If I had to put a place and time for it, I think the Idea started back at my buddy Jason’s wedding in April. I’ve had the great pleasure of being a groomsman at 4 weddings, but this was the first one I was best man. It was nice to be in a place with a lot of friendly people I knew and a lot of friendly people that I didn’t know but were “related” to through the family of friendship. It was also a chance for me to wax poetic on a microphone. First and foremost, I am a jester (and not necessarily a good one), but when I have a chance to be poignant, I like to think I come through. So, yeah, the notion of being around people I like in a place where we all share something… it’s a nice thought.
I’ve been working regularly now, which is something I can’t say I had an opportunity to do in the past couple of years. Regular income beats promised income any day of the week (and twice on weekends). In the past, that greatly limited some of the things I’d have liked to do. Now, so freed, I get to do these things. One of those is Coast Con. I haven’t been in two years, and I want to totally geek out. So, I’m going to Biloxi, Mississippi’s biggest geek out of the year. And, then I got to thinking about the feeling I had back in April at Jason’s wedding. To cement it, I liked when Flannel came down about a month ago, and I got to hang out with Tim and Tam, and Flannel’s new friends Jim and Alex. This shared experience of board games and video games and RPG’s, and the fact that it unites a lot of us.
So, yeah… the Idea…
I’m going to Coast Con on March 15-17.
And, I want you to come with me.
ALL of you.
FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, THE FRIENDS OF JAY MCCARTHY MEET IN A SUMMIT
THE LIKES OF WHICH HASN’T BEEN SEEN SINCE YALTA.
FRIENDS ARE WELCOME.
FRIENDS OF FRIENDS ARE WELCOME.
ENEMIES ARE NOT WELCOME, AND WE WILL SMITE THE FUCK OUT OF THEM.
FRIENDS OF FRIENDS WHO ARE ENEMIES WILL LAY THEIR WEAPONS DOWN, FOR THIS…
THIS WILL BE A HOLY, DELICATE TIME. WE WILL SQUASH ALL BEEFS AND MAKE THEM HAMBURGER.
THERE WILL BE BOARD GAMES, CARD GAMES, MINIATURES, RPGS.
THERE WILL BE COSPLAY, AND BAD COSPLAY, AND REALLY FUCKING BAD COSPLAY.
A LARP IS ALSO LIKELY, AND WE WILL CRASH THAT THING LIKE THE HINDENBURG.
THERE IS A SLAVE AUCTION, AND WE WILL ACQUIRE MANY CONCUBINES.
LODGINGS AND MEALS… WILL NOT BE PROVIDED, YOU EACH HAVE TO GET YOUR OWN.
(This was the one part that made me hold off on this for awhile. I don’t have a place for folks to stay, and I know travel and accommodations are expensive. What I am asking for is selfish, and believe me, I take no slight if you can’t or won’t make it.)
THEREFORE, LET IT BE KNOWN…
MARCH 15-17, IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD, 2013
WE CELEBRATE THE FIRST (AND MOST LIKELY LAST)
THE GATHERING… OF THE JAY-GA-LOS.
THIS IS THE END OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT.
Happy New Year folks. Here’s hoping I see you sooner than later.
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So, I finally had a mission in XCOM go mega-tits up. I was testing 3 of the colonels for Psionic Aptitude, and another 2 were in the hospital after getting shot up worse than Buford Pusser, so when a supply ship dropped down on Lagos, Nigeria, I had to scramble Omega Sqaud, led by my only remaining Colonel, “The Jordan” himself, William Patrick Butler.
They’re called Omega Squad, not because they’re the last line of defense, but because it was the last time most of them were seen breathing.
The Skyranger drops down on the scenic pine forests of Nigeria. Within two turns the team is at the door of the ship, Ian “Still a Rookie, No Nickname Assigned” Bibby opens the door. Immediately, a Muton Berzerker runs in, screams “YOU GOIN’ TO JAIL NOW!” and one punches him to death, also taking about 12 feet of wall with him. His wife, Tomoko “Gypsy” Bibby, the backup medic, panics and for some reason, turns on Mike “Crazy Eyes” McMullan and one shots him with a plasma rifle. This sends Veronica “Snake Eyes” McMullan into a panic, and she puts a sniper bullet in Tomoko’s now pulped brain. Then, to send this so off the deep end as to be unmeasureable, Barbara “Big Momma” McCarthy (yes, I made my mom a solider in XCOM), the backup-backup medic, melts Veronica with more plasma-y death.
Final tally: Mission Failed, 1 KIA by Alien, 3 KIA by friendly fire, two make it back to the drop ship. In one round of combat, XCOM lost all of its Romney votes. Mutons for Obama.
“No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” -Helmuth von Moltke the Elder
Or, apparently, contact with other squad mates either.
(I reloaded from a previous save… cause I’m a pussy. Seriously, though, I really wish I had recorded that. I laughed for a solid 10 minutes.)
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Quick Review: The best moment for me was in the pre-open credits when I learned that the Total Recall remake was made by the movie studio “Original Film.” That had me laughing for a good five minutes.
…and yes, I know the original is based (loosely) off of a Phil Dick short story.
Long Review: Total Recall (2012) is a ho hum action fest that is good in some spots, bad in others and stars some decent to really good actors that were either not allowed or didn’t care to perform up to their potential (read that as we get 20 minutes of Bryan Cranston and about 5 minutes of Bill Nighy. The Gene Shalit quote for this movie, “It wasn’t BREAKING BAD enough for me to LOVE it ACTUALLY.). This movie will not make you forget the 1990 classic in any way, but it may be worth going to see if you like some of the names involved or action movies in general.
Good stuff comes in the form of a couple of nice set pieces, one involving a unique elevator chase, the other involving fighting in zero-G. Nice choreography and some decent pacing in those.
My biggest complaints stem from the fact that this is a remake. Plot points are recycled, some completely outright, others modified. There are throwbacks to the original, like the 3-boobed hooker, but their place in the story is more fan service than plot progression or setting-building. Finally, like the latest Die Hard movie, the 2012 Recall is PG-13. Your remake is going to come up short if you attempt a PG-13 version of a Paul Verhoeven movie. Seriously, by rule, you can’t even step to the front door.
Also, no Kuato. Instead you get Bill Nighy, which is almost an even trade, but not for the amount of screen time they gave him.
Final Verdict: C-, for a few good action set pieces, and not much else.
From Facebook user, Murdanda1st, on the state of TNA wrestling:
And you KNOW you’re screwing up when you can’t even do “Lesbian Vampires” right.
I don’t think the human condition has ever been summarized better. You can have your, “Life is but a walking shadow;” Me, I’ll keep with my Lesbian Vampires.
Be good, stay well.
*Spoiler Warning - for all those who care and haven’t seen/heard news about WM 28*
Wrestlemania XXVIII happened last night. Yesterday was also April 1st, aka April Fools Day… keep that in mind.
For the most part, I’m focusing only on the matches, as this is Wrestlemania, not (and shouldn’t be) SoapOperaMania; however, where necessary, I will bring up a few of the non-match moments. That being said…
There seemed to be a lot of commercials in Wrestlemania. The corporate partner commercials are understandable, but why the hell is WWE pimping Deadliest Catch out of the damned blue (“Damn” being the operative word)? I did not spend $65 on an HD feed… wait, what, oh right, I mean I did not have a friend of mine spend $65 of his own money so I could go over to his mom’s house and eat all their food and watch Wrestlemania for free to have to sit through commercials! (Don’t worry, I caught dinner for us later that evening… at Denny’s. Even when I’m trying to pay back, I’m a bastard.)
1st Match - World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan with AJ vs. Sheamus for the title
Brogue Kick to Bryan 18 seconds after the bell, winner and champ, Sheamus, and because I never learned how to touch type on a keyboard, it took me longer to type this sentence than it took the match.
I really, really, REALLY want to love this match. I want to take this match to prom, and on the ride home, find out she’s really into making her daddy mad tonight. I say this because this match was one giant trollfaced snicker at the entire Internet Wrestling Community because it contained multiple sources of hate (WHC being the curtain jerker, Daniel Bryan beaten in under 20 seconds). I sickly admire that the WWE had the gall balls to do this. Also, it was April Fools Day; I imagine some writer pitched the day and the match idea to Vince, and he loved the synchronicity of the whole thing.
And, then, I realized I, as a wrestling fan, was denied watching one the best technical wrestlers alive plying his trade at Wrestlemania. I take up my placard with the rest of the IWC and totally call for #OccupyWWECreative.
Match Rating - 2 (out of a possible 5) - for liking the destination (I like Sheamus), but being disappointed by how short the journey was.
2nd Match - Randy Orton vs. Kane
A decent outing for what felt like a “well, we need to do something to get Orton and Kane on the card” match. I like that Kane looked strong in the match, blocking several RKO attempts and getting in some decent offense. He needed a strong outing after his ambulance match loss to Cena at the last PPV, and I felt he got one here. While I like the inter-match-logic of the “off the ropes chokeslam” as the finisher (seeing as how Orton kicked out of the regular chokeslam previously in the match), the move didn’t look as devastating as it could have which I think came from a problem with the release of the hold. The pace also felt a bit sluggish at times for one of the shorter matches on the card. Still, it was a good outing from both, not their best, but it probably sets up a future match at the next pay-per-view.
Rating - 3 - for some good, some meh, overall a solid average.
3rd Match - Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show for the title
I have loved the build up for this match and was pleased with the outcome. Rhodes has been a fantastic heel, and his delivery of the mocking vignettes of the Big Show’s past WM mishaps have been executed magnificently. Face Goliath vs. Heel David has been well prepped, and I love a lot of the psychology in the match itself (particularly the opening where Cody ran in and out of the ring to avoid Big Show). Show was dominant where he needed to be; Rhodes was high-flying and athletic where he needed to be. My issues with the match come from the length (too short, could have used at least another 3 good minutes) and the finish (the knockout punch/WMD is a cool finisher, but I was really hoping for a “take this you son-of-a-bitch” chokeslam to cap the match). Still, good for the Big Show joining the triple crown club by capturing the IC title.
Rating - 4 - for entertainingly paying off the build up but with a few stutter steps along the way
Folks, #OccupyWWECreative is now the #1 trending topic worldwide on Twitter. Okay, not really, I just wanted to annoy you as much as I am annoyed by the constant on-screen twitter graphics all over WWE TV and its pay-per-views. Hey, WWE, I don’t give three good shits what’s on twitter right now; I’m not looking at twitter; I paid money to look at your stuff. I mean, my friend paid money, and his whole bag of cheddar and bacon potato skins were delicious.
4th Match - Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos vs. Beth Phoenix and Eve
I don’t watch Extra; apparently, I didn’t know Extra could function as part-time, de facto WWE programming. If it weren’t for the vignette they played prior to the match, I would have never seen the reason this match was made, so we’re off to a somewhat questionable start. Shades of DDP and Jay Leno from more than a decade ago started twirling around in my mind. Also, this was a Divas match, and the ideas are co-mingling, so now shades of a female DDP and Jay Leno are in my head. Gah, must power through this.
Like many of the Divas matches of the last few years, you can tell the women were trying hard but the match was plagued with a lot of timing issues. One that is still kinda floating in my mind is a spot where Kelly Kelly ends up on Beth’s shoulders as part of a reversal into a bulldog. Kelly held (or was held) there for longer than she should have; what should have been a crisp slam down turned into an awkwardly staged move. There were some other similar moments, but that one set stood out the most to me. As usual for celebrity matches at WM, Menounos got the win on Beth with a school boy roll-up. I think pinning Eve would have been the better choice (how dare they sully the Butterfly belt), but I get the suspicion no one at WWE Creative cares who gets pinned in the “refreshments” match?
Also, for those keeping score at home, yes, this match lasted longer than Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus.
Rating - 2 - for a standard Divas match and for Maria Menounos doing anything with two broken ribs
(Quick Aside: If Finlay is coming back, I hope against hope that it means good things for the booking of the Divas division. Bear in mind, I also still believe in Santa Claus.)
5th Match - HHH vs. Undertaker (with special referee Shawn Michaels)
I liken this match to the movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes. We didn’t need this match; we’ve had this match, twice in fact, at X-7 and XXVII. We’ve trodden this ground black; we did not need it.
And, yet, that did not prevent this match from being, arguably, the best on the card all night. Taker has been gone for a year and showed very little rust. HHH hasn’t wrestled much this year, and he slipped into the role he needed to play like a glove. Shawn Michaels has been happily retired and was still able to contribute positively to the match. Bringing Hell in the Cell into play heightened the possibilities for creative violence. It was a gathering of history, ability, and happenstance that we’ve marveled at before and may very well have seen for the last time.
Even though I’ve given a spoiler warning, I don’t want to spoil too much of this match; it needs to be seen fresh. I will say that some referee violence eventually leads to the first moment I came off my seat for this Wrestlemania. The high spots of this match were amazing, and this one in particular made up for the $65 of your friend’s money paid to watch. It’s not a perfect match, but it is an excellent match. In a strange way, the imperfections make it better. Had it been perfect, it would have been too perfect. I know, that doesn’t make much sense, but the match has to be seen to understand.
Rating - 5 - for my match of the night, Match of the Year candidate #1 from this Wrestlemania.
6th Match - Team Johnny vs. Team Teddy, winner is the GM of RAW and Smackdown
Ring of Honor, a rather fantastic wrestling promotion that helped produce C.M. Punk and the American Dragon (Daniel Bryan), promotes a match type called a “Scramble” match. Basically, it’s a tag match without tags. It might be better to call it a run-in match, as most of the competitors simply run in and out as necessary. Many times, there are multiple flips to the outside onto multiple opponents and high spots aplenty. Basically, take the last two minutes of a regular tag match, combined with lucha libre, boom scramble match.
Scramble matches get chaotic very quickly, many times to the point of silliness. They can be fun to watch, however, provided that they follow two rules. 1) They’re short on time, and 2) The guys have a chance to hit their spots and hit them right. If it goes too long, the amount of moves hit or missed becomes ridiculous, and if they guys can’t hit their moves, you start wondering why they were there in the first place.
I look at the Johnny/Teddy match as a WWE attempt at a Scramble Match. For me it didn’t work. It took too long to get going, and once it got going, half the people on each team were not needed except as body catchers. Seriously, why were Great Khali and Mark Henry there, other than one’s a large babyface and the other’s a large heel? Most of the guys didn’t get their spots in, and then, there’s Eve.
For some reason, as Zack Ryder was calling for one of his signature moves (I think the Broski Boot), Eve jumps into the ring next to him and next to (and in full sight of) the referee and mimicks Zach’s fist pump. This distracts Zach allowing Miz to hit the Skull Crushing Finale and to pick up the pin.
I don’t mind Team Johnny winning. I don’t mind dirty finishes, but I do mind them when they’re eye-straining stupid. Why is the ref not throwing Eve out himself? She wasn’t in harm’s way, why even move her aside, Zack? Why does Ryder have to do it? Why aren’t Teddy Long, Nicki Bella, Aksana or Hornswaggle not stopping Eve from jumping in the ring in the first place? Why did Teddy even allow her at ringside in the first place? Have we not established that Eve is evil? Hell, her name sounds like evil, that should be enough for WWE Creative to create a whole line of “Eve-il” coffee mugs, baby doll T’s, and feminine hygiene products. This match had little direction, went too long, and ended like a shart in Baptist Kindergarten. Bah, fucking ay, bah.
Rating - 1 - for stupid chaos, though not a zero because of Johnny Ace’s awesome Brother Love inspired suit and tie combo and Santino’s magnificently ludicrous offense (COBRA!). Otherwise, unfocused, overtime and unnecessary.
Also, Eve now played a part in two matches tonight, and Daniel Bryan and Sheamus barely took part in one.
7th Match - WWE Champion C.M. Punk vs. Chris Jericho for the title
Before the match, we’re given a live vignette where the now triumphant Johnny Ace tells C.M. Punk that he’s putting a stipulation into the title match where Punk can lose the title if he’s disqualified. Punk, who’s had his entire family insulted by Jericho for being alcoholics, drug addicts and overall degenerates, is none too happy about it.
I didn’t like this surprise stipulation, and I didn’t like the effect it had on the match early on. If this was going to be a stipulation, why not introduce it at RAW or Smackdown instead of 10 minutes before the match? That way the audience has a chance to digest it and appreciate what’s at stake. Plus, instead of putting on a wrestling clinic, we had to deal with Jericho attempting to get Punk disqualified for the better part of the first 5 minutes of the match. I want the two “Best in the World” to fight like it, not have one of them try to sneak it out. This part of it was a drag on the match, and this match started boring and frustrating.
Then, they started to wrestle, and I forgot the first five minutes happened. That may have been the plan all along, or they may have just said, “Hell with it,” and started tearing the house down the way they know how. After the slow open, Punk was equal parts face-in-peril of old and worthy champion of new wrestling. Jericho was every bit the wily veteran and vicious submission specialist.
There were great moments in this match. Jericho had Punk in the Walls of Jericho twice, and every twist and stretch on Punk’s spine could be seen and felt. Punk screaming, “Tap! Tap you son of a bitch!” had me off my seat for the second time all night. Jericho, eventually, obliged. This match started rough but produced diamonds by the end. Jericho adds to a Hall-of-Fame legacy of great matches, and Punk, as champion, gets a big 1 on 1 win at Wrestlemania.
Rating - 5(-1) - for the other Match of the Year candidate from the show, I give it the excellent, but have to mark something down for what I thought caused boring opening minutes.
Brodus Clay came out. The Funkasuarus asked us to call our Momma’s. I did. She seemed nonplussed about the whole thing. A bunch of big butt “old” ladies came out and funky danced. Not gonna lie, I kinda liked the silliness of it. As bathroom breaks go, they can be worse.
8th Match - The Rock vs. John Cena
The opening of this match was overproduced. For some reason the guys’ opening theme songs needed their own separate opening theme songs. I don’t care if you’ve got Jay-Z and Bruce Springsteen to do that shit, it’s not necessary. Also, I’d have to go back and check the tape, but I think Machine Gun Kelly’s female co-singer’s nipple was out longer at Wrestlemania than Daniel Bryan was. Flo Rida’s female co-singer’s hair definitely was out longer than the American Dragon.
The match itself was very good, but it suffers from Chinese Democracy Syndrome. Guns and Roses (though, really, just Axl Rose) took 15+ years to produce a new studio album. While the album’s good, it wasn’t necessarily worth all the wait, and a ton of different bands gave us as good or better in the same time frame. The same thing happened here; Rock and Cena put on a good match, but after a year of waiting and then seeing HHH/Taker and Punk/Jericho that same night, the match didn’t live up to the hype for me.
Rock looked and worked great, particularly when putting together a nice chain wrestling spot at the start of the match, showing ring rust wouldn’t be a fear. Cena was great both in the ring and with the crowd, playing to every cheer and boo he got. The high spots and near falls were well executed, and the ending was surprising yet appropriate. Rock winning makes sense from a hometown standpoint, and if he is geared to do more with the WWE in the future (possibly at this year’s Summerslam), it makes sense to have him go over here. This was a very good match. It just wasn’t transcendent, and the promise of transcendence, that “once in a lifetime” moment, dragged on the match. It didn’t reach Hogan/Andre level, or Austin/Hart level, or Austin/Rock level.
It was an All-Star game for a professional wrestling match. That’s good enough. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait through a year of hype for another match like it.
Rating - 4 - for two of the all-time best putting on a better than solid outing that was sold to be something more
Overally, it was a great Wrestlemania. Punk solidified his status as champion. HHH, Undertaker and HBK created another great moment. Jericho showed he still has it. Rock showed he still has it (and should show it off more often). Cena now has a mountain he’s failed to climb. Show gets redemption. Kane got to look strong. Sheamus and Bryan didn’t need anyone to add more change to their parking meters. Johnny’s got the puppet strings of both shows. Storylines ended, storylines continued, storylines were born.
It was the annual renewal, the real springtime of wrestling, and I am glad I got to see it.
Be good, stay well.
As I was surfing the TV-wide web, I saw Double Jeopardy was on the tube. For those who don’t know, the 1999 movie Double Jeopardy is the worst insult to law-in-film within, at least, the last 30 years.
The movie stars Ashley Judd as a woman convicted of her husband’s murder. While in prison, she finds out that her husband is not dead; he faked his death to reap the benefits of a life insurance policy on his own life (I know, bear with me). She is paroled and, subsequently, goes on a hunt for her not-so-murdered husband and her child while being pursued by her parole officer played by Tommy Lee Jones. Her intent is to actually kill her husband. Why?
Well, another prisoner explains to Judd’s character that if she manages to get paroled, she can go kill her husband without consequences because she’s already been on trial for murdering him, and double jeopardy prevents her from being prosecuted for the same crime again.
As far as legal accuracy goes, this is like throwing a dart, and instead of hitting the dartboard you’re aiming at, you hit someone in the eye at a bar 3 blocks down from where you were playing darts. It is unfathomable how misguided this is.
Cue a short explanation of American Jurisprudence.
If you commit a crime and are caught, the legal system, generally, has a trial by jury where the State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you are guilty of the crime which you are accused. At a certain point, usually when the jury is sworn in to hear the matter, double jeopardy “attaches” to the case. If you are found not guilty of the crime, the State cannot prosecute you again for the same crime. This protection from prosecution stretches to similar crimes arising out of the facts of the case. For the most part, you are free and clear.
Say you are found not guilty of killing your best friend. Or, hell, say you are found guilty. Later, you find out that you didn’t kill your best friend; you were setup, and your best friend betrayed you. If you somehow track him down and kill him, that’s not a case covered by double jeopardy… that’s TWO SEPARATE CRIMES. You can go to jail (possibly again) for killing him. There are consequences.
This lone conceit from Double Jeopardy makes the movie unwatchable for me. I cannot believe Ashley Judd’s character is intelligent enough to track down a rich man in hiding, private eye style, if she believes “Murder’s bad, but SUPER MURDER is A-okay.” This is not to say all revenge flicks are bad, far from it, but goofy revenge is just distracting and awful.
Also, if you’re going to ape parts of “The Fugitive,” you might as well get Tommy Lee Jones to reprise his role as “ornery police authority figure on the hunt who eventually comes to believe the wrongfully convicted.” I’m surprised Judd’s husband in the movie had both his arms.
Annoyance released, back to regular programming.
Be good, stay well.
I was in Wal-Mart on Friday, acquiring some victuals and other sundries, when I passed by the book section. They have, for purchasing, the novel adaptation of Disney’s John Carter.
I don’t mean they have Princess of Mars, the original work of Edgar Rice Burroughs which the movie is based but a novel based on the movie based on the first work.
I think the great philosopher Michael Keaton said it best, “You know how when you make a copy of a copy, it’s not as sharp as… well… the original.” Maybe it’s good, maybe it’s bad, but I already done seen the movie and read Princess of Mars, no need to travel that worn out road again. (Note: Amazon has a deal where you can buy the novelization and Princess of Mars contained in the same book. Buy it, then rip out the novelization half and throw it in a fire. That way you can still read Princess of Mars and relive the book burning scene from the original Footloose. ALL THINGS LEAD BACK TO KEVIN BACON!)
Also, I caught The Hunger Games this week. I’ve never read the book series, only seen the movie. It’s a good movie with some flaws. The good comes from the actors, particularly Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and the incomparable Stanley Tucci. Also, Woody Harrelson does a 10 times better job in this then the last time he was on Reddit.
The bad comes from some directing decisions, namely using handheld/”shaky-cam” during many of the opening scenes and during the action in the second half. Some say handheld filming makes scenes feel more realistic; I think it makes for jittery distraction (most of the time). Also, as an adaptation, there are some things that feel like they’re there without enough explanation. What exactly is Gale other than Thor’s real life brother? Seriously, what is he? On a personal note, I don’t like birds named “MockingJay”; I had enough of that in high school.
The bad never does enough to outweigh the good, though. The performances shine, and The Hunger Games is a good film. Check it out.
Be Good, Stay Well.
News broke today about the punishments being handed down by the National Football League against the New Orleans Saints for their involvement and cover-up in what has been dubbed by the media as “Bountygate”.
For the purpose of full disclosure, I am a fan of the New Orleans Saints. I’m not a “just in this last decade” New Orleans Saints fan. I know who John Fourcade is. I don’t mean that I know his stat lines from his career; I mean that I have cried pure blood and salt in my childhood because of what John Fourcade did while wearing a black and gold fleur-de-lis. If you did so with me, then you and I share the same philosophical history.
Now, a little background on “Bountygate”. In 2009, the New Orleans Saints, coached by Sean Payton and managed by Mickey Loomis, acquired Gregg Williams to be the team’s defensive coordinator. At some point after getting the job, Williams, with either permission from or at least knowledge by Payton and Loomis, instituted a program amongst the players on the defense where they would be paid money outside of their contracts (i.e. bounties) for inflicting injuries upon players of the other teams, which is illegal according to the rules laid down by the NFL.
The defense that year was characterized by two qualities: 1) the quantity of turnovers claimed and 2) the “aggressive” nature of the defense as a whole. Two particular instances of this nature came in the playoffs that year where, in two separate games, Saints players injured or incapacitated Kurt Warner (QuarterBack of the Arizona Cardinals) and Brett Favre (QB of the Minnesota Vikings). At the time, there were voices that called out for a reaction from the NFL for these violent, oftentimes illegal hits, but much of the popular opinion, voiced by fans (including myself), current and former players, and members of the media, lauded the Saints defense for their aggressive and attacking style.
At the end of the 2009 season, the Saints won their first Super Bowl, the ultimate prize in the NFL. Also, either at the end of the season or sometime thereafter, the NFL was made aware of or discovered the bounty program. The NFL instructed the Saints, particularly GM Loomis and Coach Payton, to stop the program in its tracks.
They did not. The bounty program continued for 2 full seasons. Steps were taken to hide the program, but other than that, the program continued unhindered.
A few months ago, an internal investigation by the NFL produced a thousands-of-pages long documentation of the bounty program and the cover-up. It cited coaches, front office staff and players who were fully involved, including Williams, Payton, Loomis, middle linebacker and defensive captain Johnathan Vilma, and others. Responses from the Saints, including owner Tom Benson, Coach Payton, GM Loomis, and quarterback, team captain, (and heart and soul of the team) Drew Brees, were apologetic. Nonetheless, the hammer had to fall; punishment was deserved.
Today, punishment was given.
Gregg Williams - suspended indefinitely, with a review of his status to come after this upcoming season
As the mastermind, this makes the most sense. The NFL is trying to advance player safety, and any program that rewards players for injuring others flies, with massive flippancy, in the face of that. The head of the snake should get the deepest cut. This snake, however, has multiple heads…
Sean Payton - Suspended for the entire 2012 season
Payton did not come up with the plan, but he was instrumental in the cover-up, lying to the NFL and his team’s owner and instructing others to do the same. Payton, for all intents and purposes, is a guru of football on the offensive side of things and has been a proud and supportive member of the league, the team and the city of New Orleans. That makes me sad as a fan to see this happen to him; however, as a man, I am disgusted that he not only allowed this to happen on his watch, but he condoned it. It’s a fair punishment.
Mickey Loomis - Suspended for the first 8 games of the 2012 season
The last head of the snake, Loomis was a prime leader of the cover-up, perhaps moreso than Payton because he was the front office go-between that had the best opportunity to hide the flagrancy of this situation, not just between the Saints and the league, but between the Saints and the team owner, Tom Benson. Loomis deserves punishment, but of all those punished, his, to me, seems the hardest to enforce. Under the terms of the suspension, he can’t have contact with the team for the first 8 games of the year. While it would be hard for a coach to hide his involvement (having to be physically at practice and on the sideline), it seems to me that it’d be much easier for a front office type to sit at home and take an occasional phone call while others worked, effectively, as warm bodies carrying on business from the GM. Again, he deserves punishment, but this one seems to easy to squeeze around.
Joe Vitt (assistant head coach) - suspended the first 6 games of the 2012
Vitt is Payton’s majordomo; much of his punishment comes from carrying out Payton’s and Williams’s instruction. Without stomping over already plowed ground, this seems fair to me.
New Orleans Saints Franchise - $500,000 fine, loss of 2 2nd round draft picks (1 this year, one next)
The franchise itself has to be punished due to the systemic nature of the bounty program and the cover-up. I’m surprised that this is actually so lenient as I expected the Saints to lose multiple 1st round picks, rather than 2nd round picks. This may be an acknowledgement by the NFL that it was more concerned with the specific individuals in the conspiracy, rather than the team itself. Also, this could reflect a belief that the owner had no knowledge of the program.
As of yet, no players have been named for suspension this year, though this may be a function of the politics that happens between the NFL and the NFL Players Association (the union for the players). The league may be working with the NFLPA to determine “appropriate” punishment, i.e. something that won’t cause a pissing match with the NFLPA for “unfairness to the players”.
You cannot have programs in place where people are paid specifically to hurt other people, to ruin their bodies, or to rob them of their livelihoods. Kurt Warner retired shortly after being knocked out of the playoff game versus the Saints. Brett Favre’s last year in football was marred by a foot injury suffered in his playoff game with the Saints. They had long careers, longer than most, but would they still have more years to give had they not been targets of a bounty program? It’s impossible to say, but I think they would have. Football is a violent and dangerous game; it does not need people nor institutions within the game to escalate that violence by rewarding illegal, dirty play.
Are the Saints the only team that have a bounty program? Until today, probably not. Many players, former and present, have spoken to the media about playing within these systems on other teams, supported by other players and coaches. These programs exist and have existed, but it would be trite to say that the sin the Saints committed here was getting caught. I do believe that after today, these programs will end. Teams cannot afford losses like the Saints will suffer this season and for seasons going forward. Teams cannot afford these bounties. That is the ultimate positive coming out of this, a killing blow to an old mentality that fed unnecessary violence almost for its own sake.
Finally, where does this leave Saints fans? Hurt, yes. Aggrieved, possibly. Tested, absolutely. Fans will be lost, particularly if the team’s record suffers. For those that stay, well, we’ve seen worse, and I don’t mean for snarky things like jokes made against players from the past. I was there in 2005, when the team seemed destined for San Antonio or Los Angeles or some other point on the map that wasn’t New Orleans. Things fall; they fall often. Sometimes they rise again. This is a time to respect and understand the punishment that has been handed down, to endure it, and to become greater from it.
I am still a fan of the New Orleans Saints.
Be good, stay well.
Post with 2 notes
(Preface: While I am a lawyer in the state of Mississippi, my main focus in the law is family law, not criminal. My opinion expressed here is based, in part, on the reading of statutes known to me at the time of writing and the constitution for the state of Mississippi. If you spot an area where I am wrong or uninformed, feel free to correct me. If I am wrong, I like knowing why so that I can later find the right.)
My state, Mississippi, was in the national news today, so, naturally, the news was bad. As a quick aside, did you know the Teddy Bear originates from Mississippi? On top of that, Mississippi is the site of the world’s first human lung transplant and heart transplant. I just wanted to remind everyone of that because anytime Mississippi makes news in this day and age, it’s for some screwed up story like “The State of Mississippi bribed a greedy firm of trial lawyers to rape an endangered species while drowning it in oil and that same species was also a political, racial and cultural minority according to the ACLU and PETA.” Yeah, it’s not that bad, but it can really get to feeling like that, particularly if you love the state, which I do, warts and all.
The latest Mississippi brouhaha involves our recently outgoing governor, Haley Barbour, and his pardoning of almost 200 people in the final days of his term. Now, this act, in and of itself, is not unusual. Governors and presidents often use their pardon powers near the end of their term to give freedom to convicted criminals because, sometimes, they believe the convictions were wrong (the glass half-full approach) or because, sometimes, they’re doing a favor for a buddy (the glass half-screwed up approach). The timing of the pardons comes from the idea that there will be less controversy for the pardons as more focus will be placed on the incoming executive and not so much on the “lame duck” outgoing executive. (Recent history, though, cuts against this idea given the notoriety of this story and the story behind the pardons given by Bill Clinton at the end of his last term). Again, this process is not unusual; it is basically the last play in the executive playbook.
The two newsworthy problems with these recent grants of clemency/pardons involve the nature of the crimes pardoned and the seeming lack of procedural knowledge and/or care toward the application of the process by the executive branch.
As to the first problem, it is somewhat striking. There is a very high percentage of violent offenders who have been granted freedom. Murder, accessory to murder, rape, arson, aggravated assault, vehicular homicide; the list reads like an episode-to-episode review of a season of Law & Order. In addition, some of these crimes were committed for very personal reasons. It is not outside the boundary of real possibility that some of the released might try for retribution when they are free (though, if it were me, I’d thank my lucky stars that I went from “convicted murder” to “in the eyes of the State, never happened” and would happily work bagging groceries far away from where the crime happened for the rest of my days). The surviving victims and victims’ families (and prosecutors, for that matter) have an arguably legitimate fear that is very understandable.
While the first problem is a dire personal issue for the victims and the more “human interest” part of this story, the second problem, the seeming lack of knowledge and care for the application of the rules, is, in my opinion, the bigger part of this story and is liable to unearth the most problems for everyone in the state.
Before getting into problem number two, I would be remiss if I did not provide some personal disclosure. I am a registered Democrat, and I vote that way. While I have concerns about this clemency/pardon issue, Haley Barbour has been a very good governor for this state. As a resident of the Gulf Coast at the time Katrina hit, I thank him and his staff for their tireless and inspired work in getting aid, particularly federal aid, to us in our hour of need and in the right hands, especially compared to the anemic and bumbling state responses reported in neighboring states. I proudly admit I voted for Barbour in 2007 based on his leadership in that time, and I have no regrets in that regard. I am only focusing now on this recent situation simply because it moved me to write.
The unique wrinkle about these grants of clemency is that Mississippi is one of the few states in the union that require a published written notice in order for a pardon to be granted. This rule is sacrosanct; it is not a mere statute; it is in a section of the state’s constitution. Section 124 of the state constitution reads, in pertinent part, as follows:
In all criminal and penal cases, excepting those of treason and impeachment, the governor shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons… and in cases of felony, after conviction no pardon shall be granted until the applicant therefor shall have published for thirty days, in some newspaper in the county where the crime was committed, and in case there be no newspaper published in said county, then in an adjoining county, his petition for pardon, setting forth therein the reasons why such pardon should be granted. (emphasis added)
According to Attorney General Jim Hood (and we’ll get to the big “P” Politics of this in a second), many of those granted clemency failed to publish their petitions for pardon 30 days before. By granting mercy here, the executive branch failed to follow this rule. Jim Hood later filed and was granted a temporary injunction against the release of these prisoners (with some having already been released now having to report back daily while still being free for the time being), and a hearing is set for the 23rd of this month where a judge will determine if the notice requirement was satisfied, and what should be done if the notice requirement failed.
Here’s a short (and incomplete) list of the can of worms this problem opened:
1. Elephants vs. Donkeys - As the chief prosecutor for crimes committed against the State of Mississippi, Attorney General Jim Hood has a definite interest in seeing the convicted stay convicted. It would be nice to believe that he is pursuing this problem because justice needs to be done and done correctly, and the speed in which this was started is a function of an efficient attorney general’s office. The room, however, is filled with cynics who are whispering about the 800 lb. elephant and 200 lb. donkey in the opposite corners. Jim Hood is a Democrat; Haley Barbour is an outgoing Republican. The cynical take for this story is that this is just another pissing contest between the Big Two, and the Democrats just stumbled over a huge plate of asparagus. In my opinion, I think the real answer lies somewhere between the cynic and the saint. Yes, I believe Jim Hood and his office are doing their job out of some sense of public concern, but some of the coal going into this furnace has the smell of the partisan stench.
2. Footing the Bill to Clog the Drain - Do you know who helps pay for the Attorney General’s Office? The citizens of the state do with tax money. We are paying the office to pursue this issue. Also, we help pay the salary of judges on all levels of the state strata, judges who may end up deciding the fate of the pardoned. It may not be a big deal now, but don’t be surprised in the future if some pundits mention the “Great Mississippi Pardon Fail of 2012” with a dollar amount attached to it in taxpayer money “wasted” on AG officials, executive branch officials, lower court judges, higher court judges, and so on. Also, if appeals should come from this (which is not certain, but, with all things “court”, possible), imagine the time that will be spent on them while other cases, waiting to be heard, may have to take a back seat. This could all be over and done by the 23rd, but if it’s not, it’ll gum up the works a good bit and for a good while.
3. Victims’… Rights? - There is statutory law on the books in Mississippi that requires the Department of Corrections to notify victims of crimes (and, presumably, victims’ families and / through legal representatives) when a convicted prisoner has an upcoming pardon hearing [§99-45-1(b)(ii) of the Mississippi Code]. What happens when that system fails or doesn’t address the situation properly? Do the prisoners have to go back? The law doesn’t say but probably not; it’s more concerned about the system providing a warning, not the actual release. Does the system have to give some sort of apology? The law doesn’t say but, again, probably not; if the state ain’t required in writing, no one’s going to be doing any paperwork. Can the victims sue the system for failing to notify them, which is the state’s responsibility? The law… actually does say, “No, you can’t sue us.” (§95-45-5 of the Mississippi Code). Victims, yes, you have rights, but when those rights are ignored, there is no recompense, at least not hard-written within the law itself. Sorry, ladies and gentlemen.
The pardon power is shocking. It’s not shocking that the executive has this power; rather, when it is used, it overturns the long and long-decided work of attorneys, judges, and juries, all with just a piece of paper and a pen stroke. It is a shock to a system that is, almost always, slow and deliberate in its execution. Pardon power’s use, in turn, should be deliberate and always careful. I would argue that Barbour’s office failed to be careful when it issued over 200 pardons granted in the last days of Haley Barbour’s elected service to the state of Mississippi. Lack of carefulness, however, is not enough to undo these acts of mercy. In the end, the courts of the state, considering the facts and legal requirements in the face of public, political, and pundit opinion, will decide this matter.
All because people forgot to call ahead by a month.
Be good, stay well.
(Note: Spoilers be here.)
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is the 16th game in the venerable Legend of Zelda series of video games created by Shigeru Miyamoto and produced by Nintendo. As a quick review, if you like the series, this game is well within your wheelhouse. It’s nice to see a game that has a large amount of content that actually is more concerned with the main story of the gam,; though there are a number of side quests and mini-games to get your added attention. There are moments where the game gets a little too fetch-questy and that can be annoying at times. Also, the game does the traditional (perhaps, overused) backtracking/recycling to old areas gimmick that has become a bit too prevalent in Miyamoto’s and Nintendo’s productions. Overall, though, it’s a fun experience and worth checking out. Also, Scrapper is the coolest robot sidekick ever. Yes, there are robots in Zelda.
Now that that is out of the way, let’s get to the meat of today’s post, Queen Bitches. Now, first, I’m not talking about female dogs. Also, I’m not talking about the casual uppity female that may have cut you off in traffic or gave the barista in front of you a hard time because she got a chai chai double mocha instead of a double chai mocha mocha.
No, I’m talking about those choice examples of when the concept of “bitch” crystallizes and forms the ultimate walking/talking menstrual demon. I’m talking about that head cheerleader that calls you a “goth fuck” at school even though she secretly has every Evanescence album that’s ever been printed; or that one woman at work that’s vowed to destroy you in front of everyone because you took the last blue pen; or the nun that beats you in 3rd grade for saying “fart” when she cut you off while saying “farther.” It’s the title reserved for ladies like Carrie’s mom, Naomi Campbell, and anyone who smiles at the idea of being a “queen bitch.” It’s not a compliment.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the list:
She’s here mostly because every terrible thing that happens to you in this game is because she’s… well, the main focus of the main struggle of the main plot of the entire game. The amount of bullshit Link has to go through to be with Zelda is enough to fill out 20 bucket lists. Fight evil man-dogs and car sized skull spiders over and over again? Okay. Run across a sea made entirely of deadly quicksand? Yes, ma’am. Fly into a thunderhead on a giant chicken while mega insects bite at your feet? As you wish. All that, and when you first meet her, she totally cock-teases you. Yes, Zelda is a goddess reborn (Skyward Sword takes a turn toward Mists of Avalon territory in a few places.), but, if you want an easy goddess that doesn’t require you to drown in sand, there are others that are way more accessible… if you don’t mind surprise hero sons every now and again.
Impa doesn’t show up immediately in the game, but when she does, she puts you through a huge guilt trip because you didn’t get to Zelda soon enough and that she had to save Zelda by herself. What she fails to take into account or give credit for is that Link has to wade through lava, fire, poison, evil man-dogs, killer plants, giant spiders, ancient parasites, sentient boulders, and demon jesters just to get across a room. Impa, however, has a super power which is best described as “plot evasion”. All that shit you have to take head on; yeah, she just slips past all of that. It’s like someone getting on your case for arriving late when you got stopped at every red light, and they ran every red light. Later, you cover Impa and Zelda’s escape, and, while she attempts to express gratitude, she still shows some indignation about the whole thing. Fuck you, Impa. You try going from 3-D puzzle solving right to being neck deep in murder parasites and see if you like being called out for slacking.
Pipit is a fellow student at Link’s school. His mother lives in the same town. If you visit her house, she asks you to clean all the ashes out of it because, even though she can physically do it, she really doesn’t want to, and she’ll pay you for it. Fair enough, but, there’s two things wrong. One, Pipit’s mom pays you with the money Pipit earns doing nightly patrols so that his mother can have food. Seriously, if you found out that the money, which you earned from doing a dangerous job and were giving to someone else so they could eat was instead being wasted on daily tanning bed sessions, you’d get pissed. Guaranteed. On top of that, she asks you to lie to Pipit so he doesn’t find out she’s doing it. That’s fucked up. Second (yes, there’s more), she’s a dirty woman. If you clean her house in the day, then go to sleep in the bed in the house until night (You can go into anyone’s house in the game and just sleep in their beds. It totally flies in the face of the 3rd Amendment.), you will wake up in a once again filthy house. What the fuck is she doing all day that turns the place into a giant ashtray? Does she spend her days smoking a carton of cigarettes while worrying about her son out on patrol? I have a way to fix that; STOP GIVING AWAY THE MONEY HE’S MAKING, AND CLEAN YOUR OWN GODDAMN HOUSE! HE WON’T HAVE TO FUCKING RISK HIS LIFE ANYMORE! STOP THE PROBLEM AT THE ROOT, YOU DITZY FUCK!
When you meet her the first time, she’s bathing in a tub that’s one-quarter the size she is. That alone can turn anyone into a bitch, but it gets worse. To prove your worth as “the hero of the goddess,” she sends you to get special water from a special, monster-choked spring to make her feel better because she can’t feel truly clean unless she bathes in Evian. That doesn’t make you a hero; that makes you a water boy… excuse me, team equipment manager. Later, she finds out there are evil creatures in her forest. To fix this, she floods the whole goddamn forest. She goes totally Noah on the motherfucker. Then, to get the forest un-flooded AND to prove your worth as the hero of the goddess again, you have to catch about 100 tadpoles she just throws into the water. Apparently, to water dragons, hero of the goddess means “Fetch Monkey Man, able to do a million stupid fetch quests and not get pissed.” Link doesn’t get pissed, but I fucking did. Screw those tadpoles.
And, now, the moment that you didn’t “TL;DR” for…
THE NUMBER 1 QUEEN BITCH OF SKYWARD SWORD
BITCH HATES JON SNOW BECAUSE SHE’S A JEALOUS TRICK. BLAMES THE ONLY MIDGET IN THE WORLD ON THE CRIPPLING OF ONE OF HER YOUNGEST SONS. KIDNAPS THAT MIDGET TO STAND TRIAL FOR CRIPPLING HER SON, DOING SO WITHOUT THINKING AND HELPING TO START A GIGANTIC FUCK-ALL WAR WHICH WILL END HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF LIVES. DOES NOTHING TO DEAL WITH HER CLEARLY LUNATIC SISTER AND PSYCHOLOGICALLY AND PHYSICALLY CRIPPLED NEPHEW. GETS HER HUSBAND KILLED AS PART OF THE FUCK-ALL WAR THAT SHE STARTED. TRIES TO GET HER ELDEST SON TO STOP THE FUCK-ALL WAR SHE STARTED SO THAT HE DOESN’T DIE IN THE FUCK-ALL WAR SHE STARTED BEFORE HE GETS A CHANCE TO KISS A GIRL. TO HELL WITH YOU, CATELYN STARK; I HOPE YOU DIE SHITTING BLOOD.
Now… you may be wondering, “Jay, why, in a review of Skyward Sword, are you naming a character as the ‘Top Queen Bitch’ of the game when she has absolutely nothing to do with the story and is, in fact, one of the main characters of another, completely different work of fiction, namely the book series “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R. R. Martin?” Well, Thoughtful Introspective Voice in my Head, it is very simple. Catelyn Stark is the Queen Bitch of the Universe; the Universe includes The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, so, by application, she is also the Queen Bitch of the game as well. She is also the Queen Bitch… of everything. Queen Bitch of Dune, Queen Bitch of the Justice League of America, Queen Bitch of Mr. Potato Head. All of it. ALL… OF… IT…
(I want to stress that the actress who plays Catelyn Stark in the series, Michelle Fairley, is not a queen bitch and is, from all evidence presented, a wonderful woman and capable actress. Don’t let this long setup joke to punchline be construed as an attack on her. Also, go to hell Catelyn Stark.
Be good, stay well.
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