The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

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You ever seen these things?

You know what I mean — the jars for dried herbs and spices that have the lid with the "shaker" opening and the "pour" opening. These things. Ever think you’re opening the shaker end when you’re not?

All I’m saying is this baked pasta dish I’m eating has an awful lot of oregano in it.


March 22nd, 2010 Posted by | Food | no comments

Department of I-Told-You-So

Remember when I was making fun of some old guy for saying the Twins should sign Joe Mauer to a ten-year, $100M extension? Well, it turns out the Twins did manage to extend Mauer, but… not for quite such a paltry contract. They landed him for 8-and-$184M, which is a complete fortune by anybody’s standards. It’s an eight-year contract with an average value of $23 million. This deal is richer than the one Mark Teixeira signed last year, and that was the New York goddamn Yankees. It is, I believe, the second-richest contract in all of baseball (trailing only Alex Rodriguez).

So, you’re right, old guy! That money will be no problem at all for the Twins to come up with.


March 21st, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

The White Sox double-down on ridiculousness

Ozzie’s son Oney works with the White Sox as a video technician. Or at least he did until this morning, when he stomped out in a huff after his bosses told him that maybe he shouldn’t talk shit about the team on Twitter so much.

Oney’s Twitterings were pretty much par for the Guillen course; boneheaded, macho, and incoherent. Some samples:

I guess not all employees are held to same standard. Maybe if I left for 2 weeks then came back I can continue to work

Yeah, pretty much boilerplate spoled asshole whining. Has anybody not worked with somebody who says shit like this? I guess the difference is that Oney put it in writing in public with his name right on it, huh.

I hope the dorks aren’t running the organization or else were fucked. 3 geeks who never played baseball a day in there life telling experts what to do

There/their/they’re training on the way, Oney. Don’t worry! Also, l2apostrophe, amirite? Another thing to consider: your dad played baseball, and nobody in the world has a poorer understanding of the game than he does. Remember when he talked about running into triple plays on purpose, and how stolen bases are better than home runs? Yeah. You better hope the geeks are running the show, because the guy who’s played the game is an idiot.

Do it for OBAMA, he changed a ot of shit

I don’t really know what this one means — there may be some context somewhere, but hell if I know where. It’s just funny to me that the last bastion of Obama fanatics is the Chicago White Sox.

Oh shit we r getting beat. I’m sure someone cares

See, Oney, this is exactly the kind of mouth-running that gets you in trouble. I’d fire you if I were your boss. I mean, I’d fire your dad too, but that’s a different story.

Sox are loosing cause there’s no jones no offense

With spelling skillz like that, you should be playing an MMO.

My dads best dad in world never tweet about him

Never? I’m never allowed to tweet about him? Can I blog about him, though? I need to know that, since blogging about your dad is such fun.

Ozzie, in a rare moment of non-stupidity, left the park without speaking to reporters instead of just blowing the situation up even more, which is what everybody expected him to do. So props to him for that, I guess. But still: like mouthy father, like mouthy son.


March 19th, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

Could the WADA be any more annoying?

I’m really sick of the preachy idiots at the World Anti-Doping Agency. Here they are complaining that MLB isn’t serious about "integrity" because they won’t just jump all established collective bargaining rules and suck blood out of their employees.

We continue to read statements from the MLB commissioner and MLBPA representatives questioning the appropriateness of implementing blood testing in their league. This is nonsense.

Here’s a new opportunity for you, then: now you can read a statement from an internet asshole with no affiliation whatsoever with MLB who also questions the appropriateness of blood testing. I have issues with the idea of my employer sticking needles into my body in an effort to prevent me from sticking needles into my body, and it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that baseball players do, too.

The blunt reality is that a number of doping substances and methods, including HGH, are currently detectable only through blood testing.

Here’s another blunt reality for you to masticate upon: HGH has never been shown to do anything useful for baseball players. Or, really, for anybody at all. At most, its effects appear to be a small increase in overall mass (or a large increase, like acromegaly, at truly heroic dosage).

International scientific experts agree that HGH is found in extremely small quantities in urine and that a potential detection method for this substance in urine is years away. Joint blood and urine testing is the only way to go for sports organizations to ensure that they use proper means to protect the integrity of their sport.

Oh, right. The integrity of the sport. I forgot about that. I guess that high-minded excuse trumps logic, reason, and evidence. Just one question: if we catch somebody using HGH, do we hang him or press him?

Blood sample collection has been conducted for years in many sports around the world without any problem. So why do others still refuse it?

Because it’s invasive, unwarranted bullshit, and it’s being justified due to an overreaction to a non-problem. If that’s really not enough reason for you, well, I just don’t know what else to say.

Well, I mean, I can think of a few other things to say — you know, like about your financial stake in MLB going along with your righteous zeal — but Jeff Passan’s already said it. So I’ll let him have the last word here.


March 19th, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

Best quote ever

I am a good person. No, I’m not a good person. I’m a damn good person. And I’m proud.

That was Ron Washington, manager of the Texas Rangers, discussing his recent positive cocaine test. In the future, that quote will be by me. Often.


March 18th, 2010 Posted by | Bullshit | no comments

Didn't I take a class about this in college?

Raven Software has a dude who calls himself Manveer Heir — and I hesitate to make fun of his grade-A comedy name too much, since the dude seems to get really touchy about really weird imagined insults — who seems to think that there are so few black or hispanic video game designers because there aren’t very many black or hispanic video game characters. It seems to me that that’s probably not the case; isn’t the stereotypical "nerd" either white or asian (a demographic Heir leaves out of his blanket white/black/hispanic world view)? Could it be that the average modern American black or hispanic is just not as interested in fundamentally nerdy things — like, say, video games — as is the white or asian? Is it the case that there are fewer white rappers because so many rap videos have black people in them? Not confident that it is.

Never mind that. I’d like to make fun of him for saying this:

Lack of diversity, specifically race but also gender and sexuality, is across the board with in-game characters. How often do we play as the white space marine? Over and over again. And by doing that we are just telling the same story over and over again. But if we want to start telling new stories we need to start having a diversification of characters that includes their ethnicity, to create more compelling, deeper characters instead of this everyman archetype.

Hey Manveer, there are games other than Doom and Quake and Halo. I’d estimate — conservatively — that I’ve played nine shitloads of games that do not contain a white male space marine. Granted, I’ve also played the shit out of Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War II, which contains tons of white male space marines. Does that cancel them out? How does this crazy theory work?

Also: no, it is not necessary to change your white male space marine into a black female space marine lesbian in order to "tell a new story." More useful on that front would be maybe making a game — for once! — that’s not about fighting orcs or spiders. And no, Bioware, just renaming the orcs "darkspawn" doesn’t count. Neither does putting the spiders in space.

Heir argues that we’ve reached the point where it’s in the game industry’s vital interests to address this situation, not for reasons of social ‘fairness’ but for reasons of economic survival. "It’s not about being fair. It’s about bringing something new to the art," he says.

Raven Software, of course, has a long history of bringing something new to the art of video games. You may remember them as the company whose breakthrough title — Heretic — brought something new to Doom: namely, it added orcs and made it boring. Their followup game, Hexen, was chiefly notable for being a boring version of Quake with orcs in it. But their real masterpiece, Hexen II, was a triumph of originality: Quake II, but with orcs, and also spiders. Oh, and it was boring.

There is a perceived notion that there might be a negative economic impact. There’s an idea that – to take a character almost at random – if Nathan Drake were black or Asian the game would not have sold as well because he is no longer the ‘everyman’. But I think we have to push that and try new things.

No, if Nathan Drake were black or asian the game would have made no goddamn sense. Uncharted was a game about the lineage of a famous British pirate — I don’t think those were available in black or asian versions. The problem wouldn’t be that he’s no longer everyman, it would be that he’s no longer anyman.

Let’s take some more characters at random. Remember Daikatana? The lead character was called Hiro Miyamoto. He wasn’t exactly a white guy, if that didn’t get the point across. He had a sidekick called Superfly Johnson, and I won’t give you even one guess as to whether or not he was white. Final Fantasy 13 contains a magically delicious black guy with a chocobo living in his afro. Here’s a picture of some asshole dressed up as him. As for your idea that developers are afraid to use non-white male characters because it will hurt sales, well… didn’t those Tomb Raider games sell one or two copies?

As artists, we talk abut race all the time. We address the issue through narratives in which aliens or ghouls or other outsiders are portrayed with sympathy. But whenever we want to deal with it as people, we always deal with it in abstract, fantasy worlds.

Well, I mean, you certainly appear to talk about race all the time. I’m not sure "we" do any such thing. I can’t say I worry too much about that fact that, say, Captain Anderson is a black man.

One of my favorite games is Gears of War. Cole Train is a great character. I take no issue with the fact that he is a stereotype and he is over the top. I take issue with the fact that every time I play a game, the black guy is an athlete meat-head, and never gets to wear a tie.

You mean except for Captain Anderson, right? Who, granted, doesn’t wear a tie — since it’s the future and apparently nobody wears ties anymore — but sure is an important political-slash-diplomatic figure. Also what about Eli Vance? He’s like the lead scientist for the entire damn resistance. And his daughter is some crazy black-asian mulatto blend, and she’s just the main damn love interest for the whole series. Also I thought Mayor Mike Haggar was black, but apparently I hallucinated that. So never mind that part. He’s kind of muscley anyhow.

I’m sure many people in the game industry are starting work on new IP. If we can ask people to think about it, then they are more apt to say ‘hey let’s try this’. You just need one game to succeed. The first developer or publisher to do this will enjoy a lot of success. There is a risk, but this isn’t an innovation of game mechanic, it’s not about a new genre, it’s about creating more well-formed characters.

No, dude, it’s about creating different well-formed characters. Ones that appeal more to your own aesthetic sense. Is Commander Shepard not a good character because he’s white, in space, and kind of marine-y? What about GLaDOS? She’s sort of a woman, but mostly she’s a big fucking computer. Does she not count?

Seriously for a minute here. What the fuck are you talking about? The first developer to use a non-white-male character in a lead role will enjoy a lot of success? Dude. That happened a long, long time ago. Goddamn Metroid had a female protagonist. Metroid! From 1986! Not all games are Duke Nukem, and, actually, as of a few months ago, no games are, so you really need to relax the angst a bit. Maybe play a few games. These characters you want? They’re out there. But where they’re not is: in Halo. So branch out a bit, take a breath, and relax.


March 16th, 2010 Posted by | Games | no comments

Saw this on Steam

Major League Baseball® 2010 brings baseball’s most exciting match-up to life: Pitchers vs. Hitters.

I guess I agree. That’s pretty much the most exciting match-up in baseball. I wonder if they make a football game that brings football’s most exciting matchup — offense vs. defense — to life, too.


March 16th, 2010 Posted by | Baseball, Games | no comments

What have we learned today?

Did anything interesting happen at GDC this year? No, not really. Michelle Obama announced a new scheme to coerce developers into making games that will "encourage healthier eating and exercise habits among kids, and educate parents on their childrens’ diets," with hilariously small cash prizes ($40000? Do these fools have any idea how much it costs to make a game these days?). It’s pretty much a bust, except for this chilling quote from Aneesh Chopra, who apparently gets paid to talk about video games at cabinet meetings:

"We’re hoping this might strengthen the [game industry’s] ties with Washington … this might be the beginning of a longer collaboration."

Fuck you, Aneesh Chopra. And while I’m thinking about it, fuck you too, Deepak Chopra. It’s funny watching the government’s rudimentary thought-like processes slowly evolve, though; fifteen years ago, first lady Luciferia Clinton was trying to burn video games at the stake, since they were apparently turning all of our children into battle-hardened super-soldiers. Nowadays we’re going to try to use these powers for niceness instead of evil, and subvert some of the indoctrination box’s evil sorcery to convince our children to eat lots of celery while gunning down their classmates.

In other news, Sid Meier gave a completely wack speech about how surprised he was to discover that many people who play his games aren’t perfect reasoning machines. I guess the problem is the ESRB — they failed to give Civilization 4 the coveted "Mr. Spock Only" rating, and normal stupid people were allowed to play it too. The concept of Sid Meier having no idea that most people just react to things viscerally and don’t think so much really makes me wonder about his own thinkosity.

Also Gabe Newell got his Pioneer Award, and used his speech to talk a bit about the Portal ARG. He was going to show a little multimedia presentation about it, but then it bluescreened on him. Which, as anybody who’s been paying any attention to the ARG immediately knew, was another piece of the puzzle. Here’s the error screen, which has encoded in it the message that the ARG proper will resume at E3.

On the subject of Portal, though it has nothing to do with GDC, GameInformer has an interview up with Chet Faliszek and Erik Wolpaw, which should put the final nail in the weird theory that they’re the same person. It has pictures and everything. I guess there’s a third dude involved too, but he’s Canadian and didn’t write for OMM, so fuck him.


March 13th, 2010 Posted by | Games | no comments

The rising hodge

The hilariously poorly-named Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War 2: Chaos Rising is out. Seriously, this game’s name takes up like two thirds of my Steam games window real estate. And I had to upgrade my video card before I could install it, since my old card didn’t support enough colons.

If you played the original Dawn of War 2, you pretty much know how to play this one. There aren’t any major gameplay changes. Which is okay with me, mind, since Dawn of War 2 was a pretty good time; basically what you have here is a mission pack with meltaguns, and, since the lack of meltaguns was what really held the first game back, well, you’re good to go. For some reason, Relic still hasn’t decoupled the game from the truly awful Games For Windows Live service, but at least they (or Microsoft, or Satan, or somebody) have arranged for it to work properly this time.

The biggest problem with Chaos Rising is that it’s short. I mean, real short. It also doesn’t contain much in the way of side missions — there are twelve main campaign missions, three optional missions, and that’s it. They’re fun, but that’s not a whole lot of content for thirty bucks, even if it did ship with a free copy of Volition’s lousy GTA ripoff, Saints Row 2.

The game’s storyline junk is pretty decent. Entertainingly plotted, at least. The main arc is that there’s a traitor somewhere in your squad, and you need to ferret out who it is. So there’s a bunch of tension and moody music, and you go on missions to gather data and attempt to figure it out. There are just two problems with this. First, there’s a giant ridiculous plot hole involving the traitor doing things that make absolutely no sense at all. Secondly, it’s stupidly, blisteringly obvious the whole time who the traitor is, which kind of sucks a lot of the suspense out of it. But except for those two things, hey!

The game’s a lot harder than the original campaign was, but in a lot of ways I’m not sure it’s harder in a fun way. A lot of the difficulty increase comes from bosses having AOE instant death attacks without any warning, which pretty much just turns the fight into a graveyard zerg. The final boss in particular is annoying like that — he has so much health, and kills so many dudes so quickly that you’ll spend like three fifths of the fight falling back. On the other hand, there’s some new challenge involved via the corruption mechanic, which is pretty fun; certain choices you make can cause your squads to become corrupted by chaos, and they have a sliding track of new traits they pick up as you get more and more corrupt. It’s pretty fun. Usually there will be an easy way to accomplish a mission, but you’ll gain corruption for it; getting through with no corruption is a lot harder, and there will be a still-harder way that awards redemption points. Pretty good design, I’d say.


March 13th, 2010 Posted by | Games | no comments

What

So apparently Jake Peavy held a benefit concert recently, and a whole bunch of baseball mans performed songs there. I’m not even making that up. Deluxe heartthrob Sexy Barry Zito was there providing some drums and backup vocals, but not granting us any new original material. Why not, Barry? Are you afraid I’ll stop calling you if you do? Because I won’t.


March 13th, 2010 Posted by | Baseball, Bullshit | no comments