Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bookend to Cash 4 Clunkers

I wrote a bit more then I probably should have about the Clunkers program back when it was going on. What strikes me is that I never really came to any strong conclusion to what it did or accomplished.

I'm happy that it jump started some production facilities around the country. I say "some" because it was only that. Really what the program did was allow auto makers and sellers to reduce inventory. Because most of the facilities stayed closed all the way through the program (and still are now) dealerships have somewhat of a shortage on there lots and there are not enough buyers now to up production. It's unfortunate because the potential new car buyers now are the ones that can actually afford a new car. This is one of those take the good with the bad scenarios. People that probably should have purchased a used car bought a new one and dealerships are stuck with poor selling cars.

GM is still mostly shutdown. Workers are still idle save for the ones working on the new Camaro (Delphi is still chugging along adding ballast to the Camaro because the rear brakes were designed poorly). Honda up in Marysville, Ohio is still cutting hours too.

It's reported that the Government spent $24k for every clunker traded in (Edmunds). But I believe the math required to figure out if the program was successful or not is too complex to boil down to any number.

I know this sounds like rambling and that's because it is. Nothing about this program can be pinned down as bad or good and there in lies the problem with it... it's failure. I do not believe you can start something without clearly defined goals to achieve. It's sort of like we just did this program to do something. Anything.

It's frustrating in the workplace and frustrating when it is tax dollars in the government.

It does not make sense to me.

As a Post Script I'll mention something that I didn't mention. The picture. In my adventures in trying to get an old 1988 Camaro running I ran into people that this program directly affected in regards to the destroying of perfectly running vehicles that otherwise would have been donated or kept by families struggling with debt or sold to someone inexpensively that otherwise couldn't afford a car to get to that temp job at GM. That picture up there is disgusting and it happened all over the country.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The PS3!

I'm very excited to finally have the PS3. I got it as a gift for my birthday last week. What a great gift! It has been something I have wanted for quite some time.

The first thing I wanted to test out was the Blu-ray. James Bond. I've never had the opportunity to watch any James Bond movies (well, pre-Goldeneye) without commercial interruption and until recently I hadn't seen any in HD. Over the weekend I picked up From Russia with Love. I watched it, and it was good.

The PS3 came packaged with Uncharted: Drakes Fortune. I never read anything about the game so I went into it with no expectations. But, wow. The game is very good. Heck, the best thing I have played in a while even. I don't know if it was the fact that it was on a new system for me or not... I just know that I was hooked for a good three hours after thinking I would just pick it up for an hour or so.

The gameplay is easy to learn, the artwork and graphics our excellent, and, wait for it... it has a story to follow. A understandable one, albeit simple. It is a treasure hunter game very much in the same vein as Tomb Raider. But I can't get over how simple story bullet points can hold you. Yes, a simple understandable story. It even has you caring about other characters. Friendship and possibly a love interest. It's amazing how desperate I must be for this in a game. Did I mention the story?

Uncharted 2 is already out and getting some of the best reviews I've ever seen for a video game. Even the AV Club got into act of loving this game (and yes, the story).

"But the real triumph is the painfully real way Uncharted 2 portrays human relationships. People come together and fall apart in devastating, believable ways. The relationship between Nathan and Chloe feels both old—these two have a history together—and new again in an exciting way. It’s the sexiest, most convincing relationship in gaming history."

When was the last time I read reviews saying a game has a good story?

Here is another quote, this time from Jesse Costantino at

"Among Thieves is all about constant movement. And even movement on top of movement. It grabbed me from the beginning and didn’t let go for twelve hours. Once I finished, all I could think about was playing it again. More than a defining game for the PS3, Uncharted 2 is a defining game of this console generation. It shows that games have outgrown the tired comparisons to film and that we’re witnessing the maturing of the medium."

Looking forward to it.

A simple, interesting story. Imagine that.

(I'm looking at you, Red Faction.)

Go here for more on Uncharted 2. I haven't seen reviews like this for a game... ever.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Redskins just allowed the 3rd winless team this year to, well, get a win. I think, in an act of desperation, Jim Zorn benched Jason Campbell. For him to do that after always standing by him this year must have been hard for him so I think the word from on high came down to Zorn. "Win this game or you are done." - Dan

I do believe that this is the last game for Jim Zorn. If so, him finally benching Campbell this far in the year is very sad. It's saying that Jim only believed in him until his butt was on the line. I think that he will carry that with him for a very long time.

The only thing that will keep Zorn from getting let go at this point is the greedy owners desire to keep interest in the team nationally. He knows that once he goes to another coach on the team they drop off the radar. We'll see.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dragon Rising Impressions

I think I've made my way into this game just barely enough to say a few things about it now.

Let me start out with what isn't working for me:

1. Frequent Timed Objectives. So far the game is pushing me along with things like "go here now before X happens very soon". Having a clock pushing you can be frustrating. I don't dislike this gameplay mechanic, but after the first Operation Flashpoint I realized how nice some of it was to be able to take my time. Still have a ways to go in the game tho, so we shall see.

2. Commanding your fire-team. On the console this is no easy task when locked in a firefight. The key here is learning how to skip through it fast which requires practice. Also, you cannot move when in this menu. The upside to this is that there are plenty of commands to give.

3. No map editor for the Xbox 360. I'm upset about this. Very upset.

What is working for me:

1. The planning. You better have a plan and listen to your commanders or you will go down... A lot. The game does afford you a lot of creative ways of completing an objective. And when a plan works, it's very satisfying.

2. The Audio. The menu music song is outstanding. It's half ugly (in a good way), and half beautiful. The sound effects and voice work are top notch. One the second mission you will actually fear some noises ie. gunship firing down one you. It makes an incredible 'thump, thump, thump' sound and if you are wearing your headphones- will make you hide behind the couch and suck your thumb. Also the accuracy in which you can tell where something is better in this game then any other I have played. Lastly, the ambient sounds make it feel like its the time of day your in. Even going as far as changing as the time of day changes.

3. The presentation. Again, outstanding in every way. The graphics are above average and I'm constantly surprised by new things. In similar games like Ghost Recon or Call of Duty, scripted things happen with explosions. Here they can happen anywhere and structures can and will be destroyed. Another thing here is with the menus. This may be a design preference with me but they are beautiful. Another thing to mention here is the dynamic time of day lighting. The sun rises and sets. Haven't been in the rain yet, but looking forward to it.

4. The difficulty. This game is difficult. But not in a way that makes it seem impossible. Make a mistake and you will be shot. If you find yourself thinking "I shouldn't be here in this spot" then your probably shouldn't and you will probably be shot, or your team will. This is a game where the developers don't hold your hand. The first two missions can be frustrating... you feel like you are missing enemies and going the wrong way. Be patient. Listen to your commander and stay in cover. Once the third mission starts up the game really starts to shine.

5. Your AI buddies. They behave correctly. Get locked in a firefight and you quickly realize you can't just call them out to run and follow you especially if it means they will be shot in the back. If you are making a series of bad moves and they will stop listening to you at all. Also, if you send one or more of your guys down a hill to check things out before you go (aka, a suicide mission cause you are a wuss) they will get angry and let you know. The game places a premium on your teammates. Lose them and you are done. I've read that this part of the game is turning people off because they think they are just being unresponsive. Not the case. If you are making the right decisions they will listen.

So far I'm impressed. I can see that some people are really hammering this game (particularly the online modes). I do think, like I've mentioned before, that the game is one that was released in late Beta form. So of the gripes and complaints should be fixed here in the new future.

I'd liken this game to the original Ghost Recon, a whole lotta good. With so many things going on at once it is truly something to behold. Especially for a console game.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Woody Hayes

Out of the blue the other day I got a great story from a co-worker (Dave) about the punch that Woody Hayes through that kicked him out of the game. It was long, but the just of it was that while Dave was living in NY he went to see an AFL game in which Art Schlichter (good German Ohio name) was playing. Schlichter was the quarterback that threw the interception in the game where Woody threw the punch.

After the game ended Dave went down to see if Schlichter was available, and of course he was. Dave got to talking with him and after a while asked about the punch. Schlichter opened up and stated that Woody did what he did to try and protect him from what would have been accusations of throwing the game (which, as it turns out, he did do) and allow him to have a pro-career. Which he did but threw it all away to a gambling addiction. You can read that tragic tale here.

What Woody did it put his career on the line for one of his players. Woody was fired after that game.

As a footnote I was also told that Charlie Bauman, the linebacker that intercepted it told the OSU bench that "Your quarterback just threw the game".

I find this clip hard to watch now, but here it is.

Taking on the Bad Guys

I ran across this today over at Rotten Tomatoes. In this clip. John Matrix takes on entire army head on. Does it get any better? Well, maybe the clip beneath it..

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fumble #8

Jason Campbell fumbles #8 on the season 5 minutes into the game. The NFL record on a year is 23. I know that I'm riding JC and this isn't all his fault. The O line holds some of the blame. Also, Zorn still just coaching JC not to make mistakes. A 145 yd passing game is terrible.

No interceptions though, right?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sick, Superdad and Dragon Rising

Been feeling under the weather here for a few days, but was able to pick up Dragon Rising the other day. I tried playing it last night for about 30 minutes before I had to put it down and get some rest. Tried it again tonight and had to put it down again for the same reason. Flipped on the TV and saw that Superdad (Kurt Russell) was on. I think it was one of the last old young Kurt did for Disney. Very bad, but very good to watch when not feeling well.

Alas, while you may think that popping in an extremely difficult game like Flashpoint may stink while you are sick, it isn't. I've was brainwashed by Modern Warfare I think. I'm having to recalibrate to this type of game. But so far it is living up to the hype I built up in my head for it.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

NOOOOOOOO! (and yay)

Redskins win. Yay, Go Skins! But wait... Campbell with a 101 passer rating... NOOOOOOOOO! AGAIN. It's like I said before; Zorn is coaching JC only. It makes no sense. Three INTs and two fumbles against one of the worst teams in the NFL?? Safe to say the Skins are stuck with this guy, (a aged backup, young guy hurt) but come on!

The Redskins are beneficiaries of a easy schedule, even over the next two weeks. As a fan, I'm hoping Campbell can find his magic soon, otherwise it is going to get ugly later this year.

Mid-Game Redskins Post

So while I'm sitting here watching the stats go by again this week for the Redskins game I'll mention that Jason Campbell just added another two fumbles in the first half (lost one). He has also thrown two INTs. What is going on you may ask? Well, I told you last week. Campbell is not a starting QB.

On a positive note... I heard Charlie Casserly mention his days with the Redskins twice during the pre-game show over at CBS. Bring him back. I'll say this and leave it about Mr. Casserly. Four Super Bowls.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Full Color Football

Showtime is showing an excellent documentary on the AFL marking the 50 year anniversary. The thing I enjoy most about it is that is sheds light on what is now the NFL. A lot of the names are still there; owners, coaches and all. It really rounds out what is today one of the best run businesses in the United States.

Also marking this moment is Madden 10. They are getting in the act by releasing a add on pack that includes uniforms worn by the teams that were in the original AFL. After watching the first part of the doc I'm considering checking this out.

Now, as I seem to be developing a habit of, I'll say another thing about Madden 10. I finally finished my franchise season. I lost in the Conference Championship to Arizona. It turned out to be a barn burner. Arizona kicked a 57 yard field goal in overtime to beat me. Am I disappointed? Did Madden once again script a loss for me? I'll never know, but I will say that I enjoyed it.

I mentioned before that the game was missing a few elements that make it a great title. A couple examples of this are the sameness of each game. The fact that fans are still in shorts in late December outdoors. After watching the AFL documentary you realize the remarkably rich history of football in the United States and wish that more could be done to allow you to immerse yourself in that and really become part of it. I lot to ask for sure, but I think just changing some of the repetitiveness between games and adding more personality would go a long way.

One curious thing to mention is that after the first franchise season you can go into an owner type mode with completely insane upgrades to your stadium. Enter: Valet Teleportation, HD screens at every seat and Food Replicators. Believe it. I actually found it refreshing and am going to get going on my team creation.