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Andrew_A Blog

Reaching the end and wanting more...

LIFE, n. A spiritual pickle preserving the body from decay. We live in daily apprehension of its loss; yet when lost it is not missed. The question, "Is life worth living?" has been much discussed; particularly by those who think it is not, many of whom have written at great length in support of their view and by careful observance of the laws of health enjoyed for long terms of years the honors of successful controversy.
    "Life's not worth living, and that's the truth,"     
Carelessly caroled the golden youth.     
In manhood still he maintained that view     
And held it more strongly the older he grew.     
When kicked by a jackass at eighty-three,     
"Go fetch me a surgeon at once!" cried he.                                                              
Han Soper 

There is no great genius without...

I haven't commented on various people leaving and coming because, for the most part, words are best left to those who feel that there is value to be gleamed from those who sit on the sidelines. In every life, and every job, people come and go, leaving and coming for purely selfish reasons, even if they wish to make them far more grandiose and self aggrandizing then they really are. We wish them luck, some we stay in contact with, others we don't, but in the end, the impact they have is measured by their time here, and not anything they wish to state in passing.

That being said, with the departure of Alex Navarro, I wanted to pass on a story and a few comments.

I started working at CNET as the backend data producer/programmer/misc monkey for GameSpot hardware at the beginning of 2005. I had previously worked as an editor for a small review site, and while I had read and respected GameSpot, I had no connection to any of the editors. About my third week here, I had the opportunity to go play in the gaming lounge, and had apparently left a controller still plugged in and not wound up correctly. The next day, while I was working, some extremely angry and foaming-mouthed person comes walking over to our dark corner of existence in order to start barking random epitaphs at those who had made such a heinous mistake as to mess up THEIR gaming lounge. After the fracious had calmed down, Alex figured out that I was the one that had left the controller and proceeded to stroll up to me and start trying to "rip me a new one" so to speak. I think the spiel went on for a good 5-10 min, I am not sure, because I had the same thought going through my head the entire time... "Who the F does this person think they are and why doesn't he understand the words coming out of his own mouth" (Alex has a very unique way of saying things).

After he had left, with little resolution and his ego puffed out fully, I think I cracked up for a good 10 min following. After that, I honestly don't think I said one word to Alex the next year plus, and in fact, avoided him like the his ego was contagious. It left a dark mark, along with some of the comments from other gaming sites, as to the true nature of the people that worked in editorial at GameSpot.

But as time went by, I started to be pulled into the web of the editorial vibe, and I started really analyzing the writing patterns of the various editors. Two stood out, Greg Kasavin for his ability to drive home points in the most efficient and clinical way possible, and Alex, for his ability to make statements that when parsed seemed absurd, but when taken in context, were able to frame a game and a motive in a way that few have ever been able to do. That is not to say that I think Alex or Greg were the most capable writers ever... but Alex more then anyone else here brought something that I hoped to borrow and build into my own repertoire. Anyone that has read some of the tripe that I put out as part of the Freeplay series might not know, but a few times, I purposely tried to merge Alex's style with my own... to woefully bad results.

But as much as I grew to admire Alex's writing, I also grew to appreciate his presence as the truly calming center of what I considered "GameSpot". Working on the sidelines as my job expanded into the rest of the properties in the Entertainment division of CNET, I started to lose that connection to the site that I rarely worked with anymore. Overtime my respect for the efforrts and drive of those in the editorial team grew as my understanding of just how much they put up with expanded, but that did lead to a feeling of connection. Alex was to me what GameSpot meant to everyone. GregK was the head, Jeff the bigger then life personality, but Alex was to me the heart of it all.

As time went by, my interactions with Alex became far easier, and eventually he joined "Kart Kall" and, with the passing of Dave Toister from the CNE ranks, became the face and center of that daily divergence from the expected output of corporate life. Seeing him on a day-to-day basis, and the few times that we worked together gave me a much deeper insight into the sometimes distracted but usually virulent genius that his head contains and the voices that he is sometimes able to disseminate, and many other times not able to. Alex sees the world in a way few are capable, and even fewer want to. He has a unique ability to find the center of the storm, and use it to frame a thought, instead of using the thought to find the center of the storm. Luckily, nothing stops the voices then being star'd four times by one person right in a row...

Alex will be more then successful in everything he does, and his mark on GameSpot can be felt by all those who appreciate his written words and especially his visual and audio footprints into the DNA of all that is GameSpot and current games journalism. I wish him the best of luck, and may he be able to find a medium for which he is meant to say and be.

GameSpot is fine and healthy now and going forward. It will exist past the departure of Alex and others because of the amazing work of those still there, and because it can stand on the shoulders of giants. Any sense of loss is a personal one, for fondness of times past, and for the lack of an ability to grow based on the proximity and presence of those who we respect.

Alex, Know this, you truly have my respect...

Random PAC-10 Statistic

This one is for Bob:

From the 2005 football season through now, PAC-10 Road wins (through this weekend):

Stanford 6-6

Cal 5-6...

That would be "perennial top 20" cal with a losing record and more road losses over the last 3 years then Stanford, which had maybe the worst team in the history of Pac-10 football last year...

Tedford isn't exactly smelling like roses this week...

And before you jump in, cal is better then Stanford this year, I get that, hell, they will probably be better then them for a while... but then again, we play for two different things.

Obligatory post

It's late in the week, but I feel I do need to make an obligatory post about the USC game...

I can just say this... I wasn't planning on watching the game, but I got done moving early on Saturday and ended up watching the game at my wife's parent house. I am not sure that I am allowed back in after screaming, jumping up and down and running around for a good 30 min (totaling the last 5 min of the game and the next 10-15 min). I would apologize to them, but I have never been that excited in my life. For the record, I like rooting for that team a lot more then rooting for the team that I saw the week before!

No, I did not see this happening, though I did see small glimpses of hope for a lesser blow-out.

Stanford has not played that bad, against UCLA and ASU, they were dead even going into halftime and then blew it right before half, which combined with their complete lack of depth, just killed them. Against Ore they led at half, but just didn't have the horses.

About USC, just because you have great talent doesn't mean you have playmakers. I do see USC losing again once more this year, and this is after looking at the roster and realizing on pure talent that this might be the greatest collection we will ever see in our lifetime.

My litmus test for Stanford before the USC game was 2 wins post USC. It still stands. If Stanford wins 4 games this year, that has to be one of the greatest coaching jobs in history. Stanford was all types of historically bad last year, and this is essentially the same team but even younger at some key spots, and playing without 2 of our 3 top Offensive players (losing Smith for the year kills us). That being said, I love what they are doing on D, and I like the WR and the developing OL.

Around the rest of the PAC-10:

cal - Looking good. They aren't the number 2 team in the country, nor do any of the cal fans I know seem to think they are, but they deserve the ranking. Cal is probably one of the top 6-10 teams in the country, and until they lose, they deserve to be ranked that high. I will be extremely interested to see the ASU and USC games coming down the pike. I do think they will lose a game this year, but still might end up going to the Rose Bowl

ASU - I am extremely impressed with this team. Great OL, Great WR, decent QB, decent D, good DL. Actually well coached, which is not something I would normally associate with Erickson

Ore - Can't believe they lost the cal game. They are probably the better team, but its the team that plays the best that day that wins. Another team that is probably in the 6-10 range in the country.

UCLA - no QB means no win. How do you turn the ball over 6 times to ND?! (then again, how does USC do it 5 times to Stanford).

OSU/Wazzu/Zona - so up and down its not funny.

Wash/Stan still the worst two teams. I am not sold on Wash at all, but then again, the bottom 5 teams in the pac all have a chance.

Insane Football Player

While this is about a Stanford football player, this story isn't about my favorite school but about how insane football players can be sometimes and how dangerous a sport it is.

Saturday, in the San Jose St. vs. Stanford game, Stanford starting middle linebacker Fred Campbell fractured his C1 vertebrae in the second quarter of the game. He then proceeded to go to the sidelines, take a few Advil and then play the rest of the game.

Dude played 2+ quarters of football... at linebacker... with a broken neck!

He had successful surgery to fuse the neck yesterday, and his football career is now over.

Two major problems here:

1) continuing to play with a broken neck!

2) Only took advil, ADVIL!!!

You can see the now released press release from Stanford here:

or a newsarticle on the injury:

Football Time

It's been a long time, but with the launch of College Football, it's time for my annual pac-10 predictions, but first, a comment about recent games-

NCAA Football - Great game, but why get rid of a lot of the great stadium effects? Also, people complaining about the difficulty and turnovers... the game is just making you play it like football and not an arcade game. If you want arcade football, go play a 2K football game.

BioShock- The actual gameplay is mediocre, but that is so secondary to everything else. That being said, I am not sure I would want to see too much more without a much better.

Anyways, on to the PAC-10

1) USC - Possibly best team talent wise in history. That being said, OL has to prove it, and the WR core needs to really step up. Defense has more talent and more top-20 picks then any other before it though.

Note here, after USC, I can make a legitimate argument for all teams 2-8 to be in any order...

2) UCLA - Great DL, Great D, mediocre QB, mediocre OL, decent WR, mediocre Coach. That being said, I will take the D to keep them in it early and the O to put it together late.

3) cal - Good OL, Good RB, Ok QB, great on-field WR, average to above average D. I think keeping a real identity this year will help, but I see them loosing to Tenn, USC, and probably at least one more game.

4) Zona - The talent has to mature at some point, right? Team has underperformed the past two years, but they are now juniors and seniors as opposed to fresh/soph.

5) Ore - would be above Zona if not for DL problems. Good WR core, great RB, average rest of O, good Secondary, Good Coach.

6) OSU - Assuming they get a WR core, they have the second best coach in the PAC-10 and always over perform.

7) Wazzu - Doba always pulls a miracle.

8) ASU - Read opposite of Wazzu. They always underperforms their offense, and this year, with as good as the PAC-10 is, I see them going on a negative roll

9/10 -Stan/Wash - Who ever wins against the other. Two rebuilding programs, two different directions. Stanford was worse the Wash last year, but won. Washington has the QB controversy, mediocre OL play, mediocre everything...

On Stanford... Stanford could be improved everywhere and lose every game this year. That's a reflection of how bad they were last year, and how tough the schedule is for them. They play the PAC-10 (best conference, don't give me crap about the over rated SEC, a conference that plays 82% of their games in the south) . I really like Harbaugh, and the new coaches. I like the attitude, I love the fact that he calls people out (by the way, Mich and Cal, you never actually argued the point he made, just that he made it and who is he to make it). I do think that TCO and Sherman will have big years, and that Stanford will at least score a little bit. That being said, the talent level continues to drop, so who knows...

Season's Change

So... quick Football update...

Most of my previous predictions didn't come true.. which is fine, because this is one of the most messed up College seasons in a while.  This just isn't a great year for college, no one super dominant team (I think OSU loses to both the USC and Texas team from last year by 20).  That being said, USC is going to back into the championship game for the 4th straight year, and I seriously doubt they have much of a shot at beating OSU (I actually think Mich deserves the rematch, with Florida 2nd, and with LSU giving the best game).  I got to see USC in person not too long ago, and I wasn't impressed.  They just beat a bad ND team and a mediocre Cal team that they matched up well with.  Cal actually is a good deal better then ND, but SC just matched up too well with them, and they have their own issues right now.

Sooo, predictiction time:

Cal 55, Stan 6 in Big Game, which is followed by Harris being thrown out the door when he doesn't deserve to be (problems this year have very very little to do with Harris, though his playcalling and attitude havn't helped). 

USC 42, UCLA 14

OSU 45, USC 21 in the championship game (but USC has the chance for the upset just because I don't think OSU is that good, and USC is probably more talented if not less skilled and poorly coached).

Offseason: Stanford will sign a coach for over a mill just to show they care, they will get a few top assistants... they will also win 2 games next year since I don't think coaching has much to do with their problems.

Tedford is gone this year or next, Cal has next to zero chance of a new stadium

Petey is gone in two years

Stanford Basketball finishes 5th in the pac this year, first next year.

In other news, Gears is good but way short... I am not impressed with online play.

Madden 07 is attrocious on all platforms, and this is from a madden fanboy.

Giants may get Ramirez... depending on who they give up, great move.  They may also sign Zaunn, Arrillia, and roberts... not so great of moves...

Now they just need to sign Zito, and trade for burrill and they are doing much better...

College Football Links

So, I have been extreamly quite about college football for a number of reasons, and not one of them is because my team sucks so bad.  I knew after week 1 that they were not going to win a game this year, but hell, I just figure no one cares.  Anyways, I am going to list a whole big grouping of things to read if you actually care about Stanford, the concept of student when it comes to athletes, admission standards in the pac-10, or college dynamics.

For all but the 3 people that I included in that list, Predictions:

USC(50%) beats Stanford(88%) by 60 tomorrow

Cal(41%) will beat USC

Cal goes to first Rose Bowl in forever

Cal loses first rose bowl in forever

USC loses Slick Petey to the NFL in offseason

Wash(64%) is back on the rise

Florida(42%) is scary good but has no chance of winning it all anytime soon

ND(85%) is over rated

Ohio State (49%) wins the Mich(59%)/OSU battle

OSU beats WVU(52%) for the mythical championship

My new angry hurst stanford fan betting tradition... I am always going to pick the team with the lowest graduation rate().

Links:

http://www.thecouchqb.com/node/56

http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2006/november1/minutes-110106.html

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2006/11/01/SPG6CM3NM71.DTL

http://www.insidebayarea.com/stanfordsports/ci_4496529

Enjoy!

The world is on fire

A fire destroyed my dad's workplace last week.  It has been an extreamly interesting few weeks to say the least.  My dad's fire, new job here, engagement party this week (note, you do not actually notice the moment you loose all say over your life, but you sure do hate it the moment the realization comes...).

On other side notes, Stanford sucks, the school's cognazzi have taken over and are attempting to make everything that I think makes the school special and instead turn it into the worst kind of Ivory Tower, just like certain well known and equally obserred schools on the east coast... My prediction is that stanford will not win this year, 2 wins next year, and a cap of 4 wins per season over the next 5.

Combine score for my College and Pro Football teams last week... 0 points.

Current standings in football pools:

#4 out of 80+ in college [note I did pick Oregon over Cal this week]

#1 out of 30 pro (this one is straight up).

Will have a few book reviews next time.