Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Monday, July 29, 2013

U.S. Wins 2013 Gold Cup and Has 11-Game Win Streak

FOX Sports:
The United States men's national team collected their fifth CONCACAF Gold Cup title at Soldier Field on Sunday, downing Panama 1-0 thanks to a goal from substitute Brek Shea, scored just seconds after he entered the game.

Shea’s goal in the 69th minute finally broke open what had been an interminable match. Coming off a cross from the far right flank from Alejandro Bedoya, Landon Donovan attempted to slip the ball to the far post of Jaime Penedo’s net, but missed. Bedoya’s ball kept on running and would have ended up in the net had Shea not even put a boot on it.

The Americans were often the best team in this Gold Cup, and Donovan has been the player of the tournament. But there had been some concern coming into this match because of the state of USA’s manager: Jurgen Klinsmann was confined to a skybox after CONCACAF slapped a single-game suspension on him following his sending-off against Honduras in the final. In his stead, Andreas Herzog was the American manager of record, and will take official credit for throwing Shea in at the right time.

Next up for the Americans is a tougher, truer test: they face Costa Rica and Mexico in back-to-back 2014 World Cup qualifiers, and can seal their berth for the 2014 World Cup early should results break their way. While the Yanks will be happy to collect this trophy, the truth is that the real games are yet to come.

More information:
» Bleacher Report: What We Learned About the USMNT
» Goal: Donovan Determined to Prove Himself

Friday, July 19, 2013

Rihanna - "Where Have You Been" (2011)

"Where Have You Been" is a song by Barbadian recording artist Rihanna, from her sixth studio album Talk That Talk (2011) serving as the fifth single. The song was written by Ester Dean, Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald, Henry "Cirkut" Walter, Geoff Mack, and Calvin Harris. Harris also produced the track alongside Dr. Luke and Cirkut. "Where Have You Been" was released as the third international single from the album on May 21, 2012.

In the United States, "Where Have You Been" reached number five on the Billboard Hot 100, marking Rihanna's twenty-second top ten single on the chart. It also peaked at number one on both the US Hot Dance Club Songs and UK Dance Chart, and at number three on the US Pop Songs chart. In addition, it attained top five positions in the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Israel, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, while peaking in the top ten of charts in twenty countries worldwide including Australia, Belgium and Norway. Worldwide the single has sold over 2.5 million copies.

The song's accompanying music video, directed by Dave Meyers, depicts the singer in an assortment of costumes and locations, referencing the song's lyrics. Rihanna is seen as a semi-naked water reptilian, in an Egyptian desert, an African themed hut, and channeling Hindu god Shiva with multiple limbs. The video received a positive response from critics, who praised Rihanna's new approach to deeper choreography. Rihanna has performed the song on both Saturday Night Live and the finale of the eleventh season of American Idol. It received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Solo Performance.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pacific Rim: "Expect robot porn"

"The largest chunk of the box office take came from China, where the current gross is nearly $112 million, but that’s followed closely by its domestic gross of over $101 million. The total take is over $407 million worldwide, a respectable profit considering Pacific Rim‘s $190 million budget and certainly enough to justify a sequel if Legendary Pictures and Del Toro decide to go ahead with one."

It’s also a total surprise. Not because no one saw it coming, but because it’s all coming from the minds of writer Travis Beacham and Guillermo del Toro, the only two guys as nerdy about big fun action movies as the fans who will be lining up to pay 15 bucks for Pacific Rim at the box office.

“When I was a kid – I grew up in the 80s – and we were seeing this sort of thing all the time,” Beacham told Wired in a recent interview. “We had Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, Gremlins, Star Wars — there was a constant stream of invention coming out of Hollywood. As much as I’m going to be in line for the next Star Wars, I think in addition to those sorts of things what I would love to see in Hollywood is a new spirit of invention in which we originate as much of our own material as we can.”

But really, Pacific Rim is about battles. And from the moment Raleigh is brought to Hong Kong — where Stacker is staging the final Jaeger defense against the kaiju onslaught — the film is an almost never-ending series of face-offs. And, oh, what glorious face-offs they are. ILM’s chief creative officer John Knoll, a Toho monster movie fan as a kid, told Wired recently that the marrying of kaiju and robots in the same film was something new for the VFX house and “that was actually a big part of the appeal of this was that this was original material, this wasn’t a sequel or an adaptation — I love working on original things where there is no stylebook established that we have to be faithful to and we can try new things.”

There’s a pretty smart wink to the kaiju flick The War of the Gargantuas in the first third of the film. Legendary Pictures head Thomas Tull gets in a cameo — in name at least (are these requisite now?). The aforementioned soundtrack comes courtesy of Ramin Djawadi, who also does the music on Game of Thrones, and the film’s theme has licks from Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello. The mechs themselves evoke the Japanese anime Neon Genesis Evangelion. GLaDOS herself, Ellen McLain, is the frigging voice of Gipsy Danger. And, as del Toro might say, that’s just the tip.

More information:
» CNET: "Pacific Rim is derivative of many Japanese franchises"
» Rotten Tomatoes: Pacific Rim (2013)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Phish at Merriweather Post Pavilion 7/13/13
The band and everyone in attendance at last night’s show in Columbia, MD were right where they were supposed to be. This band was never supposed to stay on hiatus after 2000. They were never meant to stay retired after 2004. There was simply too much left to be said. Thank God they came back to let us hear it.

Everything simply feels right these days with this band who have been blowing our minds now for three decades. Some shows in the current state of Phish feature multiple extended jams. Others, like the previous night’s show at Jones Beach, feature one “you have to hear this to believe it” segue after another. Still other nights, like last night, are far less exploratory and still have the ability to take the audience on a stunning musical journey. You never know what you are going to get in 2013 and that is an exciting place to find yourself as an audience member.

Set I: Kill Devil Falls, Destiny Unbound, Taste, Halfway To The Moon, Twenty Years Later, Maze, Yarmouth Road, Split Open And Melt

Set II: Down With Disease > Free, Bouncing Around The Room, Birds Of A Feather, Harry Hood, Architect, Mike's Song > Simple > Weekapaug Groove

Encore: Waste > Good Times Bad Times (Led Zeppelin cover)

Notes: Hood featured Birds Of A Feather and Divided Sky teases by Trey and a Dog Log tease by Mike. Mike's Song also contained a Birds Of A Feather tease.

Performers: Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, Jon Fishman, Mike Gordon

More information:
» "Scent of a Mule" Official Video from Sunday
» July 13, 2013
» July 14, 2013
» Live Music Blog: 15 Must-Hear Phish Shows

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Andy Murray Wins His First Wimbledon Title

"Born a week apart in May 1987, Murray and Djokovic have known each other since they were 11, and they grasp the ins and outs of each other's games so well. And they have upped the physical stakes with Rafael Nadal and are threatening to separate themselves from Roger Federer, who turns 32 in August and has dropped to No. 5, his lowest ranking in a decade."
Andy Murray won his first Wimbledon title and ended Britain's 77-year wait for a men's champion with a hard-fought victory over world number one Novak Djokovic.

The Scot, 26, converted his fourth championship point in a dramatic final game to win 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 and claim his second major title. After a grueling three hours and nine minutes, Murray had finally followed in the footsteps of Fred Perry's 1936 win at the All England Club.

In an atmosphere reminiscent of his Olympic final win last summer, Murray was willed on by the majority of the 15,000 spectators on Centre Court, thousands watching on the nearby big screen and millions more around the country.

The final game was a battle in itself, with Murray seeing three match points slip by from 40-0 and fending off three Djokovic break points with some fearless hitting, before the Serb netted a backhand to end the contest.

Murray, who collected a first prize of £1.6m, then headed into the stands to celebrate with his family and support team, moments later parading the trophy around Centre Court.

"That last game will be the toughest game I'll play in my career. Ever," said Murray. "Winning Wimbledon -- I still can't believe it. Can't get my head around that. I can't believe it."

The Dunblane native, who becomes Scotland's first Wimbledon singles champion since Harold Mahony in 1896, thanked his coach Ivan Lendl for believing in him.

Lendl, an eight-time major winner but never a Wimbledon champion despite reaching two finals, started coaching the Scot at the end of 2011.

"He's always been very honest with me and told me exactly what he thought and in tennis that's not easy to do in a player/coach relationship," said the world number two. "He's got my mentality slightly different going into matches."

In a five-year period from 1985 to 1990, Lendl won the US Open three times and the Australian Open and French Open twice each. He was world number one for an unbroken three-year stretch and a finalist eight years running at the American major.

While the Scot has competed in an era where Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic won 29 of 30 successive major titles, Lendl was part of a late 1980s 'fab four' that also featured the sumptuous skills of Boris Becker, Pat Cash and Stefan Edberg.

When defeat by Federer at Wimbledon last year meant Murray matched Lendl's losing 0-4 record in Grand Slam finals, his voice cracked and tears rolled as he told the crowd: "I'm getting closer."

Murray said perseverance has been the story of his career. He also admitted that being the standard-bearer for the sport in Britain was "really hard".

"For the last four or five years it's been very tough, very stressful, a lot of pressure," he said.

USA Today:
For several seasons, Murray was the outsider looking in, while Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic collected 29 out of 30 Grand Slam titles. But now Murray has clearly and completely turned the Big 3 into a Big 4, having reached the finals at the last four major tournaments he entered (he withdrew from the French Open in May because of a bad back). And he's now a two-time Slam champion, having defeated Djokovic in five sets at the U.S. Open in September.

Murray, who also won the 2012 Olympic gold medal at Wimbledon, ran his unbeaten string on grass to 18-0 since.

Meeting in their third major final in less than a year, the world's top two players and defensive standouts exchanged many grueling groundstroke rallies. A few went 30 shots or more.

"The bottom line is that he was a better player in decisive moments," said Djokovic, the 2011 Wimbledon winner. "He was all over the court. Even though when I was putting my first serves in he was always getting them back in the court and making me play an extra shot," Djokovic said. "That's why he won this tournament."

Admittedly feeling the effects of his five-setter Friday against Juan Martin del Potro -- at 4 hours, 43 minutes, it's the longest semifinal in Wimbledon history -- Djokovic was far more erratic than Murray, with particular problems on the backhand side. Djokovic wound up with 40 unforced errors, nearly double Murray's 21.

More information:
» David Cameron: "Murray Deserves Knighthood"

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Miley Cyrus Covers "Lilac Wine" (2012)

About The Track
'Lilac Wine' was written in 1950 by the prolific James Shelton and, largely due to its ultra melancholic tones, the song was adopted by a succession of female artists. The very first being Eartha Kitt and then the great Nina Simone, whose haunting vocal rendition was cited by Jeff Buckley as reference to his cover. In the 1970s, 'Lilac Wine' came into the possession of more mainstream vocalists like Elkie Brooks.

In 1994, Buckley catapulted 'Lilac Wine' into the alternative psyche of the modern era. Featuring on his first and only studio album, the flawed masterpiece Grace, 'Lilac Wine' experienced resurgence and even went on to influence some of today’s music. Radiohead’s 'Fake Plastic Trees' was one such song and the band’s frontman Thom Yorke, famously delivered the vocal take for the track after returning home from a Jeff Buckley concert.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Wale w/ Sam Dew - "LoveHate Thing" (2013)

"LoveHate Thing" is a song by D.C. hip-hop recording artist Wale, released as the second single from his third studio album The Gifted. The song features Sam Dew, and is produced by Tone P, Stokley Williams and Sam Dew.

In June 2013, during an interview with The Washington Post he explained the inspiration behind the album, saying "This album kind of wrote itself, in a way. I just used my inspiration. I would use Marvin Gaye's music to inspire "LoveHate Thing". I would use Michael Jackson to inspire "Tired of Dreaming." I would use Michael Jordan's career to inspire "88".

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wimbledon Quarterfinals

New York Times:
Andy Murray did not want to hear it. He did not want to hear about how his draw got so much easier when Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga were eliminated. He did not want to hear about how he was never going to have a better chance to win Wimbledon. And he certainly did not want to hear about how lucky he was to have unseeded Fernando Verdasco as his quarterfinal opponent.

"I came through an incredibly tough match," No. 2 Murray told BBC as he left the court following his 4-6, 3-6, 6-1 6-4, 7-5 Centre Court win against No. 54 Verdasco. "It could have gone either way."

Verdasco was ranked as high as seventh in 2009. But now, at 29, he is 54th, the ninth ranked player in Spain. He had never advanced past the fourth round at Wimbledon.

He will next play the No. 24 seed, Jerzy Janowicz, who is having his breakthrough moment at this tournament. A 22-year-old from Poland, Janowicz advanced to his first Grand Slam semifinal by defeating his countryman Lukasz Kubot, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4.

The last time Janowicz and Murray played, in the fourth round of the Paris Masters, Janowicz won.

Like Murray, Juan Martín del Potro and Novak Djokovic had not lost a set in the tournament going into their quarterfinal matches.

Del Potro and Djokovic will meet in the semifinals Friday, but their experiences getting there could hardly have been more different.

After defeating the No. 7 seed Tomas Berdych, 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-3, the top-ranked Djokovic is in his 13th consecutive Grand Slam semifinal, and is in the Wimbledon semifinals for the fourth straight year.

After beating No. 4 seed David Ferrer, 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (5), the No. 8 del Potro is in the Wimbledon semifinals for the first time, advancing with a heavily taped knee after slipping and hyperextending it in his third-round match Saturday.

Djokovic will certainly pose a formidable challenge in the semifinals for a player who might not be totally healthy. (“I will need to be 100 percent or 110 percent against him,” del Potro said.)

The last time Djokovic and del Potro played here, the bronze medal match of the London Olympics, del Potro won, 7-5, 6-4.

More information:
» Federer's Shoes Got Banned

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Servant - "How To Destroy A Relationship" (2006)

How to Destroy a Relationship is the fourth album released by London rock group The Servant, formed in London in 1998. It was released in Italy, France, and Switzerland on October 2, 2006. On November 26, 2007, the band announced on their blog at MySpace that they were splitting up "to move on to pastures new".

Dan Black was the lead singer for the band; he also played rhythm guitar and wrote many of the band's songs. He is also known as a guest vocalist for the Italian group Planet Funk. Black has since begun a solo career releasing Billboard single "Symphonies" and touring across the United States.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Caps Get Swedish Forward André Burakovsky 23rd Overall

Russian Machine Never Breaks:
“Since I was little kid I always watch Capitals play,” André Burakovsky said when asked about his new team, minutes after Washington selected him 23rd overall in the 2013 NHL Draft.

Another year, another European. For the seventh time since 2002, Washington Capitals selected either Swede or Russian with their first pick in the NHL draft. This year, it was Burakovsky, a crafty forward from the land of Ikea and Volvos.

The 6-foot-1 left winger didn’t produce at the high rate on a Malmö team that failed to make the postseason. His up-and-down season led to a dramatic fall in the rankings: originally a top-10 player according to some, he fell as low as 58th on Craig Button’s rankings. Most scouts had him a lot higher though, including Hockey Prospectus (13th), ISS, and McKeen’s (16th). He has shown the flashes of brilliance with all scouting reports on Burakovsky mentioning his speed as his biggest asset, but it’s far from his only trait. The son of a former Ottawa Senator, Burakovsky is a skilled guy, boasting a good wrist shot with a quick release.

Another problem with Burakovsky is consistency. He scored just four goals and eleven points in the Sweden’s second-tier league this past year. One of the reasons for his low production was the ice time he was getting with Malmö.

Russian Machine Never Breaks:
With the 53rd overall pick, the Capitals selected Madison Bowey from the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets. Over the last decade, the Rockets have produced several high-quality NHL defensemen including Shea Weber, Duncan Keith, and Luke Schenn.

Bowey is a Winnipeg native who earned a lot of praise from scouts for his skating. His footwork and speed allow him to always be at the right place at the right time while also keeping up with fast forwards and jumping up on rushes. ranked him as high as 15th in their final rankings.

Bowey is also known as a great breakout passer. His crisp feeds are major part of his game, something that helps his team to keep pressure on the opposition. Due to his fine passing and solid shot, Bowey has been able to reach 30 point mark last year, becoming sixth among WHL’s defenseman under 18 years of age in that category.

“I like to play a physical game and also use my speed to my advantage,” Bowey told reporters after being drafted. “I think I can bring that to the Caps. They are a great, great offensive team and also strong enough defensively so I’ll think fit in great in that mold.”

He’s probably best known so far for scoring an important goal for Team Canada in the gold medal game of the Under-18 World Juniors against the US. His tally allowed Canadians to tie the game at two after they had lost their early lead. Frederik Gauthier’s goal would win it for them.

Russian Machine Never Breaks:
The Washington Capitals traded their 84th, 114th and 127th picks on draft day to Winnipeg in exchange for the 61st overall selection. After the second round, General Manager George McPhee reasoned, there was little talent left. So with the pick, the Caps grabbed giant 6'3" center Zach Sanford.

Coming into this year, Sanford was an under-the-radar prospect playing in the obscure EJHL. But as the year went on Sanford’s stock rose. He’s a big and fast pivot, something that sticks out late in the second round. However, many scouts, including Corey Pronman and Future Considerations, insist that Sanford needs to learn to use his size better.

A point-per-game player in the EJHL, Sanford has many offensive tools: his hands are very good for a big guy, he’s a smart player who sets his teammates up, and has a dangerous shot. Sanford needs to continue develop the way he did this past year. He was switched to left wing early in the year as he tried to adjust to a new league and struggled at the position. When he moved back to center, however, Sanford became a pivotal part of his team’s offense.

“I like to think of myself as a playmaker — being able to set guys, see them on the back door, on the breakout,” he told Mike Vogel after being drafted. “I think that’s definitely a big part of my game now and going down the road.”

Sanford has committed to Boston College and he’s expected to play there after next season. He’ll spend the upcoming year with Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL.

More information:
» Late Round Picks Blake Heinrich, Brian Pinho, and Tyler Lewington
» George McPhee Lets Mike Ribeiro Go
» Matt Hendricks Signs Four-Year Deal with Nashville Predators
» Caps Sign Carl Alzner to Four-Year, $11.2 Million Deal