Thursday, April 30, 2009

MAO Day 1

If you were hoping for (or foolishly expecting) serious coverage of Day 1 of the event consider yourself disappointed 'cus it ain't happening. Contrary to popular opinion I'm actually kinda busy. It's late, I'm tired. It was a long day. Lots of sun, no rain. Fingers crossed. The forecast for the weekend threatens thunderstorms. We'll see. If you want scores visit the cool kids at Pro PB.

A lot of very competitive games on the semi-pro and pro field today. A lot of back and forth with dramatic shifts of momentum making a lot of the outcomes uncertain until late in many of the matches. If this pattern continues--and it likely will--the decisive games on Saturday should be some awesomely brutal world class paintball so don't miss the action when all ya gotta do is sit back in the comfort of your living room and watch it all on the webcast. (And, no, the PSP didn't give me a dime for that endorsement but they ought to.) I'm pushing the webcast because it's a terrific presentation that is only getting better and every webcast is another opportunity to promote the game. Our game.

I'll have a bit more time tomorrow and I'm thinking of taking some pictures of some of the kewl peeps loitering around the venue. No promises but it could happen. If there's anything you'd like to see post it up in the comments and if it isn't weird or festive (figure it out) I'll consider it.

The USPL Shuffle

Yesterday the USPL (postponed?) rescheduled the DC Challenge. Moving it to August. They also altered the overall season schedule from a mix of national and regional (eastern and western conference events) to 4 national events. The new event 2 will be a west coast event at a to be announced location on a to be announced date. (Post title is a link to the full official statement.)

Sure. Whatever. But what does it all mean? Well, since you ask, and in the interest of keeping it real I'm gonna tell you what I think it means. Once the league committed to running a tournament series in 2009 they put in motion a series of actions that include operating expenses and some of those expenses exist whether events are run or not. That's money going out, month in, month out. HB was a swell event but it didn't make any money. At this point I'm not sure that even all the owner/teams have seen a full accounting of exactly how it turned out financially. If the originally scheduled DC Challenge had gone off at a significant loss it would have been a crucial failure for the league and put them in the position of needing a capital infusion. Even so, that day is not far off. And the next national event doesn't have a location or a date. And if the WCPPL puts on another well regarded and better attended event before that west coast USPL event they will have solidified their position and will surely have siphoned off more teams that might have been USPL teams. Lastly, the league was founded on a fantasy. The fantasy that there were (and are) triple digit 7-man teams just hanging around hoping for a national 7-man league in which they can play. Any logical assessment of the year-to-year numbers generated by past NPPLs consistently showed declining participation and if you follow that up by evaluating team numbers in the handful of regional 7-man leagues you will discover similar results. The numbers of teams just weren't (and aren't) there. The USPL could be the best league ever and if there ain't nobody to play it can't succeed.

One final thought: If the league's incorporation papers allow disparate percentages of ownership--which would allow some of the teams to put more money in for a larger piece of the pie--it might keep the league afloat awhile longer but it would also mean the league would very soon end up being another PSP.

Trust me, I'm not thrilled being Mr. Black Cloud instead of Mr. Silver Lining. And I'm always up to compete whatever the format. So go ahead and take pot shots at the messenger if you like. I understand. Sometimes it's hard always being right.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Paintball Sucks!

Before this goes any further, or anywhere at all really, I'd like to make it clear I don't have an ax to grind on this issue. Or even a paring knife that needs sharpening. And I have every intention of opening myself up to charges of hypocrisy as soon as I get around to it--which could be any day now excepting, of course, that like you, I am a lazy slacker.

Hang on, I've missed something. Oh yeah, it would probably be a good idea if I explained what this issue is, otherwise all my non-ax grinding clarity will go to waste. The cause du jour is the recent practice of paintball companies "sponsoring" media peeps. And if you are inclined to favoring consistency of thought and deed the same concerns apply to virtually all traditional paintball media. (Some relatively recent changes in our internet universe have altered the basic equation a bit--more on that part a little later.)

My issue with this may surprise you. I'm all for anybody involved in paintball coming out ahead on the deal. And I have no problem with PBIndustry making every effort to promote their products within the limitations of the law. (To be totally honest I'm not really all that worked up about the law biz either unless consumers are being blatantly ripped off. Hey, what can I say? I'm a laissez faire kinda guy.) I'm also okay with sponsorship (generally) though we're getting closer to my concern. Part of my concern is some of these media peeps run the serious risk of compromising themselves and/or simply becoming shills for their sponsors when they accept money and/or product with the expectation they will look favorably on the sponsor/advertiser. Now I'm not particularly concerned about any individual media type as I am with the wider potential impact on paintball and the ongoing discourse about paintball. You see, if what passes for paintball media undermines its own integrity in the eyes of its audience everybody loses. The media types lose. The audience loses. Paintball loses and even PBIndustry loses because everything is perceived through the skeptical/cynical lens of how are these guys trying to manipulate me today.

Of course this isn't a new problem. It's mostly more of the same old problem that has afflicted Paintball and others as long as there has been an unequal media/industry relationship. Take for example one of my favorites; car magazines. I've been reading them forever and for as long as I've been reading them there are regular comments to the editor(s) questioning a magazine's integrity with regards to one review or another or their treatment of one brand compared to another and the magazines have been open to that perception because the bulk of their advertising support comes from car makers. Same with paintball and it's a legit concern because it's largely unavoidable. Realistically, the best a news or magazine type format can do is offer their product, acknowledge the issue and leave it to their consumers to decide how honestly they are doing their job. Some consumers don't care. Others aren't perhaps particularly savvy to how some of this stuff works--like kids--and others, like me, tend to survey everything with a jaundiced eye while the truth probably resides somewhere in between. Today, though, things are changing with most of paintball media being virtual mags and online media of all sorts. And I'm specifically pointing out the personality driven paintball media because that is where VFTD lives.

I am convinced that a dynamic and diverse paintball-centric media is a key ingredient to paintball's future success. A suspect media cannot succeed because it can't broker open and honest discourse. Neither can a co-opted media. That is why this issue concerns me. Further it strikes me as dishonest not to address the issue when you--okay, not you, I, fully intend to get mixed up in it. (As I said, I'm not too worked up over what anyone else chooses to do, only what the cumulative impact might be.) At some point in the hopefully not too distant future I will be looking to develop an advertising model to help support this site but at the same time I will not let that alter what is posted here and I don't want it to alter how you perceive what is posted here. At any rate, now you know.

One last thing--If you didn't enjoy Ask the Coach, tough. I laughed myself silly and you can count on seeing more episodes in the future.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Major League Paintball Held Hostage: Weekly Update

Looks like the official number for the PSP's MAO event is 142. That is within a couple of the Phoenix Open numbers and while I haven't looked at the year-to-year numbers my impression is that's got to be counted as a good turnout, perhaps even very good. The recent addition of promotional video shorts is a terrific idea and a lot of fun. Now all they need to do is have some pre-Chicago ones ready to go earlier in the registration process to get peeps talking and excited.
Even with the solid participation the PSP's seasonal success or failure will likely come down to World Cup because of the limited sponsor/vendor participation and because of the free webcast. The webcast production and free availability comes at a significant cost to the league so at a minimum, if you can't be at the MAO, be sure to sign up for the webcast and watch. It is a simple, easy and painless way you can contribute to the success of the league.

The USPL's DC Challenge needs you. Little more than a couple of weeks until close of registration with the event scheduled for the weekend of May 15 - 17. The fledgling league's first Eastern conference regional currently has only 35 teams registered including the 8 pro teams with only 12 paid (also including those 8 pro teams.) I've said it before and I'll say it again--if you want the 7-man format to survive and continue to be recognized as a viable standard of national and international competition you need to support the USPL events in any way you can. If nothing else look at the prizes available. Seldom if ever will there be a better opportunity to score big and play paintball.

The MS has posted a statement on their home page regarding the Malaga non-event. Frankly given the Series past record and performance I am disinclined to give them the benefit of the doubt but you may be of a more generous nature. There is no doubt the weather was unseasonably harsh and the league can't be held accountable for that but the question remains did league actions or non-actions contribute to the chaos? Reasonable peeps can disagree and apparently they do as there are lots of conflicting views and opinions making the rounds from people who were there. Some were satisfied, many were not. If you would like to check out a slice of opinion for yourself go here.
The D2 and M5 (D3) portion of the event was completed on Sunday--though nowhere on the MS website will you get even a hint of what happened. Results are available at
Rumor has it extra fields will be set-up at Bitburg (Germany) with the Malaga layout to finish the event on that Friday in Germany while simultaneously beginning the preliminary rounds of the Bitburg event. Or something like that. However in order to do a proper draw for the locked divisions they will need Malaga results--which they won't have until relatively late on Friday. Perhaps the MS can resolve this conundrum by scheduling only D2 and M5 prelims on Friday? Anyway, the fallout continues but those most affected, the locked divisions, are locked in so what are they going to do? What they've always done; nothing.

The Grand Tour is the current incarnation, more of less, of the old Centurio Circuit combined with the European Central Series. The Grand Tour has divided events among 3 conferences with the upcoming Warsaw event being the first event for the Central Conference. The event is being held the same weekend as the USPL's DC Challenge; May 16-17. To date 36 teams have registered including some MS CPL teams and the Russian Legion to compete in the Pro division. I am told the number of registered teams is low (even very low) compared to past turnouts although I'm wondering if the new 3 conference configuration has altered the prospects for some of the events. As always if you have some info please post it up in comments. Thanks.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Paintball Preview

It's Monday. This week's post is up at Baca's Blog over at the Big Bullet. It's called, 'Los Pistoleros' and is about the utility (and future) of pistols in paintball. I don't really know (but mostly don't see it) so I'm asking what y'all think. If you've got an opinion get over there and express yourself.

Tomorrow's MLP weekly update will preview the PSP's MAO and take a look back at this past weekend's MS event in Malaga. We'll also check in on the USPL regional DC Challenge and if I get a chance the Grand Tour Warsaw event coming up.

The promised posts from last week that didn't get posted yet may or may not see publication this week. I leave Wednesday for Carolina and I gots stuff to do so I'll do what I can. I will post from the event and I'm toying with the notion of taking a few pictures with the idea of uploading some of those if I like what I see.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ask the Coach

Episode 1--The Hard Edge
Submit your questions for the next episode of Ask the Coach, Maggot.

UPDATE: video storage site down April 27th for maintenance but video piece still available using Firefox browser.

LATEST UPDATE of the UPDATE: It's bbbbbaaaaccccckkkkkk!!!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Major League Paintball Held Hostage: Alert

Whoa! Big trouble in Malaga for the MS. Apparently play was canceled during the day Saturday due to high winds and weather conditions. MS statement says D2 & 3 will complete games tomorrow and the CPL will complete their PRELIMINARY games on Sunday. All other games, including SPL and D1 (and apparently the CPL semis and finals) will carry over to Bitburg and event 2.
No explanation on how that will work was given. And it seems no confirmed alternate schedule will be available to the teams still playing until 8 am Sunday morning. Tentatively Sunday games are now expected to run as late as 9 pm which will likely disrupt a lot of return travel arrangements as well.

Lots of Eurokids gots nothing to do tonight so if you have more info please post it up in comments. Lazy slackers

UPDATE: Seems games were canceled today due to rain. Far as I can tell neither of the unlocked divisions, D2 and M5, completed the event. If correct it moves Malaga from a difficult and unhappy result to a complete bust that if handled poorly by the MS will effect the rest of the season--any perhaps beyond.
While I don't have sufficient confirmed information to pass judgment where's the fun in that? It sounds like the traditional field set-ups handled the wind issues of yesterday okay and that the new inflatable? fields (you can see them in pre-event photos) were the problem. Did the new fields get tested in advance? Does the wind not normally blow on the coast of Spain? The MS can't be held responsible for the rain today but the rain has only added to the chaos caused yesterday.
Here's a prediction too: whatever happens (or doesn't happen) the Millennium's historically poor communication skills will make it worse.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Enlistments for the Week

It's Friday and that means VFTD takes a moment to announce the latest batch of recruits for the Deadbox Puppet Army. (What is the DPA?) This week the girls are in charge. In their honor ladies drink for free from happy hour until close of business. Don't be strangers. If you have paintball story to tell I want to hear it.

Leading the charge and coming straight from the mean streets of Harlem is that quivering mound of chocolate love and bad attitude, Missy Q. Who loves ya, baby?

And Angel Bear who is passionate about paintball adds to the growing Malaysian battalion of the DPA.

Welcome and thanks for your support. Remember to--Stay thirsty my friends

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Xball: Laning Off The Break

This is the first of the Xball How-To posts so we'll see how it goes. Laning off the break is one of the core fundamentals of xball. Despite that factoid most of you suck at it. (You do, so don't bother to make excuses and please don't try to tell me you're really good but 10.5 bps is just too hard because I know suck when I see it. And you suck.) If there was only one thing you and your team could do to improve learning to lane would be number one on the list because of the potential to take control of a point in the first five seconds with effective laning.
What's even more amazing about the magnitude of your suckitude is that it ain't that hard to learn how to do both right and well. But it does take a lot of practice. This time we're gonna focus on three basic concepts and I will give you a drill or two for each concept. After that you're on your own because I ain't gonna hold your hand or pat you on the head and tell you what a swell job you did.

The concepts are; first ball, fast ball and team ball. These form the foundation of your future ability to successfully lane off the break. There's more but this will keep you busy for a while if you take it seriously.
First ball means that when you come off the net at the sound of the horn you have a specific lane to shoot and the goal is to put the first ball out of your barrel right where you want every other ball out of your gun to go. Too many laners are really hosers--just spraying their paint and aiming as they watch the stream--and that's just pitiful and an embarrassment to the game. The drill is to begin each rep in the pre-horn position and swing the gun into position as if it's the start of point every time you do the drill. Once in position you pull the trigger once. Watch the ball. If your lane is off adjust it and fire again, one time. Once your gun is in the proper position to put paint along your chosen lane take note of your posture, the elevation of the barrel, etc. Then do it again and again until you can duplicate each and every time firing a single paintball.
Fast ball means the quicker your gun is in firing position the sooner the first ball will arrive on target and the more laning options you will have. Too slow to get the up and firing means your only real shot at an effective lane is to shoot wide. There are two elements to fast ball shooting; looking down your lane and moving the gun barrel vertically and not laterally. Fast ball uses the same basic drill as first ball but incorporates the new element of speed. (You must do first ball drilling first as well.) From the pre-horn position you must be looking where you want your lane to go and my preference is for the gun to be down and back (this means the hopper is almost upside down) so that on the horn the barrel is swept up in a vertical motion. Done this way the gun moves on only a single axis, making it faster and more accurate as the barrel sweeps up almost automatically to where your eyes are already looking. (The downside is it often seems a bit awkward to players used to sweeping their guns up and across.)
While the first two elements can be practiced individually team ball requires a team. The object here is to go through the breakout motions of coming off the net at the sound of the horn and accomplishing your first ball and fast ball technique so as not to interfere with a teammate or be interfered with. It is also worthwhile to extend the drill to include laning positions for when there are two or more players at home immediately off the break.

Those are the rudiments for learning how to be a killer off the break. We'll take the next steps next time.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Global Paintball Conspiracy

Sounds ominous doesn't it? Well, it is. For those who would deny competitive paintball its rightful place in the pantheon of niche sports. Furthering the Global Paintball Conspiracy (GPC) this week is Spirit of Paint's webcast of the the MS Malaga event from Spain. If you choose to be a co-conspirator hit the link to catch all the action live. The commentary will be in French so you get to watch the games and get college credit, too! (That's the way it works these days, isn't it?)

The GPC continues next week with the PSP's MAO webcast brought to you live with added POW! and Oomph!! from the criminal combo of Patrick 'Monkey with a Gun' Spohrer and Matty 'The Misfit' Marshall. New camera angles including an overhead view also included free of charge. There is no better time to join the conspiracy. Catch all the action and thumb your nose at non-balling society from the comfort of your living room. And see if the Gridlock Moms re-form in order to lay the smackdown on Red. If they show Red doesn't stand a chance.

UPDATE: coveted VFTD e-prize to the first commenter to identify the persons in the picture.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Major League Paintball Held Hostage: Weekly Update

Like a David Copperfield illusion in reverse teams continue to appear on the list of competitors for the MS's Malaga event beginning in a couple of days. London Shock appeared overnight on the CPL list bringing the total to 15 teams leaving the division only one U.S. team short but surely the Dynabrat/Arsenalisti crew will make a rockstar appearance at the final moment. (It has been suggested that SP may have handed the spot over to Dynasty as part of their sponsorship compensation this year which doesn't seem unreasonable. Either way SP mostly gets out of it what they want--their guns in action on a world stage.) And Shock wasn't the only last minute appearance as both the SPL and D1 have added two last minute entries to push their division totals to 28 respectively. That would mean both divisions are only down 4 competing teams each over last season.
Also appearing recently was a gun sponsor listing at the MS website including WDP, Luxe and Regency as gun sponsors only while the rest are also either Gold, Platinum or Diamond league sponsors. Missing is Proto which may simply be an oversight and is anyone actually competing with Tippmann or JT markers? I'll need to see pictures--and even then I may not believe it.

Registration is open for the USPL DC Challenge eastern regional until April 7th--and it's a good thing because so far there are only 30 teams signed up including the 8 eastern conference pro teams with nobody paid except those same pro teams. Quickly calculating a rough estimate in my head zero teams paid isn't a good thing. Going by the norms of tourney paintball most events have more registrations than teams that ultimately pay and compete. Any east coast 7-man teams that hope to have a national league need to play this event.

Word from the former Eastern Bloc suggests the Grand Tour kids are having trouble filling up their Warsaw event. If you know anything about the series or this event post it up in comments.

Registration closes today for the PSP's MAO event beginning next week. There are 173 teams registered as of this morning with 117 paid with a lot of last minute payments coming in. The number of paid teams was in the 90's yesterday. If a similar number make payments today the total should be about the same as Phoenix and in the ballpark of last year's MAO.
The PSP also announced a last minute enticement for D3 teams by upping the time limit on their Race2-4 matches from 10 minutes to 12 minutes. While I'm all in favor of more paintball for more teams and players I wonder if that's a dangerous precedent to set or if we'll see more incremental give-backs later in the season.
And finally, I cannot let this pass without comment. Looking at the PBVipers semi-pro roster there is an amusing anomaly. Matt Pelto has been rostered with a pro team twice. Period. End of story. One of those times was this season's Phoenix Open. Also on the Vipers roster are Hamen Chapman and Chris Lasoya. Hamen has been rostered on a pro team--mostly Russian Legion--nearly 20 times in the PSP alone and Chris has been a recognized pro player for what seems like 3 decades now. Only one of those three players is ranked pro by the PSP. (You know where this is going, don't you?) If you guessed Pelto give yourself a shiny gold star. Just one more result of the fairest and bestest classification system ever.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Playing the Game: HB '09

Hit the title link for an overview and two 3-D views of the field layout courtesy of the USPL.

Aight, here's how this is gonna work. (Assuming it works at all.) I'm gonna describe a breakout, with a couple of options, and explain how and why. (This breakout, btw, with some minor variations, was used by virtually all the pro teams one time or another. And if that wasn't enough this post includes a bonus feature!

At the sound of the horn (buzzer, whistle or croaky ref) 3 players focus on the d-side of the field. One player remains back center to shoot either over the inside MD at the stubby can or wide at a corner or temple runner off the break. Of the other two one goes low into the MD and the other either breaks for the corner, the temple or gun up into the stubby can. The stubby is focused on the center of the field zone and/or players filling the can and MT snake-side.
On the snake side a player either fills the corner or takes the snake off the break. The snake run can be to snake one, two or three. A home shooter lanes for a snake runner most of the time. The two remaining snake side players either double the can or fill the can and the MT. In either case the initial lanes allow the inside can player to zone the center of the field to the dorito wire while the outside can edge either doubles up on the snake or lanes for the corner and in either case can sweep paint back into the small dorito.
There are optional primaries on both sides of the field that, mixed with options on the timing for filling spots, offer enough variation to keep the opposition guessing and the plan flexible enough to vary from the conservative to the all out balls to the wall breakout.
This basic break allows a team to respond to the changing game by filtering players heavily into the snake or upfield through the center while simultaneously shifting d-side players either up or over as well.

Since you've patiently read the rest of this post here's your bonus feature–you did read the whole thing, didn't you? Playing the corner. (In 7-man the dorito wire corner is particularly under played.) The typical corner player is doing one of three things: working the inside of the field from the inside edge of the bunker, looking to make a bump upfield or suppress his/her mirror on the wire. (I know a handful of girls play serious paintball but does that really mean I have to write silly things like his/her?) While there is nothing wrong, and a few things right, about those choices they are too limited. Oftentimes the dorito corner does not have the same wire control demands the snake side does which frees the player up to operate like a gun turret. Ideally you want to wrap the prop most of time and constantly pound paint around the whole field. (Seriously, 9 or 10 pods worth in a standard 7 minute 7-man game.) With a bit of proper field-walking the corner player will invariably discover lots lanes and spots to shoot. And bringing that rain of paint to bear will confuse the opposition and help free up your teammates.

Paintball Stuff

It's Monday so I am once again harassing you with the by now familiar reminder that the weekly post is up at Baca's Blog over at the Big Bullet. You might want to check this one out as it deals with some further thoughts related to the past weekend's NCPA championships. It's called, 'The Future of Competitive Paintball'--so not really a big deal. And if you are a member of the PSTA or know a member of the PSTA give them a nudge and encourage them to take a look 'cus this is, near as best I can tell, one of the principle reasons the organization exists. And if it isn't maybe they ought to expand their vision. No doubt it won't be a shocking revelation--or at least it shouldn't be--but if it encourages some more dialogue or helps engender some action that would be a good thing.

By the way, don't let the PSTA website discourage you. I'm sure better is on the way and whoever is responsible for the music has been fired. They really are a professional trade organization. Right?

UPDATE: Oops. I just realized according to my brand new shiny schedule I was supposed to post that playing the game piece on the HB layout on Saturday. The dog ate it. Hey. (I'll get it done today sometime.)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Semi Semi, Semi Auto and Full Semi

The NCPA held their annual championship event this weekend at our regular practice field. In between our sessions and after we were done on Saturday I spent some time checking out the college teams. The NCPA allows semi-auto play and I was curious to see how their set-ups would play.
At the recent Huntington Beach event our team's general manager coined the semi-auto distinctions in the title of this post. (No, we're not such a big and powerful organization we have a GM like a pro football team but I call him that because he does everything from coaching to logistics to sponsorships so that I, like you, can be a lazy slacker.) In the electro-pneumatic marker era semi-auto is so broad a term as to be almost meaningless but it is possible to make distinctions. When a gun's electronics aren't very sophisticated or the player has made a real effort to prep a gun that really only shoots one ball per trigger pull the result is semi-semi. You may hear brief bursts of slightly higher rates of fire but mostly it sounds pretty slow. A "true" semi-auto set-up easily delivers higher rates of fire with greater consistency though you may hear a noticeable difference if/when the player switches hands. A full-semi gun is capable of firing one ball per trigger pull but once a sustained ROF has been achieved it starts roaring like a machine gun. At HB the majority of guns were semi-auto and full-semi.
Interestingly the majority of the guns I heard at the NCPA were semi-semi set-ups with some guns operating in the semi-auto range. There may have been a full-semi or two in the competition but I didn't hear one. The guns in use were, more or less, exactly the same guns seen at HB.
From that totally unscientific anecdote I draw a couple of conclusions. Either the average national level collegiate player has an arthritic trigger finger or else that same player has a much less flexible definition of how semi-auto ought to operate than the norm or the collegiate officials are able to maintain and enforce very strict standards. Personally, I tend to discount the trigger finger explanation and I find super refs kinda hard to believe.
So, what's the point, you ask? No point really.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Enlistments for the Week

It's Friday and that means VFTD takes a moment to announce the latest batch of recruits for the Deadbox Puppet Army. (What is the DPA?) This happy little blog would like to thank you for your support. I would also encourage y'all to drop me a line or post up some added info in the comments. I'm always interested in what parts of paintball the recruits come from.

First up this week is Tor Anders Gunnerød. How cool a name is that? He could easily be a Robert E. Howard-type hero with that handle. I'll go out on a limb and guess Norwegian.

Adding to the strong showing from Malaysia this week is slashitpaintball.

Ducking in under the wire is Stefu who claims to be an ex-Euroballer but he has yet to kick the addiction. Otherwise, why would he be here?

Welcome one and all.

Stay thirsty my friends

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Paintball Sucks!

For the players, by the players. Say it with me. For the players, by the players. A simple slogan, it's ashes to one generation and the incoherent hope for change of another. The nebulous embodiment of what tournament paintball ought to be, could be, should be--if only. It's also the mantra of stoned nostalgia and the dazed and confused rallying cry of the terminally witless.

If I've lost you already you must have spent the last few years living in a refrigerator box in your parent's garage huddled fearfully in the dim flickering of a penlight, wrapped in attic insulation. Oh, wait, that was me. I know it sounds at best claustrophobic but after a while being surrounded by the dark, the warmth and the sound of your (or actually my) heart beating it becomes quite comforting.

Oh, yeah.

For the players, by the players. Shorthand for that Shangri-la of tourney ball, the event or series run by the players for the benefit of the players. What could possibly be better? Playing our game on our terms. For the players, by the players. If only we could get back there again... Oh, hang on, there is the USPL. It's by the players for the players, right?
If you have failed to grok where this is going I am about to shatter tournament paintball's most enduring illusion. (It's the latest act of my winning friends and influencing people world blog tour.)
It's a gimmick; a pipe dream at best and a con at worst.
You see, it's too abstract. Like a politician's promise. It doesn't really mean anything specific because it's not supposed to. It's meant to appeal to as wide a segment of the target audience as possible, meant to mean whatever you want it to mean. There's no there there because as soon as discreet decisions start being made someone is going to start disagreeing.
But we need a definition. The obvious one is a literal one. A league of players and teams run by the players and teams in the interest of the players and teams. By that definition it's never happened at all.
Back in the earliest days of the original NPPL it was an organization of teams, not promoters. And that original ideal didn't last. Once the “league” was incorporated instead of being the framework for ordering the idea it became the means that ultimately co-opted the dream and catalyzed power in the hands of a relative few. It isn't my intention to argue the merits of how the original ideal of the NPPL changed or why--only that it did. But even in the good old days member Pro teams had one vote and member Am teams had three-fifths of a vote. (For those of you with a modest knowledge of American history that three-fifths of a vote thing ought to ring a bell. I'm just saying.)
The PSP is the current state of evolution of the original NPPL. (More or less.) Some might argue that characterization but not because of 'for the players, by the players.' And, in their favor--to my way of thinking--the PSP isn't playing that card.
The Pure Promotions NPPL staked out some of the same rhetorical ground as the legendary NPPL and promoted some committees filled with selected player reps but those committees were limited to play of the game issues like rules. The practical result was the appearance of active player involvement. Now this isn't a terrible thing but it had nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with running that incarnation of the league.
The Pacific Paintball NPPL mostly followed the Pure Promotions NPPL model with a Shawn Walker “rah-rah” twist but no substantive differences.
The USPL is a bit different but it ain't for the players, by the players either. It's for the owners by the owners who just happen to be teams, not players. At least (for now) all the USPL wants to do is operate a tournament series. And if they want to solicit opinions, ideas or encourage teams to feel connected to the league I think that's swell.
But please, enough with the for the players by the players.

MLP Held Hostage: Alert

I wish I knew how to add audio links 'cus I'd be playing the (really annoying) musical chairs music right about now. Offenbach Comin At Ya is now in the CPL. They finished the '08 SPL season just out of position for promotion but here they are anyway. That means one of the remaining unregistered CPL teams will be out. Who will it be? Is it the SP spot (Philly Dogs), Shockwave or Moscow Phoenix?

UPDATE: It's the Moscow Phoenix spot.

The Evolving VFTD

'For the Players By the Players' will be posted later today.

Lately I've been thinking about adding some structure to this site. On the order of stuff like the Tuesday MLP Held Hostage updates. I've decided, with some input from those of you who aren't always lazy slackers, to add one new monthly and one new bi-monthly feature. Anyway, as I'm sure this is both tedious and boring, let me get to the point. Beginning this month I'll start doing 2 How-To's for Race2; one each in week 1 & week 3. Field Design posts will become How To Play a particular field layout and I'll do one of those each month in week 2. (For purposes of identifying the week my week 1 will be the first full 7 day week each month. That will give me more time to fit those posts in and hopefully will be less confusing as the beginning and endings of the months don't coincide with the days of the week. That means we are currently in my week 2 so I'll do the HB layout on Saturday. And next week will have a Race2 How-To.)
The other monthly feature I'm considering is an interview; players, former players, movers, shakers, industry guys, Old Skool, New Skool and most things in between. I've got some ideas but I'm open to suggestions. And if you've got an opinion on the whole interview idea--don't be shy.

Also, a couple of quick notes on VFTD's audience. In my recent look at Google Analytics global breakdown of site visitors--which is very cool--I noticed a new first; visitors from Taiwan. Thanks for dropping by. Otherwise the breakdown has become pretty consistent with the majority of visitors from North America followed by Euroland and Asia has recently supplanted South America.

Finally, I would like to the turn the MLP Held Hostage weekly update into a more global review but in order to do that I need a little help. One level of help would aim me at websites and leagues that merit keeping an eye on or that would provide useful info from those parts of the world where I'm not--pretty much everywhere except the U.S.--and another level of help would be dropping me a line from time to time and filling me in on the goings on in your part of the paintball universe. So how bout the latest news from Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Brazil, South Africa, Europe--anywhere and everywhere serious competitive paintball is being played.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Small Change

I've changed the Reax options at the bottom of each post to be more paintball-centric. The new choices are Bloody welt, Left a mark or Bounced. In the process all the old data was lost so y'all got a clean slate to click on. The Reax options are just for fun and so simple and easy even you lazy slackers can do it. Who knows, you might get bored just clicking, and before you know it you've posted a semi-literate, almost comprehensible comment. And then the sky is the limit.

UPDATE: glad to see y'all taking advantage of the blank slate to get to clicking. As for you "bounced" clicking critics, you must be recballers. Not a criticism, just an observation. I gotta say though there is no 'surrender rule' in operation here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Team USA

Doesn't mean what you think it means unless the sum of your thoughts have run their course with F-yeah!
Take a break from your jingoistic chanting and answer a couple of questions and all may become clearer. (Or not.)
Oh, in case you missed it Pro Paintball is reporting a combo of Dynabrats and Arsenalisti plus a player to be named later will be playing together in the Millennium Series as Team USA.
So whose spot will they be playing assuming it's in the CPL? Smart Parts owns a spot but has yet to register a team. If it's the SP spot why would they want a mixed squad when some of the non-brats are shooting the competition? If it's not the SP spot whose spot is it? (The only choices left belong to Moscow Phoenix or Shockwave.)
Try as I might I'm not seeing too many options here. If we assume it's SP's spot then the only conclusion that makes much sense is SP needed to subsidize that spot and the Brats aren't willing (or able) to do that. If it isn't SP's spot it belongs (or belonged) to one of the other two named teams. But why would Dynasty join with Arsenal to pick-up a spot to play the Euro version of Race2-5? More likely is the MS had a spot revert to them that they wanted to fill with U.S. Pros in order to appeal to their European player base. I expect it will all shake out before too long--and isn't it interesting that nobody ever talks about this stuff until forced to reveal what's happened?--my vote is with SP splitting their spot's roster in order to defray the expense of keeping the spot. But who knows? Oh, yeah, there are a few peeps who know.

Major League Paintball Held Hostage: Weekly Update

This week's update is a little thin on everything except numbers but I'm doing a little digging--or, more accurately, I've asked some peeps I know to dig a little for me--otherwise, it would be like work and that's out of the question. I'm mostly interested in the MS, their locked divisions and how sponsorships deals will really shake out this year.

Over in Euroland Joy has finally appeared on the CPL list putting the top division at 13 teams, 3 short of capacity. But why worry, or ask questions, the event is still 10 days away. (Got a separate post on Team USA coming today related to this.) If any of VFTD's Swedish readers--and at last count there are quite a few--would be willing to give me some more background on the Joy situation I would be eternally grateful, and uh, well, that's about it. The SPL and D1 remain at 26 teams out of a division max of 32. As noted last week, not ideal for structuring the prelim brackets. At this point I will go out on a limb and suggest whoever shows up at this late date worked some kind of deal with the league, and that includes Joy and maybe some prior registrants. Can I prove it? Not at the moment and of course everyone will deny it so you'll just have to trust me. Or not. But back room dealing is hardly unknown on either side of the Atlantic. Just saying.

The PSP has 166 teams registered for the MAO with 78 paid, including 7 pros. (I still don't understand how any of the pros can appear as registered but unpaid when they were all supposed to have ponied up for the year in advance. This is something the raehl faction actually knows--but will he talk?) Semi-pro has 8 registered though I find DB's Ironmen to be suspect and kinda expect 7 teams will pay and play. D1 is stuck at 10 and again, I'm not convinced all will pay and the league will be back where it's been with a sadly deficient D1 despite their effort to pump D2 teams into the division. As Yogi Berra was reputed to have said, It's deja vu all over again. Time continues to trickle away as the clock runs out on registration and the paid team numbers hover in the danger zone. With a season reduced to 4 events are the teams that might have played the fourth event gonna jump in someplace else or skip it altogether?

Registration for the USPL's first conference event, the DC Challenge, is at 22 teams, including 4 of the conference's 8 Pro teams, with 0 paid. 1 5-man team and 17 7-man teams across three divisions have registered. The event is approximately one month away given it's scheduled for the weekend of the 15th - 18th of May. Realistically the league has around two weeks at the very latest to see things turn around before they have to make final decisions and spend money.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Paintball Stuff

It's Monday and that means there's a new post at Baca's Blog over at the Big Bullet. This week's post is called 'The First Time' (get your mind out of the gutter) and refers to a first time experience of the game of paintball. I doubt my story is particularly unusual, at least for an Old Skooler but I'm also encouraging peeps to post their stories up in comments and it might be really interesting if a whole bunch of youse include your story. Or not. (I'm trying to give you the benefit of the doubt here.)

Here at VFTD I'm taking today off but decided to take a couple of minutes to provide a certain-to-be-disregarded schedule of some upcoming posts. The posts identified will be posted--eventually. As the regulars know it's just that it frequently takes longer than the schedule projects. Personally, I blame management.

Tuesday is the day for the Major League Paintball Held Hostage Update and Friday is for Enlistments of the Week. In between and sometime after Friday, in no particular order, the posts currently in the queue are: 2 Paintball Sucks! posts, The Unseen Game, Poverty or Parity and They're Back!!! I'm also considering do a Field Design post or two on the HB layout if anyone is interested. If not I probably won't. I'm also thinking about doing some how-to posts on xball or Race2, if you prefer. (Though I don't see them as quite the same thing.) Again, if you are interested, let me know, because posts like that require actual *shudder* work.

The Paintball Sucks! posts will be about "journalists" being sponsored by the industry and about the whole "for the players by the players" mantra.
The Unseen Game is about the undercurrent of gamesmanship that goes on at the level of rumor and innuendo.
Poverty or Parity is another piece about the pro game.
And They're Back!!! is about the return to paintball of Gino (NPS) and Jeff (PMI).

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter Visigoths

I figured a little culture wouldn't kill ya. Besides, it's only a fraction of the whole piece, St. Matthew's Passion, by J.S. Bach

Saturday, April 11, 2009

For the Good of the Game

This is a continuation of the Paintball Sucks! post on PBIndustry sponsors of tournaments and the naive notions some ballers have. The original post decried the ignorance or self-absorption of ballers who blame the tournaments for failing to line up enough sponsors/vendors when most of those same ballers have little or no intention of buying anything anyway.
The Big Picture point was that the model of sponsors/vendors paying the league in order to sell their products at an event is a model that is no longer working. (And, in fact, hasn't been working for longer than the current economic malaise.)

In that post's comments I was apparently being mean and dictatorial (see for yourself) for suggesting a more useful dialogue would result if commenters didn't ignore the original position and cherry-pick their objections. Anyway, this post is my effort to try a new tack--and respond to the self-appointed PSP flack, raehl faction, on my terms instead of his.

Around this point in comments the raehl faction jumped in to insist the new PSP policy is intended to protect local stores and fields from the predations of the swarm-of-locusts traditional trade show & camp followers. Does he address, even in passing, the idea that the sponsor/league model is in trouble? Does he think the premise is mistaken? Why or why not? Does he think players are as actively purchasing paintball stuff at events as was once plainly the case? Or soon will again? Does he put the PSP policy into any context other than to make patently absurd claims about it? Well, no, he doesn't. (This is approximately where I began suggesting the comments might be more productive if they actually, you know, had at least something to do with the point of the original post.)

On the subject of sponsor protectionism I've previously posted some thoughts here, here, here and here.

The raehl faction claim: the new restrictive sponsorship policy of the PSP is intended to protect local stores and fields. It's frankly an outrageous claim on its face because it doesn't do anything of the sort except perhaps incidentally at the margins.
Imagine a town with two or three lemonade stands. Once a year when the circus comes to town a few mobile lemonade stands follow along and park beside the circus, by the entry. Most of them offer extra large cups at regular prices while a couple of others sell more expensive premium lemonade. This arrangement worked as long as the circus attracted all sorts of people. All the traveling lemonade stands were happy but after a while it seemed more and more people bought the cheap lemonade and ignored the premium lemonade. The purveyors of premium lemonade were unhappy because it was more expensive for them to provide premium lemonade. Now the circus charged the traveling lemonade vendors for the opportunity to use the circus's popularity to sell lemonade and the premium vendors had bigger trucks and paid the circus more so when the premium vendors became unhappy the circus told all the small vendors of cheap lemonade they were no longer welcome.
The raehl faction version insists the circus did it to spare the local lemonade stands when the circus came to town--but aren't the premium lemonade vendors still trying to sell their lemonade? And if the locals suffer less harm is it because the circus gave a rodent's posterior about the locals' lemonade sales or is it because they were trying to satisfy the premium lemonade vendors who pay the big money to follow the circus?
Odd too that this new policy was only conceived after the big industry players started complaining about losing sales to the smaller retailers. I'm just saying the timing is oddly coincidental.
The reality is it's a policy intended to protect manufacturers from themselves and prop up an operating model that is no longer working--and keep some of that sponsor money coming in. (There is, of course, a rational explanation to be made for following this course of action but the raehl faction fantasy sounds so much more altruistic and nobody seems to believe you, the tournament consumer, can handle the truth. Except me. And I'm an oppressive hatemonger. Go figure.)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Enlistments for the Week

VFTD is pleased to announce the latest batch of recruits for the Deadbox Puppet Army. (What is the DPA?) This happy little blog would like to thank you for taking the time and making the effort. I would also encourage y'all to drop me a line or post up some added info in the comments. I'm always interested in what parts of paintball the recruits come from.

First up this week is webvideoklip (which when typed correctly capitalizes assorted letters in non-grammatical ways.) No disrespect intended, I'm just too lazy to get it right. Web-V joins the DPA from Malaysia.

Next up is sdawg who sports a conventional ballers avatar but has an esoteric sense of humor (or else an unhealthy attraction to pandas.) As always, VFTD doesn't judge but welcomes the newest recruits.

Stay thirsty, my friends

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Field Design–Phoenix 3

I know, it's about time but it's not like my mailbox has been full of irate demands to get this one posted. I'm just saying.
Without further ado and after the fashion of the UFC's Bruce Buffoon, er, Buffer "It's time!" for the review of the snake side of the field. (Try to picture me spinning on my heels to the left and dramatically pointing from the hip like a pompous--and shaved--Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top.)

First, the snake side played okay in combination with the D-side. The play balance across the field was fairly good despite pace of the game issues across the field.

What is pace of the game? What I mean is the time it takes to press an aggressive attack up one side of the field. And I divide the field in half for this calculation because with the odd body count most breakouts will result in a strong side (more players) and weak side (less players) mid-point result. Ideally, to my way of thinking, each half of the design should play out at approximately the same pace because that offers the nearest thing to a neutral playing field and allows the players and tactics to dictate opportunity, or advantage/disadvantage of position. Of course, actual results will vary as the complex of variables like execution, skill and luck all play a part.

The snake side alone was less successful as a design than the D-side. It clearly followed the conceptual pattern established on the D-side of having two lanes of upfield movement–which was good--but the actual utility of some of the props as playable positions was inconsistent. The midfield stand-ups (2 MTs & 2 cans) were primarily lane blocking bunkers even though the rockets could be played effectively in certain situations. The pin (pillar) (tree) placements were very good because of the offset which offered risky but very playable positions that matched up well with the cake as positions that could feed upfield or to the wire. And also created additional lane options to shoot off the break
The principle weakness of the snake side was the lack of countering positions. And here what I mean is positions capable of containing snake movement. Ideally a design should try to avoid both dominate offensive and defensive positions. If, for example, the home bunker only offers decent off the break lanes but no or few good opportunities to hold up snake side upfield movement it forces a defender to make a decision and in a sense "rewards" the success of the offensive player in ways other than eliminations. Different positions then offer diverse but limited offensive and defensive options.
As it turned out this deficiency was counterbalanced by the relative ineffectiveness of the snake. A player could easily reach snake 50 in short order and be largely ineffective. In both instances those effects were largely the responsibility of the lane blocking bunkers placement. (The MTs and the Cans could easily have been repositioned and still served to block the same lanes yet open up access to the snake.)

The other factor impacted by the weaknesses of the snake side was the side-to-side balance. Side-to-side balance is the capacity to eliminate players cross field with relatively equal facility based on similar upfield positions. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways in the design but in this case favored the D-side.

Okay, that was less about Phoenix as a specific design than about the concepts at work in my evaluation but hopefully this will prove helpful for future field design posts as well and, as usual, if anyone has any specific questions I'd be happy to tackle them. Recap: Key Concepts. pace of the game, side-to-side balance and offense/defense neutrality in the placement of the bunkers.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Paintball Sucks!

This is the first post of a new feature, you know, like Rule of the Game or MLP Held Hostage and Mr. Curious or even Another Cynical VFTD Game. This one is called, unsurprisingly, Paintball Sucks! and will offer rants on various and sundry stupid stuff going on in the big, fat world of competitive paintball. Extensive topic, I know.

And just so we're clear I'm gonna provide two rants and explain why one is and the other isn't a Paintball Sucks! rant.

For example, if I were to accuse y'all of being a pack of lazy (good for nothing) slackers either unwilling, unable or just plain a-skeered to anonymously post some skreeling scrawl that might, just might, betray any of your itty bitty thoughts--well, it's too horrifying to contemplate.
Of course, I'm referring to your collective disdain of my suggestion you entertain yourselves last weekend by contributing, ever so slightly, to our happy little blog and in the process quite possibly helping to assist in making VFTD even more to your liking. I realize comments doesn't include a spell check function and you have to type on a keyboard instead of using those nice, pretty colored crayons you prefer and I even understand about feeling all self-conscious but sometimes you just have to buckle down and be a man. Even if you're a girl.
That was NOT a Paintball Sucks! rant for the obvious reason it wasn't about paintball--except tangentially. It was a You Suck! rant because it was about you.
Enough. Wipe that tear from your eye and buck up, Little Soldier, that's what I like to call, tough love. Now carry on.

If you were to read any of the post-event threads on the USPL event at Huntington Beach--but why would any sane person do such a thing?--you would discover a mind-numbing, life-draining inducement to both homicidal and suicidal fantasies. (Or maybe that's just me.) The particular "line of reasoning" I had trouble with was the nearly incessant whining about the lack of vendors present. And the sometimes stated, other times implied, suggestion the USPL should have had more vendors. As if they could snap their fingers and vendors of paintball crap would magically appear. What is it these peeps think is going on? A conspiracy to deprive them of the opportunity to spend money on paintball stuff? Seriously, don't they know the leagues have always depended on sponsor dollars and that in recent years sponsors who do show frequently do so at a loss? And really, who is actually spending money on stuff at tournaments? That's right. Next to nobody. Gawking at some new gat doesn't pay the bills. Spending some down time wandering around the vendors window shopping doesn't pay the bills. Nobody has the cash right now to spend it on what typically amounts to promotion and keeping the brand front and center. Are most players so disconnected and self-absorbed they are this clueless? Apparently.

Meanwhile, the PSP and MS (if they haven't silently backed down) are operating in another league altogether. (Literally and figuratively.) (I know, but sometimes I can't help myself. It's sad and unfortunate for you as there is no one here to edit my excesses.) They've devised a clever policy of protecting a relative handful of sponsoring manufacturers--in the midst of the economic whirlwind--who will promise anything but would sooner confess pedophilia than part with a buck. I know, I know, when things turn around this will turn out to have been a stroke of pure genius. Every player who competes nationally can hardly wait for the chance to pay full retail and incidentally replace the gear they already have oh, at least twice a year. Please, Mr. Manufacturer, take my money. Judas H. Priest!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Major League Paintball Held Hostage: Weekly Update

Registration closes for the PSP's upcoming MAO in a couple of weeks. To date there are 152 teams registered with 64 paid. That total includes only 3 pro teams (which were supposed to have paid for their season in advance.) Hard to say at this point how the final numbers will look--Phoenix looked a bit thin until the last minute. Keep an eye on both D1 and Semi-pro; D1 is showing signs of falling off from a decent season opener, or maybe I'm being too pessimistic. And despite some new blood in semi- the division isn't exactly swamped with teams so far. Hey XSV, coming back to defend? Xball has gotta be looking pretty good right about now, yes?

Over in Euroland the days are also ticking down to the MS's season opener at Malaga Beach. While the registration numbers look solid and the locked divisions have seen some additional teams listed in the last couple of weeks it's still unclear if all the teams listed are paid and will be competing down in sunny Spain.
Looking at the CPL--which currently has 12 teams registered in a division locked at 16--it's interesting to compare who ought to be on the list and who is. The two teams promoted from the SPL are ready to play. The Tontons are back (Was that the spot Shockwave was playing in last year?) but so far Joy, the Smart Parts spot and the Moscows, Phoenix and Caste, are missing. It looks like musical chairs with possibly 5 teams but only 4 spots. Perhaps more importantly 3 of last season's top four aren't on the list--yet. Do gun sponsorships have anything to do with the missing teams? And, once again, I can't help noting that all the payment deadlines have passed.
In the SPL only 3 of the 4 teams promoted from D1 are on the list as are both demoted teams from the CPL. Otherwise at least 6, and probably two or three more, are missing from last year's SPL teams. Both SPL and D1 have 26 teams listed as of today but 26 is not a workable number given past prelim practice which required divisions divisible by four.

Yesterday I promised a bit more from the USPL's HB event and since registration for the DC Challenge hasn't opened yet I might as well include the follow-up here. But first--did you realize that the DC Challenge is 5 weeks and a couple of days away? It is ambitious scheduling and the USPL needs to get that ball rolling. (And they know it so I expect registration will open very soon.)
As I mentioned yesterday I thought the event was a solid players event but less successful as a public display of our game. Which is okay unless the new league is harboring some of the old NPPL's schemes and dreams. The fields were about as accessible to the public as the port-o-johns were to the players. And I'm confident the players were far more intent on reaching the port-o-johns than most of the passersby were to "experience" big time tourney ball. Still, my view is it's more important to get the tournament right than it is to provide a spectacle. The new scheduling, which was similar to the way the PSP works their prelim groups, was a significant improvement. The most common post-event complaints; refs, sand, limited vendors, paint distribution and distant port-o-johns are par for the course. I don't know what the reffing was like on the outer fields but, as usual, some of the complaints probably have some truth to them and others don't. I have yet to attend the mistake free event. Dragging heavy gear bags through the sand was probably a real drag (yes, I did that on purpose) especially when at least half the players were smaller than their gearbags. But that's the beach, isn't it? Complaints about limited vendors is a subjective complaint and, more than anything, demonstrates the cluelessness of the complainer. Trust me, the USPL worked hard to get every last vendor who attended. While we got our paint without any complications I heard there were some issues with the distribution despite the league's best effort. (Re: Frank Connell) All things considered it turned out to be not unlike many another NPPL event.
However, once again I can't let the gun issue go. The so-called semi-auto play remains a joke and also consistent with the old NPPL. Nobody cared to try and police the guns with any semblance of seriousness and nobody seemed to find it objectionable but then almost everyone had ridiculously fast guns. One other thing, now that I think of it, was the chrono policy. There was a standard radar chrono in the field access/ref tent but official chronographing was done by hand-helds on the field. The problem with that is the different types of chronos aren't consistent with one another. And never have been.
Unfortunately the ability of the USPL to actually put on a good tourney will not be the deciding factor in whether the league is a success or not.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Back from the Beach Edition of Paintball Stuff

It's Monday and that means a new entry for Baca's Blog over at the Big Bullet (68 Caliber) and this week's entry is a doozy but it isn't exactly hot off the presses. It's a slightly updated version of an old magazine piece--because it's Monday and I didn't take my laptop with me to the beach and I haven't slept since Saturday night. Caught the redeye out of LAX last night and had every intention of trying to sleep (planes and sleep don't typically work for me) except for the odd little man in the middle seat of my row. I'm sure he wasn't a regular flier and was probably claustrophobic because as soon as the lights were dimmed he started talking to himself and making peculiar noises. Nor could--or would--he sit still. He sat there in the dark grunting, squeaking and fidgeting for four hours and when I politely suggested he knock it off he turned off my air nozzle. As a fan of spy movies I considered snapping his spindly neck and putting a blanket over him but the cheap bastards at USAir don't offer complimentary pillows and blankets anymore. The post is called, So You Wanna Play a Big Game? and if it doesn't ring a bell take a look.

Met DPA legionary Don Saavedra at HB this past weekend and it's always cool to put faces to names. If you've read Don's posts at PaintballAgenda --and if you haven't what's wrong with you?--you know Don has an interest in the stories and history of the game. In pursuit of that interest he's begun working on a podcast project. Long story short I made a nuisance of myself until he pretended to do a short interview with me. In the longer term it will be interesting and exciting to see--and hear--how it turns out.

Another very cool project I heard about at HB should be going live online soon and I will fill y'all in as soon as it does just in case you somehow miss the big reveal. The brains and heart behind the project are two of the most creative guys in paintball. I don't want to steal any of their thunder so I'm just teasing y'all for right now but I'm really looking forward to it. It will be a must see.

Talked to Chris (Pony) LaSoya and the rumor of his playing xball (Race to Whatever) with the semi-pro Vipers is a possibility. From our conversation it didn't seem to be a done deal but he was excited about the prospect of getting back on the field. And it will be with a Dye team. I asked him the secret to his longevity and he started talking about some guy named Paul Mitchell. I don't know who that is and I'm not gonna judge so I nodded a couple of times and backed away slowly.

I missed the enlistments last week but I'll catch up this Friday.

And, yes, I know, I didn't post Field Design: Phoenix 3 because it just wasn't ready. It's close so it'll be soon. You know where to send your complaints. I will also get around to checking out comments soon.

Finally, a quick word or two on the first USPL event. It went off without an obvious hitch. The set-up offered some innovation and far as I could tell everything worked out well. I'll do a longer report tomorrow. For the players and those who were there for the paintball I'm confident it was a solid performance. On the showcase of paintball/Huntington Beach coolness factor I think a couple of things conspired against it. The weather wasn't great. It was south of the pier. The vendors were kinda interposed between the beach goers and the fields of play. And there was a surf comp as well as a big craft gimmick going on this past weekend. From my perspective I've never seen the kinda crowds or interest from the public that existed when the event was north of the pier. Of course, I'm not convinced that Paintball Meets the Public on the scale of one Cali beach community is all that relevant right now anyway. But what do I know.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Rule of the Game

Rule of the Game #14: most aftermarket parts are purely cosmetic. Those that aren't are still, more often than not, unnecessary. (Call me all the names you like but, please, no sticks and stones. I have sensitive skin and a soft head.)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Keep Yourselves Entertained

Yeah, that's right. I'm taking a few days off. I'm not taking the laptop to Cali and, yep, I know what I said before. Get a life.

I'm not gonna make y'all go cold turkey though. There will be a couple of items posted tomorrow. A Rule of the Game item and Field Design: Phoenix 3.

Otherwise feel free to treat the comments section of this post as an OT thread. In case you feel like being marginally productive post up any topic ideas you'd like to see on our happy little blog. (When I say "our" I mean our as in I do all the work, such as it is, and you lazy slackers just hang out.) To get you started I was thinking some interviews might be of interest though why you'd want to know what somebody else thinks when I'm here all the time is beyond me. I can promise to ask some questions unlike any you've seen before.

If somebody busts open their piggy bank to check out the HB webcast I'm curious what y'all thought of it--and how it compared (afterwards) with the PSP webcast. You can post that here, too.

Guess what? The raehl faction did the USPL schedule and even with my *hint* about Infamous and X-Factor being in the same bracket and between them having 10 X-Factor players their match-up isn't their first game. Whatever.

It's gonna be interesting to see how the "gun rules" work at HB. Of course that kinda assumes there actually will be gun rules and that they aren't simply flouted, like usual.