Greta Lumpard is the Bravest Person I Know. (In the Style of Rick Reilly)
May 27th, 2010 by Knuckles the Clown

Greta Lumpard is the bravest person I know. You think Lebron James is tough? Try dunking without legs! Think Steve Nash can shoot? Try beating Greta’s career shooting percentage of 100!

It all started when coach Norm Frumpfeltd of the St. Eor’s Baptist High noticed something at games. A shrill voice cheering the Lady Gophers on. He couldnt figure out where his number one fan was till he looked down to tie his shoe. Their stood his future greatest player, all 2’4″ of her!

You see Greta was born with Stumponge disease. A rare bone disorder that results in the arm and leg bones not developing. Greta was doomed to a life hardship till she saw the St Eor’s Lady Gophers on public access and asked her foster mother “What is that?” Her foster mother unlocked her cage and let Greta watch a couple quarters with the sound on and she was hooked!

The nuns at Eor’s managed to make a special seat out of balsa wood so Greta could go to games. You think you got it made with box seats at the Knicks? Try court side for at the Lady Gophers! Once coach Frumpfetd noticed Greta he immediatley asked her, “would you like to be our “manager”? Greta cried yes quicker than Phil Mickleson at a buffet line.

It was a rough season for the Lady Gophers they were being blown away by Crispus Attucks High in the season finale, when Shronda Jackson, the All-city Cathlic Power Forward for CA got an idea. Why not let Greta in the game!!?????!!!!!!

Coach Frumpfeltd grinned. He called for a time out. And asked Greta if she wanted to be a Lady Gopher! Greta cried “yes sir”

Shronda Jackson and Betsy Mcgilicudy, bitter enemies all game carried Greta to the basket. They lifted her up high balanced the ball on her head. Greta bowed her head the ball swished through and the box score in the paper the next day read “Lumpard 2”.

There was no mention of the accidental dropping of Greta and ensuing broken neck. It mattered not to Greta who earned her Varsity letter going out on top. You see, even though she has no arms or legs, She’s got more heart than Secretariat! Eat that Vince Carter!

The Day I Was Almost Killed By Hot Sauce
May 20th, 2010 by Pinback

That day would be September 14, 2006.

Here is some The Backstory for you:

The Backstory

I’ve been growing quite the hot sauce collection at my desk at work. It is currently up to 19 sauces. I get most of them from Bay Cities Deli which is right down the street and has a wide selection.

One day last week I went uber-extreme for the first time and bought a $10, 4oz bottle of “Da Bomb: Ground Zero”. Da Bomb makes three sauces, and Ground Zero is the middle of the three. The “mildest” (if you can call it that, which you definitely cannot) is “Beyond Insanity”, and the most brutal is “Final Answer” ($40 a bottle).

So anyway, I taste a half-drop of Ground Zero, and it is brutal. I spontaneous get up, leave the room, and start walking around the office, with no particular place to go. But I’m on fire, and am seeing stars.

Good stuff.

The Story

Anyhows, since then I’ve been systematically upping my tolerance, and decided to hit Bay Cities again for a couple new “extreme” sauces. (“Extreme” sauces are those for which the primary heat component is pepper extract, rather than actual chiles. In this way, the heat is concentrated to levels previously unheard of.) I got Dave’s Insanity, which I’d tried many years ago and which I’d feared ever since, and the aforementioned Da Bomb: Beyond Insanity. It actually didn’t occur to me until I reached the checkout aisle the humor of buying both Insanity and Beyond Insanity in the same purchase.

I went back to my desk, and made a cheese sandwich. I took half, and slathered one of the pieces of bread with the Dave’s Insanity, which in its day was far and away the hottest thing on Earth, but since then had been far surpassed by other “extremer” extreme sauces.

It was hot. Very hot.

But… edible! And I got through the whole half sandwich without having any particular sort of conniption, and life was good. I’d conquered Dave’s Insanity, after 15 years!

So I turned to Beyond Insanity, which I was no longer particularly afraid of, since 1) I had just eaten Dave’s with no particularly harsh effects, and 2) it was supposedly half the heat level of Ground Zero, which I’d already tasted and survived the previous week.

So I shmeared that shit on the other half of the sandwich, and went to town.


That was a spicy meatball. About halfway through I was gagging acid and running around the office sweating and hoping to avoid being seen. Then I went back and finished the sandwich. I actually dipped it into one of my other sauces, just hoping to cool it down. Specious logic, but I was willing to try anything. Holy crap, was that hot. You know why? Because half the heat level of INFINITE HEAT is still INFINITE HEAT. Yowza.

It was truly: beyond insanity.

But the burn cooled eventually, and I sat triumphant. Good times. Love the hot sauces.

Flash forward to seven hours later, when I leave the office and head up to visit savvyraven, and go with her to the Big Brother wrap party (where I met lots of famous people I’ve never heard of!) Wow. Just, wow.

As I begin my trek down the 10, it starts. A low, dull ache somewhere deep within my gastrointestinal system. Felt something like between a need to puke and a need to grow a tail. With just a little bit of plain old pain. But it’s low, and it’s dull, and it grows a little to medium-low and medium-dull, and maybe at its zenith it’s graduated to significant discomfort, but that fades eventually, and within ten minutes, I’m back to normal.

Ha! That lunch was catching up with me! Thank goodness that’s over, though. Not too bad, and well worth the good times I’d had.

I turn onto the 405.

This is when it occurs to me, I’d had the Dave’s half of the sandwich… then waited a while… and then had Da Bomb half.

And that’s when it hit.

The low, dull aching was nowhere to be seen. A dagger, bathed in hot sauce, stabbed me with great malice and vigor right in my gut. It twisted and turned. It’s steely sharp edge turning my insides to tartare.

It hurt. A lot. And as I descended the grade that separates the Valley from the Santa Monica bay area, I realized I was breathing very heavy, trying to withstand the agony. Breathing too heavily. Hyperventilating.

And the sounds of the highway were replaced by a high ringing sound. And my hands gripped ever tighter the steering wheel, for they too were going numb. Getting dizzy. Getting faint…

This is too perfect, I thought. I was going to pass out on the freeway. Killed by hot sauce. Poetic.

Unable to think of anything but stopping the car, I urgently made my way over to the very next exit, pulled off, found a side street, parked, put the seat back, and just died. My hands were completely numb. I fumbled unsuccessfully for the phone to call savvyraven to let her know I’d be a few minutes late. Lights and sounds swirled around in an acid dream jumble. This was the end of my life.

But, as is always the case with hot sauces, no matter how powerful, 15 minutes later, it’s all over. My circulation came back, my breathing slowed. I could feel the steering wheel in my hand, and the sweat dripping off the top of my head.

It smelled funny.

I fired the car back up, and headed on to my evening engagement. But the rest of the night, milling with CBS executives and dodging supermodels to get to the buffet, I could not escape the thought… The thought that:


Posting On The Outer Edge
May 8th, 2010 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Here is a forum:

It doesn’t look like much. Threaded conversation – the kids hate that today! No logins – the kids are deathly afraid of that! When it was in its heyday, there wasn’t even a CAPTCHA. It also probably had less than ten regular readers when it was being updated. It is (was) Pinback’s Web Central 3 BBS.

I am completely fascinated with forums, and I run a couple of them myself. I also ran a dial-up BBS for 9 years in the 90s. (I still have the hard drive with all the contents, and a CD with the contents of that hard drive. It’ll make a comeback, some day.) I’m fascinated in the dynamics, the ways the software dictates the style and content of conversation, and how desperate people are to cling to the great division in format: threaded vs. flat. What was accomplished on PWC3 fascinates me to this day.

There were three main posters on PWC3 – Pinback, Gerrit and myself. We had contributions from a handful of others, but I think it’s safe to say that 95% of the posts were from three people. And yet, when you go to the site, you might see posts from people like the Boysauce Commando, the Sundae Goblin, or digital depression. Now obviously, the intent wasn’t to ever make people think, “wow, there is a guy who actually works in the military who gets propositioned by his commanding officer constantly” as it was to simple try to be amusing on a bulletin board. The three of us seemed to almost constantly want to top each other and honestly, I wouldn’t post this web log if I didn’t think it still held up today.

But yeah, what absolutely doesn’t work on the Internet is when I tell you, “This is funny: go read it.” People almost immediately get defensive. “It’s funny, REALLY? EAT MY ASS” seems to be the normal reaction. Of course, I say this, keeping in mind that I have been introduced to the FX TV show “Archer” and air-traffic control sims lately, and enjoyed them both. So really, this is just my impression of the rest of mankind and maybe you’ll prove me wrong here – I waited like ten years to write this blog entry, but maybe you’re bored at work and looking for some content. Here’s some friggin’ content.

I think Pinback will agree that the funniest of all of us was Gerrit. I linked to the Sundae Goblin before, but very, very few things crack me up like when the Goblin freaks out because SUNLIGHT turns them to STONE. Ha ha ha! Additionally, the musings of the PWC2 Reader / Tragic Burn Victim is just… genius.

Pinback’s Web Central 3 BBS was a tiny corner of the Internet that brought joy to a few close friends, and getting back to the theme of fascination – it exists on the net, almost accidentally. Someday, will fail, and all these posts will be gone. Someday, some prick will do to their hosted forums what Yahoo! did to Geocities. And I will be sad. But how many of these little forums are out there, where a group of friends just busted each other’s chops and engaged in a kind of performance art for each other? One of the things I think I want to do is again run a dial-up BBS, as there’s just something tantalizing about passing information in 2010 that is completely away from the Internet. And I don’t mean that it would just be a useful way to libel people – just being on the peripheral of the great communication network intrigues me.

I’ll leave you with this. For seven years I’ve posted as the fastest man in the world here. It remains the lengthiest sub-project I have ever continuously been involved with. And I must now go, because I think Spinner! is finally going to start answering questions.

Liveblogging the Silent Hunter 5 Release
Mar 2nd, 2010 by Ice Cream Jonsey

March 1, 2010 11:51 PM Ice Cream Jonsey: It’s March 2nd most places. Pinback Is Not Playing Silent Hunter 5. This Isn’t Over Ubisoft. This Isn’t Over.

March 2, 2010 12:11 AM Horrible Gelatinous Blob: If there was ever a time to pirate as a form of protest, it’s now. I can’t believe that there’s no organized, concerted effort to call Ubisoft out on their bullshit.

March 2, 2010 10:17 AM Ice Cream Jonsey: I guess my main objection is that these retards put in their laughably terrible form of DRM on a goddamn SUB GAME, which is played by forty grognards in their sixties and my pal Pinback. They felt the need to ensure that a 12-year old warezer wasn’t pretending to run a German sub in a simulation of a war that was so long ago, it might as well be cavemen throwing rocks at each other, using the most restrictive form of copy protection ever. When we had zero games for our PCjr, we still weren’t pirating GATO or Silent Service. So, with this on-line based DRM, Ubisoft can control exactly when… EXACTLY when the PC version of Silent Hunter 5 works.

Yet they didn’t deign to preload the fucking thing anywhere.

It’s been established that digital downloads ended up giving the consumer exactly nothing. Now, this isn’t so bad, because video games – much like comic books and playing an arcade game – are always going to have a price expectation that resists inflation. A $50 video game in 1980 should cost about $120 today. People are never, ever going to pay that, so it’s understandable that consumers got no break on price when games shifted to software-only. However, digital downloaders are paying the same price, but also playing the game well after the customers who get it through retail. How the fuck does that make any sense? I can go to GameStop in a couple hours and pick up Silent Hunter 5 and play it over lunch. Pinback gave Ubisoft more profit than anyone at a brick and mortar store two weeks ago and will be allowed to begin downloading it sometime today. Sometime today, in theory. Nobody’s fucking said when it will be activated.

And again, I can’t make this point strongly enough: the common reply given to the lack of a pre-load option is that pirates would get a head start on it. This can not apply to Ubisoft’s next few releases, if their DRM is actually worth a damn. As it stands, Silent Hunter 5 is not available on Usenet, but then, Pinback ain’t playing it either. The impression I’m getting is that Ubisoft knows this DRM is shit and it’s as hollow and pathetic a threat as Tom Benson leaking plans to possibly move the Saints to Albuquerque, NM pre-Katrina.

March 2, 2010 10:19 AM

Pinback: The button just changed to “Download Now”!!
Pinback: Of course, I was not notified via email as I was promised.
Pinback: The button says DOWNLOAD NOW, but it is not <a hreffed> to anywhere!
Pinback: It is just a graphic!
Ice Cream Jonsey: Hahahaha
Ice Cream Jonsey: “Just a man in a dress!” — Saied, A Fire in the Sun
Pinback: I am OUTRAGED with outrage!!
Pinback: Please don’t let Enviro-Bear 2000 (well, and Basketball, of course) be the only games I play today.

March 2, 2010 10:47 AM

Pinback: Still just a graphic.  The “Send Info” button still appears active, though!  Let’s SEND SOME INFO!  SOMEWHERE!

Ice Cream Jonsey:
This is how you play. You send information to your sub in German-controlled waters. By clicking on the “send info” button in Direct2Drive.

Pinback: Yeah!  It’s a Doenitz simulation!

Ice Cream Jonsey: THAT’S why Ubisoft needed that remote server. And the genius is, it’s all text based. If this game is any good, we’ve got an early favorite for the 2010 XYZZYs.

March 2, 2010 1:10 PM

Ice Cream Jonsey: OK, it’s got to be ready NOW.
Ice Cream Jonsey: Those fat fucks have finished their meals, and went into EditPlus.
Ice Cream Jonsey: They must have.

Pinback: Let’s check-a-doodle do that shit!
Pinback: Come ON, people.
Pinback: Really it just has to be ready by about 6:30.
Pinback: That is when I planned on DIVING INTO THE MURKY DEPTHS OF THE ATLANTIC.

Ice Cream Jonsey: It should be ready by 6:30
Ice Cream Jonsey: If that means June 30th.

Pinback: So actually, 6, cuz I’ll need time to download and install and see just how bad the documentation is this time. For reference, the documentation in SH4 was… what’s a word for “the love child of abominable and embarrassing”?
Ice Cream Jonsey: ubisoft
Pinback: ZING!!
Ice Cream Jonsey: FUCK YOU WORM

Pinback: I feel bad for the Romanian developers. This is making people hate Romania even more than they did before, which is not fair. Not completely fair.

Ice Cream Jonsey: I guess what I like is that there is almost literally no place on Earth where this thing shouldn’t be out yet. It’s been March 2nd forever in Europe, even in countries like Romania, where I am not 100% certain anyone tells time.

Ice Cream Jonsey: But yeah, when your entire country is famous for sub sims and the nightly housing of the wretched undead, you tend towards a binary mode of time telling: vampires out / vampires not out.

Ice Cream Jonsey: This is a fucking abortion. It is March second EVERYWHERE. The only places farther west than us are Venus, Mercury, the moons of Mercury we haven’t found yet and the Sun.

Ice Cream Jonsey: Ubisoft’s DRM server better be located in the crabshoe fucking nebula

Ice Cream Jonsey:

Ice Cream Jonsey: Hello?

March 2, 2010 2:46 PM

Pinback: It’s gotta be ready now, right?
Pinback: Let’s take a GANDER.
Ice Cream Jonsey: I mean, it’s GOT to be ready now.
Ice Cream Jonsey: This is No-Excuse Radio!
Pinback: Right. Someone’s gonna die.
Pinback: And it’s NOT going to be the captain of any British merchant ships!!
Ice Cream Jonsey: Unless that captain moved to Romania to make unreleasable sub games.

Pinback: Unbelievable. Unbelievable!
Pinback: Good thing D2D doesn’t have a FORUM, or I would type something angrily into the internet!!
Ice Cream Jonsey: DO they have a forum?
Pinback: They do NOT.
Pinback: Can I buy it off Impulse yet? LET US SEE.
Ice Cream Jonsey: Impulse has it???
Ice Cream Jonsey: Last time they fucked you over!
Pinback: Aw sure. Gold edition too!
Ice Cream Jonsey: Unreal.
Pinback: Well, they’re right on top of this one!
Ice Cream Jonsey: Let’s complain on Brad Stardock’s forum about Direct2Drive.
Ice Cream Jonsey: I’m sure he’d eat that shit right up.

Pinback: Also, from the The World Is Against Poor, Poor Me file:
Pinback: I asked the guys at Pho Vy today, “Hey, how come I can’t order (or “pre-load”) any tripe or tendon with my pho?”
Pinback: He says it’s a PARKER HEALTH CODE THING.
Ice Cream Jonsey: Hahaha, what??
Pinback: Parker has a NO-TENDON LAW, I guess.
Ice Cream Jonsey: They’re tendons. Tendons! We even HAVE them as humans. It’s not like the Viet Cong decided to fill their soups with green strychnine.

Pinback: But wait, know what I told the guy after he said I couldn’t have tendon and tripe because the Parker health code?
Pinback: KNOW WHAT I TOLD HIM??!?!
Ice Cream Jonsey: What did you tell– no!
Pinback: I said:
Pinback: “That’s just offal!!”
Ice Cream Jonsey: AHHAhaha
Pinback: DAAAAAahahahaa
Ice Cream Jonsey: Ahhhahaha

March 2, 2010 3:41 PM

Editor’s Note: An hour ago, Pinback opened up a ticket with Direct2Drive over the fact that the “Download Now” button was not properly hreffed. Clicking on the “Download Now” button… didn’t go anywhere.

Pinback: HAHAHAH
Pinback: Well, they seem to have taken my support ticket to heart!
Ice Cream Jonsey: Did they write back?
Pinback: No they did not, but the button is back to saying “PRE-ORDERED”.

March 2, 2010 4:47 PM

Editor’s Note: Futher investigation has revealed a forum on Ubisoft where people are flipping their shit that the game isn’t out via digital download yet.

Pinback: Check this shit:

Hi [Redacted],
Thanks for contacting us, I can confirm that the game is being released today, please bear with us and we’ll have it available to download shortly.

Kind regards,
Rich Metcalfe
Lead Technical Specialist
Digital Distribution

Pinback: Wait, that was from two hours ago.
Ice Cream Jonsey: They’re doing great work.
Ice Cream Jonsey: Shortly!
Ice Cream Jonsey: Someone lost the piece of paper with the bit to flip.
Pinback: Another:

I tell you this. This is the first and last time i will try a digitasl download. I cannot believe the problems with this. To top it off the game is buggie anyway. So when we fiasnlly do get it downloaded and installed its not going to work all that well anyway. What a shame!! And no one else is making sub games either.

Pinback: I can’t believe I’m waiting all day for a buggie game.

Ice Cream Jonsey: “The lead designer of Centipede approves of that sentiment.” — shitty comment

Pinback: HAHAhahaha


March 2, 2010 4:55 PM

We are defeated at the last. The silver shapes were the key to entering the main chamber wherein resides a gloating Mangar. We are trapped like rats in a tiny room where even now the wizard sends his minions to storm the door.

But we are given wise counsel by Soriac, who advises us to try to get this journal to Pellis, in the hope that he will pass on the experiences written here to one capable of defeating Mangar. One final spell, using the life forces of Soriac, Corfid, and myself, will render Isli invisible for a time, enabling her to escape this place with the journal. Yet it is evil magic. Everything we have accomplished will be rent from the fabric of time and destroyed, and as the spell burns itself out Isli will be consumed.

I embrace my companions, and taste the salt of Isli’s tears. Ghaklah has asked for my dagger — he has no wish to be captured alive. As he prepares the spell, I can but reflect that no man could wish to die in better company.

Ghaklah begins. They come.

March 2, 2010 5:31 PM


March 2, 2010 7:34 PM

Pinback: The install file is just a zip, with no directions on how to install it. Now obviously I know I need to unzip it and then probably run “setup”, but that’s not the point. NOT THE POINT, Robb.

Ice Cream Jonsey: What the fuck?
Ice Cream Jonsey: You just DOWNLOAD a zip file on Direct2Drive?

Pinback: Yes.
Ice Cream Jonsey: So you can send that to anyone. And all this fucking time, they could have e-mailed you a link to the zip file, which could be nothing more than an ISO of the retail CD. All this fucking time. It came down to a link. A link to a zip.

Pinback: You have to plug in an activation key at some point.
Pinback: That is the last obstacle, it accepting my activation code, before I can run it and realize that it doesn’t work.

Ice Cream Jonsey: Yeah, I am looking forward to that.
Pinback: I hear it’s a bit buggie.
Ice Cream Jonsey: You steer something German in the game all right, but it ain’t a sub
Pinback: Ha!
Pinback: Alright, I’m GOIN’ IN.
Pinback: Christ, there’s already a 70 meg patch.
Pinback: I guess that’s good? Maybe it won’t be so buggie.

Ice Cream Jonsey: What the fuck??
Ice Cream Jonsey: How … how the…
Ice Cream Jonsey: Jesus Christ

Pinback: Yup! “patching to 1.01”.
Ice Cream Jonsey: Nothing they do can surprise me any more.

Pinback: I am now struggling to create a account, which is required.
Ice Cream Jonsey: Is there a captcha?
Ice Cream Jonsey:Tell me there is a captcha. Tell me they put a CAPTCHA there for a service that only provides an authentication benefit for those fucks at Ubisoft and is therefore useless to spam.
Pinback: There is not.

March 2, 2010 7:44 PM

Pinback: It isn’t using 3D hardware acceleration for some reason. I’m getting about 2 FPS.
Pinback: Now I’m reading that if you have a 256 meg video card, you’re hosed.
Pinback: How can this be.
Pinback: I can run every other game at max settings smooth as silk.

Ice Cream Jonsey:
They…. they released a day-zero patch.
And there’s a fucking bug
For 256 MB video cards.
I know this is outside the scope of the live blog, since it’s been released now, but what the Christ.
Doesn’t work with 256 MB video cards. A sub game. The sub sim genre has DRM around it that requires a constantly-working and live Internet connection, and a video card that has more, or less, but not exactly, 256 megabytes of RAM.
Un fucking real.
The end.
2009 PGA Championship Final Round Update
Aug 17th, 2009 by Pinback

2009 PGA Championship Third Round Update
Aug 15th, 2009 by Pinback

Well, maybe it’s not quite over yet.

In one of the more aggravating days I’ve experienced as a Tiger Woods fan, I got to watch him basically kick the ball around the course, making lots of pars, while everyone behind him magically turned into world-beaters, all of them having the rounds of their lives, knocking in miracle shots like they were eating potato chips, and turning what should have been a runaway into a nail-biter, and I use that not as a metaphor for excitement, but as an admission that many of my fingers are actively losing blood as a result of the gouges I bit into them earlier today.

Thankfully, mercifully, due to a stone-cold, you’d-never-make-that-shot birdie at the 14th, and Padraig Harrington fucking up the last hole, he still has a two shot lead. And even more thankfully, the gaggle of douchebags making a charge generally choked properly toward the end of the day, leaving only two real challengers left.

Let’s take a look at them now, as we try to choke back the bile of this day of anguish.

Tiger is at -8, which is where he was yesterday after the 17th hole, so it can be said that since then, it’s been a pretty gruesome grind.

Y.E. Yang (-6) : Tiger’s playing partner tomorrow is Y.E. Yang, the winner of the Honda Classic earlier this year, and who matched Tiger’s first round of 67 today to launch himself into the final group of the weekend. He is a fierce competitor with a will that refuses to— wait… I’m sorry, did you say Y.E. Yang? WHO THE MOTHERFUCKING FUCK IS Y.E. YANG, AND WHY IS HE PLAYING IN THE LAST GROUP WITH THE GUY WEARING THE RED SHIRT TOMORROW? This can’t be happening. Y.E. Fucking Yang. Although after today he is the most recognizable golfer in the world to one Ice Cream Jonsey, because of two simple words: Magenta pants. Well, I’ve got two simple words for ol’ Y.E. Yang: No Fucking Way. THREAT LEVEL: I GOT YER Y.E. YANG RIGHT HERE.

Padraig Harrington (-6) : Fucking Paddy, man. On Friday he hit what was possibly the greatest golf shot ever hit, from the lip of a bunker, like 250 yards, to 10 feet. It was cute, then. It was like, “aw, poor Paddy, gonna lose, but at least we have these nice replays of that amazing shot.” But he is really trying to make that shot be one that they’ll play a hundred times, going, “here was where the momentum turned!”, and “here’s where he showed the heart of the competitor that would lead him to victory over the so-called ‘legendary’ Tiger Woods!” If this happens, I will kill myself, for real, live on this BBS. This absolutely cannot happen. The “Padraig winning” thing, not the “me killing myself” thing. Who cares about that. THREAT LEVEL: I WILL KILL MYSELF LIVE ON JOLT COUNTRY BBS.

So what was setting up to be a ceremonial stroll around Hazeltine, while I sat on the couch and drank myself into a stupor with a goofy grin on my face, is now a hard-bitten war around Hazeltine, while I sit on the couch and drink myself into a stupor with a gnarled grimace on my face. And then possibly killing myself, live on this BBS, at the end of the day.


2009 PGA Championship Second Round Update
Aug 15th, 2009 by Pinback

Let’s do our best to pretend that Tiger’s bogey at the last hole means struggles are ahead, and that even though he now has a four shot lead, there are still people with a chance to make this even remotely interesting.

Tiger leads at -7. There are five players four shots back at -3. There are two at -2. I can’t go any lower than that with a straight face, so let’s get to it:

— The (snnkkkrr) Challengers! —

Vijay Singh (-3) — If you can believe it, Tiger and Vijay will be paired together tomorrow in the final group. Vijay did nothing today, but he went out early before the weather got bad, so his lackluster 72 was actually good enough to put him in the final group. I am guessing he will put away all of his “Tiger Who?” hats before tomorrow’s round. Anyway, if that’s all he could do in the morning, he would be toast even if he wasn’t playing with the Man, and the various pressures that brings. THREAT LEVEL: ALMOST ZERO

Brendan Jones (-3) — Another one of those that took some advantage of the early good weather. And I still don’t know who it is. THREAT LEVEL: ABSOLUTE ZERO

Lucas Glover (-3) — The U.S. Open champ is still hanging around. He was threatening to really put some pressure on today until some late stumbles. Who knows? THREAT LEVEL: SLIGHTLY MORE THAN ZERO

Ross Fisher (-3) — Was having the round of his life, tied for the lead, until he bogeyed the last two holes. Plays well in majors. I still couldn’t pick him out of a lineup, but if he has another magical day tomorrow, and doesn’t give it all back at the end, hey, I’m looking for any excuse to build some drama here. THREAT LEVEL: VERY, VERY LOW, BUT NOT ZERO

Padraig Harrington (-3) — Was genuinely threatening until he fell apart on the back nine. He’s a tough guy, though! If anyone in this lineup can do it, I think it’s him. THREAT LEVEL: LOW, BUT AS GOOD AS WE’RE GONNA GET AT THIS POINT

Ian Poulter (-2) — One of those “any minute now he’s gonna be great” guys. But he isn’t. Put on a nice run earlier in the day (again, with better weather than Tiger had to deal with), but his pants are way too goofy, and he is a loser. THREAT LEVEL: LOSER

Lee Westwood (-2) — Was going to be in second place, paired with Tiger, until he three-putt from about two feet on the 17th hole. Has the talent, but not the stones. Sorry, Lee. You’re outta here. THREAT LEVEL: OUTTA HERE

Aaaand that’s pretty much it. Put this article among the many others being written around the internets right now, trying to put some sort of spin on this story other than “this tournament is over.”

(But this tournament is over.)

PGA Championship First Round Update
Aug 14th, 2009 by Pinback

PGA Championship First Round Update

Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods fans don’t have to suffer through much, but one of the things we do have to suffer through most of the time is lackluster starts in majors. Every major, he comes in touted as the man to beat (true) and that if anyone else wins it would be a miracle (not true), and then more often than not, my man tends to lay a bit of an egg on Thursday. That’s okay, makes the rest of the week more interesting (see 2008 US Open thread.)

But, sure would be nice to get off to a hot start once in a while. Well, with that in mind, let’s take a look at the challengers this week.

As usual, I will immediately discount anyone behind Tiger in the standings, since I don’t remember anyone ever catching him from behind in a major, since 1998. So let’s run down the list of those tied with, or ahead of Tigs:

Not a goddamn person. Tiger opens with a flawless, effortless 67, one shot clear of the next competitor, and two shots clear of every other checkered-panted dork out there. That’s what I’m talking about.

But because that doesn’t make for a very interesting update, let’s assume for the sake of saving this godforsaken website that the tournament isn’t already over, and run down those list of reasonable challengers, which I will define at everybody at -1 or better, because come on, if you’re at even par, you’re already five back of the greatest golfer in history, so just pack up the goddamn clubs.

Challengers listed in descending order that they show up on the leaderboard when I click on “”:

Padraig Harrington (-4) : He won the last two majors last year, and then fell off the map. His swing was a mess. He couldn’t make a cut. But then he found something, and last week nearly stole Tiger’s 70th win until a ruling at the 16th hole rattled his nerves and he took an 8. So, even though I’d like to say this is a done deal, in all likelihood it’s stacking up as Tiger v. Paddy II: Mick’s Revenge. THREAT LEVEL: EXTREME

Robert Allenby (-3) : Ranked 30th in the world, he’s one of those “hang-arounders” that you know his name, see his face occasionally, but isn’t usually made for the big stage. Though I do know his name and might be able to pick him out of a lineup, so we won’t totally dismiss him yet. THREAT LEVEL: MEDIUM

Matthew Goggin (-3) : Interesting Golf Fact #1: Nobody with three “g”s in their last name has ever won a major. THREAT LEVEL: LOW

Hunter Mahan (-3) : One of the young guns from whom great things are expected. And yet, he’s only won one tournament, and wouldn’t you know, this young gun is 27, by which time the tournament leader had already won about 100 majors and 5,000 tournaments. THREAT LEVEL: MEDIUM-LOW

Alvaro Quiros (-3) : I’m sorry, I meant to click “PGA Championship” but clicked “Daily Jumble Puzzle” instead. My bad! THREAT LEVEL: WHO???

Vijay Singh (-3) : Well, look at that, our old nemesis. Still 12th in the world, but you really haven’t heard much from ol’ darkie there for a couple of years. Back in the day, I’d say this was some serious cause for alarm. But Vijay, you’re old, you’re washed up, you’re ugly, you’re stupid, and most importantly, you can’t putt. How the mighty have fallen. THREAT LEVEL: MEDIUM-LOW

David Toms (-3) : David, we all know you, we all like you, you’re a previous major winner, you seem like a good guy, but your time has passed, and you had one good round, and goodbye. THREAT LEVEL: LOW

Paul Goydos (-2) : Who couldn’t have fallen in love with Paul Goydos’ good-guy routine at last year’s Players where he took Sergio to the limit? Nobody. Who thinks he has a chance at winning this tournament? Even fewer than that. THREAT LEVEL: NONE

Thongchai Jaidee (-2) : Interesting Golf Fact #2: Nobody named “Thongchai Jaidee” has ever won a major. THREAT LEVEL: THONGCHAI JAIDEE???

Graeme McDowell (-2) : Interesting Golf Fact #3: Nobody with an “ae” in their name has ever won a major, particularly if they were ranked 49th in the world at the time, and three shots back of Tiger Woods. THREAT LEVEL: AE

Lee Westwood (-2) : Most will forget that he was one putt away from joining the Tiger & Rocco show in the already-legendary 2008 U.S. Open. He’s a good guy. He’s got game. He’s 13th in the world. He… Yeah, he’s good. THREAT LEVEL: MEDIUM

Michael Bradley (-2) : The funny part is, I went onto to look up the current world rankings. The first page of the rankings goes up to #102 (59 year-old Tom Watson). So I hit “search” and typed “michael”, and not only was his name not on the page, but nobody else with “michael” in their name was on the page. THREAT LEVEL: TOM WATSON, AT BEST

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (-2) : On the broadcast, they list his name as “Gonzalo F-Castano”, which I always read as “Gonzalo Fuckin’ Castano”, or at least I would, if I knew who he was or had ever heard of him. THREAT LEVEL: ABSOLUTELY F-NONE

Soren Kjeldsen (-2) : Interesting Golf Fact #4: Nobody whose last name begun with what looks like a typo has ever won a major. THREAT LEVEL: TYPO

Ben Crane (-2) : Ben Crane is most famous for making Rory Sabbatini go apeshit because he spends so much time praying to Jesus in between shots that you could fall asleep waiting for him to hit a 20-foot chip shot. While I appreciate the concept of irritating Rory Sabbatini, even Jesus can’t save you now, Ben. THREAT LEVEL: NONE

Hiroyuki Fujita (-1) : It must be hard playing golf after eating all those hot dogs. THREAT LEVEL: NATHAN’S

Rory McIlroy (-1) : Rory is this year’s Anthony Kim, the true young stud who is going to take Tiger’s throne, except he can’t find it through his cabbage-patch lettuce which clouds his eyes with scraggly curls and his ears with the laughter of onlookers. THREAT LEVEL: LOW

Bo Van Pelt (-1) : Interesting Golf Fact #5: Nobody with three names, totaling less than 10 letters, has ever won a major. THREAT LEVEL: NONE


Rich Beem (-1) : For those golf historians among you, you’ll remember that Rich Fucking Beem won the PGA Championship in 2002, the last time it was at this very same golf course (Hazeltine), and he won by one shot, over one Tiger Fucking Woods. He is enjoying some rejuvenated popularity this week due to this history. This is the only part of this week he will enjoy. THREAT LEVEL: NONE

Anders Hansen (-1) : Sorry, hit Jumble again. THREAT LEVEL: HUH??

Geoff Ogilvy (-1) : Geoff Ogilvy is a stud, and currently 8th in the world. Four back of Tigs is a tough climb, but I will be very quiet and respectful here. THREAT LEVEL: QUIET AND RESPECTFUL

Brendan Jones (-1) : I don’t know who this is. Apparently he is 64th in the world. THREAT LEVEL: I DON’T KNOW WHO THIS IS

Lucas Glover (-1) : Won the U.S. Open this year. You’d think I’d be all apeshit, since if he wins this, not only does he keep Tiger major-less for the first time since 2004, but he will get Player of the Year, even though he’ll have won fewer than half the number of tournaments Tiger has. In truth, though, I think he has zero chance. But since even the spectre of him winning is so terribly horrible, I will have to weight it super-extra heavy. Which all leads to THREAT LEVEL: MEDIUM

Luke Donald (-1) : Luke Donald was supposed to be this great awesome young golfer and like so many of them he’s done nothing and will do nothing, eat a dick Luke Donald. THREAT LEVEL: NONE

So that’s it. Tune in tomorrow when, God willing, we’ll have a richly deserved blowout on our hands.

(Interesting Golf Fact #6: Tiger’s real middle name is, for reals, “Tont”.)

Interview with Vectrex developer Alex Nicholson
Aug 2nd, 2009 by Ice Cream Jonsey

(Note: I am moving articles from the old JC site to this one. We begin with an interview with Alex Nicholson, developer of Spike’s Circus and Logo for the Vectrex. This interview originally ran on April 19th, 2006.)

The Vectrex is an 8-bit video game console that was released in 1982. It had its own monitor, so finally Mom and Dad could fear the Russians on the evening news in peace while you pretended to be a space ship, a vacuum cleaner, or even more unlikely, someone racing in the Tour de France. CGE stopped making Vectrex units in 1984.

Alex Nicholson is a retro programmer from the United Kingdom and has released Logo for the Vectrex…in 2006! Alex’s release includes a physical cartridge, an overlay, printed instructions and a perfectly designed box.

In fact, there are a small number of developers creating fantastic new software for this decades-old piece of hardware. As one of the leaders of the new generation of modern-day Vectrex games, we here at JC interviewed Alex to ask how the release went and what’s in store for the future.

Alex’s website, which features info on all his in-development wares, is located at

JC: How did you come to be interested in the Vectrex? Did you have one when the system was new?

AN: Heh, it’s a classic story. I always wanted one but never got one. They were always very expensive and I was eight or nine when they were out. I made do with my 2600, but I
never forgot them. One day I was chatting with my girlfriend about childhood and I mentioned I had always wanted a Big Trak toy (also from MB). So what do I know, but she goes and gets me one for Xmas from eBay. It was really cool. So it took me a while to figure it out but eventually I realised eBay could get me other things I had always wanted, so 3 months later in March 2005, I bid for my first ever Vectrex.


JC: Bringing a programming language to the Vectrex is certainly not an easy task. Logo is a very interesting choice, and I would say a clever one for the Vec because the same group of people who enjoy the nostalgia of the Vectrex were probably learning Logo in school while growing up. What inspired you to choose Logo?

AN: Thanks, actually that was my line of thinking, but it seems Logo and home computers in general were less popular in America than in UK. So whilst we may have grown up with BBC Micros etc., especially in our schools here in UK, Logo didn’t do so well across the pond. Let’s hope it does now :). I wanted to do something different for my first release, it’s hard to follow Protector, so I knew it had to be a departure from the norm. I wrote a few games, and spent a fair amount of time working on an RTS, but I didn’t think it was a good launch title. Eventually in February I decided to write an large and ambitious game and this would require an icon based command interpreter. I decided to approach it in stages and by prototyping this environment as part of Logo, I was able to test the UI concept and produce something a little unusual at the same time. (Yes, that does mean Logo is just a milestone to something else.)

I wrote Logo in such a way that it’s not limited by my own creative vision. I’m hoping the users will produce some really cool stuff in it; I’ve had a few pictures for my art competition already, and it’s stuff I hadn’t thought of, so that’s made me really happy. It means I satisfied my goal to transfer the creative onus to the user! :)

JC: Were there any unique challenges in development?

AN: I learn something with every game I write. I’m still a novice. I enjoyed optimising the code, increasing the number of glyphs I could draw. Logo held a particular challenge in that it requires RAM to hold both the user program and also the output draw screen. The RAM was only ever used previously in Animaction. I used a PCB developed by John Maccallan (repro 3D imager hero) and he was with me step by step helping me with development hardware. Regarding the RAM, the Vectrex has to draw everything 30 times a second, so when you write a Logo program to draw a square I need to record those vector lines and bang them onto the screen over and over again. Actually, it was easy to draw the final result, (Turtle Lightspeed On) the hard bit was slowing it down so it (the turtle) added one line at a time. Messing with the beamdrift parameter also shows some of what’s going on inside, as the Vectrex needs to be recalibrated every dozen lines or so, regardless of what the user wants the turtle to do.

JC: Did you learn Assembly programming for this, or were you already well-versed?

AN: As I said, I bought my first Vectrex in March 2005, so a few months after that I bought a book on writing an assembler for the Dragon Microcomputer in BASIC (it has the same processor). I studied this and it taught me the fundamentals of Assembly (using the registers, etc.), and then I was able to follow the fantastic programming tutorial by Chris Salomon (thank you Chris). I used the Vectrex PC emulators for a while, and I thought things were going OK, until one day I managed to put my code a real Vectrex… boy was that a shock, it looked terrible. The Vectrex is old-school (analogue components and stuff) and there’s no substitute for programming on the real thing, so now I don’t use emulators.

JC: The overlay for Logo is really sharp, and placing the glyphs on it is a stroke of genius. Are you planning on including overlays for your future releases? And for our readers who are wholly unfamiliar with overlays, how on earth did you take it from concept to finished product?

AN: Thanks, I wanted to produce a complete package; as a collector myself it was important to produce something people would actually want on their shelves.

I think Logo benefits from an overlay- it’s kinda a quick reference guide, and the colour green is just a nice bonus. Most of the classic games don’t really need them. I have some more ideas on how to really use the colour concept an overlay provides, and, you know, actually use the colours as part of the game. I talked to guys who had made overlays and I had some ideas that might improve the process; eventually I made them myself to test my theories. I’m pleased to say that my methods have been an influence on the forthcoming release of Color Clash from Revival Studios, in fact, CC improves on my overlays. I’m confident that everyone will agree CC has the most fantastic overlay ever produced.

The boxes were by far the biggest hassle, each one was hand made, this is why it’s a limited release! I couldn’t handle making any more. I’m not sure what will happen in the future; if I need to make any more by hand, I can’t see me making more than 20 or so for any future games. There have been some developments this year, though, that may change that. We’ll have to see what options become available.

The manual was also a challenge-on one hand I wanted to give users a chance to learn and use Logo, but on the other hand I didn’t want to drown them in information. In the end I settled for 16 pages with a bigger download PDF for those who want it.

If anybody wants to make their own overlay/box though, I can tell you all you need is a regular inkjet printer. I made everything using that, with a bit of effort. I think the nature of the offering depends on the game- some might have boxes and overlays, some might not. I’ll assess each individual case.

JC: To move that many Logo packages must have been exhilarating and exhausting. For instance, just producing and assembling the boxes must have taken a significant amount of time. Was there anything you learned from the process that you think will help as you ship your next game?

AN: Yes, the boxes took as much effort as writing the code. I know it’s a sad conclusion but I learnt I wouldn’t make 80 or so boxes by hand again. Overlays are pretty easy though, I’m confident releases can include those and they really finish the presentation nicely. It’s nice that people appreciate them though, it *almost* makes cutting and sticking them worth it! ;)

JC: Is Spike’s Circus the next game you think you will release? How would you describe its gameplay? It looks like Art of War, a real-time strategy game, is also in development — we would love any nuggets of information about any of your future wares that you might wish to drop!

AN: I think Spike’s Circus probably will be the next one. It received favourable reviews when I demoed it a RetroGamDag in the Netherlands. I need to settle on the options. It has scrolling support already, but I actually find it more enjoyable without the scrolling. I just need to decide what to include and what not to. Spike’s Circus has a funny little plot: it’s 20 years on and Spike is settled with Molly and owns a circus; he actually employs his old nemesis Spud as the Lion Tamer. Spike has to make Spud redundant, as Lions (and caged animals in general) aren’t so popular nowadays. Spud gets mad and takes his revenge by kidnapping Molly. His plan is to humiliate Spike and that’s where the game starts. (Spud will actually sing this plotline on Vecvox as part of the intro.)

I’ve also just started working on an old-school game called Star Sling. We’re kinda spoilt nowadays with massive 32KB Roms to play with. I want to try to write a game with the original cost restrictions. Scramblewas only 4K so I’ll try to fit it in 4K, maybe 8K at the absolute max. It will focus on playability and two player head to head. (If I can capture the intensity of Nebula Commander I’ll be delighted.) SS will probably be come out soon. I want to keep the production costs low too, so I can distribute it really cheaply.

Something I think that is underutilised on the Vectrex is the analogue joystick, only Hyperchase used it out of the original games. Both of these and AoW all use the analogue stick. I think there’s a lot of fun to be had with it. (although the reason noone uses it is because it is VERY heavy on processor cycles)

JC: What Vectrex games — both original releases and those of the new batch — do you enjoy the most? Is there any kind of genre that you prefer over another?

AN: Mine Storm is of course everyones favourite of the originals. I likeScramble too, it’s just good fun. Shame it repeats so soon, but that’s the 4K limit getting in the way. Maybe one day I might do a Scrambleextended version. Unless someone releases Vectrex R-Type first!

For homebrews, I love Thrust by Ville Krumlinde, I think its just a perfect conversion, closely followed by Protector by Alex Herbert. I really rateNebula Commander by Craig Aker too, I think it’s the finest 2 player game by a long way. When you’re playing you forget to blink!

I like stuff that’s original and different, I remember the joy of the original Lemmings on the Amiga, if I ever experience that feeling of originality again I’d be delighted. March 2006 featured announcements of four releases, I don’t think the Vectrex has ever been so busy, long may it continue.

I think the one to watch with be George Pelonis’s 3D Star Fury, George has been at this a while and coding for the 3D imager is REALLY hard. I’ve had a dabble programming for it and the timing is so critical. If George pulls it off (and it all sounds promising) I think it will be the dawn of a new era. Maybe be a new epoch to follow Protector!

How Text Games Affected My View of UHC
Jul 24th, 2009 by Ice Cream Jonsey

I’m replaying Circuit’s Edge, which was a graphical text adventure developed by Westwood, under the post-merger Infocom label. I once said it was the 59th best game ever made. While that list, um… is in desperate need of an update, I still feel it’s excellent, playing it in 2009 instead of 1989.

It’s great, yeah, but not perfect. In many cases, default dialogue is used for all characters on some plot-insensitive subjects.  The manual’s map is just wrong about the locations of certain shoppes. You can only save in Marid’s (the protagonist) apartment. There’s a police computer that will let you look up anyone if you know their full name – while it’s never mentioned in the game, I’ve read the three Budayeen books enough times to have the name of the Marid’s ex-girlfriend memorized (Yasmin Nablusi) and she’s not in there. I’m not saying it’s bad, but it could have been perfect.

(I’m going to hope the fact that the first thing I did when I gained access to a futuristic criminal database was look up an ex-girlfriend is just sort of glossed over here.)

But the game rocked my world during those years where your world can get rocked by things, and I’m thankful to know that it still holds up.

Circuit’s Edge was developed in part with the author of the source material, George Alec Effinger. George wrote three novels that featured Marid Audran, commonly referred to as the Budayeen series, for its setting. I’ve tried, over the years, to acquire everything George ever wrote. He’s my favorite author, and I suppose he always will be. But I have this “thing” about finishing games and reading everything a deceased author wrote, which is just – if you finish everything… then it’s over. There’s no new stuff. So long as I didn’t do the last couple of missions in Circuit’s Edge, the game would never really be over for me. But as I start to accept the fact that I’m going to have less and less time for gaming over the next thirty years,  well… okay, I just wanted to finish it.

Same with George’s books. I purchased a recent anthology titled A Thousand Deaths. It’s not a Budayeen-based work. Rather, it contains the stories involving one of George’s other protagonists, Sandor Courane.  Sandor – and this is not a spoiler, it’s on the dust jacket – passes away in a number of the stories George wrote that featured him. I’m just getting around to reading all the short stories within, but the feature is definitely the complete 1981 work The Wolves of Memory.  I don’t want to spoil anything, but George passed away at 56 after a long battle with stomach problems and while he wrote it well before having any idea of what his fate was, you can retro-fit some things as metaphor.

As an professional author, George didn’t have proper health insurance. He was great at what he did, but he wasn’t making the kind of money where money wasn’t a problem. After years of treatment at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, which he did not enjoy, he finally had an operation in “the early 1990s” at Tulane University Hospital. He wasn’t able to pay the bill, and the hospital went after the most valuable thing he had, his intellectual property.

I mean – okay, the hospital obviously needed to be paid, I have no problem with that. George shut it down, when it came to the Budayeen, after that. He got two chapters into the fourth Marid Audran novel (and honestly, having read them, they are the best work he ever did, his characters absolutely crackle with life, and whatever reservations I had with much of the third novel, The Exile Kiss, are blown away. The man was at the top of his game.) and that’s all he ever did. He wasn’t going to work on it if every penny was going to directly go to the hospital.

You can criticize his decision. You can criticize the heartlessness of the hospital. My hobby of making text games is, at some level, and attempt to make the kinds of things that people that loved George’s writing might enjoy, without mimicking him. It’s that way for me because I feel there was at least one amazing novel we never got because of circumstance. So that’s why I’m in favor of some kind of universal health care in this country. I couldn’t speak to the details, or how anyone’s going to pay for anything, but it seems silly that lives are saved and financially destroyed at the same time.

I believe that Fyodor Dostoyevsky said “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering the prisons.” (For real, it’s what I believe, I had the quote totally wrong in my mind and did some Googling, and came up with that. It’s totally not fact-checked.) And that’s fine, but I think you can say something similar regarding how it treats its artists.

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