Sunday, December 30, 2007

Win and In

Redskins in the playoffs... when I came here to write something I discovered that I am at a loss for words. Over the past few weeks it looks like the skins are finally coming together as a group. When looking at the road to the Superbowl you can't help but think that they have a shot to run through to the big game. If it weren't for that embarrassing loss to the Pats earlier this year I might actually believe they have a legit shot at winning it all, but that didn't happen so I have to lean on two things: 1. letting the insane skins fan in me to say 'they can win it all!!!'. And 2. The Madden 360 season I played through in which the skins win it all (Patriots v. Skins in the Superbowl). The secret to beating them is moving Cooley to FB.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Christmas time is a exhausting time for anybody out there working retail. Wal-Mart, I'm sure is open today. The theaters are open and I'm pretty sure more then a couple of restaurants are as well. Lots of people working hard when most of the country has off. I'm lucky enough to work in a sector of retail that has off (but back to work tomorrow). Keep these folks working today on your mind as you go wondering about today once the cabin fever sets in. My retail experience was a good one this year. I had over 80 people working hard on my teams. That breaks down to 5 team leaders, 4 group leads, 32 full-time employees and over 50 temporary. I had lots of great experiences this year. Lots of memorable things happened. I was able to meet lots of new people. I learned the art and power of a good motivational speech. I better learned how and when to act towards a disruptive employee, a tardy one, an absent one, one that throws a trash can into a bathroom stall, one that relieves himself in a trash can, people who want to fight, come in drunk. I also learned a bunch about helping injured employees. One strange thing that happened this year is that we had three seizures on the floor. All three I was witness to. The first a girl passed out and hit her head hard on the floor causing quite a bit of bleeding then the seizure. The second was in the same area similar result. The third was was actually someone who refills the medicine cabinets. He passed out because of his diabetic mediation. He stopped breathing for a while then started his seizure which I helped contain (or restrain, as he became violent). Remarkably, all three people were fine after the event.

All that said it was a successful and full-filling holiday season. I'd be hard pressed to find another job like it and enjoy the challenge. My company being located where it is you can't help but wonder and daydream about what it is like to work at one of the 100's of other distribution, fulfilment or manufacturing centers in the area... that is until you hear about a place like Victoria's Secret DC... they have a 30% return rate. Think about that one for a bit. It gets funny.

The above is a picture of one of my teams that I very proud and happy to be a part of.

From L to R: Scott, Beverly, Aaron Lyon, Rosemary Sullivan, Jimmy Dardinger, Ashley Pierce, Kathy Eicher, Juan Mackey, Lisa Latham, Matt Dickenson, Alexis Nile, Joyce Hasan, Britinay, Paula Mitchell.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

D.B. Hobbs Beer

I was searching for a lovable cheap beer. I found the worst beer i have every tasted. I love it. I don't know where this beer came from. The best I can figure is that it is a new beer brewed in the old style... which sounds like an excuse to make another really bad tasting beer.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Imagination of Garfield

There hasn't been enough said about this sequence of strips created in the late '80s. Jim Davis has, himself, commented on them "During a writing session for week, I got the idea for this decidedly different series of strips. I wanted to scare people. And what do people fear? Why, being alone of course. We carried out the concept to its logical conclusion and got a lot of responses from readers."

So it wasn't that Garfield died as a lot of people think. For me it is something far more frightning... loneliness. If you step back and look at Garfield as a stray cat living in an abondoned house all alone just imagining a wonderful life then the entire strip takes on a completely different meaning.

After finding this I went out and got a paper to make sure Garfield was still alive.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Bonds and The Babe

756 home runs...

That got me thinking about how it got to be that many. So what I'm going to do here is answer some of my own questions...

What does a player have to do during their career to achieve such a number?

Well, hit 34.36 home runs a year over 23 years.

Did Barry work his way to the top, earning his keep in the bigs as a young player?

Yes. He came into the league as a good player. From 1986 to 1989 his averages looked like this per year:

Games: 142 At Bats: 521 Runs: 91 Hits: 133 HRs: 21 RBI: 56 BA: .254 OBP: .345

...and he looked like this:

An athletic looking young guy. He was fast and had a hint of power in his bat.

Well, what about his so called prime, traditionally in baseball being your late 20's and early 30's? From 90 to 98 his numbers looked like this:

Games 148 AB: 504 R: 111 H: 154 HR: 36 RBI: 110 BA: .305 OPB: .437

Great numbers... maybe, dare I say, hall of fame numbers. In 1998 Barry was 34 years old. An outstanding player of 14 seasons in the majors. Most everyday players at that age are winding down there careers and it seemed so was Barry. But something happened, something un-natural.

In the book "Game of Shadows" they claim that it was his jealousy over the homerun record chase that didn't include himself. All attention was being paid to McGwire and Sosa. It was said that he kicked down the ropes around an area were McGwire had been schduled to take BP in San Fran he was so jealous. That same year, it is claimed, Barry visited his future trainer who would supply him with performance enhancing drugs which Bonds referred to as "the shit".

Bonds almost instantly lost his hair (not to mention the stash), increased his foot size by a couple inches and his hat a couple sizes. He walked into training camp during the 1999 season looking like "the incredible hulk". Which is what his teamates nicknamed him. Barry gained almost 30 lbs. that offseason in shear HR hitting steel. That actually came back to hurt him as he ran into injuries that year blowing out his elbow. It was humanly un-natural to gain that kind of mass, IMO. On the surface age was taking it's toll, though. Steriods or not, he was aging.


He went on to hit 49 homers in 2000, then in 2001 at the age of 37 belted the magic 73. That said though... From 1999 to 2007 almost all his numbers dropped... except the power numbers. His home runs increased, his BA increased, his OBP increased. At the age of 40 he batted .362 with 373 AB's for Christ's sake.

The power cherry on the top was his HR to at bats ratio. Babe Ruth, the Sultan of Swat hovered around 11.4 or so. Meaning about every eleven at bats he smacked out out. It was a huge deal then hitting all them HRs. I mean the previous HR record holder had something like 122. Babe wound up with 714. Bonds, in his so called by me 'prime' was at 13.9. Pretty remarkable in and of itself however. Post steriods...



Just for fun I ran the numbers on the Babe if he took steriods like Barry and extended his career by 3 years while maintaining his in his prime numbers... 837 home runs.

And that is starting him at the age of 23, not including the years he mainly pitched. And that's without including a factor for longer drives because of huge guns... factor that sort of thing in with modern ballparks (Coors) and the guy would have been pushing 1200.

Anyway, the babe would have to have had to give up beer, women (or at least taking it down to 1 or 2 a night) and hotdogs for that.

Barry Bonds is a monster. A scary monster.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

My Top Video Games

I recently created a video that attempted to sort through my thoughts on my favorite video game titles. It turned into more then I bargained for and admittedly, it is a mess. Definitely an undertaking that I am not ready for. However, I did include a number of games that I considered 'great'. Most of them getting short shrift so I'll wanted to talk more about it here. I'll also include a real top games list of my own and compare it to some other notable lists out there. Like I said in the short, it's all predicated on what I actually enjoy and not what I'm suppose to enjoy. For example; I'm probably suppose to include a game like Mario Cart 64 on my list but it won't be on there... I have played the game but I have never been a Nintendo person, meaning: I never personally owned a Nintendo console. That doesn't rule out all Nintendo games, it just means my experience with games has been with other systems.

That said, listing my list of owned consoles is a good place to start. This lets you know where my heart is.

1. Atari 2600
2. Apple II
3. Sega Master System
4. Atari Lynx
5. Sega Genesis
6. Sega Saturn
7. Sega Dreamcast
8. Xbox
9. Sony PSP
10. Xbox 360

Now, I'll go ahead an list the gaming devices that I didn't own but played the living daylights out of:

1. Atari 7800
2. C64
3. Amiga
4. Playstation

After writing that I feel as if that takes out some of the mystery of where I'm coming from and de-values my list. But I think in the climate we currently have in and around video games; honesty is key. Out of the big boys on the web I believe IGN and Gamespot are poor resources for games. EGM is a step up. GameSpy and 1UP, believe it or not, are good even though there is a lot of cross pollenization in resources (both intellectual and human) between the larger game sites on the web. There are, however, good places to get info and reviews on games. Gamerankings is great, a rottentomatoes for games. You can find a lot of reasonable people at the Adult Gamer site (no, not that kind of adult). TVG and NZGamer are alright as well. For a good read on games that go way back search out The Video Game Critic.

With that, let's get into what some choice sites consider to be the best of the best all time. To keep it a bit different then other locales on the web I'll try and include well written and informed lists. No reader polls.

We'll start with the big boys:

The Editors created this list created 2005.

10. Super Metroid (SNES)
9. Star Wars: TIE Fighter Collector's CD-ROM (PC)
8. Street Fighter II (Arcade)
7. StarCraft (PC)
6. Sid Meier's Pirates!
5. Super Mario 64 (N64)
4. Sid Meier's Civilization II
3. Tetris
2. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
1. Super Mario Bros. (NES)

I like this list. It is sort of like a Hall of Fame. They don't count down but rather induct them. So what I'll do is put the 10 first games they put on the list back in 2003.

10. Twisted Metal 2 (PS)
9. Super Mario World (SNES)
8. Pac-Man (Arcade)
7. Tetris (Nearly Everything)
6. Star Control II (PC)
5. Street Fighter II (Arcade)
4. Starcraft: Brood War (PC)
3. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
2. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS)
1. Lode Runer (Atari)

Electronic Gaming Monthly
An old list from 2001. But these games on here are not going anywhere or being bumped off their list anytime soon.

10. Super Mario World (SNES)
9. Final Fantasy III (SNES)
8. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
7. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64)
6. Soul Calibur (Dreamcast)
5. Super Mario 64 (N64)
4. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS)
3. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)
2. Tetris
1. Super Metroid (SNES)

An all-star team of industry folks got together a great list of "The Essential" most important games ever made list. It is not a top list of all time, but it is a great, informed, we'll argued feature. Below is not a countdown, it is more or less chronological. Look up this feature if you get a chance.

10. Pac-Man (Arcade 1980)
9. Star Wars (Arcade 1983)
8. Game and Watch (1980)
7. Zork (DEC PDP-10 1977)
6. Pitfall! (Atari 2600)
5. Battlezone (Arcade 1980)
4. Adventure (Atari 2600)
3. Space Invaders (Arcade 1978)
2. Pong (Arcade 1972)
1. Spacewar (PDP-1 1962)


A 2005 List. It's included because it is a straight up list without pretension. They keep it console.

10. Super Smash Brothers: Melee (SNES)
9. Halo 2 (Xbox 360)
8. Metal Gear Solid (PS)
7. Street Fighter II (Arcade)
6. Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)
5. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
4. Super Mario 64 (N64)
3. Final Fantasy VII (PS)
2. Goldeneye 007 (N64)
1. Resident Evil 4 (PS2)

So there you go. What of my list you say? Here goes:

10. Rambo First Blood Part II (Sega Master System)
Anyone growing up in the 80's can attest to the power of John Rambo. This game captured none of the movies look or feel but we bought it on the title and title alone. Turns out that this game introduced me to how fun playing games with a friend, instead of against them, can be more fun. Never too intense and sometimes frustrating, this game gave you a great experience. To this day, i fire it up. On a development level, like a lot of games around this time, it's cohesive. It never strays from what it is. Move up the screen, work with your brother, uh, Zane and complete the level.

9. One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird (Apple II)
What was Dr. J doing facing up against Bird in a video game? I can't say. But it proved to be genius and to this date, the best basketball game I've ever played. It was true, unforgiving one on one b-ball. Electronic Arts has built it's empire off this game. Have they made a game as original as this since? Nope.

8. Super Breakout (Arcade)
Simple, Genius. I know it doesn't make since to not have Pong on this list, yet have Super Breakout. But Pong was before my time. Believe it or not Steve Jobs was assigned to develop prototypes of this sequel to, well... Breakout. Super Breakout had a few features that made it incredibly addictive which is the reason the original Breakout is not on the list. I have some wonderful memories of playing this game in table top form.

7. Ghost Recon Island Thunder (XBOX)
Does GR get any better? The Original Ghost Recon is a masterpiece and Island Thunder may just put the icing on the cake but that's some flippin' good icing. I'll never forget playing this game in the wee hours of the morning arguing with my friend Dave on the best approach to the next enemy encampment. Red Storm brought this title to life. It's theirs. While I've had a great deal of fun with all the GR titles, Island Thunder remains the one that really started it all for me. I can't tell you how many hours I've logged playing GR titles. Bleeno, I want you to know... I'm getting thru this next mission... me and my teammates.

6. Civilization III (PC)
Sid Meier is the greatest 'one more move before I sleep' game developer ever. Is that the sun that's coming up? It's a rare, euphoric moment that happens to game players across the world. Does that make his games the best ever? Does sleep deprivation mean great game? Maybe... or maybe it means your damned to hell, getting no sleep until you get it out of your system. What ever the case, I know the box is always nearby my computer... begging me, whispering my name to put it in.

5. Pitfall! (Atari 2600)
A classic. Put Pitfall in front of anyone... I mean anyone and they will pick it up and play... and get hooked and possibly keep playing thinking that the scenery will change. Gold? Alligators, Scorpions, Tarzan Vines, Ladders, Brick Walls, Holes in the ground? David Crane said it took him 10 minutes to create the concept for the game. I'm not saying that popularity is the reason this game is on the list but It sold 4 million copies. That's about $200,000,000. Do yourself a favor and find this game.

4. Golden Axe (Sege Genesis)
A hack n' slash classic in my book. Sega was on top of it's game here, both in the arcade and at home. Ah, the days of my parents driving me to the arcade in Winchester, VA only to give me quarters to pump in to this cabinet. Ah, the days when you discovered the game in the arcade then purchase it to play at home. The golden age of games... Golden Axe defined this time. Death Adder is mocking you. Grab your brother... choose you character... press start... go.

3. Nights Into Dreams (Sega Saturn)
Mark Ragase. That's why I adore this game. We would race back from our college classes (and skipped a few) to top each others score. I recently purchased another Saturn with the sole purpose of playing this game again (of course, I had to get the game and special controller as well). Sonic Team created this game and, in my opinion, it is a better game. Save yourself 200 bucks in the old piggy bank and then go buy the Saturn and Nights into Dreams. Mark, if your out there... I'm working on taking down your records man!

2. Ultima IV (Apple II, PC)
This game opened my eyes to what a game could be. I look at a game like Fable and think Ultima IV. I was trying to figure out why I still remembering loving this game then I read the following recently "The object of the game is to focus on the main character's development in virtuous life, and become a spiritual leader and an example to the people of the world of Britannia. The game follows the protagonist's struggle to understand and exercise the Eight Virtues. After proving his or her understanding in each of the virtues, locating several artifacts and finally descending into the dungeon called "The Stygian Abyss" to gain access to the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom, the protagonist becomes an Avatar. Though Avatarhood is not exclusive to one chosen person, the hero remains the only known Avatar throughout the later games, and as time passes he is increasingly regarded as a myth." If that gets you excited then well... we are soulmates. This game came out in 1985. It was like a great board game come to life and I can tell you that it holds up to this day.

1. Galaga (Arcade)
'nuff said. Smitty... you remember Safeway in Purcellville.

So there she be. A Sunday afternoon putting down my thoughts on great video games. Yeah, I enjoy them. Yeah, I'm collecting old games and consoles off of ebay. What's it to you?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

(sigh) Longtime Spidey Fan Speaks

My brother has been checking in with me over the past couple weeks asking if I've seen Spider-Man 3 yet. He knows my love for the Spider-Man Mythos. I started collecting the book in the 80's and as I got older started buying up some of the older issues. As a result I had a pretty good collection of 1st print Amazing Spider-Man comics before the first Sam Rami movie came about. I am by no means a crazed comic book fanboy. Over the past decade work and life have virtually ended my indulgence in comics. Somehow, however, I have found myself watching Spider-Man on the big screen. So, yes Jim... i finally saw Spider-Man 3!

I realize that it is a bit late in the game to be pointing out differences betwixt the movies and the comics but I feel complelled to say something about the following topic:

Gwen Stacy.

Why now? I gave the 1st movie an undeserved 'pass'. I guess I figured the pressure to create a good movie would override creating an accurate one. But switching Gwen out with MJ on the Brooklyn Bridge? Hmm... The 2nd one? Good... I guess. Lines were crossed in the first one so I just sat back and enjoyed 'this take' on Spider-Man (afterall, there have been countless takes on the character in the past). And now the 3rd one... What the hell is going on? It's really got me asking what is so wrong with the 'original' story of Peter's life? Would it have confused viewers of the 1st Spider-Man movie to have put in Gwen? Her existence in the comics shaped so many things in Peter's life. Before Gwen died at the hands of the Green Goblin MJ was a abused and broken girl that hid her pain behind her good looks and outgoing party persona.

Peter and the reader were the only two that knew this at the time much like it was only Peter and the reader that knew he was Spider-Man so the dynamic there was powerful. After Gwen's death MJ helped Peter get through things and eventually there friendship grew into love and in the process both of them matured. Why did they fall in love in the movie again? Was it the upside down kiss? or the fact that MJ was hot and Spider-Man was awesome?

Gwen Stacy gave hope to every geek who read the comics. She didn't know Peter Parker as Spider-Man. She liked him for him. She actually blamed Spider-Man for her fathers death (which, well, kinda hung over Peter's head during their courtship).

So Jim... i guess I'll have to say that the 3rd installment of Spider-Man made a mess of the other two and inspired me to write about things. It also made me realize that the quote real story un-quote of Peter Parker's plight is so much more interesting then what we are seeing on screen. I will say that broadening his love life to include other women and having villian chaos is an improvement and throwing in an extended campy 'dark Parker' kept the movie from turning into Daredevil... but don't even get me started on Betty Brant nor the change in the sandman's story nor just thowing venom in there as a sideshow act or the emo hair or the bonk on Harry's head and subsequent pesonality change... (sigh)...

They get J.J.J. right though. I'll give them that.