Sunday, March 28, 2010

MVP of the 2010 NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament goes to…

Gus Johnson has always had a huge following.  He always gets love from big time sports media personalities like Bill Simmons and Dan Patrick for his over-the-top hysterics when calling games.  For some, though, his screaming during games, like his call during the classic UCLA-Gonzaga game from 2006, is just too much. 

As much as I enjoyed watching him do play-by-play on games and as classic as that UCLA-Gonzaga call is, I always pondered in the back of my mind whether or not his screaming was really necessary and I wondered if he was actually a good announcer or if being loud was just kind of a gimmick that made him stand out amongst a sea of old boring white guys doing play-by-play.

I don’t wonder about that anymore.

His work during this year’s March Madness tournament has been outstanding.  As an announcer, he probably hasn’t changed at all, but I just think he’s been perfect in the games he has called.  Thursday’s Sweet Sixteen matchup between Xavier and Kansas St. was an epic game, the kind of game that reminds me why I bother watching sports in the first place.  And Gus just has a way of rising to the occasion in a way that no other play-by-play man can.

There’s a fine line between a media personality enhancing a sports presentation and making that presentation more about himself than the game that should be the focus.  It’s a line that Gus has always tip-toed along dangerously but somehow he usually ends up on the right side whether it’s college basketball, NFL games or MMA. I think what matters most is that his call made me just a little more invested in the game and the drama than if anyone else had called it.




For good measure, here’s that “OH GOD!” call from Week 2 of this past NFL season when Brandon Stokley of the Broncos reminds everyone why people practice the tip drill. 

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Roger Ebert, National Treasure


Before the dawn of the internet, when a movie review was a few clicks away on Rotten Tomatoes, there was Siskel and Ebert at the Movies.  The syndicated television show sometimes devolved into the film equivalent of ESPN’s Around the Horn (otherwise known as “Sports Shouting”) but the undeniable chemistry of its two hosts and the program’s thoughtful discussion on film was an irresistible combination, especially on a Saturday afternoon for a kid who didn’t have anything better to do or friends to play with.

In 1999, Gene Siskel would succumb to brain cancer and three years later, his chubby counterpart, Roger Ebert, would undergo the first of numerous surgeries to treat thyroid cancer.  By mid-2006, most of Ebert’s lower jaw had been removed and with it, his ability to speak or eat.

In the following years and continuing through today and hopefully days to come, Roger Ebert resorted to the skill that brought him fame on TV in the first place. 

He wrote. 

Not just about movies, Ebert dove head first into a wide range of subjects: food, politics, his weaknesses, his fondest memories, his personal reflections, he wrote about the things that made him human, a remarkable human being at that.  His Twitter account and his blog have been something to marvel at in the last several years.

I didn’t always agree with his movies reviews, but I appreciated his thoughtful input on why he felt a certain away about a film.  I cringed sometimes at the hootin and hollerin’ that would take place on his TV show, but I appreciated the passion that Ebert and his friend, Siskel, had for cinema.

It wasn’t until a brush with death that Roger Ebert took his writing to another level, in my opinion, by delving into topics beyond the subject with which he was most associated with.  Those familiar with his work before he became a TV star would argue that this is what he had been doing all along, but for those who only knew him as a television personality like me, it was something of a revelation.

If it took a courageous battle with cancer to get him where he is at now, then I am happy that he made it through that journey and that he has been able to share with us the kind of work that he has published online in the last couple years.

I hope that it won’t take a life-threatening illness for me to reach out to others or to touch the lives of people who I don’t even know.  We had a relatively small readership on this blog but it reached further than I ever expected it to.  The coolest kids in the room have all found better spots to  hang out at lately, but for the time being, this remains where I’ll want to publish writing that I’d like others to read. 

As much as I love Ebert and enjoy his writing, he isn’t perfect in my mind and neither am I.  I’m thankful to you guys who posted while I didn’t do shit for this blog and I’m thankful to those of you continuously pleaded for more posts.

What I know is this: if I couldn’t eat, if I couldn’t talk, I’d be here.  I’d be writing.  I’ll either continue to look stupid, or if I’m lucky enough, I’ll be able to put up the kind of work that Ebert and so many other talented writers have published over the years.

[Ebert's Twitter]
[Ebert's blog]

[The Esquire article that intimately portrayed him better than I ever could]

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sexuality, Race, and Gender in Online Gaming????

inspired by a article on IGN about sexuality in gaming

So you just got PWNed by the same guy for the 5th time in a row while playing COD online and let me guess what your go to insult is, "you fuckn faggot!" Oh not quite your slice of pie? Well lets say you hear your opponents voice in your headphones as he scores a touch down on you in Madden, and his voice could be that of a African American male, what do you say then "shut up nigger!" Or your perverted self finds out a girl is playing and you feel the need to tell her how you would fuck her. Any combination can work, insults can range from homophobic, to sexist, to racist in no particular order.

For example: You nigger, go back where you came from hoe get off xuLtImaGaMeRx's dick fuckn faggot! bold words are interchangeable feel free to mix n match for extra douche bag points

OK. Ok. Im not trying to pretend that I'm righteous and never talk shit when playing video games, but I like to think I can come up with more clever insults without being ignorant. It all goes along the lines of political correctness. And before you build your defense or resort to lame arguments like "Aww man but Ray political correctness is gay." or "Dude that's just how I talk." slow your role because your wasting your time if that is all you have to argue. I'm not trying to argue that there is a need to sensor ourselves, but are generation already gets a lot of flack for being desensitized by everything in the media, why build a better case for older generations to be more and more condescending towards us? In other words why contribute to an already negative perception of our Generation.


Many might say it really isn't a big deal and people know not to take it seriously. But kids are in those channels listening to everything we say, which adds to an already growing generation of degenerates and bigots. Not to mention a large community of people who are cowards hiding behind screens and xbox controllers screaming expletives into microphones to people they hope they know they'll never meet in real life. No wonder when real issues come up we sit on our fat asses. And if in your thick head your still saying to yourself its just how I talk and its not like I really think like that, its just video games. What's to stop you from blurting that idiocy in public. Sports for instance are a lot about repetition and in some ways certain things become second nature, for instance throwing a football becomes easier the more you do it. Well than doesn't that mean saying racist, sexist, or homophobic things in the "safe" space of online gaming becomes somewhat of second nature when given the chance in real life? The answer is yes it most definitely does. Whats to stop you from calling a black man who offends you a "fuckn nigger" in real life when you've already in a sense programmed it in your head?

The other issue in online gaming is the issue of safe spaces. Some people may think that we've taken such huge steps in the past 40 years as far as our consciousness as a nation. While this may be true, it doesn't mean we are past hate by any means. On the contrary I think that we grow complaisant because of what our forefathers have achieved and how they have paved the way for us. We like to think that we are all safe in this country, but that isn't quite true. My brown ass would still be scared to walk by some skin head motha fuckas on the street even though we have a black president.


So please lets not get it twisted their aren't any real safe spaces. And gaming is definitely isn't immune to this type of feeling. So clearly the gaming space wouldn't necessarily be any different. I'm sure I am not the only one who would like to play online without being called a chink or a faggot. Online gaming is sort of like a KKK meeting except instead of white sheets to cover your face you've got T.V. screens. Its only a matter of time before hardcore bigotry makes its way into household titles.....



-Just Ray

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2010: First Post.

Totally stealing Kristine's New Years Survey. The Nazer Lagrimas Jr. edition.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
Go out all the time. Like out, out. GDC in March, performing in front of hundreds of audio professionals. Lolitas multiple days in a row thanks to Comic Con. Order hundreds of chicken wings.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Pretty sure I didn't make any, nor will I this year. Oh and side note, I checked our blog for posts this year to get ideas for this survey, and we amassed a grand total of (drum roll) 42 posts! Congrats guys!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yeah

4. Did anyone close to you die? Yup

5. What countries did you visit? USA

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009? Cash, variety, as in more places to go out, explore, drinks to try, food to eat, etc. We had a good rhythm going in '09 but its time to expand.

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory and why? No one day in particular. Birthday time was awesome. November 1st.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Seeing, and knowing, that all of the hard work that I've been putting into my career path has actually been worth it. Watching this music crap become a reality rather than just a chased dream. GDC, owning school, business cards/website, paid gigs, meeting too many industry people to name, etc.

9. What was your biggest failure? Drinking a bit too much in SD resulting in embarrasing (yet hilairous) parental encounters. Losing to Martino in Words With Friends.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Nothing major.

11. What was the best thing you bought? Plane tickets.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Fellow blogger and best bud Lance basket of fries. No one else has the sheer amount of awesomeness (and tolerance for stupidity and filth) to bring in so many people for his birthday. Smoked salmon for days. Tiger Woods.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? The general public after spectacles such as: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Tiger Woods, Kanye West, Adam Lambert, and so so much more.

14. Where did most of your money go? Food and drink. Netflix, Gamefly, and other video game crap.

15. What did you really, really, really get excited about? SF earlier in the year. Coming home.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009? If you know me then you won't be surprised if I say anything by Lady Gaga, I mean TAYLOR SWIFT. Use Somebody as well...possibly.

17. Compared to this time last year are you:
Happier? Hell yeah
Thinner? Same
Richer? Yup, but not by much.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Put in more work (learning stuff for composition, listening to and analyzing more scores, but whateVZ). Play street fighter instead of watching my lame ass buddies play Magic The Gathering.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Worry about things that are out of my hands anyway.

20. How did you spend Christmas? Family. Eat, drink, poker, and listen to my loud ass aunts and uncles scream at random crap.

21. How will you be spending new years? "Get FUKT"

22. Did you fall in love in 2009? Yes., but unfortunately Elizabeth Mitchell is busy 'cuz of work so we can't hang out as much.

23. How many one-night stands? Equal to or less than 24,758

24. What was your favorite TV program? LOST, Mad Men, and Roseanne 2 aka The Big Bang Theory.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? Man, people always say that I keep hating on people all the time.

It's true.

26. What was the best book you read? I'm pretty sure the only book I actually finished this year was the second Sookie Stackhouse novel (the books that True Blood is based on). SO intead I'm going to list my "Best Game Played This Year." Probably Street Fighter 4 in terms of hours put into it. For a "single player interactive storytelling experience," InFamous (PS3). Uncharted 2 is awesome as well.

27. What was your biggest musical discovery? Gretchen Parlato. Diving deeper and familiarizing myself more with the works of A class film composers, Bernard Hermann and Thomas Newman specifically.

28. What did you want and you got? PS3, iPhone, oh I got my TV this year too.

29. What did you want and not get? Honestly I can't really think of anything.

30. What was your favorite film of this year? UP. Hands down the best cinematic experience this year. "How many times did you cry during UP?"

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old did you turn? 22. When I was in SF I celebrated an early birthday with my brother and his girlfriend. We got dinner at this raw bar in SF, soooooo dope. Then in Beantown went with a few buddies to this awesome little restaurant that serves Stone on tap, and the waitress took our entres and most of our drinks off the bill, score.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Unlimited, free air travel.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009? Typical.

34. What kept you sane? Music.

35. Which celebrity did you fancy the most? January Jones.

36. What political issue stirred you the most? Marriage equality.

37. Who did you miss? All my buddies in SD, and mexican food.

38. Who was the best new person you met? Lots of "industry" people.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009: Hard work, perseverence, and dedication can get you a long way. Don't settle, don't sit still, get off your ass and move forward. Aspire, seriously.

40. Quote or Song Lyric that sums up your year: Shot shot shot shot shot shot shot shot shot shot shot shot shot shot shot shot


Thanks for reading.