Gamer’s Hangover 08.18.03

Okay, folks. I have to start out by saying that I f***ed up. I thought that I had been assigned posting duties for the Games News Board for last Tuesday, when it really had been just an idea from one of the other staff members. I jumped the gun and ran into a hail of, “WTF” from Pankonin and Ashish (Widro obviously realized how innocent and inconsequential the mistake was. Therefore, from now on, I shall refer to him as The Amazing Jonathan). Apologies have been made; floggings have been performed.

Another thing I hosed up last week: I put html tags around my friend Cris’ name, but forgot to insert the appropriate URL before I sent it off to Panky. Cris is a brilliant writer in his own regard, and you should check out his column “Am I Or Am I Not A Geek” by clicking the above link or by going to www.thewarpzone.com. Cris introduced me to “Fist of the Northstar:” and “Vampire Hunter D” as well as “Kingdom Come” and “Earth X,” so he really is a geek, but that’s okay in my circle of friends.

Quasi-random thoughts:

I’m sorry, every time I hear about “Gigli” I just can’t stop laughing. *snicker*

“Do you side with Al Franken or Fox News?” is this week’s version of “Have you stopped beating your wife?” I was going to write something fairly long about this, but Al Franken is simply not worth my time. I will say this though: Doing research, I went to the official site for his new book. At the top there is a button, “Read an Excerpt.” I clicked it, and then received a message that the excerpt will be available in September 2003. The book is going to be out for two months before he’ll even put an excerpt on his own site. It makes me want to steal a copy of his book, scan it all into the computer, and post it on the Internet free of charge.

Cheapskate.

Last week the New York Yankees were handed their worst loss of the year, an 11-0 drubbing by the KANSAS CITY ROYALS. I’m channeling “Rocky IV.” “You CUT him!! He’s NOT a machine!! He’s a MAN!!”

Royals/Yankees Round 2 starts tonight at Yankee Stadium. As of Sunday night, the Mike Sweeney Suicide Watch is down to ** games. Considering the Royals get to play Detroit 7 more times and Texas 6 more times, don’t be surprised if he tries to fake his own death pretty soon. I think they still have some games to play at Comiskey.

The latest rumor is that, immediately preceding the Blackout, a lightning bolt struck the power generation center at Niagara Falls. The creepy part: The statue of Nikola Tesla was seen shedding tears right after the occurrence. Electrical engineers from around the world are flocking to Goat Island, New York.

Okay, everybody’s thinking it, I’m just saying it. Until they get Wes Borland back, there should be no more Limp Bizkit. Ever.

My take on P2P music sharing: I spent most of my disposable income in my late teens/early twenties on two things, video games, and CDs. I practically lived at Blockbuster Music. Now, when a single was “released,” do you think I was able to find a copy? No. Of course not. If I heard a song on the radio and wanted a copy of that song, I had to buy the whole friggin’ album. As a result a lot of my disposable income from my late teens/early twenties sits in stacks of albums of one-hit wonders and various other lame acts with one decent song. These are CDs that would get me laughed out of any decent used-CD store. All because some greedy bastards wouldn’t release their One Good Song on a single, so I had to drop $20 if I wanted to hear it.

As a result, I will be getting music by P2P until Lars Ulrich himself comes over to my house with a shotgun to stop me. Either that or the RIAA can write me a check for”¦.let’s see”¦six years”¦.paycheck every two weeks”¦average one CD per paycheck”¦.6*26*$20 = $3120. Then I might consider subscribing to a pay-per-mp3 service.

A lot of hullabaloo has been made over Mitch Michaels’ comments regarding homosexuals in the Music section. It’s funny that neither him, nor Eric S. in his rebuttal, nor any of the people who wrote in that I saw mentioned what is widely considered the “definitive” New Testament objection to homosexuality, Romans Chapter 1.

Verse 26: For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
Verse 27: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

The problem is that this isn’t the whole story. As cut-and-dried as this may seem, it must be taken in the larger context of not only Romans Chapter 1, but the entire Book of Romans.

In verse 23, Paul sets up the tirade that lasts for the rest of Chapter one, by saying that the people in question “changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.” In short, he’s talking about man-made idols, and the acts that he rails upon following have been documented to be parts of compulsory rituals for those idols. Remember, he’s writing this to the ROMANS. You know, Jupiter, Venus, Mars, that lot? Polytheism shamelessly lifted from the Greeks, but polytheism nonetheless. Moreover, there is evidence that homosexual behavior was compulsory to be part of the Roman army. Consider it the ultimate “team-building” exercise of the time.

Then, the people who like to quote Romans 1:23 blow right past Romans 2:1, “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that 1judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.” and Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” And Romans 3:28, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” In fact, the whole of Romans Chapters 2 and 3 tell us how incredibly screwed we are, without Jesus’ death to save our cans.

Also notice that nobody, and I mean NOBODY who debates this topic bring up the only two authorities that should have ANYTHING definitive to say on the subject God the Father (a.k.a. Old Testament God), and J.C. himself, who popularized the whole, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” craze. That is, unless you buy into Mosaic law, and given pork sales in this country, I’m guessing that’s not many.

The point is that most people who take a public stand against homosexuality are perfectly comfortable quoting the Apostles and the Prophets and leaving God the Father and God the Son out of it. Guys, start with, “Judge not, lest ye be judged” and work from there, and if you think you’re up to being judged by God straight up, then chuck that first stone, baby.

NEWS

Virtua Fighter Now Toe-to-Toe With a Year-Old Tekken Game
Proof that Sega needs to speed up its market reaction time a bit; last week their Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution title hit stores. The block-point change features two new fighters, a Judoka and a Muay Thai kickboxer (two fighting types already available since at least Tekken Tag). It also features a Quest mode, where fighters move through a world of opponents in some storyline (featured in Tekken 4). Included is also a Virtua Fighter 10th Anniversary mode, which will apparently subject the lucky buyers to the long outdated graphics and controls of the original, only including the new characters, who have done nothing to deserve this fate. The game is rated “T” for Tedious . . . er . . . Teen, and in possibly the biggest warning sign, has an MSRP of $19.99. The same, of course, as Big Mutha Truckers.

Why am I so tough on Virtua Fighter, you may ask? Weeell, not to be insulting to our Japanese friends, let along Mr. Baxley and Mr. Lucard, but sometimes it seems as though they think the entire idea of fighting without weapons was conceived by East Asians. Now, there are a lot of different systems of fighting that come from that part of the world, from Karate to Tae Kwon Do, to the various flavors of Jujitsu, to Wing Chun and the different systems of “Kung Fu”, to Pentjak Silat and Excrima. To VF’s credit, they even included pro wrestling, which is an import they’ve embraced as much as they have baseball. However, there is one fighting style that they refuse to put in, which has already been shown to make a FANTASTIC video game style: Capoeira.

Bottom line: I want to play Capoeira. I can do that in Tekken and I can’t in Virtua Fighter.

EA Establishes Expeditionary Force
Electronic Arts, fresh off of releasing plans for its new Playerboy Mansion, has acknowledged plans to get a territorial foothold where the U.S. couldn’t: Canada. EA plans to launch their expeditionary force and seize a defensible piece of land in the vicinity of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Advance scouts have reportedly not identified a suitable base camp site, but EA generals say that they will have an advance “development” team in and working by the end of the year. The role of Benedict Arnold will be played by Alain Tascan, and non-Torries wanting to join can contact the invading army via the Canadian section of EA’s job website.

Speculation that EA’s ultimate goal is the addition of a FOURTH down to CFL football could not be confirmed nor refuted.

VidTrac Rentals For, What, Two Weeks Ago?
Yeah, Watson did this on Friday, but I already had this pulled and written, so”¦.so HE stole it from ME. Yeah. That’s the ticket.

For the week ending August 10, courtesy of GameDaily.com. The comments are mine, the game titles are cut-and-pasted, just because of one little typo. Read on.
1. NCAA Football 2004—PS2 — Duh.
2. Enter the Matrix—PS2 — Must be better than the movie.
3. Midnight Club II—PS2 — Okay, now I’m intrigued.
4. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic—Xbox — Friggin’ FINALLY!
5. Downhill Domination—PS2 — My fault. I’m sorry.
6. Hulk—PS2 — MUST be better than the movie.
7. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City—PS2 — And yet, more available than Halo. Hmmmmmm.
8. Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour—GC — Strangely enough, I’m not surprised.
9. MBA Street Vol. 2—PS2 — [sic] Herbert Kornfeld’s first video game! H-Dogg in da HAAAAOUSE!! Hop in da Nite Ridahh and resolve those balance sheets, beeyotch!
10. Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Operation Resurrection—PS2 — a.k.a.: “They Saved Hitler’s Brain”

Three things:
1. That’s it. I’m going to have to rent this Midnight Club II. There MUST be a reason it keeps beating KOTOR.
2. For those who didn’t get it, check out a classic Herbert Kornfeld column from www.theonion.com here.
3. Yes, there really was a movie called “They Saved Hitler’s Brain.”

ATI Swears Allegiance To Microsoft, Proves Worth By Killing nVidia Stock Price.
ATI Technologies, in a saavy move to prove its allegiance to the Almighty Microsoft, announced that it has struck an agreement with the company to produce “custom, leading-edge,” graphics, “for us[e] in future Xbox products and services.”

The announcement had the desired effect, blasting rival graphics-card developer nVidia Corporation’s stock price down 3.69 percent, down to $16.16 a share; while simultaneously boosting their worth in the eyes of the Merciless Microsoft, as well as the stock market, the value climbing 7.1% to $13.12 a share.

“We selected ATI after reviewing the top graphics technologies in development and determining that ATI’s technical vision fits perfectly with the future direction of Xbox.” crowed Robbie Bach, Senior Vice President of Microsoft’s Home and Entertainment division. The decision is a harsh, but not mortal, blow to nVidia; who had produced the graphics processor for the current Xbox consoles. Rumors are that nVidia will soon join the rebel resistance, producing Linux-friendly and MacOS friendly video cards.

Darth Gates could not be reached for comment.

ESPN Gamer Doomed to Failure: Never Called Berg Or Laflin
ESPN.com has apparently started their own sports video game site. Of course, impartiality won’t be a problem. ESPN’s licensing with Sega Sports will NEVER EVER become an issue. Nope. Fair shake on this site. Oh, and they’ll be having “top athletes” evaluate games, too! They can do this as time filler between shooting SportsCenter commercials in Bristol.

For a comparison, check out their in-depth, scintillating review of EA’s NCAA Football 2004. Then check out ours.

Pointless Information Back in Vogue
Atari is jumping on the hot, HOT coattails of Trivial Pursuit by releasing a version for the three major consoles this fall.
Trivial Pursuit Unhinged will have three modes of play, one of which will allow you to steal wedges (or pieces of pie, where I come from) from opponents, and allow you to place wages on whether your opponents will get a question right or not, reaching the epitome of humiliation for your friends.

Five b-list celebrities and John Cleese will ask the questions. I could mention who the five are, but I don’t want to turn you off from the game. It’s not my place.

Artech Studios is developing; consoles version will sell for $29.95, PC for $19.95, and Eric Szulczewski friends will no doubt get it for free.

Microsoft Pushing Pre-Orders for PC Game That Doesn’t Exist; Really IS Evil
Microsoft, EB Games, and GameStop are trying to get you to pre-order Halo for the PC. They say it’ll be available in September. Don’t believe them. Let’s move on.


I Can’t Keep Ripping Off MST3K, Can I?

Okay, folks. I need some help. I love Mystery Science Theater 3000, as you all know, and I freely admit that my fandom of that show led me to this feature in my columns, but I think I need to find a name for it that is slightly less copyright-infringe-y. Send in your suggestions. No entries will be ridiculed.

Oh, ladies and gentlemen do we have a treat this week! Well, having discovered ESPN Gamer, I just HAD to poke around the site and give some of the columns a look, and what I came out with is one of many, MANY columns I will be commenting on in the coming months.

You know the rules. Me and “Q:”. No holds barred. Sit back and enjoy the pain.

Vick be quick with a controller

Q: *singing* Vick be a lady toniiiiiiight! Just be a lady toniiiiiiight!

By Matt Wong
ESPN.com

A: Oh, I don’t know.
Q: Do you think he sneaks onto the SportsCenter set late at night?
A: I would.

Mike Vick is lounging in his hotel room. Sprawled out on the couch, he looks in serious need of a nap, “¦

Q: Uh”¦I don’t like where this is going.
A: *reading* Dear ESPN letters. I never thought it could happen to me”¦.

“¦but he’s ready to do yet another interview about EA’s Madden 2004.

Q: *snickering* Good, because he won’t be playing FOOTBALL for at least six weeks.
A: *snickering* Snap. Crackle. Pop.

My ESPN Gamer colleague begins firing questions over the air conditioner blasting in the background.

A: *yelling* SO MIKE, HOW MUCH BLING BLING DID YOU PULL DOWN? WAS IT FLOSSIN?
Q: *Michael Vick, yelling* NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS, AND STOP TALKING LIKE THAT.

Me? I’m shooting stares at the PS2 directly in front of me, waiting for a chance to try out the game.

Q: Maybe he *is* a game geek. I mean, he’s got one of the hottest players in the league in the room with him, and he’s obsessing over the game.
A: I wish I could believe that.

Finally, the challenge is placed on the table, right next to a tray of oatmeal raisin cookies.

A: Tequila. Chug. Now!
Q: *Homer Simpson* Mmmmm. Horz Doovers.

Having just walked a half-mile in blistering sun, I’m definitely in for some friendly competition and any kind of mindless relaxation to make the trip worth my while.

Q: *panting* Uh”¦.I’m”¦.a”¦I’m sorry”¦..I just”¦just got in from the parking lot”¦..and”¦.uh”¦.it really”¦.really took something out of me”¦Can I have a drink?
A: *Mike Vick* Stay away from the mini-bar.

Vick isn’t passing, either. (But don’t tell that to his receivers.)

A: HA!”¦Ha”¦.heh”¦.um”¦.right. Whatever.
Q: Okay, this guy is a writer?
A: No, they don’t list him as a writer. They say he’s an editor.
Q: Copy editor, I’m guessing. His job probably consists of running the spellcheck on Word.

So the showdown is on: The 2004 Madden cover boy against yours truly.

Q: What’s the spread on NFL QB vs. Toady Copy Editor?
A: 84 ½ points.

My gaming skills are average, but clearly I’m a huge underdog to the Atlanta Falcons superstar QB, for obvious reasons:

A: Mostly because HE has opposable thumbs.
Q: *Croc Hunter* This Cawpee editah is WAHY outta his enVOYernment. Weh gonna hafta GRAB eem and traynsport eem somewheah weah he can’t hurt himself!

1.) He’s played the game all day, if not already mastered it. I haven’t even seen the game before, nor have I been very good on the cyber gridiron since Joe Montana Football on the Sega Genesis.

Q: Wait. Did he just admit to not having played video game football since”¦1992?
A: Oh, technically he just admitted to not being very good at anything since then, which includes ALL of the Madden games and makes him a prime candidate for editor of a SPORTS GAMES site, of course.
Q: Oh, of course.

2.) He’s an NFL quarterback. He’s well-schooled in the X’s and O’s and even had a hand in creating the playbook for Madden. I’ve yet to find “Run to the garbage can and cut” in any video game playbook, and my knack for annunciating every syllable in “Miss-iss-i-ppi” really does me no good here.

Q: Hey, it worked for Ray Lewis.
A: We need to send him a copy of Backyard Football.
Q: Yeah, that would be more his speed.

3.) He’s in the game — meaning he’s likely to take more pride in his play. His cyber-double looks and moves like him. “He even has my strut,” Vick boasts.

A: Translation: He’s already in your head. HE’S IN YOUR HEAD!
Q: *Vick, to other reporter* Five bucks says I score on your boy in ONE play.

My create-a-me resides only in my PS2, hooping it up in NBA Street Vol. 2, jumping over backboards and resembling a black guy. When I pinch myself, though, I’m still short and Chinese.

Q: Doesn’t this cat realize that you can MAKE Chinese looking players on NBA Street 2? I mean, come on! Yao Ming is in it!
A: Or that height in that game really doesn’t amount to squat as long as your dunking and blocking stats are up?
Q: I’m thinking Mr. Wong has some identity issues.

The only thing working for me? My one Lloyd Christmas “So-you’re-telling-me-there’s-a-chance” shot?

Q: *laughing* Then again, maybe not.
A: Yes, strangely apropos that he referenced “Dumb and Dumber,” isn’t it?

Vick is so tired he appears ready to pass out.

A: I’d say “pass out” to the tune of 400 yards on this yutz.
Q: Why? Is he playing as the Chiefs? *snicker*

An EA rep sets up Falcons vs. Bucs.

A: *obstinately* NO! He’s not playing AS THE CHIEFS.
Q: Sorry, dude. It was just too easy.

After reading that Vick doesn’t use himself in games, I’m expecting to play as Atlanta — to see if Mike Vick could stop Mike Vick, or even muster up the courage to lay a hit on his likeness.

A: What? Are we playing “The Football Game of Dorian Grey” here?
Q: No, that would be a Raiders game.

But he gives me one of his patented jukes, and suddenly I’m left alone with the Super Bowl champs — a team that, after months of celebration, might be as sober as Captain Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

Q: Oh, for the love of Pete”¦.
A: *Matt* Woe is me, for I have had the, drunken, pusillanimous, obviously inferior Super Bowl Champion team THRUST upon me against my will! Woe, I say! Sapp! Brooks! Barber! These names do not ring with joy in my ears! Only with the one Vick can I be assured victory!
Q: In what other universe, Matt, could Warren Sapp be considered FAST? Consider yourself lucky.

The control pad’s finally in my grasp. My arms are resting on my legs, my back is arched slightly, and I’m ready to go.

A: Heart: Racing.
Q: Palms: Sweaty.
A: Throat: Dry, and scratchy.
Q: Butt: Lubricated, open, and back to receive.

I glance over at Vick. He’s sporting shorts and a polo shirt. I take a peek at his calves. They’re the size of my thighs!

A: AND we’re back to the Penthouse letters section.
Q: *reading* He asked me if I had ever sacked’ a quarterback before. My knees quivered”¦.

Good thing we weren’t playing Nintendo’s World Class Track Meet on the Power Pad.

Q: How do you think Vick would do with Dance Dance Revolution?
A: Better than this guy.
Q: Would he beat Williams?
A: I have it on good authority that NOBODY beats Williams at DDR, and the kid can play through pain. He’s like the DDR version of Steve DeBerg.
Q: So how do you think Williams would do at Madden?
A: Better than this guy.

With no muscles to flex, I serve up some trash talk. Something completely incoherent stumbles out of my mouth.

Q: *Nell* Ooot ptang flebr blir TAANG BLARABT PAYRD!!
A: *Vick, whispering* Is this guy from the Make-A-Wish foundation? Should I be nice to him?

If his eyes weren’t half-shut, I’m sure you would’ve seen fear in them.

A: Fear, apathy, contempt; all the same really.

It’s Falcons ball. I go with the 4-3.

A: *Pat Summerall* The”¦FALCONS”¦come out in a”¦four”¦THREE.
Q: *Pat* I”¦don’t”¦believe it.

No way he’s throwing on first down after watching what my D did to Rich Gannon.

Q: Bucky, TIME did that to Rich Gannon.
A: *Al Davis* I don’t CARE if he’s 40 . . . no I don’t care that HE’S 40 neither . . . HIM neither . . . eh . . . Oh, yeah? SUE YOU!!

Vick snaps the ball. He’s passing! I’m passing gas. I’m panicking.

Q: *Matt* I wet em.

I’m making Derrick Brooks do the Electric Slide.

A: Try getting the D-Line to do the Cottoneye Joe next time.
Q: Okay, Warren Sapp playing Dance Dance Revolution?
A: Only if he gets to pick the music.

Vick launches the mother of all flings right into the outstretched hands of his receiver running a deep out on the right side. It’s Peerless Price!

A: And I’m sure this is Priceless for his Peer.
Q: *other reporter* God, Matt. You suck.

And as if I’m introducing the new Falcon, I provide a strobe light effect while toggling through defenders. With Ronde Barber laying on the ground and Super Bowl MVP Dexter Jackson laying out in the Arizona sun, Price strolls in for the TD.

Q: DIVE! DIVE! DIVE! AWWOOOOGA!
A: *Seaman* Sir! Falcon-class quarterback off the port bow!
Q: *Captain Matt* Take the con, I’ll be under my bunk.

“Man, you barely know him,” I complain out loud.

A: *Vick* I know Peerless Price sir, and YOU’RE NO PEERLESS PRICE.
Q: By this point in the preseason Vick probably knows his favorite routes, his timing, what he likes for dessert, his favorite movies, and his favorite seat at the Gold Club.
A: *Matt* The what?
Q: My point exactly.

Vick, all the while doing the interview, pays me no attention.

A: Good for him.

Play stands, all 70 yards of it. Extra point is good. Falcons 7, Bucs 0.

Q: Matt: Lame. Readers: Screwed.
A: Vick: Bored. Stacey Pressman: Unavailable.
Q: WHAT?!
A: “¦for the interview. Don’t worry, my good man. She’s still single.
Q: Don’t scare me like that.

Vick is talking about his little brother. He says Marcus is the only one who can beat him at Madden. He says this in an unbelieving-but-proud-older-brother way. He says this as if I’m not even in the room!

A: Uh, maybe that’s a hint.

Apparently being up by a touchdown not only has his team in the lead, but has him way ahead of himself. I’m impressed by his ability to multi-task, though.

Q: Yeah, you wouldn’t think an NFL-caliber starting quarterback, who has to check off four or five different receivers each play, keep an eye on where the pass rush is, all while remembering the intimate details of a several hundred page playbook, plus audibles would be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.
A: *Matt* Well”¦.I can read “Dilbert” and hit F7 at the same time!

I wave off his first-play fluke to rust. To nerves. To my inability to play defense in football games.

A: “¦to the fact that I haven’t touched video football since the Sega Genesis, yet I’m an editor at ESPN Gamer.

Surely it has nothing to do with the All-Pro quarterback sitting to my left. Surely he can’t be freakishly good at everything. Surely that wouldn’t be fair.

Q: Right, fair, AND just. You’d better just hope he doesn’t decide to start writing, too.
A: Uh, just to remind you. Not a writer.
Q: *snickers* Oh, right. Sorry.

I ready myself to receive the kick.

A: I think we’ve made it clear that it’s not going to be so much a kick, and it sounds like you’re already receiving it.
Q: *Matt* No!”¦.Wait!”¦.It’s”¦.so BIG!”¦.

On first down, we line up in the I-Formation.

Q: We? Who? You, your buddy and Mike?
A: Ugh. That’s a scary visual.
Q: *Matt* Call me.

We’re gonna run the ball all day, Sweep Right all the way to the end zone.

A: Uh, I hate to break this to you, but Warrick Dunn’s a FALCON now.
Q: *Matt* Oh?

Michael Pittman gets the ball. Michael Pittman gets stopped for no gain. Michael Pittman gets no touches for the rest of the game. (When did that play become completely useless by the way?)

A: About the time you uttered the words, “Michael Pittman.”
Q: This guy really works for ESPN? Where has he been, underwater?

I press the X button repeatedly, fast forwarding to the next screen and minimizing my embarrassment. In doing so, I trigger the panic button — I’m scrapping the plan and turning the game over to Brad Johnson.
He throws two incomplete passes.

A: And one completion over the middle to Keyshawn Johnson that resulted in his decapitation.
Q: Hee hee! I never get tired of that play.

My confidence is crumbling like the cookie Vick just put in his mouth. I’m begging my friend to turn up the heat on the questions. I’m so flustered that I do the unthinkable, the unforgivable, the inexcusable, the ultimate sign of weakness

Q: *Matt* I wet em.

— I punt.

A: Oh”¦.GET OVER YOURSELF!!
Q: Jeez, this guy probably can’t win an NBA Street game without having Jordan and Dr. J on his team.
A: *Matt, weakly* Yeah, you just bring it old school, yo. Me and J and Mike, we bang with the best of em, fo shizzle.

Never in my right mind, would I do that, not even on fourth-and-99. Really, I can’t explain what happened. All I know is Vick and I were both left with our mouths open — I was in shock, he was yawning.

Q: *reading* I was amazed by the size of his”¦.hands”¦.my mouth agape”¦.
A: Okay, you can stop that right now.

But on the Falcons’ next possession they go three-and-out, and I’m back to feeling good.

Q: Oh, what a sad little existence this man lives.
A: Sitting in a hotel room with Michael Vick, probably playing an advance copy of Madden 2004, all on the company dime, no doubt, and he’s not happy unless he’s winning.
Q: Jeez, I’d be saying, “Yo! Mike! Kick my ass again! This is great! Sign my ball?”

I’m set to receive. Only problem is Atlanta’s special teams is on the sideline … and Vick is behind center. He’s going for it! On fourth down!

A: *snicker* Ah, yes, the old “pick a normal play in full view of your opponent” trick.
Q: Is this guy nearsighted or something?

What I was supposed to do!

Q: Junior, I think you’re DOING what you’re supposed to be doing. Getting your ass handed to you.

I’m slamming on every button in hopes of calling an audible or a timeout. Too late.

A: *Matt* I wet em.

Vick snaps the ball, takes a step back and sprints forward through a gaping hole near the left hashmark. My return man is my only hope until he tries to tackle Vick five yards too soon.

Q: William Bartee, ladies and gentlemen! William Bartee!

I’m tapping my buttons like mad now, hoping someone will catch him from behind.

A: *Gruden* Move it Sapp! Nobody makes All-Madden hanging out at the training table, LET’S GO!
Q: *Sapp, panting* I”¦.*oof*”¦want”¦.a”¦*ooof*”¦new”¦.coach”¦.*oof*.

Tapping turns to banging.

Q: And we’re back to Penthouse letters again.
A: *reading* I begged him to stop”¦.

Banging turns to hand-to-head-banging as Vick goes untouched for the score.

A: I hope he means his hand to HIS head. Otherwise, that’s assault.
Q: Relax. He was able to write this, wasn’t he?
A: They’re doing wonders with voice-recognition software nowadays.

I would’ve hurled my controller to the floor, unleashed my rage in full, had it been a few years ago and I was in my dorm losing to my roommate, but that would’ve been unprofessional, inappropriate and maybe a bit childish.

Q: Given that he hasn’t played video football since Bush Sr.’s administration, I’d say so.
A: And judging from the rest of this article, completely in character.

“I thought you were gonna punt,” I say, as if he didn’t see the play.

Q: *Vick* No way man! Who punts in Madden? *snicker*

“Nah man. Quarterback draw,” he says, as if I hadn’t seen the play.

A: So, with 10 men in the box, and only one man deep, Michael Vick run a QUARTERBACK DRAW instead of ANY pass play, and still scored a touchdown.
Q: Matt Wong, putting the “special” back into special teams.

Extra point is good. Falcons 14, Bucs 0

Q: *Al Davis* Get me that kid Vick on the phone. I’ll show that no-good Gruden who’s boss! And call the league! Tell them I’m suing them again!
A: *assistant* Uh, Sir? Jerry Rice has turned to dust.
Q: *Al* DAMMIT!! Get Satan on the phone! That contract was supposed to be through 2005! I’m suing him too!!

I’m in search of the overrated moral victory now.

A: *laughing* Son, you’re looking for signs of basic COMPETANCE at this point.
Q: *Matt* Oh”¦.wait, these four buttons”¦go on TOP! Oh! I see. How stupid! I was”¦holding”¦ the controller”¦.upside”¦.down.

A completion would be enough to satisfy me, and Keyshawn Johnson running a quick slant should do the trick — and it would have, had Vick not picked the pass off.

A: Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Elvis Grbac.
Q: Hai-keeba.

I hate this game! I want to press the reset button, but there’s no need.

A: *Matt* I kicked the plug out and caused a major blackout in the northeast.
Q: *sarcastically* Way to go, Matt. People are dying of heat stroke because you couldn’t hang five minutes with Michael Vick. Hope you feel good about yourself.

The interview — and my butt-whooping — is over. I want to shout, “You’re lucky, I had Chris Simms taking over in the second quarter,” or “Rematch!” Instead I mumble another incomprehensible sentence.

Q: *Homer Simpson* BLAAAAARGH!! BLAAAAAAAHHH!!
A: Wait”¦second quarter? They wouldn’t even let him play a full game!?
Q: Seeing what he’s done, would you?
A: Good point. But it’s not like he lost the game. They weren’t even in the second quarter yet.
Q: You’re giving this guy benefit of the doubt?!
A: Well, “¦
Q: Look, the guy was atrociously bad. He ADMITTED to not playing video football for a friggin’ decade, and then he had the gall to come in and get pissed off when Michael friggin’ Vick took him to school.
A: Yeah, but”¦.
Q: And there he is, some wormy copy editor guy, hanging out with as big a star as the NFL has, and all he can think about how he’s getting spanked in a VIDEO GAME.
A: Yeah, but”¦.
Q: Moreover, the guy obviously piggybacked this little duel on his buddy’s legit interview, and it becomes the FEATURE article on a game site with about a hundredth the content of 411; a site that will probably average about a hundred times the hits and receive about a million times the budget.

Game over.

A: *pointing and laughing* HAAA!!! Loser! LOOO-ZER!! Sucked so bad they kicked you off!! Betcha gonna cry, LOSER!
Q: I knew you’d see it my way.

I offer my hand, and he takes it without rubbing it in. Hey, the man has grace and humility. I have a handshake and a free cookie, which, by the way, is as stale as my performance.

A: *Minnesotan* Oh, it’s nice that a big-time football player can be so humble, dontchaknow.
Q: *Minnesotan* Well, dat’s not really fair, since we’re comparin’ him to Captain Insecurity over here.
A: *Minnesotan* Oh, yaah!
Q: *Minnesotan* Yaah, you betcha!

I rush my goodbyes so I can replay the game in my head, recount all of my mistakes, wallow in my wasted opportunity.

A: Once again, completely oblivious to the fact that he’s hanging out with MICHAEL VICK.
Q: In reality, they probably had to get security to remove him.

I head out the door, down the elevator and onto the sidewalk, where the sun is waiting for me. And, suddenly, I wish I was back in the hotel room, chilling with Michael Vick.

Q: I think we just figured out Matt’s problem. *whispers* He’s a little slow.
A: *Matt* Oh”¦what”¦.is the game over?

Because, if anything, it was cool.

Matt Wong is an editor for ESPN Gamer.

A: And should be ashamed of himself.

NON-GAME NEWS

Just a quickie.

Anybody dig how proud the media was that New Yorkers didn’t riot? You know why they didn’t riot? A Republican is Mayor, and they don’t f*** around with riot suppression.

And what about the other cities? I’m sure hanging out in Boston or Toronto or DETROIT with no power was a friggin’ cakewalk. The only people who could consider that a blackout would be the Detroit Tigers. If they were home, the game would be cancelled, and if they were on the road, nobody at home would have to see how bad they suck.

NOT-SO-DAMN-SERIOUS-NON-GAME NEWS

Because the news segment was so long, I’m kinda mailing in this section. Credit CNN.com, and accept my apologies.

Sergeant charges breast enhancement, car to Pentagon
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AP) — A Marine received 14 months in a military brig for using a military credit card for an unauthorized six-figure shopping spree that included a car, a motorcycle and breast enhancement surgery.
Staff Sgt. Sherry Pierre worked for Marine Forces Reserve Headquarters Command in New Orleans when she made $129,709 in improper purchases in 2000 and 2001, military officials said.
Pierre pleaded guilty to stealing from the government in a court-martial proceeding held in New Orleans in June, Capt. Jeff Pool, a spokesman for the Reserve, confirmed Sunday.
Pierre also received a bad-conduct discharge, a $30,000 fine and a reduction in rank from staff sergeant to lance corporal.
The verdict is on appeal, a process Pool said occurs automatically in such courts-martial.

Still cheaper than the average Pentagon toilet seat.

PLUGS, PIMPS, AND THANKS

Three e-mails this week.

>

Wait, wait, wait. REPUBLICAN?! Arianna “Kill Your SUV’s NOW” Huffington? _Republican_?! Ummm… in what world?

You are right in that she’s the smartest candidate, but that’s because she doesn’t get fed by the Republicrats and their lobbying friends. She can actually _say what she thinks_ without betraying the public trust. Pretty hard to find in today’s political “climate” (fiasco/scam/insert your own word here).

Pick up “Pig’s At The Trough”, Ms. Huffington’s newest book, and then come back and tell me she’s a Republican.

Between the “Kill Your SUV’s NOW” campaign and her outing of the political scumf*cks, their lobbying friends, and the wack-job CEOs who spray their jism in the public’s face while screaming “You know you love it!”, I’d say Arianna Huffington is the candidate the furthest to the Left, and nowhere _near_ the Right.

Brian J. Blottie
-The only way Arnold will save Cali’s economy is if he donates his take from T3 to the state’s coffers.

Okay, I’ll admit when I screw up, and Brian here is absolutely right. I got caught comparing Arianna Huffington to Al Franken, because of the spots they did together on Politically Incorrect during the 2000 political conventions. “Strange Bedfellows” with Arianna and Al. That’s where I got the whole Beautiful but Evil thing. That’ll teach me not to research.

As another MST3K fan, who still watches the same episodes Saturday
mornings on SCI-FI, I have to say that you blew it. You had the big
lists of names and you should have ended them with “Chief”-
“McCloud!!”(or however its spelled). But then again, I barely get the
refrence there, and I’m 29, so most of the younger audience would be
even more lost. And I LOVED the “and I’m still circulating the tapes”
line you had.

Lawrence

I didn’t want to rip off all of their jokes, as well as their format; but I did put a hai-keeba in this week’s entry, as well as a tribute to their Minnesota roots. I DID think about using the McCloud reference, just for the record.

By the way, if anybody has a copy of “Day The Earth Froze,” let’s talk.

Cory,

591 pages, huh? Just shows how serious (pronounced ‘si-ko-tic’) we here in Austin are about our football. Now, all we need is for Oklahoma to pull a Triple H and have rampant quad tears during pregame this year. It’s almost too easy…

Keep up the great colums, bro.

Jason

The problem with that plan is that Oklahoma would go buy new players.

My readers kick ass. The ones that write in kick more ass.

For the weekly plugs . . . . oh, I don’t know. . . . I usually shill the entire news reports staff . . . but it’s getting kinda late . . . . and we’ve got this whole MADDEN WEEK going on at 411, which will involve Lee Baxley’s review of the PS2 version of Madden 2004 today, Eric S.’s review of the PC version on Tuesday, MY review of the Xbox on Wednesday, Chuck Platt’s review of the GameCube somewhere in there, and a Roundtable discussion of the different versions near the end of the week; oh, and of course there’s the FIRST EVER 411-Sponsored ONLINE GAME TOURNAMENT featuring the PS2 VERSION OF MADDEN 2004.

Bebito, Lucard, Bryan, JeffL.C., Williams, you guys kick ass, as always. You don’t need my help.

Next week, I’m sure I’ll have something up.

Until then, get some sleep

-Cory