Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Santana & Steve Winwood

July 25, 2010
Santana's star arrived in the era-defining late-1960s San Francisco Bay Area music scene with historic shows at the Fillmore and other venues. They emerged onto the global stage with an epic set at "Woodstock '69", the same year that their self-titled debut LP came out. Introducing Santana's first Top 10 hit, "Evil Ways," the disc stayed on Billboard's album chart for 2 years, and was soon followed by two more classics — and Billboard #1 albums — Abraxas and Santana III.

Forty years and as many albums later, Santana has sold more than 100 million records and reached over 100 million fans at concerts around the globe. To date, Santana has won ten GRAMMY® Awards and three Latin GRAMMYs. 1999's Supernatural — which has sold more than 26 million copies worldwide — including 9 GRAMMYs including Album of the Year and Record of the Year for "Smooth;" it is the most honored record in GRAMMY history. In 1998, the group was ushered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; its web page notes, "Guitarist Carlos Santana is one of rock's true virtuosos and guiding lights." Among many other honors, Carlos Santana has also been cited by Rolling Stone as #15 on their list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time," and #90 on their 2005 survey of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time."

Most recently, Carlos Santana is the recipient of the Billboard Latin Music Awards' 2009 Lifetime Achievement honor (he also received Billboard's Century Award in 1996).

Steve Winwood's Setlist:
1. Secrets
2. Fly
3. Dirty City
4. Can't Find My Way Home
5. The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys
6. Empty Pages
7. Higher Love
8. Dear Mr. Fantasy
9. Gimme Some Lovin'

Santana's Setlist:
1. Yaleo (Carlos Santana cover)
2. Maria Maria
3. Foo Foo
4. Corazón Espinado
5. Drum Solo
6. Jingo
7. Feel the Feeling (with Steve Winwood)
8. Singing Winds, Crying Beasts
9. Can't You Hear Me Knocking (Rolling Stones cover)
10. Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen (Fleetwood Mac cover)
11. Oye Como Va
12. Sunshine of Your Love (Cream cover)
13. Smooth / Dame tu amor

14. Woodstock Chant
15. Soul Sacrifice
16. Into the Night
17. Love, Peace & Happiness/Freedom

More: Check out Steve Winwood's Jukebox

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Spotlight: Len "Frosty" Bias

Len Bias (1963-1986) attended the University of Maryland where he became an All-American player. Bias won his second straight ACC player of the year honors in his senior season and finished with a then school-record 2,149 points. He impressed basketball fans with his amazing leaping ability, his physical stature at 6'8" and his ability to create plays. Bias was viewed by NBA scouts as the most complete forward in the country. He was favorably compared by some to Michael Jordan, then in his second professional season with the Chicago Bulls.

On June 17, Bias was selected by the defending NBA champion Celtics as the second overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft, which was held in New York City at Madison Square Garden. Arnold "Red" Auerbach, as Boston Celtic President and General Manager, dealt guard Gerald Henderson and cash to the Seattle Supersonics for the pick in April 1984.

On June 18, Bias flew to Boston from Washington, D.C. and reportedly signed a $3 million shoe contract with Reebok. He returned home later that night, retrieved his newly-leased sports car and drove back to his room on the campus of the University of Maryland.

However, prior to, and concurrent with, some of the given timelines of his activities at the campus, Bias's vehicle was observed and recorded by undercover agents of the Washington, DC metropolitan police department "cruising" one of the city’s most notorious drug neighborhoods along Montana Avenue, in the northeast section of the city. Although the surveillance did not determine who specifically was in the vehicle, or if the vehicle stopped for any purpose, they did estimate there were at least two people, driver and passenger, in the vehicle, and they recorded its license number.

The campus timeline said he left campus at approximately 2 a.m. and drove to an off-campus gathering, which he attended briefly before returning to his dorm in Washington Hall at 3 a.m. Bias took a dose of cocaine which likely induced cardiac arrhythmia.

Bias went into convulsions, approximately 3:30 am, before he drifted off to sleep from taking cocaine. When the 911-call to Prince George's County Emergency Services was made by Brian Tribble (a long-time friend), Bias was unconscious and not breathing. All attempts by the emergency medical team to restart his heart and breathing were unsuccessful.

At the hospital, Bias was given five drugs in an attempt to revive him: sodium epinephrine, sodium bicarbonate, lidocaine, calcium and bretyline. After the chemicals failed, a pacemaker was implanted into his heart muscle in a failed attempt to try to get it beating. He was pronounced dead at 8:55 a.m. in the Emergency Department at Leland Memorial Hospital in Riverdale, Maryland, of a cardiac arrhythmia related to usage of cocaine.

Four days after his death, more than 11,000 people packed the Cole Field House, the university recreation and student center where Bias played for the Terrapins, for a memorial service.

On June 30, 1986, the Celtics honored Bias with their own memorial service, giving his never used #30 Celtic jersey to his mother, Lonise.

In 1988, the U.S. Congress passed a stricter Anti-Drug Act that is known as "The Len Bias Law." It was backed by both parties and reinforced the previous drug law with stiffer penalties and expanded the DARE program.

On December 5, 1990, Bias' younger brother, James Stanley "Jay" Bias III, a promising young basketball talent, was shot to death at age 20 following a dispute in the parking lot of Prince George's Plaza, a Hyattsville shopping mall located about one mile from the University of Maryland. Two gunmen had allegedly fired several times into the vehicle Jay and two friends were in, and Jay was shot twice in the back. He was pronounced dead at the same hospital where Len Bias had died, and was buried next to him at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Alberto Contador Wins Third Tour de France

PAUILLAC, France - Wiping away tears, Alberto Contador is ready for the champagne to flow.

After three daunting weeks of crashes, biting cold, fog and searing heat, he is set to become the Tour de France champion again.

The Spaniard all but captured his third title in four years Saturday by holding off a full-bore challenge from his main rival, Andy Schleck of Luxembourg, in a 32-mile individual time trial in the next-to-last stage. Sunday's ride into Paris is a mostly ceremonial affair.

"I am very moved... It was a difficult Tour and I'm very happy," a tearful Contador said.

He took a deep breath and his hand trembled as he fired an index finger — the trademark gesture by the rider nicknamed "El Pistolero" — to fans after donning the yellow jersey one more time.

"I think it's the first Tour that has given me so much emotion, you can't imagine," he said.

Contador wasn't in top form, but did what he had to. The defending champion extended his lead over Schleck from eight seconds to 39 in a stage won by Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland.

After more than 2,175 miles of racing, Contador is poised for another narrow victory. In 2007, when he won for the first time, he beat Australia's Cadel Evans by only 23 seconds. In that Tour, the tightest in the race's 107-year history, American rider Levi Leipheimer was third, 31 seconds behind the Spaniard.

Barring a wild turn of events, Contador awaits a coronation in the 20th and final stage on Sunday — a 64-mile ride from Longjumeau to the famed Paris thoroughfare. And as the unquestioned leader of his sport at 27 years old, he remains on track for a possible challenge to Lance Armstrong's record of seven Tour wins.

Contador is widely known as the best stage racer in the world, having won each of cycling’s top three races: the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España. But Contador will win this Tour without winning a stage. He'll become the first champion to have done that since Greg LeMond of the U.S. won the last of his three titles in 1990 — not counting 2006 — when Oscar Pereiro of Spain inherited his title only after American Floyd Landis lost it for doping.

Andy Schleck, who is poised to finish second to Contador for the second straight year, had no regrets.

"Beating Contador is not easy, but I tried everything," Schleck said. "I am happy, and I'll come back next year to win."

"I think I did the best time-trial of my cycling life so far," he added.

The 39-second margin is exactly the time that Schleck lost to Contador in the controversial 15th stage on Monday. That's when the Luxembourg rider's bike chain became entangled in a final Pyrenean climb — and Contador sped on.

Some called it a breach of cycling's often-unclear etiquette, which calls for riders to respect the yellow jersey — Schleck was wearing it then — in times of uncontrollable mishaps like a crash.

That day, Contador took the jersey and has worn it since.

"Everybody knows it was not like last year when Contador was just better than me," Schleck said. "In the climbs, we were pretty equal. But it's three weeks and the time all counts."

Saturday's stage was the final showdown in a race that's been a two-man battle since Schleck took the yellow jersey in the Alps in the ninth stage. A day earlier, Lance Armstrong — once a possible contender — fell from contention after crashing and struggling in two Alpine climbs.

Armstrong is set to go out with a whimper in his last Tour. The 38-year-old Texan once dominated time trials. But he finished Saturday's stage in 67th place, 7:05 back of Cancellara. Overall, he is 23rd — 39:20 behind Contador, his former teammate and rival.

Armstrong returned to a RadioShack team car and left without speaking to reporters after the stage.

In last year's Tour, tensions flared between Contador and Armstrong, who finished third in his Tour comeback after four years of retirement from the race he dominated from 1999 to 2005. Now, the two enjoy a "mutual respect," Contador said.

Armstrong still can walk away with pride: His RadioShack squad is set to win the team competition.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Eric Prydz - Call On Me (2004)

"Call on Me" is a dance music track by Swedish DJ Eric Prydz, based on a re-recorded sample of Steve Winwood's 1982 song "Valerie". When Prydz presented the track to Winwood, he was so impressed with what Prydz had done, he collaborated with him and re-recorded the vocals to fit the track better.

The music video is directed by Huse Monfaradi and features an aerobics class of women wearing 1980s styled aerobics outfits performing sexually suggestive gym routines led by Australian dancer and choreographer Deanne Berry. The video is the highest-downloaded music video of all time in Australia, and spoofs a scene in the 1985 film Perfect starring John Travolta and Jamie Lee Curtis.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tom Green - "The Bum Bum Song" (1999)

Had to throw up the classic.

"Lonely Swedish (The Bum Bum Song)" is a novelty song by Canadian comedian Tom Green, created in 1999 for The Tom Green Show. When the show moved to MTV, Green released it as a single, encouraging visitors to download the song free of charge from his website. The music video was filmed in Seattle, Washington, home of the Swedish Medical Center, from which the name of the song is derived.

The song's promotional video was a great success on Total Request Live. It was retired the day it reached number one on the countdown, after just five total days on the show.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

M.I.A. - "Born Free" (2010)

Directed by French director Romain Gavras

Salon described "Born Free" as "the most violent music video in ages -- and a nine-minute masterpiece" adding that "M.I.A. has built a career on making music that's as outspoken as it is danceable" and described the video as "undeniably powerful, a lurid parable on the systematic ethnic cleansing that goes on all over the world."

A week after its release on Vimeo on April 26, the video was viewed 1.8 million times on the site.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Inception (2010)

is a science fiction action film about Dom Cobb, a thief who has the power to enter into the dreams of others by thrusting himself into the subconscious of his targets, thus obtaining information that is otherwise impossible to access. His abilities have cost him coveted things, but a second chance allows the situation to be turned around. However, when an unforeseen enemy predicts Cobb's every move, Cobb and his team of specialists are forced to plant an idea in a target's subconscious. The film's title refers to the task of planting an idea rather than stealing one, a concept that Cobb is less acquainted with.

Written, directed, and co-produced by Christopher Nolan; director of photography, Wally Pfister; production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas; edited by Lee Smith; music by Hans Zimmer.

WITH: Leonardo DiCaprio (Cobb), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Arthur), Ellen Page (Ariadne), Tom Hardy (Eames), Ken Watanabe (Saito), Dileep Rao (Yusuf), Cillian Murphy (Robert Fischer Jr.), Tom Berenger (Browning), Marion Cotillard (Mal), Pete Postlethwaite (Maurice Fischer), Michael Caine (Miles) and Lukas Haas (Nash).

Inception was first developed by Christopher Nolan, based on the notion of "exploring the idea of people sharing a dream space — entering a dream space and sharing a dream. That gives you the ability to access somebody’s unconscious mind. What would that be used and abused for?" Furthermore, he thought "being able to extract information from somebody’s brain would be the obvious use of that because obviously any other system where it’s computers or physical media, whatever — things that exist outside the mind — they can all be stolen ... up until this point, or up until this movie I should say, the idea that you could actually steal something from somebody’s head was impossible. So that, to me, seemed a fascinating abuse or misuse of that kind of technology".

He had thought about these ideas on and off since he was 16 years old, intrigued by how he would wake up and then, while falling back into a lighter sleep, hold on to the awareness that he was dreaming, a lucid dream. He also became aware of the feeling that he could study the place and alter the events of the dream. He said, "I tried to work that idea of manipulation and management of a conscious dream being a skill that these people have. Really the script is based on those common, very basic experiences and concepts, and where can those take you? And the only outlandish idea that the film presents, really, is the existence of a technology that allows you to enter and share the same dream as someone else."

Development of Inception began roughly ten years before the film's actual release when Nolan wrote an 80-page treatment about dream-stealers. After presenting the idea to Warner Bros. in 2001, he felt that he needed to have more experience with large scale films. Therefore, Nolan opted to work on Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. He spent six months polishing up the film's script before Warner Bros. purchased the script in February 2009. Filming began in Tokyo on June 19, 2009 and finished in Canada in late November of the same year.

For the dream sequences in Inception, Nolan kept the computer generated effects to a minimum and utilized practical methods whenever possible. Nolan said, "It's always very important to me to do as much as possible in-camera, and then, if necessary, computer graphics are very useful to build on or enhance what you have achieved physically."

Inception was officially budgeted at $160 million, a cost which was split between Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures. Inception grossed $21.6 million during its opening day on July 16, 2010, with midnight screenings in 1,600 locations. Overall the film made $60.4 million on its opening weekend.

More information:
» Christopher Nolan Discusses A Scene From The Film
» Inception Comic! It's A Prequel, But Watch The Film First
» "Never Wake Up: The Meaning and Secret of Inception"
» "In Praise of Inception"

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sumo's Shady Underbelly

NAGOYA, Japan — Sumo is more than a sport to Japan. It's like a religion, a bastion of traditional culture and a matter of national pride. Wrestlers aren't just athletes — they are icons, role models and, often, larger-than-life heroes.

Unless, of course, they are getting busted for smoking marijuana, breaking noses in drunken brawls or hobnobbing with gangsters.

And, these days, that's pretty much all the time.

Causing Japan much consternation, recent police investigations have exposed the colorful sport's cozy connections to the "yakuza" underworld, outside-the-ring violence and widespread recreational drug use, dragging sumo's venerable image through the dirt and prompting many to wonder if it can stand up to modern scrutiny.

"Sumo is involved in organized crime because they've had a symbiotic relationship for years," said Jake Adelstein, a former crime beat reporter for a Japanese newspaper and author of the best-selling book "Tokyo Vice." "The wrestlers and the yakuza have a macho admiration for each other. The yakuza by being seen with the sumo wrestlers, acquire 'status' and the sumo wrestlers get money, booze, food, and women."

Adelstein said smaller training stables don't have big corporate sponsors and need the money the yakuza offer. "The average salary of a sumo wrestler is a pittance and they need the cash," he said, adding that once a wrestler is beholden to the mob he is vulnerable to demands to throw bouts — which the gangsters bet on — to clear his debts.

Sumo's unrelenting scandals have gotten so bad that Japan's public broadcaster, for the first time since 1953, has pulled its ongoing tournament from the air, scrapping three hours of live, daily coverage for a 20-minute program of taped highlights.

Sponsors have bolted and fans are staying away in droves. At the 15-day contest now under way, where the stands are only about half full, police officers are prowling entrances under signs saying "Gangsters Keep Out."

"It's a very tough situation for the wrestlers," said Tamako Imoi, a 63-year-old fan. "I love the sport, that's why I'm here. But I don't want them hanging around with criminals. They should live up to their traditions."

Betting, Bout-Fixing Charges
Sumo's latest quagmire involves a criminal investigation into dozens of top wrestlers and coaches who allegedly wagered tens of thousands of dollars on baseball, with gangsters as go-betweens.
Popular wrestler Kotomitsuki, who held the sport's second-highest rank, admitted last month he bet on professional baseball. Police say he was then extorted by a gangster who threatened to go public. Soon after Kotomitsuki's fall, coach Otake, who is a former wrestler, cried on national TV as he acknowledged running up betting debts of more than $50,000.
The association sidelined both, and punished more than a dozen others — an unprecedented seven top wrestlers are sitting out the tournament. The association's chief was temporarily replaced by a former public prosecutor.
Worries For The Future
The scrutiny over the scandals has also put the spotlight on the ancient sport's troubles adjusting to Japan's modern realities.
Though sumo is still popular, NHK is the only major TV network that still airs the six annual tournaments. Commercial networks pulled them years ago as ratings slid and the sumo authorities requested more money for broadcasting rights.
Today, baseball, soccer and golf more often than not precede sumo on TV newscasts. Sumo audiences are usually made up mostly of middle-age or older fans, further evidence the sport is losing its appeal to young Japanese viewers.

Getting youngsters to actually join up is more difficult still.
Because of the rigors of the sumo lifestyle — which often starts in a boy's early teens with a live-in apprenticeship at Spartan training stables — fewer Japanese are willing to go pro. That vacuum has been filled by wrestlers from abroad, who now make up most of the top echelon.
Only one wrestler with the second-highest rank is Japanese. At 37, he is likely to retire soon.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wine Pairing Tips

The Virginia Wine Festival will be located at Bull Run Regional Park Special Events Center in Centreville, Virginia, 11am-6pm, Saturday, September 19th and Sunday, September 20th. Tickets for the festival are available on the website, www.virginiawinefest.com, and at local beverage outlets. For more information call 540.745.3378.

By Patrick Dinh, Executive Chef, Tuscarora Mill, Leesburg
  1. When tasting wines, start with the light, end with the heavy. This seems obvious but often foods and wines are mismatched or out of order in the sequence in which they should be consumed.

  2. Be judicious with acidity and heat in the dishes you prepare. Theses elements are important to a balanced dish but a tad too much lemon or too much cayenne can kill the wines you are tasting.

  3. Use the wine in the foods you cook: Add some of the wine you will be drinking to the sauces and marinades for your meats and seafood. Even a bit of wine in the salad dressing you are making can help with a salad course.

  4. Some rules are meant to be broken: "Fish with white wine, meat with red" is not necessarily the rule. Fresh salmon and tuna are naturals with lighter-style to medium-style reds, while a simple poached beef tenderloin or a soft braised brisket can be matched with a richer style of white wine. Veal and pork are wonderful with fruity white wines but also with some lighter reds.

  5. When sampling a variety of wines, small plates of food allow greater flexibility with pairing. Tapas-style plates are fun and interesting to eat. Try making a small scallop dish with a simple butter sauce, then a small roast chicken dish with its own juices, a cheese course with some nuts and membrillo and finally a braised beef dish with mushrooms. Much of this can be done ahead and the small quantities of food make preparation much quicker. Since the wines you choose to serve may work for many of these dishes but not for others, you will have topics for discussion on why certain foods and wines go well together and why some don't.

  6. Invest in demi-glace. Nothing makes a piece of great steak go better with a nice Cabernet than a good demi-glace sauce. Prepared demi-glace can be found at gourmet grocery stores and online.

  7. Buy the best ingredients; it'll be worth it!

  8. Think globally when drinking locally: some wines offer notes and spices that are found in cuisines that are not usually associated with wine food, such as in Central American or Asian cooking.

  9. Try a food course with a flight of wines. Ask your guests to talk about the interplay. You'll get a variety of different views that you've never considered.

  10. Get some good local cheese (Oak Spring Dairy from Upperville and Everona Dairy out of Rapidan to name a couple) and a few bottles of Virginia wine and see how well they match up.

For more information, visit us at www.tuskies.com

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Virginia Grapes

After the repeal of Prohibition, small farm vineyards and wineries were re-established in the 1960s and '70s. The first "wave" of renewed development from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s was led by French hybrid grape varieties, which were considered cold- hardy and disease resistant, and therefore appropriate for planting in the humid mid-Atlantic climate. The most successful of these hybrids are still with us.

Leading French Hybrid Varietals for Virginia:

  • Seyval Blanc is neutral to slightly fruity, has good acidity and can be made either in a stainless or oaked style to imitate a chardonnay or in a crisp, non-oaked style with racy mineral, citrus notes such as lemon or pink grapefruit, resembling a Loire Valley white. Usually dry to semi-dry, seyval is great for summertime and as an aperitif. It can also be found in proprietary blends, often with vidal blanc.

  • Vidal Blanc has been called the "poor man's riesling." It is prolific and hardy, with thick skins that resist rot, and makes a moderately fruity (but sometimes heavy) wine. Often found semi-dry to semi-sweet, it can also be found in late harvest or dessert wine styles.

  • Chambourcin is the most successful red French hybrid for Virginia. It has forward fresh cherry aromas and flavors and a crisp texture, but not much tannin. It is versatile and can be made into wines from a rose style to a light crisp red to medium-bodied blends to oaked, dry reds. It resembles Beaujolais in its fresh, crisp fruitiness and is a good warm-weather red.

  • corks
    The "second wave" of the Virginia wine industry's evolution was the transition from an industry based mostly on hybrids to one based mostly on vinifera (European) varieties. This second wave, from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, saw the top-planted Virginia grapes become chardonnay, riesling, gewurztraminer, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc.
    In the last 20 years however we have seen some of these varieties replaced in the "third wave" with vinifera varietals felt to be more successful in Virginia's climate. Riesling, cabernet sauvignon and gewurztraminer fell from favor (partly due to market trends and partly to viticultural issues), and instead new vinifera varieties were introduced, like viognier (from the northern Rhone Valley), petit verdot (a red Bordeaux grape), touriga, tannat, albarino, tempranillo, pinotage (from South Africa), a range of Italian varieties and the rather obscure petit manseng (an aromatic white grape from the Juranaon region of France).

    Leading Vinifera Varietals (not commonly found elsewhere):

  • Viognier is a fragrant, white aromatic grape with aromas of tropical fruit, honeysuckle and white blossoms, with delicately pretty not overly fruity palate. It is moderately low in acid and in Virginia frequently blended with chardonnay for a unique local product offering the acid of chardonnay with the fragrant fruit of viognier. It often has a touch of oak for complexity but the buttery malolactic fermentation is often blocked to keep it fresh and bright.

  • Petit Manseng is another aromatic white vinifera grape from France (the Juranaon), but this is far more intensely aromatic, with assertive pineapple and tropical fruit aromas and flavors, and also with much higher acidity than viognier. The skins are naturally thick, which makes it easy to ripen without losing the crop to fungal diseases. Because of its high acid, it is most often made at least slightly sweet but can be made also as a dessert wine. Anyone familiar with the French hybrid vignoles will welcome Virginia petit manseng.

  • Cabernet Franc has surpassed acreage of cabernet sauvignon in Virginia because it ripens better here, grows well in our clay soils, produces a full crop, and is cold hardy. Made as a single varietal in the Loire Valley and blended with merlot and cabernet sauvignon in Bordeaux, this vine is one of the parents of cabernet sauvignon, but lacks the tannin and cedar that connoisseurs look for in its famous offspring. Especially in the 2007 vintage, quality cabernet franc has finally been consistently realized in Virginia, with wines marked by red and black cherry aromas and flavors, a crisp non-tannic texture and hints of minerality, and it doesn't need as much bottle aging time as the more tannic cabernet sauvignon. The disadvantage of cabernet franc is that in cool or wet vintages, it tends to give a green bell pepper weediness, but winemakers and vineyard managers have largely learned how to overcome these challenges.

  • Petit Verdot is a red Bordeaux variety with aromas of herbs, violets, rock rose and plum, with floral and spice nuances, a deep rich texture and smooth tannins, but without an assertive flavor. It gives Virginia red Bordeaux blends a spicy depth and complexity, and is increasingly made as a solo varietal. The best examples offer fully ripe black fruits with smooth texture and deep rich flavors, but acid tends to be low.

  • Other Unusual Grapes Grown in Virginia:

  • The native Norton grape (aka Cynthiana) was reintroduced to commercial production in Virginia in the early '90s. A member of the v. aestivalis species, it is not related to concord (the v. labrusca species) and has its own unique wine chemistry, with a high level of malic acid (found in apples), low tannins and lots of rich, spicy plum flavors and aromas. It is also one of the few grapes whose flesh is naturally red, which explains the very dark color you'll see in its wines. It is versatile and can be made into a blush or rose, a light or blended dry red, an oaked reserve dry red or a port.

  • Traminette is a recently developed hybrid from Cornell University's Geneva research station in New York, with gewurztraminer as a parent, but more disease resistant and cold hardy. While gewurztraminer is very hard to grow and make well in Virginia, traminette has a bright future; it even seems to have more of the gewurztraminer aromatics, flavors and texture than the parent grape does here. Traminette is made semi-dry to dessert style in Virginia.
  • Monday, July 12, 2010

    Key Games For The ACC

    The ACC hit an all-time low point in 2008, but was much improved in 2009. Things are expected to improve even more in 2010. How does the league stack up to the rest of college football, at least according to the preseason rankings? Here's a quick comparison, courtesy of Lindy's preseason preview magazine.

    Conference Comparison



    Top 10








    Big 12





    Big Ten















    Big East





    The ACC finds itself on about the same level as the Pac-10. The Hokies are the only Top 10 team out of the ACC, while the Pac-10 has no top 10 teams. However, just 20% of the Pac-10 is ranked outside the top 50, while just 33% of the ACC is ranked lower than 50. Both leagues are very strong in the middle, with very few poor teams.

    The SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 are regarded as the top leagues each year because they generally have multiple National Championship contenders, and multiple Top 10 teams. The SEC has Florida, Alabama and LSU, the Big 12 has Texas and Oklahoma, while the Big 10 has Ohio State, with Penn State, Wisconsin and Iowa capable of moonlighting in the Top 10 as well.

    The good news for the ACC is that despite having just one preseason Top 10 team, they've got several other teams who should start the season in the preseason Top 25. North Carolina, Miami, Florida State and Georgia Tech could all be in the Top 25 at the beginning of the season, and it's certainly possible that a couple of those teams could find themselves in the Top 10 at the end of the season.

    Here are some key dates to keep an eye on.

    Key Non-Conference Games



    Sept. 4

    UNC vs. LSU

    Sept. 6

    VT vs. Boise State

    Sept. 11

    Miami at Ohio State

    Sept. 11

    FSU at Oklahoma

    Sept. 18

    Clemson at Auburn

    Sept. 23

    Miami at Pitt

    Nov. 27

    Georgia Tech at Georgia

    Nov. 27

    Florida at FSU

    Nov. 27

    South Carolina at Clemson

    Those are nine key games featuring the best teams in the ACC against Top 25 caliber opponents from other conferences. The ACC has some big games in the month of September, and wins against big time programs such as LSU, Ohio State and Oklahoma could go a long way in repairing the reputation of the conference.

    The best Thursday night ACC game of the year will be on November 4 in Blacksburg, VA. The Hokies will welcome Georgia Tech to town in a critical Coastal Division game. Two days later, NC State plays at Clemson, while North Carolina will travel to Florida State for a huge cross divisional matchup.

    Saturday, November 13 could turn out to be the biggest day of the season for the ACC. Virginia Tech travels to North Carolina, Clemson plays at Florida State, while Miami will take on Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Expect to see some teams eliminated from ACC Championship Game contention on the 13th.

    November 20th will feature a big game between Miami and Virginia Tech from south Florida. It's possible that this game could decide the Coastal Division, and the Hokies will be hoping their November 27 matchup with Virginia will be the icing on the cake to a great season, as well as a warmup for the ACC Championship Game that will be held the following week in Charlotte, NC.

    Winnebago Man (Video)

    Sunday, July 11, 2010

    World Cup Memories

    Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s president, said on Saturday, "The world has seen this country in a different light."

    Even though the first African host of the World Cup became the first host nation to be eliminated in the group stage, South Africa showed they can compete with the world's best. And dance even better.

    The U.S. team was impressive, winning their group after coming from behind in almost every game. Clint Dempsey got a lucky goal against England, a bad offside call ruined a rally to beat Slovenia, and Landon Donovan scored in injury time against Algeria to put them in the Round of 16. While the defense limited Ghana's scoring chances, they still gave up an early goal, struggled to tie, and didn't have it in them to finish in extra time. "It was a bridge too far really. We can't just keep producing magical moments," said goalkeeper Tim Howard after the loss.

    Robinho put Brazil ahead of the Netherlands in the Round of 16, but Inter midfielder Wesley Sneijder scored twice in the second half, swinging in a cross from out on the right in the 53rd minute, and heading in a deflected corner kick in the 68th, breaking Brazilian hearts everywhere. He went on to grab his fifth goal of the tournament against Uruguay.

    Ghana became just the third side from Africa to make the quarterfinals and would have won in extra time, except Luis Suarez handled a goal-bound effort on the line. Asamoah Gyan smashed the resulting penalty kick off the crossbar, and Ghana lost in the penalty shootout 4:2.

    Argentina's 4-0 loss to Germany in the quarterfinals left Lionel Messi, the reigning FIFA World Player, sobbing in the dressing room and Diego Maradona declaring it the worst day of his life, hinting that it could be the end of his reign as Albiceleste coach.

    Uruguay striker Diego Forlán was awarded the Golden Ball as the most outstanding player, scoring five goals and leading his team to the semifinals.

    20-year-old midfielder Thomas Müller won the Golden Boot and the Best Young Player award, helping Germany take third place with his five goals and three assists.

    David Villa was a close runner-up for Golden Boot but didn't have as many assists, scoring five goals that lifted Spain into the semifinals, but couldn't score again to tie Raúl for Spain's all-time scoring record at 44.

    32-year-old Bayern Munich striker Miroslav Klose had been suffering from a back injury and stayed on the bench for Germany's 3-2 victory for third place over Uruguay. He had scored five goals each at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups and four more this time around, tying Gerd Müller at second all-time with 14 goals. He needed one more to tie Ronaldo's all-time best mark of 15.

    Danny Jordaan, the chief World Cup organizer, said that the tournament had brought pride, unity, self-assurance and the sharing of a vision to South Africa, adding, "The nation has crossed a huge psychological barrier."

    South Africa laid out well over $5 billion to build stadiums and upgrade infrastructure, and while locals are understandably delighted to host the tournament and overturn narrow-minded stereotypes about their country, reports are already rolling in about the excessive costs—the refurbishment of Soccer City in Johannesburg, for example, ended up exceeding the projected cost by more than $400 million—and fears that remote stadiums like the one in Rustenburg will be underused after FIFA leaves.

    The World Cup is never the economic boon for host countries that many think it is, and FIFA, a tax-exempt organization that will bring in $2.7 billion off television rights for the tournament, has hardly been charitable. Last week, security guards at several stadiums went on strike over pay. FIFA, they claim, promised them $65 for a 12-hour shift. Instead, they received $25 from their employer, Stallion Security Consortium. Around 3,000 locals took to the streets in Durban on Wednesday chanting, "Get out, FIFA mafia!"

    A kind of hangover is expected in South Africa now that the World Cup is over. And an urgent question is already being raised: what happens next in a country where millions do not have adequate housing, electricity or running water, and half of the population lives at or below the poverty line?

    More information:
    » Vuvuzela Your Internet!
    » Past World Cup Controversies
    » Mysterious North Korean Fans

    World Cup Final!

    Netherlands 0:1 a.e.t. Spain
    July 11, 2010
    Soccer City Stadium
    Johannesburg, South Africa

    Spain prevailed 1-0 over the Netherlands with great patience and an accustomed sense of drama in the 116th minute by the goal-scoring wing Andrés Iniesta, taking its first World Cup title, even if this one will be remembered more for meanness than splendor.

    A record 14 yellow cards and a red was issued by the English referee Howard Webb. A potentially beautiful game between two elegant teams had turned nasty and destructive.

    The Dutch intended to take Spain away from its graceful passing game. And they frequently did, sometimes with brutal intent. Still, Spain showed hardness of its own, becoming unnerved at times but never discouraged.

    “It was still our intention to play beautiful football, but we were also facing a very good opponent,” said Bert van Marwijk, the Netherlands coach. “Spain is the best football country the past few years. I think both sides committed fouls. It may be regrettable this happened in a final. That’s not our style. But you do play to win.”

    Spain dominated possession, holding the ball for 60 percent of the match, yet could not finish their chances, starting with Sergio Ramos's fifth minute header from within the penalty area that was saved by Stekelenburg. Spain had other good chances for Joan Capdevila, David Villa, and Cesc Fàbregas, with their best chance another header for Ramos, a chance off a corner from four yards out that the right back put over the bar.

    The Dutch had their chances to prevail in regulation, but Iker Casillas, the Spanish goalkeeper, repelled two inviting shots from forward Arjen Robben, one on a kick save, the other by rushing off his line to smother the ball.

    Finally, the rough fouling took its toll on the Netherlands. In the 109th minute, central defender John Heitinga took Iniesta down and drew his second yellow card, leaving the Netherlands a man short for the final 11-plus minutes.

    When the final whistle sounded, the Netherlands had lost for a third time in the World Cup final, and Spain had dispelled its reputation as a team whose achievement rarely matched its talent. Iniesta went to his knees and pumped his fists and toppled over, as tired as he was ecstatic.

    Spain prevailed for a fourth consecutive 1-0 victory, displaying resolve, endurance and a flair for white-knuckled theatrics while completing a remarkable turnaround. Spain, the 2008 European champion, became the first team to win a World Cup after losing its opening match, which La Furia Roja had done in stunning fashion to Switzerland.

    "I can’t quite believe it yet," the diminutive Iniesta said. "It is something absolutely incredible. I simply made a small contribution to a match that was very tough, very rough."

    Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque said the whole of the country deserved to share in the jubilation. He added: "The dressing room is delighted, ecstatic. But Spain, the country, deserves this triumph, this World Cup. This goes beyond sport. We have to celebrate. All the people have been behind us in Spain, and we're delighted to reward them with this victory."

    "Spain cemented their position as the pre-eminent footballing nation of the era," The Times of London said of the nation's first World Cup win, which they added to their 2008 European Championship triumph. But newspapers around the world also highlighted the often brutal tactics used in the match played out in front of a television audience estimated at 700 million people.

    Spain joined West Germany and France as the only nations to simultaneously hold the world and European titles. West Germany followed the European title with the 1974 World Cup and France won the 1998 Cup before winning the Euros two years later.

    Spain is the eighth country to win the World Cup, joining Brazil (five), Italy (four), Germany (three), Argentina (two), Uruguay (two), England (one) and France (one).

    More information:
    Bringing Spaniards Together
    USA Today's All-Tournament Team
    Full Schedule/Results

    Saturday, July 10, 2010

    Friday, July 9, 2010

    NBA Free Agency Update


    LeBron James put the NBA on notice Thursday night, joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami.

    Ending weeks of will-he-or-won't-he speculation, the two-time MVP said Thursday night that he's decided to join the Heat and leave the Cavaliers after an unsuccessful seven-year quest for the ring he covets.

    James, Bosh and Wade entered the pros in the same year, the respective Nos. 1, 4 and 5 picks in the 2003 draft. They were Olympic teammates in Beijing and all helped deliver the gold. This time, it'll be about a gold trophy: the NBA championship Wade got in 2006; the one that James and Bosh have yet to touch.

    "I can't say it was always in my plans, because I never thought it was possible," James said on a made-for-LeBron live show on ESPN. "But the things that the Miami Heat franchise have done, to free up cap space and be able to put themselves in a position this summer to have all three of us, it was hard to turn down. Those are two great players, two of the greatest players that we have in this game today."

    James had received recruiting pitches from the Cavaliers, Bulls, Knicks, Nets, Clippers and Heat.

    And for Cleveland, a city scorned for generations by some of sports' biggest letdowns, James' long-awaited words represented a defeat perhaps unlike any other.

    The immediate reaction was predictably filled with outrage. "The Decision," the name of the prime-time, hour-long special James and his team of advisers brokered with ESPN, now joins "The Drive," "The Shot" and "The Fumble" in Cleveland's sports hall of shame.

    Despite James' departure, Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert guaranteed future success for his franchise.


    Ending months of speculation, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh announced Wednesday that they will sign with Miami, two decisions that vault the Heat back into the NBA championship picture and put them two-thirds of the way to hitting one of the biggest trifectas in NBA history.

    Wade, Bosh and James all have talked about playing together. On Thursday night at 9 ET, in an hourlong special on ESPN, James will say why that will or will not happen.

    James averaged 29.7 points for Cleveland last season, Wade averaged 26.6 points for Miami and Bosh averaged career-bests of 24.0 points and 10.8 rebounds for Toronto.

    Wade, 28, said it was difficult to turn down the chance to play in Chicago, where he grew up. But in the end, an opportunity to play with the 26-year-old Bosh and build a title contender in Miami with the two in the prime of their careers won out over his desire to play in his hometown, Wade said.

    "Now we can get on the pace of building a championship," he said.

    When Lebron James joined Cleveland, home attendance at Cavaliers games went up 59 percent. This season, the team sold out all 41 home games for the first time in franchise history, and the Cavaliers were shown on national television as often as the Lakers and Celtics. Dan Gilbert may own the Cavaliers, but James owns Gilbert.

    The New York Knicks reached an agreement Monday with free agent Amare Stoudemire after receiving assurances it would not be an impediment to their pursuit of LeBron James.

    The All-Star forward will receive a five-year, $100 million contract that will reunite him with coach Mike D'Antoni.

    Stoudemire had spent his entire career in Phoenix, where he played under D'Antoni before the coach came to New York in 2008. Stoudemire averaged more than 20 points in every season they were together and immediately becomes the best player D'Antoni has coached since leaving the Suns after the 2007-08 season.

    "I feel great, really, about being a pioneer," said Stoudemire, who said he had spoken with Lebron James several times recently. "I think he feels great about it. It's a situation where no one wanted to make that first move, and I felt confident enough to take that first step, and hopefully now we can bring in a few guys to join us."

    "I'm not sure where he's leaning. If he's leaning more toward New York, that would be a great start for us," Stoudemire said.

    Kevin Durant says he's reached a deal on a five-year contract extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Durant's agent, Aaron Goodwin, told ESPN the deal will be worth about $86 million over five years. The specific amount will be determined when the salary cap numbers are finalized on July 8, when Durant can officially sign the contract.

    The deal does not contain an opt-out clause after the fourth season, which means Oklahoma City holds Durant's rights through the 2015-16 season. The new contract kicks in starting with the 2011-12 campaign.

    The reigning NBA scoring leader is signed with the Thunder through next season under his original rookie contract, which would pay him about $5 million next year.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010

    World Cup Semifinals

    We're down to two. Spain and the Netherlands are the only teams still thinking about tomorrow rather than yesterday. Now one of them will win the World Cup for the first time. The other will be the best team never to have won. That debate will be settled on Sunday night, along with everything else.

    Already, 62 games and 30 teams are off the books. France and Italy bombing out. England and Argentina trounced by the Germans. Uruguay sneaking by Ghana, only to run into the Netherlands, fresh from having sent home Brazil. Last left the Germans, picked apart by Spain tonight -- a pretournament favorite somehow having become an underdog, because someone has to be.

    One by one, seven previous World Cup champions had been knocked out, leaving only these two teams to dream of what never has been.

    The Germans -- the same young team that had put up four goals three times in this tournament -- were given only one serious chance on net. They knew they were finished with minutes left to go. They stood in the middle of the field, with their hands on their hips, and they did the math.

    This was the three-time champions’ third straight trip to the World Cup semifinals. Yet just like in 2006, they are headed for the third-place game.

    Those counterattacks that were so devastating against England and Argentina never materialized, and the midfield spacing that had been so impressive was almost nonexistent.

    Germany's best attempt of the second half came in the 69th minute, meeting Podoski's far-post cross with a side-footed shot that Casillas beat away. Then with 16 minutes remaining, the decisive goal came at the other end. From a corner by Xavi, Carles Puyol leapt above teammate Gerard Pique and powered a header past Neuer.

    It was the 29th game decided by one goal in the tournament, the most of any World Cup.

    Spain has been the best team in Europe — all the world, really — for much of the last four years. It’s lost all of two games since November 2006, one a shocker to Switzerland in the group-stage opener.

    With all but two members of the starting lineup playing for either Barcelona or Real Madrid, the Spanish play with a seamlessness and fluidity that’s almost intuitive.

    The Dutch, who beat Uruguay 3-2 on Tuesday night, have lost in their only two trips to the final. The two teams have never met in the World Cup and their all-time series is dead even.

    One of them will erase 80 years of past wrongs. The other will only add to them.

    Spain will face the Netherlands on Sunday (1:30 ET on ABC).