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Malik (4/14/08)

Like with last Monday, I don't have too much to say. It's a slow day for me, and there simply isn't much to talk about.

The one exception is to continue something I started talking about last week. Yes, I have one more idea for an update to Rock Band. It's nothing major, and it's something that should be free. In fact, this is something that has already been done once before. It's also something that has annoyed me since the very first week Rock Band came out.

A patched version of Fortunate Son is needed. Some other songs have been updated. These updates have covered anything from problems with the vocal tracks to minor details like the meta-tags that tell the game what year, genre, artist and so forth are on a song. This lets the song be properly classified. For example, there's a year tag on Bang a Gong that tells the game that it came out in the 1970's. So, if you sort songs by decade, you'll find it in the 1970's section.

The same happens with Fortunate Son. My problem, and I doubt I'm 100% alone on this, is that Fortunate Son should not be in the 1970's group. It came out in 1969. That one year (I believe it's actually only about 1 month since it came out at the end of 1969) is major when you look at how empty the 1960's grouping is. 1960's has Give Me Shelter and Last Train to Clarksville. It should include one more in the form of Fortunate Son.

The main reason this matters, beyond annoying the crap out of CCR fans, is that it would make things smoother if any update/expansion, like I went off about the potential of last week, was to come out with genre venues in tow. In particular, with year based venues.

Ok...enough of this bitching for today.


Malik (4/15/08)

I've kept quiet on this issue for a while. It's more or less me trying to live in denial and all of that. However, the Sonics are always a special team to me and I've been a fan since I was old enough to know what the NBA was.

With the work in place by Clay Bennett, and the man-love he has going for Stern, it's unlikely anything can change the fact; the Sonics are leaving Seattle.

At least it's good to know that some people are on your side. Be it an owner, like Mark Cuban, who knows what's best for the NBA in general, or the old time players who gave me so many memories of the Sonics and their glory days...players like good old GP.

Now I can even find a little respect for the man who seemed to not give one damn about this situation. Yes, Howard Schultz is finally thinking of suing Bennett for breach of their good faith clause in Schultz's sale of the Sonics to Bennett.

Yes, a lot of people put the blame for this whole mess on Schultz.  It's easy since he's the one who sold the team to Bennett.  However, in reality, Schultz is just a businessman.  He was tired of a team that was not meeting his idea of a bottom line, so he sold.  At that point, he could have just walked away.  Instead, he put in his "good faith" clause.  The clause that says that Bennett must try, for at least 12 months, to keep the team based in Seattle.  If Schultz was as slimy as public perception paints him, he would have said "f%$# it" and taken some money and ran.  Instead, not only did he add the clause, he is not going to call Bennett on it.  Maybe this is not as proactive as the average Sonics fan wanted things to be with Schultz, but it's a shit ton better than a pure businessman (which is what Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, is) would have typically done.  Now he's even fighting to get the team back, even though "good faith" clauses are hard to enforce (why?  You give me a definition of "good faith" that everyone in the world can agree's a subjective term), spending both money on lawyers and a potential of spending money to buy back the team (technically, refund the seller's price).  Not bad for someone who has been portrayed in Seattle as the devil...especially since he sometimes gets a worse wrap in Seattle than Stern or Bennett.  Even worse than Ken Behring did (look up his name and "Seahawks" on google and you'll see who the real Seattle sports demon was).

No matter what happens, there's two things that will not change in my eyes. First off, Stern is an ass who doesn't realize what he's doing. He's trying to make sure the NBA is strong, but he's taking a large media center (Seattle) and downsizing to a medium sized one (OK City). He's also trying to lose a gateway to Asia (which would be Seattle) while trying to expand the NBA to Asia. That makes no sense...but it only becomes worse when you see his level of man-love for Bennett.

The other thing that will not change is the fact that Bennett was a jerk from day one. For him to have kept his true plans on the down low for so long only makes it more powerful of how the word "jerk" (there's even better words, but I try to skip the whole "F bomb" on this site) is when applied to him.

I know that the Sonics are gone. People with power waited too damned long to make any effort. Balmer (of Microsoft fame) sat around and waited until after the last minute. Gov. Gregoire (who I've always hated...but that's politics and not geek stuff like sports can be) didn't make any real effort. There just wasn't anyone stepping forward to try to solve this until it was too damned late.

At least one thing I can take away from this is that Cuban has won a Mav fan in me. Once Seattle is out of the NBA, I will find it hard to watch basketball with any sense of connection to the sport that ruled so much of my childhood. However, when I do read the standings and check out a rare game or two on TV, I will be rooting for Dallas...until Stern is overthrown and the next commissioner brings Seattle back into the fold.

Also, at least I can now drink my usual Starbucks caffeine fix with less of a dirty feeling to it. Sorry...they're close to my work and the people who work there are good people...and I need my caffeine.  The only cause of my dirty feeling now is that they have crushed good coffee freedom with their purchase of the Clover.


Malik (4/16/08)

Yesterday I checked out the videos for expert guitar for the new Rock Band DLC. This action before buying has become a regular thing for me since I'm done with downloading crap that just angers me to play or songs that are difficult enough to stop being fun (Metallica pack...on expert) when I play in my usual style of expert guitar.

The Classic Rock Pack passed this test and was quickly downloaded. As for the other song...the Motley Crue single "Saints of Los Angeles"...blah. I have read that it's fun to play, but it only looked like a boring maze of hammer on repetition to me. On the bright side, I find it interesting that a new single from an established band would make it's debut on a game. Rock Band being that game only makes me happier.

If more bands follow this path, it could be good news for DLC. Afterall, Saints of LA wasn't even announced last Friday in the usual Harmonix weekly announcement. This opens more room for the one thing I have been wanting so badly in Rock Band; variety.

I didn't have time to test out the drum parts for the Classic Rock Pack since I've been running myself a bit thin as of late. However, one thing I can describe is the guitar parts. Besides Simple Man, I played each song three times on expert guitar. Once for the first play/sight read. The second time to get the five stars I knew I could get. The final time was playing some with Velveta with her on vocals.

First off with these songs, they are all easy. However, besides Simple Man, I think they offer enough complexity to keep them interesting. For example, like with many Police songs, Message in a Bottle has several distinct feels to the various parts of the song. The main verses are played with a good quick progression of single notes in a constant flow. The chorus usually rolls out a quick progression of two note chords (a lot like the two note chord progression of Blitzkrieg Bop...with the single bass strum to start each section). Then there's a pretty fun solo to round it out. Overall, this level of complexity in an easy to beat song make it a great warm up song. You get some challenge if you're not feeling the vibe of the game yet, but it will get you ready for other songs that you play later on.

Call Me, like with Message in a Bottle, is relatively easy. The only real challenge comes from a stream of hammer ons to start the song and after the first chorus. It's not a hard song to pass, but it's a great song to warm you up for the day with hammer ons. These are fast hammer ons, but they have a good quick pattern and a fun sound to them. Plus, Call Me has a slightly quicker feel than something like the Oasis Pack (which offers the same general guitar feeling). Most of all, as a kid of the 1980's, this song is ingrained in many of my childhood memory (not that I'm a Blondie fan...just this song was applied to saw or heard as a kid).

Simple Man, like the other two, is not a hard song. The difference is that Simple Man is not even a complex song. It's fun, but it's basically a slow paced single note progression for almost all of it's seven to eight minutes. It is, if anything, very similar in play style to the verses of I Think I'm Paranoid...just it lasts a lot longer. Still, this does make Simple Man another good warm up song for your endurance. In fact...

I think the main thing about this pack is that it will serve two purposes. The first is that it's the ideal three song warm up pack. That is to say that if you're playing with a group/band, you might as well pick a three song create a set list venue and pick all three to start your night. I'm not sure about the other parts, but this will warm up the strings nicely. I imagine Message in a Bottle will do more than warm up the drummer, however, since Police songs have a habit of adding slightly harder than expected drum lines.

The other purpose of this pack is to be a party/crowd favorite. You have three very well known songs, they're easy enough to not make you sound like shit while you play, and these songs are a strong part of nostalgia for so many people in their late 20's and older. Plus, you can now play some Skynard without going through the possible pain of Gimme Three Steps.

Overall, I'm very happy with this pack. If I was a Crue fan, I might be happy for a 80MP ($1) new song from them. However, it's just not my type of music. Crue always represented a part of the 1980's music scene that turned me off. Not metal, not punk, and not new wave (a guilty pleasure)...just miscellaneous bubble gum rock. If it's your type of thing, the song does look like a blast on guitar.


Malik (4/17/08)

Short post today. I just don't have much to talk about since I've been focusing on some less than geek things for the last few days.

Anyway, apparently tomorrow may be an awesome day for Rock Band DLC announcements. If you follow that link, which I have not done, it'll take you to something at the G4 web site. Supposedly the CEO of Harmonix was on Attack of the Show (which I don't watch...I'm just not poser enough to go for that forced of a show) and said something about full album DLC announcement by the end of the week. Since we all have seen that Harmonix is strict on holidays and such (like how the DLC announcements first came on a Friday when the usual Monday for announcements was a holiday), it's likely that "by the end of the week" is probably code for "Friday". I mean Friday is the usual DLC announcement day.

I'm hoping it's more than just an update or a future release date. I'm hoping that this will be the DLC announcement for next week and it will be Who's long last. I guess we'll see tomorrow. Here's hoping to something good.


Malik (4/18/08)

Next Tuesday is when full albums finally hit Rock Band! Yes! This means we finally get one of the greatest albums of all time; Who's Next!'s not...why is Harmonix spelling The Who J-U-D-A-S P-R...what the f#@$ is this Judas Priest "Screaming for Vengeance" bull shit?

Yes, we do get a whole album on Tuesday, but it's definitely not the one we expected. I wouldn't mind too much, since I was a Priest fan as a kid. Hell, once I learned to break free from just listening to what my parents liked (and the bubble gum crap that floated around my grade school...Ice Ice Baby...), I found the rock station in Seattle. From day one, I've had Judas blasting out of whatever was giving me music (Walkman, car stereo, bookshelf stereo, and so on). So, I'm definitely down with Priest.

However, when Harmonix said that Who's Next would be the first downloadable album, that made anything else seem small and insignificant. Who cares about Judas, or any other band, when you have one of the most powerful forces in the history of rock taunting you with their coolness. The Who is more than a band...The Who is a force of pure rock energy. I mean just listen to the long sustained "yeah" on Won't Get Fooled Again and you'll know that this are not just a shout...this is a primal roar of pure rock-itude!

Anyway, I will enjoy the Priest album, which has some killer tracks on it. I know I will. I do want to check out the charts, however, before I buy. It just doesn't seem the same as The Who (who I'd buy without any hesitation)...or even Nirvana (I'm a Seattle native, so Nirvana runs in my blood).

At least the price is pretty good. It's $15 (1200MP) for the whole album of ten songs. That's a discount of 25% versus paying $2 (160MP) for each individual track. Plus, this does add some variety to Rock Band since the game is seriously lacking Judas Priest.

On a related note, two more albums are in the works. There's The Pixies with "Doolittle". That will be fun since that sound of music is still under-represented on Rock Band. Best of all, some more variety is in the works with The Cars being slated for a full album of the self-titled variety.

In fact, I think The Cars is the news that has me the most excited. I've heard them so many times on the radio (and on my iPod) since November. Each time I'd hear them, I'd say to anyone willing to listen (Velveta heard this a little too much for her own good) that they needed to be on Rock Band. I expected we would maybe see a single track and a three pack one of these days...not an entire f#@$ing album! Not only is this variety, and a new genre (I never could lump The Cars with anyone else...just a little too distinct of a sound for me to generalize them with a genre), but it's one of the best bands of that era.

Anyway, I'm out for the week. Too much to do and too much rocking to take part of.


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