SUPER Street Fighter IV Impressions [Game Overview]
Apr 30th, 2010 by Dan

ANIMECONJI2010 - Cammy

Dramatic Cammy Cosplay. Feel free to applaud the lack of fan service in the Cammy shot I chose for this post.

Super Street Fighter IV landed on shelves this week and made its way into my apartment. I haven’t given it quite as much time as I’ve given PYS 2010 this week, but I’ve thrown down a few times this week and realized, “Yeah, it’s Street Fighter IV, but Super.”

The most obvious addition to vanilla SFIV are the ten new fighters. My time with them has mostly been limited to the Training modes, but they are a good mix of characters from Street Fighter III and Street Fighter Alpha with two new characters, Juri and Hakan.

Since I haven’t given the game more than a few hours, most of my time has been spent playing as my usual main, Cammy. Most of the changes to the main cast from vanilla revolve around damage nerfs or buffs, but they’ve also all received new Ultra Combos. Cammy’s new move is a counter called CQC (for Cammy Quarters Combat, or something like that) and it’s…difficult, to say the least, to land because you have to predict that an attack is coming. It also doesn’t block everything, but I’ve yet to fully explore exactly what isn’t covered by the counter. I can tell you this, it’s mega-satisfying to predict a hit and properly counter it with the move. It almost makes me wish that Ultra selection were blind so that opponents wouldn’t know I selected the counter as my ultra, but that’s probably too much to ask at this point.

The other thing I got a feel for was Endless Battle. I haven’t participated in any yet, but I watched Giant Bomb’s livestream of their new Thursday Night Throwdown feature and they were using that system to set up all the matches. Endless Battle mode is a pretty common mode in online fighting games that allows the winner to stay in while the rest of the lobby watches the match in spectator mode. It’s a lot like being in the arcade and putting your quarter on the machine to mark your place in line. I came this close to facing off against Jeff, but a selection snafu caused him to have to reselect and he accidentally skipped over me the second time he was picking.

Is SSFIV good? Without a doubt. I’m loving it so far and I plan to get more time in this weekend.

Slightly Political: Yesterday’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
Apr 30th, 2010 by Dan

Jorge Cantu at Citizens Bank

New Arizona laws state that he might have to prove that he can legitimately be in the state at any time.

Here at IBNttT we do not support Orwellian laws designed to penalize native born or immigrant Latino populations. I don’t support boycotting the Diamondbacks over this, but I do support moving the All-Star game out of Arizona until this law is repealed.

29 April

Rakuten Eagles (0) at Softbank Hawks (4). Another series sweep, but the bad way. Rakuten is having an awful season (but not as bad as the Fighters!) and falls to 12-19-0 in fifth.

Yokohama BayStars (8) at Hiroshima Carp (0). Another series lost to a Yokohama team that has a lot more life than last year’s. Hiroshima takes another hit to 11-17-0, putting it in last place below the Swallows.

New York Yankees (4) at Baltimore Orioles (0). At least the Orioles didn’t get swept. The series went exactly as I predicted, dropping Baltimore to 4-18, a staggering 10.5 games back from first in April.

Kansas City Royals (1) at Tampa Bay Rays (11). The Rays are on a tear right now. Granted, beating up on the Royals is like beating up on the Orioles, everyone’s doing it thanks to a terrible bullpen. Tampa Bay’s record rises to 17-5, putting them 2.5 ahead of the Yankees in first.

Mixed Bag: Yesterday’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
Apr 29th, 2010 by Dan

Waiting to get in at Citizens Bank Park

No matter how poorly my teams did or didn’t do today, nothing can match my disappointment in the Washington Capitals for losing Game 7 of the first round of the playoffs. Way to suck, guys.

28 April

Yokohama BayStars (2) at Hiroshima Carp (1). These close losses are the most heartbreaking ones. The Carp fall to 11-16-0 in fifth. At least the Swallows lost too.

Rakuten Eagles (2) at Softbank Hawks (13). This team really has a hard time winning on non-Tanaka and non-Iwakuma days. They’ve got a similar record, but I find myself more disappointed in them, for some reason. 12-18-0 in fifth.

San Diego Padres (6) at Florida Marlins (4). Another disappointing loss to the Friars. Florida goes on to face the Nationals this weekend. The Fish are actually in fourth place now with their 11-11 record.

Washington Nationals (3) at Chicago Cubs (2). Luis Atilano’s second outing goes well too. The Nats are now in third place with their 12-10 record, half a game back.

New York Yankees (8) at Baltimore Orioles (3). We knew they couldn’t beat CC. They don’t disappoint. 4-17 in last.

Oakland Athletics (3) at Tampa Bay Rays (10). Another stellar performance by Tampa Bay. This team is on a real roll this month. 16-5 in first with the Yankees 2.5 behind.

Thoughts on Whip It and An Education [Filmmakers Bleed]
Apr 29th, 2010 by Dan

It’s a tough world out there. The first person you meet in the beginning of The Legend of Zelda says, “It’s dangerous to go alone,” and he’s 100% right. I know this as well as anyone.

Childhood, and school in general, wasn’t that long ago for me. For a kid whose family was decidedly not in the military, we sure seemed to move around and swap schools plenty. It’s not a contest (protip: it is a contest), but I’d say I beat out most non-delinquent, non-military kids with seven school transfers in the thirteen years that I attended school.

The solid core I had at home with my brothers could only take me so far. Once the school bell rings, you’re on your own. When you switch schools roughly once every two years, you have to learn to adapt to new environments, find your niche, and fit into it as fast as you can. It’s tough to be a kid and constantly find the right crowd to fit in with. There were times where I had no crowd and I was a reject. Lucky me that I never found myself giving up who I was or falling in with “the wrong crowd”.

Whip It isn’t literally about this. Bliss Cavendar, played expertly by Ellen Paige, does have a best friend (marking the first time I’ve seen Alia Shawkat in a major role outside of Arrested Development) who supports her youthful yearnings for “something more”, but, for a movie about friendship and sisterhood, there is a distinct lack of sap, probably because roller derby is an intensely violent sport being played by women out to hurt each other.

Drew Barrymore is no stranger to girl power movies. She was a heavy influence on the direction that the abysmal Charlie’s Angels movies took and her roles tend to feature stronger female characters, so there’s nothing too unexpected about her directorial debut, except, maybe, that she doesn’t really star in it. Her cast focuses on Ellen Page, Alia Shawkat, and the ridiculously hilarious Kristen Wiig and the community that Bliss becomes a part of, much to the chagrin of her mother. The beauty of this movie comes from the empowering message it doles out. A lesser movie would have Bliss’ mother be a super-bitch who refused to understand that her daughter didn’t want to do the pageants. Sure, Bliss’ mother is trying to achieve the dreams she lost to an unplanned pregnancy through her, but she’s also looking to see her daughter succeed and have something good in her life in the only context she really knows. She comes around when she realizes that Bliss really does love roller derby and she lets go with almost zero fuss.

The most telling scene in the movie comes before the final, climactic round. Bliss’ rival on the opposing team, Iron Maven, learned earlier that she was underage and could be considered ineligible. She reveals that she knows this to Bliss, who then comes clean to everyone and gets proper authorization from her parents to compete. When she confronts Maven later on about her jealous ploy to remove her from contention, Maven surprises her by saying that she had no intentions of outing her; she just wanted to get in Bliss’ head. Whether or not this is a cop-out response, the intention is crystal clear. These women are competitive and hate losing to each other, but they are not catty, jealous, or manipulative, as you might expect.

Kristen Wiig also gets standout mention from me for her role as a responsible mother figure/mentor to Bliss. In fact, everyone in this movie is so supportive and grounded in making the right decisions that it borders on unbelievable. The only people who make dumb choices are Ellen Page and Alia Shawkat’s irresponsible teen characters. Their lack of experience and teen self-righteousness realistically gets them in trouble.

An interesting side effect to all the feminism is that every male character in the movie plays to some kind of stereotype. Bliss’ father is a yes-man to the wife who spends all his time watching football, going so far as to sneak away to sit in an abandoned parking lot in his van to watch football, far away from his wife’s judgmental eyes. Oliver, the love interest in the movie, is a pretty-boy member of a band who predictably cheats on Bliss the first chance he gets and is rejected by her when he returns to apologize. Birdman, the manager of the restaurant Bliss works at, is constantly manipulated by his female employees and, though he does “get the girl” at the end, he’s not exactly a strong male lead. Jimmy Fallon’s character is the announcer at the roller derby and a pathetic seeming man who makes lame jokes and repeatedly fails at coming on to the roller derby girls. The strongest male role comes in the coach of Bliss’ roller derby team, Razor, played to perfection by Andrew Wilson as a tactician, almost hippie lover of the sport who is so anemic at managing the team that he can’t even get them to execute any of the plays he concocts for most of the movie.

I’m not saying a movie needs strong male roles to counter the female parts at all. I think it’s kind of refreshing to see a movie that marginalizes men instead. It’s rare that you see a movie made by women, for women that’s not a sappy love story, a Lifetime movie, or a feminazi-type production, so this was refreshing.

The main beauty of Whip It is precisely that it’s a movie about being true to one’s self, one’s friends, and one’s dreams, without being all that sappy. It’s a coming-of-age tale that hides in violence and comedy, but couldn’t sing its message clearer. Sure, the message can get a little heavy-handed, I mean, Bliss’ mother the beauty queen trying to force Bliss into pageants that she doesn’t want to do, blah blah, the evils of the exploitation of women by the mainstream, yes, it’s a clear contrast being made to the world of roller derby. Then again, this movie is smarter than that. Roller derby isn’t exactly a feminist’s dream. The sport does trade on sexual exploitation, so the movie is more railing against not being able to choose for oneself.

I wasn’t planning on watching back-to-back feminist movies when I set up my netflix queue, but that’s kind of the way it happened when An Education made its way to my mailbox a few days later. Despite similar themes, we’re talking a complete tonal shift, as An Education takes place in 1960s England and revolves around a similarly-aged boarding school student named Jenny (Carey Mulligan).

As you might expect, Jenny’s troubles are more of the pre-feminist revolution type. Jenny’s got this “Why bother?” attitude toward the Oxford education that her father is pushing her toward, mostly because all it seems to mean is that Jenny will have a few more years of a fulfilling, educational life before she ends up back in the dead-end world of 1960s England where her prospects are teacher, secretary, or housewife. Jenny wants what many 16-year-olds want, a chance to see the world, become cultured, experience more than what her middle class life has destined for her and so she naturally falls for an much older man, David (played by Peter Sarsgaard (and his terrible faux-British accent)), who can provide those things

An Education is a little more blatant with its comparisons. Jenny is constantly sharing screen time with Helen, the beautiful girlfriend of David’s business associate Danny, who is far more interested in fashion, glamor, and not using her brain. The opposite path is the one that her teacher is on, but she’s ridiculed by Jenny for being somewhat homey and her appearance is far from beautiful (in the way that Hollywood goes and makes beautiful women look not beautiful).

The real crux of the movie comes from the futility of the decision that it seems like Jenny is making. As citizens of the 21st century, we know that Jenny would certainly find more opportunities for success in the England of the 70s and 80s, but the end of the movie does leave you feeling that the education that Jenny is receiving, both from David and from Oxford, are ultimately futile attempts at delaying the inevitable.

In any case, both movies are fine examples of pro-feminist film that actually promote healthy lifestyles and relationships for women. How rare is it in Hollywood to see that?

The Real Deal [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Apr 28th, 2010 by Dan

Stephen Strasburg

Pre-Nats Strasburg.

In four Minor League starts, Stephen Strasburg has shown that AA cannot contain him. The Nats don’t want to rush him, but here are some numbers to consider.

Innings pitched: 17.1 (that’s really 17.333, but baseball is strange about inning decimals)
Hits: 7
Strikeouts: 23
WHIP: 0.577 (this is a measure of how many people reach base per inning, so just under 0.6 per inning)
K/BB (Strikeout to Walk): 7.67
Earned Runs: 1

I’ll do the ERA math for you: 0.52. That is insane.

No one realistically thinks that these numbers are going to remain this stellar when he reaches the Bigs, but if they remain close, this guy will be embarrassing MLB-caliber hitters before you know it. I’m not saying that Strasburg needs to go to the MLB right now. I get that Washington is holding him back for money reasons, but shouldn’t they be trying to challenge him just a wee bit more? Shouldn’t he be promoted to AAA already?

Just for fun, Strasburg also has a 0.333 batting average with 2 RBIs and an OPS of 0.833. This guy is just phenomenal.

ORIOLES WIN!: Yesterday’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
Apr 28th, 2010 by Dan

Domo-kun loves Oriole Part at Camden Yards

Even Domo-kun is happy that the Orioles won

Normally your fourth win, twenty-four games into the season, is nothing to celebrate. When you do it against the Yankees, I think you can take a minute to be proud of notching a ‘W’.

27 April

Yokohama BayStars (0) at Hiroshima Carp (3). Nothing like a shutout to brighten your day. The Carp are sitting on an 11-15-0 record in fourth, just half a game shy of passing the Swallows.

Rakuten Eagles (2) at Softbank Hawks (3). The Eagles really seem to be having trouble with the Hawks. Hopefully they can turn it around tomorrow. Rakuten’s 12-17-0 record puts it in fourth, same as the Carp.

New York Yankees (4) at Baltimore Orioles (5). Despite an error almost derailing the whole thing, I managed to attend the first Orioles home win of the season (against the Yankees, no less!). Absolutely awesome until you realize that they’ve also lost 20. Hopefully this can be a turning point for the season, but they probably won’t beat C.C. Sabathia tomorrow. 4-20 in last.

San Diego Padres (4) at Florida Marlins (1). Sloppy play helped to mar Florida’s chances last night. This takes some of the sting off of the 10-1 loss San Diego suffered last night, but hopefully Nate Robertson puts the Padres in their place tomorrow. The Fish lose second by half a game with their 11-10 record and are now tied for third.

Oakland Athletics (6) at Tampa Bay Rays (8). Not the prettiest win for Wade Davis, but a win is a win. Tampa Bay retains their stranglehold on first with their 15-5 record with a 2.5 game lead on the Yanks.

Washington Nationals (3) at Chicago Cubs (1). I’ve always known Liván Hernández was good, but he’s really coming out as the staff ace until Strasburg shows up. A stellar performance against the Cubs puts the team at 11-10, tied with the Fish for third.

Walk-Off Walk: Yesterday’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
Apr 27th, 2010 by Dan

Chicago Cubs Kosuke Fukudome

Fukudome ALMOST hit the game-winning walk-off home run. That's enough for me to put a picture of him up today, haha.

It was a light baseball day yesterday with only two teams that matter to me playing baseball. I don’t know when it happened, but at some point in the offseason I became a Nats fan. The Marlins will always come first for me, but Washington has made a pretty good case for itself. I love an underdog and I love seeing the pieces of this team come together.

26 April

No games on Mondays!

NOTE: That’s not entirely true, but they seem to only make up rain delays on Mondays, by my count.

San Diego Padres (1) at Florida Marlins (10). Josh Johnson does what JJ does best. He doesn’t quite notch the shut out, but a complete game win is always fine by me. JJ’s slider was still hitting in the 90s in the 9th and he even helped himself out going 3-4 with 3 RBIs. What a pitcher. Florida rises to sole possession of second place with an 11-9 record, half a game back from the Phillies (who lost to San Francisco last night).

Washington Nationals (3) at Chicago Cubs (4). Is there anything more anti-climactic than the walk-off walk? The Nats couldn’t find the strike zone in the 10th and walked in the Cubs’ fourth run. Their performance was good enough that Duffy wasn’t ashamed to wear her Nats hat at the game, but it wasn’t good enough. The Nats record falls back to 0.500, 10-10, and they fall to third, half a game back from the Mets and 1.5 from the Phils. I really hope this division stays this competitive all year, I’m loving it right now.

Swept by the Giants: The Weekend Scores That Matter [WMQ]
Apr 26th, 2010 by Dan

Ogasawara Giants Jersey

I bet it was this partly this guy's fault, too.

When you have a series against the Giants (and you’re the Hiroshima Carp), things can get ugly. PYS 2010 has taught me that as well, where my version of the Hiroshima Carp are barely a fourth place team.

23 April

Hiroshima Carp (4) at Yomiuri Giants (10). The Giants offense is potent, to say the least.

Nippon-Ham Fighters (2) at Rakuten Eagles (11). Hokkaido really can’t catch a break, can they?

Los Angeles Dodgers (1) at Washington Nationals (5). Luis Atilano makes his MLB debut for the Nationals and manages to notch his first win in the same day. Congratulations, Luis.

Baltimore Orioles (3) at Boston Red Sox (4). What’s good for Boston is always considered bad to me. The Orioles continue to get a tough break.

Toronto Blue Jays (6) at Tampa Bay Rays (5). Not how I would have wanted it, but there’s still two games left in the series.

Florida Marlins at Colorado Rockies. Postponed for rain.

24 April

Fighters (0) at Eagles (3). I can’t complain about how well Rakuten is doing against Hokkaido.

Carp (4) at Giants (7). Hiroshima answers back with some runs, but the Fish can’t notch quite enough for the win.

Dodgers (4) at Nationals (3). LA comes back right away to win a close one.

Marlins (4) at Rockies (1). Game 1 of the series made up from yesterday. Get ready for a doubleheader.

Blue Jays (3) at Rays (9). Tampa Bay answers back with some serious run support.

Orioles (6) at Red Sox (7). So close! Baltimore is really struggling to get another win.

Marlins (1) at Rockies (8). The Fish get knocked around by the mountains.

25 April

Fighters (3) at Eagles (4). Rakuten completes the series sweep, which is great for their record and should push them further up in the standings. The Golden Eagles end the week at 12-16-0, still in fifth.

Carp (2) at Giants (8). Like the Eagles, the Giants sweep the Carp, devastating their place. Hiroshima closes the week at 10-15-0, surprisingly just a game back from the fourth place Swallows.

Orioles (7) at Red Sox (6). It’s funny when an Orioles win provides so much excitement, but that’s what happens when your team is only 3-16 in dead last.

Dodgers (0) at Nationals (1). These are the types of games that Washington has to win if they want to compete. The Nats are putting together quite the season with their 10-9 > 0.500 record so soon in the season. New York also had a good weekend while Florida had a poor one, which means all three of those teams are tied at 10-9, 1.5 games back on the Phillies in second.

Blue Jays (0) at Rays (6). If David Price keeps pitching like this…Wow. Nice work. Tampa Bay’s 14-5 record is good enough a 1.5 game lead on the Yankees for first place.

Marlins (4) at Rockies (8). Another series loss for Florida. Just a little disappointing, but at least they’re still only 1.5 GB from first with that same 10-9 record as everyone else.

PYS 2010 and L4D2: The Passing [Game Overview]
Apr 23rd, 2010 by Dan


It’s been a while since I properly did one of these, but yesterday heralded the arrival of both Pro Yakyu Spirits 2010 and the latest campaign for L4D2, The Passing. Both are super fun. Impressions below:

Pro Yakyu Spirits 2010

The comforting thing about sports franchises is that you always know what you’re getting year after year. PYS 2010 doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, it just makes slight interface changes that all feel sharp and look great. I’m getting back into the groove, getting spanked by the AI, and having fun with this one all over again.

It’s good to have the new lineups and players, but I fear that I’m going to get killed as the Carp in this year’s game, haha.

Left 4 Dead 2

The Passing adds in all sorts of new goodies. New Uncommon Common, new melee weapon, new heavy weapon, foot lockers, and, most importantly, L4D cameos. How great are those? I loved seeing the old crew back again. Their lines were amazing and everything just felt right. I can’t wait for the companion Left 4 Dead DLC to come out too!

Rain Delays: Yesterday’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
Apr 23rd, 2010 by Dan

Florida Marlins Gloves

A first base and infield glove on the visiting dugout of Citizens Bank Park.

Yesterday seemed to be super rainy in Japan. Neither of my teams managed to get a game in.

22 April

Hiroshima Carp at Hanshin Tigers. Rained out.

Chiba Lotte Marines at Rakuten Eagles. Rained out.

Colorado Rockies (2) at Washington Nationals (0). Livo couldn’t pitch another shut out, so his perfect record and perfect ERA take hits. A well pitched game by Ubaldo Jiménez keeps the Nats out of the box score (also thanks to injuries to Zimmerman and a rest day for Willingham). The Nats return to their 8-8 record and are in fourth.

Florida Marlins (5) at Houson Astros (1). Anibal Sanchez finally has a great outing and the Marlins finally notch a win against the Astros, rising to 9-7, 1.5 GB in second.

Tampa Bay Rays (10) at Chicago White Sox (2). Another drumming by the Rays who rise back into first place with their 12-4 record.

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