Monday, January 16, 2006

TECMO (not sure I own the copyright to this, but I never got paid for it)

Tecmo Super Bowl: The Birth of Competitive Sports Games
(a.k.a. "Why Ninja Gai-Den Sucks")

OK, I have to admit that I have never actually picked up a controller to try out the new Ninja Gai-Den on any platform, but the new game is following in some very large Tecmo footsteps. And I don’t mean the footsteps of the original series for arcade or Nintendo. I mean the footsteps for a game that towers above all others, particularly those developed by Tecmo, the game that brought competitive gaming to the greatest heights which have yet been scaled by man: Tecmo Super Bowl. Every platform game that’s come since is trying to attain that perfection. It’s the Siddhartha Gautama of video games.

What made the second Tecmo NFL game so perfect and, ultimately, unbeatable? Certainly fortuitous timing plays a major part. It was a huge hit for the first generation of kids that really came up as gamers.

It came along just as games really began to accelerate in graphics capabilities; go back and compare NFL from 1989, Tecmo Super Bowl from 1990, and John Madden Football from 1992. And it caught the cultural crest of the first wave of athletes to double as media-savvy superstars. Why does this matter? Let’s go back to 1990.
George Bush was president. We were gearing up as a country for a War! (with a capital ‘W’) Our economy was tanking, and our video games still promoted active imaginations. You had to really try to believe those giant square pixels were people or animals or cars or whatever and, most notably, sports games stunk. Nobody ever missed a real game or stayed home from football practice to play Tecmo Bowl. It was a fun game, and was the first NFLPA licensed game to hit the NES, but it wasn’t a life-altering experience. That game didn’t even have all 28 teams, much less keep stats on passing, rushing, receiving, and, um, special teams. But the second you stuck in that cartridge and laid eyes on the blue-lipped, bug-eyed, crack addicted cartoon versions of NFL players that came out of Super Tecmo Bowl, there was never a reason to watch the NFL again. Except to scout out players for the next crop of video games of course. It was the opening salvo of a revolution in sports gaming.

Pretty much anyone who was playing video games at the time remembers Tecmo Super Bowl as the pinnacle of childhood bonding. For the first time, anyone’s favorite team could play, and almost anyone’s favorite players could represent, unless your favorite player rode bench. There were no substitutions and there were no trades.(Remember when Sportstalk Football for Sega had those commercials with Joe Montana playing for any team on the planet?) What there were, in abundance, were stats. Statistics were kept in every category except blocking. It took years for any company to pick up the slack and start tracking stats for special teams again. Stats lead to trash talking, which then lead to arguments, which then lead to more games, and finally lead to a huge body of shared experience among friends and family. See how we grew up with this game? Entire weekends were swallowed by it.

There were only four plays on offense: two passing plays and two rushing plays. This strategy never works in the NFL (except for the ’95 Dallas Cowboys, who might’ve only had three plays), but were more than enough to gain as much as 1200 passing yards in a Tecmo game using the 49ers. If you want offensive production, that’s way better than the NFL. The NFL record is 554 passing yards in a game.

How could that work out? Some players were just ridiculous. Jerry Rice and Bo Jackson are the most memorable. No figure in the history of sports, or video games, can hold a candle to the memories of Tecmo Bo. He could score at any time. I used to purposefully make my kick-off return player go out of bounds at the 1-yard line just to gain more yards with Bo. Everyone I know did the same thing.

The only thing Bo couldn’t do from the 1-yard line was get a cool animation scene. That’s why Jerry Rice gets mentioned with Bo. You could do the 1-yard line trick with the 49ers, chuck it to Rice and sit back and wait for the scene of him jumping 300 feet into the air to catch it and then run the rest of the way for a score. It was exhilarating.

Ever since Tecmo’s shining moment (the original Ninja Gai-Den hit arcades around the same time as the original Tecmo Bowl), the line between video games and sports has steadily blurred. The greatest accomplishment (curse) an athlete can achieve now is, arguably, the cover of a video game. This is a far cry from the generic players that graced the covers of Tecmo’s original line.

It’s hard to explain the enigma that is Super Tecmo Bowl, but ask anyone that lived through those days: zubasz was always for rednecks and trailer trash but a lot of otherwise normal people did have mullety hair. Also, nobody can ever make a game to change your life the way Super Tecmo Bowl did. Madden may have replaced it on shelves, but never took it out of our hearts.

Steven Starkweather

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

How Bad Can One Filmmaker Suck?

Nick Broomfield makes terrible, unwatchable documentaries. Kurt & Courtney, Biggie & Tupac, and Aileen Wuornos: Selling of a Serial Killer are some of the worst things I have ever seen. Shoddy reportage, weak framing, boring set-ups (if there are any set-ups) and overplayed subjects (read the list of titles). Having said all this, he is my ultimate hero. How do you keep finding funds for your nonsense, Nick Broomfield? Do the people you solicit for money require they be shown your finished product? Do any of them want to pony up to get AWOL off the ground?

I realize this is far removed from the other stuff I've posted, but I don't know if I want a discussion here. Post comments if you must, but I want it posted on record that I hate everything I've ever seen from this guy. Also, I can make some pretty good chili. So there.

Friday, January 06, 2006

INTRO & CHAPTER 1 OF BOOK I STOPPED THINKING ABOUT(This is most of what's been written)



This is pornography. You are only reading it because you can not look at it. It is only interesting because it involves bloody carnage, money, and nudity. There is no vital information to be gleaned from reading this. No higher purpose, no life calling, no cautionary wisdom, and no caustic rebuke of general mores is to be found on this page or any that follow. It is just a story told in straightforward, factual reportage. It concerns a man raised in money who grew to become even more successful in his father’s business than said father had been. This one is for prurient interests. Please don’t find anything else here. There will be pictures.

When William Bush was a young man, he made a name for himself as the socialite brat son of a well known installation artist, Georgie Bush. While Georgie was bringing in a fortune by placing mimes next to a desk, his son W. was out enjoying the nightlife that New York had to offer. By the time Georgie had pieced together a living room in a gallery of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, thus achieving billionaire’s status, W. was busying himself in a gay bar along Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, during the early 90s rush among the glitterati to “go gay”. It was this implicit condoning of gay marriage that nearly toppled Georgie’s reign. But few things are as inevitable as an installation artist becoming staunchly wealthy. In the end W. recanted and publicly agreed that gay marriage would bring about the downfall of U.S.ian civilization. His little rich friends agreed, and thus Osama Bin Laden was defeated in the greatest battle in the War On Terror I, The Gay Marriage Amendment.

Nobody could accuse Georgie of not raising his boy with the proper respect for humanity. W. finally achieved respectable status in his own right several years later, with his now classic painting/mixed-media-piece “Hobo Who Got Stabbed In The Chest, Drowned In Sulfuric Acid & Melted”.

The questions that now surround the life of W. Bush are a sad turn of events for the man once hailed as “The Prince oF Pop Art” (Time Magazine, 1994). At what point did killing homeless people go from concept-kitsch to over-bearing bore? Is it really fair for a celebrity to fake his own death in a Pay-Per-View spectacle? Doesn’t the glamour-loving public deserve more? Or is First Amendment Constitutional double-speak about “free speech” (Los Angeles Times, May, 31 2003) more than just a string of syllables?

One thing is certain. W. Bush killed a lot of people. He was an innovator at a time when less corporal artists stood around doing nothing. And he was an American original. Nowhere else in the world could he have bought the modified Hummer H2 that he used to kill David Justice and seal him in a mylar pouch with lifetime statistics sewn onto the back (“Baseball Card”, currently exhibited in the Hague).

What is not so certain is what part W. played in cleaning up the rampant drug use in the professional athletic community. As well, what part did he play in stopping global warming? Ergo, did he actually do any of the things he took credit for? Aside from killing a bunch of homeless people? How much does any of this have to do with the actual story? Very much less than one might imagine.

Chapter One – In The Beginning…

The night began at a party in the Hollywood Hills home of actor David Gourmet, grand-nephew of Edith Gourmet. He had decided to bring together the world of Young art and the world of young Hollywood. He succeeded in a way he had never dreamed possible.

It was a cool autumn night in a sleepy City of Angels. Winds rushed through the Canyon as though God himself were having a huge asthma attack brought on by the stress of bringing his most prized creations, celebrities, together for a night of revelry. He had to top his last outing, and now things were very cold as W. Bush drove his brand new Jeep Grand Cherokee along Mulholland Drive to the Valley-side home of his boyhood friend David.That date, October 16, held a special significance for the boys already. It was the day they had met, lo so many year a-prior (5 years), at the Santa Monica Crossroads school. David was on his way to an art class when he tripped over a sleeping W., who was in deep concentration preparing for an acting class. The irony of this chance meeting was not lost on the two, who had made it a year-marker. This particular year, they had invited many A-List guests to ring in their “New Year” together. Even though each man had his share of homosexual moments, it is not clear whether or not they have ever shared anything more than a passing sexual bond.

“W. wasn’t really a gay man, so much as he was an opportunist”

David Gourmet now resides in a California penal colony in the dusty backroads just south and east of Santa Barbara. Even though he has been in prison for “14 years, 6 months, and 13 days”, as he states repeatedly in our 3 days together, he still maintains a modicum of the youthful boyishness that made him so attractive to the teenage girls (and boys) of this country. He will be free on or around May 27th, 2007. It is a hard road to plow for this child of priviledge. Where he used to beg the pretty boys at The Prison (a high concept bar that ruled the club scene of Los Angeles for three weeks in 1987) for oral sex, he is now forced to perform fellatio on 400-lb men with syphilis. His neck is green with advanced syphilis of the throat. If he survives the next several years inside, noone can say how long he will survive once he is out. His once booming finances have certainly dwindled. Whoa is he.

“I remember when W. was happy just to get his picture in the WeHo Art Sheet. He’d scamper around the prison looking for boys to dance with just so he could get his picture taken. He wasn’t gay, just thought-provoking.”

David lights a cigarette, stares into the distance for a moment, takes a long drag, stares for a moment, then takes another drag. What is amazing is that he never exhales. The smoke escapes through several holes in his throat on the way down. He never really gets much of a nicotine fix.

“It was thought, at the time, that to be an important new artis you had to be die-hard gay. W. wanted to be important more than anything else in the world. His commitment to that idea sustained him through many an ass-plugging. All of us knew he wasn’t gay, so we would plow his ass unnecessarily hard every chance we got. Even though most of us didn’t like anal sex. I still don’t much care for it.”

He motions to his throat. I don’t know what the syphilis in his throat has to do with anal sex, but I nod and laugh. A moment passes between us.

“He never hit me.”

This small fact may have ultimately been the spring board for W. to escape the fun-boy ghetto of glamorous art and become an MTV icon. It definitely kept him out of jail.

As that fateful night began in earnest, there were about 3000 people crammed into David’s 2436 square foot home. Some of them were crushed and killed within seconds of entering the party. Paramedics waited outside, helplessly, while more hangers-on and pseudo-celebrity stragglers attempted to enter “The Main Event”. There were other parties around town to celebrate the meeting of these two momentous characters, but most of them were in dark church cellars, with prayers being sent up to the lord like kites every 13 minutes. The Hollywood Hills home of one of the two greaties was absolutely the hot spot.

As David and W. sat above the fray, lounging in near isolation on David 16’x 22’ mattress, W. turned to his old friend and let out a secret. It till haunts Mr. Gourmet to this day and, to this day, he will still not reveal what was said.

“He turned to me and told me that he believed in Jesus and that, under the One True Cross, he, William Bush, would become more famous than anyone – certainly any other painter – had ever been. And he would do it by destroying the devil.Now, you have to understand, up to this point in human history the devil is still seen rather benignly. Sure he plays gags on people, like telling little kids to go eat poop, but he’s a harmless prankster really. He’s this huge religious figure with this huge following of fans, but nobody believed he was really evil.But Georgie, W.’s father, had really had a profound impact on his boy. It’s too bad, I always thought he took more after his mom until that point.”

Georgie Bush was part of a radical Christian sect that had sought out the devil in all his many guises with the big idea being that the devil could be killed while he was wearing a white robe. What has never been made public is whether it was Georgie or The Devil who would need to be wearing the white robe. If you read the first sentence in this paragraph it isn’t really ever made clear. That’s the secret that David Gourmet holds, and he will probably take it to the grave.

It was at that point in the party that W.’s plan for cultural domination became clear to David and the several onlookers who were in the room not saying anything.Todd Grace was one of those onlookers. She remembers it like it was yesterday.“Just like it was yesterday.

”With a little prodding I explain to her that I wasn’t intending my question as a simple yes or know. “Do you remember what happened?”

“David was kind of tuggin’ at W.’s pants bottom, right around the ass, y’know? And he starts to shiver. David, I mean. I guess W. had let one go and didn’t tell anyone. He thought he was top of the cats pajamas, that one did. So David recoils, and we all gasped, you know, ‘cause we knew David was thinking he could just assault W.’s asshole. And W. had a different idea.”

Todd Grace is a woman with an ironically masculine name. Even though she is barely 40 years old, she has picked up all the annoying speech traits of an 85-year old. She also has the teeth and hearing of an 85-year old, and I assume those things are all related. On her driver’s license, her age is listed as 85, but she is only 40.

Even though they basically told the same story about this moment, I feel it is necessary to cut between the interviews of both Todd and David. It uses all my sources and makes this book seem much more thoroughly researched.

David stretches out his long thin frame. He still looks like a movie idol at times like this. He is reclining on a bench in the common area of the prison. One suspects that there is no reason for David to stay in prison. The guards barely notice him, and the door to his cell is never even locked. Still, he tried to walk out once and got shot in the foot. Never again.

“So W.’s sitting on my bed, and I tug at his pants bottom…”

Lost in David’s still ever-so-dreamy eyes, I had forgotten what he was talking about. With razor-sharp precision I am able to finally remember just in the nick of time. He is telling me about Georgie’s announcement of his plan to become a big huge celebrity. A plan that apparently worked all too well.

“He turns to me and says, ‘David, there’s a lot of dead people down on your front lawn.’ I just smiled and put on a goofy Southern accent, because what gay boy can resist a Southern cowboy? I said to him, ‘I reckon there maught bee.’ He didn’t laugh, but…”

“We all cracked up! Heaven’s to Betsy!”

Thanks, Todd.

“He just looks at me for a moment. Maybe 5 seconds, this moment was. And he says, he says, ‘I should go down and paint them.’ I thought he was gonna take a picture or draw a sketch and go home and paint that as a picture.

”No, thank you, David!"

According to witnesses and news reports, including the New York Times group interview with the security guards at the party (December 21, 1993), what W. did was walk downstairs from the bedroom to the common area, parting the crowds as he went, pick up seven of the dead trampled bodies, and pile them up neatly in the front lawn. He then returned to the house, made his way to the linen closet, and pulled out seven white flat-sheets. He went back to the front lawn and, in full view of guests paparazzos (not one of whom snapped a single photograph), and security personnel he laid the seven sheets flat in the yard and immediately placed one dead body face up on each sheet. Next, he made his way to the garage before materializing in the front yard with seven cans of house paint, each a different color. W. Bush then proceeded to denude each corpse. Their naked, bloody, glistening bodies now covered only by moonlight, and leaves and twigs, W. began painting them. He opened the cans of paint, and poured the full contents of each one on a separate body and sheet combination.Immediately, the crowd responded. They were obviously in the presence of greatness.

The reason that they were at the party had now been confirmed. W. Bush (and David Gourmet) was a truly great man, deserving of the Presidency of the United States of America. He had just created art.

Within minutes, there were bidders for each piece. “Yellow (No. 5)” pre-sold (since it was neither dried nor framed) for $16,000,000 to an “investor”. That night, W. pocketed well over $74,536,392 in total sales. It was shear pandemonium.

“I never actually left my room. I just went to sleep. He was still my best friend at that point."

Here in a California State Prison sits a tired broken man. His name is David Gourmet, and he did not paint any of the victims of his party. Beside W. Bush, 3 others followed suit. While none of them proved to be as successful, they all became billionaires in the late 90s. David Gourmet, however, became a prisonaire.

On the subject of Mr. David, sir, Todd Grace had this to say of his actions that fateful night:“He went to sleep.”