via Mary's laptop off our small generator -- so this needs to be quick.

My sister in law lives in Houston so I am well aware this could have been much worse.

Still, trees are down, roof shingles are off, power lines are sparkling, .debris is littered all over the road -- it was a pretty bad windstorm.

I'll hopefully be back online soon.

More Art in Detroit

Last week I noted the "beauty" of the Detroit Lions isn't just that they lose, it's that they make losing an art form. This week they once again went down 21-0, although it took them the better part of one half to do it, instead of the better part of a quarter. That's nothing, though. This time, they played a decent second half to rally to a 25-24 lead with 5 minutes to play. Let me repeat that:

The Lions were winning the game 25-24 with 5 minutes to play.

They lost the game 48-25.

In five minutes of one quarter they gave up 24 points, which included three interceptions from Jon "I'm a serviceable QB if it's not the 4th quarter" Kitna, two of which were returned for touchdowns.

Losing in style. You gotta love it.

On the bright side, Calvin Johnson is for real. It's a shame he'll likely ending up blowing a hall of fame career playing for the Lions.

Friday, September 12, 2008

More Spore

With the exception of last night, I've been playing a lot of Spore this week. During my second session, on Tuesday night, I made my way through both the Tribal and Civ stages, allowing me to spend a good chunk of time Wednesday night on the Space stage.

I'm still remarkably on the fence with this game, considering I've been borderline obsessed with it this week. I think its goal is the kind of genius for which designer Will Wright (he created Sim City and The Sims, if you're a non-gaming reader) is known. There's a lot to like in each stage of the game and you can really see what they were trying to achieve with it. I'm just not so sure about the execution.

I already mentioned my grievances with the Creature stage. I got through the Tribal and Civ stages with fewer hassles and I did have more fun with those. The Tribal stage is only marginally more engaging than the Creature stage, but at the same time, I think I got through it in about an hour, so there wasn't time to get bored with it. The Civ stage gives you even more to do, as the game really gets to be more of a very basic real-time strategy (RTS). I am not an RTS fan, but the mechanics in Spore are so simple that I didn't mind it. This one took a couple hours to get through, but I was never bored with it.

The real meat of the game is without question the Space Stage. I've been having a load of fun with creating my starship and traveling from star system to star system, interacting with alien races (that are the creations of other Spore players), colonizing and terraforming worlds, and doing a bit of warring. That said, this stage of the game dials the complexity up to 11 by virtue of just how much there is to do and the game is so obsessed with making things sound simple that it ends up doing a really poor job of explaining everything you can do and, more importantly, the ramifications of what you do. I think this "problem" is merely one of overcoming the suddenly steep learning curve, but time will tell.

It's also really poorly balanced, in my opinion. Once I ended up at war with a Civ I was constantly being called back to my worlds to defend them from attack. It gets to the point where you can hardly advance at all because your home civ or your allies are always pestering you for something. And when you're at war, it appears that the only way to get to peace is to pay off your adversary with a ridiculous amount of cash (Sporebucks). Cash that, if you're taking a beating, you're unlikely to have. And because you can't lose (if your last planetside city is destroyed a new one spawns in a new location) it's not hard for you to get completely pigeon-holed. If that happens, it's *a lot* of tedious work getting your empire back on its feet again.

Ultimately, I've read your goal is to get to the center of the galaxy, but that even then there is no "ending" per se. I'm not sure if I'm a fan of that or not because I wanted to get to some kind of end point before starting again with a new species. Given the uphill battle my poor Two-Eye creatures face, I may just have to put them aside and start anew. I get the feeling the game will present a very different experience now that I more fully understand all the mechanics of it and I'm anxious to find out if that translates into making it more fun or more tedious.

(NOTE: Keep in mind when I note how quickly you can get through the first four stages that I've been playing on Easy. When I start a new species I'll dial up the difficulty a bit more and see how that changes things.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Politics of Hate or Just Hating Politics?

Bill made his political post earlier today, so I guess I should go ahead and make mine. It's been simmering for a couple of weeks now.

In the wake of the conventions I've been trying to come up with something to write here that summed up what I thought of them and the larger campaign issues at work.

I haven't been able to do it.

Originally, I had planned to look at all key speeches (Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin), really dig into them, and then break them up for analysis here. But when the time came to put the time into doing that, I just didn't have any desire to follow through. What I've found from watching the spectacles in Denver and St. Paul is that I'm just tired of all of it. But more than being tired of the sniping between candidates and their largely inept surrogates, I'm even more tired of us. The citizens who line up on either side of every issue and claim anyone not with them is either stupid, unpatriotic or outright evil.

Okay, yeah, I'm an Obama supporter. I've been intrigued by this guy since his 2004 convention speech. Regardless of how he's painted, I think he's a bright thinker and someone of deep conviction who knows that his most important job as president is to surround himself with smart people, listen to everybody and then call the play. But just because my philosophies of governance lean towards the liberal doesn't mean I don't have conservative views or understand the logic behind conservative philosophy, even when I don't agree with it.

I mean I understand the logic in having totally free markets (as much as someone as economically stupid as me can), but I also agree with those who think you need regulation of those markets to keep some sense of order and sanity. I understand why you'd want to offer vouchers to students at failing schools as a way to get them someplace better, but I don't believe vouchers are a real solution. Sending a few students elsewhere still leaves the majority of kids at a crappy school. If the problem is the school, then fix the problem. (I realize that's easier said than done.) I understand the notion of personal responsibility and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, but no matter how hard you work to stand on your own two feet, there's no shortage of times of struggle in which you get knocked on your ass so hard that you won't be able to get up without someone extending you their arm. And I don't think that depending on the random kindness of strangers will get the job done. Whereas I think government is at least capable of doing something that produces better results than doing nothing. (Don't even get me started on health care and Social Security.)

Ultimately, I suppose that's the biggest thing that separates me, and a lot of liberals, from most conservatives. Naive or not, I believe in the power of government to be a force for good in people's lives.

An important thing to understand here is that I'm not hating on the notion of partisan politics. Partisan politics is a good thing. We don't all agree on how to run the country and we shouldn't pretend that there's no difference between Republican and Democrat, Liberal and Conservative. There are differences and they are worthy of learned debate.

What I hate is that the partisan politics of the modern era has absolutely nothing to do with ideas, governing philosophies, or most importantly, solutions. It's about tarring and feathering the other side to the point where everybody on each wing is convinced everyone on the other side is either morally bankrupt, unforgivably stupid, or out to destroy the country.

I'm tired of it.

Perhaps it's my lefty bias, but it does seem to me that this attitude is more prevalent on the conservative side. Anymore, it just seems like conservatives absolutely hate liberals. I mean wipe them off the face of the planet hate. I don't get that. Liberalism literally means, "Favoring reform or progress, as in religion, education, etc.; specifically favoring political reforms tending toward democracy and personal freedom for the individual; progressive." I'm sorry, but even if liberal politicians have given liberalism a bad name (and a lot of them have), you tell me what in that philosophy deserves the kind of scorn where people spit the word "liberal" like a four-letter word.

Look, there's always gonna be extremists on both wings of the political spectrum. The left has its share of militant zealots and mouth breathers too. But what really bothers me is that it seems like the Republican Party actively encourages the hate of those with dissenting opinions. The Republican Convention was an exercise in fanning the flames of discord. Did you see one speech given at the Republican Convention that didn't demonize every liberal that walks the Earth? The only one close was McCain's, but even he never talked about solutions. Unless you believe that a marginal tax break is going to help the single, working, uninsured mom who just found a lump in her breast. Plus, it's hard to take his bipartisan talking points all that seriously when it runs counter to everything he says on the campaign trail and it comes on the heels of every designated speaker ahead of him talking like I'm somehow less than they are because I don't believe what they believe. Those speakers didn't just attack Obama or Biden or Clinton. They attacked anyone who would support them. They attacked me. (As the assembled crowd roared their approval no less.) Oh, you're a liberal? You must hate this country and want it to fall into the hands of terrorists.

You know what? Fuck. You. I'm tired of anyone who thinks government can be a solution instead of the problem being painted as somehow less American. Just as I'm sure a lot of conservatives must surely be tired of liberals casting all of them as war mongering, heartless bastards who've completely forgotten what the concept of fiscal responsibility means. Living in Indiana, a lot of my friends are conservatives, and almost none of them think this country is better off having had George W. Bush as president for the last eight years.

I can't pretend the Dem convention didn't have it's share of that noise. But what strikes me as different is that I don't remember it as being nearly as much about demonizing conservatives en mass as much as it was about promoting Obama, calling out the Bush legacy (justifiably, IMO) and tying McCain to that legacy (also justifiable, IMO). The issues this country faces were talked about. Whether you agree with them or not, solutions were proposed. Maybe I just didn't look in the right places, but I didn't see a lot of that in St. Paul. 

As for Obama... Ultimately, I don't know if his economic theories are sound. I don't know if his ideas are going to solve this country's woes. And, unless you are one of a handful of people who are truly experts in areas such as economics or foreign policy, neither do you. (And if you are an expert. Be honest. Most of the time you're guessing too.) But Obama will tell you what he believes without saying that anyone who thinks differently from him is evil or stupid. His speech talked about ideas. It talked about solutions. And, for me, one of the best parts was this:

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. Passions fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. This too is part of America's promise - the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.

Conservatives and liberals? We have obvious and important differences. But we face the same problems. We face the same challenges. And none of those problems or challenges are overcome by spending all our time breathing fire at the other side and saying they're to blame for it. You show me a candidate on any side capable of proposing solutions to my country's, state's, county's or city's woes and I'll show you a candidate who's getting my vote.

And with that, I'm done talking politics for awhile... at least until the debates. Or when the sun comes up tomorrow.

You know what? Let's just play it by ear.


Well this has dampened my day a bit.

Coach Tressel just announced at his press briefing that Beanie Wells has been listed as doubtful for the USC game. This is surprising in that every report out of the WHAC (Woody Hayes Athletic Facility) was that Beanie was fine and ready to go. Tressel said he was sore after practice -- much more than they would have hoped and he's being listed as doubtful.

Doubtful doesn't mean out, but even if he plays USC will not be seeing a 100% Beanie. A close to 100 % Beanie is vital to OSU's chances against USC.

If Wells can't go we have shifted from a game I thought we could win to a game I hope we can keep close with our defense. It's tough to lose a Heisman candidate and not miss more than a few beats.

A Political Break

Todd and I have been very quiet about this year's election. We both decided to keep the blog relatively politics free, but this is one of the exceptions so if you despise this sorta thing, just skip it.

I have the Head Coach 09 answers from Josh and I'll post that on Friday.


I could never be a politician. I don't have the temperament for it (I don't think McCain does either, FWIW). But the smearing and the lies and the political operatives would drive me to the point of public explosion. I'd drop inadvertent F Bombs in the debates. "You are a lying ******* douchebag!"

Plus there was that porn stint in the 90s when I needed money for college.

If you have followed this blog and the sports gamer blog you know that we're both Democrats -- even though I have voted for several elephants in local elections. I'm not one of those voters that walks into the booth and presses the button next to the candidate with a D just because it's there. People like that annoy the crap out of me. Voting party -- blindly -- makes no sense to me at all. Yet a lot of people do just that, as if every Dem and GOP candidate is competent. Yeah, right. I have met my share is political dumb asses. They reside in both parties.

But nationally I usually vote democrat. I started voting in 1990. I voted for Clinton twice, and Gore, and Kerry. Although the Kerry vote was very much an anti-Bush vote more than it was me loving the campaign Kerry ran -- which I thought sucked.

I also remember back in 2000 -- when Bush was smearing McCain all over South Carolina, I remember telling my wife, "I could vote for McCain. He seems reasonable and not tied to the base of the party."

I don't know what happened to that McCain but he's left the reservation. Well, I have an idea what happened to him. Losing will make you change your strategy and apparently everything you used to believe in. This whole 'maverick' persona looks ridiculous at this point. If it is possible to be both reckless and predictable -- McCain has managed to pull it off. I am of the opinion that selecting Palin as his VEEP was shockingly reckless. Was it the best choice for the country? Of course not. Defending that pick as a deliberate, well thought out choice for the benefit of the United States is impossible and completely partisan. Was it a purely political pick to get McCain elected?

Now, is this new politics? No. Kennedy did this with LBJ -- a those two didn't like each other and Kennedy picked him to shore up southern support. Gore picked Lieberman for Florida, ironically enough. Choosing a VEEP to shore up votes is what politicians do. But that is nothing compared to this.

The Republicans in 2004, I think, effectively portrayed Kerry as a wishy washy flip flopping politician. 2004 could have very well been a year I voted Republican nationally if it wasn't for the fact that Bush was the candidate. I'd rather get kicked in the nuts by an iron booted lumberjack than vote for Bush.

But McCain makes Kerry's flip flopping look amateurish. It strikes me as odd that no one is pointing this out. Not even John McCain agrees with John McCain on practically anything at this point. Pick a topic -and McCain has had multiple positions, depending on what day and what year it is. Campaign finance, torture, the war, tax cuts, student loans, domestic spying, health care, faith based initiatives, abortion -- who knows what this guy really thinks at this point? I honestly have no clue. Was McCain in 2000 the real McCain or is this new right wing ideologue the real McCain?

Does McCain even know?

This whole lipstick pig fiasco? Stop wasting my damn time! We're still at war and deciding on who will lead the US and we're debating pig lipstick? Are you kidding me? McCain has the balls to call that an attack on Palin when he himself has used that expression? That is what we need to waste time talking about right now? Really? Again, this goes back to how I could never be in politics. I'd publicly freak out and look like a madman and lose the all too crucial sane vote.

The latest McCain TV and Net ads are also dirty pool. Did you see the attack ad about how Obama supports sex education for Kindergarten children? It's stunning low ball politics. It's the McCain South Carolina black baby all over again. Here's the fact check response.

Has the Obama campaign fudged facts? Yeah, they have. Yes, McCain has voted with Bush over 90% of the time, but Biden checks in at around 77% himself. That's pretty high for someone that is supposed to hate everything the man stands for. 77% is a lot, no? Obama has offered a lot of ideas about what he wants to do (I haven't heard policy one from McCain other than oil drilling and Bush tax cuts) but there's the standard question of "how do you plan to do that?" I'd like to hear more about the specifics. It's typical politics of everything sounding great on paper and in a speech.

Finally, it looks like this election will go down to the wire. I think my home state of Ohio is destined to go McCain for reasons that I cannot explain; Ohio has been devastated by Bush's policies. Raked over the coals. And yet McCain leads Ohio by 5 points. And we just voted in a Democratic Gov. with a 55% approval rating (as of June/July) But I don't think it'll matter. There is a 500 pound gorilla in the room in this state.

I think the key state this year is Nevada.

Check out 270 to win. I think, and this is obviously meaningless guessing but I think McCain takes NC, VA, FL, OH, NM and MO. Obama gets PA, MI, MN, NH, CO, -- and Nevada will decide the winner.

Honestly, if the Democrats can't win this year, they should break up the party and start with something new. If you cannot beat the Republicans with Bush languishing in office and with a 72 year old angry flip flopper leading the ticket with a pork devouring book banning hockey mom who has as much business running this country as I do as the 2nd in line -- then the Democrats will never win another national election.

And they wouldn't deserve to.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Real Man of Genius

In my Spore post yesterday I mentioned the game might not be for your more sensitive creationists. This morning, I came across a link to one of them who is... uh, not a fan.

Quoted from antispore.com:

I used to like Will Wright. He created Sim City, a fantastic game that celebrated the earth that God created for us and allowed you to use all your God given abilities to make an ideal society. But if you ever felt like you had too much power, God would come in with a tornado or an earthquake and put you back in place.

You would think that as a member of the Episcopal Church, a smart man like Will Wright would not be capable of creating Spore. However, we must be reminded that the Episcopal Church is the only church in america that ordains homosexuals on a regular basis.

It makes sense that a perverted church would cause a man to make the creations he has in this game. It just may be that evolution is not the only thing to fear this game teaching your children.

If you want to go bald from pulling your hair out one large chunk at a time, the rest of the site is... well, it's reading. Of a sort.

Disclaimer: I'm not knocking all creationists with this. Believe what you want to believe. It's the more militant ones in any group that make life a pill for the rest of us. I mean seriously, a site dedicated protesting Spore?

EDIT: Despite the title of this post, there's no reason to think the author of antispore.com couldn't be a woman.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Rare Find

It took some doing, but I was able to get a this rare glimpse of Bill Abner: Girl's Soccer Coach Extraordinaire.


I surrendered to the Spore hype machine yesterday, dropped by Best Buy on my way home and picked up a copy. (It didn't hurt that I had $40 in Reward Zone certificates thanks to an acquaintance buying a laptop on my RZ card.)

If you're unfamiliar with it (as in, you're too cool to play video games), Spore has you develop a new species of creature from a single cell organism to a thriving civilization capable of exploring the galaxy. It may not be the best game for people who don't believe in evolution.

(Soapbox: I'm all for high schools being required to teach creationism, just as soon as every church, synagogue, mosque, etc. is required to teach evolution. Oh wait. That's stupid. There's a place for one and a place for the other. How about we leave it that way? Back to the game.)

So far... I don't know. It's really engaging, no doubt about that. I'm  not sure, though, if it's just a novelty experience or a good game. I've only made it through the Cell and Creature stages, which are just two of the five stages in the game, the others being Tribe, Civilization, and Space. My kids were enthralled with it, though. They sat on my lap for more than an hour while we picked out different colors, styles and body parts for our creature, Two-Eye. (Two-Eye has, and always had, three eyes. Why my daughter insisted on that name is beyond me. Not so much for her with the counting, I guess.)

I really, really enjoyed the Cell stage, which is a little bizarre because there's not that much to do. But it's just as cute as a... ur, bug. I mean you've got you're little bug and you swim around and eat and try not to get eaten yourself. As you eat, you grow and earn DNA points. When you have a enough points you can issue a mating call and produce offspring. (If only mating in real life were so easy.) There's very little to it, but it only takes about an hour to progress through the stage and it oozes so much charm it's impossible not to love this stage.

The second stage, Creature, I thought was more of a mixed bag. At this point your cell has grown and evolved into a creature capable of making landfall. The creature building part of the game is still a lot of fun. My kids, in particular, loved this part.

As you move across dry land you meet other creatures, drawn from not only the minds of the developers at Maxis, but also the Sporepedia of user generated content. I love that you can make a buddy list of Spore players you know and have the world populate only with creatures from Maxis and people you know. As you go you obtain more and more body part types that you can use to evolve your creature, giving him more aggressive/physical abilities (biting, charging, striking and spitting) or more social abilities (singing, dancing, charming and posing).

This is all great, but what I don't like is that there are really only two ways to accomplish your goal of evolving your brain big enough to achieve sentience: fighting and friending other creatures. Making friends involves impressing three creatures of the same species, which you do by using your social skills in a Simon Says sort of mini-game where you talk to and then mimic what another creature does. Fighting other creatures simply involves killing three of the same creature type. Either action grants you more DNA points and evolves your creature.

What sucks about this is that it's very, very repetitive and limited.  The cell stage was too, but I think that fit a theme, what with you being a microscopic organism and all. Plus, the Cell stage was short enough that you really don't have time to get bored with it. The Creature stage seems like it should offer more than the same friending or fighting actions over and over and over again. At one point I went an hour unsuccessfully trying to impress other creatures. (Some of that's my fault as I didn't have a handle on what I was doing. But still.) It's a big world you can explore. There should just be more to do that can evolve your creature besides sucking up to other creatures or exterminating them. I do understand the drive for simplicity at work here, but if that's the case, maybe it would be better if you only had to impress or kill two creatures of each type rather than three. Even that small change would prevent a lot of repetition at this stage.

Anyway, the game must be doing something right because I'm really looking forward to getting home tonight and taking old Two-Eye through the Tribe stage. Hopefully, I can get more impressions of these later stages up over the course of this week.

You can find my Sporepedia page here. Feel free to buddy me up, if you've got the game. If you do, be sure to leave a link to your page in the comments or send it to me via email.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Losing with Bad Players

Cleveland doesn't lose with style. We have no style. Our players just suck.

Losing With Style

There are plenty of NFL teams that are good at losing football games. The Lions? They make it an art form. Take yesterday's game as an example. They were losing 21-0 before the end of the first quarter and ultimately lost 34-21. That's bad enough. But they were playing Atlanta. A team that:

  • Finished last season 4-12. (19-29 over the last three seasons.) They were also the second worst scoring team in the NFC and allowed the third most points in the conference.
  • Has a rookie QB (Matt Ryan) starting his first official NFL game. (Said rookie's first pass went for a touchdown.)
  • A rookie head coach (Mike Smith), coaching his first official NFL game.
  • A team with a RB (Michael Turner) that was starting for the first time. (He was the backup to LaDainian Tomlinson in San Diego.) He ran for 220 yards and 2 TDs and set a franchise rushing record. (I'm not insinuating Turner is bad. I drafted him for one of my fantasy football teams. But a franchise record in his first game as a starter? Only the Lions could let that happen.)
  • Plus, did I mention the game was against Atlanta?

During the summer the geniuses in the Lions marketing department had the gall to ask their fans, "Do you believe in now?"

I believe that question is answered. (As if it wasn't before it was even asked.) And I can't believe I'm paying DirecTV good money so I can watch this crap.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Thoughts on a Saturday

Here's what I think as of September 6th 2008:

  • Today is my mom's birthday. I could not have asked for a more supportive mom. Here's a quick anecdote. Right out of college, 1996, I was hired by The Limited to do tech support and to eventually work my way into Networking. At the time I was running and operating a non profit website called The Gaming Nexus. (the site is still active but under different management) No cash coming in, nothing. I was simply getting my foot in the door. I quit my job because I despised tech support, and I was making $31,000 a year right out of school which is more than most with an English degree can say let me tell ya. So I was making zip, Mary and I were engaged and she was the sole bread winner at the time. My mom, after an initial freak out/terrified period, supported me 100% because she (and Mary...) saw that I was very serious about this career path. Things sometimes have a funny way of working out. (Knock on wood...) Happy birthday mom.

  • My Browns will likely lose Sunday to Dallas. We're too beat up and we need to be at 100% to beat Dallas.

  • I still think Cleveland will make the playoffs.

  • The OSU/USC game will be a battle. Pundits who dismiss OSU's chances are idiots. USC might very well beat OSU but it's not going to be a blowout either way. Both teams are stacked. Beanie is fine, and this is what college football should be all about -- out of conference powerhouses getting it on during the regular season. Of course this stance might change depending on how today's game goes injury wise. If both teams are healthy -- this will be a dogfight.

  • Today marks my debut as the head coach of a 6 and 7 year old division soccer team. We are so going to kick the other team's ass. No mercy! No prisoners! Free juice and hots dogs after the game!

  • Gaming news: Got this letter from EA Mythic this morning: Waaagh! Your key to Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning is enclosed! The Day of Reckoning is just around the corner – WAR officially launches on September 18th. The below product code will work for the Open Beta, which begins on September 7th, the Head Start program, which begins on September 14th, and last, but certainly not least – the live game itself.

  • Rockin!

  • I'm playing Warhammer Battle March right now on the 360 which is basically a port of the PC game with some added features. It's ok. Not great, but not awful.

  • 1UP reviewed NFL Head Coach and gave it a "D" and basically said nothing at all about the game. I have no qualms with a critic disagreeing with my opinion -- but shouldn't you at least state said opinion? Why he didn't like it, we're left to guess.

  • Still waiting for Josh's answers to my post release Head Coach questions. I'll drop him a line to see what's up.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Pineapple Express!!!

Was so ungodly awful I almost left the theater. That's all the review you're getting from me.

The Ugly Side of College Football

You may have already read about this but I'd like to yap about it a bit.

Most college fans saw UCLA upset Tennessee a few nights ago. Hell of a game.

But did you hear about the aftermath?

If not, check out this SI piece on the UT forum meltdown where boosters publicly call out kids and act like the fat guy in All the Right Moves. The best part of Foster's mother and her reply to this Roy fellow:

Attention Roy and whoever else wants to read.

I would've posted had we won, so what the heck. I've seen blame on everything from orange pants to Dustin Colquitt. Arian had a bad fumble....a good game, but a bad fumble. No excuses. It can't happen and it shouldn't. What would you like me to say? Roy?

What would you like Arian to say to you?

While you lure former athletes to your home with food and drink and God knows what else?

While you sit there and offer $100 handshakes to anyone who will pay any attention to you?

While you spread gossip like an old fat bat at the beauty shop? What would you like my son to tell you?

How about I tell you something instead. I'm grateful that he doesn't look for fools like you. I'm grateful that he stays far far away from crud and filth and people who have nothing better to do in life than to mire in other people's business.

I'm grateful that he can get up tomorrow and still look a fine man in the mirror. And I'm grateful that no matter what he does on the field or in life, he'll be a far better character than you will ever be. Money doesn't buy you intelligence, it doesn't even buy you love. But I guess in Memphis, it sure as hell buys you a crowd at your house for a football game. I'd gladly be poor all my life than to wind up like you.



This is not a special case that only involves Tennessee. Every school has people like this -- hanger on boosters who will do ANYTHING to feel like they are "part of the team." It's ugly. Jock sniffing wanna-bees who are the bane of college athletics.

Pretty sad, really.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

About the Michigan/Utah Game

Okay, yeah, that sucked. Let's turn the page.


Okay, in more detail. The offense, not surprisingly, looked like a train wreck. This is not surprising given the talent departures, new scheme and patchwork offensive line. (Though you had to hope for more from the running game.) The defense looked awful in the first half too, but they appeared to change their schemes in the second half and got good results. Plus, you know, Utah doesn't suck and they had a very competent senior quarterback. No one should be surprised that Michigan lost.

Now, if they lose to Miami (Ohio) this weekend, then it might be time to hit the Panic button.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno: New Trailer

I am, without question, an unabashed Kevin Smith fan. (If you've never heard of him, either use Google or just kill yourself.) If I were to put down a top 10 film list (hey, I should do that!) no less than two of his flicks would be on it: Chasing Amy ("Now that was a shared moment.") and Clerks 2 ("I miss my donkey."). It's not so much that his films are great pieces of filmmaking. Let's be honest. As a director, Kevin Smith is not going to be nominated for any academy awards. But as a writer who makes the kinds of movies I want to see, well, he's the Bioware of filmmaking.

For the first time since the okay, but forgettable Jersey Girl, Smith is venturing out beyond his Jay and Silent Bob universe with the upcoming Zack and Miri Make a Porno. It stars Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks (the bookstore girl in 40-Year Old Virgin) as well as at least a couple of View Askew regulars (from what was in the trailer), Jason Mewes and Jeff Anderson. Anyway, AskMen.com has a new red band trailer (i.e. - this is not work safe) and it's absolutely freak'n hysterical.

The bit that killed me:

Miri: Nobody wants to see us f#@, Zack.

Zack: Everybody wants to see anybody f#@! I hate Rosie O'Donnell, but if somebody told me they had a tape that had Rosie O'Donnell getting f#$!'d stupid I'd say why the f#@ aren't we watching that, right now?!?!

Seriously, if you're fan at all of his movies, be sure to check this one out as it's got all the makings of being one of his best flicks to date.

EDIT: Finally found an embeddable version via IGN.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Post Holiday Goods

First off, I am waiting to hear back from Josh re: our Head Coach interview. When it goes live you'll be the first to know.

Pretty wild college football weekend. Coach Tressel said pretty much what OSU fans know by now -- Beanie Wells is doubtful this week but should be ready to go for USC. Gotta have Beanie in that game. That should be a classic.

If you watched last night's UCLA/Tenn game -- how can a QB look lost and completely outmatched in one half and then look like the embodiment of Troy Aikmen the next?

Was it the UCLA QB getting comfy or a change in defensive scheme by Tennessee? Absolutely amazing.

I have NOT heard from Todd post Utah game. No email. No phone calls.

Let's hope he's ok..

Monday, September 1, 2008


Whoever makes the call to put these reporters on the streets during a friggin hurricane deserves to be fired. I can see the trees nearly blowing over like a piece of cooked spaghetti. Debris scoots down the road as if pulled by a prop man's string. It's a hurricane.


It's a horrible storm -- I don't need some sap reporter standing there taking the brunt of 90 MPH winds trying to scream, "SEE HOW WINDY IT IS!?" into a wind torn microphone.

Sorry, I just had to vent. Enjoy your holiday and let's hope Gustav breaks up soon.