Category Archives: Snap *censored* Pop Culture

Love Letter to Spawn 308 and 309

Introduction

Spawn 308 and 309 arrived simultaneously a couple of months ago. Therefore, after a Zendikar review that took far too long and a detour into the NFL for a couple of days, we are back to our bread and butter on the page. That’s right. It’s time for some nerd content. More specifically, I’m going to catch up on the comics I’ve missed the last couple of months and write some reviews.

Trying to catch up be like…

I’ve already read Spawn 308 and 309. I know, no large feat. However, it feels like I actually accomplished something simply by reading those two books. Now, I can try to plow through the other two dozen or so that I have from the last two months. That might seem like a massive undertaking since it took me a couple of months just to read the two Spawn issues. However, Tuesday is my lighter day teaching and I will have time (theoretically) to devote to reading. But, first, to finish this review of Spawn 308 and 309.

The Great

Ken Lashley’s Art: I have had a love/hate relationship with the art in Spawn since I’ve come back to comics. Sure, there have been some other books that I haven’t enjoyed the art, but this one has had some of the most varied art over the last couple of years. But, I texted Chris and said, “I like Ken Lashley’s art. It has a bit of Capullo vibe.”

The Good

Uncle Todd’s Writing: I was excited to have Uncle Todd back and writing for the old Hellspawn. I learned, again, that you should be careful what you wish for. Uncle Todd is good in small batches. However, when asked to carry a story for much longer than a few issues, he loses the thread a bit and things start to unravel. I’m not saying that’s happening here just yet, but the potential exists.

The Decent

The Story: Speaking of writing, I just can’t get into this story. I liked the “reboot” of issues 300 and 301. Ever since, this story of time traveling, cross overs, and Heaven’s War on Earth is just leaving me cold. These latest issues were slightly better. I’d rather they go back to the creeping terror of the “Dark Horror” story.

The Verdict (Spawn 308 and 309 are fine)

I titled this article, “Love letter to Spawn 308 and 309”. I wouldn’t say this reads so much as a love letter. Then again, they say that if you love someone, set them free. If they come back, then they’re yours. Otherwise, it was never meant to be. I don’t think that I need to set Spawn free again just yet, but I’m certainly not looking forward to new issues like I was before the pandemic.

NFC First Quarter 2020 Year in Review

Introduction

Time for the NFC first quarter 2020 year in review! After some trouble updating the page on a regular basis, it looks like I might actually get content posted two days in a row. It is also somewhat timely content again. Yesterday, I got the AFC version posted. I promised to have the NFC version posted today. Got some grading done earlier, so I don’t feel guilty about school work right now.

I think I speak for a lot of teachers when I say that it’s my least favorite part of teaching.

I do have some yard work to do. Plus, my neighbor is helpfully actually doing his so that I feel more guilty about it than I normally would. Yay for living in a society. However, it hasn’t made me feel guilty enough yet to actually do the work. Heck, I have until tomorrow since I have the day off from school.

But, I have a paper to write for grad class and more grading to do for school. Also, I have my own deadline for the Spawn review to keep the momentum of the page going. If I had to guess, that’s going to get put on the back burner, but maybe I’ll actually get around to the yardwork today and writing some of the paper, too. Sorry, thinking out loud on paper. Let’s ignore all of that for now and talk about the NFC first quarter 2020.

NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles (1-2-1): We’re #1! By default, but still Award. Some pundits thought that the Cowboys might have an actual decent to possibly good team this year. I might have heard that they were being considered as Super Bowl contenders. Well, that obviously hasn’t happened. The East might just give us a sub 500 division winner. That’s fitting for this stupid year.

Washington Football Team (1-3): Dan Snyder is a Huge Dick Award. Daniel Snyder finally capitulated to the snowflake justice warriors at FedEx and retired the racist nickname for his team. In true Snyder fashion, he thumbed his nose by refusing to pick another mascot and just called them “Football Team” for this year. What a dick.

Dallas Cowboys (1-3): We are overrated and NFL talking heads are overpaid Award. I already talked about the Cowboys in the Eagles section. Since they don’t really warrant any more discussion, I will crap on the NFL talking heads again. Yes, you might be able to make the argument that I’m jealous. That doesn’t take away from the fact that the economy surrounding sports is completely broken.

New York Giants (0-4): Shame There’s no Professional Football Team in New York Award. These guys are cowinners of this award. Heck, now that Barkley is hurt, what possible reason do either the Jets or the Giants have for continuing this season?

NFC West

Seattle Seahawks (4-0): There’s A Football Team in Seattle? Award. This is a reference to a conversation I had several years ago when I was working at Yankee Candle. A coworker said something about the football team in Seattle and I replied, truly confused, “There’s a football team in Seattle?”

Los Angeles Rams (3-1): I Thought These Guys Were Exposed as Frauds Award. After a stellar start as coach, it looked like the league might have figured out that Sean McVay basically only had one formation in his playbook. A 3-1 start doesn’t necessarily reverse that, but they are in good shape right now.

Arizona Cardinals (2-2): Kyler Murray isn’t Quite the Second Coming of Mahomes Yet Award. Everyone got very excited about Kyler Murray this year. They thought that he might have ascended into Mahomes territory. Heck, I even fell for it, texting Chris if I should take Murray or Wilson as my QB in daily fantasy. Thankfully, he set me straight and told me to take Wilson.

San Francisco 49ers (2-2): Ghost of Colin Kaepernick Award. They’re not 0-4, which would make this a better storyline. However, they did blow a lead in last year’s Super Bowl and Jimmy G is developing quite the injury history. Maybe, just maybe, they will face justice for their treatment of Kaep.

NFC North

Green Bay Packers (4-0): Father Time is Undefeated? Award. We are told that in the Father Time is undefeated. It looked like that might have finally been the case last year for Tom Brady. It’s not like he’s tearing it up this year, but he was having a bit of a resurgence. Meanwhile, Rodgers just keeps slinging it without any sign of slow down.

Chicago Bears (5-1): The King is Dead. Long Live the King Award. I made a comment in the Bills section at Mitch Trubisky’s expense. It’s a shame because I was really rooting for old Mitch to finally figure it out. He didn’t and now they’ve moved on to Nick Foles. Foles has proven time and again that he is the perfect short term stop gap, so it’s not all bad in Chicago this year.

Minnesota Vikings (1-3): If He Dies, He Dies Award. While discussing the impact of Covid19 on the league, Kirk Cousins said something along those lines. Does Kirk Cousins really have the clout to be going on so about such issues? What I mean to say is, other than his family, would anyone mourn Kirk Cousins? I know that got dark and I apologize. But, am I wrong?

Detroit Lions (1-3): Matthew Stafford is still in the League? Award. I’m pretty sure I already made my annual Matt Stafford joke. But, the fact that I literally just had to Google to see if his name was, in fact, Matt Stafford says a lot about his status. The only question now is who will take his place when he finally does retire?

NFC South

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2): TB Are Now His Initials and Those of His Team Award. Tom Terrific took his travelling side show down south for this year. I’ve been having fun trolling the Pats fans on my Facebook feed because they were convinced after week 1 that TB would end up 0-16 and they’d be able to gloat over it. Not so fast, folks.

New Orleans Saints (2-2): Drew Brees is Surprisingly Bigoted Award. I’ve always liked Brees. He’s a short guy who is excelling at a job that short guys don’t often excel. But, then this whole focus on the family crap came out and I just can’t root for him anymore. I’m glad the Saints are struggling this year.

Carolina Panthers (2-2): Sweet Caroline Award. There’s no reason for this title other than the obvious dad joke pun. The Panthers have made absolutely no impact on me whatsoever this year. They are just part of the amorphous blob that is the NFL in the South. Maybe we should do a trial run of this separated states of America by allowing the South to secede from the NFL.

Atlanta Falcons (0-4): How Many Ways Can We Blow A Lead? Award. I’m not sure what bad juju the Falcons unleased. However, they’ve been cursed ever since taking a 28-3 lead on the Patriots in the Super Bowl a few years ago. They’ve since dialed it up to 11 this year. They’ll be fun to watch simply for the train wreck possibility.

The Verdict (NFC First Quarter 2020 has been entertaining so far)

While I’m not sold on the AFC yet this year (other than the Chiefs), I like what I’ve seen in the NFC. Things are a bit crazy. Even the bad teams are fun to watch. The worst division in football is the NFC East, which is fitting because they were pumped up for so long as the best simply because of the legacy of teams. The Racists are no longer going by that name. All in all, it’s been an entertaining NFC first quarter 2020 and I can’t wait to see how it plays out going forward.

Note: All teams and the single logo used on this web page are the property of the NFL. They are used without consent (written or otherwise), but only in good fun. If you’re feeling litigious, please refrain from throwing your vast legal resources at this small page that caters to my kids, Chris (Hi Chris!) and about 25 Russian bots (Hi Sergei!).

AFC First Quarter 2020 Year In Review

Introduction

Welcome to the AFC first quarter 2020 year in review! I promise to be back to nerd content next week when I finally give my reviews for comics from last month and this month. Yes, unfortunately comics got the short end of the stick due to my decline in free time because school is kicking my butt so far this year.

Kink shaming aside, this is what it feels like.

So, until we get back to the nerd content next week, I will go through the weird start to the NFL season. In reality, with how weird 2020 has been, it could have been predicted that the NFL season would be weird, as well. And, honestly, it’s not like it has been that much more weird than some of the more recent seasons. In any case, let’s talk about the AFC first quarter 2020.

Note: As you will discover, I’m going to format this as an awards ceremony. I got the half baked idea yesterday afternoon while driving home and listening to Simmons and Sal. That’s where most of my half baked ideas seem to happen.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills (4-0): This is what Trubisky Should Have Been Award. Chris and I were texting about the Bills last week. He’s bitter because the Pats have had to play with the corpse of Brian Hoyer and unknown quantity Jarrett Stidham during Cam’s quarantine. Meanwhile, it looks like Josh Allen has finally turned the corner and they have Matt Barkley and Jake Fromm as insurance. It really is an embarrassment of riches right now for the Buffalos.

New England Patriots (2-2): We’ve Been Good So Long That We Don’t Know How to Handle Mediocrity Award. This one goes out to the fans. Not the fans fans. Both my father in law and Chris are reasonable fans who have been willing to admit that TB12 and “In Bill We Trust” are idiotic concepts. I’m talking about Sully and Bawls who regularly call into radio shows and post status updates after the first week about what a mistake Brady made by moving to a warmer climate and potentially better team.

Miami Dolphins (1-3): Where’s Tua? Award. Regular readers of the page know that I’ve had a man crush on Tua since his first appearance at Alabama. I’ve literally watched his legend grow over the years. I don’t understand why Miami is sticking with Fitzpatrick. Maybe they are just waiting for the inevitable magic to run out. Perhaps they’re skittish because of Tua’s injury history. Either way, I hope we see him soon.

New York Jets (0-4): Shame There’s no Professional Football Team in New York Award. I know next to nothing about the Jets. Have they even been relevant since the “Butt Fumble”? I promise that wasn’t just a reason to say “Butt Fumble”. Okay, it actually was. BRB, I’m going to Google “Butt Fumble”.

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs (4-0): Can We Just Give Them The Trophy Now? Award. Okay, that was fun. Side note: “Butt Fumble” seems to have taken on an NSFW side meaning. Don’t indiscriminately Google “Butt Fumble”. As far as the Chiefs, I know that things can happen, especially in 2020. However, in the old world, the Chiefs would be the juggernaut that nobody else can touch. How do you beat them unless they just get bored and start playing 7 on 11 or something. Hell, with Mahomes, they might still beat some teams.

Vegas Raiders (2-2): Who Still Calls them Oakland Raiders? Award. I’m actually surprised that I didn’t call them that on accident. Hell, I still call them the San Diego Chargers sometimes. I just think it’s awesome that sports leagues are avoiding all pretense of being legitimate competition and embracing their status as simply a front for gambling.

Denver Broncos (1-3): Was Larry Testaverde Busy? Award. I stold that joke from Sal. Deal with it. Maybe it will get me some exposure. It hasn’t worked so far, but only a matter of time, right? I mean, they started Brett Rypien in an NFL game. I mean, I had to look that up. All I knew is that he had the same last name as a mediocre NFL quarterback from the 1980s.

San Diego Chargers (1-3): I Always Liked Phil Rivers–Wait, What? Award. So, Phillip Rivers is no longer on the team. I think in my NFL preview, I made a Phillip Rivers joke as the Chargers preview. Oh, that wasn’t intentional. Even after having just talked about it, I still wrote the San Diego Chargers. 32 teams is far too many to keep track of every year.

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0): It’s Not Our Fault the Titans Had a Covid19 Outbreak Award. That was the empathetic response by one of the Steelers when they postponed the game and moved it to a common bye week later in the season. This team is making it more and more difficult to remain a fan.

Baltimore Ravens (3-1): Am I a Ravens Fan? Award. Having grown up a Steelers fan, this is a weird time for me. As mentioned earlier, I find that there are more and more reasons to dislike that team. By the same token, Lamar Jackson is another fun player to watch. I think I might be rooting for the Ravens more than the Steelers at this point.

Cleveland Browns (3-1): How The Hell is Cleveland 3-1? Award. Look, I have been one of the biggest Baker Backers. However, even I am willing to admit that the guy stinks on ice. He’s just not a good quarterback. He has OBJ for crying out loud and he threw for 165 yards last week. OBJ should be good for at least that many yards a week.

Cincinnati Bengals (1-2-1): Get Him A Body Bag! Award. My wife and I finished season 2 of Cobra Kai last week. Now we have to wait a few months for season 3 to release. How does that relate to the Bengals? Joe Burrow is going to end up in the hospital before the end of the year. They might need to bench him just for his own safety, especially against the Ravens and Steelers.

AFC South

Tennessee Titans (3-0): Maybe We Can Use Coronavirus to End the Season Undefeated Award. The Titans have already had one game postponed due to an outbreak. Every day, they seem to have more and more players test positive. What if they just call off the rest of their season and finish 3-0? What a fitting end to 2020 that would be.

Indianapolis Colts (3-1): How Did Phil Rivers End Up Here? Award. When I learned that Phillip Rivers was no longer in San Diego (or Los Angeles for that matter), I assumed that he retired to spend more time with his wife and 9 kids. Then again, now that I read that last sentence again, I can understand completely why he would not do that.

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3): The Blake Bortles Memorial Award. Fear not fellow Bortles Believers. He’s not dead. Apparently, he’s on the Broncos, so he might even get a chance to start at some point in the season. It’s just that Leonard Fournette said something along the lines of having never played with a good quarterback when he signed with Tampa Bay. Like our man Bortles never handed off the ball to him. For shame, Leonard. For shame.

Houston Texans (0-4): Well, it was a Good Run Award. After being everyone’s it team for seemingly a decade only to implode every season, the Texans actually had a bit of a decent run last year. That seems to all be over so far this year. Thank goodness. It will make it that much easier to send this division to Europe when the NFL expands in a few years.

The Verdict (AFC first quarter 2020 has been fine)

The AFC first quarter 2020 hasn’t been much to write home about. I came into the season not really all that excited about football. Texting with Chris got me slightly more interested. I’m back to the point where I’ll check out a game or two for a couple of minutes each week and I am doing daily fantasy (20 bucks won a couple weeks ago!). So, it’s kept my interest somewhat. But, right now the Chiefs just look like they’re unbeatable and I don’t even have the fun of hating the Pats this year. Thanks for reading my AFC first quarter 2020 preview and join me tomorrow for the NFC.

Note: All teams and the single logo used on this web page are the property of the NFL. They are used without consent (written or otherwise), but only in good fun. If you’re feeling litigious, please refrain from throwing your vast legal resources at this small page that caters to my kids, Chris (Hi Chris!) and about 25 Russian bots (Hi Sergei!).

Completely Ignorant 2020 NFC Preview

Introduction

Yes, in spite of the fact that this 2020 NFC preview is being written after the conclusion of the first week of games, it is still completely ignorant. How can that be possible? Well, I didn’t watch a single game this weekend. Sure, I texted with Chris and checked out a few scores and highlights, but I’ve already forgotten most of that.

Besides, as KG told us, “Anything is possible!”

In my AFC Preview, I said that I hadn’t missed sports. It turns out that’s not entirely true. Between listening to Sal’s podcast last Friday and texting a few times with Chris, I’ve come to the conclusion that I sort of missed football. Obviously not enough to watch any games or get this article out in a timely manner. Nevertheless, I will display my ignorance and finish writing this up. On to the 2020 NFC preview!

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys – Both Sal and his buddy were high on the Cowboys during their NFC preview. Of course, theirs actually came before the season. Then again, they are getting paid to do theirs. I’m actually paying money to do this. Think of that next time you’re concerned with the quality of the page.

New York Giants – I said in my AFC preview that it’s a shame there are no professional football teams in New York. My beloved(?) Steelers then went out and tried their hardest to make the Giants look like one in the first game. Like Bobby Boucher’s mom said, “Foosball is the debil.”

Philadelphia Eagles – I don’t have anything to say about Philly. Well, that’s not true. I have two things to say about Philly, but only one is even remotely related to their football team. One, living in Massachusetts, when I used to tell people that I’m from Pennsylvania, they’d almost universally pose Philly as their guess. Two, I have a friend who was absolutely distraught that they lost to Washington.

Washingon Football Team – I don’t have to write *redacted* anymore. Sponsors, most notably FedEx, finally pressured Dan Snyder to join the 18th century and retire the racist nickname. Snyder, of course, dicked it up an named the team as you see. Yes, that’s the official name of the team this year. I’m kind of happy that he inadvertently gave the team some European flavor by naming it similar to actual futbol teams. Hey, you take the small victories against these pricks.

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals – Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, and Kyler Murray. Poor Larry Fitzgerald played with stiff after stiff and had to drag the corpse of Kurt Warner along just to make it to a Super Bowl. Now that he’s an old guy, he gets Kyler Murray. Sometimes life just isn’t fair, true believers.

Los Angeles Rams – The Rams went from the hot new thing to hot garbage in almost record time. Even in a league that wants to be known for parity, this team boomeranged back into obscurity quickly enough to give us all whiplash.

San Francisco 49ers – Earlier this year, as I was planning (well, not really, and it might even make me sound worse that I planned these disastrous articles) this article, I had to look up who lost to the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. I was a few seconds away from having to Google both teams in the Super Bowl. Football just isn’t a priority anymore. Man, this whole section just revealed me as a fraud.

Seattle Seahawks – Speaking of frauds…not really, I just usually use those awkward moments as opportunities to segue into something less uncomfortable. I suppose I have by moving onto Seattle. Then again, all I have to say about Seattle is that I’m a Sounders fan and they won the MLS title last year. Go Seahawks!

NFC North

Chicago Bears – I know the name of an actual player on the Bears. Mitch Trubisky. Also, I know Khalil Mack is still on the team. So, that’s two players. Slowly digging my way out from under the pile of awkward.

Detroit Lions – So, I had my yearly, “Matt Stafford is still starting for the Lions?” realization. Seriously, it’s tradition like Halloween or Christmas at this year. I just hope that when it isn’t happening all the time, I will give it the proper somber remembrance it deserves.

Green Bay Packers – Somehow, Green Bay went 13-3 last year with little to no fanfare. Every time I hear that statistic, I am shocked anew. Seriously, if you had asked me what Green Bay’s record was, I’d have said 9-7. You might be able to talk me into 10-6. But, 13-3? That’s wild, Man.

Minnesota Vikings – Kirk Cousins in their quarterback. Hey, actual football knowledge! But, I’m about to sabotage even that much. I only know who their quarterback is because of some random dude I started following on Instagram when I first tried to promote the page that way. So, I guess I’m saying I don’t have much hope for the Vikes this year.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons – Atlanta is one of the weirdest teams in recent history. They have a great QB, a great WR, a serviceable RB usually, and a defense that should allow them to contend. They were just in the Super Bowl a few years ago. And yet, they usually stink on ice. Now that I’ve said that, they’ll probably win the Super Bowl this year.

Carolina Panthers – Cam is with the Pats this year. That is literally the extent of my Panthers knowledge. That can’t be good in a division that has Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, and now Tom Brady. Okay, I felt sorry for the Panthers, so I looked up their QB. Teddy B. I mean, he’s not bad, but I certainly wouldn’t put him in the same tier as those other guys.

New Orleans Saints – Some people are picking them to win the Super Bowl. I’m not falling into that trap again. This team is snake bitten. They’ll be great in the regular season and then some voodoo curse will knock them out of the NFC Championship. I suppose that’s fitting for a team from New Orleans.

The Verdict (The 2020 NFC Preview doesn’t have me as excited for the season as the AFC)

It’s two weeks late, but the 2 Guys Gaming Completely Ignorant 2020 NFC Preview is finally here. I will say that the NFC doesn’t have me as interested as the AFC. Sure, it’ll be neat to see what Tom Terrific does in Tampa. And, that might be the only story line I care about over there in the NFC. Oh, watching the Cowboys crash and burn and hearing Sad Sal every week might be cool.

Note: All teams and the single logo used on this web page are the property of the NFL. They are used without consent (written or otherwise), but only in good fun. If you’re feeling litigious, please refrain from throwing your vast legal resources at this small page that caters to my kids, Chris (Hi Chris!) and about 25 Russian bots (Hi Sergei!).

Completely Ignorant 2020 AFC Preview

Introduction

Welcome to our completely ignorant 2020 AFC preview. This year’s edition is not just a clever (?) gimmick. A couple of days ago, Chris texted me, “I forgot that the season started yesterday.” I replied, “I actually forgot that the NFL existed until I saw people whining on the internet about kneeling.”

Chris hit right at my weak spot and said, “I’m just happy to see Mahomes picking up where he left off.”

That isn’t an exaggeration. My friend Craig often said, “I’m worried that people will realize just how much they haven’t missed due to this pandemic.” One of those things that I haven’t missed is sports. I thought that I might have a problem with no sports, but I haven’t watched a single NBA, MLB, or NHL game since they returned. I did keep an eye on the MLS tournament, but couldn’t tell you who won or who they beat.

Therefore, without further ado (and armed with limited information), join me for my completely ignorant 2020 AFC preview. Oh, it’s also the first Sunday of the season and one game has already been played. By the time I have posted both this and the NFC preview, week 1 will most certainly be completely done.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills – The Bills became my darling team last year. I even had delusions of them possibly knocking the Pats off of their perch as the best team in the division. That didn’t happen and then they laid an egg in the playoffs against the Texans. Maybe this year is the year.

Miami Dolphins – I have nothing to say about the Dolphins. I suppose, that simply by virtue of mathematics, there have to be teams with losing records. It just feels like a league that promotes parity as much as the NFL does shouldn’t have teams that are as bad as the Dolphins have been for the last decade or so.

New England Patriots – This is usually where I say, “Eff the Pats”. It’s not that I don’t still believe that. It’s just that they’re much less offensive without the Golden Boy under center. Cam Newton taking over pushes the needle even more. This season is going to be confusing.

New York Jets – It’s a shame there are no professional football teams in New York right now.

AFC West

Denver Broncos – I mean, one of these teams has to finish second in the division behind KC. With Von Miller out, it’s hard to think of Denver as anything other than also rans.

Kansas City Chiefs – The Chefs have my current man crush on the team. They made two epic comebacks in the playoffs last year against the Texans and the 49ers (another true story that will cement my status as completely ignorant is that I had to look up who the Chefs played in the Super Bowl in January) to win the Super Bowl and there’s really no reason that they can’t repeat this year. You might say, “What about a Mahome’s inj–” to which I’d reply, “You shut your whore mouth.”

Las Vegas Raiders – I think I might have had a running gag last year about the Raiders moving to Vegas. Well, they finally did. Remember when I said that they had an ineptitude all their own? Well, instead of using Vegas (like the Golden Knights and giving the Scrabble friendly abbreviation VGK), they’re going with Las Vegas. Remember when these guys were the bad boys of football? If you do, you’re probably old like me and right in the intended demographic for this page.

Los Angeles (Why not San Diego?) Chargers – The Chargers are the worst run franchise in the NFL. That’s saying something with the Raiders being in the same division and quite inept themselves. The only news I care about related to the Chargers is if Phillip Rivers had another kid. Two more and he has a starting XI.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens – I genuinely like Lamar Jackson. So much that I actually found myself rooting for the Ravens. Like I said earlier about the Patriots, this NFL is quite a strange experience for me.

Cincinnati Bengals – I was going to make an Andy Dalton joke. Not wanting to look too ignorant, I Googled Andy Dalton and then the Bengals and saw that Joe Burrow is the quarterback there. If not this year, then soon, I might finally be able to stop feeling sorry for the Bungles and hating them again like every Steelers fan should.

Cleveland Browns – I really want Baker Mayfield to be a good quarterback. Like, really, really want that to happen. He’s not, but I won’t give up the dream. I think I’m just bored of the Steelers-Ravens rivalry being the only storyline in this boring division.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Speaking of the Steelers, I have several times over the last couple of years turned my back on my childhood team. Like I say, I’m just bored of them. Plus, Ben Roethlisberger’s name got dragged into the Stormy Daniels affair and reinforced that the guy is a douche.

AFC South

Houston Texans – I really wanted the Texans to lose to Buffalo. That didn’t happen. Then, I wanted them to beat New England. That did happen. Then, Tom Brady wen to Tampa Bay. That was unexpected. I don’t know. They’ll probably win the division again.

Indianapolis Colts – Last year, Andrew Luck made the decision to protect himself and his mental health by retiring from football. The always supportive NFL fans gave him the benefit of the doubt and allowed him to retire into quiet solitude. Just kidding, they treated him like a leper and called him all sorts of names. Never change, mad sports nerds.

Jacksonville Jaguars – My wife and I have been watching “The Good Place”. I tried to get her to watch it several times. She finally did and she really likes it. What does this have to do with the Jaguars? Well, one of the characters is from Jacksonville and obsessed with Blake Bortles. And, you all know my history with Blake Bortles.

Tennessee Titans – I have a Facebook friend who is a huge fan of the Titans. She’s from Texas and liked them since they were the Oilers and moved. Other than that, I’m an advocate of getting rid of the AFC South.

The Verdict (2020 AFC Preview Wrap Up)

I’m not at all excited for the AFC season. I wasn’t to begin with, but thought that by writing this 2020 AFC Preview that it might make me more excited. Other than Mahomes, there isn’t much here for me to care about. Maybe the anthem protests will persist and I can have fun trolling mad sports nerds on social media.

Note: All teams and the single logo used on this web page are the property of the NFL. They are used without consent (written or otherwise), but only in good fun. If you’re feeling litigious, please refrain from throwing your vast legal resources at this small page that caters to my kids, Chris (Hi Chris!) and about 25 Russian bots (Hi Sergei!).

High Score episode 6

Introduction

We have arrived at High Score episode 6. The last episode of the first season. I say first season because I remain hopeful that there will at least be a second season. More on the episode later, of course, but let’s talk about why there should be at least one more season for a bit. Naturally, the first reason is because the show was very good. Honestly, do you need another reason? Fine, way to make me do my job.

Except this isn’t my job. It’s my hobby. And I might not even be all that good at it.

Aside from the fact that the series was entertaining and I’d like to continue to be entertained by nostalgia, they stopped with the advent of the 3D era. The last game they talk about is DOOM. That game came out when I was in high school. I’m not going to go into how long ago that was, but I often talk about being an old man gamer, so you can do the math. No mention of the N64 or Sony vs. Microsoft. Granted, that wasn’t as exciting as Nintendo vs. Sega, but it bears mentioning at the least.

Heck, they only gave passing mention to some of the greatest games of the era and missed the boat on others, like Metroid. Maybe there will be a special episode or season 3? That’s probably asking too much.

Into…the 3rd dimension! (On Game Boy?)

We start our journey on the Game Boy. Yes, that Game Boy. The very same one that you remember (or probably don’t unless you are old like me) from your childhood. The green and black monochrome dot matrix screen. 8 bit graphics and midi sound effects. Also, like I mentioned in a previous article about episode 3, it had one of the best Final Fantasy games in the series.

Speaking of Tetris, this was actually my introduction to the game.

Well, this company was attempting to show that you could do 3D graphics on current technology. I’m not sure why they chose the Game Boy. Hey, I was watching while working out. So, some of the details are missing. The point is that they got a working demo on the Game Boy.

They so impressed Nintendo with their work that they offered them a job to bring a similar experience to the SNES. I may be missing critical information. However, the overarching theme is there. Argonaut begat Game Boy 3D which begat the SNES and Pilotwings. In turn, Pilotwings begat Wolfenstein that begat…

Can you play DOOM on this thing?

The majority of the episode revolved around DOOM. I even got a bit of a nerdgasm when they revealed that they talked to the man, John Romero, for pretty much the whole segment. You young nerds might not know. But, for us oldbies, John Romero is a legend.

Some of y’all have grown up with consistent broadband internet on which to embarrass your friends and enemies. Not so for us. We had to “dial in” on a “phone line” and were excited when the speed increased almost two fold from 33.6k to 56k. None of us knew what those numbers meant, but we knew that 56 > 33.6.

And, we liked it! Yep, really leaning into that old man demo with a relevant cultural image here.

Aside from ushering in the age of online gaming, DOOM and id Software helped to popularize other trends like shareware. They gave you part of hte game for free, got you hooked, and then made you pay for the rest. No, they’re really not doing much for the old video games as a proxy for drugs narrative.

But, on a more positive note, they did open the code of the game. I know I’ve talked about this before. But, if you’ve ever played DOOM or its various clones or even World of Warcraft, you know that the games can be modded. (Can’t forget about my favorite recent moddable game, Minecraft.) Having that sort of control over a game gives it infinite replay value.

Heck, entire new games have been developed as mods to existing games.

The Verdict (High Score episode 6 is an awesome conclusion to the season)

Yes, you can tell from that subtitle that I’m tipping my hand yet again. I want another season of this show. I mean, who wouldn’t? Other than episode two, which was a bit slow (and I now understand that might have been a by design), the show was solid from beginning to end. Sure, High Score episode 6 ended it with DOOM, which is right in my wheelhouse. Nevertheless, if you are an oldbie nerd like me, you will enjoy this series. If you haven’t already.

High Score episode 5

Introduction

For some reason, I forgot the topic for High Score episode 5. I guess there’s just a lot on my mind with the start of school. When I saw the teaser at the end of episode 4, I was excited. Then, it just left my mind completely. And, so it was when the episode started, I said, “Oh yeah!”

Once upon a time, there were these things called “arcades”. They were kind of like stores. Except they didn’t sell anything. You traded your bill money for quarters, which you then put into a machine that let you play a video game. “Okay, Grandpa, why are you telling us this?” Well, the subject of High score episode 5 was fighting games. During the height of the fighting game renaissance, I spent an obscene amount of time and money in these “arcades”.

Yes, much of it was due to Mortal Kombat. More on that later.

Street Fighter – “That old grey mare…”

I can’t remember if I used the old grey mare metaphor in one of the other articles. I know I was considering it for the Atari article, but went with Grandpa instead. Even if I have, it is apt in this case. Many these days say that Street Fighter sure ain’t what she used to be. But, let’s focus on the positive.

Like Final Fantasy, Street Fighter got its inspiration from anime. When they talked to the artist for the game, he mentioned how anime is not viewed as art. Or, it wasn’t. He wanted to help people see the potential of the art form. Apparently, he and his contemporaries succeeded. At least in my case. I certainly consider anime to be an art form. Then again, I’m easily impressed by any creative process.

Seriously, though, if you can’t appreciate the beauty of this picture, then there’s no hope for your soul.

Takahiro Nagano – “Living the Dream”

One side note before moving on. I forgot to mention in the previous section, mainly because my notes only said “Chun Li – Madden” and I couldn’t figure out what that meant. What it meant is that they put a female character into Street Fighter II (and then expanded the female roster with future editions) similar to adding different skin tones to Madden. Gaming is supposed to be inclusive, mad nerds.

Now, for Takahiro Nagano. His life mirrored mine in many ways. I mean, other than winning a gaming championship and starting his own esports team, we are basically kindred spirits. He found himself in a dead end job that he didn’t find much inspiration from. So, really, when you think about it, I’m basically him. Another note from this section is “training montage”, a reference to the introduction to his esports team, which took on the form of the old 80s training montages a la Karate Kid or Rocky. I got a good chuckle out of it.

Since we have so much in common, I will give a shout out to my brother from another mother. Link. <–Green “Link” that isn’t trying to save Zelda.

Night Trap – “Where’s the Naked Ladies?”

I’m doing these out of order, but that’s intentional. Always save the best for last. I’m not sure if you will agree with my assessment, but I have good reason for it and you can’t change my mind! I remember Night Trap. I might have even had a friend who bought the game. See, it was supposed to be this risque horror game, but production issues caused it to be neutered beyond belief into a not quite campy enough imitation.

That didn’t stop Congress from trying to neuter the game and the industry further. As games started to become more “realistic” and feature more violent content, folks like Tipper Gore and Joe Lieberman (If you don’t know him, say his name like Droopy the dog. If you don’t know Droopy the dog, Google him, then say Joe Lieberman’s name like him. Then, Google Joe Lieberman and have a good laugh.) got their panties in a bunch. And that, boys and girls, is why we have ratings on our video games today.

Never ones to pass up an opportunity to (a) star f**k and (b) look like complete idiots in the face of advancing technology, think the Facebook hearings but with Nintendo execs instead of the Zuck.

Mortal Kombat – “Or, should I say, ‘MORTAL KOMBAT!'”

So, I said I was saving the best for last. Similar to Street Fighter, you might say that Mortal Kombat hasn’t been good since (insert your favorite version here) and that’s fine. Up until recently, I might have even agreed with you. However, Mortal Kombat 11 is a ton of fun and I wasted many an hour over the last year trying to collect as much as I could in the game.

MK also helped to usher in the “video games are warping our kids’ brains” era. But, I come here to praise John Tobias (who is interviewed for the series!) and Ed Boon. Given the limited resources that they were working with at the time, they made a game that has been with me for over 25 years and has been passed on to my kids.

And, it was able to survive whatever the hell this is.

The Verdict

High Score episode 5 has come a long way from the low of episode 2. I regained my faith in the series and even had it boosted by the Sega episode and this one. The entire series is an amazing walk down memory lane. In addition, we have met some new faces along the way. I’m feeling a bit melancholy that there’s only one episode left, but it should pave the way for some actual factual retro content that’s been promised for weeks now.

HIgh Score Episode 4

Introduction

High Score episode 4 out of 6. I said it several times in the article, but thank goodness for episode 3. It renewed my faith in the series that I thought was going to end up being a one hit wonder. I know that sounds harsh, potentially jettisoning a series because of only one episode.

I mean, there’s precedent for such a thing. I stopped watching Walking Dead after a particularly violent opening scene. I think it was the season premiere for season 3. I’m not entirely sure. But, I haven’t been back since. It’s worth noting that I did the same with the comic. No, not Glenn. I stopped long before Glenn. Like most of this “shock factor” entertainment, it just becomes too much at some point.

Who knows? Maybe I will go back at some point to finish the series.

Nintendo – “The 900 lb Gorilla”

So, I mentioned in the Nintendo episode review (that’s the one that was so bad that I thought I’d have to avoid the rest of the series, or at least endure it simply to talk about how bad it was) that they never mentioned Sega. I think I said something at the time about them wanting to give Sega their own episode.

Now, of course, I know that part was true. I also understand that it might have been a conscious decision on their part to set it up that way. For those of us who didn’t care much about market share, we had no idea that Nintendo was the “big bad” in the scenario. To have mentioned Sega in their episode would have been punching down. More on the console wars later.

Sega Guy – “Rock the Rock”

I made the mistake of calling the Nintendo World Champion “Nintendude” and it’s not just because there’s a contemporary streamer named that today. He just wasn’t much of a “dude”. His whole story had the antiseptic feel of the rest of the episode.

Not so for Chris Tang or his conquest of “The Rock”. True to form, Segga went over the top for their championship. It was held on Alcatraz. MTV was there with Bill Bellamy and Daisy Fuentes. I watched with bated breath at the thrilling conclusion. Our hero was the underdog in the final round! What isn’t there to love about Sega? More on that in a bit.

You can watch the whole thing on YouTube. (Hint: Click the green YouTube.)

Gordon Bellamy – “True Gamer Inspiration”

In keeping with both underdog stories and, “Hey, I know that name!” recognition, I present the story of Gordon Bellamy. The story started with Trip Hawkins, a name that most from the 90s will recognize. I never played the original Maddens on consoles. It wasn’t until the Playstation that I discovered sports games. I did play Madden on my Commodore 64 (yeah, any of you who question my OG gaming credentials can kindly Eff off) and discovered a glitch that allowed me to score a touchdown every time I touched the ball.

Okay, enough of that. Let’s talk about Gordon Bellamy. He basically got his job by annoying the developers at EA until they gave him a chance. He repaid them by changing video game history for the better. He introduced alternate skin colors into Maden so that all of the players weren’t white anymore.

That’s right, mad nerds. Your precious Madden was touched forever by a black, gay man. Stay mad.

Sonic the Hedgehog – SEGA!

During the great console wars of the 1990s, I was a definite Sega guy. Sure, Nintendo always speaks to the child inside of me. But, Sega screams at the reckless teenager. Let me start by saying that I’m generally unimpressed by marketing.

However, watching the plan that Sega put together to “take down” Nintendo and then watching that plan unfold before my eyes was pure nostalgic bliss. I know that people think there are console wars these days and there are. But, it’s mostly just fan boys screaming at each other on message boards. Sony and Microsoft feel like co-conspirators in the whole charade. Yes, get off my lawn.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rh5eis0sMHI

For some reason, it won’t let me embed, but I did go into Quinn’s room to scream “Sega!” at him, so marketing does work on some level.

The Verdict – “High Score episode 4 is awesome

The subtitle is the TLDR of this one. Sorry it took so long to get around to it. But, it makes it no less true. High Score episode 4 is amazing. It reaches the lofty heights set by episode 1 and makes me excited for the rest of the series again. Join me in a couple of days for episode 5.

High Score Episode 2

Introduction

A word of warning about High Score episode 2. I didn’t find it as entertaining or engaging as episode 1. In fact, the episode was so uninteresting to me that I’m reconsidering my effusive praise after the first episode. I appreciate that they’re trying to mix lesser known stories with the history that we probably all know. However, something was missing from that mix in episode 2.

I’m not entirely sure what went wrong. I can say for certain that one big name was missing from the episode. As far as I saw, there was no mention of Sega. I assume that’s because they are waiting to give Sega their own episode. I thought they might start with the Sega/Nintendo rivalry. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

I mean, how do you have one without the other?

Jeff Hansen – “I’ve Seen This Story Before, But Better”

High Score episode 2 follows the same formula as episode 1 in at least one way. They chronicle Jeff Hansen through his experience as a competitor in the first Nintendo World Championships just like they did Rebecca Heineman in her pursuit of Space Invaders glory. But, here’s where the theme of the episode comes into play again.

His story just wasn’t as interesting as hers. They tried to play him out as an underdog. He didn’t advance in his first attempt and then he had to travel to Tampa Bay for one “last chance”. But, he just wasn’t as much of a personality as she was. It was just weird overall to follow up with almost the exact same storyline only not as interesting.

Also, the guy struggled with Tetris, which is just a cardinal sin as far as I’m concerned.

Gail Tilden – “Dragon Lady”

I had a feeling that I might not enjoy this episode as much when they first introduced Gail Tilden. She worked in some department or another for Nintendo. Advertising, maybe? Who the hell knows. She was titer testing wine in her first scene. Yeah…

But, they pulled off the seemingly impossible. Even after I rolled my eyes so hard, I thought they might get stuck there at her introduction, they made me sympathize for her. Granted, it is probably just my personal bias against even casual misogyny. However, one of the guys called her the “Dragon Lady” and then they showed her as overbearing and intimidating. *sigh*

I mean, she helped launch Nintendo Power and that magazine ran for 20? 25? Years. Clearly, she knew what she was doing, but that kind of talk is just so frustrating.

Shaun Bloom – “Nintendude”

Speaking of Nintendo Power, before the magazine, there were the Nintendudes. That wasn’t their actual name, but that’s a missed opportunity for sure. In my opinion, the most entertaining part of the episode was the story of Shaun Bloom. Shaun is just an entertaining guy.

I mean, he lived during a time before streaming and YouTube influencers. It was a time of, “Dude, I can get paid to play video games!” I mean, there’s still some of that, but it was truly a time where such a career path was enough to blow your mind. And, Mr. Bloom played that part perfectly. Even if you don’t watch the rest of the episode, definitely fast forward for his part.

Apparently there’s a guy who plays Smash that is called “Nintendude”. Maybe he will sue the page and we can get famous that way. This strategy hasn’t worked so far, but it has to eventually, right?

Super Mario is everywhere (But where is Miyamoto?)

One of the major complaints that I have about episode 2 is that Shigeru Miyamoto plays only a minor role. I get that they are trying to focus more on some of the lesser known stories in video games. However, if you are going to use Mario to sell the episode, you have to give his creator more than just a passing mention.

Look, I get that you are probably still “Yeah, but”ing me. And, that’s fine. Everyone has a big but. We can talk about your big but. My big but is “But, having Miyamoto in the episode more would have made it infinitely more entertaining.”

The Verdict – High Score episode 2 makes me less excited to watch the rest of the series

I was very high on this series after the first episode. It was just the right amount of information and entertainment. Episode 2 fell off a bit for the reasons I listed. I’m still going to give it a second, third, and however many more episodes there are, chance. It’s just too tempting to not watch. I especially want to see if they do an episode on Sega since they missed the opportunity to talk about the great console wars of that time. Join me in a couple of days for episode 3!

High Score Episode 1

Introduction

I watched “High Score” Episode 1 yesterday while I was working out. It was suggested to me by Netflix when I logged into the account to watch another docuseries I had been watching, “Champions”. Well, not one to pass up history of video games, I switched for the next week or so. Look, I realize that this isn’t at all related to Nintendo or Pokemon, as promised earlier in the week. However, TLDR, it was good enough to inspire me to write this review.

Space Invaders – “Grandpa”

There’s a reason that I went gender specific with the subtitle and it isn’t strictly personal bias. They mention in the episode that women felt left out of the realm of video games. I think the exact quote was, “There are no games for women.” That’s not a surprise. For much of the history of math and related subjects, women have been a footnote of that history. Unless, they are seen as consumers to be exploited. But, more on that in the next section.

My favorite part of the Space Invaders story is that a woman became the first Space Invaders world champion. And so, once again, a woman ignored the restrictions placed on her by society and proved herself as the “best man for the job”. Congrats, Rebecca Heineman, your story was inspiring and I genuinely smiled at the conclusion.

Before we move on, a couple of notable factoids. The game was so popular that arcades were often called “Invader houses”. Also, Japan suffered a 100-yen coin shortage because of that popularity. Crazy.

Pac Man Google doodle. Yes, it’s playable. Not here, but on Google.

Pac-Man – “A little somethin somethin for the ladies”

I will give the compsci nerds credit. When they realized that women weren’t playing video games, they tried to do something about it. Generally speaking, that segment of the population (be it women or men like me) aren’t attracted to games that are simply shooting at things. Enter Pac-Man.

The creator of the game insists that the iconic shape is, in fact, inspired by a pizza with one slice missing. No idea if that’s actually true, but it does validate years of speculation. During the segment, they talk to two teenage girls from the time that seem to uphold the theory that Pac-Man brought girls into video games. I’m not sure what it says about me that I’ve always preferred Pac-Man from that generation of video games.

I hadn’t planned on ending each section with a random factoid, but I have one for our round yellow friend. His name was originally Puck Man, which makes more sense. However, as Puck very easily becomes a well know obscenity, they changed it.

Father of the Cartridge – Jerry Lawson

They interviewed his kids in High Score episode 1. Unfortunately, he passed away about 10 years ago. However, when his son said his name, I paused briefly and said, “Hey, I know that name.” It’s no wonder why. For a generation of gamers my age, he revolutionized the way we played. No longer were consoles restricted to one game any more.

With cartridges, as his son says, your library increased exponentially. Alas, other than video game historian nerds like me, his name has been relegated to an afterthought. Once Atari got into the cartridge business, nobody else stood a chance. More on that 900-lb gorilla in the next section.

Random Factoid: When I was younger, I split my head open and had to get 14 stitches. My parents, so impressed by my handling of the situation, let me get a gift. I chose Jungle Hunt because I played the game in the arcade and enjoyed it so much. Incidentally, when we got the Atari 7800, I bought the game again, making it the first game I purchased more than once.

Atari – “Big Bad”

Like most people at the time, I loved Atari. Even after they crashed and burned with ET (see next section), I still loved the company and support them even today. I haven’t ordered their new console, yet. However, one of the first things I do when I get a new computer is download Stella and a few of my favorite games.

I probably should have, but I had no idea that they were such bullies in the industry. It started innocently enough as a bunch of guys making video games. Then, the company sold to Warner and its a tale as old as time. The suits tried to squeeze every last penny out of the company. They sued a bunch of college kids for making improvements to their games. They bullied Midway into allowing them to release a version of Pac-Man using pretty much the same technology that they attempted to end with the lawsuit. And then, their come uppance.

Random Factoid: I promised a conversation about ET in the next section. Before that, I did want to speak on the process. Apparently, the programmer had 5 weeks to program the game. At the time, it took anywhere from 6-8 months to develop a game. Also, when meeting with Steven Spielberg (after only 36 hours to develop a pitch), the programmer said that Spielberg wanted the game to be more like Pac-Man. See, it could have been worse.

ET – What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Apparently, you can’t have a video game documentary without mentioning ET. Hell, they made a whole movie about that single game. As is often the case, the story is a bit more complicated than just ET killed Atari.

But, for the sake of this article, I’m choosing to be poetic about it. Karma can be swift and furious vengeance. Atari paid for their hubris when they made the “worst game ever.

Random Factoid: I know I’ve told this story before, but here goes. I liked the ET game. Yes, the controls are frustrating. Sure, given more time, they could have polished it a bit more. But, I played the hell out of it and beat the game. Hell, it is one of the games that I download first after configuring Stella. It certainly doesn’t deserve the reputation it’s gotten. Alas, that’s how myths grow.

The Verdict – High Score episode 1 makes me want to watch the rest of the series

If you read the TLDR at the beginning of the article and you are still here, it bears repeating. High Score episode 1 is entertaining and engaging. I’m looking forward to watching the other five episodes. If you like human interest stories or video games, then I think you’ll like this series. Come watch with me!