Friday, February 24, 2006

How Not to Be a Jerk Bag

The fantasy season is upon us, and my first draft of the season is a scant 11 hours away. This is not to say I haven't had an eventful fantasyoff-seasonn. In fact, I've been participating in two active year round leagues (one franchise, one keeper) to keep myself busy on the fantasy front. Nothing helps pass those dreary December months than working your own personal hot stove. Of course, there is one detriment to trading players in fantasy baseball (and in fact, all things) which can inhibit my enjoyment of the American National Fantasy Past Time (as opposed to the French one, which involves Melissa Theuriau). That limitation: some people are jerks.

It seems some people just don't know proper etiquette. What is wrong with kids these days? So, if I may, I'd like to take this time to be your own personal Miss Fantasy Manners. I'll be talking about fantasy baseball here, but most of these will apply pretty universally. So, without further ado: NU50's Guide To Not Being a Douchebag (New FLB Player Edition)

1. Assume your trading partner is at least as smart as you, if not smarter.
This is not to say that every owner is smart. There are plenty of folks out there who have agreed to some pretty awful trades. Whether it's due to fanboyism ("I'll give you Johan Santana to be able to have Tim Wakefield and Mike Timlin pitch for me!!!"), infatuation with "name" players ("Sammy Sosa, he's still a good round 3 pick, right?"), or just plain ignorance ("Jhonny Peralta? What a lame name... sure you can have him for Corey Patterson, what do I care"), stupid trades can and will be agreed to. If you can manage to pull one off incongratulationsll congradulations, you have a bright future in being a ringer in the Special Olympics.

However, it's one thing to have a trade like this fall into your lap. It's entirely another to go out looking for that deal. When you come up to me and offer a deal where I'm giving up one of my stars for 30 cents on the dollar, you are telling me you think I am stupid enough to take it. Most people don't appreciate being considered stupid, myself among them. It's a real quick way to be written off as someone who is impossible to trade with. Which leads right into...

2. Don't burn any bridges.
This goes for both sides of a trade. If you propose a deal, and if for whatever reason the other owner doesn't like it, don't start name calling. Likewise, if you don't like a deal, don't start spouting off. Just because a deal isn't there to be made now doesn't mean you won't find something that works with that owner later. Unless last time you started dropping f-bombs at a trade not working. It might feel pretty good at the time (especially if they are violating point #1), but it can only hurt your team in the long run.

3. Put the effort in.
There are few things more frustrating than trying to deal with someone who just doesn't bother. If someone takes the time to construct a trade offer, at least take the time to respond. If you don't like it, make a counter offer, or at least toss them a couple of sentences explaining why. This goes the other way too, if you are going to ask about a player, think of a couple of deals ahead of time to offer. It is pretty annoying when you are asked for a star player, and then have to do all the work in reading the other team's roster to find a potential match, especially since you were not the one initially looking to trade.

4. Be patient.
It is rare that a deal is made without some back and forth, and every permutation may mean having to read more scouting reports. When you present an idea, give the other owner time to read up and see what the new parameters may involve. This may not always be necessary, as some owners are more "shoot from the hip" GMs, but a real easy way to have someone reject your proposals is to keep pestering them to hurry up.

And there you have a handy guide to not be a tool in only half the steps it takes to make a bland sitcom. Sure, this may not be the most entertaining article I've written (which is saying something), but I consider it a public service. I'm pretty sure I can use this towards credit on my community service for my brief infatuation with Ashlee Simpson. Yeah... I don't know what I was thinking there. I don't dislike her with quite the ferocity of some (her dad on the other hand...), but now I wonder why I ever bothered with her with the likes of Jessica Biel, Kelly Barons and Kari Byron populating the Earth.

**sigh** ...Kari Byron.

If my love for Kari Byron was made of paper clips, you could link them into a chain that would circle the equator six and a half times.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I Will Rock Your Faaaaace!

My posting schedule has never been what one would consider "frequent"... or even "adequate". There are plenty of reasons for this, good ones too. Things like laziness, apathy, lethargy... you get the idea. Understand, this is by no means evidence of any contempt for you, the readers of this site and my many fans (I'm talking about you Joanna, and maybe Ben... and that's probably it). Quite the contrary, if any this is a blog for the people. However, if I have one true weakness it is this: shiny things. What can I say, I am easily distracted. So it's time for me to make the shiny things work for me, and introduce what will hopefully become a new running segment: "Buy Stuff", a look at whatever is captivating my attention these days.

For the first installment of this new feature, we turn to my run away favorite Playstation 2 game of 2005: Guitar Hero.

I've always been a fan of music games, especially ones by developer Harmonix. I have both Frequency and Amplitude and highly recommend both, as well as Mad Maestro, a quickly little game where the gameplay revolves around conducting symphonies. I've also played my fair share of Donkey Konga, but that is another post all together. However, despite a game design centered around the traditional music/rhythm game style (press buttons in sequence that correspond to notes), there is one aspect that makes Guitar Hero really stand out: the guitar controller.

Music games using the traditional game pad have always been fun, but they simply can't hold a candle to putting on the guitar and having at it. Having never actually played a REAL guitar before, the experience is a revelation. It is hard to believe, but the game actually makes you feel like rocking out-- hard. I would be lying if I said that when time I play it I don't have an urge to jump on my couch and start doing the windmill like Pete Townsend of the Who. The only thing that's stopping me is the adverse affect on my score.

The cause of such a euphoric rock feeling isn't just the gameplay (which is rock solid), but the style of the game. You work your way up through venues, from basement party to sold out stadium, and every stop on the way is a vibrant environment to play in. Your character (there are 6 to choose from, from punk rawk chick to 60s groover to heavy metal dude) plays with gusto and will even interact with other members of the band. The crowds are electric... when you are playing well. Of course, screw up and they boo you. The entire production is incredibly fun to experience. Especially when you get to the larger shows and you start getting lights and pyros synched up to your show.

Of course, with a game like this no amount of style or gameplay can save it from having a shitty soundtrack. Worry not, all you need to do is check out this lineup:

  • Audioslave
  • The Ramones
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Cream
  • Pantera
  • Boston
  • Franz Ferdinand
  • Queen
  • David Bowie
  • Queens of the Stone Age
  • Black Sabbath
  • White Zombie
  • Deep Purple
  • Judas Priest
  • Bad Religion

Now mind you, this is by no means a comprehensive list. There are 30 tracks to play, and another 17 bonus tracks after that. The one crucial thing that they needed to get right for this game to work they absolutely nailed.

Of course, there is one added bonus to this game which pushed it absolutely over the top to a game which I consider indispensable: it is more or less based in Boston. Your first venue is a little bar on Landsdowne, then you move up to a newer, larger club on Mass Ave, and work your way all the way to a "Great Woods" like festival and finally a sold out show at the Garden. And if that weren't enough, a lot of the bonus tracks are local bands. If you are a fan of the Boston music scene at all, you absolutely need this game.

Clearly, I have all ready talked too long about this game. It is fantastic. Anyone who has tried it has absolutely loved it, and it's easy enough to learn that even my Mom placed a high score. You are doing yourself, and your country, a disservice by not owning this game. And if you are one of those crybabies who says they don't want it because they don't own a Playstation 2, well suck it up and go buy one. Getting one used won't cost you that much, and you seriously have no idea what you are missing out on. Why are you still reading this? Run to your preferred local places of businesses all ready. This game isn't going to rock itself out.