The Brilliance of Players

I remember when I saw a teaser for Players on Paramount; it became apparent quickly that it was about esports, and shortly afterward, it was evident that it was about League of Legends.  And then the drama about a headcase League player blathering on about how he wants to win something before he retires.

The thing is, based on that alone, I actually thought it was something serious.  It wasn’t until I had already taken the bait and looked up what this show actually was, did I learn that it was a fictional mockumentary, and then I was like ohhhhhhh that explains why anyone would even attempt to talk about being a League of Legends champion, that wasn’t in Korea.

Upon further discovery of the series, and finding out that it was done by the same team that had done the American Vandal mockumentaries, I was sold, because both seasons of that show were brilliant, and colliding two things I enjoyed seemed like a recipe for something I would like.  Even more so when I found out that the format of the series was going to borrow heavily from The Last Dance documentary about the Chicago Bulls, which I also enjoyed immensely.

Needless to say, I was optimistic about the series, and upon finishing it, I think my instincts were pretty good about it.  As a whole, I found Players to be very entertaining, downright hilarious at many points, and having been pretty deep into the League scene at a point in my life, a lot of ohhhhhh moments at reminiscing about the scene in general.

Creamcheese is a brilliant character in the sense that he’s basically every obnoxious stereotype there is about a professional gamer wrapped into a singular package and then have the volume turned up to 11.  He’s no physical specimen, but he acts all hot shit because he plays games at a high level, and is just so unlikeable and obnoxious, but you can’t help but be amused at the avalanche of bullshit he’s just always selling.

The show makes no effort to hide the fact that they are speaking to a very niche audience, primarily League players past and present themselves.  But everyone I’ve pitched the show to, who aren’t even or never weren’t League players who gave it a shot, all seemed to enjoy the show all the same, just because it’s just that well executed.

But the show digs deep with all the references that only really long-time League players would understand, and it really doesn’t shy away from a lot of the behavioral tendencies that have emerged from internet culture and the League scene, from memes, the way that the internet piles on, latches onto jokes and references that become unforgettable no matter how much you try, etc.

But one of the most brilliant things about the show is that it’s not officially sponsored by Riot Games themselves, the developers of the game.  But their involvement in the show is unmistakable, considering almost all of the casters and commentators of the professional scene are all willing participants in the show, reprising their handles and identities.  Regardless, in doing such, Riot kind of takes a lot of the steam behind most criticisms about the game, the scene, the culture, effectively out of the equation based on their general involvement, regardless of how palpable or not.

By owning a lot of the jokes and criticisms, in the show, it takes a lot of the power away from those flinging the stones on the internet, and they’re basically controlling their own narrative of how the League scene really is, by participating in the show and letting it happen the way it does.

But all in all, it’s just a well-executed show.  It’s endlessly entertaining the way utilizes flashbacks in the exact same manner that The Last Dance does, but instead of talking about Michael Jordan and basketball, it’s talking about a bunch of video game geeks and a video game known for its ridiculous fanbase.  But it does so with a tone and seriousness that of a real documentary, and as a whole package, it’s just such an easy show to be snickering and laughing along with.

It almost makes me miss playing the game, and being a part of the scene, but with two kids in the picture, ain’t nobody got any time for any more League these days, so good on Players for coming into existence and helping me remember the good times, and all the time I’m not blowing playing game after game of ARAM.

Oh, Georgia #354

/stevecarrellwinceface.gif – Cobb County elementary school unveils new logos, immediately likened to Nazi symbolism, results predictable

Seeing as how mythical wife is an educator, I’ve become more familiar and cognizant of many schools in the Metro Atlanta area by osmosis, and I actually know of this particular school in question.  East Side Elementary is right off of GA-120 which is a pretty major thoroughfare, and I pass by it regularly, despite not knowing what the name of said school was until I read about where it was located.

But man, talk about a major, major, major fuck-up from this rebranding.  Whatever designer(s) they utilized to come up with this inflammatory design really needs to be scrutinized from a character standpoint, because either they’re some deep-repressed bigots, bigots that think they can pull the wool over the public, trolls who thought it would be a real gas to sneak in Nazi symbolism, or a little bit of all of the above.  However, seeing as how it was still government work, it can probably be safely assumed that the degree of creativity wasn’t particularly high.

When mythical wife showed me these logos, I immediately recognized the red flag, because when I was a wee lad, I played a lot of Wolfenstein on my 486, because it was about the only game it could handle, and Nazi eagles were all over the place.  Imagine my mortified and amused surprise to see something so close to Nazi symbolism, being used to represent an elementary school.

The best part about the trio of logos that they moved forward with, the only element that remained consistent between them all, was the Nazi eagle in the middle of it.  Complete with a monogram that replaces one of the S’s in SS with an E, to suddenly stand for East Side.  Like they were very insistent that of all the elements to be concrete, it had to be the Nazi eagle.  Font, shape, dynamic, all flexible, but nah dog, we GOT to keep that Nazi eagle intact.

To add insult to this embarrassingly ironic design faux pas is the fact that East Side elementary is literally next door to a synagogue.  Like very literally; not down the street literally, or catty corner literally; the school parking lot, if you go straight out of it, you will run right into a synagogue literally. 

Furthermore, this is about one of the whitest parts of East Cobb there is, and that’s saying something considering just how white East Cobb already is.  The neighborhood has “country club” in the name and is flanked by a golf course, and I’ve driven through and picked up cheap/free shit that rich white people were peddling on Facebook marketplace, so I’ve seen first-hand how elevated white it is compared to the rest of the town.

None of it helps feed the narrative of a lily-white community being so dense and ignorant as to not notice their neighborhood elementary school adopting Nazi imagery to be a part of their logo.  In the end, I don’t think the school or community is really that Nazi, so much as the person(s) who developed these logos, probably have some explaining to do.  But what’s done is done, and the internet never forgets, so it’ll be etched in stone that there was a school in Cobb County that was almost branded with Nazi eagles.  hashtagGeorgia hashtag’Murica

Ken Masters, Street Fighter canon and divorce in fiction

A while back, I remember making a post about how Ken Masters in Street Fighter V was clearly on the back half of his prime, and was at the stage in his life where he was wearing compression shirts to help hide his deteriorating physique, a natural occurrence with the passage of time.  And as much of a Ken main that I’ve been in my own experience playing Street Fighter games throughout my life, it was an awkward but still mostly a yeah ok whatever thing, because it was still a fictional character in a video game.  But it didn’t change the perception for me that Ken was being slightly disrespected in the grand spectrum of the franchise’s history.

Many years later, no real thought given, but with the impending release of Street Fighter 6 (and it’s shitty logo), some gameplay footage has apparently been leaked, and among it, some visuals of what Ken Masters is up to in SF6.  Long story short, the once famous and handsome and suave and cool US champion of some title of fighting, in SF6, has become a shell of his former self.  His wife has left him and taken their child, and supposedly the story of Ken is that he’s on the pursuit of trying to be just like Ryu, which is the best fighter on the planet.

But apparently he also has decided to be a homeless man just like Ryu, and has apparently hit bottom in terms of appearance and attire, which is kind of hilarious because now he’s basically turned into the Mark of the Garou rendition of Terry Bogard, which may or may not be a deliberate dig at SNK, that hobo Ken Masters is basically the greatest SNK fighting game protagonist of the 90’s.

And that’s about as far as we’re going to go with analyzing the storyline because when the day is over I really don’t give two more shits as much as this is just something that piqued my interest and inspired some words to manifest onto a post.  But my reactions to this character development are:

  • Ken Masters has decided to become a homeless bum just like Ryu; in the name of trying to be the best fighter in the world, but still homeless all the same.
  • Eliza, his ex-wife, is apparently the sister to Guile which is completely new information to me, and makes me wonder just when the hell this was written into the series canon, because the two characters have had basically no unique interaction throughout the first ten years of the series since Guile debuted in SF2.
  • Street Fighter canon writing has apparently gotten really dark, and not in the sense that people are dying and bad guys are succeeding at taking over the world, but its characters are being dealt some too real and life-fucking circumstances like divorce and separation from children

Obviously, I’ve been living in a bubble under a rock over the last few years, so series canon has passed me like a bullet train, but I get the impression that SF lore is kind of starting to get as wild and written on the fly as Mortal Kombat lore is.  Maybe not so outlandish to where they’re retconning all sorts of joke characters as core characters or merging franchises in order to boost their character counts, but when you’re going as far as to deliberately deconstruct characters like having Ken go through a divorce and becoming a hobo, that’s some pretty wild development.

Then my train of thought departed from solely Street Fighter, but just on the thought of why it seems like divorces and other breakups seem to keep happening to fictional properties.  I chatted it out with a group chat of confidants and realized that I was answering my own question, but it doesn’t make it any less sad to those of us in a generation or minded like one as mine is, to see these fictional breakups.

Peter Parker and Mary Jane.  Homer and Marge Simpson.  Kermit and Miss Piggy.  Ken and Eliza Masters.  All these fictional couples had loving, lasting, strong relationships, but as time has progressed, the world becoming more cynical, people needing reassurance that they can be related to and aren’t alone, even these are not safe from being dismantled in order to, try and be an ally.

Because that’s really what it seems to be all about, showing the watching world, that anyone and everyone is capable of break-ups and divorces, and for those children of parents who go through it, that they are not alone.

I understand that it is important to be allies, but damn it, I’m seeing iconic relationships of my childhood being systematically dismantled in order to hitch their carts to helping, and it’s no less sad, even if there are important lessons to be taught and imparted by doing such.  It’s exasperating and depressing all the same.

Fiction is where people come to escape how shitty the real world actually is, but apparently even fiction is not safe from the heavy hands of reality, to where it has to be altered and mutated into content that can help people who just wanted to get away from it in the first place.

WTF is Capcom thinking with Street Fighter 6’s logo?

When I started seeing people posting about the recent Street Fighter 6 teaser, the very first thing I thought was that it was a fake and/or a joke, because there’s no way that this was going to be the logo for one of the most iconic franchises in video game history.

Ohhh, but it turned out that it really is.

Honestly, I couldn’t give two shits about the game itself, I’ve been so long out of video games in general, much less Street Fighter, that there’s a very high probability that I’ll never even play it in my lifetime.  I never played SFV once, and I only played SFIV a handful of times before I got pissed about there being a quick released SFIV champion hyper turbo or whatever new edition that made my version obsolete, so I never played it again.

But that doesn’t change the fact that I can’t sit on my pedestal and judge logos.  And SF6’s logo is fuckin’ godawful, and it really makes me wonder just what the fuck Capcom is thinking when they phoned it in and “designed’ this shitty piece of clipart and decided it to let it represent the franchise that basically made them who they are today.

I couldn’t even get home from work to point out how turrible the logo is before other sites had already sunken their teeth into the same observation, and a few have already gone as far as to call out the obvious low-effort low-key plagiarism Capcom has done in creating this “logo” that basically says all the same things that I would say.

Seriously though, this isn’t just another case of resisting change for the sake of resisting it.  Street Fighter’s general wordmark has been recognizable and iconic throughout every iteration of the series, and there are common elements and a color palette that continuously make it work no matter the number of sequels they put out.  The gritty, violent-looking delivery of brush strokes to create the words, to the signature yellow-to-orange gradient palettes used in every iteration up to SFV.

And then SF6 phones it in with this lame rip off of some Adobe clipart, and then typing out “Street Fighter” in a jersey typeface that appears to have been modified slightly so they don’t get sued to oblivion by the original font creator.  It’s a sad and insulting edition to an iconic franchise that doesn’t look like it’s real, but it is.

I know I already said that the likelihood of me ever playing SF6 isn’t very high, but I most certainly judge books by their covers, and seeing what is becoming of Street Fighter from the logo alone, would probably give me pause to give it a whirl, even if I were still avidly gaming.

How the transfer portal can break college football

Over the weekend, my father-in-law was giddy with excitement over the news of Oklahoma quarterback, Spencer Rattler, transferring to South Carolina, via the seemingly most common words at the end of every college football season, the transfer portal.

Firstly, I can’t not hear that phrase and not imagine that the transfer portal is portal stage from Mortal Kombat II, where college ballplayers all show up and mingle around, with hopes that they’ll land at another school where they can either play for a contender, start, or go anywhere where they can hedge their bets and put up gaudy numbers in preparation for a future NFL draft.

Secondly, when the transfer portal really began becoming a thing within the last 4-5 years, I actually hated the idea of it.  It basically turned into the equivalent of free agency for college athletes, and further fed the narrative that these athletic ringers all give no shits about education at all, if it already wasn’t clear enough but purists and romantics like me can hope.

But it really began picking up steam when the most notable cases were players who were just seemingly looking to gravy train their way to powerhouse programs, and were just kind of this rich getting richer circle jerk among notable contending teams.  But then it seemed like every Tom, Dick and Harry players were jumping into the portal to try to land somewhere else, regardless of if it made sense or not.

Like Justin Fields who went from Georgia to Ohio State; that made sense.  Fields was blocked by Jake Fromm, and he was a phenomenal talent that needed to go somewhere where he could flourish.  Jalen Hurts and Kelly Bryant transferring out of Alabama and Clemson respectively made sense, since both of their schools had benched them for the hot new freshmen.  But then you have cases like Josh Jackson, who was mediocre at best, transferring from Virginia Tech to go to Maryland where he vanished into obscurity.

The point is, commitments from players have all but become meaningless in the grand spectrum of college ball, because over the last few years, there’s been little reason why anyone would stay anywhere for more than two years, for any reason.  As far as I was concerned, the transfer portal wasn’t really something that was healthy for the game, in general.

All the same, with Rattler joining the Gamecocks, it does open the door for some intriguing storylines next season.  I haven’t really paid any attention to any sports over the last year or so, but from what I can interpret, a large part of him choosing South Carolina had much to do with Shane Beamer, a former coach at Oklahoma, being there, and him wanting to play for him again.

Continue reading “How the transfer portal can break college football”

That’s an NBA Jam score

Well, that’s one way to gain some retribution: Memphis Grizzlies blow out the Oklahoma City Thunder by an NBA historic high margin of 73 points

Back in 2018, the Grizzlies got blown out by the Charlotte Hornets by 61 points.  Now I’m too lazy to check, but I’m sure that that 61-point margin was the all-time biggest blowout in league history.

No better way to rectify being on the losing end of the worst blowout in history, than being on the winning end of the score that breaks it, and when the Grizz put up 152 points, while holding the Thunder to 79 (which was ironically what the Grizz scored in 2018), I think most people not me, will have forgotten about that woeful night in 2018.

Seriously though, 152 points?  That’s never going to not be incredible for me, who grew up in the 90s as a Pat Riley Knicks fan who’s teams routinely scored 88 points a game, while holding opponents to, well 79.  I know the NBA has tweaked rules throughout the years to boost offense, and players have learned how to ignore defense through the passage of time, but 152 points will never not look crazy to me, no matter what.

2 Under 2: Sleep training, the sequel (#073)

Looking back at the journey of raising #1, I would have to say that the hardest part would had to have been the teething.  When she started cutting teeth, and the pain and misery sat in, there was pretty much nothing that anyone could to do alleviate it, leading to a helpless failure of a feeling as parents that we can’t take the pain away, no matter how much we want to.

Although we haven’t gotten to the teething stage with #2 yet, I think it would be a safe bet in a few months that I’ll still be in agreement that the whole sleeping thing, is probably going to remain the worst thing about the growth of #2.

Since the literal very beginning, sleep has been a challenge from day one, where upon arrival, her circadian rhythm was all jacked up, where night was her peak awake time, and the daytime was when she would conk out.  Much like her mother, #2 has demonstrated being a light sleeper, that has had a hard time staying asleep once down, and as I’ve written about in the past, every single nap is like going to the shores of Normandy, they’re that much of aggravating battles.

It’s like putting her head down in her bassinet is like plugging a Game Genie directly into her, with infinite stamina codes programmed into them, because no matter how tired, groggy, or even asleep she is when being held or laying in a lap, the second she’s put in her bassinet, her energy bar fills right back up, she’s not only not sleeping, she’s on the fast track to screaming bloody murder.

One night, she literally screamed and cried for nearly two straight hours before mercifully seemingly tiring herself out to sleep, but of course she still woke up like 27 times in the middle of the night and required physical intervention in order to go back down for another 30 seconds before repeating itself again and again.

Another night, she would fuss and require pacification to fade back out, and no less than five minutes afterward, the process would start over again.  I’m fairly certain I got maybe an hour of sleep that night.

We’ve begun sleep training, which is basically to establish a routine that we’ll try to adhere to as carbon copy as possible every single night, with the hopes that she herself will begin to associate the routine with sleeping at a generally set time, and if all goes well, sleeping for more consistent stretches or windows, that can hopefully provide some chunks of downtime for mythical wife and I to feel like human beings again.  Because it’s for this reason alone that we don’t have any semblance of lives right now until she learns to get her shit together, and there are sometimes some days where I feel like I just can’t take it anymore, and in spite of my determination to not cave into the frustration, I just get owned.