Thinking Out Loud on Paper

Got the house to myself, for the day, and my mind has a few things on it, but none of them could really fill out an entire blog post, so I’m combining them.

I love the idea of Zac Taylor. It looks like the Rams QB coach need only dot some T’s and cross some I’s and he’ll be the Bengals next head coach. I love the thought of new things for my favorite NFL team. They’ve been stale, for awhile, and an infusion of fresh-thinking is just what the doctor ordered. Some are saying this could revolutionize Andy Dalton. I don’t know about that, but new thinking could change his career. Currently he, and the Bengals, have been the definition of mediocre for years. Just good enough to not be bad enough. The man, himself, Taylor has limited experience, and a checkered resume in the eyes of Cincinnati sports fans, but he’s not Marvin Lewis of Hue Jackson. For that reason, I am really excited for everything that is about to happen at Paul Brown Stadium.

Mid-major basketball is my favorite regular-season college basketball to watch. It’s usually pretty nip and tuck, both teams carry the identity of their coach instead of their star players, and for all but one in their conference, they’re not guaranteed action in March. At time of writing, I am watching the second half of Kent State and Ball State with Seton Hall and Butler waiting in the wings to switch to on commercials. Plus, there’s always that little glimmer of information to gather for bracket picking…that will inevitably lead to me making a dumb upset pick. College basketball rocks.

I really enjoy playing video games, but I’ve met enough people to know that I am not a “gamer.” With that being said, I feel like the culture of video games, for the last decade-and-a-half, really, has leaned heavily on first-person shooters. I think my personal video game taste has undergone that whole periodic taste change, thing, in that I don’t like FPS-style games, any more. I love adventure games, and sports games, but I don’t like FPS. Is that allowed? Maybe I’m moving past video games? This is weird to me, but I just can’t with FPS anymore.

I also hate trying to “correctly” hang jeans, but that’s neither here nor there.

Looking forward to checking out a new place in Middletown next week called the Swire Inn. It’s brand new and it’s a pub. My expectations are a little slice of heaven. Are they too high, probably, but I will most likely blog about my experience, so stay tuned.

Monday Musings

It’s Monday morning (at time of writing) and my mind is in a bit of an entanglement.

Firstly, AJ Green is hurt. The report says “some games” which is about as vague as the chances I give the Bengals of beating the Saints, without him. Apparently, he hurt it in the last game before the bye, whenever he got up grabbing at his toe. Some reports say that, after the game, AJ mentioned stubbing it and he’ll be fine. Then he was seen at PBS in a walking boot. Now they’re saying multiple games will be missed. It doesn’t take much to connect the dots and see that Tyler Boyd will be Andy Dalton’s number one target for the Saints game, the Ravens game, and maybe beyond that. In a league where the slimmest of margins separate wildcard teams from teams who finish 7-9, losing AJ really blurs that line for Cincinnati.

The Reds are being linked to a number of different free agents, and it’s got me excited. Sure, I looked at season tickets and realized peons like me aren’t meant to afford that regality (plus, different ticket apps make it cheaper and easier to go to the games I want, anyway) and the Opening Day tickets available on websites start at $150, right now, as the “market” preys on overenthusiastic instant-gratification junkies. That being said, I’m all in on Redsfest coming at the end of November and will probably type up a few words on it, too. I’d love to meet Dallas Keuchel, or Patrick Corbin, or even Nathan Eovaldi, but we’ll see. The powers that be for the oldest professional base-ball franchise have said they’ll break the bank. But whether it’s a bigger crack in the piggy bank or a full blown shattered oinker, remains to be seen.

I plan on writing more about this next thought, so I’ll be brief, but college basketball is back, baby, and this fool just got cable. Hope my wife is ready to hear lots squeaking sneakers and swishing nets!

UC football is back ranked in the Top-25 with a pair of games against good Florida football teams (USF and UCF). That being said, they get the lesser of two Florida’s at home, this Saturday, in a game I think they have a much better shot at winning than I did in August. Then comes the monster that is UCF. 21-straight wins (maybe 22 by next week) will face off against the Luke Fickell reclamation project. Coach Fick has built the Cats into bonafide football players in just a year and a half, and may be the next name to be plucked from Clifton to a big time job. Nobody, including me, saw the success he’s had this year as possible, and yet here we are. We could be talking about a 10-win Bearcats football side, come December, and that is magnificent.

I’m still on about Bohemian Rhapsody. What a film. Been listening to Queen all weekend.

Also, playing Red Dead 2 any chance I get. It’s so simple and yet so fantastic. Much like many a good Western flick. One of the latest “missions,” or maybe stories is a better term for them, that I completed was one where your character gets drunk, but has to keep his other drunk friend out of trouble, and then run from Johnny-Law. Rockstar just knows how to make an entertaining video game.

Right, well, back to Monday, I suppose.

Cowboys and Video Games

So this is mostly a sports blog for the wonderful city of Cincinnati, but every now and then I dabble in non-sports related topics. Red Dead Redemption 2 is the game of the year, hands down.

I’m no video game expert, I’ll be the first to say. In fact, I’ve realized lately that I’m at the age that, even if I was good at pwning noobs, I’m not sure too many people are lining up to pat me on the back. So I play for the mere enjoyment of the game. I don’t try to beat something quickly, I don’t try to climb the online leaderboards, I just play to have fun. Red Dead Redemption 2 (heretofore referred to as RDR2) is a heck of a lot of fun, and in a mostly laidback way.

Fans of western movies should own it yesterday. The story starts off that you are a badass named Arthur who is a member of this gang that completed a big score at the cost of topping the wanted lists of every law enforcement agency and bounty hunters in the west. In response, they’ve tucked tail and run north, into the Dakotas, and are hiding in some snow covered mountains. Your job, quickly, becomes to help rebuild the gang’s reputation, while also building your own.

Just as in the first game, you can choose to do good, do bad, or be a bit of a neutral. Something that has been added, though, that I love is the system they developed of creating a bond with your horse. The more you bond with your horse, the better it becomes and the more it helps you out.

Another thing that is vastly improved from the first game is the hunting system. There are legendary animals that you have to track, find clues as to where they are, and then, somehow, find a way to kill. When you do manage to kill the legendary animal, or any animal, for that matter, you can then use all of the things you collect from skinning that animal to craft items that improve your gameplay. You still gain food, like in the first, but RDR2 has added something to the gameplay that makes it essential.

In RDR2, you have to remember survival. It’s not like other games where you get into a gun fight, run and hide, and replenish health and stamina. In this game, you must focus on what food, drink, and “tonics” you have on you to replenish the necessary skills to go on. I really enjoy the nuances of this game, and have barely advanced in the story, for focusing on the nuances.

The antagonist of the game is actually group. The easy explanation is: any gang that isn’t your own. It’s not as if you have to do something to antagonize a rival gang member. Your character is already well established within his own gang (as the backstory says Arthur has been in the gang for more than 20 years) so when you just see a rival gang member, they’re already aggressively postured against you. This adds an interesting wrinkle when you explore the vast gameplay area that Rockstar Games created, because you don’t know exactly where you will run into baddies.

I just started playing this game, and will probably write a bit more about it, but I know it’s one of my favorite games, ever, and may rise to the top. I’ll keep you posted.

Call out it’s name…

JUMANJI!!!

Go see Jumanji. If you already have, great! Go see it again.

The first time I saw the preview I thought, “Oh no, here comes another remake that ruins the original.” I truly felt this movie was unnecessary. I was completely wrong.

First off, Kevin Hart and The Rock are officially one of the best duos around. The two of them work together extremely well. Their chemistry is compounded by the way the movie allows them to riff on themselves and each other. Probably the best element of the movie is the stars getting to make light of who they are. The Rock trying to figure out where his hair went, Kevin Hart getting mad about missing the top 2 feet of his body, and Jack Black outright saying “I’m an overweight, middle-aged man,” in an effeminate voice all suck the audience in to loving these characters.

Speaking of Jack Black, he is the MVP of this movie. Pretty much everything he does solicits laughter. He was the best example of why mistaken identity is so funny. From stammering for his phone, to teaching a woman how to flirt, Jack Black played a pretty hilarious woman.

Karen Gillian also turned in a nice performance. This is the third movie I have seen her in, Guardians of the Galaxy I and II being the others, and it is different seeing her being not blue and part android (She played Nebula, Gamora’s sister, in Guardians). She continued to be the shy badass, which is a part that suits her.

I also thought the subtle undertones of poking fun at the inner workings of video games was a nice theme. Despite being actual people, the minor characters who were the NPCs did a very good job of showing that they were limited to only a specific series of responses, which makes the moviegoer feel as if they are in the video game, too. The movie doesn’t just say the characters are in a video game, and then go about it’ business. It pays attention to the little details that will always separate video games from real life, no matter how realistic the graphics get.

There’s also some action and splosions, which are also cool.

Go see it, seriously.