Week Four
I have to be honest: The gaming isn't going well. Not only am I still unable to connect to the Internet (stupid plugs and ports and manuals - even Stephen Hawking couldn't figure this out), I also haven't beaten the computer in, oh, let's see now, ever. I've been playing on the second-easiest setting Madden offers, yet I still can't figure out how to defend the skinny post nor how to run the ball for more than a yard and a half without getting tackled. My offense is anemic, and my defense is worse. When I call and ask my friend Heavy Kevy, who's an avid gamer, what this means for my prospects of becoming a pro, he laughs at me - for a long time. Then he hangs up.

Week Five
I've enlisted Heavy. We play poker together, and I regularly clean him out, so he's all too happy to share some Madden pointers while completely throttling me. We spend hours "hitting the sticks," which is gamer lingo for "playing so much that you get calluses." After countless games and more lopsided losses than I can remember, I finally improve a little. In fact, on one fateful night, shortly before Heavy goes home, I lose by just one touchdown. For me, that's a victory. I dance in my living room as Heavy walks out.

Week Six
Heavy tells me that I'm not ready to take on Fool - or any other pro, for that matter. He tells me I need more seasoning before I can step up to that level. He also thinks it's a really bad sign that I still haven't connected my machine to the Internet. He says I'm "techno­tarded." But, being a good pal, he invites me to a mini Madden tournament he's hosting. There's a $50 entry fee, those who place in the top three will be paid, and there will be about 20 competitors. It sounds good to me. I tell him I'll be there. Hey, it's not a competitive gaming league, but even Derek Jeter had to pay his dues in the minors.

The Heavy Kevy Invitational
I could bore you with the details of how amazingly I played, of long touchdown passes and fantastic interceptions. I could tell you about how, unexpectedly, I blazed through a field that had more than one Madden Challenge veteran in it (Heavy and his friends regularly play in the tournament). I could tell you that I took first place and won the sweet, sweet cash. I could tell you all of that … but I'd be lying. In actuality, I got smoked. I lost two games in a double-elimination tournament by incredibly wide margins - the wizards at MIT probably think it's mathematically impossible for a person to be so terrible at something.

SO, WHERE DOES that leave me? Well, after nearly two months of training and numerous beat downs, I've become abject. It appears that I'm not cut out to become a professional gamer. (You're safe for now, Fool, but sleep with one eye open.) It seems that I'll have to keep doing what I'm doing - stringing together words in the hopes that some publication with deep pockets will have mercy on me.

And who knows? Maybe that Bazooka Joe job will open up soon. Que sera, sera.