Wednesday, August 13, 2008

If You Can't Find Me, I Probably Left

I hate leaving.

Actually, hate is a pretty strong word, so allow me to rephrase: I fucking loathe leaving. It's not that I'm so sentimental that it's hard for me to say good-bye. Saying good-bye is easy if everybody lets you off the hook and you're able to just say, 'well, I'm off, bye.' But it's never that simple. Everybody wants to hug and shake hands and prolong the leaving moment as long as possible.

It's the awkward preamble to saying good-bye to people that I try to avoid most. I generally put people into two categories in regards to leaving: people I hug and people I don't. Nothing's more awkward than having to give or receive a hug because of the fear of someone feeling left out. I hereby give permission for you to not hug me when I leave if you don't want to. I won't take it personally. Just don't expect a hug from me and we're fine.

I'm the kind of guy who'd rather not go to a party just because I don't want to go through all of the drama of leaving. Sometimes I get the feeling that I have to get permission to leave. And there's always somebody who seems disappointed to by your departure. Why is that?

Even weirder than the weirdness that leaving implies is how weird I am about just trying to disappear myself. I've been known to vanish from places if I don't have the energy to say good-bye. I acknowledge that this is strange behavior. It's one of the few eccentricities I allow myself nowadays. The next day or even right when I get home, I will inevitably have to sort through numerous text messages and voice mails inquiring, "where did you go?".

I was drunk so I took off. Don't take it personally.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Everybody's A Failed Something

Things at which I am a failure:
  • Professional football, baseball and basketball
  • Lawyerin'
  • Comic book writing
  • Self-publishing
  • Careerism
  • Friendship
  • Minstrelsy
  • Poetry
  • Acting
  • Directing
  • Screenwriting
  • Table tennis (colloquially known as 'ping pong')
  • Foosball
  • Advertising copywriting
  • Plant care
  • unpacking my apartment in a timely fashion
  • dish-doing
  • cold-calling
  • caring about stuff that I don't care about, but should
  • dressing well
  • acting my age/aging my act
  • job interviews
  • dating
  • drawing class
  • registering to legally operate a motor vehicle in the state of California
  • forwarding my mail
  • eating healthy
  • not drinking so much god damned beer all the time
  • exercising regularly
  • completing this list

Monday, August 04, 2008

Top 10 (or so) Most Obvious Signs That You Are an Alcoholic

1.) You frequently attend AA meetings and are currently engaged in a twelve step program in an effort to accept sobriety as a way of life...hilarious!

2.) You have been charged with a number of moving violations while intoxicated, but none of them stem from driving a car.

3.) You overhear one of your many, many illegitimate children(s) quietly inquire, "Mommy, is daddy an alcoholic?" She softly responds, "Yes...the worst kind," then turns to the window, tears streaming down her face. AAAAND SCENE!

7.) You just blacked out for numbers 4, 5, and 6 of this list.

8.) You pass out in a different place every night - thousands of miles apart - but somehow manage to stumble all the way home each morning.

9.) Your favorite flavor of mouthwash is vomit.

10.) You don't do anything without getting drunk. And you don't do anything in the first place. And you're always drunk while not doing it.

11.) Because you think that if it goes to eleven, it's somehow funny. You have a shameless need to reference obvious jokes from 80's cult movies and you drink copious amounts of alcohol while doing so.

This post is an Instrumental

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Current Event(s) Blogworthy!

If a current event has been deemed blogworthy by blogistes the world over, it should be anticipated that the event will be widely reported and analyzed, commented and postulated upon, until such a time as the event is effectively rendered dead by repeated and merciless flogging, (hereafter known as 'blogging a dead horse' - ha!)

In the event that the...event is somehow tangentially related to some other such event by mitigating circumstances (wild speculation, imaginative association) said event will be granted a new life by virtue of its specious relation to the second event. More than two interrelated events construes evidence that a greater "series of events" are unfolding and this "series" may breathe new life once again into the original event by giving it an entirely different context and relevance to other such events.

Should these collective events be deemed to have "a life of its own" by the blogging public responsible for giving it life, it will receive wide coverage from national media publications, who will then grant the event constant permeative exposure. The original event and all subsequent and corresponding events will receive much scrutiny by way of comparison/contrast, id-itorializing, and excessive unnecessary personalization by and for so-called pundits. In this manner, the event has now evolved into what is commonly known as a "scandal". It is crucial at this point that as much hyperbolistic-holier-than-thou-righteous-indignation and moral relativism as possible be summoned and practiced in exploring (judging) the root cause of the scandal.

Thusly follows the most important aspect in analysis of the scandal and that is the formulation of a blame paradigm in which the most enfeebled, defenseless and publicly humiliated participant is fingered as the most blameworthy and should then have the weight of responsibility thrown on him or her. It is not uncommon for any number of bizarre fantasy punishments to be offered by the aforementioned pundits or a special class of morally superior citizens known as "irate viewers" as discipline for this person's shameless depravity in participation of the scandal.

The participants of the original events, now chastened and systematically "scandalized" by constant public scrutiny, should be left alone to contemplate suicide in favor of other events that may or may not be developing into a scandal. Or, more likely, the media will self-reflexively blame "the media" (this is when the media refers to "the media", which is clearly not the media heretofore under discussion, but some other media to which no media ever belongs) for sensationalizing such a scandal and will disavow any connection or responsibility in publicizing scandals in the first place by tsk-tsking other "less respectable" media types for reporting on it.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Pelosi Accurately Characterizes the Bush Presidency

It's hard to push legislation through when partisan politics rules the day and an opposing-party president vetoes every single vote. I hope voters are smart enough to see through the types of games the Bush administration has been playing in trying to secure a permanent Republican congressional majority. Thanks Karl Rove...dick.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080717/ap_on_go_pr_wh/pelosi_bush

It's Going to be a Football Kind of Year

I am officially geeking out for the 2008 NFL season. I have bought three NFL preview magazines, am participating in four fantasy football leagues and have purchased the NFL Sunday ticket package from Direct TV. All of this despite the fact that my team is not expected to do very well this season. But at least I will be able to see them not do very well every week without fail, in crystal clear digital television! (I'm not fancy enough for HD yet).


...do people still say 'geeking out'?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bankruptcy Legacy

Some time ago, the Bush administration made it harder for individuals to declare bankruptcy. Now there is a wave of national business chains declaring bankruptcy and leaving massive debts to service companies in their wake, which will, in turn, hurt those companies' employees and consumers.

After 8 years of foreign policy, diplomatic, public relations, political and electoral disasters, who would have thought that George W. Bush's legacy would be as the president who drove the world's most affluent and functional economy into the ground? Even Bush has to be stunned at the many flaws of his second term. And if it's one thing Americans don't like, it's being poor.

Bush has finally united the country - now EVERYBODY hates him.

Good riddance.

Friday, April 11, 2008

No Age

This is a song by the group No Age from their forthcoming album Nouns, available May 6 from Sub Pop. I don't know the title, but it's a decent song.

http://www.subpop.com/assets/audio/4260.mp3

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Olympic Flame Blame Game

China, the US and the Olympic Committee are finally catching up with how the rest of the world feels about China's human rights record. You'd think the Olympic Committee would have seen such problems coming, what with China's propensity to neutralize/put to death people they find inconvenient.

If only the Olympic torch protesters were to admit to themselves that China's human rights abuses don't begin and end with censorship, but with many of the products the protesters themselves purchase daily from the local Mal-Wart. Maybe consumers should protest the manufacturers that support Chinese production and by extension, their long standing and growing habit of labor abuses.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Teenage Girls More Violent Than Previously Thought

Just saw a video of a bunch of girls trapping and beating up a cheerleader for posting mean things about them on myspace, which proves to me that females are the more violent sex. Girls just weren't aware of the mean things they were saying about each other until the internet happened. Or, they just weren't as keen on making a documentary about how much they like to rat-pack each other.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Will There Ever Be Another Band Like Huey Lewis and the News?

I wake up every morning with a song in my head. Usually it's some inanely irritating song from adult contemporary radio like The Pointer Sisters' "Neutron Dance" or a song like "You've Got to Pick a Pocket or Two" from the musical Oliver!. Ask anyone who knows me and they'll grumble to you that I have an irritatingly impressionable song-mind. I don't know why, but I get at least a half a dozen songs stuck in my head throughout any given day and, depending on my mood, I might hum them, whistle them, or sing them to the great annoyance of my friend/girlfriend/coworker. I don't know how this happens. I don't even have to hear the song to get it stuck in my head. Sometimes my girlfriend and I will be making dinner and she will say something about taking out the trash and twenty minutes later, I'll be singing "Yakety-yak (Don't Talk Back)." Other times, the background noise of the television will put an idea in my head and I'll have the refrains of "Get Outta My Dreams, and Into My Car" bouncing around in my noggin.

Anyway, this morning I awoke with the Huey Lewis and the News tune "Happy to Be Stuck with You" in my head and it made me realize that there may never be another band like Huey Lewis and the News.

Huey Lewis and the News (hereafter HL&N) was the first concert I went to as a child. I don't even know why we went. It was probably because my sisters wanted to go. My dad was a fan, too, but I think that was after the concert. I remember we made a big deal out of getting there because we were camping at this big campground just outside of Rapid City called Heart Ranch and we left just to go to this concert. I don't know if it was pre-planned or what. It seems like everybody I knew was there. (When Huey Lewis came to Rapid City it was big News!) I do remember that I was having trouble seeing, so I went to stand in the aisle above a tunnel entrance and this dude came down and bitched me out for standing in his way. I was five. My dad took me by the hand and led me to the same spot and stood next to me, daring the guy to come back. I love my dad.

But back to HL&N.

The News was one of those late 80s phenomena that, musically, sat somewhere between soft rock and jazz and adult contemporary, yet they still somehow remained popular. I mean, how many 40-something dudes could release an album called Sports and be a success? How many popular bands can you name that have a horn section in the year 2008? Also, they had a song called "I Want a New Drug" and it was popular! Nobody could record a song like that and get airplay in 2008. And that's my point: there was a sort of goofy innocence to Huey Lewis and the News. They were utterly uncool, (didn't one of the dudes have big grandma glasses?) and they knew it. They even had a song called "Hip to Be Square". Yet HL&N wrote good tunes with wide appeal. They didn't have an overwhelmingly obvious gimmick, but they had a certain effortless blue collar sensibility that only artists like John Mellencamp (or is it John Cougar or is it still all three? Who cares?) desperately try to manufacture in the current musical climate.

I have to admit, when I was younger I always thought that they should have called the band Huey, Lewy and the Newy, as a tribute to Donald Duck's nephews Huey, Dewy, and Louie. Why am I telling you this? I don't know...

I retained my shirt from that Huey Lewis and the News concert for years afterwards. I believe it was the Fore! tour and I think I inherited each member of my family's shirt over the course of a few years. In a way I still wish I had one of those shirts. Kind of.

Huey Lewis last recorded an album of original material in 2001 and a live album in 2005. They're still going strong it seems. I wouldn't listen to any of their new material, but they should keep making albums as long as they can, because once they're gone, they will have been one of a kind.

But maybe that's for the best.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Ninja Revolution UPDATE!

Due to poor/no research I overlooked this evidence supporting my theory of the Coming Ninja Revolution:

There is a new Sho Kosugi movie in the works entitled The Return of the Ninja.

You see!

Everything is going exactly as (if) planned.

More as the story develops...

The Coming Ninja Revolution!

When I was but a wee lad, I was obsessed with all things ninja. I would never miss a Sho Kosugi movie or one of the infinitely lamer and progressively more ridiculous American Ninja sequels with Michael Dudikoff.

I would even pretend that I was a ninja. I had a ninja costume and a plastic ninja sword. I had plastic throwing stars (there were kids that had real throwing stars, but I stayed away from them because they were troubled kids who eventually became Hare Krishna, which couldn't be more un-ninja, or "less ninja", if you want to split grammatical hairs.) For a long time, I wanted to grow up to be a ninja. This was during the 1980s, which for some reason was a heyday for ninjas (hereafter to be known "The First Ninja Surge"). Alas, I am sad to report that my ninja ambitions have yet to be realized. But dare I say, it's never too late? (It is, so I daren't.)

But mark ye this: in the very near future, there will be a pop-cultural resurgence of all things ninja. There will be ninja movies, ninja TV shows, comic books, video games, Halloween costumes, ninja-themed parties, companies named for ninjas and on and on and on.

Why do I say this? Because all of the nerds -- er, ninja fans -- that were young during the First Ninja Surge are now coming into media prominence. And like all fashionable things from decades past, unnecessary fads tend to resurface when the original fans get to a certain age and nostalgia sets in. Look no further than VH1's Remember the (insert decade here) series for proof.

Just the reporting this future phenomenon hastens its inevitable arrival. So fellow ninjas, get your (plastic) throwing stars ready!

You heard it here first.

Curb Your Cynicism

I was listening to a podcast of The Advertising Show the other day and the guest was a gentleman named Chuck Underwood, author of The Generational Imperative: Understanding Generational Differences In The Workplace, Marketplace, And Living Room and he was discussing how to advertise for and to specific generations. He put people in my age group into the "Gen-Xers" category and stated that one of the main attributes of 'our' generation in regards to advertising was skepticism and cynicism.

Firstly, I'm glad that my generation is no longer referred to as the "MTV Generation," because I've never really liked or even identified with MTV. Secondly, and personally speaking, I can hardly disagree with Mr. Underwood's claims, regarding both advertising and the world at large.

But in trying to make a career transition into advertising, I've had to suppress my cynical inclinations. Thankfully, It hasn't been hard.

Over the years, I've busied myself reading books like No Logo, which is, to put it mildly, skeptical of advertising and pure capitalism in general.

It wasn't until I read a book called Nation of Rebels that I was able to come to grips with my role in a consumerist society and finally accept the advertising that goes along with living in such a society.

Don't get me wrong, advertising deserves scrutiny, just like anything else. But it is my belief that many people are skeptical of certain kinds of advertising and cynical because they don't understand the necessary role that advertising plays in our society, not to mention its function in providing entertainment - both as a medium and financier.

The simple fact is, much of our entertainment is driven by and underwritten by advertising. I don't think people realize this. Some people consider advertising intrusive and insulting. Few seem to view it without at least a modicum of suspicion and even less see advertising as a legitimate source of entertainment.

Various advertising philosophies are at odds about the necessity and function of advertising as entertainment. Few disagree that the purpose of advertising is to sell products.

However, advertising is also a service. Without advertising, many products would never enter into the consumer's consciousness and, as a result, many consumers would miss out on products that can be beneficial and even improve quality of life.

If the main goal of consumerism is to improve quality of life, then, by extension, the main goal of advertising has to be the same. Improving quality of life can mean many things. The improvement can come in the form of indispensables like garbage bags or it can come in the form of entertainment. The good thing about free market capitalism is that the importance of goods in the context of life-quality is purely at the mercy of the consumer. The consumer decides what and how much of any product is necessary to improve quality of life. And these traits will vary by consumer and by generation. In other types of markets, these decisions can be made by the government, economists or other figures of academia and power.

So we should all be thankful for the benefit of choice. The opposite in current American society would be unthinkable.

Granted, the fallout of unchecked free market capitalism can be devastating. Many developing countries are at the mercy of so-called "free trade". Globalist economies have even hurt America's once vast manufacturing industries. There are some who will tell you that free market capitalism in its purest form allows for such unrepentant economic Darwinism. But free market capitalism is an idea. And ideas don't have the benefit of conscience. But people do.

I would argue that my generation is skeptical because it is a generation of consumers with a conscience.

Those who would seek to justify prioritizing profits before the welfare of the people with an idea such as economic Darwinism aren't helping to curb the cynicism of socially and environmentally conscious consumers. And this must be reconciled.

The current presidential administration is transparently pro-business and anti-poor. But perhaps these people should themselves be considered cynical and lacking in conscience. After all, it would seem that President Bush and his advisers believe that competition is the only way to succeed in a free market and that any benefits should go to furthering competition and widening the gap in favor of those who are already successful, as opposed to leveling the playing field so that all can compete on even terms. This isn't just a cynical way of thinking, but nihilistic as well.

You could say that Gen-X is cynical about such cynicism.

It may actually be incorrect to claim that Gen-X is skeptical of advertising. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that we are skeptical of what advertising represents. I have learned not to blame advertising, but rather to see it for what it is and even appreciate it on many levels.

I've finally been able to curb my cynicism.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The 2008 Academy Awards

As mentioned in another post, I will not be watching The Oscars this year. Why? I have plans and I don't care. Never have. I'm not going to pretend that I've never watched The Oscars because I certainly have, but I don't enjoy watching The Oscars.

The good thing about this year's Academy Awards is that I feel that many of the nominees are films that have been/could be enjoyed by the general public. Even if they weren't box office smashes, they are, in my opinion, generally very approachable films. Perhaps as a consequence, for the first time in a long time I found that I have watched many of the nominees. (The one major exception is Juno. I've been meaning to see it, but just haven't had the proper combination of available funds, interest and motivation.)

Three of my favorite movies this year are nominated in one category or more - No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood and Michael Clayton. Considering my previous claim that these films are all very good examples of brilliant films with a broad appeal, I heard groans at the end of each of them from people sitting around me in the movie theater, which disappointed me. Granted, I went to film school, but I don't think my education informed my sensibilities, just my bullshit detector. In fact, I have gone on record several times against "classic" films that I don't find very interesting. The irony is that the very same people I heard groaning in the theater will probably watch and put a lot of stock into The Oscars ceremony.

I would love to write a commentary after this year's Oscars. But that would necessitate me watching the ceremony for the sole purpose of making fun of it, which is exclusively the reason I've watched it in the past. But even that gets boring. Making fun of The Oscars is like staring at attractive people, laughing at puppies or cooing at babies - a knee-jerk reaction on such a primal level that it's almost instinctive. People in Hollywood are smart. So I find it hard to believe that they are not in on the joke. But sometimes it seems like they aren't.

And that worries me.

Fridee

Some thoughts:

  • There's something suspicious about all of the celebrities that have given birth to twins.
  • Who are these "officials" and "experts" that seem to be the only people news websites cite in their headlines?
  • The great thing about being an American is exercising your right NOT to watch the Oscars.
  • The Broncos re-signed Travis Henry with a re-structured deal, which basically rendered all of my previous trade daydreaming moot.
  • I just started reading the comic book series Y: The Last Man and it kicks ass.
  • ...so does The Simpsons Game on XBox 360.
  • This nice weather is giving me spring fever. Too bad spring is still a month away.
  • It seems that since I'm not a marketing rockstar, an IT guru, a real estate superstar or a customer service wizard, I can't get a job.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Benefits and Joys of Reading

My dad once told me that if I wanted to be smart, then I should read. At the time, I didn't take his advice to heart, but some years later I decided that it was a goal in my life to try and learn as much about the world as I could for my own benefit.

I truly believe that if each person in this country dedicated themselves to doubling the number of books they read each year, the world would be a better place. I am always saddened when I see news reports about falling literacy rates, for reading is one of the simplest, cheapest and most fulfilling forms of entertainment and education available.

I think many people refrain from reading for a couple of different reasons:

1) They're too proud. I would put my former self into this category. These people are of the "if I wanted to read, I'd go to school" persuasion. They claim that lack of interest is their reason for reading, but I really think that deep down, they're embarrassed at the thought of being caught reading a book.

2) People aren't aware of the wide variety of interesting books that are available. This might seem like a shallow reason, but some people have very particular tastes and either aren't aware that there are probably lots of books that will appeal to them, or are not sure how to find out about them and where to get them. Again, seems faulty to say that, but some people just don't understand how to research. Without the internet, I probably wouldn't know how to find out about a lot of things I now consider to be a normal part of my life.

3) They're disinterested in reading. This, I feel is a combination of the previous two problems. These people say that reading bores them, puts them to sleep, or doesn't have any appeal because of the lack of interaction. Many of these people associate reading with school and as such, see it as a forced activity. This is a valid, but easily remediable problem. In college, I started to believe that I had no attention span and didn't care for reading because everything I read put me to sleep. This is what happens when what you're trying to read is disinteresting. Everybody has a topic about which they'd like to know more. It's just a matter of finding an engaging presentation of information. Reading as a whole isn't disinteresting, but what a person reads can be.

Reading doesn't mean that you have to sit down for long stretches and dive into a lengthy novel about Victorian England. Comic books, magazines, newspapers, and non-fiction books are all things that can be read with positive benefits. There are no rules for being engaged by words and the benefit is that you almost always come away entertained, informed or inspired.

One of the most irritating things I've encountered is people who claim that you are being condescending to them because they don't understand what you've said or written because you've chosen to use "big" words. Granted, you should always consider your audience, but I think this lacking in communications skills is fundamentally a result of people's reluctance to work with words. I think it's imperative that people make a concerted effort to understand each other and learn more about the world at large. People are threatened by language they don't understand and they are irritated when confronted with such language, because they perceive it as an intentional reminder that they don't possess the faculty to understand such language. This is a fallacy of the highest order. If you're a fully functioning adult with a high school diploma, most common language is well within your reach to comprehend. Ignorance is not the same thing as stupidity and one should never use their own ignorance as an excuse to further it.

I have been guilty of all of the above indiscretions at one time or another. I used to believe that only certain kinds of people did certain kinds of things like listened to specific music or read specific books. It wasn't until I was confronted with the kind of diversity that only a large city can provide that I finally changed my perspective.

In this regard, one specific memory stands out. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I worked as a freelance production assistant on a commercial. There was a grip (basically a laborer, but skilled, highly payed and unionized) that I was helping unload a truck. He asked me what I liked to do. I responded that lately I liked to read. He then began quizzing me about which of the classics I'd read. Based on what I told him, he recommended all kinds of interesting books. It was amazing to me: here was this dread-locked, working class laborer schooling me about the classical canon. It opened my eyes and made me realize that one doesn't have to allow oneself to be placed in a box by others. It is our responsibility as individuals to diversify and not perpetuate the kind ignorance that I had practiced before that exchange.

Reading can do that. If you only give it a chance.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sympathy for Javon Walker/What to do with Travis Henry?

Javon Walker recently went on record saying that he would be better off playing for a team other than the Denver Broncos.

I can sympathize with Walker, to a degree.

Consider this: Javon Walker has probably not been the same person - football player or otherwise - that he was before the early morning hours of January 1, 2007, when he witnessed his teammate, Darrent Williams, murdered by machine gun fire. The crime has yet to be solved, which probably weighs that much heavier on Walker.

This happened after the emotional roller coaster that was the uncertainty of a comeback after Walker's devastating knee injury in 2005 and a subsequent trade from the Packers to the Broncos in early 2006. Walker played well in 2006 and earned his spot as Denver's top receiver going into the 2007 season.

In the early games of 2007, Walker continued his role as the Broncos featured receiver until he again hurt the same knee that was surgically rebuilt in 2005. This injury forced him to miss several games, so he was forced to sit idly by and watch his team devolve from a serious playoff contender into one of the more mediocre teams in the NFL. Meanwhile, Brandon Marshall emerged as an incredible talent, and in the process took over Walker's spot as the featured receiver for the Broncos.

Upon Walker's return to the line-up, he played sparingly and caught few balls. It was apparent that Marshall was now the go-to receiver in the Broncos scheme and Walker's role was diminished as a result. It seemed Walker may have even lost a step as well.

When you take into account the emotional ups and downs of Walker's life and career in just the last two years, not to mention since his original injury, it comes as no surprise that he would want to end his tenure in Denver in favor of starting over somewhere else.

But wait, let's be practical. If Walker is traded or cut, he would have to go somewhere else and compete for a job, which he wouldn't (presumably) have to do in Denver, at least not to the same degree. He is not guaranteed a spot on any roster, not to mention competition for the first receiver spot, like he would be with Denver. (It is my belief that he would likely win the number one spot, too, because Marshall is still a little rough around the edges.)

Secondly, the nature of professional sports is competition. If Walker is unwilling to compete with Brandon Marshall for the top receiver spot on the Broncos for the rest of the time he's with the team, then perhaps he should leave. I believe competition between these two receivers would provide incentive for both of them to perform as the elite receivers that they are, which automatically makes Denver a viable offensive threat and will result in huge numbers for both Walker and Marshall. Everybody wins: the players, the team, the organization and, most importantly, the fans.

I am of the opinion that the best choice for Javon Walker is to stay in Denver and duke it out with Brandon Marshall. It's the best choice for Walker and it's the best case scenario for Denver to have the maximum possible strength at the receiver position with Stokley, Marshall and Walker all together in the mix. If Walker leaves, Denver will likely have to settle for a lesser talent and Walker will presumably have to settle for a diminished role on another team. Everybody loses.

Granted, there are certain other factors at play here - chiefly financial - to which I'm not privy, that could very well be the reason for Walker's stated desire to leave. But I believe Walker will be rewarded with his loyalty. After all, now he has something to prove again. And what better way to prove yourself than to exceed everybody's expectations, like Walker seems to believe he can?

Now, if Walker wants to leave strictly on an emotional basis, I can understand. I just hope he understands that the road won't be any easier anywhere else, just different. But maybe that's what he needs.


On a related note, what are the Broncos to do with Travis Henry? My personal opinion is to dump him. I don't know everything that was going on with him this season in terms of physical and mental health, but he was a disappointment after a promising start. I think even he would acknowledge that.

But the Broncos options in regards to both Henry and Walker are limited. The Broncos do not have a lot of depth at either RB or WR, so they would probably want to replace Henry and Walker with similar or superior talent, which inspires one to ask: why get rid of them in the first place?

If the Broncos want to trade, they have to look for teams that are willing to take two players who are considered risky at this point. Age is creeping up on Henry and he's had a lot of personal and health problems. Walker's recurring knee problems make him a severe liability. Chances are, Denver will not get full value in dealing either player because they have to find another team in a similar situation that is willing to deal talented, but unhealthy or unhappy players only to take on other unhealthy or unhappy players.

Nobody is in a good position here. But the solution is likely not far off as both have roster bonuses due in late February/early March. If they are to stay, both players will supposedly be asked to take a pay cut, which, understandably would be a hard pill to swallow.

That being said, there are other teams with players who would do well as replacements in theoretical trades for either Walker, Henry or both:

  • The Vikings have a superior talent in Chester Taylor. I can't imagine that the veteran Taylor is relishing a career sharing time with Adrian Peterson, one of the NFL's emerging talents, in lieu of taking on the role of featured back for another team, like the Broncos. The Vikings have already said they want to keep Taylor, but they have a serious lack of talent at WR and QB. Maybe a straight across deal of Walker for Taylor isn't out of the question. (It probably is, though.)
  • Julius Jones is under-utilized in Dallas and there are always rumors that they're ready to deal him. His original role was as starter with Marion Barber providing a change of pace. Now Jones is the change of pace, but he doesn't seem to fit the Cowboys scheme very well. Jones has never really had a decent chance in Dallas. Henry might flourish as a back-up or complement to Barber - they have both have a physical running style, as opposed to Jones' slasher running style. Dallas has a lot of depth at receiver, so they probably wouldn't want Walker. FYI - it was rumored that Denver was looking at Jones' brother Thomas last season before he went from the Bears to the Jets and the Broncos decided to sign Travis Henry. I don't know what relevance this bears on anything, but there you have it.
  • San Diego's Michael Turner is a talented back-up for LT, but it remains to be seen whether or not he could carry a full workload. This wouldn't be much of a problem for Denver, because they have a decent back-up in Selvin Young. Turner isn't the kind of back that Denver is accustomed to, but maybe that's an indication that Denver needs to change. San Diego is also set as far as top receivers go, so their interest in Walker might be minimal.
  • Ricky Williams is probably not going to make it far in the Bill Parcells era. The Dolphins have a wealth of talent in Ronnie Brown and so-so back-ups with Jesse Chatman, et. al. Williams has questionable character, but one would like to think that he's put a lot of that behind him. He should be healthy for next season and anybody that wouldn't at least take a look at him would be crazy. The Dolphins are thin at receiver and would benefit from having Walker on the team.
  • Chad Johnson is going crazy in Cincy, but it's unlikely he's going anywhere, despite his unrepentant narcissism and Marv Lewis' rumored silent treatment. I personally wouldn't want to see Johnson in a Broncos uniform, but there's no denying the impact he would have on any team that's willing to stomach his - ahem - idiosyncrasies.
  • The Broncos seem to have a good relationship with the Lions and the Redskins, both of whom have minimal needs at RB or WR. That being said, teams that don't have needs sometimes see that lack of need as a motivating factor in trying to improve personnel. It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Redskins or the Lions (or any other team for that matter) willing to part with certain key talents for the benefit of chemistry. But that's pure speculation on my part.

Whatever happens, I'm looking forward to it. It will be a relief to find out who will be helping Denver (hopefully) return to Super Bowl form next year.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Thoughts on Assassin's Creed and Mass Effect

I finished Mass Effect last week and just tonight completed the XBox 360 version of Assassin's Creed and I am sorry to report that while I was not disappointed with either game, I was unimpressed. I bought both of these games in advance and picked them up at the video game store on the day they were released. The fact that it took me over two months to complete them should give some indication as to how I felt about playing them.

2007 was supposed to be the year that XBox 360 really hit its stride and at least in some regards, it did. However, it could be argued that both of these games were to have provided a benchmark for the future of not just the 360, but video games in general. A lot of hype was in the offering about just how much each game would matter to gamers and the industry at large. It's no secret that Bioshock snuck up and stole many of the accolades that were supposed to be reserved for both Assassin's Creed and Mass Effect. It should be acknowledged, though, that Bioshock also got its fair share of pre-release press coverage, but it should also be noted that for all practical purposes, Bioshock delivered.

I don't think the same can be said universally of Mass Effect and Assassin's Creed. True, both received rave reviews from press and public alike. But not all were impressed. I would include myself in this latter group. (Full disclosure: I have only played a downloadable demo of Bioshock and probably won't buy or rent it. I can't help it: I don't like first-person shooters, which is unfortunate, because it is the most proliferate genre available on 360).

I could go into a detailed personal review of both Assassin's Creed and Mass Effect, but suffice it to say that I found both games lacking in several elements. First of all, both were too talk-y. This could be expected of Mass Effect, as it is a role-playing game and excessive story and dialog are part and parcel of the genre. Mass Effect also lacked difficulty and appeal in regards to combat and much of the game is spent on elective missions, which offer scant variety both in design and execution.

Assassin's Creed is an action game and as such, should have scant gameplay interludes to accommodate dialog. Unfortunately, Assassin's Creed exhibited a lack of discretion in regard to story progression and suffered because of it. As a result the player is forced to sit through many long exchanges between characters and without subtitles, which , for me, made the game difficult to follow. Assassin's Creed also suffered from gameplay repetition and clunky controls.

The various problems with these two games, however, give me hope. Why? Quite simply because imperfection gives vast room for improvement. Both games are great examples of pain-staking attention to detail, not to mention an emphasis on creative innovation. These franchises will surely see at the very least one sequel each so the developers will have a great starting point to create a succession of games that improve with each subsequent release.

In a way, it's almost a blessing that Mass Effect and Assassin's Creed were unimpressive, because I can't wait to see what the future holds for each franchise.

Upcoming 360 releases I'm looking forward to:

  • Ninja Gaiden 2: If Ninja Gaiden 2 is even a replication of Ninja Gaiden, then it is easily going to be one of the best games of 2008. Here's to hoping the notoriously difficult game will find a way to make the sequel somehow even more awesome than the original.
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed: There has yet to be a game that delivers on the potential of playing as a Jedi. This could/should be the one.
  • Too Human: There have been problems in delivering this game but from what I've seen, it looks amazing.
  • The Bourne Conspiracy: It will be interesting to see if the cinematic elements translate well to a video game. I've seen some fighting videos and it looks impressive, but I don't think Matt Damon's involved, so the authenticity factor takes a hit.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

In Totality - My Most Recent Unfinished Novel: I Reveal Nothing

Commentary coming soon! - KL

I Reveal Nothing

By

Kory Lanphear


1.

How does one find oneself in these situations? Hanging by the feet from a tacky ceiling fan in a dingy San Fernando apartment - the walls of which having been decorated with some of the most appalling examples of post-modern foolishness one could imagine - is all fine and dandy as a recreational past time, but I find it incredibly humiliating (not to mention vexing) when there are more pressing matters at hand, namely finding a remedy to the pesky and persistent problem of the periodic losing of consciousness that I am...ungh...

...

..

...but let me begin again.


Matters of the heart are hardly stock and trade for chaps in my line of work. Success is almost exclusively predicated on the stoning of the ticker, even in the face of situations where prudence dictates otherwise. As the saying goes, never get involved with a client. I would like to amend that wise saying with the corollary: never get involved with a client’s sister, either.




2.


But let me begin again, again.

I awoke early in the afternoon, as is my wont, to find that I had a fresh recording on my new voice phone-answering machine. It is really no small wonder that the shrill cry of the phone didn’t wake me as I will not permit myself to be troubled by such a trifling nuisance whilst I am a-slumber.

As I sat down to break my fast I endeavored to listen to the message.

A potential client. Name of Veronica. Was referred to me by so-and-so, a mutual acquaintance who swears by my services, etc. Would I be so kind as to meet with her this very afternoon - say 2:30 - at a bar adjacent to a Hollywood shopping center so she might solicit my services?

I glanced up at the digital clock on the stove. 1:45. So much for my ritualistic morning repose. Nevertheless, I daren’t show up to this meeting tardy, as work has been scarce lately and I’ve been getting dangerously close to having to sacrifice my lovely craft beer habit in favor of mass-produced Philistine swill. No, this appointment I could not afford to miss.

Though, in retrospect, I almost wish I had. Almost.


3.

The aforementioned lounge was of the dingy, daytime-alcoholic sort, populated by rejects from a Bukowski novel. I’d never been there, but I felt right at home. I ambled up to the bar and beckoned to the barman.

“I say”, I said, “fetch me the craftiest of your craft brews! There’s a good chap.”

“Why do you talk like such a fag?” was the impolite response as the draft was poured and subsequently proffered.

I quaffed a large quantity of Angel City Abbey. “What ever are you on about?”

The barkeep chose to ignore this opportunity for witty banter. Undaunted, I surveyed the surroundings. Sensing nothing worthy of note, I began to wonder toward the darker recesses of the bar.

“Mr. X?” a desperate voice pleaded from within a burgundy booth.

“Tis I.” What else could I say? After all, ‘twas indeed me.

“Sit, please.”

“But of course.” I sat.

“This is a rather, eh, peculiar place for a day time meeting, is it not?” I said. "Lucky for you, I am a peculiar man, so it all works out capital.”

“Yes, I’ve – I’ve heard that about you. You seem to aptly fit the description.”

“Well, if any of part of that description was ‘handsome’, then consider me guilty as charged.”

“I believe ‘corny’, and 'fruity' was the gist of what was related to me.”





Notes

I could see that she had her wardrobe set on ‘stun.’ She disrobed to reveal unto me Victoria’s most private and profane secrets.




“So what are you, a cop?”

"Nosir."


"FBI?"

“Nope.”

“CIA?”

" ‘Fraid not."

"A private contractor?"

“Tsch! Well, I think the term ‘private contractor’ connotes the presence of a contract, a modicum of job security along with the hint of some sort of benefits package, and with a little privacy mixed in. None of which am I currently experiencing, nor am I expecting to experience anytime soon.”

“So, what the hell are you, then?”

“You might say that I am a snooping, compromised-privacy enthusiast with a special affection for the common grift.”





"This is a situation that calls for the palest of ales."



Entering the club, or whatever you are so inclined to call it, I was afraid that I might stick out like a soar thumb. As it turns out, I was shocked to find that I was not, by a long shot, the only aspiring dandy gent in the joint. Imagine my disappointment as all of the alienation I have prepared for (and perhaps even required as confirmation of my eccentricity) was diluted with each further step into this cavernous enclave. The place was literally awash with aspiring dandies!

In Summary - My Most Recent Unfinished Novel: I Reveal Nothing

I bid you: enjoy!

X, an effete, aspiring private eye who styles himself after the late, great C. Mortdecai and claims to be the last – or one of the last – living, breathing pieces of art left on this earth or at least the western US of A, is beseeched by Veronica, an aspiring actress, to kill the plastic surgeon who botched her recent facelift and breast augmentation surgery, which would have been her "ticket to relevance" (her words). After demurring Veronica's request, X is contacted by Victoria, Veronica's half-sister and herself a working actress on the verge of stardom, who begs X to refuse the requested hit in order to save her high-profile family the great embarrassment of a murder trial, etc. X, having been already quite content to reject becoming an assassin working on commission, decides to feign interest in the job only to get closer to Victoria and so embarks on a pseudo-clandestine investigation into the two sisters’ affairs which will take him from the hipster dive bars of Silverlake to the Hollywood movie studios but "no further than the streets of the extreme eastern borders of West Hollywood" (if he can help it) and "under no circumstances into the gargantuan, Plebian, porn-producing, middle-class maze that is the dreaded San Fernando Valley" X boozes and blunders his way through many a near-adventure and close-call until he discovers that he’d been set up to take the fall from the start.

Monday, February 11, 2008

It's Been Awhile

I have not updated for quite nearly a year. No matter. Since this blog is just an outlet for my writerly ambitions and as such is presumably read only by me. I can't imagine that I've disappointed my legion fans.

However, it is good to practice writing. I need to do it more. I have written several pieces for a different site that, for personal reasons, I have chosen not to post there. These few pieces may find their way onto this blahg. Some of them are reviews, some musings about things that I've been studying, but all of them are in various states of completion, which is to say that they're all unfinished. I don't know if the reviews are worth posting because they were unsolicited and the time of their relevance has passed. My only reason for posting them would be to show my range, or lack thereof.

Regardless, I've been struggling with inspiration for the better part of six months now. But that's nothing new. I am never short of topics to cover, so I've got plenty of ammunition stored up. I just need to jam one in the chamber and let it loose.

Meantime, stop being such a fucking stranger, you.