When the Super Nintendo was first announced, I started saving my allowance, birthday money and Christmas money like you would not believe. I did not spend the money stored in my tin can on anything until the Super Nintendo hit store shelves. My parents surprised me by picking it up one day, at which point I emptied the tin can and forked over the $200 I had saved and was expecting to spend that weekend. I immediately started to hook the system up alongside its predecessor, the Nintendo Entertainment System and got to playing Super Mario World as quickly as possible. I was so excited and was so happy to see Mario in glorious 16 bits, but the music was also captivating and catchy. Still to this day I have a tune from the game pop in my head at random.
Over the years I have seen or heard music from the game performed by brass ensembles and string quartets and so on. Until today, I had never heard it performed by a handful of old floppy drives. So here it is, in its full floppy drive glory, one of the main themes from Super Mario World;
I was never a huge Evanescence fan, but there was only that one song that I got a kick out of. You know which one I’m talking about. It starts out with the female lead opening things up by herself with a piano and yada, yada, yada I’m all fired up to kick some butt.
That song is “Bring Me To Life,” and it’s not too shabby and you can listen to it now on Spotify. But if have you ever listened to the song and thought “It needs something here,” then perhaps this is the mash-up you’ve been waiting for. It might just have you shouting out “Yo Yo Ma!” The key changes are a thing of beauty as well.This is real gold, Jerry.
The Utah Jazz won a road game at Philadelphia yesterday, 104-92. This extended the losing streak for the Sixers to 16 straight games. The Sixers have given up 100 points or more in 15 of those losses. The last time the Sixers won a home game was January 15, against the Charlotte Bobcats. That was a long time ago.
Villanova’s basketball team has been more successful at the Wells Fargo Center though. The Wildcats won their third game in the arena yesterday by blowing away Georgetown Saturday afternoon, 77-59, before the Sixers and Jazz played on the same court hours later. All three Villanova wins in the Wells Fargo Center, not including an exhibition win against West Chester, have come since January 20. Villanova has won three times (St. John’s, Marquette and Georgetown) at the Wells Fargo Center since the last home Sixers win. The lone loss Villanova experienced in the Wells Fargo Center came on January 20, against Creighton.
I recently learned how to play some old DOS games on my MacBook Pro (See: DOSBox). This has be itching to dig out some old floppy disks, hook up my USB floppy drive (because my laptop has no such thing included) and load up some old school Sim City 2000. I think I also have a couple of old demo disks of games that I acquired from some various computer shows that would show up at the Exton Square Mall. I know for sure I picked up a Pac-Man clone called CD Man and a demo for something called Bart’s Law (which was a total scam I will get in to some other time). I probably have those disks somewhere nearby.
One program I know I will not be revisiting at any point is Mario Teaches Typing. Don’t get me wrong, it served a decent purpose for me at a younger age to get me to try and improve my typiing skills, but ultimately it was a chore. This was the first time I really came to the idea that just because Mario is slapped in a title, game or program, it does not necessarily make it a worthwhile title. At this time I had come to expect a certain standard when it came to Mario graphics and sound, and DOS hardware and software struggled to meet those expectactions at a time when Super Mario Brothers 3 was the gold standard (Mario Taches Typing was released a year after Super Mario Brothers 3).
Sometimes the weather forecast has to be adjusted on the fly. Such seems to be the case for today’s snow that moved through the region. While areas south of me probably got the expected snowfall they had been expecting for a few days now, the hyped 6-12 inches they were calling for around the Allentown area never developed. Now that the snow has come to an end where I am, I decided to show just how far off the initial snow predictions were for where I live.
The weather forecasts this winter have been mostly accurate, and sometimes the weather does change as it is moving. To be fair, the meteorologists seem to have been adjusting their predictions accordingly, but let this be a reminder that in the end they are all just guessing.
The 2014 Winter Olympics have come to a close. The Americans fell flat in some of the events they were expected to be medal contenders and favorites in, but that did not diminish my level of enthusiasm for the winter games. I can’t help being an Olympic geek every four (or two I suppose) years. I admit to only paying attention to a number of the sports held every four years and I am not about to start following many of them on a more regular basis, but I like to think I know enough to enjoy all of the sports in the Olympics, with a few exceptions. I also try to make sure I learn something new every time the Olympics come around.
With that, here are some of the things I learned while watching the 2014 Winter Olympics, in no particular order.
The Netherlands is pretty good at this speed skating thing. The Dutch claimed a total of 23 medals in speed skating events, which is just ridiculous. Eight gold medals, seven silver and eight bronze medals. To put that in to perspective, Poland was the next biggest medal winner in speed skating events with a total of three medals.
The Americans were awful at this speed skating thing. Team USA is generally pretty good at speed skating, but you wouldn’t know it if you tuned in to speed skating for the first time in 2014. The Americans were shut out of the podium during each event, and the new Under Armour uniforms may not be the culprit. Our nation did not fare as well as they usually do on the short track either, finishing sixth in the medal count in the first Olympics without Apollo Ohno.
The Russians took advantage of Olympic free agency for medals. I get why some athletes would take advantage of the citizenship and ancestor rules allowing them to compete for a different nation during the games, and I don’t really have much a problem with that. But it is sort of a different game when a nation pretty much offers an athlete citizenship so they can compete under their flag. Such was the case for Russia and short track skater Victor Ahn, formerly of South Korea. I love the Victor Ahn redemption story and was happy to see him stick it to the South Korean short track team, but Russia knew he would help boost their medal count in a sport they traditionally have not been a factor in. Russia added five medals in short track and Ahn joined Ohno as the sport’s all-time record holder for total medals with six.
USA hockey is good, but Canada is just better. The US women lost a heartbreaker to Canada in the gold medal game in one of the biggest choke jobs I have seen since the Boston Bruins lost a 3-0 series lead to the Philadelphia Flyers in the Stanley Cup Finals a few years ago, and the Bruins let a Stanley Cup Final game slip away from them against the Chicago Blackhawks. But enough picking on Boston. The US women are really good, but even against the best team in the world you cannot let a two-goal lead slip away in the final minutes with a gold medal on the line. The men also came up short against Canada with a spot in the gold medal game on the line. This was not as much of a sting because few expected the men to medal in the first place. Through the round robin tournament though Team USA looked like a gold medal favorite, but Canada stepped things up after some less-than-superior play this tournament and they shut down the Americans in a 1-0 victory to advance to the gold medal game against Sweden. The only explanation I have for the blowout loss to Finland is Team USA was ready to go home after the Canada game, but Finland is pretty darn good too.
At least Team USA is better than Russia. Russia thought they had a gold medal team but for the third straight Olympics the Russians failed to even win a medal. Perhaps this is what happens when the hockey team has so much influence from the president of the country. Who does Vladimir Putin think he is anyway, Jerry Jones?
Spock and Scotty may have encountered a temporal vortex. Not sure how many times I saw the Xfinity commercial with Spock and Scotty, but you would think two Starfleet members of the United Federation of Planets would be less than impressed with the technology the Xfinity folks are showing off to them.
Time for Shaun White to pass the torch. One fo the biggest disappointments early on in the winter Olympics was the performances of Team USA in men’s halfpipe. Shaun White, the icon, pulled out of the new snowboarding event in order to focus on the halfpipe, just weeks after pulling out of the XGames to prepare for Sochi. Nobody pulled down the high score White did in the qualification runs, but when it came time to put it all on the line White wiped out. In fact, all of the Americans struggled on the halfpipe, keeping the men halfpipers off the podium. Team USA still led the overall medal count in snowboarding events, but the halfpipe is the signature event. If White is not going to lead the charge in 2018, who will?
I should say I have been a fan of Switzerland’s Iouri Podladtchikov for a while now so I was not terribly upset by the halfpipe outcome.
Jimmy Kimmel is a master of the viral pranks. Late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel pulled another fast one on everybody with his wolf video prank. With a little help of American luger Kate Hansen in Sochi. This is not the first time Kimmel has caught everyone by surprise, and it will only be a matter of time before he does it again.
Trouble in Russia? Overblown. All we heard about heading in ot the Olympics was how safe would athletes, fans (and most importantly) the media be in Sochi. Terror alerts and questions about security were everywhere in the media, cautioning traveling fans to be alert and prepared for anything. Unless anything happens during the closing ceremonies, it looks like the biggest problem faced during the Olympics came with the arrest and incident with the band Pussy Riot. Russia may be despicable when it comes to human rights, but if that is the biggest problem we have read about, then this year’s Olympics have been a success.
The summer Olympics are still more entertaining. I really do enjoy many of the events during the winter Olympics, but they just do not compare top to bottom with the summer games. I would take the Olympic hockey over the Olympic basketball, because the pro talent on the ice seems more spread out compared to the distribution on the court and that offers a more competitive and entertaining tournament. The summer games just seem to offer more that I can get in to like the track and field and swimming events. The ice skating events are a huge draw during the winter games, but it does nothing but drag down my enthusiasm watching the games. I am by far a huge gymnastics fan, but even that seems more entertaining to me than the ice skating events.
Two more years until Rio de Janeiro, and that should be a ton of fun.
I hated using a dot matrix printer in my early computer days. The ribbons faded quickly with the amount of stuff I printed out from Print Shop Deluxe, Kid Pix and Prodigy. Still, all these years later it seems as though they still have some life in them and some tricks to show off.
Take this printer for instance, which prints to the tune of Eye of the Tiger…
The best sport at the Winter Olympics is coming down the home stretch, and it will be fueled by some intense rivalries with statements to be made.
Team USA will face off with Canada for the gold medal in the women’s ice hockey tournament Thursday. As far as women’s hockey is concerned, this is the only rivalry that matters right now. The two teams are so far advanced in the game compared to the rest of the world. This is the biggest rivalry in the sport of women’s ice hockey, and you can tell each side is playing on a different level than the rest of the competition. The two sides have already met in the round robin, with Canada edging the Americans 3-2 a little more than a week ago. We knew then though that a rematch was going to be very likely in the gold medal match, so taking a loss for either team meant little as it relates to the eventual outcome of this tournament.
Both Team USA (ranked number one in the world) and Canada earned a bye in the tournament, reserving a spot in the semifinals to await the winners of the quarterfinals. Canada took care of Switzerland, 3-1, and the US dominated Sweden by a score of 6-1 to set up the gold medal match, a rematch of the 2010 Olympic gold medal game. Canada won on their home ice in Vancouver in 2010, shutting out the United States 2-0. The United States won the first women’s ice hockey gold medal at the 1998 games in Nagano, Japan, but Canada has celebrated a gold medal in each of the three Olympic tournaments since and is going for a fourth straight gold. Despite Olympic success for Canada, the United States is certainly not intimidated by their rivals to the north. Since 1990 the two nations have clashed for the IIHF World Women’s Championships all 15 times. Canada had won the first eight match-ups for the world championship, but the US has won five of the last seven championships. Between them they own 30 gold and silver medals in IIHF world championship competition. Finland is next in line with 10 bronze medals.
On Thursday afternoon (noon eastern time, that is), the Americans will get a chance to make a huge statement about the state of American hockey, but that will only be the beginning. The fun continues the following day when the men’s teams from the United States and Canada will meet in the men’s tournament semifinals, which will send the winner to the gold medal game and drop the loser in to the bronze medal game. Canada arrived in Sochi as a gold medal favorite in men’s ice hockey and for good reason. No roster includes the collective talent Canada has this year, but the 2010 gold medal winners have struggled to find their offensive flair. The defensemen have scored seven of their 12 goals in the round robin portion of the tournament.
Sweden has been playing like the gold medal favorite to this point, but no team has impressed the way Team USA has heading in to the semifinal. Entering the Olympics as a decided underdog with a puncher’s chance to medal, the Americans are looking more like a gold medal favorite than anyone would have expected. Having blitzed by Slovakia and upstart Slovenia in round robin play and knocking off host-nation Russia in an epic shootout, the Americans clinched the second seed in the elimination tournament against many odds. It was not a fluke either. The US had a tournament high goal differential of +11 and only allowed four goals. Perhaps taking advantage of an aging Czech Republic team that played the previous day, the United States pulled away from the Czechs in their first elimination game, 5-2. That set up the anticipated North American border war on ice in the semifinals.
When it comes to ice hockey, Canada has been the bigger brother to the United States. Throughout the history of the game, there has been little comparison between the two hockey programs. Canada has eight Olympic gold medals in men’s hockey, including two of the last three. They also have four silver medals and a pair of bronze medals. On top of that Canada has 18 gold medals in IIHF World Championships. The United States has just two Olympic gold medals, with the 1980 Miracle on Ice team joining the 1960 team for the honor. The Americans have finished with a silver eight times, but have played in the gold medal game just four times dating back to 1972.
There is a reason ice hockey is considered the national sport of our neighbors to the north. They eat, live and breathe it. The United States, not quite so much. But that may be turning a corner. A victory over Canada on Friday afternoon would support that.
The men’s hockey tournament has become a different breed than what it once was. The inclusion of NHL players has leveled the playing field for teams like the USA, but that overshadows the idea that ice hockey is growing in terms of talent and depth in this country. If this tournament has been any indication, the USA has become more dominant in the sport than many may be willing to concede. The talent over the years has grown and developed and is now turning out talent like never before. Wins against teams like Slovakia and Czech Republic may not be impressive on paper, but seeing how those games were played showed just how much better the USA is against those nations. Russia has fallen flat and appears to be dropping off as a national power as well. But a victory over Canada would be the bold statement the USA is waiting to be made. All of this hard work is paying off, but a win over Canada would be huge.
The United States beating Canada would be like Michigan State beating Michigan in football. Like Canada, Michigan is the bigger brand and the more recognizable program with loads of history behind it. Michigan State has its share of history as well but always lives in the shadows of their rivals from Ann Arbor. Michigan State has worked hard in developing their football program and last season they finally reached the top of the Big Ten by winning the conference championship and advancing to Pasadena, here they won the Rose Bowl.
The United States is Michigan State. Good players, but a better team.
Coincidentally enough, the winner of the North American border war on Friday will advance to play in the gold medal game against the winner of another border war. Sweden and Finland share a border that is mostly under water. Their rivalry on ice though is something else.
Like the United States chasing Canada, Finland has long been trying to catch up to and pass Sweden in ice hockey. In the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, Finland had one of their strongest Olympic tournaments. The Fins ran through group play by outscoring opponents 19-2, highlighted by a 2-0 victory over Canada. Sweden had a rougher run through group play with a dismal 0-2 start with 3-0 and 5-0 losses to Slovakia and Russia, but the Swedes stormed back with three straight wins in group play, including a 2-1 victory over the United States. Sweden hit their stride at the best possible time, proving once again that momentum in the Olympic tournament is a huge factor. After closing out group play with three wins, Sweden blew away Switzerland and Czech Republic in the quarter and semifinals. Finland won their games as well, against tougher competition from Russia and the United States. The gold medal game would be a hugely anticipated Scandanavian match-up between Sweden, owners of the momentum, and Finland, the team seemingly unbeatable in this Olympic tournament. Sweden edged Finland 3-2 for the gold medal. Finland is still in search of their first men’s hockey gold medal. Sweden has two.
Four years later, in 2010, one Finnish hockey writer even admitted that Sweden was Finland’s big brother in ice hockey. That year pit Finland and Sweden in the same group in round robin play. Sweden won the round robin match-up, 3-0, to clinch the top spot out of the group and the second seed in the elimination tournament, but it was Finland that would bring home a bronze medal with a bronze medal game victory over Slovakia. Sweden had been eliminated by Slovakia in the quarterfinals, which was more than enough reason for Finland to celebrate. The Sweden upset loss to Slovakia may have been more celebrated than the bronze medal.
Perhaps the 2014 Winter Olympics will be the year for Little Brothers to gain the upper hand on the world stage.
Remember the old Nintendo game, Excitebike? You know, the dirt bike racing game that actually allowed you to design and save your own courses? At the time this was fascinating technology. You may remember the celebration cut scene at the end of the race. If you happened to finish in first place on the podium your racer would jump up and down with joy.
Turns out that scene has been playing out on the podiums at the Olympics in Sochi as well…