Sunday, September 30, 2012

(L) Virginia Tech vs. Cincinnati

"Cincinnati ranked No. 1 in the nation last season in tackles for loss and No. 2 in sacks. The Bearcats had co-Defensive Player of the Year Derek Wolfe wreaking havoc from the middle, along with senior John Hughes as well. Both ended up getting drafted. In two games this year, Cincinnati has eight total sacks and 17 tackles for loss -- both ranking in the top 10 in the nation."
Washington Post:
Cincinnati escaped with a 27-24 victory after a wild fourth quarter in front of 46,026 at FedEx Field.

There were moments Saturday when it appeared Virginia Tech’s defense would be the lone saving grace for an offense that, at times, elicited boos from a pro-Hokies crowd. But after the Hokies scored the go-ahead points with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Cincinnati wide receiver Damon Julien get behind cornerback Kyle Fuller to reel in a 39-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds left on the clock for the game-winning score.

“I just made the biggest mistake I could ever make. That’s letting the receiver get behind me. That’s what happened,” a despondent Fuller said after the game. “I take responsibility.”

Virginia Tech (3-2) will now re-enter ACC play next week at North Carolina with two nonconference losses for the second time in three years.

Tech suffered from poor field position early on “it limited our playbook,” Logan Thomas said. Play-caller Mike O’Cain said he was more conservative and called more screens than usual because of Cincinnati’s pass rush. Whatever the case may be, wide receiver Marcus Davis (five catches, 101 yards) admitted the offense’s penchant for slow starts has become “troubling.”

The ending to this defeat was particularly painful, though, given the late resurgence by the Hokies’ offense. Virginia Tech didn’t gain a first down Saturday until 5 minutes 17 seconds remained in the second quarter, but managed to put together two fourth-quarter touchdown drives.

Thomas ended the game 17 of 30 for 242 yards, with a touchdown pass and two interceptions, but most of his damage was done in the fourth quarter when Virginia Tech gained 173 yards and the two teams combined for 31 points.

Thomas' longest completion of the day was a 56-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Corey Fuller that gave Virginia Tech a 24-20 advantage with less than two minutes left on the game clock.

But Cincinnati would soon transform an encouraging effort by the Hokies’ defense into a disappointing one. The Bearcats gained 214 yards in the fourth quarter alone and ended the game with 495 yards of offense.

“After that nice catch by Corey, we thought we had it,” said linebacker Jack Tyler, who finished with a team-high 11 tackles. “With how our defense had played all game, we thought this is our time. We’re gonna make a stop and the game will be over. We just didn’t get it done.”

It was a particularly rough day for Virginia Tech’s defensive backs. Antone Exum committed two face mask penalties and was called for pass interference twice. Michael Cole was the main culprit on Abernathy’s long touchdown catch. And freshman Donaldven Manning got beat by Cincinnati wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins (seven catches, 134 yards) on a 29-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter when Fuller left the game momentarily with cramps.

Cincinnati quarterback Munchie Legaux completed just 19 of his 42 pass attempts, but finished with a career-high 376 yards passing and three touchdowns.

When the afternoon started, though, it appeared Virginia Tech’s offense would be the goat. The Hokies mustered just 72 yards in the first half, often looking out of sync, unimaginative and incapable of producing anything but a three-and-out on their first six drives.

“I thought we had it a couple times,” Coach Frank Beamer said. “There are some positive things out of this, but this is just a tough way to lose.”

At 3-2, the Hokies have fallen from the Top 25 and face a remaining conference schedule that includes both Clemson and Florida State. Virginia Tech has won six of the eight Coastal Division titles since the creation of the ACC's divisions in 2005. But that dominance, which includes a running streak since 2009, could be on the line if both sides of the ball don't improve.

More information:
» VIDEO: Cincinnati's Game-Winning TD
» Hampton Roads: Containing Cincinnati's Spread

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Aloe Blacc - "I Need A Dollar" (2010)

Aloe Blacc (born January 7, 1979) is an American soul singer, rapper and musician. He is married to Australian rapper Maya Jupiter. Blacc was born in Orange County, California to Panamanian parents.

He began his music career in 1995 as a rapper in the hip-hop duo Emanon with producer Exile. In 2010, Blacc released his second album, Good Things, on Stones Throw records. The album was produced by Jeff Dynamite and Leon Michels for Truth & Soul Productions. In 2012, he appeared at the renowned North Sea Jazz festival in Rotterdam, Lollapalooza in Chicago, and Osheaga in Montreal.

"I Need a Dollar" topped the UK R&B chart and has been certified platinum in Australia and Switzerland. Blacc co-wrote the song with Leon Michels, Nick Movshon and Jeff Dynamite. It was the opening title track on the HBO series, How to Make It in America.

"Green Lights" peaked at #130 on the UK Singles Chart.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

(W) Virginia Tech vs. Bowling Green

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Virginia Tech put last week's struggles behind in a resounding 37-0 victory over Bowling Green on Saturday at Lane Stadium.

Junior quarterback Logan Thomas went only 11-26 for 144 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, but added 65 yards and a touchdown on the ground.  

The running game, unproductive for three straight games, got in gear, cranking out 246 yards and three scores and gaining 5.7 yards per attempt. Junior tailback Tony Gregory supplanted redshirt freshman Michael Holmes as the featured back and rushed for 68 yards on 11 carries. Holmes had 51 yards and a touchdown on four attempts, and freshman J.C. Coleman had 45 yards on four rushes to go with a 10-yard touchdown reception.

Virginia Tech (3-1) bounced back from a 35-17 defeat at Pittsburgh last week. The Hokies' defense also had a bounce-back game. It held the Falcons to 266 yards and recorded its first shutout of the season.

Bowling Green lost its second consecutive game and hasn't beaten a major conference opponent since toppling Pittsburgh in 2008.

As was the case in the first three games, Virginia Tech's offense got off to a slow start, but it got things going in the second quarter and went into the locker room with a 21-0 halftime lead.

Thomas completed only two of his first seven passes, but he found his groove in the second quarter. Thomas accounted for all three of the Hokies' second quarter touchdowns. He completed a 10-yard touchdown pass to freshman tailback J.C. Coleman and a 42-yard scoring strike to senior wide receiver Dyrell Roberts, before scoring on a one-yard run with 1:10 left in the half.

NOTES: Virginia Tech linebacker Tariq Edwards made his season debut in the fourth quarter. He missed the first three games because of a knee injury. ... J.C. Coleman's touchdown was the first of his career. ... Hokies' sophomore Matt Arkema made his first career start at left guard in place of injured David Wang (sprained ankle). ... Kickoff specialist Brooks Abbott became the eighth true freshman to play for the Hokies this season. 

More information:
» Hokies in the NFL: Week 3

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Vince Young Is Broke!

Washington Post:
Former NFL quarterback Vince Young is downplaying what he calls “unfortunate” financial problems caused by the “betrayal” of trusted advisers.

“Yes, I need a job, who doesn’t. Yes, I want to be out there playing the game I love and earning a paycheck, who wouldn’t?” Young wrote on his Twitter account Wednesday.

Young has been out of a job since he was cut by the Buffalo Bills in August. The tweet came after an Associated Press story detailed a series of legal entanglements over his finances and quoted his attorney as saying of the former Texas star’s financial status: “I would just say that Vince needs a job.”

Young, who received a contract that guaranteed him $26 million when the Tennessee Titans made him the third player taken in the 2006 draft, also wrote that he is working to rectify financial losses “which stemmed from betrayal by those I trusted most.”

Young is suing his former agent, Major Adams, and a North Carolina financial planner, Ronnie Peoples, claiming they misappropriated at least $5.5 million of his money.

Young also alleges that the pair took out a loan for nearly $1.9 million in his name without his knowledge during the NFL lockout in 2011 and kept the proceeds for themselves.

The lender, Pro Player Funding LLC, has obtained a judgment against Young for the balance of the high-interest note, a sum of nearly $1.7 million.

Young was the first client of a company formed by Adams, a Houston criminal defense attorney, and the quarterback’s uncle, Keith Young, a former middle school teacher. Attorneys for Adams and Peoples claim their clients have done nothing wrong and that Young’s spending habits have put him deeply in debt.

The Twitter message is the first public comment on the matter from Young, who has declined interview requests.

Out Kick:
1. Vince Young's favorite restaurant to hang out in? T.G.I. Friday's on Nashville's West End Avenue. It was here he once dropped $6k on a meal for he and other players. Yes, $6k. At a T.G.I.Friday's.

2. The bartenders, who got to know Vince thanks to his frequent visits at T.G.I. Friday's, told Vince they'd make him a "special" drink. It was a melon drop. Which VY had everytime he came to the restaurant.

3. During his rookie season VY spent $5k a week at the Cheesecake Factory. He always picked up the tab for multiple teammates.

4. On a 2007 Southwest flight from Nashville to Houston, VY bought all of the seats except for about ten passengers who'd bought tickets before he could buy the entire plane. The plane seated 130 passengers, meaning VY purchased 120 of the seats.

5. After each home football game, VY headed for the Morton's downtown where he would sit at the bar and order $600 shots of Louis XIII. That can add up in a hurry.

6. LenDale White consumed quantities of Patron tequila that would kill a normal man. In fact, LenDale was kicked out of the T.G.I. Friday's in Cool Spring for bringing his own bottles of Patron to the restaurant's happy hour. White once ordered 75 shots of Patron at Dave and Buster's -- located next door to the Opryland Hotel in Opry Mills Mall which makes this even better -- spent thirty minutes there, and paid a $1500 tab.

More information:
» Frank Beamer Invested in Former Georgia Coach's Ponzi Scheme
» ESPN Films: Broke, 2012 Tribeca Film Festival selection
» ESPN's 30 for 30 TV Schedule

Friday, September 21, 2012

White House Beer Recipe

White House:
With public excitement about White House beer fermenting such a buzz, we decided we better hop right to it.

Inspired by home brewers from across the country, last year President Obama bought a home brewing kit for the kitchen. After the few first drafts we landed on some great recipes that came from a local brew shop. We received some tips from a couple of home brewers who work in the White House who helped us amend it and make it our own. To be honest, we were surprised that the beer turned out so well since none of us had brewed beer before.

As far as we know the White House Honey Brown Ale is the first alcohol brewed or distilled on the White House grounds. George Washington brewed beer and distilled whiskey at Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson made wine but there's no evidence that any beer has been brewed in the White House. (Although we do know there was some drinking during prohibition…)

Since our first batch of White House Honey Brown Ale we've added the Honey Porter and have gone even further to add a Honey Blonde this past summer. Like many home brewers who add secret ingredients to make their beer unique, all of our brews have honey that we tapped from the first ever bee-hive on the South Lawn. The honey gives the beer a rich aroma and a nice finish but it doesn't sweeten it.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Gary Clark Jr. - "Ain't Messin 'Round" (2012)

So how did he get here? With some hometown help. In his early teens, Clark, now 27, fell into his native Austin, Texas' blues scene by joining open jams at small clubs. There, his flourishing skills ("I would practice for hours and hours and hours — as much as I could") got him his first big break: the attention of impresario Clifford Antone, owner of the revered namesake venue and patron of the city's ascendant bluesmen. Soon, Clark was gigging with 12-bar legends like Jimmie Vaughan (Stevie Ray's older bro).

Those connections put him on the radar of the organizers of Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2010. His subsequent performance — in front of 20,000 people in Chicago's Toyota Park stadium at a concert designed to deify six-stringers — was his creation-myth moment. "It was the biggest crowd I've ever played," remembers Clark. "And I look over and Clapton's onstage [watching]. It was a surreal, inspiring, out-of-body thing. Like, yeah, I should be doing this for a living."

In the wave of attention that followed, Clark landed a record deal with Warner Bros., which released The Bright Lights EP in 2011. Over four tracks, Clark flexes impressive cross-demographic muscle, ranging from distortion-saturated stomp to delicate neo-soul. "When I was out playing [in Austin], I was really sticking to the blues standards," Clark says, explaining his particular sound. "But I'd go home and play along to Curtis Mayfield or whatever was on the radio."

Clark uses Epiphone Casino and Gibson ES335 electric guitars and Epiphone acoustic guitars.

In February 2012, Clark performed alongside blues legends at the Red, White and Blues event at the White House. The event, aired on PBS, also included B.B. King, Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck and Buddy Guy, among others. Clark played "Catfish Blues" and "In the Evening (When the Sun Goes Down)", as well as contributing to performances of "Let the Good Times Roll", "Beat Up Old Guitar", "Five Long Years" and "Sweet Home Chicago".

While playing every music festival ranging from Coachella, JazzFest, Memphis Beale St., Hangout, Sasquatch, Mountain Jam, Wakarusa, Bonnaroo, Hard Rock Calling, Newport Folk Festival, Orion Music Festival, Osheaga, Lollapalooza, and ACL Music Festival, Clark was awarded SPIN Magazine's Golden Corndog award for performing in more major North American Music Festivals in 2012 than any other musician on the planet.

More information:
» Official Site

Saturday, September 15, 2012

(L) Virginia Tech vs. Pittsburgh

"Four turnovers today for Virginia Tech. Hokies aren't known for turnover issues... Virginia Tech ranked 1st in the ACC in fewest turnovers in 2008, 2009 and 2010. They were 2nd in the ACC last season."
PITTSBURGH -- A videotaped message from ACC commissioner John Swofford offered Pitt a warm welcome to the ACC in 2013 moments before the Panthers hosted conference power Virginia Tech on Saturday.

Somehow -- after two baffling, listless losses to open the Paul Chryst era -- Pitt looks ready to make the move.

It couldn't have gotten much worse for the Panthers (1-2), who began the season getting upset at home by Youngstown State then blown out on the road at Cincinnati.

Yet Chryst, the program's third coach in as many seasons, doesn't really do panic. Even with the seemingly surging Hokies (2-1) looming, he told his players things would be fine so long as they stuck to the plan.

Pitt is jumping to the ACC next year along with Syracuse and will face the Hokies on a yearly basis as part of the league's Coastal Division, reigniting a spirited rivalry that ended in 2004 when Virginia Tech and Miami abruptly left the Big East with Boston College officially joining them a year later.

The Panthers think they've finally found a keeper in Chryst, who has given the program a sense of calm. He insisted there was no panic in his team after such a horrific start.

He was right.

Instead, it was the Hokies who looked jittery during a nightmarish first half in which the Panthers built a 21-3 advantage behind tenacious running from Graham, a pair of interceptions by safety Jason Hendricks and a fumble in Hokies territory that set up an easy Pitt score.

Ray Graham rushed for 94 yards and two scores and added an 18-yard touchdown reception as the Panthers upset the 13th-ranked Hokies in a 35-17 romp.

Tino Sunseri passed for 283 yards and three touchdowns and freshman running back Rushel Shell added 157 yards as Pitt ended the nation's longest road winning streak. The Panthers raced to a quick 21-0 lead, forced four turnovers and took advantage of uncharacteristically sloppy play by Virginia Tech.

Using Graham and Shell to chew up yardage and time, the Panthers controlled the ball for more than 38 minutes and rolled up 537 yards against one of the better defenses in the country. Not bad for a team that looked lost at times against lesser foes.

"I thought (Pitt was) hitting on all cylinders, and I thought it was their day," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "We've got to play a lot better. (But) Pitt deserves a lot of credit. They played hard, and they played well. And they got the win today."

The Hokies had won 13 straight true road games but were stunned by the Panthers in the game's first 20 minutes and never really threatened. Logan Thomas completed just 14 of 31 passes for 265 yards and one touchdown against three interceptions against a defense that managed just one sack and no turnovers through the season's first two weeks.

All that changed on a day Pitt held the Hokies to just 59 yards rushing and stopped a pair of fourth-down attempts in the second half to snuff out any hope Virginia Tech had of rallying.

"Their first two games, they just didn't play as hard as they did today," Thomas said. "They're a good defense. They're strong, and they're physical. They're fast, and they make you make mistakes. They did that today, and that's what won them the game. They played real hard."

Virginia Tech has won 211 games since Beamer took over in 1987, but none after trailing by three touchdowns.

The Hokies got within 21-10 in the third quarter following Kyshoen Jarrett's 94-yard punt return for a score, but the Panthers responded with an expert toss from Sunseri to Graham, whose surgically repaired right knee appears just fine.

Virginia Tech again responded with a big play, as Thomas hit Marcus Davis for an 85-yard catch-and-run to make it 28-17. And when the Hokies got the ball back at the Pitt 36 following a Sunseri interception early in the fourth quarter, it looked as if the Panthers were wobbling.

They weren't.

Thomas was sacked on first down and followed it up with two straight incompletions. The Hokies punted and Pitt drove 88 yards in a crunching 15-play drive to put Virginia Tech away. At one point the Hokies had appeared to hold Pitt to a field goal, but an offside penalty on the kick gave Pitt a first down at the Virginia Tech 4 and Sunseri followed with a 4-yard toss to Mike Shanahan to put the Hokies away.

More information:
» Washington Post: Preparing for "a lot of unknowns"
» Washington Post: Sophomore Safety Kyshoen Jarrett

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

RG3 is NFC Offensive Player of the Week

Anyway, the big news of the day is that Robert Griffin III has been named the NFC's Offensive Player of the Week for his spectacular debut performance in the Redskins' victory over the Saints in New Orleans on Sunday. Griffin was 19-for-26 for 320 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the game. His yardage total was the second-highest by a quarterback in his debut game in NFL history, behind only Cam Newton's 422 in 2011. He is the first Redskins player to win this award since Clinton Portis in 2008, the first Redskins rookie to win it since Rod Gardner in 2001, and according to the NFL, the first rookie quarterback to win the award on opening weekend since the award was established in 1984.

I also thought thought it was funny that Griffin was only seven years old when this week's NFC Defensive Player of the Week, Tampa Bay safety Ronde Barber, made his NFL debut in 1997. But maybe that's just me. Griffin is the first quarterback born in the 1990s to win an NFL game.

So let's see, what else do we have?

Jeff Chadiha has a Hot Read piece about Griffin and Colts rookie Andrew Luck potentially changing the quarterback position as the NFL moves into the future, by virtue of their all-around athleticism:
Still, it's hard to not think of Griffin as more freakish than Newton was upon his entry into the league last season. Griffin has run the 40-yard dash in 4.35 seconds, and his arm is both powerful and precise. As Terry Shea said, "He reminds me a lot of Matthew Stafford in that way. The ball has just as much velocity coming off his hands as it does when it hits the receiver. His arm is really live."

A combo of Newton and Stafford might just have a chance to work in this league, I would think. Griffin also makes an appearance this week on Mike Sando's MVP Watch, ranking No. 5 on the list, right in between Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. Heady company, to be sure:
Young quarterbacks with excellent mobility sometimes rely too heavily on their legs. Griffin impressed as a pocket passer in his stunning debut. He completed 17 of 21 passes for 267 yards and two TDs from inside the pocket, according to ESPN Stats & Information. His completion percentage on these throws (81.0) led the NFL, as did his NFL passer rating (150.5).

The Cowboys' Tony Romo is the only other NFC East player on Mike's list, by the way, and he's at No. 9. Which leads neatly to's Hot Button debate, in which Jean-Jacques Taylor and Calvin Watkins debate which quarterback they'd rather have for the next five years -- Romo or Griffin. Jacques takes the Romo side, choosing the proven commodity, while Calvin says RG3's potential is too great to ignore:
The future of the NFL is RG3. He's got the leadership abilities, physical makeup and is playing in a high-profile city, as well. His future is brighter than Romo's. Romo's 2007 season was his chance to reach an elite level. All he did was get ripped for going to Cabo and then was eliminated in the playoffs by Eli Manning. Manning, by the way, has won two Super Bowls and Romo is still trying to win a second playoff game.

We're not saying RG3 is better than Romo at this stage of their careers. He's not. But in the next two to three years, it appears the future is brighter for Daniel Snyder's team than Jerry Jones'.

I get the excitement. I do. But I'm someone who likes those proven commodities. It'd be hard for me to pick Griffin over Romo in this particular debate. Romo's one of the best in the league, right now. Griffin looks as though he can be, if things continue to go well for him. But off of one game, we still don't know. It says a great deal about the young man that the debate would even be close.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Andy Murray Wins First Major at U.S. Open

"'Jelly!' the Scot yelled, berating his lazy legs. A swirling wind made conditions troublesome for both players, but it was Murray who coped better in the first two sets and eventually ended Djokovic's title defense and 27-match hard-court winning run at majors."
USA Today:
NEW YORK (AP) -- If it's true, as they say, that the toughest Grand Slam title to win is your first, then Andy Murray was right to feel relief, above all, when he finally got No. 1 out of the way at the U.S. Open.

Murray took his place atop the sport Monday, outlasting defending champion Novak Djokovic to win the U.S. Open and claim his long-awaited first major, 7-6 (12-10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2. At 4 hours 54 minutes, it tied the record for the longest U.S. Open men’s final in history.

"I certainly was doubting myself a bit, and thinking about the match and how tough it was going to be, and whether I was going to be able to do it or not," Murray said Tuesday, a day after beating defending champion Djokovic over nearly five hours in the final at Flushing Meadows, "so I'm just glad that I finally managed to do it."

As he spoke those words, Murray stared at his reflection in the shiny silver trophy he so longed for and now had earned, adding: "And I hope it's not the only one."

No reason to believe it will be.

Indeed, with his defensive and returning skills, and a new willingness to be aggressive with his forehand, Murray might very well be considered the man to beat when tennis returns to the Grand Slam scene at the Australian Open in January.

For proof, Murray needs to look no further than his coach, Ivan Lendl. Murray made the breakthrough nine months after hiring the Hall of Famer as his coach. Under Lendl’s tutelage, the Scot reached his first Wimbledon final, but wept upon losing to Roger Federer. Four weeks later, Murray avenged the defeat by winning Olympic gold for Britain on the same hallowed court.

Until letting a two-set lead against Djokovic evaporate, then mustering all the gumption required to prevail in a fifth, Murray was 0-4 in Grand Slam finals. Only one other man in the Open era, which began in 1968, lost his first four major titles matches. That man is Lendl, 52, who eventually figured out how win the big one at the 1984 French Open and accumulated seven more Grand Slam trophies of his own.

Before Monday's match, Murray and Lendl chatted. Murray was anxious during his warmup in Arthur Ashe Stadium. He was anxious in the locker room.

"He just said to me, when we spoke, 'Just enjoy the match. It's what you work all your life towards, so just enjoy it,'" Murray said. "And I was like, 'Well, that's exactly the problem. I've been working 10 years for this, and it's a big moment for me, so I don't know if I'm going to enjoy it.' And then he was like, 'Oh, why not? You've got to try and enjoy it.' That was kind of how it went."

Murray had plenty of noteworthy fans in the stands Monday, including a pair of Scots who crashed his news conference after that semifinal: actor Sean Connery and Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson. The last British woman to win a Grand Slam singles title, 1977 Wimbledon champion Virginia Wade, also was present, chatting between games with actor Stanley Tucci.

He met with reporters Tuesday while sitting at a wooden dining room table in the Manhattan residence of British Consul-General Danny Lopez. A bagpiper greeted Murray's entrance, a nod to his Scottish homeland. Standing near a lithograph of Queen Elizabeth II by Andy Warhol, Lopez presented Murray with a basket of Scottish treats, including bottles of Irn-Bru, a rust-colored carbonated fruit drink.

Murray clearly recognizes -- how could he not? -- and embraces the significance of his success in Britain, which last could proudly hail a male Grand Slam tennis champion in 1936, when Fred Perry won Wimbledon and the U.S. Championships. It's been a summer of barrier-breaking by Murray, who was the first British man since Bunny Austin in 1938 to even be the runner-up at the All England Club (losing to Roger Federer), then won the singles gold medal at the London Olympics (beating Federer).

"Winning a Grand Slam's been his goal and his dream since he was a very young kid playing tennis. And he's come so close a number of times and not quite made it," said Murray's mother, Judy, who is Britain's Fed Cup captain. "I think winning the Olympic gold gave him the belief that he could do it in a major final. And to see him manage to do it yesterday, after such a tough, brutal match against a great player like Djokovic, was just fantastic. ... Hopefully, it will spur him on to more."

This has not been the easiest era to come along in men's tennis, of course. Federer owns a record 17 Grand Slam titles, Rafael Nadal owns 11, and Djokovic five. Those three guys combined to win 29 of the 30 major tournaments preceding this U.S. Open (Juan Martin del Potro's 2009 victory in New York was the lone exception).

But now here comes Murray, long considered by his peers a sure-thing, champion-to-be who just hadn't managed to figure it all out yet.

Perhaps now he has.

"Andy has been maturing very nicely as a player, as a competitor, as a person," Lendl said. "As you mature, you become more comfortable in these situations. Of course, being in more of these situations, it's very important, and the more of them you're in, the more comfortable you feel."

Lendl speaks from experience.

Murray said he won't know for sure exactly what sort of confidence boost he'll gain from these 15 days at the U.S. Open -- and one particularly engaging victory against a gritty competitor in Djokovic -- until the next time he finds himself on court with so much at stake.

He is certain, though, that he can't wait to find out.

"I want to keep improving. I want to keep trying to win. ... I know, obviously, how good it feels to win a Grand Slam and, obviously, winning the Olympics. I know how hard it was, obviously, losing a Wimbledon final," Murray said on Day 1 of life as a major champion. "You want to try to win those big matches in the big tournaments, and I'll keep working hard to try and do it again."

More information:
» BBC: Andy Murray's Road to First Grand Slam Win
» Conversations With Andy Murray: Building the Perfect Player
» ESPN: Novak Djokovic: Freak of Nurture

Monday, September 10, 2012

(W) Virginia Tech vs. Austin-Peay

Bleacher Report:
Despite a sluggish start, the No. 15 Virginia Tech Hokies defeated the Austin Peay Governors 42-7 on Saturday.

The final margin was big, but it was far closer than the last two times Austin Peay (0-2) played against BCS conference teams, when the Governors surrendered more than 70 points to Wisconsin and Cincinnati.

While the outcome of the game was never in doubt, it did provide the Hokies many areas in which to improve as they face a struggling Pittsburgh team on the road next Saturday.

The Hokies finished the game with 421 total yards of offense. Logan Thomas passed for 212 yards and two touchdowns. For the second straight game, Thomas finished with no turnovers, and senior receiver Corey Fuller showed up big for the Hokies. While he only finished with two catches for 44 yards, he caught his first career touchdown.

One encouraging sign for the Hokies was the 189 rushing yards and 4.9 yards per carry. This game was intended for the Hokies to gain some cohesion and find the right mix along the offensive line. Although the leading rusher was wide receiver Marcus Davis, who finished 48 yards on two carries, seven different Hokies had at least two rushing attempts.

The Hokies blocked a punt and had one long punt return to set up a short field in the first half. The blocked punt is especially encouraging for Beamer. In recent years, other teams have blocked more against the Hokies than they actually have.

The Hokies held the Governors to 221 total yards, many of which came once the outcome was already determined. Austin Peay completed only eight passes for 62 yards averaging a paltry three yards per attempt.

Virginia Tech also finished with two interceptions including one by Kyle Fuller, which was his second in as many games.

Several younger players, such as freshman cornerback Donaldven Manning, saw extensive playing time. Manning recorded his first career interception.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Voyager 1 is 35-Years-Old

Washington Post:
Voyager 1, which has traveled the farthest from Earth of any man-made object, is approaching the edge of the heliopause, the boundary between the sun’s solar winds and the interstellar medium. It is impossible to know when, exactly, the craft will reach interstellar space, since it will be the first man-made object ever to travel that far from Earth. It is anticipated, however, that the craft will cross the boundary within the next few months or years, reaching the heliopause roughly 10 years after crossing the Termination Shock, which it did in 2004. Voyager 2 crossed the termination shock in 2007.

The Voyager mission, which began in the fall of 1977, became the Voyager Interstellar Mission in 1990, when both Voyager 1 and 2 exited the solar system. On board Voyager 1, which turns 35 Wednesday (Voyager 2 celebrated its 35th anniversary on Aug. 20), are cameras, which have long since been turned off, and infrared, ultraviolet, plasma, cosmic ray and charged-partical sensors. Both craft also have magnetometers.

Electrical power aboard Voyager is supplied by three Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs). The fuel for the RTGs is plutonium-238 oxide. As the isotopic decay continues to give off less heat, systems aboard each craft have been powered down.

The thrusters, meanwhile, are fueled by hydrazine — a combination of nitrogen and hydrogen. Since there is no gravity in space, the thrusters do not need to run continually, meaning each craft is traveling roughly 30,000 miles per gallon of hydrazine. Both craft are expected to have enough power to operate until 2020, with Voyager 1 having enough hydrazine to power it through 2040, and Voyager 2 through 2034, Slate’s Brendan Koerner reports. The discrepancy is due to Voyager 2’s swing past Uranus and Neptune, which required it to burn more fuel. According to NASA, communication with Voyager could continue for another century — or even two — if it weren’t for the diminishing resources aboard the craft.

And then there is the Golden Record.

Both craft — each roughly the size of a compact vehicle — are equipped with a 12-inch, gold-plated copper phonograph record. The disc, compiled by a committee chaired by Cornell University professor and famed science popularizer Carl Sagan, contains 115 images and sounds from Earth, ranging from a tractor and a chimpanzee to crickets, frogs and even a kiss. There are greetings in 55 languages and a playlist of 27 songs.

The playlist, which you can listen to on, is a collection of music from all over the world, from Beethoven and Mozart to Solomon Island panpipes and Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.” In a February 2010 report, the public radio program RadioLab interviewed the project’s creative director, Ann Druyan, who, over the course of the project, fell in love with Sagan. They were married in 1981.

Sagan died in 1996 at age 62.

"Whenever I'm down, " says Druyan, "I'm thinking: And still they move, 35,000 miles an hour, leaving our solar system for the great open sea of interstellar space."

Druyan and Sagan’s union is far from the only element of romance when it comes to Voyager. Even the final images sent back from the Voyager mission were sent from Voyager 1 on Valentine’s Day 1990.

But 35 years later, as Voyager approaches the edge of the sun’s influence, it begs the question, if we had it to do all over again — if you had it to do all over again — what would you put on the Golden Record? Would it even be a record? How would you equip Voyager?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Spotlight: Andy Roddick

"I just feel like it's time. I don't know that I'm healthy enough or committed enough to go another year," he said. "I've always wanted to, in a perfect world, finish at this event."
In a relatively surprising move, Andy Roddick announced on his 30th birthday the U.S. Open would be his final tournament. The 2003 Open champion went on to win two more matches over Bernard Tomic and Fabio Fognini, but ran into big-hitting Argentine Juan Martin del Potro in the fourth round. After carrying U.S. men's tennis as a regular in the top 10 for more than a decade, Roddick ends his career as a former No. 1 with a match record of 612-213 and 32 singles titles, including two this year at Atlanta and Eastbourne, England.

In addition to winning his U.S. Open trophy, Roddick also played in four other Grand Slam finals -- three at Wimbledon and one at the U.S. Open, losing to 17-time major champion Roger Federer each time. That included a 16-14 defeat in the fifth set at the All England Club in 2009, when Roddick was saluted by spectators who chanted his name at the end of the match.

Buoyed by a booming serve -- he used to hold the record of 155 mph -- and big forehand, Roddick also helped the United States end a 12-year Davis Cup drought by winning the 2007 title.

Roddick's announcement came one day after four-time major champion Kim Clijsters played the last singles match of her career, a second-round loss to Laura Robson at Flushing Meadows.

He's been dealing with a series of injuries over the past few seasons, and in February dropped out of the top 20, then slid to No. 34 in March, his lowest ranking since 2001.

A hurt right hamstring forced Roddick to retire during his second-round match at the Australian Open in January, and he lost in the first round at the French Open and third round at Wimbledon.

"With the way my body feels, with the way that I'm able to feel like I'm able to compete now, I don't know that it's good enough," Roddick explained. "I don't know that I've ever been someone who's interested in 'existing' on tour. I have a lot of interests and a lot of other things that excite me. I'm looking forward to those."

He mentioned the youth tennis and learning center that his foundation is building in his hometown of Austin, Texas, and a radio show he appears on.

Constantly confronted with questions about why his generation wasn't as successful as previous groups of American men -- such as Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi in the 1990s, or John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors before that -- Roddick did his best to keep adapting his game to try to keep up with Federer, in particular, as well as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

It is a familiar role for Roddick, the only American man of his generation to have won a Grand Slam or even reached a final. His primary peers — Mardy Fish, James Blake, and John Isner — have never reached as much as a Grand Slam semifinal.

He improved his fitness. He added a better backhand. He worked on his volleys.

Eventually, though, he found it too hard to stay at the level he once reached.

"I don't know that I want to disrespect the game by coasting home," Roddick said. "I had plans to play a smaller schedule next year. But the more I thought about it, I think you've either got to be all in or not. That's more kind of the way I've chosen to do things."

More information:
» Roddick Eliminated by Del Potro in the Round of 16
» Roddick’s Legacy: Work Ethic and Willpower

Thursday, September 6, 2012

(W) Virginia Tech vs. Georgia Tech

"Corey Fuller's family is Virginia Tech football royalty. Older brother Vincent went to the NFL after starring for the Hokies. Younger brother Kyle, who was on the cover of the game-day program with fellow cornerback Antone Exum, is a preseason all-conference selection. And an even younger brother, Kendall, is a five-star prospect who committed to Virginia Tech this offseason after a heated recruiting fight between the Hokies and Clemson."
Washington Post:
The story of redemption that took center stage in Virginia Tech’s thrilling 20-17 overtime victory against Georgia Tech Monday night revolved around place kicker Cody Journell and his game-winning field goal following an offseason marred by off-the-field troubles. But without the exploits of seldom-used wide receivers Corey Fuller and Demetri Knowles, the Hokies could be staring at an 0-1 record right now.

Many would consider Fuller the fourth-best football player in his family behind brothers Vincent (seven-year NFL veteran), Kyle (second-team all-ACC cornerback) and Kendall (a Hokies recruit from Good Counsel considered to be the best cornerback in the country, according to Rivals). A track and field athlete at Kansas before transferring to Virginia Tech before the 2010 season, Corey Fuller was summoned into spur-of-the-moment duty against Clemson last October and looked overwhelmed by the situation in a 20-3 loss.

But when the Hokies saw wide receivers D.J. Coles and Marcus Davis both hobbled by injuries late in the fourth quarter Monday, Fuller got another chance. This time the redshirt senior delivered.

Fuller finished with a career-high five catches for 82 catches, including two receptions on Virginia Tech’s last-ditch drive of regulation. His final catch of the night, on fourth and four, set the stage for Journell’s score-tying 41-yard field goal.

Fuller also had a timely fumble recovery after Davis lost the ball at the end of a 35-yard reception just before Knowles’s touchdown grab in fourth quarter.

“It meant a lot. Honestly, I knew I had it in me. I just had to step up,” Corey Fuller said afterward, as Kyle nodded his head in agreement, a proud grin on his face during Virginia Tech’s postgame news conference. “I knew I could make those big plays. I just . . . let loose.”

Coach Frank Beamer added that Corey Fuller may not be playing second fiddle to his brothers much longer. At a recent practice, an NFL scout approached Beamer asking about Fuller. It just underscores the progress he has made in the past year.

“Corey was fast, but football-wise he wasn’t quite the receiver you think he has become,” Beamer said. “He’s developed into a . . . threat.”

He wasn’t the only unsung offensive hero on a night when quarterback Logan Thomas admitted he “played like garbage.” Though Beamer praised his signal caller because “when Logan needed to be on target, he was on target,” Knowles’s first career catch opened the door for Thomas’s end-of-regulation heroics.

Beamer and the Hokies’ offensive coaches have raved about Knowles’s speed since he arrived on campus last year, and the Bahamas native showed it off when he streaked past Georgia Tech cornerback Rod Sweeting for a 42-yard touchdown pass that gave the Hokies a 14-10 lead midway through the fourth quarter. Sweeting was called for pass interference on the play.

Knowles, who played high school football in Lynchburg, was only in the game because of an injury to Davis (six catches for 82 yards). Thomas knew where he wanted to go with the ball based on his pre-snap read, and when he saw a player who “can run by pretty much anybody on the East Coast, in America really. I just put it out there.”

Knowles said he had a Bible verse and the pregame words of his father running through his head before the play: “Whenever you get in, you make the most of it.”

“I think that’s what I did. He should be proud of me, I guess,” Knowles said with a sheepish smile. “Hopefully I made people in Lynchburg proud, people in the Bahamas proud. And I can tell you one thing: Hokie nation has a whole island cheering for us now.”

***With the offense struggling much of the night, Virginia Tech’s defense answered the bell time and again. The Hokies were particularly stout up the middle stopping Georgia Tech’s power running game. Middle linebacker Jack Tyler finished with a career-high 17 tackles, and whip linebacker Jeron Gouveia-Winslow and defensive tackle Derrick Hopkins added a career-high 11 tackles apiece. 

***The Hokies played the same five offensive linemen all game. Redshirt senior Michael Via received all the snaps at right guard over redshirt sophomore Brent Benedict. Virginia Tech struggled to run the ball at times. It was the first time since beating Nebraska in 2009 that the Hokies gained fewer than 100 rushing yards and still won. In his first collegiate appearance, redshirt freshman Michael Holmes gained 54 yards on 13 carries. Thomas added 40 yards on the ground.

***Monday was the fifth overtime game in Virginia Tech history, and the second in a row following last year’s loss to Michigan in the Sugar Bowl. It was the first-ever overtime game played at Lane Stadium, and the first time the Hokies have emerged with a win since 2003.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Spotlight: Joey Chestnut

September 2:
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Organizers of the National Buffalo Wing Festival say competitive eater Joey Chestnut has devoured a record 191 chicken wings in 12 minutes.

Chestnut set the record Sunday during a wing-eating contest at the annual festival in Buffalo. He beat the old record of 183 wings, set last year by Sonya Thomas, the Black Widow. The five-time winner of the contest was second with 170 wings.

August 19:
LOS ANGELES -- Competitive-eating champion Joey Chestnut reclaimed the mantle of fastest gyoza eater Saturday, setting a new record when he wolfed down 266 pan-fried, chicken-and-vegetable potstickers in 10 minutes in Little Tokyo.

The San Jose resident dethroned last year's champion, Patrick "Deep Dish" Bertoletti, 26, of Chicago, who had set the previous gyoza-eating record in 2011 when he consumed 264, beating Chestnut's former record of 231. Chestnut is best known for being the six-time and reigning champion of the competitive hot dog eating contest held every Fourth of July on Coney Island, N.Y.

Saturday's event was seen as a contest between the two giants of the dumpling-eating competiton –- the first in which two past champions battled it out. Chestnut, 28, had won the first three contests, in 2006, 2008, and 2009, but had not attended since then. (The contest was canceled in 2007 for a lack of a sponsor.)

July 4:
NEW YORK -- Joey Chestnut did it again.

Chestnut tied his own world record, devouring 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes to capture his sixth consecutive Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on Wednesday afternoon on Brooklyn's Coney Island.

Chestnut, a 28-year-old from San Jose, Calif., who is better known as "Jaws," also ate 68 hot dogs in 2009. He has won every Mustard Belt since 2007, and took home $10,000 for his efforts Wednesday.

"It feels great that I was able to tie the world record without anybody really pushing me," Chestnut said.

Chestnut and former rival, Takeru Kobayashi, are tied with six wins each at the event. Kobayashi, who was banned from the competition two years ago after refusing to sign an exclusive contract with Major League Eating, competed in a different eating contest on Wednesday.

Sonya "Black Widow" Thomas broke her own women's world record, devouring 45 hot dogs.

The Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest has been a city tradition for 97 years. Tens of thousands of spectators gather to gawk as contestants shimmy, slither and bounce as they dip hot dogs in water and cram them down their throats.

Hot dogs, though, aren't the healthiest of choices. In addition to beef, they include salt and various food additives. Chestnut's total dog count was equal to more than 20,000 calories. This year, the animal rights group Mercy For Animals staged a protest against eating meat, with signs that read "Choose Vegetarian."

More information:
» Major League Eating Profile: Joey Chestnut
» 2006: "He may become the greatest eater in America, if not the world"
» World Record 2,014-pound, 10-foot-diameter Bacon Cheeseburger
» World Record 301.5-pound Jumbo Crab Cake

Sunday, September 2, 2012

No Doubt - "Settle Down" (2012)

"Settle Down" is a song by American rock band No Doubt. It is the first single from their upcoming sixth studio album Push and Shove. Written by Gwen Stefani, Tony Kanal, Tom Dumont, and produced by Spike Stent, it was released on July 16, 2012 by Interscope Records.

The music video for "Settle Down" was directed by Sophie Muller (who previously has done numerous music videos for No Doubt). So far "Settle Down" has made very good radio success, considering that it's already peaked at #34 on the Billboard Hot 100 so far. It has reached the top 40 in multiple countries.

Dekotora, a Japanese trucker subculture that painstakingly converts big rigs into art via a lights, murals, and insanely elaborate interiors, is a welcome jumping-off point for No Doubt's reunion video. First documented in the '70s movies Truck Guys, these drivers take something inherently commercial and spend years (and fortunes) to make it both wildly entertaining and aesthetically rich. That's what No Doubt and Gwen Stefani, at their best, have done since breaking out with 1995's Tragic Kingdom, coloring their Blondie-platinum pop-rock with shades of ska, reggae, synth-pop, hip-hop, and, yes, Japanese subcultures, specifically the fashions of Harajuku.

"Settle Down," the dancehall-inflected six-minute advance single from No Doubt's first album in 11 years, strikes a natural-sounding and effective balance between picking up where the Southern California group left off — back when Napster had just merged with Rhapsody! — and competing in the current media moment's relative Wild West, where Santigold, M.I.A., and Rihanna can all thrive in their own ways. The video, which premiered last night, extends this precise equipoise, as the various No Doubt members each drive their own Dekotora-decked-out trucks (the lyric "Do you copy?" makes more sense when pronounced into a CB radio) to what turns out to be a fantastic outdoor dance party. Stefani shows her Harajuku obsession isn't her only similarity to clear spiritual heir Nicki Minaj, putting on lipgloss and popping some crazy eyes at the camera that could start an epic staring contest with a certain Roman Zolanski.

Westside Connection - "Gangsta Nation" (2003)

Westside Connection was an American gangsta rap supergroup formed by Ice Cube, WC and Mack 10.

Westside Connection began performing together in 1994, appearing on Mack 10's self-titled debut album, Mack 10, on the song "Westside Slaughterhouse". A few months later, the group again joined forces, this time appearing on WC's album, Curb Servin', on the song "West Up!". Around this time the group began working on their debut album, Bow Down, which was released October 22, 1996 and went platinum that year.

Individually, Ice Cube, WC and Mack 10 continued working on solo projects in between group albums. Together, as Westside Connection, they produced several songs released on film soundtracks and compilations including "Bangin'" (from West Coast Bad Boyz II), "Let It Reign" (from Thicker than Water) and "It's the Holidaze" (from Friday After Next).

On December 9, 2003 the group released their second album Terrorist Threats, hallmarked by the lead single "Gangsta Nation" produced by Fredwreck and featuring Nate Dogg.

In 2005, Mack 10 left the group due to a conflict between him and Ice Cube and the group disbanded.