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Friday
Sep182009

Are you ready for some...Tecmo Super Bowl?!! - Chris "Preach" Smith

Football season is here. Whenever the weather gets a
bit crisp and sundays become holy for a different reason
altogether, I always get nostalgic and take my mind back
to one of the main reasons why I came to love football
so much. It was 1991, and I was in eighth grade at St.
Joachim and Anne in Queens Village. Everyone on my
block was a Nintendo head to the fullest. And there was
no game that inspired more arguments, diss sessions and
the occassional fight more than Tecmo Super Bowl at that
time. To me, it was possibly one of the best games ever
to come out on the NES and was Madden BEFORE Madden.
You have doubts? Let me proceed to break it down for you.

1)Top of the line graphics...for 8-bit.

No one expected the sprites to change from the first Tecmo
Bowl game, but the cutaway scenes were a definite upgrade
from those Etch-a-Sketch-on-LSD drawings we used to get.
(And what was with those high-fives?)I used to love getting
a sack on someone and seeing the defensive player hop up
and tremble with adrenaline in sync with their name popping
up. The quarterback-to-reciever plays had some flair as well,
with the QB throwing a nice looping right in joy as the wideout
ran with the ball hoisted aloft in triumph. And of course, we
all remember the display when someone got hurt. That used
to get me in hot water whenever I played a season and saw
that happen to a key player because the first words out of
my mouth were 'SON OF A -'...

Bo knows touchdowns.

2)You had all of the NFL teams PLUS the Pro Bowl lineup.

This made it more fun to have good matchups. No more of
those games where if you played against Chicago and that
insane 99 yard pass to Cap Bozo(on a side note, isn't that
the wildest name you've heard in football EVER outside of
He Hate Me?) you were guaranteed a loss. Outside of Tampa
Bay, Indianapolis, Green Bay and Arizona, every team gave
you a fighting chance. Add substitutions, health gauges,
injury reports, statistic sheets as well as a huge playbook
to select from and this game became the standard for
all other sports games to follow. Which brings me to my
next point:

3)The players made Tecmo Super Bowl great.

Lawrence Taylor was a BEAST in that game. I once played a
full season with him and by the time the playoffs came, I
had 47 sacks. That's right, 47. Derrick Thomas(RIP) of
Kansas City was the same way. Bo Jackson was hands down
the best running back - you let him break free, chalk up 7
points for the other side. Even Dan Marino, DAN MARINO
was the equal of Randall Cunningham(known as one of two
players who didn't give permission to have their name in
the game, therefore known as QB Eagles)in running and
passing which was NOT the case in real life. All of these
players made the NFL that much more vivid to me whenever
I watched the games, from Craig 'Ironhead' Heyward(RIP)
to Joe Montana to Barry Sanders. And they made for some
crazy gameplay. I remember being down a touchdown with
15 seconds to go in one game. I'm on my own 6 yard line
playing as Oakland. My nephew Stevie had Washington. I
called a run play for Bo Jackson and all of a sudden, I broke
free and ran rings around the entire defense for 90 plus
yards laughing the entire time, so much so I couldn't
even hold the controller. It was so bad I got challenged to
play three out of five right afterwards. Which brings me to:
 


Joe Montana back to throw...

 

4)Competition. And trash talk.

Every game I played against my boys, or cousins had that
extra spice served up by a bit of smack-talk. 'You aint
s**t without Kansas City. Play me using another team yo.'
'Yo if you use another QB run with Philly again on me, I'ma
jap you in your mouth.' I've seen lips split, instant rumbles
and even someone get a textbook bounced off the corner
of their eye. Tecmo Super Bowl bred a lot of intense
competition not unlike what you have in Madden sessions
today. And some real heavy trash talking which always
got someone a little sensitive. Thankfully after a few love
taps and close quarter wrestling, things boiled over and
we all remained cool.

5)Nostalgia.


If anything else, my love for this game is shared with a
great deal of other people. And now thanks to technology,
I can revive that joy on my computer thanks to roms and
emulators that run NES games. Some have even created
Tecmo Super Bowl roms that have today's players. Is that
a little bit TOO much? I  don't know...I wouldn't mind a
matchup between today's New York Giants and the Giants
of 1991 Tecmo style.


Imagine?

Madden is the king of sports video games, and with good
reason. But for times when I want to recapture some
old memories, I'll pop on the emulator and soak up some
8 bit, synthesizer laden, sprite filled greatness that is
Tecmo Super Bowl. See you on Sunday.

Monday
Sep142009

A Tale of Two Tantrums - Chris "Preach" Smith

New York City, for this weekend, got some fireworks before the
official end of summer from a usual suspect and an unlikely one. It's
now been 24 hours since the interruption heard and seen around the
world courtesy of Kanye West at MTV's Video Music Awards held live
at Radio City Music Hall last night. West took to the stage and brazenly
grabbed a microphone during 19 year old Taylor Swift's acceptance
speech for winning the Best Female Artists' Video award, declaring that
Beyonce had the better video in front of a shocked audience. After being
booed lustily, West then flipped the bird to the audience. After the
display, West apparently was not only asked to leave by MTV staff but
also nearly was assaulted by Pink according to a couple of reports.

Kanye West with Hennessy in one hand and Amber Rose in the other
(MTV Photos)

There is considerable outrage over Kanye's act last night and rightfully so.
What he did was shameful and disrespectful for someone who claims to
be a staunch defender of artistry. What makes it worse is that Taylor Swift
is 19, on one of the biggest stages of her life and someone who she looks
up to as a musician comes in and drops a load of manure on her moment.
Beyonce, in a wonderful move had Swift join her on stage when she won
an award to give her acceptance speech again. Which will probably make
Kanye cringe on that next phone call to Jay-Z. But there are some people
calling for a boycott of West for his actions. While I wouldn't dispute
anyone who wishes to do so, I don't think that will happen. Mainly because
West is someone who feels absolutely comfortable in acting out this way
with little to no reprocussions. When you consider the fact that he has
done this before to MTV, and has had other outbursts yet still gets a lot
of acclaim, the fact of the matter is this: Kanye does it because it gets
people talking. He does it because he follows that cliche of 'there's no
such thing as bad publicity.' If there were a call to boycott Kanye's
music it would have the same effect as the drive to boycott R.Kelly. And
you remember what he was charged with. And how he still made money.
If MTV were to stop giving him airtime then maybe episodes such as
last night wouldn't happen again. But money talks louder than virtues
like courtesy these days. Maybe this is Kanye's wakeup call.


The other tantrum of note this weekend happened in Flushing,
Queens at the US Open during the womens' semifinal between
Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters. Serena was frustrated
throughout this match, smashing her racket on the hard court
earning her a code violation. But her frustration boiled over
and exploded in an expletive-filled tirade directed at the
lineswoman who called a foot fault on her. Williams lost the
match and was later fined $10,000.

The backlash may be greater than expected, but what may truly be shocking
is how many people are calling for Serena's expulsion from future Grand Slam
events in addition to heavier fines. Her actions were disgraceful and shocking
without question. You can safely say that such an outburst was out of
character for her. But one has to have greater perspective here. Tennis as a
sport has had a few volatile personalities, arguably none greater than John
McEnroe who has a lifetime of anger management issues. Ask Tatum O' Neal.
But he has been elevated to the status of a legend partly due to that part of
his personality. And he's been able to make a mint off of it. Serena's display
was terrible, but to ban her from future Slam events is reactionary and sets
a bad double standard for tennis. McEnroe himself suggested that as a fair
punishment, the United States Tennis Association should have her play the
fall tournaments which Williams normally avoids. I would advise them to
take it a step further and also have her submit an apology to the lineswoman
directly rather than the statement on her website which after her
unapologetic stance after the incident seems too rushed and therefore
rings hollow. But to ban one of the top players from Slam events would be
rash and give more heft to the argument that some in tennis don't want
the Williams sisters around anymore for reasons other than their play.

One can only hope that both Kanye West and Serena Williams can regroup
from their respective outbursts to the point where it would be a blip on
their careers. And leave the tirades for other individuals with less talent
and more mouth who we can ignore easily.

Tuesday
Sep082009

Patriot Day - Chris "Preach" Smith

 

In two days, America will stop its frenetic pace and reflect on
on the most tragic day in its existence as a nation of the world.
Eight years later, the physical scars are still evident once you
walk around lower Manhattan and view Ground Zero. More
insistent are the social and emotional scars from that day. 9/11
isn't just another day on the calendar and never will be again.
But 9/11, to a certain number of people, has become little more
than a tool. A tool of exploitation, and deliberate manipulation.
And few are willing to speak out about it.

Consider if you will, the record industry moves over the past
couple of years with regards to hip hop. Kanye West and 50 Cent
were on a much hyped head-to-head collison course at the top
of the charts due to both of their albums being released on
September 11th, 2007. As it was, Interscope Records chose
that day first for 50's album, Curtis. Kanye West's album,
Graduation was initially slated to debut on September 18th but
due to a slew of highly positive acclaim, it was pushed up to
the 11th by Def Jam, Kanye's label. As expected, Kanye won
the battle, selling close to a million units by the end of the
week alone. Jay-Z recently was set to release his highly
anticipated album on 9/11 this year to coincide with his
benefit concert in New York City. But the date was pushed
back to the 8th, possibly to nab some of the sales away from
Raekwon's new album hitting shelves that day. Which begs
the question: aren't there certain things above money that
we must hold sacred? I'm sure the artists weren't concerned
as to when their respective albums were released, and one has
to factor in the current combination of Internet album leaks and
current economic hardships, but to have 9/11 as a fail-safe to
garner money makes these labels no different than the hawkers
selling placemats and postcards with pictures of the Twin Towers
in flames over by the Fulton St. subway station.

9/11 should never have been or continue to
be a means to an exploitative end.

(Image by Zina Salburg)

Which brings me to another point. If you look at your calendars, you
will see that 9/11 is referred to as 'Patriot Day'. And when you look at
certain people who call themselves 'patriots', you have no choice but
to shake your head in utter disbelief. Because 'patriots' have pissed
away so much time and money that the rebuilding of the World Trade
Center is delayed to the point that it won't be ready by the promised
time - which happens to be the tenth year anniversary of 9/11.
Because of 'patriots' such as the crackpot in New Hampshire who walked
around a town hall meeting site where President Obama was to
protest health care reform. Because of 'patriots' such as Sarah Palin
who is proving to be dangerous because of her misguided patriotism
hidden behind verbal attacks on the present administration and her
own transparent hunger for power. Ponder what 'patriot' means to
hopeless bigots in Brooks Brothers leisurewear such as Glenn Beck
and Sean Hannity who are the vanguard of conservative fueled
ignorance. Think about what it means to be a 'patriot' when people
such as the Minutemen out west are responsible for hate fueled
invective and crimes, in one case being murder.

Think about that term very hard when it comes to these people
because if they are considered to be 'patriots', then this nation
is in for a world of hurt. These false patriots have tarnished the
memory of the 3,000 plus people who lost their lives on 9/11 in
an unapologetic fashion. And as an American, you should be
disgusted by their actions. 9/11 should never been or continue
to be a means to an exploitative end. We have an opportunity
to help America regain and restore its luster as a country of
freedom of ideals, a place of expression without repression.
9/11 should come to mind when people speak ill of immigrants.
Think about every young man and woman fighting and dying in
places like Fallujah and Tora Bora for our country because
they bore witness to 9/11 and were moved to demonstrate their
patriotism. And most importantly, we should use 9/11 as a day
to reach out to each other as friends, as neighbors..as family.
Because that is the true sense of patriotism this country needs.
And it's not beyond our grasp.

 

Friday
Aug282009

Is Starbury Burning Out? - Chris "Preach" Smith

"A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind."  - Henry David Thoreau

We all know that whenever there's a major commotion, a good deal
of people stop to stare endlessly. Curiousity is the impteus but the driving
force is a sense of expectation. What is going to happen next? In the case
of Stephon Marbury, the answer might be the end of his NBA career.

There are so many elements to this story that border on the tragic
especially when you consider just how much was expected of Stephon
Marbury and what he believes himself to be. The phenom rose from the
courts at Coney Island with just the right mix of Brooklyn swagger and
a game to match. And he has proven to be a solid player over his career
but that always comes with the classic conversations. You've heard them,
more than likely initiated them and they've always included the words
'selfish' and 'overrated'. It's hard to overcome that when every team that
you depart from has garnered serious playoff success. It's hard to not
pay attention when you set an individual scoring record in the Olympics
and yet you're on a team that finished bronze. But this moment in time
may be a steep climb for Marbury who has proven to be a survivor.

Marbury is a troubled soul, despite his own protestations.

A clip from one of Marbury's recent Internet podcasts:

By now everyone has heard of or seen his online chats, one in which
he ate vaseline and another in which he broke down while listening
to a Kirk Franklin song. He managed to follow this up by admitting
openly that he smokes marijuana. This last tidbit flew under the radar
for most people but rest assured the league will not take it lightly.
Marbury is a free agent after a brief stint with the Boston Celtics.
His stateside basketball career is in jeopardy, but the biggest concern
should be his mental health. Let's keep it in perspective: he went
through a lot being with the New York Knicks, partly his own fault.
That stress plus the fact that he may not have fully recovered from
the heartbreak of his father suffering a fatal heart attack courtside
at Madison Square Garden while he played a couple of years ago
brings us to the here and now.

Marbury is a troubled soul, despite his own protestations. It's safe to say that
few people, if any want publicity for what he did. He's comfortable with it. And
he shouldn't be. Someone close to him, if they're not doing so already, needs
to snatch his laptop, keep him under wraps and training hard on the court. He's
a free agent that few, if any teams are considering. And while he can look to
Europe as an alternative, if teams there are gunning for players in their prime
what role does he expect to play? Starbury could become a completely fallen
star if he's not careful. And that could be devastating when the money stops
rolling in. Ask Latrell Sprewell.

Thursday
Jul022009

I'm Sorry, Michael - Chris "Preach" Smith

 

 

If there's anything I would say to Michael Jackson given the chance before his tragic exit from this earth, it's this: I am sorry. I am so sorry that your life was never really your own, manipulated by a father that saw dollar signs and a way to escape the hardships of Gary, Indiana on the backs of you and your siblings. I'm still shaking my head over how he shamelessly plugged his record label two days after you took your last breath on the red carpet of an awards show. But you knew how low the man could be; why else would he not be named in your will? I am sorry that even in death, there is an obsession with picking you apart like a holiday turkey.

It's as if with every 15 minutes, someone pops up with a new story about your past or an 'anonymous' source has decided to share a tidbit of gossip because as we all know with American media, rumors are worth more than the lives of soldiers in Mosul or Tora Bora from time to time. Which brings me to the question: who made the command decision to search for Bubbles the chimp? And will Martin Bashir now come under heavy scrutiny? We can only wonder Michael, if he finds himself swimming in remorse in those solitary moments. He, not unlike your father and others, rose to prominence while shoving you into a morass of misery.

 

Michael, I feel very sorry that you felt that your blackness was a burden to the point where you mutilated yourself.

I don't claim to be a psychiatrist, but I remember having a talk with a friend of mine about another topic, which was aggressive lesbians and their outward persona of machismo. And what she told me was essentially that they took on that persona because it represented strength and power, power they never really had. Maybe you felt the same way. Maybe that's what drove you to those surgeries that destroyed your skin, eradicated your nose.

Michael, I feel very sorry that you felt that your blackness was a burden to the point where you mutilated yourself.You lived a struggle that some of us still deal with internally. And I'm sorry that you were so wrought with confusion as your life went on. Most people have a childhood. You had a career at the age of nine. And you wanted that childhood, even while possibly making the most horrible of decisions an adult can make while in the presence of children. Most of all, I'm sorry that it took your death for me, all of us to sit back and reflect just how much you gave to the world through your musical genius. And how much it cost you mentally and physically.

At last word of your death, you were balding in spots, riddled with needle marks and weighed in at 112 pounds. I will feel a great deal of pain as I see 21st century minstrels with idiotic jewelry who hide their lack of talent behind technological advances and send shout outs to slave traders. And hope that someone will stop the fiends at Westboro Church who warped one of your greatest songs for their own sick agenda. But, that pain will be temporary.

Because I will remember you always as the child who sang with such soul in the 60's. I'll remember saying goodbye to one of my first loves as 'Maybe Tomorrow played in the background. To me, no late night out in the carefree jungle of New York City will be complete without 'Off The Wall' being part of the soundtrack. And I will observe how your life is a lesson..that those who seem to have it all have nothing but hurt and emptiness. Yet they too, can make a great impact on the world. And all of the apologies will be a bridge to the peace that you never had here.

Rest in peace Michael Jackson.