Archive for November, 2011

They Did It!

Nebraska’s volleyball team clinched the Big Ten championship last night with a convincing win over Iowa.  This is Nebraska’s first Big Ten championship in any sport.

Hooray for women athletes!   And Go Big Red!


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The LA Times tells me that the city of Dallas has decided to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Kennedy assassination (that will occur in 2013) despite the wishes of the Kennedy family.  City leaders are anxious to shrug off the city’s “collective guilt over being the city that killed Kennedy. ”  (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-dallas-jfk-20111122,0,4187467.story)


I can grant that young Americans–like the two in this photo who are supporting an old fart as he kneels at the very spot in Dealey Plaza–do not understand the impact that Kennedy’s assassination had on the country they live in.   Nor do they have any way of realizing the horror most of us felt that day (although they could read a book or even watch a movie about it, I don’t suppose the impact would be as gut-physical as the actual event).  But because they appear to be human beings, I have to ask whether or not they have any sensitivity at all.

And of course the old fart in the photo must have actually lived through that horrible day and week just as the rest of us now-old farts did, and yet he is now able to pose for a joke photo.  Perhaps he was one of the many citizens of Dallas who, in 1963, threatened to kill Kennedy if he visited their city.  Or maybe old fart was one of the hundreds of thousands of American wingnuts who thought Kennedy was a nigger-lover, and deserved to be shot just because of that.  Or maybe he just has no human sensitivity, either.

But then he is down with the program, isn’t he?  I can’t believe that the city has painted that “X” on the pavement.  I guess my values are just not up to today’s standards.  Or maybe that should be “down.”

In some respects, btw, it can be argued that Dallas did kill Kennedy.  Anyone who has read the books or seen the movies knows that.  At the very least, the city took insufficient cautions to protect the president–not to mention their insufficient attention to protecting his supposed killer (Jack Ruby–a known associate of the mob– just walked into the police station, using an unlocked and unguarded door.  He mingled with reporters and off-duty cops, some of whom he knew, and none of whom asked what he was doing there or how he got permission to be there).

I visited Dealey Plaza in 1973 with a couple of friends from graduate school.  Even then, tourists were allowed to walk upstairs to the sixth floor of the book depository, to see the window from which Oswald was said to have fired the fatal shots.  None of us wanted to do that, because just standing there in that infamous Plaza was about all we could take.  All of us were too painfully aware of events that followed upon JFK’s assassination:   for us, because we were young, this meant escalation of the war in Vietnam and the shootings of students on college campuses.  One of us was a veteran, and we had had the unpleasant experience of being ejected from the American Legion bar in our college town when the old vet farts assembled therein discovered that he was a member of the VVAW.  And because we were DFHs, also, too.

I can’t believe I’m dredging all of this up, so I’ll stop now.  It’s just that on 11/22 I always think of that time, of that day, with pain.  Pain not only for that moment, but for what America seems to have become.  Or maybe Americans always were crass and commercial, and that side of our culture shows up with real clarity on anniversaries like today.

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Meme Cop

The UC Davis cop has become a meme, thanks to the folks who invented lolcats.  See much more at http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/casually-pepper-spray-everything-cop/photos.

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My Sentiments Exactly

Not hard to guess what Taylor Martinez is thinking here.

Michigan beat us on both sides of the ball.  And we helped out with fumbles, errors, and busted plays.


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And He Scores!

What is it with former Nebraska linemen?  First Suh, and now Matt Slauson, score touchdowns.   I don’t know which is less likely–but I’d guess that it’s Slauson’s, because he is an offensive guard.  Here’s what happened:  the Jets’ running back fumbled the ball while he was under a pile of Denver defensive players.  Slauson, who had finished his task of opening holes in the line and was standing in the end zone, said he just happened to look down and said to himself “Ball!”  Apparently it was lying right at his feet.  He picked it up and waved it around, and belatedly, the referees and everybody watching realized that the Jets had indeed scored a touchdown!

I gather that this is called a “fat guy touchdown” by smart-alec sportswriters.  But hey–it counts just the same as one thrown by a skinny quarterback.  Go Matt!  He gave the Jets about the only thing they had to cheer about last night.

Biting fingernails here–early tomorrow two of the winningest programs in college football–Nebraska and Michigan–play one another for the first time as conference foes.

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Well, I’ve finally gotten into Skyrim.   Like all the Elder Scrolls games, it has an entirely open game world where the player is free to roam as she wishes, ransacking dungeons, picking flowers to make potions, or picking pockets to make money if that is her avatar’s thing.  Or she can pick up the main plot, or go off on side quests that are generated by interactions with the thousands of  NPCs that populate these games.   The game world of Skyrim is huge, and I got to wondering if it were larger than it predecessors.  On reflection, I decided it probably was not, allowing for technical progress since the early 1990s.

Just to show you how far things have progressed in the series, here’s a screenshot from Arena (1993), the first of the Elder Scrolls games:

Looking back, I’m amazed I ever finished this game.  Like all the others in the series, Arena is an open world where you are on your own about what to do next.  And you start in some kind of trouble–a dungeon in this case–as you do in all the other games in the series except Morrowind.  In Arena‘s day players had to keep notes because there was no such thing as an in-game journal.   I remember fighting and cursing my way through this game without help from the internet (to which I then had no access), and  I didn’t know there were hint books one could buy.   I was surprised when I researched Arena for this post to learn that it has in-game cheat codes, just as all the other games in the series do (which makes we want to play it again and cheat like hell).  The box for this game (I still have it)  says you need at minimum a 386 processor and 4 MB of RAM to play, which probably meant a pretty big machine in those days.

The second entry in the series, Daggerfall, came out the next year.  At the time it was one of the best games I ever played, and I still feel a lot of affection for it.  Here’s a screenshot:

As you can see, the graphics are only slightly improved.   Nevertheless, according to the box, one needed a screamin’ 486 and 8 meg of RAM to play this baby.  Again, the game world is huge.    The dungeons in particular are stupendous, snaking up and down for miles with beasties around every turn.  By this time I had wised up and bought a cheat book, though;   otherwise I’d never have survived, let alone figured out the main plot.  As I recall, the armored women pictured here were thieves who would help themselves to your gold while they beat you up.

Those of you reading this are no doubt familiar with ES III and IV, Morrowind and Oblivion.  So I’ll just skip to a couple of screenshots from Skyrim:

Skyrim is the province of the Nords, hard people who live a hard life in a rocky mountain landscape.  The scenery is spectacular, as is true of all the recent games in this series.  This tiny shot doesn’t do justice to the rippling stream as depicted in the game, where it rills and sparkles in the sunlight.  I’ve only encountered one dragon so far, but she was spectacular–I was so riveted watching her that I got killed by falling debris the first time around!

And here is one of my current heroes:

You will note the grey hair, because any avatar of mine should show that he has been around the block once or twice.   He ripped off all this great armor from dead Imperials as he fled from the dragon in the very first moments of the game.   When I designed him I tried to get away from the faint resemblance to Lee van Cleef, but I’m discovering that nearly all of the characters have this slightly hard look.  Not sure if I like it or not.  It is appropriate, perhaps, to the setting, though.

I’ll get back to you with a review when I’ve played a bit longer.

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Big Red Volleyball

I just watched Nebraska’s women’s volleyball team handily defeat number 19 Minnesota.  The Huskers lost the first set but came back and fought hard to take the next three.  They are ranked number 4 in the country and first in the Big Ten.  They are really fun to watch, especially on defense.  I can hardly wait for the nationals to see if they are as good as I think they are.

You might notice the bruise on Dykstra’s leg (she is second from left in this picture)–she is Nebraska’s labaro, which means she spends a good part of every match on her belly, digging the ball out of the floorboards.  The power hitters are Gina Mancuso, far left;  Hannah Werth, to Dykstra’s left, and Delano and Brookheiser on the right.  Lauren Cook, whose back is turned to us in this photo, is the setter, and is she often the reason Nebraska wins.   And oh yeah:  according to Nebraska blogs, she is also the reason that Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez often attends volleyball games.  Of course that doesn’t explain why football coach Bo Pelini was also there tonight, but I’d bet that his daughters want to play for NU someday.

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