Monday, February 19, 2007

Abject Drunkeness Come on Down!!

You know many times I find myself thinking "if only somebody combined the suspense and excitement of a "Price is Right" pricing game with the one of a kind experience of binge drinking." Lo and behold my wishes have been answered:

I can't believe they were selling this stuff for years at Kohl's and Targets in usually the Kitchenware departments of all places, next to knife holders and decorative tea cozies. Unfortunately like all wonderful dreams this too is alas fleeting.

Perhaps they'll find other games to convert like "Punch a Bunch", "One Away", "Hole in One", or the perfectly titled "That's Too Much!"

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

My Love Can Only Be Expressed Through the Power Ballad

So I was just randomly skimming through wikipedia at work trying to look like I was working on a spread sheet, when I came across an interesting "fact" that might be all the more relevant with this being Valentine's day and all. Through my wikipedia hopscotching I manged to come across the official entry for "power ballads". The article itself was severely flawed. In addition to it's limited scope and clumsy formatting, it had both the "doesn't meet standards" and "does not cite references or sources" warning headers on top always suspect. I couldn't blame it too much though, defining a power ballad is an extremely tenuous affair. There are obvious examples of power ballads a la Styx's "Lady", Poison's "Every Rose Has It's Thorn", and almost every hit by REO Speedwagon, but it's kind of like what Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about defining pornography, he couldn't properly define it but "I know it when I see it". I for one have a similar, complex (some might say arbitrary) personal system that would take pages to actually explain, assuming if it even could be explained fully.

So it came as a bit of a surprise to me that when it came to history it listed the Carpenters' 1972 hit "Goodbye to Love" as an important precursor to the form. Being the noted fan of 70's brother sister MOR groups I have the Carpenter's "Love Songs" album and I've heard "Goodbye to Love" many times before; but an early power ballad?

I never noticed it in that context and it wasn't a particularly memorable song in my hierarchy of Carpenters hits, but upon a second listen I was quite surprised at its power ballad-like flavor. Many of my personal criteria were there. Slow lyrical start with a sparse piano accompaniment? Check! Self reflection on the question of love? Check! Broken hearts? Check! Gradually rising background vocals? Check! Outrageous fuzz guitar solo that acts as a beautiful crushing crescendo to it all? Checkmate!

If it wasn't for the one glaring fact that the band was the Carpenters and thus incapable of being bad ass and rocking enough in the first place to give the necessary powerful contrast to a ballad like this, I would have indeed considered this a power ballad. However, in an ironic note, apparently even though the song was a decent Carpenters' sized hit, it elicited some considerable "hate mail" from people who thought the duo had "sold out" and gone "hard rock". So maybe there was more to them then their white smile, heart shaped image let on? Some of their most well known songs like "Top of the World" and "We've Only Just Begun" are as optimistic as they come, but there were some haunting downers like "Solitare" and must definitely "Goodbye to Love". There was tension between the band mates, continued tremendous success inspite of dismissal by critics, a bizarre tribute album by various contemporary alternative acts, and to top it off their lead singer died prematurely after years of abusing her body; pretty Behind the Music if you ask me.

Let's see Bon Jovi top that.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Victor's Ten Random Thoughts on Tecmo Super Bowl

Recently, for no reason in particular aside from my ongoing personal commitment to avoiding any real work, I've start playing a lot of Tecmo Super Bowl for the NES again. Every few years I seem to get into these brief stretches where I just play through season after season. It's one of the few NES games that I still find endlessly re-playable; an enduring masterpiece. Even now, 16 years later, people are putting up Tecmo fan websites, participating in sad, but lively forum debates, and even playing in competitive leagues, hacking in updated rosters for various historic reenactments. It was even used as a tongue and cheek simulator of the recent Super Bowl (although it was a bit inaccurate). So after this recent spell of intense 8-bit gridiron action and numerous fictional Buffalo Bills World Championships, here are 10 random ruminations on this classic:

  1. LA Raiders RB Bo Jackson's mythic reputation as the most dominant RB in the game is well deserved, however I'd like to put forth a dissenting opinion that KC Chiefs RB Christian Okoye is just as good. The "Nigerian Nightmare" while slightly slower than Jackson, is the undisputed king of breaking tackles. When he's in excellent condition he knocks single tacklers over like rag dolls. It's interesting how both players in real life were only dominant in the brief span before and after the game was made.
  2. There is no reason to do any run plays with the Houston Oilers aside from cruelly taunting your opponent with reckless showboating. Seriously when you have arguably the best QB Warren Moon gunning it to an embarrassment of receiving riches like Drew Hill, Ernest Givens, and Haywood Jefferies, every game ends with around 600 passing and receiving yards. Throw in the fact that RB Lorenzo White is the WORST RB in the game, this is a one dimensional, but still overpoweringly effective offense.
  3. Come on, Jim Kelly, Randall Cunningham, and Bernie Kosar aka QB Bills, QB Eagles, and QB Browns respectively. I don't know what the specific reasons were for your lack of involvement in the player union but it feels like a robot is celebrating an 80 yard TD pass to Andre Reed or a scrambled 50 yard QB Sneak to give Philly the lead. You guys are top tier QBs (and you're pretty good Bernie) so why not revel in your fame.
  4. Gil "The Thrill" Fenerty is in my opinion the best kick returner in the game. I think he's a tad underrated since he's on the boring, starless N.O. Saints, but I've had games where his kick and punt returns were almost the entire offense. Seriously this team has no other exceptional players, just a starting line up of pure mediocrity.
  5. In stark contrast to the current champion Indianapolis Colts, the 91 Tecmo Colts are the worst team in the game. While it's an all round bad team their major weakness stems from a defense that cannot tackle for their lives. Any decent RB can easier run directly at a Colts defender and knock them down like a toddler (see: topic 1). Most often than not the Colts need two or three guys all diving at once to bring a player down. Add this Swiss Cheese defense with a an anemic offense led by the talentless Jeff George and you got yourself the doormats of the league.
  6. It a guarantee that the Browns Eric Metcalf will get injured somewhere during the course of a full season. He's a talented wide receiver and kick returner, but he's obviously made of glass or suffering from a permanent illness; I've never seen his condition go above average. In any case, I've gotten used to the sight of him returning a kick, getting tackled and the cinematic of him hobbling off the field with serious sounding music in the background.
  7. Chargers QB B.J. Tolliver throws like he's pitching in a middle aged women's softball league. He's accurate and all but he can't seem to throw over the lumbering defensive linemen that routinely tip his passes and in some instances actually intercept him. So many times he's had a wide open man down the field only to have the ball be spiked down an inch in front of him. At least he never over throws his target.
  8. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers should be renamed "Wayne Haddix and Some Other Guys in Orange". He is the Bo Jackson of defensive backs and will intercept any pass thrown remotely near his target WR as this bizarre musical demonstration will show. His speed and interception levels are untouchable. It's a shame he's on such a dead end team. As it turns out Haddix like many other Tecmo stars was in reality only good for one season, which happened the be the 1990 season that all players stats are based off of.
  9. You have to make a concentrated effort to miss an extra point. If only extra point field goals were this easy in reality. The question of distance is a non issue and the left right arrow has such a wide margin of error that to actually kick and miss you would have to focus on getting it just as the arrow is at the most extreme points.
  10. I didn't know this at first but, according to wikipedia the CPU is suppose to become increasingly difficult as the season progresses. I was always wondering why the team I blew out 52 -3 in Week 2 came back to either kick my ass or make it a touchdown to touchdown slug fest where the last scorer wins. This applies even to the bad teams, so even the week 17 Patriots are a force to be reckoned with. Pretty progressive programming, Tecmo.
All the extra clips are courtesy of YouTube and its disturbingly high number of posted Tecmo game footage and reenactments.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

I'm not here to start no trouble...

So, at the time of this post, Super Bowl XLI is roughly XXIV hours away. In terms of predictions, mine is two fold, I predict the Colts to win, however I hope the Bears come through with the upset. I really don't have any strong connections to both teams, but I'll be rooting for the Bears (while most likely betting against them), only for the outside possibility that it might lead to one thing: a new Superbowl Shuffle!

In case you're somehow not familiar with the original Superbowl Shuffle, a little context. The 1985 Chicago Bears were quite possibly the single greatest football team in the history of the NFL. Led by their dominant defense they shutdown every opponent and were well on their way to a perfect 16-0 regular season until they get their one and only loss in a late year heart breaker to the Dolphins. Seeing their perfect season marred, what do they do the next day? They go into the studio and record five and a half minutes of synth-laden, badly choreographed, pure arrogance, boldly proclaiming their dominance and predicting an inevitable Superbowl win. Afterwards they blow through the playoffs, not allowing a single point and in Superbowl XX, crush the New England Patriots 46-10, in the most lopsided non-Buffalo Bills related Superbowl in history.

But apparently, that's not even the most remarkable part of the story. As I learned through wikipedia, the shuffle actually reached #41 on the Billboard Charts and earned a GRAMMY NOMINATION for Best Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance—Duo or Group (which they lost to Prince and the Revolution's "Kiss"). It also apparently inspired a whole slew of mostly unsuccessful imitators:

  • In 1986 The LA Raiders released "The Silver and Black Attack", based on "The Yellow and Black Attack" by Christian metal gods Stryper and the LA Rams released an original joint called "Let's Ram It", but neither team won a playoff game.
  • After winning the following years superbowl, the NY Giants released "Walk Like A Giant" a la "Walk Like an Egyptian"...a lame parody but at least they won.
  • In 1994, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cower vetoed a proposed plan for a song by the team. They ended up losing the AFC title game.
  • The 1999 Jacksonville Jaguars' terribly original "Uh Oh, The Jaguars Super Bowl Song" also stalled at the AFC title game.
  • Even outsourcing real musicians like Bootsy Collins for the 2005 Cincinnati Bengals anthem "Fear Da Tiger" led to an early bounce from the playoffs.
So even after over 20 years "the shuffle" remains the greatest, in terms of success, popularity, and sadly technical proficiency, in the incredibly exclusive category of sports team singles.

Which brings me back to my original dream. Imagine what an upset victory over the great Peyton Manning's Colts could possibly mean. That's the sort of special event that could once again send this team, with it's proud sports musical tradition of excellence, back into the studio. This time I think they could make it work. Hip-hop and R&B have come such a long way, along with studio technology, and we've moved far beyond star wipes in terms of visual effects. Think of it instead of the punky QB, it's Sexy Rexy. Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson could split carries on their verses. Robbie Gould could wail away on a soundless cowbell. Brian Urlacher doing the fakest looking sax solo ever. It'll be tough fitting Mushin Muhammed and Adewale Ogunleye in the lyrics, but it's possible. Devin Hester could do the I'm the rookie part at the end. They'll even have street cred, defensive tackle Tank Johnson got arrested for violating parole and had to get special permission to leave Illinois to even play in the Super Bowl. Throw in some rump shaking cheerleaders and some Hype Williams fish eye lens shots and pretty soon the Bears will be back to blowing your mind like they knew they would.


So this entry is here to cleanse the palate if you will.

As the random assortment of homemade spec ads will attest to, this used to be the future home my online advertising portfolio. In the end I never really got around to completing this portfolio (and my goal of working in advertising). So when I thought about opening up another blog, I thought why open up a new one when I can reduce, reuse, and recycle? Also, I didn't want to delete the pictures considering how much of a hassle it was uploading them in the first place.

Remember the power is yours!