Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Amazing Off-the-Rack Book Outfits for Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing: New Horizons somehow has millions of Nintendo Switch players clamoring for daily chores. Weed the flowerbed? Yes! Tidy the house? How fun! Make small talk? “Hi, Raymond! How’s the weather?” Maybe it’s the game’s soothing soundscapes. Maybe it’s the sugar-sweet graphics. Whatever its alchemy, New Horizons actually has us champing at the bit to—shudder—try on clothes.

Whether for bug catching, running a King Tut Race, or destroying your competitors’ will to live in the fishing tourney, every Islander needs the perfect outfit (or five). Even if you have zero customization skill, no worries; we’ve collected the perfect book-themed outfits for your Animal Crossing: New Horizons islander.

Daring Detectives

Sherlock Holmes

This one is, dare I say, elementary. Match the Detective Hat and Detective Coat with brown Tweed Pants and watch Victorian widows flock to your cabin with tales of woe. Bonus points if you carry a violin!

Lisbeth Salander

Who wouldn’t want to be The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? Try a Biker Jacket, Pleather Pants and Visual Punk Boots. Top it off with a ‘Mowhawk Wig’ and you’ll have those Scandinavian baddies quaking in their parkas.

Sam Spade

If Dashiell Hammett’s hardboiled noir is more your speed, throw on a Fedora, Trenchcoat, and Slacks in tan and black. Then bust into Redd’s Trawler and smash all those fake statues.

Miss Marple

Someone been stealing your prize tulips? A Gown Coat or Quilted Down Jacket is perfect for solving your island’s cozy crimes. Pair it with a Long Plaid Skirt and Ribboned Garden Hat to complete Marple’s signature look.

Literary Legends

Holden Caulfield

If you want everyone to know that they’re phony, don a camel-colored Checkered Muffler with Denim Pants and a Knit Cap with Earflaps. Lurk on your island’s cliffs and catch any one that tries to run past.

Scout and Atticus Finch

It’s not hard to dress as Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird alter-ego: just put on a pair of blue Overalls and take off your shoes! For Atticus, wear a gray Waistcoat, matching Slacks and brown Business Shoes.

Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan

Put K.K. Jazz on the Phonograph and step into F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Roaring Twenties with a Flapper Dress, Bowler Hat with Ribbon, and Strappy Heels. For Jay, a Straw Boater and Suspender Outfit in matching colors should do the trick. Just keep away from any optometrist billboards and blinking green lights.

Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy

Going to a Pemberly ball? Stay in everyone’s good opinion with Lizzie Bennett’s Elegant Dress and Gothic Headdress or Headband. For Mr. Darcy, try a Tailcoat, Antique Boots, Noble Pants and a Top Hat. Extra points if you keep your anger reactions and a set of wedding clothes ready.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

A green Caterpillar Costume and a red Imp Hood will show your love for Eric Carle’s eating machine. Be sure to carry enough fruit for every day of the week!

Swords, Sorcerers and Fairies Galore

Harry Potter

New Horizon’s game designers must be Potterheads. Tops like the Thick-Stripes Shirt and Graduation Robe, for example, just *happen* to come in Gryffindor Red, Hufflepuff Yellow, Ravenclaw Blue and Slytherin Green. Pair any of those with Celeste’s standard Wand and a Frugal Hat to prepare for the Sorting Ceremony.

Peter Pan

There are enough Peter Pan duds in New Horizons to dress a whole village of Lost Boys. The Sprite Costume paired with Moccasins and a Paperboy Cap will have you flying to Neverland. If Tinkerbell is more your speed, pair a Fairy Dress, green Semi-Opaque Tights and Pom-pom Shoes. The Darling children can even come along: have any island guests dress in PJ Outfits and Nightgowns! To top it all off, Guilivarr’s Pirate clothes are pretty much tailor-made for a Captain Hook cosplay (if you can withstand enough of his nautical puns to snag a set).


If you want to wow the other Islanders with magic, show up wearing a Frugal Dress, White Leggings and Clogs. Then, once it’s time for the ball, pull out your wand and—bippity boppity boo!—its blue Princess Dress and Tiara Hair time. Reese’s Wedding Pumps will have to stand in for Cindy’s famous Glass Slippers, at least until midnight.

Alice in Wonderland

This is another case of Animal Crossing: New Horizon including famous characters without infringing any copyrights. The Adventure Dress, paired with a blue Giant Ribbon, Everyday Tights and black Mary Janes seem tailor made for a romp with the White Rabbit.

The Three Musketeers

Have some friends itching to go “one for all and all for one?” Matching Cavalier Shirts and Cavalier Hats, along with Antique boots and Noble Pants will have you in the height of 17th Century French fashion.


Before he was a movie star, before he was an internet meme, Shrek was a book by William Steig. With the game’s expanded skin colors, it's easier than ever to the loveable green guy. Match a brown Frugal Outfit with a Bulb Bopper and yell at everyone to “GET OUT OF MY SWAMP!”

With all these clothing options at your virtual fingertips, there’s no excuse not to waltz into Guest Services in your bookish best. …Now go do your chores!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

8-Bit Encyclopaedia: Motor City Patrol

There's no disappointment as bitter as potential unfulfilled. A game that starts out as a breath of fresh air only to quickly stagnate. To borrow a phrase, a crappy game will always be a crappy game. Ikari Warriors is steaming garbage from "Press Start" to "Game Over." With little expected, Ikari's failure means little.

Motor City Patrol, surprisingly enough, starts with promise. Its "drive around a city completing tasks" gameplay makes it a spiritual forerunner to Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto series. Developed by Source Research and Development and released in 1992 by Matchbox (yes, the toy car people), Motor City Patrol doesn't boast a stellar pedigree. Source R and D's only other games are the infamously bad Noah's Ark (also released by Matchbox) and a Gameboy puzzler called The Pyramids of Ra.

But once Motor City Patrol gets revving, we see a game with a decent handle of what the NES allows. The graphics, as exemplified by the title logo in the header, are surprisingly rich. The controls are responsive and tight. The plot is simple enough: the player controls a police car which must patrol the city, stopping speeders, thieves and criminals along the way. Pressing Select brings up a map of the city which shows where the criminals are. If a criminal gets too cheeky, pressing B fires your police sidearm out the car window. Nabbing criminals earns the player points which can be used to upgrade their patrol car.

Out patrolin'...
...and checkin' the map.
To "win," the player must patrol 7 days in each of the city's 5 precincts. However, accidentally arresting innocent citizens or letting too many law-breakers escape earns the player a warning. 5 warnings, or accidentally shooting innocent motorists, ends the game. Crashing the car into too many obstacles (but strangely enough, not cars) will also end the game. To neutralize any warnings and damage to your car, 16 "stolen items," aka flashing chotchkies, are scattered through the player's patrol route. Collecting them all will reset the player's "warnings" and car damage to zero. These are vital in the later stages of the game.

That is, of course, assuming you can play to the later stages without dying of boredom first. Because Motor City Patrol is a high-priced sportscar without a road to drive.

Precinct 1 - The Financial District

Day 1

The first day in the Financial District eases players into a cops' life. The map is simplistic, marked with buildings around which the car must patrol. Speeders and thieves occasionally pop up on the city map (in red and yellow, respectively). It's a joy to flash the cherries and chase truants. Once found, obstructing criminals with the lights flashing will bring them to justice. At the end of the "day" (here 2 minutes of real time) the chief assesses points and warnings depending on your performance.

The day done, you pull into the police garage. Here you can spend any points on tricked-out steering, top speed, etc, as well as repair any (inevitable) damage to you cruiser.

Day 2

Okay, so it's more patrolling, more speeders, more thieves, and more time. There's still a strange joy in speeding around the map, flashing the police lights. But, dang, do you have to press select a lot to bring up the map. It's starting to feel like you spend more time looking at the map than actually playing the game.

Day 3

Uh... more speeders? How many truants live in the financial district? Day 3 changes game mechanics slightly by interrupting your patrol with an APB for a big-time criminal. Except the game mechanic of catching a "big-time criminal" is the same as catching petty thieves: put the lights on and obstruct the offending car. A special screen congratulates you collar, but then it's back to the (literally) endless parade of speeders. Did I mention day three is a minute longer than day 2, which was a minute longer than day 1? And damn, my thumb is sore from constantly having to press select and check the map.

And I hope you didn't fully upgrade your patrol car's speed and handling, because past the first upgrade, it becomes an uncontrollable death missile.

Day 4

Oh my god, please, no more speeders! No more speeders! But that's it. By day 3 of Precinct 1, Motor City Patrol has played all its cards. The maps (generally) become more complex from precinct to precinct and each day requires a longer patrol, but otherwise, the game doesn't deviate one damn bit. Worse, the maps for Precincts 3 and 4 are exactly the same! Constantly pressing select to check the map becomes a chore, a constant reminder of time's ceaseless march and the meaninglessness of everything.

Finishing 7 days in all 5 precincts would require over 3 hours of real time, all without saves or continues. Motor City Patrol's endless repetition quickly becomes a lesser form of torture. Look at a successful game like Super Mario Bros. 3. SMB3 uses its first world to establish gameplay tropes (running, jumping, power-ups) and then spends the next 7 worlds subverting those rules to create challenge and fun. Motor City Patrol, on the other hand, sets expectations in the first three levels and then keeps to its pattern without deviation.

Motor City Patrol plays more like a demo or proof of concept than an actual, finished NES title. It seems like the devs came up with a novel (for the time) mechanic, and then, instead of asking "how can we push this to its limits?" they simply slapped Matchbox's name on it and called it day.

Similar "drive-around-accomplishing-missions" NES titles such as Rare's Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Bandai's Dick Tracy and Mindscape's Mad Max, find similar shortcomings. Roger Rabbit and Dick Tracy compensate by favoring side-scrolling missions over driving. Perhaps the NES's limitations made a Grand Theft Auto-styled game impossible.

...But perhaps not.

ROM City Rampage

In June of 2015 indie game devs Vblank Entertainment released a faux 8-bit GTA homage for PC and WiiWare entitled Retro City Rampage.  Retro City's mechanics mirror GTA: a ne'er-do-well wanders tough streets, making cash by performing tasks of questionable legality. Rival criminals, cops and pedestrians are all fair game. Retro City started its development life as a NES homebrew. Even after switching to more powerful hardware, those 8-bit roots show in the game's pixelated graphics and sprite-based animations. Not to mention the many NES easter eggs hidden among its graphical assets.

Normally, referencing the NES on a WiiWare/Steam game wouldn't merit mention. However, hidden in Retro City Rampage's code is a fully-functioning NES ROM. An arcade within Retro City Rampage allows players to play this 100% NES version of the game, called, ROM City Rampage. In fact, the ROM Data can even be extracted from the game and plugged into any NES emulator.

Even in its prototype version, without any "mission" functionality, ROM City Rampage is 1000 times more fun than Motor City Patrol could ever hope to be. ROM City is bright and colorful in a way Motor City Patrol's precise grey tones don't even approach. The ability to enter and exit cars and the presence of pedestrians in ROM City add layers upon layers of depth. ROM City is a NES sandbox to explore and play in. Motor City Patrol is, comparatively and functionally, a minecart on rails. Playing Motor City and ROM City back-to-back makes you ache for what Source Research and Development could have achieved if only they'd put in the time and money. Armed with an MM5 memory chip--the Rolls Royce of NES chipsets--and another year of development, Motor City Patrol could have been a late-cycle NES gem. Like Esper Dream 2 to Secret of Mana, Motor City Patrol could have pioneered a new genre of game as predecessor to GTA.

Coulda, shoulda, woulda.

Instead, Motor City Patrol is all style and no substance. It is a great game wasted, a wonderful gameplay mechanic wandering repetitive, empty streets without any real  purpose.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Trout Fishing

A play in One Act
By Keith Good

(Lights up on a bar’s speed dating night. Two tables are set up, each with two chairs. DAVE sits at the downstage left table, in conversation with a FLOOZY. CHERYL and another MAN sit at the upstage right table. They all wear nametags. Dave can’t help but steal glances over to Cheryl as he and the Floozy talk.)

(The Floozy slides her hand under the table, slides it up Dave’s groin.)

So it…?

Every time I lie.

(The Floozy nods him on.)

(a knowing lie)
I am very bad in bed.

(The Floozy’s eyes go wide. Her mouth drops open.)

It’s…it’s a fish!

A rainbow trout. Every time I lie, for about 30 seconds. Just long enough to have some real fun.


Cursed by a witch on a Transylvanian booze cruise. I tell you, though, it’s more of a blessing. This trout swims up plenty of streams.

Can I?

(Ding! A bell rings and the round is over. The woman frowns as she gets up. Dave scribbles a telephone number on her wrist.)

Anytime you want to visit Dave’s animal kingdom.

(The Floozy exits, smiling at the number written on her arm. Dave wiggles with anticipation as Cheryl approaches and sits. His smile quickly fades, however, as a BEAR sits in Cheryl’s place at the table beside them.)

Oh god. Oh no.

Well hello Dave. I’m Cheryl. Pleasure to meet you.

(Cheryl extends her hand. Dave very nervously takes it, gives a limp shake.)

So, what do you do, Dave?

I…I, ah, work at…a restaurant.

You’re a Chef?

(Dave begins to nod, but beside them, the Bear perks up, sniffs the air.)

I’m a busboy! Fine! I said it.

Did I do something wrong? I’m new to this Tinder, this speed dating stuff.

No, it’s not you. (Nods to the Bear) Don’t you see? A grizzly.

Well of course she’s a bear. We’re in the 21st Century. She has every right to find love as you or I.

No…no, of course bears deserve love. It’s…I have a, phobia, is all.

Oh. And here I thought you were a bear-ist bigot. Well don’t worry. I think your little phobia is adorable. Tell me more about Dave: what college did you go to?

I…went to school in Michigan.

No! I’m from Ann Arbor! When were you at U.M.?

(speaking carefully)
I went to school…for five years…

(The Bear again perks up. She yowls.)

I got an online criminal justice degree from my Mom’s basement in Detroit.

(The Bear shrinks back down, disappointed.)


Listen, let’s…I desperately want to hear about you. What do you do, Carol?

(looking down to her name tag)

Cheryl, yes. Sorry. It’s the…(under his breath) The bear is making me nervous. Sorry. Your job, Cheryl.

(Cheryl gets flushed, hands kneading.)

I don’t usually to talk about my job on first dates…

Really, please. An accountant? A stripper? I literally don’t care. You could be a baby seal clubber. Please, anything but you asking me questions.

Oh, well, okay…I work as a—ah—as a “physiological model” for a company that produces, um...(leans forward, speaks low) Male masturbation aids?

Oh god.

The Maxx Pleasure Company? My, uh…(nods down to her lap) She’s the top seller. Are you familiar…?

(shaking his head)

(The Bear turns sharply to Dave. She leans close, begins lowing quietly to herself, pawing at the air.)


(lights up)

I can't, uh, believe I'm meeting "The Cheryl." I'm, uh, I'm a fan.

(The Bear continues looking, suspicious, to Dave, but quits her sniffing. After a moment, she slouches, disappointed back in her seat.)

I guess I owe you some of my royalty checks then. You know…the other men here all lie, they’re all “surgeons” or “corporate lawyers.” I mean, what are the odds every guy here went to Harvard, right? Your honesty is kind of…sexy.


(Leans close. Grabs Dave’s hands again)
Very. Tell me, how did you get to be so honest, Dave?

Oh no. Can we go back to talking about you? Did you, ah, study to be a sex doll in college?

I’ve told you more than enough. Your turn. I’ll even go easy on you. Have you ever been married?

Do green card marriages count?


Please, please. I really, desperately don’t want to talk about myself right now.

But we’re on a speed date, Dave. What else do expect to talk about? The stock market?

What about that Dow-Jones Average, huh? Like it’s on Viagra!


Listen, let’s just leave. We can go to my place. Or your place. The park, laser-tag, I don’t care. I will tell you literally anything about myself, just please, please let’s leave first.

Why are you being so weird? I think you’re really cute, but you answer every question like you’re passing a kidney stone. Tell me something true.


The truth, Dave.

(Dave looks longingly at Cheryl, then at the bear. Back to Cheryl, then the bear.)

(Deep breath, all in one run-on sentence)
You’re smoking hot and I really want you to take you back to my place, but I’m kind of a loser so I need to lie, but whenever I lie, my penis turns into a rainbow trout for thirty seconds and if that happens, I’m afraid that bear will eat me.

(A beat.)

Your penis turns into a rainbow trout.

Whenever I lie. For thirty seconds. I was cursed by a Transylvanian witch.

(Cheryl stands. The rest of the speed daters turn to the conflagration.)

A rainbow trout penis?!

(Cheryl looks with disbelief at Dave’s groin. Dave looks down as well. The Bear looks interested.)

It’s not a very big trout.


No! I meant—

I knew I shouldn’t have mentioned my job! I can’t believe I was actually going to sleep with you!

(Dave stands, grabs Cheryl by the wrist.)

You can still sleep with me! I’ll prove it! I‘ll lie! (He guides Cheryl’s hand toward his groin.) I do not own two of your plastic vaginas!

(Cheryl pulls her hand away before it touches Dave’s groin. She rears back and slaps him hard across the face. At the exact same moment we hear the—ding! —of the round ending.)

You pervert! This is why I never mention my job! Everyone just assumes I’m some sort of floozy! Pigs! Ugh! You are never going see me again. You’re banned from Maxx Pleasure!

(Cheryl storms off. Dave turns and watches, whimpering, squirming and uncomfortable, as she departs. With his back turned, the Bear approaches. Beat. The Bear taps Dave’s shoulder. Dave turns, eyes wide.)

Do I smell rainbow trout?

(Dave whimpers as the lights fade to black.)

Friday, August 19, 2016

First Lines

Works of fiction often come to be known by their openings. "Call me Ishmael." "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

In that spirit, I'm posting the opening lines of my various short story and novel manuscripts. Today we have:

"We’re all transparent. Hold your hand up to a light. Doesn't it make you anxious? Our bones and veins and organs, it’s just fruit suspended in strawberry jello. A bright enough light and our insides glow, a neon sign, open."

Although the story is by no means done, the opening paragraph, the spark which drove me to write this story down, originally began as follows:

"It's strange. Hold your hand up to a light. There are the bones, shadows swimming in red pink jelly. Veins like neon.That we can see through so easily. Guess that's what X-rays are. Just powerful light. Light bouncing and projecting, the world always a fraction of a second in the past. Maybe the whole thing is just a projection; theory that we’re all just holograms projected on dimensions of spacetime beyond perception."

Who knows what the next month will change.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


A play in One Act
By Keith Good and Terri Foltz

(Lights up on a library. A demure LIBRARIAN stands at a shelf, straightening books, humming. A BUM enters, looking rough, stumbling ever so slightly.)

I need to win friends—


I need to win friends and influence people.

You could start with a breath mint.

No, the book.

The what?

Is… This is the library, right? Are you not familiar with Dale Carnegie? C-A-R—

I assure you, I know how to spell. Spelling is de rigueur at Yale.

Oh, you went to Yale? As in…New Haven, “Yale?”

No, the Yale School for Dogs. Of course New Haven Yale.

Yale...The best 2 ½ years of my life. New England Autumn often wins the song of poets and philosophers, but I’ve found no beauty as sublime as the campus green stirring with Spring’s flame… Co-Eds budding under budding cherry trees, sunshine molting their winter skins—

Wait, you…you graduated from Yale? In 2 ½ years?

Graduate? From Yale? Oh, no. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

8-Bit Encyclopaedia: Bucky O'Hare

Bucky O'Hare hit the NES in January of 1992 to almost zero fanfare. Developed by Konami, Bucky O'Hare drowned in the wake of Nintendo's newly-released 16-bit Super NES console. Gaming fans were too busy with Super Mario World and F-Zero to care about a green-furred, epaulet-wearing space rabbit.

Bucky O'Hare: the NES's
only hero with epaulets!
Bucky also suffered by association. Two out of every three NES games released in 1992 were either sequels or adaptions1. Much like Hollywood does with today's blockbuster films, NES game developers turned to pre-existing intellectual properties as a way to hedge potential losses in an increasingly competitive home gaming market.

The NES had mixed success with adapted properties. Turds like Back to the Future, The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants, Fester's Quest (the Adams Family), Jaws, Top Gun, Die Hard and Hudson Hawk stunk up store shelves. The Bucky O'Hare comic and cartoon were themselves seen as derivative of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. For all intents and purposes, Bucky O'Hare looked like Konami's last attempt to cash in before the NES died.

But let's remember, this is Konami, developers of Castlevania, Contra, TMNT II, Metal Gear and Tiny Toon Adventures. Books shouldn't be judged by their covers2. Bucky O'Hare is one of the best run 'n' gun platforming games on the NES console.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Billy Beane Buys a Sandwich

Below is a lovely snippet of my latest work over at, a David Ives-ian look at baseball's fascination with Moneyball:

Billy Beane Buys a Sandwich

A Play in One Act by Keith Good

(Lights up; the scene is frozen. A Baker stands in an apron and toq behind a “Sandwich” counter in the O-Co Coliseum. Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane is standing before the counter. Very serious. OPS Machine Scott Hatteberg and Pete the stats geek browse the soft pretzels. Pete is looking at Billy Beane. They stand in tableaux, a moment of stillness.)
PETE. Is that…Billy Beane?
HATTEBERG. I think so. (Hatteberg turns and looks)
BAKER. Can I help you sir?
BEANE. I need a loaf of bread, please.
BAKER. We usually sell sandwiches, Mr. Beane, but if you want…
PETE. It’s time now.
HATTEBERG. I should go. (But they don’t move. Billy turns and looks at Hatteberg. They look in silence at one another, frozen.)
BAKER. Do you know that man? (A bell rings. The lights change.)
BEANE. (Dreamily) He gets on base a lot. Do I care if it’s a walk or a hit? If ever they make a movie about how I assemble personnel—
BAKER. They did make a movie—
BEANE. Hatteberg would be emblematic of my frugal, analytic-driven baseball.

To the small slice of Venn Diagram between "Theater Geek" and "Baseball Analytics Nerd," READ THE REST AT THESPITTER.COM!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The NFL's Choice: Flopping or Falling Slack

The NFL has a rules problem1. The 2016 Wild Card game between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh shows a league completely without control. The players can’t control themselves. The coaches can’t control their players. Coaches can’t control other coaches. The officials can’t control the game.

Steeler fans may disagree on principle, but Cincinnati/Pittsburgh ended in the worst imaginable way. The officials, waist-deep and drowning fast after a four-quarter deluge of chaos and fighting, gamely tried to scoop the water from their sinking boat with yellow flags.

Which isn’t to say either of the game’s signature penalties weren’t well-earned. I can only lament that they had but 15 yards to penalize for Burfict’s headhunting; it deserved 45. And Adam Jones has no business shoving an opposing coach (even a coach with absolutely no business on the field of play). Ultimately, though, blame rests on the NFL to have let a marquee game deteriorate to the point that two desperate flags in the waning seconds should be the difference between victory and defeat.

Sports fans moan and sneer when Major League Baseball umpires toss batters for seemingly insignificant reasons. Football fans are particularly chuckle and roll their eyes at FIFA soccer players flopping for fouls2

But an MLB Umpshow is far preferable to an NFL Shitshow. And I’d rather see a player flopping to draw a foul than a player going limp after being struck in the head by blunt-force trauma.

As the NFL rules now stand, players fear little in-game retribution from officials. Post-game, NFL Emperor Roger Goodell can hand down fines and suspensions, but what is threat of a fine if it means your team advances toward the Super Bowl? Find me an NFL player who wouldn’t trade 25 large for a win and I’ll find you the lost city of Atlantis.

The word “ejection” appears only once—once!—in the NFL rulebook, in Section 3, Article 1, in describing a player who carries a “foreign object” on the field. “Disqualification” appears 9 times, couched in either hazy or overly extreme language. A flagrant roughing the passer foul can result in ejection (but has it ever?). A player removing their helmet and using it as a weapon results in ejection. “Palpably Unfair Action(s)” can result in ejection.

Cincinnati and Pittsburgh showed the NFL needs to borrow from FIFA and MLB and amend its rulebook.

First, the NFL needs to give its officials the power to issue what in MLB is a “bench warning.” If a pitcher throws over a batter’s head, the MLB umpire can go to each dugout and inform team managers that any subsequent flagrant actions by either team will result in punitive action and player ejection.

The moment Steelers Coach Mike Munchak swung Bengal Reggie Neslon by the hair, the officials should have issued a “bench warning.” Not a sideline warning—where officials warn that coaches and players have crowded too close (or onto) the field of play—but an explicit and strict warning that any ensuing knuckleheadedness would earn players and coaches an all-expenses paid trip to the showers.

These rules need explicitly apply to players and coaches alike. Not to point fingers, but actions during the Wild Card game only continue the recent narrative of Steeler coaches interfering with on-field action. “Accidentally” tripping a player or instigating fights must result immediate in-game retribution for offending coaches.

Subsequent to any “bench warning,” on-field personnel rules must strictly enforced starting yesterday and officials must have power to toss coaches. Steelers coach Joey Porter entered the field of play late in the 4th Quarter fully intending to draw an unsportsmanlike call from out-of-control, hot-headed Bengals players3. There was no logical reason for Porter to be on the field other than Bengal-baiting. The moment his foot crossed the white line, it should have been 15-yards and enjoy your flight home.

In tandem with MLB-style “bench warnings” the NFL must also institute a FIFA-styled Red Card system. NFL rules must specify that repeated personal fouls (perhaps, outside of incidental facemask penalties) will, without question, without bloviation and without further recourse, result in immediate disqualification. Call it the #BurfictRule if you’d like. That way, if Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis can’t control his emotionally-challenged linebackers, the officials can step in and do it for him.

College Football already has these rules in place. Take as an example, the Fiesta Bowl pitting Ohio State against Notre Dame. The Buckeyes’ All-World defensive end Joey Bosa led with his helmet in making a tackle late in the first quarter. Because NCAA Football rules explicitly prohibit leading with the crown of the helmet, Bosa was instantly disqualified from the game4. As Walter Sobchak would say, “This isn’t ‘Nam, Smoky. There are Rules.”

If the NFL wants to see Super Bowl 100, rules changes must be made in the interests of decency and player safety. Mothers and fathers are already pushing children toward safer sports. We’re nearing the point that local legislators may have to step in: if the NFL won’t hold needless violence accountable, perhaps civil courts will. Our knowledge of CTE and post-concussion syndrome are only going to grow. Already football fans cry and moan misogyny, equating safety-minded rules changes to skipping through fields and picking posies, but its high time America’s sport and its fans take a look in the mirror.

Would you rather see Antonio Brown flopping for a foul, or Antonio Brown slack and unconscious on the field of play?

1. Actually, it has a number of them. One of the game’s basic actions, completing a catch, is now bogged down in an NFL War and Peace of hazy language and amorphous definition: “Making a football move,” “Becoming a runner,” “Maintaining the catch.” Catches in 2016’s NFL seem to be judged by Supreme Court Justice Stewart Potter’s infamous definition of pornography: “I know it when I see it.” But we digress.
2. Or a flopping NBA player, for that matter.
3. And of course they fell for his trolling like the dopes they are.
4. Which isn’t to say the NCAA’s Targeting rule isn’t fraught with its own problems in language, only that it’s a clear example of promising ejection to bad play and then following through.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Browns Reach Apathy-Level Awfulness

Cleveland Browns:Professional Football::Tang:Orange Juice.

At this point, Cleveland shouldn't be calling themselves a "Football Team," so much as a "American Football-styled Sports Franchise." Some pundits want the head coach fired. Other talking heads yip and yap about a bumbling General Manager or a crooked owner. In response to all this I can only say the following:

Do whatever you want, Cleveland, because it's difficult for me to find a flying rat's tail to give anymore.

Monday, September 14, 2015

First Lines

Just another in a series I'm starting; taking a look at that first spark that puts my pen (UniBall Signo 207 or bust) to paper and gets the ink flowing. Perhaps I'll revisit these once I win a Hugo or Pulitzer...or five.

I should say this draft is also singular in that, instead of putting paper to pen, this one was thumb to touchscreen: this was drafted entirely on a smartphone using Google Docs. Appropriate, given it's nature.

"It's not so bad as it sounds, being your refrigerator's pet."

So what do you think? Hooked? Left cold? What story would you expect this line to belong to? Feel free to comment below.