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Malik (9/8/08)

Sunday was the perfect day to watch some football. It had been too damned long since I had seen any football with any reason to watch it. In other words, pre-season stuff would just not cut it for me, and we're finally in the real season.

At least I assumed that much. However, with most of the receiving corps out, it felt like more of a weird combination of mid-season (when injuries start to progress) and pre-season (when the regular roster is on rest for the minor games) that the opening of the regular season for the Seahawks. We had Engram (best receiver last year), Branch (former Super Bowl MVP for the Pats), and Obamanu (regular replacement guy when everyone was injured last season) all on the DL. To round it out, on the first drive of the second half, we watched Burleson (awesome returner and only healthy regular receiver) go down like a race horse that had run just a little too hard for his own good. Yes, after about 34 minutes, the Seahawks had zero regular roster receivers.

It wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the fact that Holmgren was calling the least creative plays possible (relying too much on our QB to find imaginary people to throw the ball to) and ignoring the only possible strong point (the running game). Add in that Burleson had our only real scoring drive in his capable hands and you could see what the second half (without Nate the Great) would become. Then it got worse when our defense couldn't see obvious plays in the works.

For example, it looked like the Bills (how the f#@$ did Seattle lose to the supposed second or third worst team in the league?) were calling for a field goal. Then one receiver just didn't leave the field as the lines swapped around some players. Anyone on the field should have seen this lone standout near the side lines. Instead, he was ignored as the Seahawks prepared to block a FG while leaving one man completely out of sight and out of mind. Then it became a receiving TD.

Truth be told, two obvious facts came from watching this game. I realized that maybe Buffalo has a good team this year. Yes, they did beat a piece of shit team that didn't know what they were doing, but they had some good runs, some good play calling, and some amazing creativity. Yes, the Bills almost look good this year.

I also realized that Holmgren is looking bored and fatigued. Maybe it's time for him to call it a day...but actually that will not come for another 15 weeks, so it's time for him to step up and leave a legacy behind that doesn't end in 2005. He needs to be creative again. If you have no receivers, then make some changes to your game plan. If you have a great QB who cannot throw the ball because there's no one to throw to, then you sadly have to let that awesome QB just sit to the side. If you need to make some changes, then make them already.

At least the one bright side of yesterday was the commercials. No, I don't mean there were cool or witty commercials. I mean I saw an ad for Hole in the Wall (the new insanely stupid FOX game show). I will not go into it too much, but this may be the best game show ever. It's stupid, it's inane, and it's a waste of air time...but when something is this bad, it can surprise you in being that damned good.


Malik (9/9/08)

Since I don't have much to really say for today, I'll just hit two random points.

For one, I think any game that imposes some sort of timer of any method into an RPG is a bad idea. Saying that, I finished the desert area of Tales of Vesperia. It includes a water meter that drops as you walk and enter battles. The only way to refill it is to destroy cacti (pleural of cactus). Not my idea of fun. In fact, this should not be anyone's idea of fun. At least it is a small and short lasting area...but still I think ToV could have done much better to skip this minor annoyance.

Basically, this desert is a big wide open area composing of two separate giant desert screens. There are a ton of monsters and a lack of identifying landmarks. To make the timer aspect worse, there are treasures hidden in the desert sands. So, you have a timer and a chance of finding cool shit...all while you have numerous monster attacks and a great chance to get lost. Yippee?

Secondly, I'll make a guess early this week for the next DLC for Rock Band. Why? Because I'm guessing that, while I may be two days early in my guess, the songs will come out two days early with the launch of RB2. So, it's actually like I'm on time.

I just feel like saying that I'm guessing we'll see at least one album (Moving Pictures) and maybe a second (I'd guess on Color and the Shape from the Foo Fighters being next after Moving Pictures). I also foresee a release of the rumored Offspring pack that was being expected a week or more back. To round it out, I foresee a couple of other expected songs (maybe parts of the March Metal pack). All in all, I see Harmonix dropping about 15-30 songs on Sunday. At least that's my thoughts.

Now if only Sunday didn't coincide with a Seahawks game. It's bad enough that I will have to chose to watch that game or play RB2...but I also have to drive to a mile north of Qwest Field to get the game around the time when any tailgaters will be showing up. Blah.

Lastly for today, I hate karma.  I laughed at Brady having a season ending ACL injury...I think...with the secrecy of the Pats, you never know what's really up...and then I learn that Nate "The Great" Burleson is in the same season-ending-ACL-injury position.  And yes...I'm evil for laughing at Brady's injury.  It's not nice, but I just can't stand him.  I'd be happier if he faced a season ending suspension since injuries are never a thing to wish for, but I'm just happy to not have to see his name mentioned every damned Sunday.


Malik (9/11/08)

Rock Band 2 is starting to make it's way to gamers ahead of it's release date. This is not news. It happens with all new games that are this highly anticipated. What I like is Harmonix's response, built into the game itself. Yes, Harmonix understands how gamers think and work and this leaves them to leave some good opinions. This is why I love that company so much...maybe they have EA and MTV behind them, but they understand how the gaming world works.

On another RB2 note, it looks like MTV is going to try to make a reality show based on the game. This is nothing short of pathetic. I guess it's not below MTV (and it's actually above most of their crap), but this is not the type of shit MTV needs to make if they want to stop looking like total tools instead of resuming their past glory of showing music related things. Hell, even the sub-channels of MTV are becoming jokes with each passing day. MTV Hits has become nothing more than MTV Jams 2. If you want hip-hop or R&B, then MTV may still have something for you. If you want something like rock (like the Rock Band they are partially involved in represents), you should look else ware.

By the way, before I abandon RB talk for today, there's a new free (for Gold subscribers) 1 minute long song for DLC.  Nothing special, but I enjoy free.

Things have been slow for me, as a gamer. Unless I want to go on about Tales of Vesperia a bit more, there is not much going on in my life as a gamer. Yes, ToV is an awesome game and features one of the cooler protagonists in RPG history (minor spoiler: he kills villains rather than letting them get impression for their crimes to only return later...and I mean he kills in cold blood). However, I can't really say much without making this into a mini-review (of which the game would only get amazing marks from this geek).

So, I'll just add a mini-review of something else slightly related to geek things. I'm a very unskilled (but can still sound a little awesome from time to time) guitarist. With how many times I've quit playing for long stretches in the past, it's no wonder I'm not exactly feeling like another Kirk Hammet, Jimi Hendrix, or Eric Clapton. However, I still can have a good time jamming.

That brings me to my latest purchase; the Spider 3 120 W Combo Amp from Line 6. My old amp, a Fender Frontman practice amp (15 not-so-glorious watts), was a piece of shit. It worked well for a few years, but it never sounded like anything special. In fact, it made my guitars all sound like low end guitars. Yes, a Danelectro is a low end guitar, but I like to think that a Ibanez RG series should be able to sound somewhat impressive in the right hands. However, no matter what I did, the Ibanez sounded like a 100 piece of shit on that Fender amp.

Eventually, my Frontman started to suffer...problems. It would apply distortion, without any overdrive in the mix, to anything lower than an open d string (while keeping anything higher clean), and it started to get some vibrato effect that was the sound equivalent of a strobe light. Not what you want for almost any occasion. Sometimes it could sound good, but it's not a usual desire.

Well, the Spider 3 solved all of that. It made my Ibanez sound beefy and brutal. It made me feel like I had bought a whole new guitar with my amp. Even my long neglected (by a previous set of owners...I treat my axes like the prizes they are) G Holiday guitar (good luck knowing what that is...I can't even find anything on google for that unless you count a few rare eBay listings), which I know nothing of, sounded like a new vintage guitar. Hell, my Danelectro sounded like a mid level Squire Strat (like it's an imitation of) instead of a complete bargain bin instrument.

I'm still working on getting the ins and outs down on this new amp. It comes with more features than I have the patience to learn in one sitting. However, it also has a series of about 400 setting built in that automatically set up your guitar to sound like songs (from various decades organized per decade starting with the 1950's), artists (who apparently received one of these amps to program their stylized setting into), and other random settings not tied into anything in particular. There's too many of these setting for me to ever think of understanding them all...but I like having that freedom of choice on this type of thing.

Best of all, this amp is loud as hell (it's good for a small venue performance), not that I need it in my spare bedroom/guitar room. Still, cranking the volume to about 80% of it's max, I got a good clean sound that rattled my walls across the hall from the room that the amp was in (obviously, my guitar and I vacated to a safer distance, with the door closed behind us).

My only issue is when overdrive/distortion is not in effect. However, I may need to check this issue with Line 6 technical support since I may have just gotten a bad amp. For some reason, if distortion is not in effect, the volume drops a bit more than it should ever change with an effect not in effect. Specifically, if I have the amp set up with distortion and set the volume to the equivalent of someone screaming as loud as they can, then I drop the distortion out, it drops the volume to a whisper level. However, like I said, I may just need to exchange this thing or send it off for technical support.

Anyway, to conclude my random mini-review; the Spider 3 Combo Amp (at least the 120W version; also comes in 75W and 150W) is f#@$ing tight! Loud, powerful, clean, and sounds very professional for a combo amp. Even my roommate's 15W practice amp, that's in the same family of Spider 3 from Line 6, is a beast for it's size and abilities. I've never been a Fender fan (except maybe the Danelectro and the RB controller...which are both just modeled on a Strat), and I'm glad to finally kick them out of my playing completely with dismissing my Frontman for something far more substantial.


Malik (9/12/08)

I never got around to playing the new free DLC song for RB last night. However, I did check out the drum, bass, and guitar (all on expert) charts on youtube. I think it's safe to say that this may be the song for you if you've been wanting to get a full band gold star on a song and haven't quite cut it yet. The only real question is if you have a vocalist who can sing the same as Stephen Colbert.

In all honesty, for being a free song, this isn't too bad. It is easy and short, but it's still better than some of the paid crap (like the Janitors song from the Devo week). In fact, I can't honestly say I've been disappointed with any free song (this one, Still Alive, and Promised Land), despite having been disappointed with paid songs. Plus, with it being free, it's not like you should/could feel ripped off if you don't dig the song.

Anyway, by the time I get to posting on Monday, I know I'll have gotten into enough RB2 to have a lot of stuff to ramble about. For today, it's less than enthralling what I have to talk about.

The only other thing I can say while I wait, at 7:30AM, for the Harmonix post on the new DLC for next week (see my predictions from earlier this week if you want), is that I was slightly wrong about my new Spider 3 120W Combo Amp from Line 6. I thought I may have some sound issues, but in reality I just didn't take into account how the thing is set up and how it's user interface works. It's not a simple little amp to jump into. With around 400 settings, 7 effects (8 with distortion), and 12 different modeled amps, there is a large learning curve on this thing. However, once you start to get your bearings, it is one hell of an awesome toy to play with.

As for the RB DLC for next week...well, when you're wrong, you're wrong. I was, at least, slightly correct. We are getting an album in the form of Megadeth's Peace Sells...But Who's Buying. Clocking in at $11 (880MP) for seven songs (the final one is one RB2), or $2 per song. So, the album prediction was right. Also, the thought of extra songs was a bit right. There will be a Rock Band Tour Pack, with a bunch of stuff that's a bit too pop for me (Panic! At The Disco, Dashboard Confessional, Plain White T's, and The Cab). It will come in at $4 (320MP), or $1 per song.

I was wrong on the guess of DLC being ready on Sunday for the RB2 launch, and the idea of a massive influx of DLC. 11 tracks is not even close to a massive influx when The Who Pack beat that, as did the Pixies week (with Weezer Pack). It also looks like we're not getting "the good stuff" that was held off in recent weeks (thinking that lame shit was being pushed on us in preparation for a massive RB2 celebration).

My main complaint, beyond how the recent weeks have been less than stellar, is that we seem to be getting a bit too much metal recently. All That Remains a few days ago, Megadeth in a few days, and a lot more metal on the RB2 disk (in two days) than there was on the RB1 disk. I'm a metalhead and all (I grew up to Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Motorhead, etc.), but enough is enough. I just don't find it fun on RB when it means very frustrating solos that really take the fun out of the game. Yes, it's good for challenge fanatics and elitists, but for those who just want to rock out and have fun...not so much.


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