Thursday, May 19, 2011

No Respect for Tampa Sports

By Tom Chang

Note: This is the full unedited version of the article that appeared in the Ray Area.

I have no aspirations of die-hard fandom, but I know the national sports media does their best to hire the personalities to “analyze” all things sports. One pattern I’m seeing that has to stop is the lack of any perceived respect for “all-things” Tampa.

The Rays, Bucs and Lightning, the primary forces of Tampa’s pro-sports, have all seen their share of futility and successes.

The recent decades have been kinder than most considering the relative short history. The oldest franchise is the Buccaneers which started in 1976. Of course, who could forget the inaugural winless 0-14 season which stood as the record until the 2008 Lions surpassed them going 0-16, but enough about the history lesson.

In the past decade, Tampa has seen the most success from its franchises (aside from the lesser Arena Bowl titles from the Storm) with the Bucs winning the Lombardi Trophy in 2003, the Lightning winning the Stanley Cup the following year and the Rays making it to the World Series in 2008. Winning was relatively rare in prior decades. When they won it all though, there was no attention from the president. Not even a phone call. The story is always the same (except for the Rays who fell to the Phillies), “loveable losers finally win it all.”

Whenever I go on ESPN, SI or Fox Sports within their influential spheres, a central focus of attention goes on the lack of attendance, especially when it comes to the Rays and more recently, the Bucs. I see the Jim Romes and Ken Rosenthals alike continuously comment on the struggling attendance as if Tampa is being singled out and the “only city in America” having these sorts of problems. The glaring economic problems they often ignore mask their profound ignorance as if they’re trying to criticize Tampa as somehow being a second-rate sports market.

At last I checked, the Lightning had no problems selling out their playoff games. Do the national media do their diligence to report that? Hell no!

Nowadays when you see the recent success of the Lightning, I see analysts like the former Lightning coach, Barry Melrose who seems to always pick against them, which of course is his right. The analysts are focusing on what went wrong with the Capitals and the Bruins instead of focusing on what the Lighting are DOING RIGHT.

Now the Rays have seen an improvement nowadays when the analysts are not focusing on the attendance, but the question remains the same, “can they keep up with the Big Boys?” I don’t know has two division titles in three years not answer that question? Even in their slow start, Boston still garnered the attention as to “what the heck happened?” Now that everything is leveling off, maybe instead of the Rays success all the attention is gone to Jorge and his drama along with the “what is going wrong with the Yankees” debacle with their losing streak.

Now I understand that it is kind of hard to be taken seriously when you have a major league franchise named the Tampa Bay Rays located in St. Petersburg and you have the spring training home of the New York Yankees in Tampa across the bay. I mean I understand all sides what it would mean for Tampa’s economy should they lose the Yankees, but they should have thought of that when the major league baseball came knocking on their door with a new team. With the Yankees’ presence, you’re far less likely to ever ween those Yankee fans over to the Rays.

I also resigned to the fact aside from traditional college football diehards (i.e.: UF, FSU, UM), most of Florida is comprised of transplants. Even the Marlins have trouble drawing despite winning two pennants and a love-hate relationship with the owners. The Bucs have had a loyal following with the house of players that Tony Dungy built. The goodwill quickly ran out with the economy and jaded feelings with the Glazers as Raheem Morris and Mark Dominik have the uphill task of re-winning the fans over.

To fix this problem will take time and dedication. We have to realize that Tampa, as much as it has a reputation of being fair-weather, just have to put up with it. Tampa teams seem to strive when they’re placed in the “underdog” role. Yes, I know the 2004 Lightning won the Stanley Cup as a no. 1 seed. Yet, somehow that was so long ago comparatively. I noticed the slight increase on fanfare recent days as more attention comes slowly but surely to the likes of Stephen Stamkos, Simon Gagne and unsung playoff hero Marc-Andre “the other” Bergeron.

If Tampa is to get the respect it needs to get from the national media, we need to build on those very same traditions that made our rivals (i.e.: Boston, NY) so prevalent in their history to steal a line from Raiders owner Al Davis, “Just win, Baby!”

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Has the Stargate franchise reached its “destiny?”

When SyFy decided to cancel Stargate: Universe in December, many Stargate fans were left wondering, “Is this it?” While there a wide range of science fiction franchises have had their share of longevity, but there comes a time when they have to learn how to “reinvent the wheel.” Even long standing franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek experienced their share of creative dry spells.

The Star Wars franchise remained relevant from the time of the trilogy primarily through novels and video games until the saga reinvigorated the surge and interest. Star Wars is continuing to be relevant through the Cartoon Network series, the Clone Wars.

Star Trek became a staple of American sci-fi culture for a good chunk of the 20th century. Following the cancellation of Star Trek: Enterprise, fans wondered if the franchise was on its last legs. As talk geared towards revisiting the original series characters as young cadets, many wondered if the formula would work especially since the pre-Kirk Captain Archer failed to win enough of an audience to keep the show alive to sustain the usual seven seasons its contemporaries had (TNG, DS9 and Voyager). When the J.J. Abrams reboot of Kirk and crew became reality in 2009, Star Trek became a resounding success. While fans were stuck again with the “heavy on action, lack of exploration” that ultimately doomed The Next Generation movie franchise, the execution, character depth and nostalgia overshadowed any problems the movie had. The next Star Trek movie is set to be released in 2012.

Even though the Clone Wars is Star Wars only episodic foray into TV and Star Trek has yet made its return to TV, the two franchises offer Stargate fans some hope. Hell, even Doctor Who fans went through a collective dry spell after the series went off the air in 1989 (after its debut in 1963) and only to see a minor presence in 1996 before coming back in full force starting in 2005.

Without delving into they why SGU was cancelled, one has to ask if there is any place for Stargate left on SyFy. Caprica, prequel to the modern version of Battlestar Galactica, was also canceled around the same time putting the future of that franchise in jeopardy. With recent programming decisions (*cough* wrestling *cough*) and the pressure for sustainability, maybe serious co-creator Brad Wright and executive producer Joseph Mallozzi might want to consider a new home for the franchise. Perhaps FX, Spike, G4 or even USA could be potential destinations. After all, Spike and G4 have aired TNG before.

SGU’s cancellation also puts the question of the status of the SG-1 and Atlantis movies in progress (tentatively titled Stargate: Revolution and Stargate: Extinction). Will they get completed? Will it get shelved? Does it depend on the progress of a fourth television series?

I'm back

Well, I've neglected this long enough. Since my new venture is taking me to Sci-Fi Vanguard, I figure I can start sharing articles I do among other projects I'm working on. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ron Jeremy on violence vs sex

"At the CES show in Las Vegas in January, I was debating Craig Gross, a pastor at the XXX Church, about the merits of porn.

One point I made was that violent video games are much worse for kids than porn. And then here at Kotaku you guys put up a similar article about the "adult" video game BoneTown where I play a starring role as an avatar who gets laid a lot, but doesn't kill anyone at all. Why do things like this make people so aggravated?

Sex is a natural, beautiful thing and a huge part of life. Medical and psychological experts agree that the act of intercourse and the associated hormones released actually improve happiness and well-being, but American culture shies away from celebrating or even mentioning it. Sex is treated in most of mainstream media like a dirty, evil thing.

In contrast, there is nothing natural or beautiful about violence. Unlike sex, the average person will likely not kill anyone in their lifetime, thank God. And yet the American public glorifies violence on television and in video games.

In most of the popular video games out there today, your character runs around blowing people's heads off or stabbing people to death as sprays of blood cover the screen. Would you really rather have your kids watching this than watching sex?

Many other societies around the world are much more open about sex. And many of them are so anti-violence that they ban video games in which the player can kill other human beings. And these countries, year after year, have much lower rates of violent crime than we have here in the US where minors are playing violent video games and watching violent movies (Dr. Phil did an entire special on this). I am not trying to knock the the video game industry, I am just standing up for the porn industry.

As for those who say porn causes sexual deviancy, according to research there has never been a correlation or a cause and effect of viewing porn and committing sexual deviant behavior. This is evident as far back as the Danish committee of 1978, and much later in the Williams committee of England, the Fraser committee of Canada, and the Nixon/Johnson committee right here in America, which have all shown that watching porn does not lead to deviant behavior. Many similar studies, though, have shown that watching violence can make one's thoughts and behavior more violent.

Two of the most popular industries in America are video games and porn. No one bats an eye at murdering an old woman in a video game, but covering up nipple is every parents group's crusade. Even a game like BoneTown, that is a combination of video games and sex, gets treated like it is a porno movie rather than a video game just because it shows some consensual sex between avatars. They have no blood and no killing, but the game can't even be played on consoles because of its sexual content.

My avatar in the game, as I mentioned earlier, does all manner of…well, you'll just have to play the game for that. But my avatar doesn't kill anyone in the game. Just like in real life, the BoneTown Ron Jeremy is a lover, not a fighter. And is that really so bad?

Ron Jeremy is one of the most prolific and well known adult film stars of all time, having appeared in more than 2,000 adult movies. He is also one of the very few adult film stars to make the jump into mainstream entertainment, with appearances in movies such as Orgazmo, Reindeer Games, Detroit Rock City and The Boondock Saints. He has made his mark on the music industry as well, where, besides appearing in music videos for numerous artists, he released a rap single of his own which stayed on the Billboard charts for 27 weeks. Ron has been a guest star on various television shows, written a memoir entitled The Hardest (Working) Man in Showbiz, and has appeared in multiple video games, including the aforementioned BoneTown."

Honestly, how can you not agree with him? I mean as far as influential behavior goes, violence should be abhorred, yet it's praised. Who do we kill in the realm of fantasy? Most often, not those who have always wronged us. It's usually some basis of the physical or psychological discrimination. I'm talking about mainly those who are of different skin or maybe just share a slightly different opinion on the issues.

Why is it so noble to live a life of violence? I mean I guess it's the psychological need to vent through bloodshed since gladatorial combat's been outlawed and execution is no longer a spectator's event. I'm not just talking about video games.

If picking between the two, I'd rather have my child caught learning sex than just learning how to eviscerate someone who doesn't agree with him. These family groups need to stop and think for a moment as parents, would they rather have their kid being caught having sex or seriously injuring/killing somebody? I mean I love my games and movies but this need to "censor" sex compared to violence is quite hypocritical in nature and needs to stop.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Red Letter Media Looks at Avatar

From the same guy who spent 70 min ripping George Lucas' Phantom Menace, here he demonstrates to you all, the diabolical genius whose name is James Cameron.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The A-Team Trailer

Another iconic, classic TV show gets the modern movie update. Joe Carnahan brings this 80s action show to the big screen starring Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper(the Hangover), Sharlto Copley(District 9), and UFC/MMA fighter Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson as BA Baracus.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Bioware Announces Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening

I'm totally psyched at this. Dragon Age: Origins is one of the most engaging and quality RPGs out there. Certainly deserves the top of the class honors as top RPG of 2009 from IGN and Spike.