Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Ketchup is flowing

After scoring just 2 goals in the first eight periods of play against Dwayne Roloson of the Edmonton Oilers, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks have put the puck in the net 9 times in the last four. The figurative ketchup bottle that Selanne alluded to after the 5-4 loss in game #3 is open and oozing all over the place. Now that the Ducks have refound their scoring touch and their confidence, this could still end up becoming an interesting series. They've already won 6 games in a row once during these playoffs, so who's to say they can't win three more in a row.

History is against the Ducks, with only the 1942 Maple Leafs and 1975 New York Islanders coming back after being down 3-0 in a best of seven series. The Ducks have the monkey off their backs. They've found out how to score, and they managed to win their first game in Edmonton since 1999, snapping a 13-game losing streak. In order to advance, the Ducks need to win game five at home, game six on the road in Edmonton, and game seven back at home. As long as the ketchup keeps flowing, I think the Ducks still have a chance.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Will the Ducks Make it a Series?

"Our goal scoring this year has been like a ketchup bottle," Teemu Selanne said. "It's hard to get it out sometimes but when it comes, it's going to come a lot. I feel like the momentum is on our side right now. We just have to carry that over next time."

The Ducks are down in the series 3-0. Only two teams have ever come back when down 3-0 in a series, and the last team to do it was the 1975 New York Islanders.

This series has been quite a letdown for me so far, and not because the team I'm rooting for, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, are down. Until the 3rd period in Game #3, the scoring has been very low, and the # of quality chances to score have also been low. I blame the Edmonton Oilers for playing a system the encourages boring hockey.

The Oilers success has come from clogging up the passing lanes, blocking every shot possible, and never giving the guy with the puck any time or space to work with. It's a tough system to implement unless you have everyone on the team buying in - and the Oilers are doing that very well. The Oilers win by limiting the # of quality scoring chances for their opposition, relying on religion to make a few key saves, and getting a few opportunistic goals per game. I don't necessarily blame the Oilers for doing what they have to do to win, but it does make we wish that San Jose had finished off the Oilers when they were up 2-0 in the series and had a chance.

All three games have been close. The first two were identical 2-1 wins, with an empty nether. Game #3 had a wild finish, with the Oilers scoring three times in a 2:21 span in the 3rd to open up a 4-0 lead, before allowing the Mighty Ducks to score 4 times, and almost tie it in a mad scramble with a few seconds to go.

I hope Selanne is right. Up to the third period in Game #3, Selanne had been held scoreless in the series. If Selanne can build on that first goal, and the Ducks can put together a win tonight, they can still make a series out of it. They've already one 6 in a row once in the playoffs, so I wouldn't count them out just yet.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Musings on the Nintendo Wii

After checking out some of the Nintendo Wii videos from E3 on youtube, I have to admit I'm intrigued. The Sega Genesis was the only console I ever owned, as I have generally preferred the depth and refinement of PC gaming over the non-stop button mashing of console gaming.

To give you an idea of the types of games I enjoy, If I had to put together a top ten list of the my favorite games of all time, I would have to say:

#1. Half-Life, PC, 1997, 10.0 - Simply the best game ever made

#2. Starcraft, PC, 2000 9.9 - The best RTS of all time. Millions of South Koreans can't be wrong

#3. Half-Life 2, PC, 2004 9.7 - Technically, this is far-and-away the best game of all time. Unfortunately, my laptop isn't quite powerful enough to run it that well, and it ends up overheating every twenty minutes, which really diminishes the immersion factor.

#4. System Shock 2, PC, 9.7 - At the time, this was the scariest and most immersive game I've ever played. This is also one of the most difficult games ever, requiring you to think carefully before every shot you take, lest you run out of ammo

#5. Deus Ex, PC, 9.6 - Another gem from Ion Storm.

#6. NHL '99, PC, 1999 9.5 - I was tempted to go with NHL '95 on the Sega Genesis, but after recently revisiting the game, I realized it wasn't quite as good as I remembered. I'll have to check out a post-lock version of EA Sport's NHL series some time.

#7. Unreal Tournament 2004, PC, 2004 9.2 - The Ultimate in multiplayer gaming. When the next Unreal Tournament game comes out, I may be forced to upgrade my gaming rig. (and revisit Half-Life 2 :)

#8. Super Mario 64 - My favorite console game of all time.

Also Rans: Thief, the Deadly Project, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, NBA Jam, High Heat Baseball, Fifa '99

As you'll probably notice, the majority of the games listed in my top ten are at least 5-6 years old, if not more. The trend over the past few years has been increasingly expensive gaming rigs and graphics cards, better graphics, bigger explosions, and dumbed-down game play. I just can't imagine plunking down $450 for an XBox 360 or $649 for a Playstation 3 (HD-DVD/Blueray drive or not)

But for some reason, I found myself intrigued by the Nintendo Wii - a product with one of goofiest names ever. The key to the Nintendo wii is the revolutionary new controller. Take a look a some of these innovative game ideas:

Wii Tennis -Get some exercise while playing a very fun game

Wii Golf -Work on your drives and putting without leaving your own living room

Wii E3 Demo - Highlighting some of the new games coming out for the Nintendo Wii

Wii Tech Demo - Some basic demos to show how the Wii controller may be used for gameplay

The key that differentiates the Nintendo Wii from the PS3 or XBox 360 is that they have brought fun and innovation back into gaming, instead of the same old derivative gameplay with slightly improved graphics. The Wii is expected to launch in Q4 2006 (probably just before Christmas) and sell for somewhere between $199 and $249. I'm really hoping they can manage to keep the price down at $199, because they'll move a lot more units at that price, and, maybe, just maybe, I may be able to convince my wife that it's worth it :)


Monday, May 15, 2006

Jon Stewart on NSA Wiretapping

Did you just see that montage on the Daily Show - all Fox News clips trying to defend the president and the NSA surveillance program. Hilarious - "Sure there collecting our phone calls, but wouldn't you rather that than collecting our remains?"

The US Government is trying to quash the $50-100 billion lawsuits against the telcos, stating that such a case will disclose "state secrets" and it is in the interest of national security not to do so. They are invoking the infrequently used States Secrets Privilege, which has been used several times since 9/11.

Some related links:

US files motion to intervene in AT&T secrets case

Verizon Suit could Add Risk

Details on Verizon Lawsuit

US Government Intervenes in EFF vs AT&T

DOJ To Claim National Security in NSA Case

I love the fact that Stewart invoked the infamous "I did not have sexual relations with that Wiretapping Scandal" quote, which helps to shine a mirror on how ridiculous the Clinton scandal was compared to the seriousness to this affront on American Civil Liberties. With McClellan resigning, Rove indicted, Cheney under fire, this insane NSA scandal, and popularity polls below 30%, (not to mention so many other scandals which are simply too numerous to mention) can impeachment really be that far off?