Xmas Eve ’06

Wow, this time last year there was not really a Christmas to speak of. We had no lighted tree in the living room, garnished with colored balls and ornaments. Presents were few and far between after spending the previous few weeks playing daddy to a newborn son and my wife while having the entire month of December off to help out around the hours. Now, some 12 months later many things have changed. Our son is one, we have a tree and we also have a new job.

Christmas Eve ’06 was very low keyed and laid back. It was just my wife’s family, her dad’s side who came over for spaghetti dinner. The wife is STILL on me about opening “a” present tonight. Not going to happen. She actually brought one of mine over to me and then she preceded to open my gift that she wrapped for me. LOL…at least we completed our Seinfeld DVD collection.

I was able to flip back and forth today, watching a little bit of football. My Chargers continue to roll, even when their QB is not having a stellar week. An amazing run and yet another wonderful present for the holidays. A Charger victory. Can you tell I am easily satisfied?

More family things tomorrow afternoon. I am sure the wife will be up EARLY wanting to open presents. The past few weeks, I kept saying, “I am running errands and will be home a bit late.” You know to “buy” presents for her, or so she thought. Let’s just say she is well taken care of this Christmas. Okay, so she is not getting another child, which is like the ultimate present, but she will love the gifts she got. And on the off chance she doesn’t, then we return or exchange. No feelings are hurt.

So to all my friends, enjoy your Christmas Eve, remember to put out the milk and cookies for the little, fat man in the red suit…

A Monster Experience

About a month ago I picked up some tickets off the Internet for the San Diego Chargers v San Francisco 49’ers game at Candlestick Park (for you NoCal homers, Monster Park). This was the first NFL game I had attended since I gave up my season Chargers tickets back in the mid-1990’s when I moved to Los Angeles. After the Chargers starting off 3-1 having what looks to be a promising season I was excited to attend the game. I had never been to Candlestick and did not know what to expect with the tickets.

I had offered my former manager in Los Angeles the opportunity to attend the game with me, but the situation and timing being what it is, he was not able to attend that Thursday before the 1:15pm kickoff on Sunday. I had a fallback plan (just incase) if he was not able to go and ended up taking my wife’s best friend’s husband.

We left at 10:00am from his house and planned on about a 2 hour drive to get across the bay, over the bridge and into the park, which was a friggin arm and a leg at $25! We had a few beers listened to a few games on the radio, tossed the football around and then decided to go in. We were rather early, as traffic was nearly non-existant when we got the off ramp. Very surprising considering the lack of entrances to the facility. Nonetheless we had some time to kill…kill off some beers.

The stadium is one of those older, “cookie cutter” type stadiums that was meant for baseball but adapted to football. Damn near any ticket in the stadium was a good ticket. Until some of the newer stadium’s, this place only had two levels, a lower and an upper level. Our seats were located on the upper level, 2 rows up from the edge of the railing in the “box section.” Great seats too! We were on the Chargers side of the field, just above the exit to their locker room, that gave us a great vantage point of everything.

The game…pfft…blowout for the good guys! The crowd around us were great, as there were Charger fans through out the stadium sporting their baby blue jerseys with names like ‘Merriman’, ‘Tomlinson’ and ‘Gates.’ The 49’er fans were quite enthusiastic through the first quarter of football, but seemed to quiet down as the ass whooping began. I did not get overly rude, in fact I don’t think I was ever rude. I did get excited when the Chargers scored and scored and scored. But anyone would do that for their team, right?

All in all we had a great experience at the game. We decided to beat traffic, which would have been a real bitch to sit in considering the exits were worse than the entrances and travel would have taken us and all the other fans departing the stadium on side and city streets. So about 6:00 minutes remaining in the third quarter and we started walking out. Great beer. A great friend and great football. Made for a solid NFL weekend. I would definitely do it again.

Fútbol or Football

Okay, so the US is a bit backwards when it comes to football, the American version and the international version. Those in the states usually refer to it as soccer and not football, fútbol or “footie.”

This past weekend was the opening weekend for the NFL and while I am a big fan of the NFL and fantasy football, I could just not get into the swing of the games on Sunday. Then again, there were some horrible games on television, maybe that is why. So instead of flipping channels during the early games and settling in for the afternoon affair I tuned the NFL out and the Premiership in!

The what you ask? The EPL. The Premiership, the top league over in England, along with catching two Italian matches. Now I can see many rolling their eyes and saying boring, but it was much more exciting that any of the three NFL games I had to choose from. Sure the scores were rather low scoring, 1-0, 1-1, 2-1, but it was a much more enjoyable product on the field, or in footie terms, the pitch, than was watching the NFL.

Maybe this is where fantasy football as gone, as I don’t care so much about watching the games any longer than I do about my fantasy players performing well enough to score big points. Of course I will also root and cheer for my San Diego Chargers, who in fact, kicked the shit out of “Raidernation!” One nation, my ass! And you Bay Area myopics thought Aaron Brooks was the answer to all your prayers. LOL!

I guess I have the recent FIFA World Cup to thank for the sudden infusion of footie in my life and the fact that Italy, my favorite football nation won the cup. As a kid I played the game, through high school and two years in college. But once out of college, I did not play again, but the love for the game is still there and stronger than ever. So while the NFL is in my blood, the love of the game lies watching footie.

Point Blank Review: Madden’07 (First Thoughts)

In days on by I have written on the subject of the XBox 360 I own. The articles, XBusted 360 and Xbusted 360: Part Deux talk about the trials and tribulations I have had since purchasing my console back in April. I am still not as satisfied as I was with the original Xbox console. I continue to knock off the feeling because of the lack of QUALITY games that have been created for it. I was excited when I purchased Rockstar’s Table Tennis. Since that time I have spent most of the time playing FIFA World Cup 2006.

Since I first purchased Madden, years ago, I believe on my Sega Genesis, I have been excited to play the best football game around. In more recent years Madden, actually EA Sports have cornered the football market, since they are the only one who holds a license with the NFLPA and the NFL. I played 2006 for hours on end, season after season, kicking the living hell out of the computer, since I was on a modified XBox and not able to play using Live! online.

I pre-ordered EA Sports Madden ’07 last month from EB Games. I have never been a big fan of using these “boutique stores” because you could usually wait and find the game $10 cheaper in a few weeks. But Madden is different. It’s more than a game, it’s damn near a way of life when it comes to football on a console. I mean they even made up the word, Maddenoliday!

After putting my $10 preorder down, I waited patiently today for about 25 minutes in line to get my grubby, little hands on the Hall of Fame Edition of Madden ’07 for the 360. This is just another way of EA “sticking it to the man” and putting some extras on a second DVD, along with a few other features that are not included in the other version. I went in without any preconceived notions. I did not read any reviews or check out any demos of the game prior to release. I figured past experience with Madden spoke volumes, so I was anticipating this game to exceed any I had played to date on the 360.

*sigh* Well, my first impressions are not as stellar as I thought they would be. Graphically it’s amazing looking! The players, the stadiums, the animations, moves, you name it the XBox 360 cannot be beat. But the playability seemed to lack just a bit. I have heard this before with other Madden ’06 for the 360, which was one reason I did not upgrade and buy for the 360 when I owned it for the Xbox. The game seemed to play better on the “now-gen” console as opposed to the “next-gen” system. Maybe Sony was right to hold off bringing out the PS3 a year.

I played a total of three games today, all of which I won playing as my hometown team, the San Diego Chargers. I whacked the hated Raiders, as LT when off from the first quarter. I then started a new season, as the Chargers, playing two pre-seasons game. After rolling the Packers behind Antonio Gates, who does not seem to drop a ball, we took on the Bears. Well, after the first quarter it was 35-7 and I committed 3 turnovers, two of which were intercepted by the same lineman and two passes of more than 70 yards for touchdowns on two drives. I did end up winning the game, 52-42 in the end.

So I am not as impressed with ’07 based on three games. One of the new features allows you to control a blocker, be it a fullback or lineman. That feature is damn cool. You can lead your running back through the hole and then switch and take control of him. It takes some work to do it well in order to be effective. The dreaded passing cone is gone, which is good. But there are many small things I noticed that had that pet peeve sort of feeling to it.

I will continue to put time in playing Madden ’07 and probably enjoy it more than any previous game I own. But I can’t say this new Madden is better than Madden ’06. I did not have time to test the other features of the game, which I plan on doing as soon as I have time to play more.

What I do wish we would see would be the NFL and NFLPA selling another license to another company in order to push EA Sports to make a BETTER football game. Right now, as the most successful football franchise ever, the developers might have gone a bit stale, outside of eye popping graphics for the XBox 360. Stay tuned for part two of Maddenoliday.

Winter Weather

I know my buddy, Chad talked about the lack of snow in Phoenix for the holidays over on Pongibisms. In California if there is any adverse weather it makes headlines and usually leads all newscasts. Sort of funny to see. Some bozo with a winter coat on, up in the mountains and the snow is falling, or a newscaster out at the airport to see how rain is effecting air travel?

Now correct me if I am wrong, rain is not a hurricane. It is not a snow storm, not extremely high desert heat temperatures, like Chad has year around in Phoenix. No, it is some precipitation falling to earth, yeah sure, sometimes it comes down in buckets or for an extended period of time. But my god! Is it a slow news day or what? Cable news outlets are not as bad, but you can still point the finger at them as well.

So it was rainy the past 3 days here in NoCal. Of course this was my parents time to come out and visit and the weather goes to crap. Guess that is Murphy’s Law in action for you. My mother was pointing out the fact that is “was cold.” Let me rephrase that statement ma, “it’s chilly for Northern California.” For the rest of the country who does not live in “America’s Finest City” (that’s San Diego for all you geographically challenged) it was about 40 degrees, rainy (with scattered thunderstorms) and windy. In all honesty it was the worst weather I had seen all year, but that not does compare to other weather I have been subject to.

Oh, and I must give props to the San Diego Chargers for manhandling the UNDEFEATED Indianapolis Colts, 26-17. I did not think the game would be televised here in NoCal, and damned if I was locked in to provide commentary for some online games, and was being given periodical updates online (Thanks Greg). I am still flying high from that victory, but it’s still a tough remaining schedule.Lastly, I need to send Chad (aka Blankz) best birthday wishes as he turned 32 years old. Happy Birthday buddy! You should see the stripper sometime this week.