Monday, December 13, 2010

Amazing Race's Nat Has Worthy Message . . . But How Necessary Is It?

Last night Hopie and I watched Nat and Kat win the latest season of The Amazing Race. In addition to winning the million dollars and being a member of the first all female team to with the Race, Nat Strand had another message she wanted her performance to convey. Being an insulin dependant diabetic who uses a pump to help control her blood sugar levels, she wanted everyone in a similar situation to know that diabetes doesn’t have to hold you back from doing just about anything you want to do.
I myself am a 42-year-old Type I Diabetic who is on insulin pump therapy. While I do agree my control could be better, I live a fairly normal life and have never felt that my diabetes was a hindrance. My father was an insulin dependant diabetic who wasn’t as lucky. His health was much more poor my mine. He lost both legs to the disease and spent a lot of time in the hospital, eventually losing the battle at the young age of 45. Still, I saw him get the most out of life when he was able. He chaperoned my elementary school class on field trips. He helped coach my little league team. He worked out in the yard, went swimming, etc.. And then there is my fifteen year old son, who is also on the insulin pump. Seeing him in his daily routine you would have no idea he was a diabetic. (Unfortunately, I think he sometimes forgets, as well.)
The point I am making with this family history is this: I’ve experienced Type I diabetes in various degrees of control and have never really felt, or known anyone who felt, particularly held back by the disease. Not to take anything away from Nat’s message -- it’s a worthy one and I’m sure there are people out there (especially young people who may have recently been diagnosed) who need to hear it -- but compared to other life-threatening diseases and disabilities -- such as cancer, leukemia, MS, MD – diabetes seems rather minor and relatively easy to manage with your daily routine. Looking over a list of famous people who have had diabetes (both Types I and II) – athletes, actors, musicians, politicians, writers, scientists, businessmen, etc. – it should be clear by now that a diabetic can live a full and productive life.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe diabetes still has this stigma, but I haven’t seen nor experienced it myself. That being said, way to go Nat Strand! You are an inspiration to many!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Despite What You May Think, MMO’s Suck

After listening to a couple of my favorite gaming podcasts this week I have to wonder, if what these people are saying is true, why in the world should anyone be playing Massively Multiplayer Online Games?
The first podcast, Shut Up We’re Talking, covered the topic “Why It’s Great to be an MMO Gamer.” The catalyst for this discussion was a Massively article written by Justin Olivetti in which he listed 10 reasons it’s great to be an MMO gamer today. Some of his points were giant game selection, a variety of pay options, developers are trying new things, it’s becoming cool to be a gamer, larger player base, and there’s so much to talk about. Darren, one of the hosts on Shut Up, then proceeded to shoot down each of these arguments. More games dilutes the population. More pay options gives the game companies more of an opportunity to gouge the player. Where are the new things these developers are supposed to be trying? Gaming is still considered uncool in many circles. The “larger player base” may just be the same core group of players leaving and coming back. Finally, Darren is finding less new things to talk about concerning games.
So, I finish that uplifting conversation and turn on the next podcast, the Van Hemlock Podcast. In this particular episode, Tim and Jon work their way through a list they compiled of 20 things that could be improved in MMO’s. Among the complaints were traveling quests that run you back and forth between two or three locations, leveling, multiple currencies, and not all content is available to solo players. The duo had more than one issue with certain aspects of game play, such as crafting. Why do you have to manufacture the same item over and over again to gain the skill level needed to manufacture the item you really want? And shouldn’t all crafting materials be found throughout the world, not just in one or two specific areas? Groups had their own problems. The first was size limits. The other was the “Holy Trinity”, or the need to have a specific group composition (healer, tank, damage-per-second) in order be efficient. And then there was the sense that nothing you did really mattered in the world. Whatever you accomplish resets or, if you choose not to do something, there are no consequences.
To be fair, Darren explained in the show’s comments that, when an article is over-positive, he likes to take a step back and look at the other side of the argument. Also, Jon and Tim were making constructive criticisms in the hopes that developers might make improvement to these various mechanics in future games. Still, after listening, it sounds like there is so much wrong with these games that anyone would be foolish to waste their time with them. However, somehow, despite all these issues, I am still having fun when I play my favorite game. Does that mean my game of choice is devoid of problems? Of course not. And that’s the point. From a Gamer’s viewpoint, if he or she is having fun, all these other issues simply don’t matter. The fun is more powerful than the flaws.

So, is it a great time to be an MMO gamer? Well? Are you having fun? If so, then yes, it’s a great time to be an MMO gamer!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

eBay Deals for the Clueless

Sixteen Hundred Microsoft Xbox Points costs $20 U.S., period. (Okay, it’s actually $19.99, but I’m rounding for simplicity.) If you go to Wal-Mart you can buy a Microsoft 1600 points card OTC for $20. Target, $20. Best Buy, $20. Game Stop, $20. Heck, if you are currently playing your Xbox and want to purchase points on the fly through their Xbox Live Marketplace, they charge $20 for 1600 points. There is no reason anyone in the United States should pay more that $20 for this quantity of points.
Earlier this week I was browsing eBay and decided to see if there were any good deals on Microsoft point cards. What I found amazed me. When I searched specifically for 1600 points I pulled up 28 listings on the first page. Of those 28, only five . . . five . . . were currently priced under $20 (cost + shipping). The majority of cards were priced higher: $22.50, $23.99, $25.00, $32.51, $33.46, $37.00. My personal favorite had to be someone who had a listing for $1.00. First of all, when you read the description you learn that you do not actually get a card. Instead, the code will be e-mailed to you, an arrangement that I personally would steer clear of. But, besides that, the seller is charging a shipping and handling fee of $22.75. You end up paying nearly $24 dollars for a questionable code when you can go down the street and buy a legitimate card for four dollars less.
Okay, listing an overpriced item is one thing. But do people actually buy them? I wanted to know so I clicked on "completed listings". On the first page alone I saw that nineteen cards were sold at a total cost of more than the $20 retail value. (In fact, one of those sales was the $1.00 deal I described above.)
If a vendor wants to jack up the price on his item, I really have no problem with that. I believe in a free marketplace. What I do have to question, however, are the people who would actually buy these overpriced items. I can only believe that they are people who simply don’t have a clue about how much Microsoft points cost. They are probably the parents and, more likely, grandparents of little Johnny who begs and begs, "I want some Microsoft points. I want some Microsoft points." These unsuspecting adults don’t know how much these mysterious "points" cost, but they do know you can find good deals on eBay.  So they log on, look up and buy. Done.
Bottom line, it’s good to be an informed shopper. And for those of you who aren’t, the cost to read this blog entry is $2.00. You can send it to my PayPal account.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dark Tower MMO: My Envisioning

Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, DC Comics, Star Trek. They are all popular Intellectual Properties (IP) that have, or will soon have, a major MMO associated with them. So what is the next IP that will lend its name to an IP? I have no idea. But I do have an idea for make a great Multi-player online game based on an established IP: Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. King has already shown that he is willing to lend his work to other media outlets, such as Marvel Comic who have released comics based on both the Dark Tower and The Stand. Also, there is some kind of Dark Tower online game experience called Discordia (which I have not looked at yet). So why not a Massively Multiplayer game based on the same series?
For starters, the books give us many great locations to explore in the game. In Mid-World, you can visit areas such as the western setting of the Gunslinger, the city of Lud, Calla Bryn Sturgis, Devar-Toi, Mejis, and Roland’s home of Gilead. And then there would be the doorways that travel to our world, such as New York and Maine. Imagine battling nightmarish creatures in the Waste Lands or “Low Men” in the Dixie Pig.
I envision this game being more skill-based than class based. Let’s face it, all the heroes were basically gunslingers, primarily a fighter class. Of course, magic existed in Mid-World, but none of the mains were what you would call spell casters. Healers? Not really. So everyone would be classless and instead learn different skills along the way. Depending on what skills one chooses, a player can create a character that has strengths in either fighting, magic-using, stealth, healing, and so-on.

Being a multiplayer game, it’s natural that players will want to form coalitions. In other games these groups go by names such as guilds, corporations, etc.. I think the name that would be used in Dark Tower is pretty obvious: Ka-Tet’s. But I am also a strong supporter of gamers who tend to play solo, being one myself. Therefore, I would like to see the game adopt a system similar to Guild Wars’ heroes and henchmen. The main characters from the books, such as Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Callahan could be the heroes, while lesser characters, such as Sheemie, the Calla residents, and other characters, either taken from the books or created for the game, could be henchmen. I’m up in the air about Roland, however. At the very least, he would be a hero, but I could also see him being a non-playable entity who is in the forefront of the storyline, possibly the person who sends you on your various quests.
I also have a great idea for the endgame. (Warning: There may be spoilers for those of you who have not read to the end of Roland’s tale.) Of course your character will eventually reach the Dark Tower and defeat the Crimson King. Once he does he will be allowed to enter the tower. In the book, Roland passes several doors that mark various events of his life. I think it would be cool if you could open those doors in the game and see scenes specific to your characters adventures in the game. Eventually, you will reach the top and have one last door to step through. When your character enters the room at the top of the tower, he is instantly teleported to the starting area of the game, stripped of all acquired items and reduced to level 1. Cruel? Yes. Will players be pissed? Of course. But is it appropriate?

Oh, Yeah!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Human Nature is the Reason Players Resist Free-to-Play

It's a great time to be a Free-to-Play gamer. Sure, Free-to-Play is nothing new, but over the past year or so several high quality, formerly subscription-only games have converted to Free-to-Play and there are more on the horizon. However, not everyone is happy. In particular, the subscription paying players of these games. To understand why, you have to understand what is meant by Free-to-Play.
What Free-to-Play often really means is Pay Optional. It costs nothing to start playing the game. A significant portion of the game, if not all, is accessible to the player. In addition to what's free, players are given the opportunity to enhance their gaming experience by making optional purchases with real world money. One way this is handled is through an Item Mall, or Cash Shop. These in-game stores may sell clothing items to change your avatar's appearance, mounts to speed up your travel, boosts to help your character level faster or stay alive, extra storage space, or any number of other game enhancing features. Or a game may choose to only open up a part of their world, and allow players to purchase additional areas if they wish to adventure further. There are several different pricing models out there and most include one or a combination of these options.
So why would someone who used to pay a subscription of approximately $15 a month be upset at now not being forced to pay month after month. Part of the reason is the stigma Free-to-Play has. In the past, a high percentage of Free-to-Play games were of low quality when compared to the subscription games. However, over the years they have gotten better. Furthermore, we are now talking about established, Triple-A titles. We know the quality is high.
The main issue is the cash shop. Players complain that now that have to pay for stuff that used to be included in the game. I agree this is a valid complaint for someone who plays a particular title a lot and, in the new model, would end up spending more than the $15 subscription fee a month. But, from what I've heard, the reality is that that accounts for only 5% to 10% of the players. Furthermore, many of these games (certainly all of the recent subscription converts) have a subscription option available for people who play a lot, which would allow them to play everything without having to dish out any more additional cash. Yet, players still want to resist the Free-to-Play model. Even those who would benefit sometimes don't like the idea of having to make Cash Shop purchases. They have that "being nickeled and dimed" feeling. In fact, I heard the host of one podcast recently admit to being more comfortable paying a $15 subscription every month than paying $2, $3, $5 here and there in a Cash Shop, even, if on the average, the Cash Shop purchases were less each month.
So why the resistance? I believe it is the human nature to resist change.
Way back when MMO's were a new thing, in the days of Ultima Online and Everquest, the only model available was the subscription model. Some people jumped right on board. Others, like myself, scoffed at the idea of paying a fee each month to play a game and took a while to accept the idea. Either way, subscription was the only way to play, or at least the only way to play a quality game. Players were comfortable with that arrangement. Now something new comes along that challenges the subscription mindset. It's different. They don't like it. It's not how things are supposed to be done. By accepting it, in some way they feel that they are admitting they were wrong for all those years.
I suspect the exact same thing would be happening if the order was reversed. What if the first MMO's were Free-to-Play games and the publishers made their money with Cash Shops and area unlocks? Then, after about ten years of this, a game publisher offers a subscription model which charges a monthly rate less than what most players were paying in item purchases. Players would be up in arms. "How dare you force me to pay a fee every month!" "Don't take away my choice to buy what I want!" "It's just a trick for the game publishers to get rich!"
Do you really think it would be any different? I don't.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I Want To Own "The"

Earlier this month a California court ruled in favor of Electronic Arts (EA), a popular video game company, in a case brought against them by Tim Langdell, founder of Edge Games. In his complaint, Langdell claimed that EA’s recent game release Mirror’s Edge, infringed upon his trademark of the word "edge".
This isn’t the first time Langdell has threatened lawsuits against companies for using the word "edge" in their game titles, and for the most part he has gotten his way. However, in the this recent cast the court disagreed, saying Langdell has done practically nothing in the way of producing anything under the Edge trademark, while EA has spent millions developing the Mirror’s Edge franchise. Furthermore, the court basically stripped Langdell of his trademark, ordering the United States Patent and Trademark Office to cancel all trademarks Langdell has on the word "edge".
This reminded me of a similar case here in Orlando back in the late 80’s. In 1988, Pizzaria Uno opened it’s first Orlando location. Soon afterwards, in some backwards attempt to warm itself to the local community (read that with sarcasm), Pizzaria Uno threatened legal action against a small Cuban restaurant. The reason for the action was that they claimed the Cuban restaurant, which had went by the name Numero Uno for nine years, was infringing upon their trademark of the word "Uno." Apparently, the Pizzaria Uno legal department had just graduated from pre-school and thought that customers would have a hard time distinguishing a small cuban restaurant from a national Chicago-style pizza restaurant chain. This case didn’t work out as well for the defendant as the EA case. The owner of Numero Uno agreed to change it’s name because he didn’t have the resources to wage a legal battle.
Now, it’s easy to point fingers at Tim Langdell and Pizzaria Uno and call them opportunist bullies, and rightfully so. But are they really the problem? Actually, I think the real problem lies elsewhere, namely the idiot at the United States Patent and Trademark Office who actually granted trademarks on the individual words "edge" and "uno". How dumb is that?
No one should have the right to corner the market on a single word. Tim Langdell’s company was called Edge Games not "Edge". The trademark should have been for "Edge Games". If so, there never would have been a case. Same with Pizzaria Uno. The name of the restaurant is not simply "Uno." And in the case of single word products, the trademark should be dependant on the type of product. Therefore, U2’s guitarist "Edge" couldn’t sue Gillette over their "Edge" shaving cream.
Now, if this practice of trademarking a single word continues, I want to make it clear here and now that I wish to trademark the word "the". One book published and I should be set for life. The rest of you can fight over "an," "and," "it," "as," and "of." But I’m calling dibs on "the".
I’m licking it right now.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Why I Will Never Be a Master Gamer

As you know by now, I love to play video games and would consider myself an avid gamer. However, I'm pretty sure I will never be a "Master Gamer," or someone who consistently reaches the highest level of a game with the best stats or awards. What happened to me this weekend simply reinforced this opinion of myself. Oh, and if you are not a gamer, let me warn you now, this entry may bore you completely.
The first MMO I ever played was a grindy free-to-play game based out of Malaysia called Pirate King Online. The concept of an MMO piqued my interest and I thought it might be something fun that Hopie (who at the time lived several hundred miles away) and I could do together. We had a blast and played for a long time until a couple of things happened with the game. First, we hit a virtual wall as far a leveling goes, and game updates caused changes to the graphical interface that just made the game ugly and more difficult to play.
As is the case with several Asian games, there was a US version called Tales of Pirates. We still liked the game, so we decided to give it a try. One of the errors we made on Pirate King Online was not really knowing how best to distribute stat points and what skills to work on. Believing that was the reason we were having trouble advancing, I decided to build my character correctly from the beginning. I picked a character type (you have four to choose from) and a profession that corresponded to that character type, specifically, a swordsman. Then I printed a leveling guide for my chosen profession and began to play. I assigned stat points the way the guide suggested. I learned the skills the guide told me to and advanced them as dictated. I was on my way to pirate excellence.
Then this weekend happened.
At level 40 your character undergoes a profession promotion. Swordsmen get promoted to one of two professions: Champion or Crusader. When I went for my promotion, the only option I had was Champion. However, when I attempted to learn the next skill listed in the guide, I found that it could only be used by a Crusader. At that point I had a WTF moment. I jumped on the game's website a soon discovered that the promotion to a Champion or a Crusader is dependent on which of the four character types you chose. I was following the wrong guide for the character type I had chosen at the beginning of the game! And yes, as you've probably guessed by now, the stat and skill build for Champion is completely different.
I am now the un-proud owner of a totally gimped level 40 Champion!!!
I'll make the best of it. I'll try to correct the path I've been travelling the best I can. But one thing's for sure . . .
I will never be a Master Gamer.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Opportunity To Honor Missed By Gaming Podcasts

As a gamer one of the things I enjoy is listening to game related podcasts. I listen to five or six different shows and they are a great way to be entertained and pick up some useful gaming information at the same time. Having produced a podcast myself, I hold great respect for these hosts, knowing the work that is involved and that they do it simply for the joy of podcasting. You guys do a great job!
And that is why I was a little surprised and disappointed at the apparent oversight made by all my favorite podcasts.
One month ago, on September 3, Brian Wood and his pregnant wife Erin were driving in their car when an SUV crossed the center line and threatened to collide with them. According to Erin, Brian swerved so that the SUV hit the driver’s side of the car, protecting Erin and their unborn child. In the process, Brian was killed.
Brian was a lead designer at Runic Entertainment, a video game development company. His current project was Company of Heroes Online, a multi-player World War II action-strategy game. Support swelled among the gaming community for Brain, with post after post offering condolences to Erin and contributions being made to a trust fund set up to help support the survivors. Seeing all this online, I was sure that there would be a mention or two on a least a few of my regular podcasts.
Well, by now all except one have recorded new shows, some two new shows, and not a word of Brian Wood’s tragedy. I am a bit surprised. I wasn’t expecting an entire memorial show or anything like that. But I did think that a quick mention was in order. When a top designer leaves his long-time company, or a developer lays off several programmers, not only does it get mentioned, but sometimes the mood surrounding the discussion is somber. I had hoped for the same level of respect for a member of their community who has left this earth.
As I mentioned before, I have a lot of respect for these podcasters, so I hope I don’t come across as accusatory or overly critical. Each show might have a perfectly legitimate reason why they didn’t mention this story, and that is their prerogative. I’m not about to go on a mad rage posting spree saying that these hosts are inconsiderate and should be boycotted. Of course not. I will continue to listen and enjoy what they have to say. In fact, I can’t say that my opinion of them has altered, at all. My only point is this:
Gaming podcasters, you had an opportunity to honor someone who was a part of your community and whose career was invested in creating the games you love to talk about, and you missed it.
If you wish to donate to the Brian Wood Memorial Trust Fund, you can find information at this website.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Yesterday's Heroes

Trust me, I did not intend for this to be a reality television blog. My plan was to write about the odd and unusual things I see and think. While I have written about those things, I have many more reality TV posts than I would have expected. This is another one.
My girlfriend Hopie would say that one of my heroes has fallen. I would tend to agree with her. This week Brad Womack was announced as the next bachelor to appear on ABC's The Bachelor. In my opinion, despite what the contestants might say, appearing on The Bachelor is one of the worst ways to find everlasting love. You are thrown together with a mob of potential life partners for a period of only a few weeks and attempt to get to know them by going on amazing dates that you could never afford, all the while having a camera in your face twenty-four hours a day. At the end of this experience you are expected to choose someone to spend the rest of your life with. The show's track record has pretty much proven that this system is a failure, with nearly none of the final couples marrying. In fact, it's rare that these relationships last more than a few months. Brad Womack understood this . . . I thought.
If you are not familiar with Brad, he has already appeared in the title role on season 11 of The Bachelor. When it came down to the final two women, he ended up choosing neither, stating that he didn't have strong enough feeling for either one. While many viewers criticized him for "leading" the women on (though no one says anything about the twenty-three other women on the show who may have felt "led on"), I admired him for his decision. He didn't cower to the pressure of the show, earning him Bachelor Hero status in my heart, as Hopie would say.
But now all that is going to change. Brad "I Used To Be Smart Enough To Know That This Process Is Ridiculous But Am Now Dumb Enough To Try It Again" Womack has agreed to a second chance at manufactured love. Why, Brad, why?
This guy is handsome. I'm sure without the show he could find several women willing to date him. However, now that he's been on the show I would expect that there are several, probably hundreds, of women who would like to get a chance to know Brad. Outside of the constraints of the show, Brad has the freedom to spend as much time as he wants to get to know a woman as without the distraction or guilt that comes with dating more than one person at a time. So why would he want to severely limit the pool of women he has to choose from, as well as undergo the stress of rejecting woman after woman, many without really getting an opportunity to know them? I can only think of one reason. Money. From what I've read, the lead bachelors and bachelorettes get paid well to appear on the show, as much as just over $100,000.
I'm guessing Brad Womack isn't going on the show to find true love. Another chance to be on television. Exclusive dating rights to twenty-five attractive ladies. A hefty hunk of pocket change. Maybe he just knows a good thing when he sees it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Do Not Go Genital Into That Good Night

By now I’m sure most of you have seen this billboard flash across your favorite news feed.

The story behind it is pretty self-explanatory. The city of South Bend, Indiana wanted to run a billboard campaign to promote their public school system. Unfortunately, the final product contained a rather embarrassing misspelling. This faux pas causes us to laugh for two reasons. First is the bathroom humor the billboard suggests. The other is the simple fact that the South Bend public school system wants to show off their finer points but can’t even make sure their own billboard is free of spelling errors. What could be worse than that? How about the same error on a church marquee?

I saw this a while back and just had to stop to take a picture. What’s worse is that the message on the other side of the sign contains the same error. Perhaps the person who changes the sign was educated in South Bend.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Court TV

Today I was planning on blogging about my son’s high school robotics team event I attended this weekend, complete with an explanation as to why I spent a good deal of my time at the event searching for discarded Powerade bottles. (Trust me, what follows is much more interesting.) But then I read this story about a prison inmate suing the Kardashian sisters. Apparently, this con feels he’s been permanently scarred by being forced to watch the "abuse" and "racism" present in their reality television shows, and now he wants to be financially compensated for it.

For starters, the Kardashian’s are not the ones in control of the prison television set. If anyone is "forcing" inmates to watch a particular show is would be the prison employees and if anyone is going to be sued it should be them. Still, just because the television is on doesn’t mean the inmate has to actually pay attention to it. I’m sure he could find some other activity to engage in: have a conversation, read a book, plan an escape, start a riot, etc. Anyway, I don’t see this legal action going very far.

But let’s suppose he has a case and actually wins! Can you imagine the various suits that might follow.

  • A man sues Ask This Old House for property damage when, after viewing a segment on plumbing, he tries to upgrade his bathroom sink but ends up busting a pipe and flooding his entire home, ruining carpets, furniture and various high end electronic devices.

  • An unemployed office worker sues House Hunters for mental anguish because he must endure watching couple after couple live out the "American Dream" of buying a new home while he is facing the painful experience of losing his home to foreclosure.

  • A man arrested for DUI sues the National Football League for broadcasting games on Sunday, thus requiring him to spend the entire day at the local Hooters, drinking beer, eating wings and eventually driving home drunk.

  • A depressed single woman sues Mike Fleiss, producer of The Bachelor, after she is turned down for a spot on show, because everyone knows that competing against twenty-four other women for the affections of a handsome single man by going on dates that most people couldn’t afford without the backing of a major network is the absolute best way to find that perfect, faithful husband.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Final Thoughts on the Bachelor Pad

It's good to know that Hopie and I are still on the same page in many aspects. One such aspect is, "What would you do if you were one of the two finalists on Bachelor Pad?"

To bring you up to speed, in the finale of the Pad it came down to one final couple, and by couple I mean a male and female who have chosen to play the game together as a team but may not necessarily have, or be interested in, a long term romantic relationship. The top prize is $250,000, but there is a catch. Secretly, each member of the couple had to decide if they wanted to "share" or "keep" the money. If both "share" they split the money. If one "shares" and the other "keeps", the one who "kept" gets all the money. If they both "keep", neither get the money and it is split among the contestants who had already been voted off the show.

Both Hopie and I agreed that, as an individual, the best strategy that gives you the highest percentage to access the money is to vote "share." If your partner votes "share", you get half. If they "keep", depending on your relationship you still may get some of the money, either directly as a gift or indirectly as benefit of the relationship (i.e. you may share in vacations or purchases that were made possible with the winnings). Of course, your partner may decide to keep it all and call off the relationship, but that’s a chance you have to take. If you choose "keep", it’s all or nothing.

None of that matters, however, because we weren’t the ones making the decision. The final couple ended up splitting the money.

Other thoughts from Monday night’s finale:

  • I can’t believe ABC made me endure the "We’re Kip-Ten!" scene again.
  • According to Dave, it’s sad and desperate for someone in their late 30’s to be on a dating show. According to me, it’s sad and desperate for anyone to be on a dating show.
  • Jake Pavelka is such a media-whore. What would he be without reality television?
  • Weatherman, get your real name back!
  • Kovacs, get your first name back!
  • Wes, get a new song!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fantasy Football

Chalk this one up under “Unexpectedly Hilarious.”

A couple of weeks ago a co-worker was telling me about his upcoming concession stand opportunity. The University of Central Florida staffs its concession stands during events with members of local organizations. In return, these organizations receive a donation from the school. My co-worker’s son plays in a lacrosse league and often this league has the opportunity to run the university’s concessions. The particular event he was telling me about involved a woman’s tackle football league. He explained that it was similar to arena football, but played by women, and our local team was called the Orlando Fantasy.

I was intrigued. I did not know there was a professional women’s tackle football league (as it turns out, there are several) so I decided to look up the Orlando Fantasy. Needless to say, what I saw was very eye-opening. For starters, it was not just any women’s tackle football league. It was the Lingerie Football League. The players wear helmets and shoulder pads, but that is where any similarity to traditional uniforms ends. The rest of the uniform consists of jersey material tailored to look like bra tops and very skimpy panties. Apart from footgear, these girls wear little else. LOL.

The nationwide league consists of several teams all having seductive names, such as Temptation, Desire, Bliss, Passion, Charm, and, of course, Seduction. The schedule can barely even be called a schedule. Unlike most other legitimate leagues where all teams play each week against each other, this league plays only one game a week. Over the five month season each team plays a total of four games. They do have playoff and a final, called the Lingerie Bowl.

Apparently, these girls can hit.

Oh, and one last thing. If you decide to actually go out some Friday night to take in a game of the LFL and are wondering which up-and-coming player you should keep your eye on, well, that one’s easy. It would be the Tight End.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Kiptyn, you need to card Tenley.

Monday night, Labor Day, my girlfriend Hopie and I were watching some television when, all of a sudden, we hear a series of “pops” come from somewhere outside. We muted the program and listened some more. I turned to Hopie and explained that people were setting off fireworks. I’ve never heard of Labor Day being a big firework holiday, but I guess some people will use any excuse to set off explosives. “Yay!! We have a job!” Actually, in today’s economy, that might be something worth celebrating with fireworks.

Getting back to television, we were watching ABC’s Bachelor Pad, the spin-off of the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise. I wouldn’t even mention it, except that I just need to rant about Tenley. I’ve finally figured out what the “Ten” in Tenley stand for. She acts like she is ten. Ten years old. One example is when she describes her relationship with Kiptyn, one of the bachelors staying in the pad. “We’re Kip-Ten!” Really, Tenley? Did you really just say that?

But that’s rather tame to intellectual deduction she displays later in the episode. If you are not familiar with the show, couples compete for the opportunity to go on a special date. Before the date, a note card is delivered to the contestants with a clue as to what will happen on this special date. This week, Dave and Natalie won the special date and the card read, “Get ready to spend a night under the stars.” While everyone is trying to figure out what the clue could mean, Tenley gets all excited and says, “I bet they’re going up in a rocket! . . . It’s a rocket . . . they are going to ride in rocket!”

Yeah, Tenley, NASA is going to spend millions to launch a rocket for ABC. Dave and Natalie will get up to space, circle the planet once, maybe make out Moonraker style, and then come back down. But wait, it gets better.

Another couple spots the car that Dave and Natalie will be driving in to their date, a yellow Lamborghini, sitting in the driveway. When they go inside to tell everyone that they saw the couple’s vehicle, Tenley asks, “Is it a rocket?” Tenley, where would they even erect the launch pad?

Did I say ten years old? Maybe seven.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Several weeks ago, Blizzard, developer of the popular online game World of Warcraft, attempted to eliminate screen names from their forums, forcing everyone who posted to use their real name. As you can image, a cry arose from the WoW community and Blizzard dropped the idea. At the center of concern was the desire to protect one’s identity. For any number of reasons people are concerned about what words and ideas are associated with their real name. But what about those screen names that are used to protect one’s true identity? Do people care as much about them?

I have used the screen name Teviko since my earliest days on the Internet, when I signed up with my first ISP in the mid-90’s. It held particular significance to me, as it was an acronymized version of my real name. At first, it was simply log in name, but eventually it evolved into my online identity as I began to make board posts, write articles and even podcast under the name Teviko. In fact, I have a few friends who even refer to me by that name off-line.

Most screen names are not unique (there must be any number of Maddogs and SexyLadys out there), and Teviko is no exception. Often, one can distinguish between users of a common screen name. For instance, if you see “Redhead” posting on a sports board about drinking beer at Hooters with the boys and watching football, and another post by “Redhead” on a woman’s board about raising her two daughters and seeing the latest Nicholas Sparks movie, it’s pretty safe to assume these are two different people. In my case, however, it’s not so easy. 

Anyone who has read a lot of my board posts would know that I am a fan of such things as video games, including multi-player online games, and fantasy literature. If you do a search for Teviko, much of what you will find are links to my articles, posts and podcast. However, peppered among the links are a few posts by a different Teviko. These posts are on message boards dealing with the fantasy genre and fantasy online gaming. It’s eerie because when I read this other Teviko I feel almost as if I could be reading something I posted. I’ve often wondered if people have searched for me, seen these posts and thought is was me. Then I wonder about reputation. Has this other Teviko posted something that I wouldn’t want associated with me, or vice versa, have I posted anything that would impact the other’s reputation? (The latter is probably more likely.)

In the end, there is nothing I can do about it and I’m certainly not going to lose any sleep over it. But if you are Teviko (not me, but the other Teviko) and you’ve stumbled across this blog, feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me. It might be interesting to compare notes.
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