I heard this morning that Hasbro was going to get rid of the Jail square on the Monopoly board game, and was really pissed off.  The reason they are doing this, they say, is to speed up gameplay due to the shorter attention spans of todays youth.  They have since come out and said that they are NOT removing the jail square, which I guess is good thing.  But I think they are really missing the point.  If the sales of the board game are down, it’s not because of the shorter attention spans of people, it’s because there are so many better board games to be playing!

I am a huge fan of board games.  I have been ever since I was a child.  My parents always made my sister and me play board games with them as family time when we were growing up.  Now, one of my best friends and his wife love to come over and play board games.

There is a long list of board games that come out every year that are so interesting, that I am dying to try them.  Unfortunately, I really don’t have time any longer.  But, there are endless places to find new games.  And Monopoly is falling behind.  They keep trying to update their game with city editions, sports editions, and even electronic editions.  But they cannot compete with the newer games.

Right now, the game I am addicted to the most is Ticket To Ride.  It’s a blast, and I just taught it to three of my friends this past weekend, so the virus is spreading.  We also have the Europe version, and want to get Germany and the Nordic versions.

I am still trying to figure out Settlers of Catan.  I’ve been dying to play, and finally was able to about a month ago.  Unfortunately, I’m a dumb dumb and learned how to play while drinking.  Not the best way to learn what is a fairly complicated game.

My buddy Greg is supposed to bring over Puerto Rico next weekend so we can figure that one out, but as one of my favorite Simpsons quotes goes… “Sounds like someone’s got a case of the sposdas.”  (Really only funny to me, my buddy Fez and anyone who loves The Simpsons.)

This is just a small sampling of what I’m talking about.  There are board game conventions, and awards for best new game that make trying new games so exciting.  Games from a jillion years ago like Monopoly are becoming obsolete.  I do agree that attention spans are getting shorter.  With so many options for how to spend ones time, a board game that takes forever isn’t a great idea.  Shorter games that I love like Wits and Wagers, Cards against Humanity, and the always amazing while drinking Pictionary are always going to take priority.

I understand the worry the people at Hasbro have.  Monopoly has always been a very popular game with a huge name recognition.  But I think they have bigger problems than attention spans and the go to jail spot on the board.  They need to concern themselves with people simply making better games.

Phil and the Camino De Santiago

For those who haven’t read Phil’s couple of posts on this site, I highly recommend them.  He is a much smarter person than I am.  He is all about quality, rather than the quantity that I write about.  He started blogging a couple years ago, and invited me to write with him.  Eventually, we both ran out of time for that blog.  When I started this one up, there was only one person I wanted to invite to help me on this one.  At some point, I may include some of our other friends if they are so inclined, but this has always been our thing.

He hasn’t created a page about himself yet, even though I have encouraged him to do so.  So I’m going to help out a bit.  Phil is a world traveler.  He has been everywhere.  Well not everywhere.  I don’t think he’s been to Australia.  But all over Europe, Asia, yeah Phil’s been there.  Well, in about two weeks, Phil and his wife are going to take on El Camino de Santiago, or The Way of St. James.

I had never heard of this, but apparently last year, almost 200,00o people had done this pilgrimage.  So Phil will be one of many.  I don’t remember exactly where he is starting.  According to the map, you can start almost anywhere in Europe.  I do know he is starting in France.

There is a movie based on this trip called The Way starring Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen.  I am going to watch it before he goes, but part of it concerns me.  Apparently there are numerous people who don’t make the whole trip.  And I don’t mean they give up and fly home.  Part of me is very concerned for my friend.  I’m sure part of that is weather related, and summer is a great time to go.  But Phil will be staying in hostels, and I saw that damn movie too!!!

On the lighter side, but a side that still pisses me off, Phil is skipping our fantasy football draft for this trip.  I am the commissioner of our league, and picked the date for the draft in February.  Everyone in the league makes fun of me for picking the date six months early.  THIS IS WHY I PICK THE DATE SIX MONTHS EARLY.  What a bunch of dicks.  Phil is the only person in the league to make the playoffs the past two seasons, which goes to show that fantasy football is a total crapshoot.  I have to pick his team for him this year so hopefully he’s not too upset with the 16 men who make up his roster.  If he’s worried about it, he can always Skype in from wherever he is!

To be honest, I think it’s awesome that Phil and his wife get to travel the world as much as they do.  I am insanely jealous that I have never seen the places they have seen.  Although, he did tell me a story about waking up to a spider the size of a dinner plate.  That country I can skip.  We don’t get to see each other as much as we would like.  He lives downtown.  I live in the suburbs.  I have two kids, he’s living the no kid life.  But I’m still going to miss my friend.  It’s an arduous journey and I will be worried for his (and obviously his wife’s) safety until they return.  Godspeed, Phil.  And get home soon.

Ryan Braun

This story has been written about by every sports blogger on the face of the Earth.  So I’m not going to tackle that here.  I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my day, and I’m certainly in no place to judge him for his transgressions.  The part of this story that I am fixated on was mentioned by Ross Tucker on Twitter yesterday:

Full disclosure, I have never done a drug in my entire life.  I’ve never even smoked pot.  Not once.  My high school bad boy-ness was stealing booze out of my dad’s liquor cabinet.  Which I did a lot.  A lot a lot.  But never did drugs.  I have plenty of friends who partake, and it doesn’t bother me in the slightest.  I have had friends who came over to my place in college just to do it because they were afraid to get caught at home.  No biggie, just not my thing.  Now, if someone offered me an ass-load of cash for a little weed?  You can bet your sweet ass I’d do it, and not even think twice about it.

But what about steroids?  I am a huge fan of the Oakland Athletics.  The first game I ever went to, I saw Mark McGwire hit a home run, and after that, he was my favorite player.  However, when he was traded to the Cardinals in 1997, he was dead to me.  Because if you don’t want to play for my team, well fuck you.  And then he got caught cheating with the ‘roids and everything was glorious.

But would I do it?  I am a normal guy.  I am stay home father.  We are a very middle class family.  We have money for family vacations (including my daughters first trip to Disneyland in September).  But we don’t have life changing money.

I played basketball in high school, and continue to do so today, but in rec leagues.  Continuing into college was never going to be an option.  I knew a guy in high school who was so ridiculously roided that it was laughable.  But he turned that into a college football scholarship to a Division 1 school, so good for him.  I have no idea about his health today.

But if I were to make it to the pros?  Probably would be happy with my life, even if it were as league minimum type player.  Hell, that’s around $500,000, I think.  What if I’m trying to get there?  What if you knocked on my door today?  There’s lots to think about.  Yes, my family would be set for generations.  Is that enough to tell my daughters that it’s okay to cheat if it’s for certain reasons?

I don’t know what the answer is.  And the answer is different to every person.  I just think its easy to judge and say “how dare he” from a distance when people aren’t faced with the decision.  People in baseball can certainly say it.  Brandon McCarthy (the best baseball follow on Twitter) was very critical, and had every right to be:

$100 million dollars is a lot of money.  But where do you draw the line?  If I would do it for $100 mil, would I do it for $50?  $20?  I would hope that I would do it the right way and pass entirely.  But I cannot sit here and say definitively that I would.


Superman vs. Batman

Over the weekend at the San Diego Comic Con, Zack Snyder, director of the less than enjoyable Man of Steel, announced that the sequel will be Superman joining forces with The Caped Crusader, Batman.  Nothing has been set in stone, and basically that was all the announcement was.  No plot, no casting announcements, just the main characters.  Which left me perplexed and excited at the same time.

On the one hand, I will absolutely go see a Superman sequel, even though I didn’t particularly love the first one.  I am a sucker for superhero movies.  Also, I loved The Dark Knight trilogy.  And Chris Nolan was involved with Man of Steel.  So there’s that.

On the other hand, there are lots of questions that need to be answered.  Who will be cast as Batman?  Christian Bale, who was so great in the cape and cowl, has shot down all rumors that he will play Batman again.  So that’s out.

So who is next on the list?  I haven’t seen or really looked at any rumors.  But the big question to me is, where does Snyder take the movie?  Henry Cavill’s Superman is still in his infant stage.  But he is still 30 years old.  The rumor that has been out there since The Dark Knight Returns, is that Joseph Gordon-Levitt would take over the Batcave.  He’s actually 32.  Which I didn’t believe.  I think he is really good and is becoming one of my favorite actors, but come on, the guy looks 12.  I just don’t know how he can play Batman.  I would rather see him as Nightwing (not Robin) in a Justice League movie, or even Terry McGinnis in a Batman Beyond movie.  But he’s probably too old to play a teenager, even with his boyish looks.

That’s my other question.  Do you have Batman as an entry level superhero?  Someone towards the beginning of his career like in Batman Begins?  Or more of a battered, time tested vigilante at the end of the trilogy?  My guess is since they will be recasting, they will basically be rebooting the Batman franchise with the new actor and have a fresh start.

I guess we have nothing to do but sit and wait for a couple years.  I think this actually could be a good idea.  Here’s my problem with superhero movies going forward.  I have no problem with new actors taking over these characters.  I am just going to get tired with seeing origin stories every three or four movies.  This will obviously lead into a JLA movie, which I think is moving too fast.  I’d prefer if they took the Marvel approach, but perhaps Wonder Woman and Flash couldn’t hold their own movies, but I’m almost positive they could.

American Ninja Warrior

My favorite show of the summer is back!!  If you’re not watching American Ninja Warrior, you should be.  It’s fantastic.  Okay, well you don’t need to watch all of it.  Watch a bit of it.  Then wait for the finals.  The finals are great.

For those who don’t know, ANW is the most difficult obstacle course in the world. It’s based on a Japanese show called Ninja Warrior, which seems to be tougher.  I haven’t seen much of it, but the course does seem more difficult.  Its entirely possible I’m making that up.

My buddy Greg and I enjoy watching it and trying to decide how far we could actually make it on the course.  After we realize its possible we couldn’t get past the first part, we discuss the individual pieces we could pass.  Again, the number of parts we could defeat is very low.

I played golf with Phil yesterday and we discussed one particular part of the course, the salmon ladder.  He asked if I thought I could do it.  Seriously.  Now, I realize I haven’t yet put a picture of me on here (mostly because I’m lazy), but in great shape I am not.  6’1″, 180 is very average, and I can do my fair share of pull ups, but this is ridiculous and I couldn’t believe he actually asked me that.

I find myself rooting for people to fail more that beat the course.  They do competitor profiles and they are supposed to show me how amazing these people are, and how I should feel great for them for working so hard…. Okay many of these people seem like nice people.  But after seeing them run the course a ton of them look like total douche bags.  And it makes me smile when they fall into the water.

It’s something that I think would be really cool to do.  Of course, my lifelong dream was to be a Navy SEAL, and that’s not happening anytime soon either.  It goes back to me being super lazy and enjoying rest and lying around more than excersizing and working hard.

(Side note: HEY!  I’m watching it live and a guy who was in the Sacramento Philharmonic just made it through!  Local boy does it!  Woo!)

Where was I?  Oh!  So I’m envious of these men and women who get to compete on ANW, and really wish I had the time and desire to train for it.  But today it was 108 degrees here.  I really didn’t want to go outside.  I know my limitations.  I’ll let Greg and Phil do it, and I’ll ride their coattails to the top!