Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Madden 11 Lowdown

I'd been looking to buy the new video game Madden 2011 ever since it came out a few weeks ago, so when I finally found my wallet on Sunday (it had been lodged between the passenger seat and the gearshift, out of sight) I decided to go out and buy it. I asked around on Facebook for where the nearest Gamestop or EB Games was, only to find that both of them were closed: I'd forgotten it was 8:00 on a Sunday night, and most stores close early on Sundays. I was just about to give up the chase and until Monday when I remembered the one store that is ALWAYS open: Walmart. Always low prices, and almost always open. Good old sweatshop labor.

An hour later I was playing against my brother Dan, and we noticed the following major differences from our last football game (Madden 09):

1. Better Graphics, as always, but especially for us because we've updated our TV to HD since then. Big difference!

2. The "Gameflow" playcalling system, which is like a one-button-only Ask Madden on every play. It's designed to speed up game time and decrease the amount of time spent in the huddle, but I like the time spent in the huddle! It's part of the strategy! I find it annoying so I just turn the feature off and use conventional, 3-panel playcalling.

3. Superstar mode gives you 100 attribute points to distribute in the beginning, but then it's nearly impossible to improve your player afterwards. I haven't tried it yet but my brother thinks it's awful and likes the old way of improving via practice better.

4. The soundtrack is 1000 times better! Usually it's all rap or screamo from new bands trying to get their name out who purchase the rights to be on the soundtrack, but this year it's like 1/3 of that and the rest is classic rock! "Thunderstruck" by ACDC, "Song 2" by Blur (perhaps bettter known as the "WOOO-HOOO!" song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlAHZURxRjY&feature=av2e), "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Ozbourne, "Bang On These Drums All Day" by Todd Rundgren, and a bunch of other great ones too, plus the intense Sam Spence NFL Films songs.

5. It's more difficult to tackle now, and easier to break tackles, even if you don't press any buttons to do so. Some of my friends were complaining about this, and I see they're point: Jeremy Maclin broke a tackle from Ray Lewis yesterday, and that probably doesn't happen in real life. But I still like it better this way, because in real life the tackling in the NFL is so shoddy, and almost inhumanly athletic offensive players truly do scamper around defenders more easily than ever before. Plus, it's more fun when you're running the offense, and it makes games higher scoring and more exciting.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fisherman's Tale

From my early childhood I have loved fishing. This past year I considered starting a fishing club at my school: I would've called it "Da Bait Club" :). I'm not sure why I enjoy it; fishing is overpriced, overly time consuming, incredibly frustrating and at times just plain boring. Sorta like golf. It's not a very efficient hobby to have for anybody, but for our family it's a mystery we haven't given it up long ago. Until yesterday I'd never caught anything larger than 16 inches, and I've been skunked more times than I care to remember. Maybe what draws us in is the family time, or the quiet peacefulness of a river at dusk. Maybe it's the fond memories of the snacks and goodies Dad would bribe us with to impress a love for the hobby in our minds from an early age, sorta like the McDonalds' happy meals and jungle-gyms. Or maybe, just like politicians, we simply refuse to learn from our mistakes. Regardless, my father, brother, and I bought our PA fishing liscences this May with the intent to hit up the shores of local creeks, rivers, and lakes. We'd caught absolutely nothing in the 2 outings since.

So when the 4 men in the family caught a combined 25 perch from the dock in the first day of our vacation this week, we thought we were hot shit. Never mind that the largest of them was only about 10 inches, or that when dad tried to clean them they came out looking more like tater tots than filets. We were seasoned anglers! Veteran aquatic outdoorsmen! Master baiters (immature giggles...)! Yet before my Dad's "Kiss My Bass" baseball cap could be worn in full force, he wanted us to experience what it was like to catch a REAL fish. Like, one we couldn't see from the surface. That we could, like, eat. From, like, a boat. So he hired a charter boat to take us out on the Chesapeake on Saturday to solidify our upward swing in the fishing world.

Remember when I said fishing was overpriced? Well, for a half-day's worth of fishing, this trip cost $550. If, after a half-day's time, we wanted to extend it to a full day (to 3:00 PM), it would be $640. The enticing bit was that if we were skunked, we got all our money back. On the way up we were discussing different techniques for setting free a fish in case we got a bite at 2:30 when we still hadn't caught anything, because the only thing more unlucky than catching 0 fish would be catching 1 fish.

As it turned out, that wasn't a problem: we caught 68 fish. 60 bluefish, 7 striped bass, and 1 mackerel, all between the 15-21 inch range. One of my favorite assigned summer reading books ever was "The Old Man and the Sea" by Ernest Hemingway, but I didn't truly appreciate the depth of that dude's determination until Saturday. Our arms were sore after the first hour, and I doubt anything we caught exceeded 10 or 12 pounds.

Anyway, we'll be eating nothing but fish for the next week, which is fine by me because I love the stuff. Besides, it's got lots of Omega 3 and amino acids, so it's about the healthiest meat out there. Just don't tell PETA: they recently ran an advertisement campaign that read "You wouldn't eat fish if they were called Sea Kittens"...yeah...Actually, I would. And for the record, I would also consider eating a Land Fish.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Triflin' Hyphen Strife

Recently I’ve been thinking about a trend that I really don’t like in today’s society, and that’s the hyphenated conjunction of the male and the female’s last name upon marriage. You see this mostly among liberals and feminists. The idea behind such a "progressive" merger of last names is that the man's name should not dominate the woman's, that traditional last names are symbolic of this oppression, and by joining the two it symbolizes their equality...blah blah blah. Is this really the most practical place for feminists to take a stand? I'm all in favor of the woman keeping her old last name as is, not merging or altering it at all, especially in cases where she has a workplace identity she wishes to uphold; I suppose printing off hundreds of new business cards and the like can be a hassle! But I fail to see the miraculous newfound freedom that formerly oppressed females receive from longer surnames. The only thing such mergers truly serve to do, in my opinion, is stick up your nose at your barbaric, unenlightened, draconian one-named peers. The movie Hot Tub Time Machine, rife with high-brow social observations as it is, expands on this theory.

Now obviously, don't take offense if you have such a name and my speculation as to your intentions is misguided. In fact one of my Aunt's is named as such, and she is a very nice lady (although she lives in San Francisco...I told you!!!) But there are better ways to unleash your inner-feminist by protesting our chauvinistic society. When speaking in the second person plural, say "you folks" instead of "you guys". At your marriage, have a female do the service instead of a male. Better yet, let the girl pay for her own dinner and movie ticket (hey, I might get used to this feminism stuff after all). Have your daughter try out for the baseball team for all I care, just don't make it so that her name(s) won't fit on the back of her jersey.

But as annoying as this trend is at the moment, it would be a nightmare if it ever caught on into the mainstream. Because what happens when Barbara McIlvaine-Smith's daughter falls in love with my Pastor's son, Vanya Seamon-McGowan? We'd have a cute little married couple of Barbara and Vanya McIlvaine-Smith-Seamon-McGowan. And then their daughter would marry my aunt's son, Ian Doris-Bates, and their daughter Mary Lou could marry my neighbor Brendan Hayes-Oberest, and Ta-Da: we now have a Mary Lou McIlvaine-Smith-Seamon-McGowan-Doris-Bates-Hayes-Oberest running around.

We're not just talking inconvenience, I'm pretty sure this trend has doomed many a once-great empire. Maybe Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii would have been able to keep her throne had her generals been able to address her by name. Maybe Soviet Russia would have endured had they been able to fit names like Nataliya Alexandrovna Ivanova on the welfare checks. Maybe the sun would still never set on the British empire if the King's didn't have to waste their energy saying sentences like "I hereby knight you Sir Terrance Michael John Adamson Lee Cavendish the Sixth, the Valiant, of Shropshire!" Ok, maybe not, but names that can be uttered in two breif grunts still work just fine for me.