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Malik (2/21/12)

Once again, it's too long of a break between posts. I would say I've been busy, but that's not a real excuse. I've just been caught up in learning how to be a hipster with my smart phone. How does one look cool and ironic at the same time? I'm kidding about the hipster part, but I'm not kidding about spending too much time learning the ins and outs of a smart phone after going from a RAZR and a v360 (like a RAZR, but not as thin) for the last six years. I mean it is a bit overwhelming...and that's before you try to learn how to get a good battery life from the thing. The battery just makes it worse when you are constantly reading that you need a full charge and then you must run it dry...three times...before you can get the best life from the thing.

Trying to get the full drain is one of the big time eaters in my life last week. Why? Well, I have been draining the battery with important things like Angry Birds (never could play much of that before unless you count the tiny Google Chrome version), World of Goo (and other parts of the Humble Bundle for mobile), and...

The best thing I've found on my Android phone is that this is where my games have gone. I thought SNES style RPGs were dead. They are quite alive, but living on iOS and Android. I'm talking especially about the games from Kemco. For a small price of $2.99 or $3.99 each, there are some good long SNES style RPGs. When I say good, I mean these are right from my childhood. I've bought four (only four RPGs on Android...five on iOS) of the Kemco offerings, although I'm only playing one right now (Alphadia) and have already spent more hours playing than dollars for all four titles.

In fact, my only complain is the one seen constantly on the reviews for Alphadia. It is very easy. Too easy. However, if I'm trying my first RPG on a phone, I'm happy for it to be easy, as long as it is fun. Fun is something Kemco seems to have down perfectly. In fact, I'm already excited that another one of their RPGs is getting an English update soon. I'll buy that the second it is in a language I can enjoy.

I have also been playing some Infamous again. Yesterday I cleared the second island, and then some, and I feel like I'm only a few missions from the ending. I have all the good powers, and have fully upgraded all my powers. I feel the ending is coming close and I'm hoping to finish the game before the week is done. Then I'll play the Mass Effect 3 demo (on 360 and PC...PC since I may buy Kingdoms of Amalur on the PC if the price falls by 1/3, and the demo is supposed to grant bonus KoA and ME3 items when played and probably bonus extra items when played to completion). Then I will move on to Infamous 2 before ME3 comes along.

It's not often I have a good amount of games in the first few months of a new year. I am not complaining...except I wish this could happen every year. Of course, that is mainly determined by what good games I miss out on from the past since only KoA and ME3 are really new in my queue of games.


Malik (2/23/12)

I have to talk about something near and dear to my heart. There has been a lot of work lately with the city of Seattle trying to get back into having an NBA team (and a NHL team at the same time). One Chris Hansen has been spearheading an move to build a new arena for hockey and basketball in what's know in Seattle as the stadium district (the neighborhood with Safeco Field and Century Link Field). This is the single most sweetheart of a deal possible for a new stadium/arena/field. Hansen's group will put up the land, 60% of the money, and pay off the city and county share of the money (in bonds) through imposing taxes on the new arena and guaranteeing payment of all bond payments if taxes generated by the new arena fail to live up to expectations. This also includes Hansen's group making their own fund to cover future upgrades and renovations. Lastly, it gives the land and arena to the city and county with a 30 year lease on any NBA and NHL team that calls the new place home.

I grew up green and gold for the Sonics. The city still owns the rights to the Sonics name and legacy (including the 1979 championship title). I want my Sonics back. I would enjoy seeing a professional hockey team (the Seattle area has some well attended amateur and junior hockey teams already, so a professional NHL team would be more than welcome in the region). Seattle lost the Sonics through some poor moves on so many levels, and to bring them back would be justice.

I felt that way until yesterday. When David Stern (head of the NBA...if you don't know his name) announced that he was working out a deal to keep the Kings in Sacramento, I just lost all interest in the NBA. Well, I lost interest in a league controlled by Stern. When the Sonics were facing being removed from Seattle, Stern didn't do a damned thing. In fact, he tried to force the move by claiming Seattle just didn't care enough to keep the Sonics. He did that to ensure his crony Clay Bennett (vocal owner of the OK City Thunder...Sonics in that time) got his way and could relocate the Sonics to OK.

Meanwhile, for the last half a decade, Stern has been doing everything in his power to keep the Kings in California...preferably in Sacramento. The Hornets have no owner and (no offense to New Orleans NBA fans) are in a city that is not much of a basketball city. I mean the Big Easy is football. Between the Saints and LSU, football is the flavor that goes with New Orleans. Seattle, as Stern even pointed out in 2008, is a perfect NBA city. In fact, in the final days of the Sonics and after the move, Stern repeatedly said Seattle could get a team without much work beyond getting a new stadium. Well, it's now coming together and Stern seems to be using Seattle as leverage to force Sacramento to work fast to keep a team they cannot afford. Let's face it, the money that will be used for the new Kings arena, if the plan goes through, is going to take money from services the city seems to be having trouble finding the funding for normally.

When you see the two-faced nature of Stern in the Sonics loss, the use of Seattle as leverage to keep the Kings in California, and the whole Chris Paul trade fiasco a few months ago, it is obvious that the NBA is unsustainable. I don't mean the league will collapse...I mean the league will hurt until a new commissioner is brought in to run the league with some level of quality control. Until Stern is gone, I just don't want to see the Sonics return. I want to root for my Sonics, but not when I hate the things that the NBA currently stands for. Until someone with a bit of common sense is in charge, it just looks bad.

Of course, the best example of this two-faced bullshit coming from Stern is in his own damned words. While he worked so hard with Sacramento to secure a new arena deal he dared to say the following. "So you have to have an available team. And that involves, sort of, what's going on in individual cities, and I'd rather not be engaged in that. But I am always encouraging of cities that can put plans together for arenas."

He'd rather not be engaged in individual cities? Then what the hell is he doing in Sacramento? Two-faced lies seem to be one of Stern's natural talents. I think I would rather have talents that benefit the world than talents to be a jerk.

The worst part of this whole situation is this looks like a now-or-never situation (due to how Seattle area politics work...assuming the advisory committee agrees to this amazing plan). Chris Hansen and people like him only come along once in a lifetime. You don't get free stadiums every day and unless this is acted upon, it will vanish before it ever had a chance to become real. Of course, as long as Stern holds some secret agenda against Seattle, it will also never happen.

The lamest part in my eyes is that while New Orleans and Sacramento are being shielded by Stern, the history is somewhat forgotten. No offense to Kings and Hornets fans, but Seattle has a better history. Until the move was forced through lies, Seattle had one team and held it for about four decades. Seattle had a championship and had some amazing playoff battles against the Michael Jordan Bulls in the 1990's. Seattle brought about Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton. Seattle was the original team for Kevin Durant. Seattle showed the best of Ray Allan. Seattle only lost the team due to a series of lies from Stern, Bennett, and some ineptitude from former Mayor Nickels. Seattle is basketball. Meanwhile, the Kings have seen four other homes over their life (including a previous name as the Royals) and constant threat of relocation over the last half decade while the owners go deeper in debt, and New Orleans lost the Jazz long ago and then got the Hornets only a short time ago only to not have a damned owner. If Stern doesn't want Seattle, then he can go f$#% himself. Seattle still has the NCAA with UW, Seattle University (go Redhawks!), and some in-state fun with Gonzaga. Stern may have felt Key Arena is not a good basketball arena, but the Redhawks call it home and seem to be doing quite well for being such a fresh team (only back in the NCAA recently after decades of absence).


Malik (2/24/12)

Yesterday I finally finished Infamous. I had only one mission left, and for those who know the game, it's easy to say that I took more time loading the game and watching credits than I did in going to the final mission and beating the final mission. It was a short, but sweet, final run at the game. With Infamous done, I have moved on to Infamous 2...

While I don't feel some sort of connection to Cole, I have to say the change in character design is pretty pathetic to see when you just came off of Infamous. It's one thing to tweak Cole visually, but the voice change just really makes it hard to recognize this as the same Cole from the first game. Yes, the overly gravely voice was a little silly, but the total removal of that voice just breaks the fourth wall when Infamous 2 is supposed to take place just a short while after the first game. You can't alter a character like this and expect the continuity to feel right to the player.

Anyway, while I did start up Infamous 2, I barely played anything. I only got as far as unlocking my first new power (lifting and launching objects). So, until I play more, I'll just remain quiet on this game beyond not liking the Cole change.

On another sports related rant (continuing the trend of yesterday), I hate to see that the Mariners are once again looking pretty bad. In the name of improving his abilities, Chone Figgins is going to bat leadoff and Ichiro is going to number 3. This is just silly. I mean the Ichiro part. Ichiro has a habit of hitting grounders and beating the throw. If he has, in an ideal world, two guys on base when he does this, then it becomes an easy fielder's choice, a probable double play, and maybe even a triple play. At least Figgins has speed (assuming he gets on base).

As for the Figgins leadoff's not a surprise, but it's a move of desperation. The M's owe Figgins $18 million over the next two years. It's obvious this change is not to help him as a Mariner, but rather to revitalize Figgings enough to trade him before the July trade deadline. With such a large contract, he cannot be cut and no one would trade for him now unless the M's swallow most of the money owed.

The bad part in this is that it shows the M's are still in rebuilding mode (for more than a decade now) instead of trying to contend against the probably dominating Angles and Rangers. If they wanted to really contend, they would forget about getting value in Figgins, and send in Seager (who looks like a good potential 3rd baseman for the M's when the season is half done). At least while the M's continue to rebuild, I can continue to watch a fourth season of the Sounders FC in the MLS running to another US Open Cup and another chance at the playoffs...all while also playing the in final few rounds of the CONCACAF Champions League.


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