Saturday, January 31, 2015

Big Game, Big Story

Humans, we love our stories. It is something about us, our desire to make connections, to seek out links, to explain, that fuels a need to create narratives. It may be what defines us as humans. Something cannot simply exist. Events cannot simply occur. Things must have a reason. Actions must occupy a continuity. The world must have meaning over and above the obvious.

So, this weekend, there's a big football game. The champions of one group of teams (The Seattle Seahawks) will meet the champions of the other group of teams (The New England Patriots) in a head-to-head match up for all the marbles and bragging rights and rings and bonuses. And there will be music and fireworks and fans painting themselves and expensive commercials that you've probably already seen on YouTube and, I dunno, dancing bears.

And there will be stories.

In the two-week gap between determining the combatants and the game, something needs to fill time, and that becomes the narrative. Who are the white hats? Who are the black hats? Who are the upstarts? Who are the veterans? What does this say about the teams' home regions? What insights do we gain?

Looking at this year, and several past Super Bowls Seattle was a part of, the general feeling is that the mass media doesn't really get Seattle at all. We're quirky. We're tucked away in the northwest. Too much coffee. Too much rain. Young. Technie. Distracted by our phones. Not serious about our sports.

The first Super Bowl Seattle played in was against Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh's aura as a heavy-lifting steel town predominated (never mind that the biggest industry in medical services these days). The coverage was overwhelming about how the Steelers, who had the right stuff, would dominate the other guys, who would be the Seahawks (The Steelers won, confirming this narrative).

The second Super Bowl Seattle played in had a similar vibe. The opponent was the Broncos, under Payton Manning, and in the weeks leading up to the event, the national media treated it as a coronation of Mr. Manning as the Greatest Player Evah (And he IS real good) and the game as just a confirmation of that obvious fact. Seattle defeated the Broncos soundly in that game, leaving the media without a narrative and scrambling.

So you would think that, this time out, there would be a little more love for the Seahawks? Not so much. Most of the week has concentrated on the scandal of whether the Patriots kept their balls properly inflated. There is some real science about this, but pretty much it has gone in the direction you would expect it - people looking for reasons to say "The Patriots' Balls".

Reporting on the Seattle side? Not so much. The most news we get is about how on of our running backs (who IS real good) won't talk to the sports press, and one of our cornerbacks (who ALSO is real good) talks way too much. Our quarterback comes across as a nice, intense, dedicated. talented youngster, which as a result, apparently, makes for bad interviews and bad television (until he starts scrambling in the open and gives every fan in the stadium a heart attack).

So the story is yet again centered on the other team this year, with some factions fitting them for black hats and others being more charitable (in the manner that one expects charity when you are caught with your hand in the cookie jar up to your elbow) . We have not hit the level where the Patriots are playing for redemption quite yet, because that involves actually admitting there was anything wrong in the first place. And I should be happy from the standpoint that while all the news leans on the Patriot side, the previous Super Bowl champions are cruising along, effective underdogs for the very prize they took home the previous year.

And I don't think anyone has caught that particular narrative. Leading up to this, we kept hearing how teams that win the Super Bowl are not even expected to make the playoffs the next year, yet once Seattle did that, that entire line of thought died away. This is a rarity, but in a landscape scraping for any narrative that doesn't involve "The Patrtiots' Balls", I think the media missed the obvious story of a team of individuals coming together to win games.

I suppose I should be OK with the attention on the Patriots, given that the other big story from the media is that our running back (who, I may have mentioned, is real good) doesn't want to talk to them. And I will be watching the game with friends on Sunday. But I think the media blew it this time with their narrative, Again.

More later,

Thursday, January 22, 2015

PAX South

PAX South, part of the ever-expanding Pax Empire, is this weekend, down in San Antonio. I shan't be there (I wasn't planning of going, and right now I am in the second week of a mindbendingly nasty cold), but a lot of people that I know and like will be there.

Of particular mention would be former ArenaNet colleague Matthew Moore, who will be demoing a new card game called Bring Your Own Book, which combines card play with being well read, as players delve through books to come up with that one perfect line that matches the card. The demos will be part of Pax South Indie Showcase. He said he was going to use a copy of Ghosts of Ascalon for the demo, should he find a copy. That would be cool..

And speaking of ArenaNet, you have probably heard by now that we're going to have a big announcement on Saturday morning, hosted by voice artist Jennifer Hale, who is Queen Jennah in our game, and featuring the equally dulcet tones of Mike O'Brien, our head honcho, and Game Director Colin Johanson. For those who can't make it, the announcement (at 10:30 local time - 11:30 EST and 8;30 ohmighod early west coast time) it will be on a twitch feed. It probably has something to do with this video:

And also for those who can't make it, and are playing Guild Wars 2, we're celebrating the announcement with a weekend of double experience. Well, now I know how I am spending the weekend.

AND, if you don't have Guild Wars 2, we're actually going to make it easy for you. On Saturday and Sunday, we're dropping the price on the digital version of the game to all of $10. Short of me sneaking into your house in the middle of the night and putting it on your drive, that's the best deal you've seen.

But for me? I'm spending it healing up, drinking hot tea, and playing Guild Wars 2. Lots and lots of Guild Wars 2.

More later,

{UPDATE:} And this is what the fuss is all about:

Thursday, January 01, 2015


So, this time of year, we look at New Years Resolutions. But the value of the typical resolution has become so watered down as to become meaningless. The resolution has become the setup of so many disappointing jokes (just check out the comics pages in the paper today - how many of them begin with a character swearing some resolution, and then breaking it before the final panel). In short, the resolution resolves not much of anything.

So I'm going to have intentions instead. Intentions are pretty much what resolutions become. We do not say IT IS RESOLVED that I will go to the gym. Lose ten pounds. Be nicer to my cats. There is no real penalty connected to any of that. Rather, we really mean that we INTEND to go the gym more, or lose ten pounds, or be nicer to the cats, and that the last one only with the proviso that said cats don't call them on the house phone at five in the morning*.

So, intentions.

I intend to read more. I have a big pile of books unbegun and a bigger pile of books unfinished. The latter group is scattered about the house, many of them abiding in a bookcase the Lovely Bride has provided for me to showcase my shame, mental bookmarks in each one where I set it aside, intending to get back to it soon. Real soon.

I intend to write more. I feel I've been coasting. I do a couple essays, stretch myself through a larger project or two, but outside of the day job I've been sleeping a lot and engaged in meaningless timesucks (I am looking at you, Facebook, now buried in a sub-folder of my iPad - Yes, I will still post to you, but not from a portable device). I have a double-handful of pieces in various states of doneness, but sadly they do not look like an artist's character studies, which have a value in themselves, but rather more like the partially disassembled motorcycle you pulled apart in the garage two summers ago with the intention of customizing it. That may mean more honest-to-goodness blogging, a long-form that is quietly dying out there in the newer-than-new media. I've made references to things I mean to get back to, but haven't. Let us see if we can manage them this year.

I intend to watch more. I know this goes against intending to read more, but I really have fallen behind on a lot of stuff I've been meaning to get around to. Most of it is on Netflix - I still use a TV (no video snob, I) , but primarily for events that cool quickly, like sports events. I bailed on "House of Cards" about halfway through the first season, and really want to check out the "Marco Polo". Watching old movies on the TCM app may replace my continual Facebook checking, but I am good with that.

There are more. Take more notes. Improve my memory. Be nicer to my cats. But three will do it for the moment,

More later,

*Oh, all right, let me explain the bit about the cat. We have a pair, who since late summer have been beset by fleas, such that they have taken to perching in areas they have previously avoided. One in particular has taken to nesting on the kitchen counter, next to the phone. Said cat rolled over and hit the button for "find the handsets", which causes those handsets to burble loudly. One of the handsets was on the bedroom bureau. So the cat accidentally called me at five in the morning. She was surprised to find me awake, and since I was just standing there in the kitchen, would I feel her breakfast. No, I was not happy about that.