Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Shout Games

Some of you may know of (and share) my obsession with the games Shout About Movies and more recently, Shout About Music. Next up is Shout About TV (supposedly being released on October 1, 2005). I am writing this post to encourage all the millions upon millions of the Rich's adoring fans to buy and play these games in order to inspire Hasbro to make even more volumes of each series. As Alex has mentioned, imagine a world in which there were an infinite number of Shout games. Wouldn't that be a better place?

Back in business

I have many blogging ideas, but I have been busy with other things, such as being in New Haven and playing Shout About Music (and having a great time with Jen...). Nevertheless, here is a post that has been sitting around for a week or two:

I recently went to see the documentary film Murderball. For those unfamiliar with this movie, it is the story of a sport called quad rugby (né murderball) in which quadriplegics compete in custom-made wheelchairs, violently knocking into each other and trying to score the most points. The game is played on a basketball court, and crossing the baseline with the ball is worth one point.

Now this is where I thought it got interesting. Each team is only allowed to have four players on the court at one time. And each player is given a rating from 0.5 to 3.5, based on his range of movement (3.5 is the best). Finally, the cumulative rating for the four player on the court has to be less than or equal to 8.0. This creates many interesting selection dilemmas for the coach, and reminded me of one of my favorite NES games, Ice Hockey! Remember how you had to choose four players, and each one could be fat, medium, or skinny? You couldn't choose all fat because they would be too slow, all skinny because they would be too weak, nor all medium because you are best off with different types of players. I usually picked two skinny, one fat, and one medium, but of course I experimented a lot as well.

I definitely enjoyed this movie and would recommend it to others. That said, I would also like to say that I found something else of interest. One of the major goals of the movie was to show that these quadriplegics are just like regular people, and this was largely shown to be the case. Especially in the fact that murderball athletes are just like regular athletes...they are often cocky meatheads....

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Blogger and the Blogger's Brother

Once upon a time there was a boy named Dan. On Dan’s 7th birthday, his parents bought him a blogging machine and a blog named after his favorite baseball player at the time, Delino DeShields. Young Dan was a precocious blogger and he entered many contests in order to show off his great skill with the machine. He even won first prize in the prestigious New York City Open Blogging event, winning a more powerful machine for his darkly brilliant post about his difficult upbringing on the Upper East Side.

But then, on the night of his 8th birthday, Dan started to hear sounds from the room next door. The sounds were strange and disturbing, but they were also funny. In fact, he believed that they were sounds of laughter. His posts began to change in nature, becoming more humorous with each passing night. His parents became increasingly proud of what their young son was accomplishing, turning out some of the funniest posts in the blogosphere.

One evening, however, after three years of increasingly hilarious blogging, Dan just could not take it anymore. His writing may have been improving, but at what cost? Who was making those noises next door? He had to know, so he broke down the door. Once inside the room, he discovered his parents sitting there with a whoopee cushion, a Condi Rice mask, and the laugh track from season 4 of Friends. Dan shared a long laugh with his parents as they told him how he had passed their tests and had become the great comedy writer that they had envisioned from the moment he was born. Dan was extremely happy to have both secured the affection of his parents and solved the mystery that had been nagging him for so long. That evening he slept through the night for the first time since he was 7.

A year later, after Delino swept the bloggies, Dan started to hear the sounds of laughter again from the room next door. At first, he dismissed it as something in his head. He had already passed the tests; his parents could not be in the other room any more. But the sounds would not go away and Dan realized that he would have to face the inside of the other room again.

When Dan broke down the door, he could not believe his eyes. What he saw there would change him forever. His long-forgotten older brother, Rich, was passed out on top of a laptop computer. Dan tried to revive him, but it was too late. Rich had died from the torture of too much laughter inflicted by his parents. However, Dan did take a look at the computer screen and started laughing, harder than he had ever laughed in his life. Finally, Dan shed a tear, because what he saw on that screen was Rich’s first and only post at Not About Marquis Grissom, and it was better than anything that he had ever done or will ever do in his life.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Berger Boys make it big

Pops is back in the papers with this juicy photo, while I am featured in Card Player magazine this week (the one with Jennifer Tilly on the cover, August 17 issue...if anyone could get me a couple of copies of this, it would be greatly appreciated). I am referenced in an article about "Poker Ace" Allen Cunningham, in which the author, Ron Rose, devotes three paragraphs to describing Allen's "most memorable" tournament, a trip to the Trumbull Buttery at Yale! Here are some excerpts from the article (which itself is an excerpt from the book Poker Aces, which I now own):

"Allen was impressed at how enthusiastic the students were, and he was glad to be able to teach them a little something about the game. 'We went into some underground chamber where the game was held,' [Allen] remembers. 'Daniel [Negreanu], as I had expected, played like a lunatic, and I tried to play well enough just to keep us even.'

"'After some time, the game was down to me and a very young [and very attractive] looking freshman named Berger,' Allen recalls. 'A more intense crowd gathered than in many big tournament finals I had been at. I had to decide whether to crush the freshman to show my might or to throw the game and make the kid's day.' Allen didn't end up throwing it, he says, but he took it easy on the student, who finally won. 'He was a hero,' says Allen, 'and I felt good.'

Monday, August 22, 2005

Trumbull Poker in the news

Apparently, Allen Cunningham gave me (or Dan, but it should have been me....we'll know soon enough) a shout out in a Card Player interview. If anyone can find this for me, it would be greatly appreciated. I am searching the internet and will be scouring newsstands for more information. Meanwhile, I found this. (Find the text about Cunningham in this link and you will be rewarded.)

Great Onion Article

Perfect parody of the absurd "Intelligent Design" argument.


As I was heading up the 18th fairway on Friday, finishing off a nice round of golf at my friend's posh country club, I was trying to find my mediocre drive when my friend informed me to turn around because I had already driven past the ball. Of course I immediately popped a U-turn, but what I did not see was a small cliff about 4 feet tall. Next thing I know, the golf cart is on the verge of tipping over...I panic, try to hold it up, realize resistance is futile, and let the thing down with a huge crash. Quite an embarrassing moment for yours truly. But the worst was yet to come.

A caddy from the group behind us noticed my unfortunate accident and came over to assess the damage. After deciding that we could probably flip the cart back over with just a few young men, another cart drove up the fairway. And who was driving said cart but the reigning club champion himself. We quickly put the cart back on its four wheels and the champ asked me where my ball was. I showed him the location of my Top Flite 2 and he told me he was going to help me out a little more. He took out one of my clubs, stood over the ball and hit a shot to within 3 feet of the pin. And then he was on his way, laughing with his friends about the whole incident. Meanwhile, I was so rattled that it took me 4 more shots and a new ball just to reach the green.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Pillowman

Anyone who lives in New York should make his best effort to see this play before its short run ends on September 18. I actually saw the play about two weeks ago, but the rest of my family is going today. It is a brilliantly written story by playwright Martin McDonagh and it features excellent performances all around, especially from Jeff Goldblum and Billy Crudup. Crudup plays a writer named Katurian Katurian Katurian, who writes disturbing children's stories, a number of which are acted out on stage. He is accused of committing two brutal murders of young children and the action of the play takes place in the interrogation rooms of a totalitarian state police office. For more detailed reviews, check out any of these.

The biggest reason I liked this play so much and why I am recommending it is because of its originality and inventiveness. You will not see anything else like it on Broadway or at the movies. While Hollywood keeps churning out movie remakes of bad '70s TV shows and Broadway largely focuses on over-the-top musicals (although another great play you can still see is Glengarry Glen Ross), it is nice to see that something on a smaller scale is out there, something that really makes you think. Most of all, The Pillowman shows the audience the power of a good story, and the importance of storytelling in the world at large. The play has even inspired a forthcoming story to be posted on the blog.

Genesis vs. SNES

A quick thing that I forgot to mention that was also better about Genesis was the fact that Mortal Kombat was allowed to show blood. Because Nintendo was so family-friendly, the SNES version of Mortal Kombat was not allowed to show blood, making it a far inferior game. I hope that most people remember what I am talking about. Believe me, Mortal Kombat on SNES just wasn't the same...

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Everyone's favorite governator back in his salad days...

...used to be a major motion picture action star. As many of you probably remember, one of his roles was as U.S. Marshal John "The Eraser" Kruger from the mediocre eponymous blockbuster Eraser. While flipping through channels last week, I happened upon a crucial scene from said film in which the bad guy, U.S. Marshal Robert Deguerin (James Caan) was frantically searching a building for Kruger and the woman he was "erasing," Dr. Lee Cullen (Vanessa Williams). This was where the fun started.

After showing Deguerin's find-Kruger-at-any-cost mentality, the next scene depicts Kruger at a computer...and obviously in a very big hurry. But how does Mr. Kruger type? How Mavis Beacon might have taught him? I don't think so. Kruger instead employs the tried and true hunt and peck method. He knows that if he takes an extra 10 seconds, it might mean the difference between life and death, but does he care? Of course not. This begs the question, why would Arnold ever need to know how to touch type? Imagine the director telling him that since Kruger is a highly trained government agent, he would probably be a little quicker with a keyboard. Arnold might reply that his fingers were just too big or more likely that is too hard to type that fast. That's why he made the big bucks and became a big shot politician and I just sit here blogging. The moral of the story is that learning how to type is not worth the effort.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Sometimes you really can depend on the kindness of strangers

I know that they don't read this blog, but I still wanted to say thank you to the kind people on Coney Island who helped Jen when she was feeling sick outside Nathan's (contrary to popular belief, it was not from the hot dogs). Maybe people really are nice, as evidenced by the man who called the ambulance and the multiple people who offered her water and took her into the shade (Jen is doing fine, it turned out to be nothing major at all).

On a side note, upon arriving in the gross hospital, I was struck by the fact that the only food on offer was junk food and soda. Ironic, no? A hospital, a place that is supposed to encourage good health could only offer me disgusting junk food (of course I had a bag of Doritos and a Dr. Pepper).

Pops is back in the news...

...this time in the background of a picture of DeFilippo. Check him out in the revolving door.

Trying to better myself

Since I am still unemployed, I have decided to try and teach myself Spanish. This clearly won't be easy, but I am hoping that my knowledge of French will help make this process a little more manageable. Today was my first day and I learned verb conjugations.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

First things first

The people (person?) have been clamoring for it, so here is a brief recap of my personal gaming history.

These are all the systems that I have owned in order:

1. NES
2. Game Boy
3. Genesis
4. Super Nintendo
5. Nintendo 64
6. Playstation
7. Xbox
8. Game Boy Advance

I have greatly enjoyed playing all of them, and I still do play a number of them. Although I have to admit that I have an extra special place in my heart for NES and I feel that I got the least out of Playstation.

A quick analysis of my time with each system:

1. NES: Just the most fun to play. Two buttons are more than enough for hundreds of games. I will be writing about this later in more depth.
2. Game Boy: A brilliant innovation. I could now play Tetris in the car while driving to my grandparents' house, instead of having to talk to my family. The system was a little heavy, but still plenty portable.
3. Genesis: Genesis does, what Nintendo doesn't! Most of you probably remember that slogan, and it was true, particularly regarding sports games (Sonic was a pretty good series as well). I lived for the Sega sports games, especially NHL '94, the Madden series, Bulls vs. Lakers, and College Football's National Championship (a game in which if you got one step on a defender, you had a touchdown, meaning that 100-0 at the half was not uncommon).
4. Super Nintendo: Perfect in tandem with Genesis. Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart, Street Fighter II, Ken Griffey Baseball...the list goes on. Still a great system.
5. Nintendo 64: Revolutionary. Goldeneye is probably the definitive game for people my age. And even the first game for the system, Mario 64, was brilliant from the get go. Also, Mario Kart 64, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and Donkey Kong 64 deserve special mention. Changed the controller set up, the joystick was an incredible addition and paved the way for the far superior Xbox controller.
6. Playstation: Good for sports games, oddly enough I played a ton of Mario Andretti Racing on this system. Did not like the controller however, especially after the joysticks in the middle were added (part of the reason I never got PS2). Also, this was my first experience with CD games, rather than cartridges, and I preferred cartridges (although this is irrelevant now).
7. Xbox: The physical system might be a little large, but it is worth it. The (small) controller is perfectly set up, and after playing a lot of Halo (and Halo 2), it was weird to play Goldeneye and see how little control I had. Also, the Xbox Live situation is pretty astounding, particularly for Halo 2. I have greatly enjoyed playing FIFA Soccer, the Madden and NCAA football games, and the Lord of the Rings on this system.
8. Game Boy Advance: I call this NES in your pocket, because I bought all the Classic NES games. Perfect re-creations of my favorite games, I just wish that there were more of them. Also great battery life and compact size make this a must for any gamer.

Monday, August 15, 2005

A quick shout out to my pops

More content forthcoming. It was a busy week in the Berger household, me hanging out with Jen and Tom (and Dan), and my father having a major case on the front pages of the New York Post and New York Daily News for 3 or 4 days each. For those not following the case, it involves an alleged affair between Monsignor Eugene Clark, former rector of St. Patrick's Cathedral, and his assistant Laura DeFilippo. My father is representing Ms. DeFilippo, and he actually turned down the chance to be on Oprah! For more information, you can search the archives of these papers, or just check out google. For more insider information, you can call me.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Old Bourbon Street Hustle

This one is an oldie but a goodie from my trip to New Orleans in May:

I was strolling down Bourbon Street with my lady on my arm and a Hurricane in my hand when I was approached by a Negro man who initiated the following conversation:

NM: Hey, that's a nice pair of shoes you got on there buddy (pointing to my fashionable suede Pumas). I bet I can tell you where you got them.
R: Well, thanks for the compliment, but I'm sure you could do nothing of the sort.
NM: No seriously, I am 100% sure about where you got them.
R: Ok, whatever you say. (We inexplicably shake hands...)
NM: You got one on your left, and you got one on your right!
R (chuckle): That's a good one, have a good night sir.
NM: No, no, I don't think you understand my young friend. You owe me.
R: Owe you?
NM: That's right, it'll be 10 for the line, and 10 for the shine. (Next thing I know, he is squirting some gross yellow stuff on my sneakers that is supposed to "shine" them, but in reality just makes them dirtier.)
R (laughing now): Now that is a good joke! Hey Jen, he's back!
NM: So you mean you're not gonna pay me? We just shook hands on the bet...
R: Whoa, we didn't make any bet there...we just shook hands.
NM (becoming more desperate): Alright, alright, you got me...5 for the line, and 5 for the shine.
R (rummaging through wallet for small bills and handing over a $5 bill): Here you go, this is for inspiring a blog post. Now go buy yourself some real shoe polish.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Advanced Video System (Prototype for original Nintendo Entertainment System)

Apparently, the first version of the NES actually had wireless controllers! In 1985! So why did it take so fucking long for every system to have only wireless controllers? Do you know how many people wouldn't have tripped over those cords? This picture was taken at Nintendo World (or something like that) near Rockefeller Center. I encourage softcore (hardcore people would be too disgusted by all the little kids) gaming nerds to check this place out as soon as possible. This will be the first of hopefully many NES-related posts as soon as I get my act together.

For all fans of The Office

Check out this interview with the co-creator and star of the show, Ricky Gervais. As you will see, he has a new show that recently debuted in Britain and will be showing on HBO in a month or two.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


Family Guy also has the problem of having two awful main characters. These two characters are, of course, Chris and Meg. Chris is particularly terrible and I couldn't help but crack up when I saw an interview with Seth Green in which he discussed how lucky he was to play a character like Chris. Oh, a character who makes you laugh once every 60 episodes, sounds great. Brian is the best main character on the show and if the rest of the show was written more with his style of humor in mind, it would be better in my opinion. Also, while Family Guy is in some ways a knock-off of The Simpsons (simple parallels can be drawn, but MacFarlane does change things a little), MacFarlane's other show American Dad is a knock-off of Family Guy and is much worse, but that is not even worth discussing. A comparison between Brian and that alien character is enough to put that baby to rest.

And now, off to Atlantic City for a family trip. Back tomorrow.

Friday, August 05, 2005

A random attack

This post may appear to come out of left field, but I just feel the need to get it out there. Family Guy is an overrated show and it angers me so much that people even consider comparing it to The Simpsons in its prime. I admit that the show has had some great gags (I have seen every episode from the first 3 seasons, and a few from the new season to give you my frame of reference), but too often the jokes are forced and over-the-top. Creator Seth MacFarlane is clearly a talented guy, drawing the characters, and voicing the funniest ones (Brian, Stewie, and Peter), but he tries too hard to be funny. His concept of comedy appears to be that if he can tell 40 short jokes in 22 minutes, as long as 10 are funny, he's been successful. Most episodes have some sort of over-arching storyline that is constantly interrupted by brief parodies or flashbacks so that the show becomes inconsistent and difficult to follow. On the other hand, in its prime, The Simpsons was exquisitely written so that the jokes were not forced and were part of the storyline, not simply random non sequiturs that one writer thought were funny. In addition to the superior construction of the episodes, The Simpsons was just flat-out funnier (currently, the show is a shell of its former self, so it's not really worth discussing) and anyone who thinks otherwise should have his head examined.

This rant is part of my overall problem with cult activities, tv shows, movies, etc... that become too popular. More on this at a later date. But I will put it on the record right now that despite the fact that I should like the "poker craze" because it means there are more bad players out there, I hate it. Playing poker used to give me some cachet and I liked the idea that it was a little underground. It's just too universal these days. And the one thing I hate the most is when someone at a casino or poker room thinks that I just started playing because of the "poker craze" and in reality I have been playing Texas Hold 'em for over 5 years.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Embarrassment that is the National League West

Here are the current National League West standings:

San Diego5355.491-30-2323-32475501Won 12-8
Arizona5257.4771.525-3027-27471559Lost 25-5
LA Dodgers4859.4494.526-2722-32459510Lost 14-6
San Francisco4561.425722-3223-29456539Lost 43-7
Colorado3967.3681327-2712-40462585Won 35-5

What's wrong with this picture? That's right, not a single team has a winning percentage over .500. I like the fact that all of these teams (except for Colorado) are in contention for a playoff spot, but the problem is that they are only in such a position because they are all terrible. However, despite my disgust with this current situation, I am hereby resolving not to complain too much about it for two major reasons. First of all, the National League as a whole is so mediocre that no truly deserving team is going to be shut out of the playoffs because of this NL West debacle. Second of all, as some of you may remember, there was a situation similar to this in 1995 in the American League West. The Seattle Mariners ended up winning that division with a record of just 79-66 (a .545 winning percentage), but since then, the AL West has been one of the most competitive and successful divisions in all of baseball. In 2001, the division even featured two 100-win teams, including the record-setting Mariners (more on them later). Thus, although things may look bad now, I expect one team to get hot and end up with a decent record and in a few years, who knows, there may be a 100-win team out in the NL West...

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

A note on my readership

I have noticed that the more I post, the more people read my blog. Thus I will try to continue posting as many times as I can. I have also noticed that many people end up reading my blog by presumably stumbling upon it using the "Next Blog" feature, which is perfectly reasonable and expected. What is bizarre, however, is that these people tend to arrive in clusters. Is this a feature of Blogger? Do they have all the blogs on a next blog cycle (so that each blog is the "Next Blog" on a lot of different sites every 43 hours or something...)? Does anyone have the answers?

Hideki Matsui's Entrance Music

When I attended the Twins-Yankees game last week I noticed something that struck me as quite interesting. As most of you probably know, each player on the Yankees strides to home plate to his own entrance music, presumably chosen by the player himself. Derek Jeter enters to some rap music, Gary Sheffield to some hardcore rap music, Bubba Crosby to Weezer, and Hideki Matsui to Led Zeppelin? Maybe I have an unfair bias, but I could never imagine Matsui actually requesting "Immigrant Song." (Although this story begs to differ.) The way I imagine it is that his agent told the Yankees to play classic rock before his at-bats so that he would fit in better in America. I mean he spends most of his time at underground Japanese strip clubs, so he's got to do something else to stay in touch with the fans.

The Scoop on J.J. Redick

For those of you who follow college basketball, you probably hate J.J. Redick, unless you are a Duke fan of course. But no matter what, you probably couldn't help but notice how much better Redick was on the court last season for the Dukies. Now, some people might have attributed this improvement to better off-court conditioning and maybe a little time spent working on something other than his otherworldly jump shooting abilities. Well, you would be wrong. According to my inside sources, what really made the difference was that Redick quit smoking pot. Apparently he used to be a big-time pot head, but he got in trouble for it so he took last year off. Now I don't know if this same change would make a difference in blogging, but imagine how good Actual God and Hidden Hand could be...

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I'm Back...

...with a zany contest inspired by the article I just read about Mike Veeck and his daughter (the third and fourth generations of the first family of baseball owners). Obviously readership numbers have dipped with my lack of posting in recent days, but despite this fact, Marquis is approaching its 1,000th page view! And I will be back to posting more regularly now that an Indian tech support genius helped me fix my wireless connection. So in honor of the 1,000th visitor to Marquis, I am offering this person the chance to compose a post on the site. Who knows, this kind of publicity might even allow you to start your own blog, which might one day receive 1,000 visitors. The possibilities are endless. Let the refreshing begin!

(Editor's Note: I will try to follow this situation as closely as I can, but you guys have to try and be honest with me about who is actually number 1,000.)