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Malik (9/22/08)

Imagine how it must feel to see your beloved team make it's first regular season loss in over a year against the Dolphins. I'd hate to be a Pats fan right now. At least, on the bright side, things are looking slightly up for my precious glass Seahawks.

Well, that's actually a subjective thing. On one hand, the 'Hawks did win. That's a good thing. Of course they allowed the Rams to score in the double digits when that team was not only kept below that simple threshold for the first two games of the season (even when both of their first two games were added together), but they never even saw the red zone (at least if you don't count the opponent being in their red zone). Sunday changed that. Still, a win is a win...even if it's sloppy.

For one thing, the Seahawks played a lot like they did their first two games. It started with a lot of scoring in a hurry, then the team seemed to collapse. Luckily, a half-time collapse is still not enough to lose to the Rams. Hell, not much is capable of handing the Rams a win. Even when the opponent is down 8 receivers...

...wait...eight!? How the f#@$ does this happen. This has to be some sort of record in the NFL. The most individual players for a given role on the injured reserve at a single given time on a single team. If this keeps up, the Seahawks will have to ask Steve Largent if they could un-retire his number. Not for someone like Jerry Rice, but for someone who no one knows the name of. We're down to only a few numbers in the 10's and I think the 80's are wiped clean. Best of all (sarcasm in that), another receiver was out from an injury not obtained in the actual game. Yes, Koren Robinson was injured in practice. Details were scarce during the game, but I'm willing to bet it's something from the knee down, since that's where all the receiver injuries are coming from.

I would say it's good that there's a bye week next Sunday, but it sounds like rumors are pointing to Engram and Branch still not being ready for week five. So, all a Bye week will give is the ability for more receivers to be injured in practice. Hopefully it will at least give Koren a chance to come in. I really do want to see him come back to the field. While he may have had issues in the past, he is worthy of a second chance and he has the talent. It would be great to see him come back and become the star he was always capable of being. Plus, if he can be healthy and playing when Engram and Branch are back, imagine the three receiver set that would play out as. If only Burleson could be coming back soon (which is impossible) and join that trio for a four receiver set to end all others.

Anyway, on a final NFL thought for today...the refs need something to be fixed for them. While the calls were better yesterday than last week (when it felt like Super Bowl XL all over again), what is with this scenario that keeps happening;

"There's a flag on the play"

"The refs are discussing it"

Time passes...

"We'll return after a word from our sponsors"

Long commercial break

Dead time as the game returns but no call has been made

A few more minutes pass

I grab a beer and some food...

"False start, defense"

Why does it take so damned long this season for any calls during a Seahawks game? For the most mundane of calls (false start, offside, pass interference, holding), the refs are taking way too damned long. It's one thing if it's a special or unusual example. However, when it happens several times during a single drive, something is not right. A call as simple as holding should be like this; flag down, play ends, call made, game resumes. It should take as long to happen as it took for me to type that. If a flag is thrown, then that ref better be ready and not having to discuss every simple penalty in the great ref debate squad. I hate this as someone who likes the action to resume, but also with so many rhythm QBs in the game (including Hasselbeck), it changes the momentum of the game. It's a factor on how the game will be carried out for the remainder of a drive.

Anyway, at least I doubt I'll see anymore serious disappointment next Sunday...and hopefully I'll see less injuries.


Malik (9/23/08)

Before anything else, if you're interested in Michael Moore movies, his new film, "Slacker Uprising" is a free download as of today. By free, I mean legal and free. It's some sort of celebration thing of how the first Moore movie came out 20 years ago. Anyway, I don't have the link or anything, since I'm running with crappy internet right now, but try doing a google search of Slacker Uprising and you should find it.

Also, today is the release of Moving Pictures (by Rush) and some random extra tracks on Rock Band 1/2. I'll probably not have any impressions up until tomorrow, if not later in the week. However, this may be a good week for DLC, unlike the slightly niched set of music released for the last month or so.

I've put in some more time with RB2 in the last few days. More than anything, I'm trying to progress my side band through the Challenge mode stuff. While it's slow going, I am determined to unlock the ultimate stuff for guitar and bass. If this means eventually moving to hard, and I may have to for the impossible challenges, so be it. At least this is a good way to earn some extra swag for your band without having the boredom of the old method. By old method, I mean the play-every-song-in-a-tier system of GH1-3 and RB1.

So far I'm on the fourth or fifth guitar challenge and the third bass challenge. On the bright side, if you can handle up-strums only, the bass challenges open up the perfect groove (100% expert up-strum only) achievement pretty quickly. The second bass challenge should be easy to score 100% on any of the songs. Hell, I did it on all four songs. Plus, with no big rock ending and very few hammer on or pull off phrases, it's as simple as it gets...unless you play So Watcha Want. After all, it's no joke that So Watcha Want has only green notes for the whole song in a very predictable rhythm (either in a 1-2 phrase or one single note). It definitely beats out El Scorcho for expert guitar and Silver on bass. The only easier perfect achievements are vocals (So Watcha Want or Debaser) or drums (Silver).

Anyway, not much else to say. The only thing on my mind right now, since it's a bye week for the Seahawks, is putting in some good time with Tales of Vesperia before the rush of RPGs come next month with Fable 2 and Fallout 3. Now if only RB2 would stop holding me hostage, I could get on to ToV.


Malik (9/25/08)

I really haven't had much to write about this week. It's been a slow week filled with me playing Tales of Vesperia and playing guitar. That's about it. I've neglected the new songs for Rock Band 2 (or Rock Band, if that's your flavor), and haven't done anything else that's really "new".

I guess I could write up some sort of prediction about next weeks DLC for RB...but it's hard to really make a good guess. Afterall, this week Harmonix broke their old trends. We got two albums in a row, and a lot of extra songs. The only real guess I can make is that we will see a lot of tracks, again. To make that 500+ number of tracks by the end of the year, we will need to see a lot more large sets. Plus, with a lot of metal in the recent past (almost a month of metal, metal-core, and nu-metal, I doubt we'll see more metal on Tuesday. I think my only guess can be that we will see some oldies (maybe some 1970's or early 1980's). The only other guess I could make is that punk may be involved since we've been pretty punk free for a while on DLC.

Other than that, the only thing I have to say is that I definitely will not be playing RB2 on Monday. Monday is when Live goes down for maintenance (for the dashboard update in the future), and this means a good deal of my DLC becomes out of reach on my 360. When I had to buy a new 360, I didn't transfer my DRM rights to my new system (for personal reasons), so without being able to sign in my songs don't mean shit. I don't want to face that one random set list that will end the game with a message like "song not available, exiting to menu".


Malik (9/26/08)

Since I was busy ending the second part (of three) of Tales of Vesperia, I still haven't gotten around to downloading the Rock Band 2 DLC for this week. It'll probably happen tonight...

However, after reading some reports, I'm a bit disappointed. The one song I wanted the most from the Rush album is definitely YYZ. It's an awesome sounding song and goes beyond my one complaint of Rush songs (the vocals). However, I guess Harmonix decided upon one of the lamest ways to handle an instrumental track; it cannot be selected if a vocalist is in the band. Yes, you have to kick out the vocalist to play this single song. Since there are no "make a set" gigs with a single song choice, it means the song is impossible to be logically in BWT.

I still think, if RB/RB2 is trying to emulate, in game format, a band's career, then instrumentals must be fully integrated. Not always is a band playing with all four parts. This type of thing, I guarantee, would never happen if a song didn't have drums or guitar. Bass? I could see bass getting shafted in a song and also just being eliminated from full band play. Vocals are the whipping boy of RB, so this could happen.

Still, even if I was playing on vocals, I'd prefer for a song that doesn't include any part for me to allow the band to keep playing while I take a (usually) much needed rest. Afterall, vocals seem to be the most draining (for me) of the four parts. A little rest can help with sore arms and legs (drums), or tired hands (guitar/bass), but a vocalists voice can be knocked out of action for a whole night if you go overboard with brutal songs (like anything from Boston). I'd rather be sitting during one awesome sounding song than to see the band unable to play and enjoy the song.

This will only get worse, unless Harmonix changes their minds on handling instrumentals, when Texas Flood comes along. I forget specifics, but I think that album has somewhere in the neighborhood of three instrumentals tracks.

Anyway, a real band doesn't have this problem, so why should a RB band? What is the band doing in their virtual world? Are they doing part of a concert, then stopping and driving the vocalist home, then continuing another concert, then stopping and picking up the vocalist to throw the equivalent of a third concert for the night? That's how it looks to me.


If Rock Band would have a better solution for missing parts (like you can still select as a full band, but the missing person just sits out the song and has a bathroom/beer break), I'd love to see where this could go. We could have Rock Lobster (B52's; no bass), any of the White Stripes (no bass), or so many other potentially awesome songs and bands. Of course, this is only assuming they could in deed be picked in a full band mode. Afterall, the idea of kicking a member for each song with a missing part just seems sloppy and lazy (and it breaks the momentum of the rocking). If it's a programming issue with a percentage divided by zero, it shouldn't be hard to work around (just add programming to make that score automatically disappear from the results screen). If it's an issue with online (you're a vocalist and the band you're with keeps picking instrumentals), then you need to find a better band and tell that group to f$#@ off. Problem solved...right?

So, anyway, the DLC for next week is another album. Third one in a row. This time it's the RHCP album (Blood Sugar Sex Magik). Three weeks of solid DLC (I may not dig it all, but it's all solid quality stuff in a row...damn! Way to go Harmonix!

The tracks are running 160MP ($2) each or all 16 for 1600MP ($20). Six songs free if you buy the whole thing is a damned nice discounted rate! Harmonix fails to disappoint this gamer since RB2 came along. The only downside is that this awesomeness of massive packs of big name artists will probably only keep up until around the time GH:WT comes out (to make RB2 look that much nicer than GH:WT). At least this just shows what I've always felt; competition is a good thing since the consumer usually wins.

My only disappointment is I know I'll be playing these songs a lot with my friends (most of them are RHCP fans). That isn't too bad, since the older stuff (like this album) is some solid funky rock. The one problem is I know Under The Bridge will be played too damned much...

...I'm sorry, but I must agree with (paraphrasing here since it's been a while since I heard this) The Men's Room (afternoon radio show on the Seattle rock station, 99.9 KISW) about Under The Bridge. It's a song that the average straight man will only listen to intentionally to prove that he's "sensitive" to a woman.

Anyway...three weeks of massively large and quality DLC. Let's hope this keeps up for a while longer.


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