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Hacking Madden

It’s Super Bowl Sunday, one of the most controlled sporting events on the planet. While it’s not exactly rigged, every aspect of the game has been optimized for maximum viewing audience engagement. Sure, there’s a football game in there somewhere but every variable has been carefully engineered to maximize viewing enjoyment.

Some suspect that the two week media circus around Richard Sherman was a carefully planned media campaign designed to put Sherman, and his sponsor, the headphone maker Beats, into the spotlight. With all the attention on social media around the event, it’s no surprise that there are social media hashtag strategies of each brand hoping to cash in. Advertisers, eager to build up anticipation of the big event, are previewed snippets of their big 60 second spot during the playoff games. Our emotions have been conditioned to peak around mid-day today as they kick off to the fading strains of the National Anthem.

As long as people are going to control all the variables around the game, why not engineer the game itself? Jon Bois over at SB Nation has a column where he hacks around with the settings of the XBox video game Madden to come up with fantastical characters to face each other on the virtual gridiron. In this week’s finale, he puts the 7 foot 400 pound Seattle Seahawks up against the 5 foot 160 pound Denver Broncos. And he didn’t stop there. He also slides all the ability, stamina, and strength settings to “11” for the Seahawks and turns all the Broncos players settings down to zero.

He wrote about the resulting game in his column, The Machine is Bleeding to Death, a hilarious piece complete with animated gifs highlighting the best bits. It’s a distorted, comic book caricature of the contest being played out on a gaming platform designed to look as real as possible. The best sports writing is at once about the game but more broadly about society and the world around us thru the lens of the game. Jon Bois’ review of the video game of the football game which we are all about to watch is social commentary at its best.

madden-graphic

May the best team win today. Despite the odds.

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Advertising Hacks – Pele in Puma

I love Quora. So many good stories.

Puma paying Pele to tie his shoes in the middle of the field seconds before the kickoff of the World Cup final in Mexico (1970)… The camera made a close up and the whole world realized that the best player back then was wearing Puma shoes… Life changed for Puma after that event…

Roberto De Leon

Pele in Puma

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Skateboarding in the 60s

skateboarding in the 60's

From a series of photos taken in New York City by Life Magazine photographer Bill Eppridge. Click to see thru to see more from the series. /via TEDR

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The Art of Flight

I saw the most amazing video yesterday.

The Art of Flight was released last year and is one of the best snowboarding movies I’ve ever seen. If you like the Warren Miller skiing flicks, this one is for you. It’s got Red Bull branding all over it but  if you can get past that it’s an amazing bit of filmmaking. It is like the Endless Summer for the snowboarding crowd. But instead of touring the world looking for the perfect wave, they visit places like Alaska and Patagonia in search of untouched “first descents.” Oh, and instead of hitchhiking their way around, they get a rides from their sponsor’s helicopters.

I have to thank the folks at Red Bull for underwriting the whole adventure and capturing it all on high-end Red Digital cameras because what they produced is truly amazing. The locations are amazing, the tricks are incredible, the cinematography top notch, and soaring, full Dolby  music by M83 & The Naked & Famous is worth listening to on a good set of headphones. Watch it and get ready for winter.

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Gabby Douglas = Grace

I’ve been keeping half an eye on the Olympics this year but this photo by Greg Bull of the Associated Press stopped me in my tracks. (click image to enlarge)

UPDATE: Some details on how the photographer captured this shot over on Poynter.

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Jafet = Speed

Tyler’s soccer team this past season had a secret weapon. Jafet Oidor is a striker on the team who, when he wanted to, could turn on the jets like no one I have ever seen. Here he is blowing past four defenders who get ambushed and then left in the proverbial dust as he moves on to score a goal. It was a joy to watch him play.

The season ended on a high note. The coaches did an amazing job and we feel really lucky that Tyler was on their team. He didn’t know anyone in the beginning but over the weeks the team came together so that by the season’s end they were really playing like a team. During the final tournament they were beating teams that they lost to earlier in the season and beat easily teams that had much better records then them. Going into the second day, the team was leading their flight and only needed to tie to advance to the semi-finals but, unfortunately they lost by one point.

Coach Mark & Jerry

Great season Alameda Rebellion and thank you Coach Mark & Jerry!

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Mikael Granlund’s Amazing Hockey Goal

Just in case you missed it. 19 year-old Mikael Granlund scored an amazing goal in last night’s hockey game putting Finland over Russia and into the Final.

All eyes on Mikael and Finland in Sunday’s match against Sweden. Go Suomi!

UPDATE: Finland wins! Helsinki celebrates!

Speed Climbing Eiger

I first read about Eiger in Jon Krakauer’s book, Eiger Dreams: Ventures Among Men and Mountains in which he writes,

The problem with climbing the North Face of the Eiger is that in addition to getting up 6,000 vertical feet of crumbling limestone and black ice, one must climb over some formidable mythology. The trickiest moves on any climb are the mental ones, the psychological gymnastics that keep terror in check, and the Eiger’s grim aura is intimidating enough to rattle anyone’s poise.

With that in mind, take a look at the video below which shows Ueli Steck, a swiss climber, running up Eiger in two hours and forty-seven minutes!

– via kottke.org

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Finnish Wife Carrying

So in the middle of all the excitement of getting settled we missed the World Wife Carrying Championship which took place (as it has for the past 14 years) in Sonkajärvi, Finland – about 500km north of Helsinki.

Photo from Herald Sun, click to see full gallery
Photo from Herald Sun, click to see full gallery

Eager to see what it would take to participate next year, I came across the official site which had a bit on How to Become a Master in Wife Carrying. In typical Finnish deadpan humor, they went into all the details just so you believed they were serious until you came across lines like,

The core of the race is made of a woman, a man and their relationship. The wife carrying and eroticism have a lot in common. Intuitive understanding of the signals sent by the partner and becoming one with the partner are essential in both of them – sometimes also whipping.

Maybe we’ll go next year.

Related crazy Finnish events include:

and more.

Crazy Tennis Court in the Sky

In 2005, the helipad of the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai was converted into a tennis court for a promotion featuring Agassi and Federer.