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Malik (12/24/07)

The game yesterday was a good example of heading in the right direction but not in the right ways.  Yes, the game did result in a win.  Yes, Engram continued to show why he was a Pro Bowl contender (even though I like him as a player, he's sadly in the same division as the likes of T.O., so it's natural for Engram to be denied on his best year as a receiver).  Yes, even Alexander was able to have some amazing runs that seemed reminiscent of the 2005 Alexander...hell, he even made a receiving touch down.  Yes, there was so much good going on...with the most obvious being the defense that kept Baltimore scoreless for the first three quarters of the game while the Seahawks pulled in quite a few offensive points.  However, there were issues.

The first and most obvious issue being that Hasselbeck could not control his judgment.  It is good to pass and it's gutsy and well rewarded when you pass into traffic successfully.  However, it's also a dangerous and risky maneuver that can (and did) lead to interceptions.  That is something not needed after the post-season comes into just a couple of weeks.  Hasselbeck is a rhythm quarterback, and that can both be his greatest asset and his undoing.  It's good since it means that once Hasselbeck finds a rhythm, he will continue a drive against all odds and will not allow the opposing defense a chance to get out of any hole they are digging.  However, it also means that if his receivers get stuck in their lanes, then he will throw the ball on faith and watch his rhythm turn into an easy interception.  The type of interceptions he was lobbing all day yesterday.  The only bright side, in my eyes, was that the Seahawks still pulled off a win despite this big weakness.

I, more than anything, have two real thoughts on the game yesterday.  The first being that the refs were even more not on their game than Hasselbeck was.  It was seen in the first interception thrown by Hasselbeck...the one that included about the most obvious pass interference call that did not get called.  The ball was in the air and our receiver (forget who it was, but it was probably Engram since he's the go to receiver for the 'Hawks) was being obviously held by the defense.  It was ignored by the refs and was later only remembered by the fans and the announcing crew.  There was also (only a minute or two later) the obvious bounced ball that was called a reception until Holmgren threw down the challenge.  That pass should have never been called good, but was despite all logic.  To show I'm not only in favor of the 'Hawks (I do have to cheer for the home team, however), there was also the fumble that Seattle recovered far later in the game and became a quick TD.  It was too hard of a play to overturn based on the video angles captured, but was obviously a ball coming loose after the offensive player was down.

I say all of this not as a Seahawks fan, but rather a fan of a good game.  I like to see the game played out in true quality.  Let the plays be called correctly so we can truly see the match up for what it is.  It's a game of one team versus another...not one team versus another while the refs have the influence to make it into a completely different situation.  When the two teams are not an even match, like yesterday, the refs cannot do too much damage.  However, a close game can be changed too easily, and this is where the refs need to be on their game.  Hopefully this is not an issue in the post season when teams are usually more evenly matched.

The other major issue I have is this; please...NFL...please...cancel your contract with CBS.  They have bad play by play guys, but more than that, CBS has ancient equipment that is not conductive to a football broadcast.  While Fox shows wonderful HD digital signals and can give a game with brilliant coverage, CBS instead just stutters in it's performance.  For example, anyone watching the Seattle game yesterday, on digital, will obviously have noticed, while the play by play team kept apologizing for technical issues, that the game looked like a Youtube video being streamed off of a dial up connection.  It was plagued by more digital artifacts than usual for a CBS broadcast...and that's saying something since any CBS game suffers from artifacting.

On top of that, CBS could never get their HD broadcast into 16:9.  So, while the earlier Fox game was in beautiful widescreen, and while previous games for Seattle shown on Fox are all a treat to the HD audience (which is what the NFL likes to advertise about their league...HD digital viewing for true quality), CBS suffers and fails to give a good name to the NFL experience.  It's so tiresome that I'm known around my home to swear out loud when I realize that the game will be shown on CBS and not on Fox.  I literally let out a loud "F#@$!" like I had just slammed a door on my finger if I see that my much enjoyed game is going to be stuck in a land of ancient digital equipment than can never be properly viewed.

It only gets worse when you think about the CBS sports ticker at the bottom of the screen.  If the game is in 4:3 (which is already a failure on the CBS broadcast team), then you can read most of the ticker.  On the other hand, when the game is in 16:9 (which is how it should be) then you can only read the top 1/4 of the single line of text that makes the sports ticker.  I may be there for the Seahawk game, but I still want to know how the opposition is doing.  I want to know, for example, how the Buc's are fairing against S.F. since the third seed is riding on if the Buc's fail or the Seahawks fail.  It's still a close race and that extra height in the post season can mean a lot.

Anyway, enough bitching about that.  The game was a win, and I'm on vacation.  That's enough grounds on it's own for me to be in a good mood.  So, I'll drop this and simply end by saying happy holidays to all...and may CBS get a lump of shit in their stocking if their are not going to live up to the challenge of being an NFL broadcaster.


Malik (12/26/07)

It's been a chaotic last few days. The main lesson I learned; poultry is not nice when it comes to cooking for a group. No matter how much it should have been done an hour will not be done until it's damned well and ready.

I had a good music filled Christmas. Between the gifts from Velveta (a good haul of Social Distortion swag) and that Harmonix had their first release of Rock Band tracks to not be on the initial schedule, music was definitely the flavor of the day. True, Harmonix hit us up with a good amount of emo (and I mean the modern casual "emo" and not the original post-hardcore punk "emo") music...but all the tracks are fun to play. Ok, one of them is not. I could not get into Attack.

I only tried the songs on hard (guitar, of course), and most of them were a blast. The Kill was especially fun with it's note progression. My only complaint came down to Attack having the most mundane note progression possible. Also, I think I'm getting worn down on the songs that last too long with just the machine gun style of notes. All Attack was is a long series of machine gun notes. It's hard to fail a song like that, but it's so damned exhausting and tedious that it's just note enjoyable when the song closes.

At least it's good to see that Harmonix is going to keep up the trend of Tuesday releases, even after the original calendar was concluded (eight days ago). I just hope we soon start to see some more of the hyped and anticipated songs. In particular, we still need a whole album (Who's Next, maybe), some more Metallica (Master of Puppets would be nice about now), and I know that I would lose all control of myself if some Tool actually found it's way to Rock Band. Most of all, I still think Rock Band could use a nice dose of Social D to rock out some of the earlier tiers of the instruments.

Anyway, I'm now making my way through the solo guitar career on expert. I'm up to the fifth set of songs and have only had one annoying problem so far...the song from The New Pornographers. It's not that it's a hard song, but it's just too damned fatiguing. I can rock out the first half of the song, but I always face some struggles to keep the energy flowing for the last couple of minutes.

By playing expert on solo mode, I think the one thing I've noticed the most is that a good deal of the songs that gave me problems on hard (Suffragette City and Main Offender in particular) are actually easier on expert. The same applies to even some not-so-hard songs on hard, like I Think I'm Paranoid (which I can constantly score 100% on on expert, but usually get around a 99% on hard). Maybe I'm more suited to the harder note scales of expert, but I think it's more likely that I'm just more suited for the quicker note progressions of expert and how you play every note (so you don't have the phantom noises of a note playing but nothing being done by you, the player).

Anyway, I'm keeping this short. I'm tired since this is my first work day (and early wake up call) for a few days. Plus, I have a few too many belated holiday wishes to send forth.


Malik (12/27/07)

I started a little over a week ago with a simple concept; instead of praising the last year, like may web sites have done, I would instead pick out what was wrong. This would be a good way to get some shit off my mind and to fill in the magical time that is the last two weeks of the year (the time when news stops coming as everyone goes on vacation).

That plan is going to crap. Not because I enjoyed the last year too much to bitch about it, but rather because 2007 was just not that interesting from any perspective. The games of 2007 were, bluntly put, not that noticeable.

Yes, there were some highly anticipated games, like Mass Effect, Halo 3, Mario Galaxy (A.K.A. "UR MR GAY"), GH3, and Rock Band. But, aside from RB and UR MR GAY, nothing was worth paying attention to. Mass Effect (and I'll keep it short this time) was not all that thrilling and felt like a strong beta test, Halo 3 didn't really get the fanfare that Microsoft expected, and GH3 showed that Neversoft just made another sequel.

2007 was just a very boring year and most of what could have changed that tide was delayed into 2008. I doubt I'd be able to talk about the end of the year next year without mentioning Smash Brawl at least a dozen times (check back in one year and you'll see what I mean). There were just so many games that didn't live up to the one thing I had really counted on from them; good or bad, I expected more games to be worthy of talking about. However, the truth of the matter is that with one or two exceptions, 2007 was a year that had failures and successes...but none that were spectacularly on either side.

The only real noteworthy events were the ones that came from Sony. Be it the removal of Kutaragi, the jumping on price shifts and product changes, the racist or incredibly insane and offensive ideas for commercials, the attempt to force a failing portable onto a populace more than happy with love and respect from Nintendo, and all of their other random crap. The only real news of 2007 that even stands out in my mind is that Sony has proven that success in the past does not mean success is guaranteed in the future...but then again, just like how 2007 didn't feel all that new in my mind, Nintendo had done that with the Virtual Boy and the N-64 in the past.

In fact, the only thing that stands out to me about the whole of this previous year were three little games. Puzzle Quest and Rock Band, which were two unlikely candidates for RPG of the year (I consider Rock Band a nice twist on RPGs when you take Band World Tour into mind and the quest it lays out for you), were beyond noteworthy. Then there was Picross DS (along with Puzzle Quest, as a tie for puzzle game of 2007) and how Nintendo kept offering hundreds of new puzzles, for free, invoking true downloadable content onto a portable. Speaking of which, Picross addicts take note, three new packs (total of around 27 or 28 puzzles) came out this week.

I just feel like 2007 was the hangover that followed the incredible insanity that had to follow the party year that was 2006 (as three consoles battled for supremacy in a new age). In fact, 2007 was like the morning after a huge party. I felt like I woke up in a strange house that I didn't recognize, but once my eyes adjusted, I had been there before and knew the place well. Some people didn't go home with who they came with (exclusive titles jumped to multiple platforms or even gave the former competition platform some additional love over their original date). However, in the end, the massive party just felt like another episode in life and it was all laid to rest as we stepped forward into the fatigue filled day (or year) that would simply be taken at a slower pace in order to give us all a chance to rest and recover.

Anyway, I need to wrap this up since threats of snow loom in the Seattle area...which means I need to get some work done so I can head home at the first word of snow (I don't aim to get trapped at work).

Malik (now known as the supposedly classy name of "Malek" on Rock Band...sigh...)

Malik (12/28/07)

For the last week I have felt a bit worn down. I think it's the fact that the calm is finally here between the storms of Christmas and New Years. It's like a small break between two days that just require too much energy and preparation time.

Anyway, I think this post will be quite short as I just have too little to really discuss today. I've been too tired to do much beyond watching some bad movies (Santa Claus Conquers the Martians on Christmas day and the really poorly acted Takashi Miike film Imprint last night starring the worst acting I've seen...mainly the bad acting was via Billy Drago). I would get in some time with Rock Band, but it's just been too damned tempting to plant my ass on a couch than to stand up and try to rock out solo style.

At least tonight will be a night of Rock Band goodness as my usual Friday night gig goes down (with the Doctor Philosophers).

Speaking of Rock Band, I was thinking about how there is no (as far as I know) widely available schedule of Tuesday releases for downloadable content. The schedule ended on the 18th with some Wheezer, Pretenders, and Radio Head. I have not seen any new schedule yet, and I can't help but feel...happy.

It was fun knowing what was coming along each week. I loved knowing when RB first launched that I was going to have Metallica from day one. I also liked knowing that the Black Sabbath pack was one the horizon. However, now that so many heavy hitters are here, it's almost more fun to go blindly into each Tuesday and be excited that the unknown is being laid out for my pleasure.

There is just something about not knowing what's coming any more that is making the idea of DLC that much more exciting and suspenseful. True, a Tuesday can now come and go with my excitement being turned into disappointment. However, if Harmonix plays their cards right, it can be even more exciting to see something pulled out of left field that really makes me stop and think about the possibilities.

I just hope that Harmonix continues to surprise with some lower priced songs. I read on a message board something that really matched my thinking on the songs released this last Tuesday...if these songs were 160 points ($2) each, I would have skipped them (or most of them), but with them coming in at $1 it was different. $1 feels more comfortable to spend on something relatively unknown to me, while a $2 song makes me think that I'd only really get it if it's a song I want. I can't help but wonder how many people bought these recent $1 songs, not because they liked the songs, but rather because they were so cheap that it wouldn't really hurt the wallet much to have them.

The other thing I hope Harmonix does is some surprises of some less expected of bands. I mean we all know The Who are coming with Who's some point in time. However, a ska pack, maybe some Social D, maybe some...well, there's too many bands and genres to think about. However, I hope that we start to get something other than just classic rock (mainly covers) and radio friendly modern pop-rock.

Anyway, it's time to wrap up this series of rambling thoughts. I may or may not post on Monday (New Years Eve) since I may or may not be trapped in a series of steps to prepare for things going down.


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