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Well, Well, Well, Nice Game, Jays, You Miserable Sacks of Shit
Apr 30th, 2008 by Ice Cream Jonsey

I’m going to paste a picture of the greatest player to ever wear a Blue Jays uniform. He is in his athletic prime right now, so no, the stats don’t currently bear that out, but he will be, by the time his career is finished.

His name is Roy Halladay, and the performance the rest of his team put forth tonight makes me feel like a complete fucking idiot for following sports in the first place. This wasn’t some loss in April we’ll all look back on and chuckle about at the end of the month, when the Jays are battlin’ for that 83rd win. This was complete HORSE SHIT, but it’s not about the non-hitting wastes of space that made up the lineup tonight, it’s about me. (And Roy.)

In today’s troubling times, a baseball starting pitcher simply does not finish his games. He is pulled after around a hundred pitches and they go to the bullpen. That makes Roy Halladay an aberration. He decided one day to try to induce ground outs (instead of going for strikeouts) and lah, ahhhh, dee, daaah, he became better at it than anyone else in the world. I couldn’t give myself a year and dedicate myself to Bomberman for a dead console system where there are no other players and be world class at it. So the respect I have for Roy is unparalleled.

It is also more than the rest of the Jays have for him. Look at this fucking shit – two hits against a lefty in Jon Lester? This team is designed to murder lefties. That’s why they play in a different country, to escape the warrants. But not tonight! Ho, ho, ho, not tonight!

Alex Rios, 0-4. David Eckstein, 0-3. Matt Stairs, 0-1. Scott Rolen, 1-4. (He’s playing his ass off so far, so none of what I am saying applies to him.) Vernon Wells, 0-3 with a walk, and a complete inability to get Rolen home that I would have wagered my house on if I could have found a bookie to work out the logistics of my mortgage payments. Our “DH” went 0-3 with two left on base. The new kid – Adam Lind – who I screamed (well, screamed on the Internet) to get into Toronto…. yeah, any time you want to get your first fucking hit kid, feel free.

I don’t blame Gregg Zaun for any of this because when your catcher will most likely lead the team in on-base percentage, he gets a free ride. But Jesus Christ, what a bunch of hitless fucks. Halladay pitched his fourth straight complete game, and he’s 2-4 on the season. He’s going to be the first guy to get Cy Young votes with 20 losses, because the fucking hopeless team behind him TEE HEEs their way through their trips through the plate.

Oh, and the center fielder we gave $126 million to couldn’t cleanly field a goddamn baseball and throw home, in an attempt to get David Ortiz out, who was running from second. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME.

I thought I was “helping” when I went to every Jays blog I could find, in order to get Adam Lind up. But Jesus Christ, this is hopeless. I know the flu has made its way through the clubhouse, but I am sick to death for making excuses for these guys. I know, because I have been here before.

In case you are just visiting the site, the other awesome sports team I follow is the New Orleans Saints. And let me put it this way – since Joe Carter ended the 1993 World Series, the Saints have been in four more fucking playoffs games than the Jays. And the Saints are terrible! I could easily name 20 hilariously awful mistakes of the Saints and not even get into the “Billy Joes.”

The game I just witnessed tonight, with Boston beating Toronto 1-0 with Roy pitching what might have been his best game of the season, considering the lineup, was akin to a game played at the end of October of 1999 between the Saints and the — at the time – winless, expansion, Cleveland Browns.

I had gone to Grand Junction with my friend Fodge to hit up the Halloween parties. (The Joker, thank you.) There was one television with the NFL Ticket there, so on Sunday we caught the first half of the Saints-Browns game, and the second half of whoever the Bills were playing.

There was a graphic at the end of the Bills game that showed the rest of the scores in the league, and the Saints were beating the Browns by a few points with six seconds left to go. Well! Surely they had it wrapped up! We left the bar and drove back to Fort Collins.

Twenty minutes into the trip, we get the update on how the early games went. Tim Couch threw a Hail Mary to Kevin Johnson in the end zone, giving the new Browns their first victory. The Saints lost to a team made up of some draft picks and players that NOBODY ELSE WANTED. I was much more passionate about sports back then, so I screamed “FUCK” and didn’t say a word for the next hour. The next day I read that Willie Roaf — who was pretty much the Roy Halladay of Saints players — was disgusted with the other fuckers on his team, and the staff, and said that he was their best trade piece and they should move him.

(Oh, and I gave myself a sinus infection because I snorted a line of pixie stix at a bar table while we were out Saturday night. )

I’m not saying I expect the same thing out of Roy. For the terrible shit the Jays have pulled this season (I went to figure out what they are batting with runners in scoring position, but my monitor is an old SyncMaster and can’t display digits that low) it wasn’t quite as bad as what the Saints did to Roaf. Also, nobody is having sex with Roy’s wife on the sly. But how can he not be frustrated. He was actually playing in the same game with those miserable shits that let him down for the fourth time this season. He has to see them every day. Every fucking player that played tonight owes him a goddamn apology.

Halladay is too nice a guy to say anything, but we DESERVE to see him say he wants to be traded. We DESERVE to see him say he doesn’t want to re-sign in Toronto after 2010. We DESERVE to see him win a championship for Arizona, or Cleveland, or Anaheim, or whoever. How many years has J.P. Ricciardi had to put a team around him? (Er, five.) What a complete crock of horseshit.

We’re going to lose the best player we’ve ever had, the only pitcher that I drop everything to watch, because of the gutless, shrunk testicled play of the rest of the team. It makes me sick. I don’t think there is a chance in hell Roy sees this – but he’s the only decent thing about baseball in my life and a lot of other Blue Jays fans. I now know how Steve Carlton lost 10 games in 1972. I’m watching it, and Roy Halladay is living it.

Airport Mania
Apr 29th, 2008 by Pinback

New game out, everyone! It’s called Airport Mania and it is unique among thousands of independent shareware games in that it is the only one I have purchased in the last six months or so.

Here is a link to it, and I guarantee that as soon as you see the screenshots, you will not want to play it:

http://www.reflexive.com/AirportManiaFirstFlight.html

I don’t know what “genre” of game this belongs to, but it’s probably something like “resource management” or “cartoonish airplanes that look like that show for babies with the animated airplanes”.

You don’t want to download it because it’s so goddamn goofy looking. It looks like it’s for kids. And I guess you could say it is. It’s for smart kids. Or kids of all ages! Don’t worry about it. You will think it’s stupid while you’re reading about it, and think it’s stupid while you’re downloading it, and think it’s stupid while you’re installing it, and even think it’s stupid while you’re playing the tutorial.

And then you will click “play”, and you will not stop until your demo time runs out, and then you will, without taking your gaze off your monitor, reach around with whichever hand suits you and start hunting through your pants for your credit card.

There’s no way to describe it that would make you want to play it. Airplanes with big bright eyes and goofy smiles fly around the sky, and your job is to click on them, then click on the runway to make them land, then click on the gate to make them unload their passengers (while all the while they’re giggling and cooing away with that goddamn stupid grin on their face), then click on them again, then click on another runway to make them take off and giggle and coo along their merry way.

There, did that make you want to play it? Of course not. And it only slightly helps to tell you that if you make them wait too long, their cute little faces start to turn angry and they glare at you. Oooo, those tempermental cute widdle awwopwanes.

And when they need gas, they blink their eyes at you and a little thought bubble comes out with a picture of a gas tank on it.

Like I said, no way to make you want to play it.

But it’s addictive as hell, designed to never give you any reason to not click “next level”, and just an overall heck of a darned tootin’ good time.

I give this game four goofy, cartoonish, gay-ass smiles.

Fruit Monday
Apr 28th, 2008 by ChainGangGuy

Since we won’t be together for this year’s International Fruit Day (July 1st), I hereby declare today Fruit Monday. So, to each and everyone of you, I heartily wish you a Happy Fruit Monday!

Brewing with fruit is fairly commonplace in today’s craft beer industry, with most brewers having at least one fruit beer in their arsenal. Aside from the rigid stipulation that it be a beer either brewed or flavored with fruit, fruit juices, or fruit extracts, there are no other rules whatsoever – the sky’s the limit, baby! The result is an endless array of diverse beers, from a tart and exceedingly funky Cantillon Framboise, to a sugar-soaked Lindemans Pêche “lambic”, to a Dark Horse Raspberry Ale or even a Bell’s Cherry Stout.

BEER: Sweetwater Blue

To be honest, the bulk of fruit beers available on the market today are brewed with light, refreshing, summertime drinking in mind. Plus, the ladies love’m! Even my friend Natalie admits fruit beers to being “a fun beer for ladies.” Sweetwater Blue follows the standard, unspoken template for such fruit beers:

• pale golden-yellow color
• lots of fruit and faint malt on the nose
• mild, lightly fruity flavor
• light, spritzy body that borders on being watery

With Blue, what you’ll get is mostly the essence of blueberries (through what I fully suspect to be use of an artificial extract), and not a dominating fruit flavor. Fruit aside, the beer is a light-bodied, well balanced blonde ale. You’ll taste the sweet pale maltiness, and each sip brings a slight hop bite and ends with a crisp finish. Sweetwater Blue is readily available year-round, and is a sure sight at many local outdoor events and concerts.

Thankfully, some brewers deflty utilize fruit to impart exciting, new complexities to their beers, for those times when you want a little some more.

BEER: New Glarus Belgian Red

Brewed with Montmorency Cherries (purportedly a pound of whole cherries per bottle), locally grown wheat, and Hallertau hops, the beer is then left to mature in 12 ft. tall oak tanks. Okay, great, let’s get to it. Murky ruby-hue capped by a flamingo-pink head appearance and harbors an aroma reeking of unabashed cherrynicity, there’s nothing fake or artificial about this beer. With a taste reminiscient of fruit leather, the flavor is certainly aggressive in it’s sheer determination to cram that pound of cherries down your damn throat. It deftly walks the fine line between sweet and tart and carries with it a jolt of juicy, cheek-pinching acidity. The malted wheat and hops definitely take a backseat to the deep, strong cherry fruitiness. God, I hope you like cherries. The high level of carbonation in the beer does well to bring a much-needed levity to what otherwise would be a thick, syrupy body. You do like cherries, right? Overall, a deliciously unique beverage, though I suspect some may be left angrily shouting the catchphrase “Where’s the Beer?”

To Fruit Monday!! To Jolt Country!!

Now if only I could find a fruit beer brewed with sweet, juicy nectarines…

Shit Games You Like Anyway: Arch Rivals
Apr 25th, 2008 by Ice Cream Jonsey

I know Arch Rivals is a poor game, but I don’t care. I can’t discuss it rationally. I think it’s fantastic. The night I got the replacement ROM from Andy at Ultimarc, so the Frankenstein-inspired control panel I slobbed together worked, I did nothing. NOTHING! Except play Arch Rivals.

You start off by picking your player out of a pool of, frankly, ridiculous losers. Everyone has tight shorts. There are even white people available, and it’s hilarious to see them segregated into the “rangy shooter” category (pretty much like real basketball). You’ll probably want to punch each of them in the mouth. You might think, when seeing the roster, that there is nothing for you there. But press on! You’ll grow to love one or two of them.

One button is shoot (or have your teammate shoot) and the other is “give me the fucking basketball” / “throw a punch.” It depends on whether you are on offense or defense. There’s only one other game of its era that did that (that I can remember). That was the hockey game “Faceoff.” One button was shoot and the other was “slug somebody with your elbow.”

My teammate almost never drives to the basket. So when he does and I feed him the ball and tell him to dunk its very rewarding. The computer will start hitting you as well, which makes attempts to dunk over the computer a lot of fun due to the revenge factor. The game doesn’t always let you dunk, and will sometimes force an awkward jump shot a foot from the basket. I think, in my heart, I know that this is a bad game because of the dodgy controls, and I certainly wouldn’t want to be in front of a jury defending it, but when you do pull off a good move (even though it’s at random) it’s still exhiliarating. 

After each score there is a cut scene. Sometimes it’s of a cheerleader, but it could also be one of the coaches. Or the crowd. There’s certainly no more than three dozen people who came to the game you’re playing in. There’s even shit on the court like popcorn boxes and other assorted garbage that leads to falls if you touch one of them. If they ever remake this game they should set it in the Superdome during Katrina so that they can depict some distracting murders and rapes. The detritus on the floor does lead to a little strategy: should you “set off” the trash so that you don’t run into it late in the game, when you may need a crucial possession? Or do you leave it there and hope the computer players run across it? I know it’s not like trying to decide when to use the A-bomb in Civilization IV*, but for a basketball game it’s not so bad.

Plus, the coach of my team looks like my dad:

* I know the answer to that one is “immediately,” but give me a free pass, I am new at this blog thing.

Pinback’s Top Ten Games of All-Time: #9
Apr 24th, 2008 by Pinback

#9: NETHACK (1987)

Most of the entries in this list are of the “best of genre” variety. For instance, if all you like are text adventures, your top ten are gonna be primarily text adventures. But I’m exercising a lot of self-control by trying to sprinkle in a number of game genres in here, to give the widest (and most accessible) variety of games for you to enjoy in the order in which I present them.

So which genre is NetHack? The obvious choice is the AD&D RPG hack-n-slash genre. It excels in that genre. But here are some other genres which NetHack is at or near the top of:

1. Death Means Death games. There’s something just so much more satisfying about surviving another second, another minute, another level, when you know that if you slip up once and get your ass handed to you, your game is over. Of course, if I had applied this concept to my own life, I might not have ended up taking Zoloft and writing ten webpages about how miserable I always was.

2. Games You Can Play On Old Computers. When NetHack came out in 1987, it was already about 15 years outdated, technologically. It blazes on an 8088.

3. Old Games You Can Play On New Computers. 20 years later and it’s still humming along nicely.

4. Desert Island Games. NetHack is the obvious choice for ANYONE who has a gun put to their head and is forced to only play one game again for the rest of his/her life. Most games you either win (Half-Life), or get as good as you’re ever gonna get, so it gets boring (Galaga). NetHack is neither of these. First of all, it’s very HARD, and you will never win it. But it’s different every time you try, and there’s so much depth built in over the years that you will find yourself discovering new things years after you first start playing. And on the off- off- off-chance that you DO win it, you can just fire it up again as a different character, and it will be a completely different game, different story, different everything. The ultimate replayable game. And when you’re still playing it 50 years from now, it will still work on your computer. There is so much to admire here, about a game that has, and will always fit on one floppy disk, that you begin to look with scorn at the modern, 5-gig-requiring, video-card-that-hasn’t-been-invented-yet-using monstrosities. NetHack shows us that all you need is love. And ASCII.

5. Games You Can Play At Work Without Getting Caught And Fired. It’s ASCII. You know what else is in ASCII? SHELL COMMANDS! Also: BATCH FILES! You wouldn’t fire an employee over employing shell commands or batch files, would you? Of course not.

It ain’t flashy, it ain’t new, it ain’t the next big thing. It’s just what it’s always been, and what it’s always been is: incredibly entertaining, and the ninth best game of all time.

The Best Hot Sauce in the World
Apr 23rd, 2008 by Pinback

As you know, over the past few years I have undertaken a substantial research project, at no small cost to myself in terms of both dollars and horrific intestinal pain, to determine the world’s best hot sauce.

I have traveled land and sea far and wide, have suffered agony worldwide in my attempt to sample and record every possible variety and flavor of hot sauce, so that one day I might come back here and reveal to you all what the very best hot sauce that has ever been invented by man is.

That day is today.

I have been everywhere, and have tasted hot sauces both mild and searing, sweet and biting, obscure and ubiquitous. No pepper has gone ignored, from the serrano to the habanero, jalapeno, fataali, naga jolokia, pequin, to the lowly cayenne. I have ingested capsaicin-based products from every corner of the world.

So, ladies and gentleman, if I say I’m a hot sauce man, you will agree.

And now… the best hot sauce in the world. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Avery India Pale Ale
Apr 22nd, 2008 by ChainGangGuy

BEER: Avery India Pale Ale

Avery’s IPA has the proud noteriety of being the brewery’s first beer to roll down their newly installed bottling line in 1996 as well as being their most popular brew by a wide margin. Right on. However, most JC’ers recognize Avery IPA as the official beer of the Army of Love.

With our hearts held firmly in one hand and a frosty, standard issue Avery IPA in the other, we marched head-first onto the battlefield in search of love and companionship. We troops experienced numerous encounters with the (sometimes ficticious) enemy over multiple tours of duty and forever gained a sense of brotherhood and comradierie that somehow carried us through the emotional onslaught.

Avery IPA pours a strikingly clear orange-gold body, forming a foamy, albiet short-lived white head. The malts leave the hops to dominate the aroma with bright notes of citrus and pineapple, as well as a hint of pine. As with the nose, the flavor is definitely hop-forward, with only a lean, yet somehow adequate malt backbone to support a peppy bitterness (listed at 69 IBU’s). Not afraid to show off its fruity side, the beer yields flavors of fresh grapefruit, juicy pineapple rings, and lemon wedges. Again, there’s only a hint of pine. The body remains relatively light and with ample carbonation, keeps the beer firmly held in easy-drinking territory. The finish is lasting, leaving you with a reminding bite that demands yet another sip. A beer so tasty, I fought the urge to have two more (unsuccessfully, but still).

Recommended Food Pairing: Anything on the menu at The Phoenix Palm.

Though the Army of Love was unceremoniously disbanded way back in 2005, this veteran’s thirst for a satisfying, flavorful Avery IPA has long endured.

To The Army of Love!! To Jolt Country!!

Milliways
Apr 21st, 2008 by Ice Cream Jonsey

hygraed directed me to the following blog post about an Infocom hard drive saved from years ago. This is a drive that contains some internal e-mails relating to the development of their games, as well as a ton of other stuff. Little is officially known about it – I’m not going to speculate or pass bad information, or compromise what little info I have picked up on it. Unlike the decision a journalist or blogger must make when scooping something that is dynamite, I am more motivated by a sad, pathetic and altogether desperate desire to simply have people like me.

I kid! The initial attraction of the post is that you get to play a snippet of what could have been the sequel to The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, through the magic of the Java zcode applet. But what ended up happening was a sort of exploding dramabomb, as internal e-mails to the development of the sequel to HHGG (referred to as “Restaurant,” or “Milliways”) were included.

Everyone running a blog gets to make this decision someday, I think. That is, if they stick with it long enough and don’t, like, abandon it after a few months, or something. The two main arguments seem to be:

Well, you shouldn’t post internal e-mails without contacting those involved

Hey, this is unfiltered access to a shop that made important games in my childhood, gimme gimme!

And there are nuances to both (post the stuff after checking with the people who wrote the frigging things / I MUST POSSESS MAGIC INFOCOM DRIVE).

I had to make a similar decision myself recently regarding the urban legend arcade game I am quite obsessed with, good ole Polybius. I had been running the Polybius Home Page for a little bit, and had shot a viral Youtube video and so forth, when I was contacted by Gerald Torensen. Gerry runs www.sinnesloschen.com and pointed me to this website where he saw a Polybius cabinet huddled within some others.

Of course, since I really am one stupid son of a bitch, and no journalist, I didn’t do any clicking at first. If you do scroll down a bit and click on the Poly cab, you’ll get taken here, and you’re well on your way to downloading his modern-day recreation of what Polybius could have been like. I was slow to figure it out, but I did figure it out eventually.

Now, the question is – what to do with this info? I got curious on my own, without any help. Even though it was literally clicking on what was one button, it was still the most interesting alternate reality “game” I’d been involved with since the Dead Kids Foundation stuff. I can either blab about it on the Polybius Home Page, or I can let other people discover it for themselves.

… Of course, that all went out the window when another blog got to the same conclusion as me a couple weeks later, and posted everything.

I wasn’t sore or bitter, because honestly, the stakes are so low. There’s a quiet rumbling of people who are into the myth of a fake arcade game. We’re not going to be in the same situation as someone getting an Infocom hard drive, because – due to the fact that there was no actual Polybius – we can’t exactly have the programmers stop in and chat and receive some compliments, since they don’t exist.

Not the case with the Milliways post: Infocom developers arrive very quickly. If they are agitated by the fact that their stuff got posted, they did not show it. The exception is author Michael Bywater, and his exception is very understandable in the original post. Some of the blog commenters quickly descend into name calling against Mr. Bywater, for the CRIME of having an opinion, and seeing how Bywater was the writer of Jinxter (which had and continues to have an amazing effect on my own writing) it was evident to me that he was holding back and choosing to not go nuclear on the drive-by cretins that infect the average Slashdotted / Dugg post.

My brother and I got Magnetic Scrolls games when we were growing up. I’ve always been more nostalgic for their games, with the exception of Zork. I’ll confess that I am on one hand happy to see Magnetic Scrolls brought into a bit of a limelight again — I decided long ago to refrain from writing the creative people whose work I respect, as it was extraordinarily unsatisfying in all cases — so you might think that being able to lurk and read from afar is a good thing, as it’s the only option I’ll have. But man, the ends don’t really justify the means here, and I think access to those who were at Infocom and Magnetic Scrolls is going to be made more difficult in the future. They didn’t precisely get King of Konged here, but it was pretty close. My lasting take here is that it’s now going to be more difficult than ever to hear the stories of the people involved.  

Polybius Lives / Polybius Font
Apr 18th, 2008 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Just a quick note – I updated the Polybius Home Page with info on the following things:

1) The font. I was given this by a gentleman that contacted me through the JC BBS. I have received some e-mail from people asking for the font, and while I love that sort of contact, it’s not fair to not have it available for everyone. But please – you wanna talk some Polybius, just send me an e-mail at beaver@zombieworld.com.

2) I was recently made aware of the site www.polybiuslives.com. They have a screenshot of what Polybius might have looked like if it was on a color X/Y monitor. Good stuff – not sure if there is more stuff at the site that is not obvious to get to, but when I know more I’ll update. I also noticed that there was a mention of polybiuslives.com on Shawn Struck’s blog, so perhaps this is making the rounds.

Pinback’s Top Ten Games of All-Time: #10
Apr 17th, 2008 by Pinback

This list has a few different purposes. One, I think the people here (or at least I) would like to see a list of top games completed some time in their lifetime. Two, I’d like to offer a different perspective from ICJ’s original list, in that 1) I haven’t played nearly as many games as he as, and thus have no business giving a top anything list, and 2) he put Mr. Do at #23, so obviously any other list is automatically superior.

Come with me, now, as we take a journey through… The Top 10 Games Of All Time!

 #10: PYRO II (1990)

Pyro 2 is unique, I think, within every “Top (x)” list that’s ever been created, in that it was never done before, and it has never been done since. Every other game you’ll ever find was either a copy of a copy, or was about to be copied after copied. Not Pyro 2. It showed up out of nowhere (for free, I should add) in a brilliant burst of creativity, and then was left to be, a shining singularity in the gaming world. Which I think is a shame, because if there’s ever been a game shouting from the hilltops, begging to be remade with modern technology, it is Pyro 2.

Not that it would be any better.

The goal of Pyro 2 is simple. Burn down every building you walk into. There’s a purity and nobility to that, especially when you consider that the first building you’re tasked with torching is the IRS building. You do this by pouring gasoline all over the place, or setting full gas tanks around to explode, as soon as the fuse trailing you hits them.

And the miracle of Pyro 2 is that even in 40×24 DOS mode, using nothing but ASCII characters and a few cracks and blips from the computer speaker, when the fuse hits the gas and lights the whole fucking screen on fire, you are experiencing the most visceral satisfaction you will ever experience from a video game. No 3D, shader-enhanced, high-definition, photorealistic explosion in any game ever made has come close to this moment. It is, in many ways, orgasmic.

Except you’re ready to do it again 30 seconds later.

So you do. You go around in your little pink jumpsuit and burn shit to the ground. That’s it. That’s the game.

And it’s the tenth best game of all time.

(Pyro II also happens to be the only game that my father was ever better at than I was.)

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