In terms of sports, this
was a good weekend for me. The Mariners won two in a row against the
Dodgers...the number one team in MLB right now. It wasn't just two
wins that barely manifested...it was two solid victories with some
skill and quality playing. It was a good enough two games to forget
about the horror that was the Friday night game.
Then you have the
Sounders putting up one of their greatest games ever. I mean 3-0 is
a good enough result, but there was also a lot of action and control
by Seattle. I know a few people who went to the game making it their
first ever Sounders, or even MLS, game. I definitely think this was
the game to be the right introduction to soccer on a level beyond
the pee-wee level.
To round it out, the
Confederations Cup final between Brazil and the US was a damned good
game. I mean the US played a really good half of soccer...and that's
the second half when they lost the game. The first half, when the US
scored two and kept Brazil out of action was beyond good. It was
beyond words...they played some of the best soccer I have ever seen.
The US not only controlled the first half on their own terms...they
played like they had some abilities in the force. The ball went
where it was needed every time without any of the usual US
sloppiness coming through. Plus, for the US to reach their first
FIFA level championship game and to still be up 2-0 at the half is
more than a US soccer fan could ask for. Plus, the goals Brazil made
in the second half were understandable since they were just too
damned good to be blocked.
non-technological things were awesome this weekend. On the
technology front, it seemed more like the weekend was trying to end
with a force to remind one to enjoy the good and not expect too
much. My roommate only had to say "My 360..." for me to know that
there were red rings of doom in my home. At least my 360 is still
alive, but with seeing two friends get RRoD in the last month I'm
afraid to turn my system on.
Then either Comcast or
HBO f$#@ed up the HBO high definition channel at the perfectly bad
time. Velveta, my roommate, and I all were dying to watch True Blood
last night. We get about ten minutes in on the DVR recording and the
digital signal gets scrambled. This was ten minutes of pure
excitement and hype that fell apart into a mess of no audio and
scrambled video. The SD HBO channel was working fine, but by then it
was too late to just flip channels since we started to watch on the
DVR about thirty minutes into the show.
At least nature and the
natural world is being good good to me right now...
I did finally see True
Blood last night. Luckily, as with any cable show, it is repeated
about a dozen times each week. However, after speaking to one of my
friends who lives in a strange place in Seattle (Seattle is a
Comcast town, but a few pockets have some other provider with some
obscure name which cannot produce even the Comcast level of
incompetence), I now know it was Comcast who f#@$ed up my first
attempt to see True Blood this week. The other cable provider had no
problem...just leads me back to reinforcing my hatred of Comcast and
all they do (or fail to do).
So, I just want to
tell Comcast thank you. It takes a company like yours to make a
simple show completely unwatchable. You really are an inspiration to
those who live by the "why do something right when I can half-ass
it?" way of life.
Anyway, I have
little else to say beyond this fact (that Comcast is only in my
house because I have no other choice for cable and not because they
are actually providing a quality service). I am hoping to talk a bit
about any new Rock Band songs tomorrow, but that may get delayed.
For once it's not because I'm lazy...it's because I'm going to see
the one and only Dick Dale perform tonight. With a man this
influential to music and still rocking after being at it since the
1950's, I cannot turn up such an opportunity.
Last night I had no time
for Rock Band DLC. Sadly, I cannot find any charts online of
the Foreigner songs, so I'm in limbo as of now on what I'll buy...if
anything. The songs not from Foreigner all left me feeling a
bit let down, so these will not be finding their way onto my HDD any
plastic guitars...I'm not feeling it right now anyways. After
seeing Dick Dale perform live last night, I think a plastic guitar
is the last thing I want in my free time...especially when a real
guitar is so much more awesome. I'm not turning into one of
those "play a real instrument" types. I just saw too much of
how awesome the real thing can be. I mean I am a fan of music
of most types. I have seen enough concerts for my life so far,
but am always seeing more when I can. However, something was
different after last night.
While most artists
tend to either be good or have a good time, which both mean a solid
concert. Dick Dale was having more fun that I've seen a
performer ever have live, and he was better than any guitarist I've
ever seen and probably ever will see. If someone has spent
more than fifty years with their tool, they are bound to become
masters. Well, Dick Dale owns the guitar. I mean he is
more in line to being one with his instrument than I would have
thought possible. That's not saying he is only a guitarist.
He rocked the drums, played some awesomely twisted bass (sometimes
with drum sticks...still having a "WTF did I just see?" feeling from
that), wailed away on the trumpet, and can sing like a master.
All this time, he's also doing stuff on the fly just because he
feels like doing it. Throw in some good comedic observations
and opinions and you have one hell of a show.
So, when I say I'd
rather have a real guitar in my hands right now rather than a
plastic instrument, that is what I mean. I was too inspired
and blown away to want to do any imitation. I just want to
strive to be a touch better. Hell, I want to be that good, but
I'll settle for smaller steps right now.
On a final note
before I turn my amp up to 11, I just wanted to say something about
the 360 RRoD.
Two of my friends
have had these in the last month. The first one belonged to a
friend who had already felt the RRoD sting a couple years before.
Luckily, he got a coffin and sent his 360 off to a better place in
exchange for a nice working machine. My other friend ended up
being about a month out of warranty. Well, he is now in the
one position Microsoft should not want. He doesn't want to
spend money on an overcharged repair process for a obviously
inferior product (the games are fun, but the 360 is not exactly
rocking the quality of construction side of things). So, he is
not in the world of being happy with just PC gaming and other
wants to extend the life of the 360 longer, as they stated when they
announced Natal at E3, there is a problem. This is a system
with an obvious "sell by" expiration date on it. The RRoD is
not a tricky problem to solve (typically caused by a faulty bracket
connecting the heat sink to the CPU and GPU), and it keeps coming
up. It's a problem that will not end anytime soon since old
systems, which are ticking time bombs, are always going to be out
there. I think it's time, if the next XBox is going to be
three or more years away, for Microsoft to prove why burnt customers
should remain loyal while other options remain. Yes, you would
want to keep any library of games for the 360 you have running and
keeping you entertained, but you cannot always find the money to
jump through this hoop when the world is in a financial crisis.
I think Microsoft would be in a good position, right now, if they
did one simple change in their practices; if the 360 is meant to
last until 2012 or longer (when the next Microsoft console
eventually surfaces) and if we're supposed to buy, in their concept,
a very expensive motion capture system, then the 360 RRoD warranty
should be infinite. Other problems, like a faulty DVD drive
(I've had one of those myself) could be excused since that's
typically wear and tear. However, the RRoD, as is common
knowledge, is Microsoft's own problem in faulty design. If
they want to keep customers and not watch them either jump to the
PS3 or give up console gaming for the generation, they need to just
take better care of admitting their own mistakes. The
increased three year warranty for RRoD situations was a good first
step...but when a console is expected to last a longer than normal
generation (of eight or more years), than three years is not that
much. The three years is up for many people and it will pass
for all of us who currently have a 360 before the 720 (or whatever
it will be called) shall arrive.
At least that's
how I see it when the console is supposed to have more than three
years left to it, and the problem still remains. As a
consumer, it would make me feel more secure. As a company, it
would help Microsoft to look more sympathetic, and therefore they
would look like a better option to have money thrown at.
My friend with the
broken XBox 360 was able to sort out his problem and get his console
in the repair system for free. However, the whole situation is just
confusing and astounding since it involves two live people telling
him he'd have to pay, one computer telling him the repair is free,
and another live person saying the free repair process had already
started (with the coffin in the mail) despite my friend never
actually committing to the repair. In other words, I think that
Microsoft customer support is about as f#@$ed as the heat sinks on
the GPU and CPU.
Anyway, on to
I watched the
Sounders game last night (for the US Open Cup) against the Portland
Timbers. I will not even go into some of the stupidity (like the
offside call that shouldn't have been that negated a Sounders goal).
I mean the game did result in a win for Seattle and Seattle started
quick to shock the Timbers with a goal in the first minute of play.
Then again, the Sounders are MLS, which means the budget and talent
pool are definitely more in favor of the Sounders winning a match up
with a team like the Timbers.
My complaints are
many, however. The main one being that we watched the game on FSN-HD.
The HD channel of FSN. HD. High Definition. I say this so damned
much because the cameras were all standard definition. That was bad
enough as it stands, but the camera crew seems to be (as my friends
and I joked about during the game) using the game last night as
their final for ITT. The cameras were so bad I was actually starting
to feel a bit car sick watching this SD mess on a big screen. It was
literally bad enough to give me a headache. How can that type of
camera work pass for anything beyond a UHF (well, in the old
analogue era when UHF was a different world from VHF) news report on
high school sports.
Speaking of high
school sports...I've seen better soccer fields at high schools
around my home area. The game was played on the cheapest Field Turf
available, on top of probably a concrete slab. This means that every
time the ball went airborne (which is over half the game), it
proceeded to bounce a few dozen times upon landing. I was like
watching people play soccer on a basketball court. It also made even
the best executed of plays look like something being performed by a
I know that the
Timbers do play in a baseball stadium, for now, but why couldn't the
game have found a real stadium to be played at? Actually, the answer
to that is lame. It's because there's no where else large enough in
Portland and the options in Seattle are Qwest Field (the Sounders'
home field...which is too large to sell out for US Open game) or
dinky stadiums that would only hold about five thousand fans.
Sounders did advance, so I cannot bitch and moan too much. I just
hope that I'll never see such shoddy camera work on such a bad field
again. Luckily, the Timbers are moving up to the MLS, in theory, in
just a couple of years. Once that happens, the pure rivalry and
anger between the fans will flow so damned freely. It will be
sweeter than the finest of beers.
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