Gamer’s Hangover News Report 02.09.04

Quasi-Random Thoughts:

I’d like to start off by saying that my comments towards Bill Simmons’ last week were fueled by jealousy and disappointment at the finish of the NFL season. I figured that would be universally understood, but I was apparently mistaken:

In response to your complaints about Bill Simmons’ last post on his SB blog: bullshit.

You have been a Sports Guy clone for as long as I remember you writing
at 411games. You did the “use cult movie to describe the year” thing.
Your semi-random thoughts are obviously a rip off of The Sports Guy’s
tangents during his columns. If I were to guess who’s writing you most emulate (from the internet at least), I would definitely say you have a similar style to Simmons. I’m not saying that you’re a bad writer or anything, in fact, I have quite enjoyed your news reports, but considering you insulted him by calling him a “poseur” when in fact you are a Bill Simmons poseur.

Well, good luck with everything else.

-Jeff Patterson

Simmons IS a poseur now. He wasn’t a couple of weeks ago, but he is now. His post-Super Bowl web log just infuriated me. This guy has made his living being EveryFan, but he can’t carry the mantle anymore. All fans of his, me included, were glad to see the Pats win that first Super Bowl, but now with the second, and his tuck rule’ line afterward he’s lost the connection with me. He’s now the fan of a multiple Super Bowl winner, and he’s already talking about wanting more. While that’s fine, more than fine, for a sports fan to do; it’s not okay for a sports writer. Especially for a sports writer who has made his bread and butter being the stereotypical-hapless-Boston-sports-fan-who-never-wins-anything.

Once baseball season rolls around, and he has to deal with the fact that he supports the Red Sox, I’ll probably be able to read him again, although I guarantee that every time something goes bad for the Sox this year, he’ll point out the fact that the Pats have won two Super Bowls in three years.

When I talked to Cris on the phone about this he called me out, comparing Simmons’ tuck rule’ comments to my own irritation whenever somebody brings up Don Denkinger’s blown call in the 9th inning of Game 6 of the 1985 World Series: Jorge Orta was called safe at first when he was out by a half-step, and from there the Cardinals self-destructed and the Royals came from behind and won the game to stay alive and then destroyed the Cards in Game 7 to win the Series.

Cris was right in the regard that he had just as much right to make the tuck rule’ comments as I do to bitch about sportswriters harping on the Denkinger call. But that wasn’t the whole point of my anger. The point is that I hate winners when they’re not me, and Simmons’ team has won more Super Bowls than I’ve ever seen the Chiefs in; so my sympathy for him, being a Boston sports fan, has gone.

Moreover, his tuck rule’ comments break one of his own rules for being a Good Sports Fan: “If your team wins the championship, you’re now allowed to complain about ANYTHING about that team for five years.” I have to deal with double standards enough in my real life (and that’s a political discussion better suited for 411Black) to have to deal with it in my recreation.

Cliffs Notes version: Simmons won, I didn’t, I’m jealous, I’m petty, therefore he sucks.

Or the even shorter version: My column, my rules.

And that brings me to Mr. Patterson’s observation that I’m a Simmons “clone.” Again, I have to admit to a sliver of truth in this. I did lift the movie quotes idea from his columns (and as well as it came off, that’ll probably be the last time I do that). Bill Simmons is (well, was “¦ and will be again in a few weeks I’m sure) one of my favorite writers. Of COURSE he’s influenced the way I write. But so have P.J. O’Rourke, Douglas Adams, and my friend Ken Wells. Simmons himself has admitted to being influenced (heavily, if I may enter my own opinion) by S.I.’s Peter King. Actually, Mr. Patterson, if you want the truth, my Quasi-Random Thoughts were probably more directly influenced my King’s “Ten Things I Think I Think” more than anything Simmons wrote. And since you’re obviously a reader of Simmons, you only see the similarities between him and myself.

You need to remember that I’ve been writing regularly for a little under a year now. I’ve been doing this column for quite a bit less than that, even. I’m not paid for this; it’s enough of a struggle for me to fit this and a review in each week (and Pankonin can start laughing “¦. now) on top of my life and paying job. I’m still struggling to find my “voice.” Hell, I’m still trying to find a way to get this bloody thing in on time each week. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to write about other than video games, and that’s limited because two of my favorite side topics, political conspiracy theories and sexual deviancy, have already been snapped up by two of the more popular Wrestling writers. What does that leave me with besides sports? Angel?’

So I don’t believe clone’ is warranted here. I’m honestly trying to develop my own style, and anybody who really loves what they do will seek out the work of others and be influenced by it. It’s a sign of passion. Besides, as the old saying goes, “Great composers don’t borrow, they steal.”

And just to settle something related, I know that Simmons talks video games a lot in his columns, so the question has been raised as to who would win in a game of Madden between him and me, and the answer is obvious: He would, for the first few times until I could get him to put money on it.

Now then, back to the regularly scheduled chaos.

So Lieberman’s out, Dean is in denial, and Wesley Clark found a state that would take him (for about a hundred bucks in fines for speeding). So it looks like we’re getting Ted Danson circa “Cheers” (it’s the hair) versus Dubya in November. Although I did my taxes this last week, and I have to say the little Texan got back some brownie points with me there.

I’ve been around the political block (bloc?) a few times, and I know what Democrats mean when they say that they’ll “make the rich pay their fair share.” See, according to most Democrats, *I’m* rich. I’m not kidding. In fact, if Veronica didn’t work at all, and we were all living just off of my paycheck, we’d STILL be considered “rich” when it comes to the tax coffers. I’m just a lower-mid grade engineer, with pay about median to my position and experience, but I’m rich. Yes, that’s why I almost bounced a check buying my son some formula last week.

And once you fall below a certain income, you don’t have to pay taxes anyway, so this line is usually just a way to sell a near-universal tax hike to pay for elephantine social programs that they don’t want to have to trim or pork that they don’t want to give up. And just for the record, I agree with the candidate “¦ the REPUBLICAN candidate “¦ who says that the Bush administration is spending like a “drunken Swedish socialist.” Of course, I think that Ashcroft is doing his best to channel the softer side of Himler and that Freedom of Speech should extend to protect what is called “sedition,” so take whatever I say with a grain of your seasoning of choice. If there *was* armed revolt in this nation, I know damn well that it wouldn’t be led by Democratic politicians; not if they wanted it to be successful. They’d need people who know how to shoot.

And not to beat a dead horse, but doesn’t “paying your fair share” imply that there IS a fair share for everybody? And if there is a “fair” share, wouldn’t it be the same share as everybody else relative to income? Wouldn’t that be a flat tax rate? This is why I don’t watch political debates or Q&A sessions with candidates anymore. They won’t let the yahoos up that ask the tough questions, so everything gets screened down to the vaguest statements possible. Once again, I have to say that the U.S. government needs something like the Brits have with the Prime Minister’s Questions. If they got a chance to hammer Dubya every week (and he got to hammer back), I think a hell of a lot more useful information would be exchanged.

The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that the “two-party system” is bullshit. First of all, having only two parties funnels all of the political contributions into two giant coffers so that whoever the party leadership selects as the next golden child will get backed by millions in media blitz dollars no matter how stupid or unqualified the person is. Second, think about the hundreds of political issues that people have to (or at least SHOULD) form opinions on. Now you have to take ALL of the sides of those arguments and fit them into precisely TWO political camps. When it comes down to the general election, nobody votes because nobody knows who to vote for because nobody knows what each candidate thinks about all of the relevant issues. They damn well don’t agree with either one 100%, but they don’t know which one they disagree with the least, so people end up going with what’s comfortable or attractive or familiar, thus perpetuating the “party line.”

Here’s a list I’ve compiled of political beliefs, and the party you’ll probably vote for if you cared strongly about said belief, regardless of whether the candidate for that party shares your feelings or not.

Fewer social programs: Republican
More social programs: Democrat
Lower taxes/flat tax rate: Republican
Higher taxes for “rich”: Democrat
Pro-environmentalist: Democrat (we’re ignoring the Green Party for this exercise only. I love that party to death, just for the record)
Gay rights: Democrat
Animal rights: Democrat
Pro-military: Republican
Stronger property rights: Republican
“Universal Heath Care”: Democrat (I’ve lived in Canada. Thus the quotes.)
Privatization of public works: Republican
School vouchers: Republican
Freedom of speech: Democrat
Freedom of religion: Republican
Freedom of the press: Democrat
Right to keep and bear arms: Republican
Business investment in economy: Republican
Government investment in economy: Democrat

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Lets say you’re a staunch environmentalist who believes in school vouchers, is in the $50k/year tax bracket? Going by the table that’s 2 to 1 in favor of the Republican Party, something that would probably get you tossed out of your chapter of the Sierra Club (if buying that Escalade didn’t do it already). What if you’re huge gun collector and NRA member but also a member of the working press and a believer in growing Medicare? 2-1 Democrat, and risk getting shot at? Face it, we need MORE factions in this country. The two-party system has done nothing to quiet the extremists in this country or to remove their political influence. If they had their own parties, at least their machinations would be in the light of day and the eye of the public as opposed to behind closed doors at party conventions.

So, of course, here are some suggestions for new parties to flavor the American political landscape:

The Fiscally Responsible Union of Gays And Lesbians (FRUGAL)
Group for government Re-investment And Flat-Tax rate (GRAFT)
Wage-earners Against NuKes, for Environmental Responsibility (WANKER)

I’m going to stop before this gets sillier.

Saw “Miracle” this weekend. I know a bit about the 1980 U.S. hockey team, and from what I know, the movie was spot-on. Kurt Russell should be commended for his accurate depiction of coach Herb Brooks. The game spots they hit perfectly, down to the dumbfounded look on the Russians’ faces as the Americans celebrated.

Jim Craig is STILL my hero.

NEWS

Marvel Whores Out To The Video Game World Yet Again
credit: Gamedaily.com
Electronic Arts has announced that they and Marvel Comics have agreed to a deal where EA will develop and distribute fighting games featuring Marvel characters.

The flip side of this is that Marvel gets exclusive “media” rights to anything featuring the EA “heroes” that will be used in the games. Apparently games are already in development for several platforms at EA’s secret Canadian base at Alkili Lake “¦ er “¦ British Columbia.

THQ Rules The World
credit: Gamedaily.com
You know it’s a slow news day when I’m putting in financials, but since THQ does pretty much everything WWE related in video games I thought this would be interesting. Apparently, THQ did a 4th quarter revenue of damn near 300 MILLION dollars; about a 30% increase from their revenues for the same time in 2002. Yow.

I’m not going to go into all of the particulars of the announcement, but it’s worth noting that THQ is expanding it’s stock repurchasing program. For those not in the know about finance, companies will repurchase it’s own stock at points where it feels the price is undervalued. Taking advantage of their own good deal, as it were. If they’re doing that, perhaps I need to have a talk with my mutual fund manager.

When This Is News, There IS No News
credit: Gamedaily.com
Okay, sometimes when new features are announced for upcoming games, it’s news. This is not one of them. Codemasters’ upcoming real-time PC strategy game (see also: every strategy game produced since Civ 2) Perimeter will feature “¦ TERRAFORMING!!! Wheeee”¦..

Jeez, I’m Not THAT Lonely
credit: Spong.com
Just so you know, if you’re reading this in Japan and you’re actually wanting to buy an Xbox, the rumors are true. Included with the Xbox/Kasumi bundle pack will be a 1.6 meter (bout 5 foot) “cushion” (pillow) with a bikini-clad girl on it, front and back. The pics I’ve seen don’t reveal any holes, so I’m assuming that’s a do-it-yourself kind of job.

Europe Proves It’s Just As Stupid As Everyone Else
credit: Spong.com
The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA, for those in the soccer know “¦ I’m looking at YOU, Misha) have announced a deal with “¦ (big breath “¦ big sigh) “¦ Electronic Arts to produce an “official” UEFA video game.

The EA press machine responded as follows, “We are excited to extend UEFA’s mission of promoting European football at every level of the game through our EA SPORTS simulation of the Euro 2004 final tournament event. Combining EA’s global expertise in football videogames with UEFA’s passionate European fan base will give football fans endless opportunity to relive the excitement and drama of Euro 2004.”

Here’s a great idea for patriotic Americans out there. When UEFA becomes available, buy it and practice the hell out of it. I don’t care if you never even looked at a soccer ball before. Learn it, live it, love it. Practice day and night. And when you can waltz over the hardest setting like Ronaldo doing a step-over, take it online, find some cocky Europeans, and kick the shit out of them at their own game. Make sure to drive home the fact that you don’t even really LIKE soccer and would rather watch “real” football.

I’m sorry, Misha. I’ve just watched Eddie Izzard’s “Circle” and it’s crap. I had to put “Dress to Kill” in immediately afterward just to get the taste out of my mouth.

PIMP-LICIOUS

Pimp Coat: A-Will, because I want more points.
And hey, if curling can be considered a legitimate, competitive sport, so can DDR I guess.

Pimp Stick: Berg, because he’s due, and I’m been a bit hard on him lately.
And if this is the future of marketing, then I’m sorry that I wasted four and a half years of my life earning a degree in this field.

Pimp Boots: Yeager, just for this line.
Let’s just say if this game were a woman, then she would be out of my league.

This week’s Ho Train:
Lucard talks about RPG’s. Public shocked. Laflin sarcastic. Film at 11.
L.C. does what he does so well against the Nintendo DS concept. As well he should.
Freddie does some mail and invokes the name of the greatest front man in rock history, the one he shares a name with, so I think a Pimp Award may be forthcoming.
Chuck feels much better now.
Lee and I have resolved our misunderstanding. We both acknowledge that the other one rules, and that’s a great way to keep the peace.
I love the name Misha settled on for his new news report, for obvious reasons if you’ve read above.
Szulczewski is happ”¦well”¦is as close to happy as he probably gets, since he gets to write about Chris Benoit again. I have to wonder if he (also) has an operating deck of Illuminati cards. I’ve been looking for someone to play with.

The March Madness 2004 review is forthcoming and I’ve got your RPI right here. Next week “¦ news “¦ and “¦ stuff.

Until then, get some sleep.

-Cory