Saturday, January 3, 2009

Top Entrecard droppers for December

Yes, it's time once again to list the Top 10 Entrecard droppers.

I try to do this every month as I do appreciate consistent visits to The Natural State Hawg and it appears that a heck of a lot of folks have chosen to stop buy here daily. Thanks, folks!

So, without further ado, here are the Top 10 Entrecard droppers for the month of December:

Thanks, folks!

...and that's when I realized I am old

It's sad but true -- I, The Hawg, turn 40-years-old in June.

I've been mad about that since I turned 39-years-old, but the significance of being on the edge of middle age hit me right in the head earlier this week. Here's what happened.

We purchased a copy of Activision's Guitar Hero for our Nintendo Wii for Christmas. My 12-year-old son raves about it. Says it's a great game and a true classic. Yes, he was able to play along with "Rock n' Roll All Nite" by KISS and rock along to a ton of songs.

He said I just had to try it. I did. Guitar Hero sucks. I picked up that nasty copy of a Gibson Les Paul and had absolutely no fun with the game. I barely made it through the tutorial before I realized it was no fun and the actual game is worse.

There are three reasons for this, I think. For one thing, I actually play guitar and I can tell you that fooling around with Guitar Hero is a poor substitute for picking up my Fender Deluxe Stratocaster, plugging into an amplifier and actually banging out a song or two.

And, yes, that's my Strat in the picture. Ah, what a beauty. She originally came with three Fender Tex-Mex pickups, but the one on the bridge was replaced with one of those thin, humbucking pickups so the guitar sounds extra angry when needed.

That's another matter entirely, of course. The point is I might hate Guitar Hero because I almost sometimes kind of know what I'm doing when I have a real guitar in my hands.

Second, it could just be that I'm getting old and still miss the good old days when playing a video game meant hooking an Atari 2600 to a television set and controlling all the action with a joystick and one fire button. That blasted Guitar Hero controller is sophisticated by comparison and I hate the game too much to sit down and mess with it until I get good at it.

No, such things are for kids, I think. My parents really didn't "get" my Atari games and I suppose I don't get a lot of the games my kids enjoy. It's all come full circle, I think.

Third, it could be that Guitar Hero just feels too much like work. Do you know what you call putting out a lot of effort to do something you'd rather not be doing? You call that a job. I've got a job and I have absolutely no interest in doing something that feels like work but provides me with no income (keep those "why are you blogging, then?" comments to yourselves).

Perhaps I can illustrate my final point with a few games I've come up with that should appeal to people who think that Guitar Hero and labor-intensive games like it are actually fun.

1. Bailout! Harrr, matey! You be a pirate on the high seas and your ship has been attacked by those lily livered lackeys hired by the queen. They put a hole in your ship and it's your job to grab a bucket and bail, bail, bail in order to stay afloat. The game comes with an exclusive bucket controller and features a soundtrack full of sea shanties. Avast!

2. TaxStar. Yes, it's tax season once again and you work for H&M Circle, the largest tax accountant in the country. Find those loopholes, record those deductions and get the maximum rebate for your customers. Can you beat out other tax preparers in your office and receive the coveted Employee of the Month trophy? The game comes with a keyboard controller and the latest copy of the tax code.

3. Sisyphus! Remember Sisyphus from Greek mythology? He was the fellow who was condemned for all eternity to push a stone up a hill, only to have the stone roll down the hill so poor Sisyphus could begin his trek once again. In this game, you assume the role of Sisyphus. There's no way to win and the game never changes a bit. Comes with a special rock controller and an incline. Because of the special equipment involved, the game costs $500 but it's well worth it.

4. COBOL Programmer Plus. Yes indeed! Your task is to write COBOL programs of increasing in complexity. After you write a program, you get to compile your code, watch it fail, chase out the bugs, compile it again and hope it works. Yes, it's all program, compile, run, debug, recompile and repeat until you go insane. Comes with that keyboard controller that can also be used for TaxStar, the Let's Go Cobol programming manual, a carton of unfiltered cigarettes and plenty of things to throw to relieve frustration. It's fun for minutes!

I predict any of those games could be a big hit, given my experience with Guitar Hero. Look for them in a store near you in time for Christmas 2009.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Hawg is a New Year's Scrooge

Yeah. That's right. I, The Hawg, don't care one whit for New Year's Eve, New Year's Day or any of that rot.

What did I do on that nothing of a holiday? I went to bed early on New Year's Eve, slept late the next morning, watched a little football and helped my wife put away Christmas ornaments.

I ended New Year's Day by watching my 140-pound monster of a dog wander over and drink half of my red cream soda (once he stuck his huge tongue in the glass, I figured there was no point in running him off -- I didn't want it, so why not let the dog have his fun?) There's some symbolism there, I'm sure.

I figure that New Year's is a holiday for people in their 20s, anyway, and one of those things that doesn't have much meaning for those of us pushing 40-years-old and raising kids.

Oh, there was a time when I'd go out on New Year's Eve and drag home sometime in mid-February or March. Yes, there was much revelry and carousing back then, but you can't run around like a moron when you've got a wife and kids, can you? No, those days are over and I'm left with a pitiful one day off from work and the sad task of taking down Christmas decorations.

They've even deprived me of my New Year's Day bowl games. Remember when the biggest college football game of the year was played on New Year's Day? They don't do that anymore -- the BCS knotheads decided to move the championship to some other day, thus depriving us Americans of yet another holiday tradition.

Phooey on them.

And phooey on New Year's, a day that marks the end of the holiday season and the beginning of things getting back to normal. After Christmas -- the super bowl of holidays and my favorite time of year -- New Year's is incredibly anticlimactic.

Bah, humbug!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Apparently, they've lost their minds in Denver

Well, read all about it right here -- the Denver Broncos have fired head coach Mike Shanahan.

Yes, that makes a lot of sense. After all, Shanahan hasn't achieved much -- just a couple of Super Bowl championships and a record of 130-78 over the past 14 years. That, by the way, is a winning percentage of .625, second in Broncos franchise history to Red Miller who was coach from 1977 to 1980 and compiled a winning percentage of .640.

And Shanahan's only installed one of the most potent running games in the country at a team that was notoriously inept at rushing prior to his arrival.

What did Shanahan do wrong? Apparently, missing the championships with an 8-8 record this season got him canned. Of course, it's a bit rare when the Broncos aren't in the playoffs these days and Shanahan had to deal with a slew of injuries throughout the season, but that doesn't matter much, seemingly.

Denver has canned the best coach the team has had. Period. They'll regret that decision, as will we longtime Broncos fans out there. God only knows who Denver will drag up to replace Shanahan. I shudder to think. Is there any available coach out there who will be an improvement over Shanahan? That's doubtful.

Now, I'm well aware that Broncos fans go nuts over football. Let's go back to the 1990 season for a minute. Of course, Denver got killed by San Francisco in the 1990 Super Bowl and the team simply struggled when the regular season began in the fall.

How did fans react? One lady at a home game in Mile High Stadium sprayed a bunch of opposing fans with Mace as Denver was losing. Another Denver resident, distraught after a home loss, went back to his house after the game, held his wife and kids at gunpoint and ranted for awhile until he surrendered to the police. A radio sports announcer in Denver swore he'd broadcast from on top of a billboard until Denver won a game. He was up there for a few weeks in the miserably cold Denver weather.

There's no doubt there was a lot of pressure on Denver's ownership to make a change, considering how hardcore Broncos fans tend to be. Still, firing Shanahan -- the only coach in the team's history to bring a Super Bowl title to Denver -- is a bonehead move and one team owner Pat Bowlen will regret. You're an idiot, Bowlen, and you're setting your team up to be the NFL's whipping boy next year.

If I hadn't been a Bronco's fan for over 30 years, I'd say Bowlen and his team are about to get what they deserve.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Hawg makes a New Year's resolution!

Well, it's time to make some New Year's resolutions, isn't it?

I, The Hawg, have a great one this year -- I pledge to get back into the old Christmas shopping habits my wife and I had in the past. Let me explain.

Just a few years ago, my wife and I were perpetually struggling with finances and shopped for Christmas presents through the year out of necessity. We figured it was just too hard to come up with a huge chunk of cash right before Christmas, so we'd spread our shopping out through the year.

That made things easy. If, for example, I saw the perfect movie for my dad in the middle of July, we'd buy it and stick it in a drawer. By the time December rolled around, then, the overwhelming majority of our Christmas shopping was done so we had the luxury of kicking back, enjoying the holiday season and let other people go through the agony of shopping right before Christmas.

We've fallen out of that habit a bit and the result was that Christmas came and went very quickly, leaving us with little time to enjoy holiday movies, goof off and look at lights and etc. Money's not as much of an issue as it used to be, so we put off a lot of shopping until the last minute.

Oh, we did get about half of our shopping done before December, but it wasn't enough to avoid crowds, rushing around right before Christmas and all of the other stuff we used to be able to avoid.

Christmas is my favorite holiday and I feel more than a bit robbed. It's time to get back on track.

Oh, and I figure on buying that kick butt guitar amp I've always wanted in 2009, too. I can't figure out if that's a New Year's resolution or a selfish desire, however.