Monday, October 28, 2013

Spotlight: Lou Reed (1942-2013)

"How could time go that quickly? It never ceases to amaze me," Lou Reed said. "The other day I was 19, I could fall down and get back up. Now if I fall down you are talking about nine months of physical therapy."
The Guardian:
Lou Reed, lead singer of the Velvet Underground, veteran chronicler of life's wilder, seamier and more desperate side and one of the most influential and distinctive songwriters of his generation, has died at the age of 71.

A heavy drinker and drug user for many years, Reed was suffering from liver failure and received a liver transplant earlier this year at the Cleveland Clinic.

Reed's literary agent, Andrew Wylie, said the musician died on Sunday morning in Southampton, New York, of an illness related to the transplant. His UK music agent, Andy Woolliscroft, confirmed the news to the Guardian earlier on Sunday night, saying: "Yes I'm afraid it's true. I'm very upset."

John Cale, his longtime friend and a founding member of the Velvet Underground, said: "The world has lost a fine songwriter and poet … I've lost my school-yard buddy."

Tributes from musicians and writers were quick to appear on social media.

David Bowie said on his Facebook page: "He was a master." Iggy Pop called it "devastating news". Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth wrote: "So sorry to hear of Lou Reed's passing this is a huge shock!" The chef and author Anthony Bourdain quoted the Velvet Underground's song Sweet Jane: "'Heavenly wine and roses … seem to whisper to me … when you smile' … RIP Lou Reed." Lloyd Cole wrote: "Without Lou there is no Bowie as we know him. Me? I'd probably be a maths teacher." Ryan Adams said only: "Lou Reed."

Some have argued that Reed was one of the most crucial innovators in rock music’s history. His debut album with the Velvet Underground, 1967’s The Velvet Underground & Nico, stands as a pivotal rock album for its abrasive style and taboo subject matter that addressed drug abuse, prostitution and challenged sexual mores. The band's influence on rock, art rock and punk was memorably summed up by Brian Eno's observation that although the first Velvet Underground album may have sold only 30,000 copies in its first few years, "everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band".

After making his name with the Velvet Underground and forming part of Andy Warhol's Factory scene in New York, Reed entered the similarly decadent orbit of David Bowie and Iggy Pop in the early 1970s. He was considered an enigmatic figure in rock music, and his solo work was the subject of much scrutiny by rock scholars of his era following the release of solo albums Lou Reed, Transformer and Berlin.

My Morning Jacket, who have been known to cover Velvet Underground songs in the past, were joined onstage by Neil Young, Elvis Costello and Jenny Lewis during Sunday night’s performance to pay tribute to Reed. As they were preparing to play, My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James opened by saying Lou Reed was “one of the greatest composers, artists, musicians that walked the face of the Earth. So this one’s for you Lou.” The group then performed a moving, 10-minute rendition of Velvet Underground’s “Oh! Sweet Nuthin.”

More information:
» The Guardian: Interviewing Lou Reed in 2003

Sunday, October 27, 2013

(L) Virginia Tech vs. Duke

Hampton Roads:
Frank Beamer stood near midfield with his hands clasped behind his back. Powerless, capitulatory, he waited for Duke to kneel on the ball one more time and run out the clock. Orange-clad fans filed slowly down the stairwells of Lane Stadium. They'd stayed hopeful to the end, but the hope finally ran out. Their team had lost at home to Duke.

That pretty much says it all, doesn't it? Duke isn't what it once was - and neither is Virginia Tech - but that simple statement remains salient: The Hokies lost at home to Duke.

The what-ifs began immediately. It's only natural. As Tech linebacker Jack Tyler watched the final seconds tick off the clock, punctuating Duke's 13-10 victory, he searched his mind for ways he could take the blame.

"To be honest, I was just thinking back to a couple plays," said Tyler, part of a unit that forced four turnovers and held the Blue Devils to 198 total yards. "A couple plays that could have gone differently if we'd have just wrapped up a little bit better or gotten to the ball a little faster. Things like that eat at you.

"We played a good defensive game, but whenever you lose, you think about those small things and what you could have done just a little bit better to help your team get a win."

A noble concept, and the right mentality to maintain harmony inside that locker room. But from the outside, blame for this loss needn't be distributed equally. It can't be. Tech's defense clearly contributed more toward a positive outcome than the offense.

"Critical mistakes in critical, critical situations" is how Tech receiver Willie Byrn put it, and that's about as well as it can be put. Forget little things. For Tech to lose at home to Duke, a lot of big things have to go wrong.

After going more than 100 straight throws without an interception, quarterback Logan Thomas threw four of them Saturday. Although he accounted for 315 yards, including his second career 100-yard rushing effort (101 yards), the senior was just 21-for-38 passing, and his four interceptions derailed any comeback hopes.

"I think I obviously could have made a lot better choices, a lot better plays," Thomas said. "I think I played well for about 75 percent of my snaps, which obviously isn't very good."

Cody Journell missed two field goals that he once made with ease. Journell is 8 for 14 and missed kicks from 40 and 45 yards Saturday that proved costly. He's missed at least one field goal in each of the past four games he's attempted one.

Tech went 4 of 18 on third down - a dismal conversion rate that forced the defense to make stop after stop.

And that's the crazy thing: For the most part, the Hokies did make those stops. Just as they had throughout Tech's six-game winning streak, the Hokies stonewalled Duke time after time. Freshman Kendall Fuller had three interceptions. Fuller was named the ACC's Co-Defensive Back of the Week and is tied for the national lead with five picks. Fuller's brother, Kyle, was named one of 15 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the country's top defensive back. Finalists will be announced Nov. 25, the winner Dec. 12.

The problem? Tech kept giving it back.

"We didn't do our most important job," offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said. "We didn't take care of the football."

Loeffler's grace period ended with this loss. Offensive struggles against East Carolina and Georgia Tech could be forgiven because they didn't cost the team the game. But this performance underscored the one-dimensional nature of Tech that we've seen too often.

"We made plays on that 99-yard drive," Byrn said. "We're slinging the ball around, we're getting good blocks, getting good reads, running backs are running well, everything's clicking. On the other ones, we're getting down there where we need to be, and once we get there, something happens."

The Hokies, who travel to Boston College this week, didn't drop out of the Coastal Division race, though, hanging a game behind Miami in the loss column. The two play in two weeks, and the 'Canes are three-touchdown underdogs this weekend at Florida State.

Boston College (3-4, 1-3 ACC) doesn't have an impressive resume, although the Eagles played Florida State tough in a 48-34 loss at home last month and didn't wilt at Clemson in a 24-14 loss.

Under first-year head coach Steve Addazio, BC appears to know what it is: a physical team in the mold of good Eagles teams of the past. Tailback Andre Williams is averaging an ACC-best 144.3 rushing yards per game and has already gone over the 1,000-yard mark this year, with 183 carries for 1,010 yards and eight touchdowns.

More information:
» Hampton Roads: Virginia Tech Falls Out of AP Football Poll

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Flaming Lips - "Think Like A Machine, Not A Boy"

Back in September we heard that the Flaming Lips were planning on putting out an entire EP of music dedicated to Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, and today the band has posted their new single from the EP “Think Like a Machine, Not a Boy.” The EP, titled Peace Sword, was produced by frequent collaborator Dave Fridmann and is slated for a Nov. 29 release via Warner Bros. The upcoming Ender’s Game sci-fi adaptation starring Ben Kingsley, Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield will hit theaters next week on Nov. 1.

“Peace Sword (Open Your Heart)” serves as the theme to Ender’s Game.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pearl Jam's "Corduroy" Covered on Jimmy Fallon

This week is “Pearl Jam Week” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Each night, artists all over are teaming up to perform covers that pay homage to the band. Last night, Fleet Foxes frontman Robin Pecknold and Grizzly Bear guitarist Daniel Rossen performed “Corduroy” off Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy.

Of course there can be no Pearl Jam week without Pearl Jam themselves, and the band will be on hand to debut new music from Lightning Bolt on both Thursday and Friday to wrap up the festivities.

Along with getting their own week at Late Night – an honor previously bestowed upon Bruce Springsteen and Justin Timberlake – you'll be able to catch Pearl Jam throughout the World Series: The band recently signed a deal with Fox Sports that places 48 of their songs, including all 12 from Lightning Bolt within the channel's Series' programming, which kicks off tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"Better Out Than In": Banksy in New York City

"A separate installation is expected each day. Each location is announced on the artist's website, though he will only give the general vicinity. It's a bit of a scavenger hunt for fans of the elusive artist."
Banksy announced on his website that he is undertaking "an artists residency on the streets of New York" this month.

At least one of the works is gone already, altered by other graffiti artists and then whitewashed. The picture, done on a wall in Chinatown, showed a barefoot boy with a cap standing on another boy's back, pointing at a sign that says, "Graffiti is a crime."

He's posting pictures of his work on the website (and an Instagram account called Banksyny) and fans are plastering the images all over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Though he's not providing exact locations, those who happen to come across the works are trying to spread the word.

Banksy is calling the New York City effort "Better Out Than In," a reference to a quote by impressionist Paul Cezanne, "All pictures painted inside, in the studio, will never be as good as those done outside."

His website includes a toll-free number and an online "Click here to listen" button with commentary on each image that spoofs the pre-recorded cellphone tours commonly offered at museum exhibits. The commentary mispronounces his name as Ban-sky and is read against a soundtrack of cheesy elevator music.

Banksy -- who refuses to give his real name -- began his career in the British city of Bristol spray-painting local buildings. His works now fetch thousands of dollars around the world, but many of his street paintings have been defaced, destroyed or removed.

The Daily Telegraph, a British outlet, has created an online map to try to keep track of the images. The Museum of Modern Art posted links on its Twitter feed with a "Banksy watch" tag.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said last week that graffiti ruins property and is "a sign of decay."

More information:
» "Better Out Than In" Official Site
» The 2010 Time 100: Banksy
» Banksy did the same thing in L.A. in 2011

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The NFL's "Going to the Ground" Gray Area

N.F.L. Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 1: Going to the ground. If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball after he touches the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.

February 7, 2010
Super Bowl XLIV in Miami, Florida: Lance Moore received a pass for a two-point conversion and attempted to stretch the ball out over the goal line as he fell to the ground. The play was ruled an incomplete pass, prompting a coach's challenge from Sean Payton. After the review, the ruling on the field was overturned when it was determined that Moore maintained possession of the ball long enough and the ball had crossed the plane of the goal line for a successful conversion, giving the Saints a 24–17 advantage.

The N.F.L. defended that call by saying the play was dead as soon as Moore had possession and made a second act of breaking the plane of the goal line. That rule took precedence because Moore hadn’t made a catch as defined by the “going to the ground” rule.

September 12, 2010
When Lions receiver Calvin Johnson outjumped Chicago’s Zack Bowman in the end zone with 26 seconds left in the fourth quarter, he appeared to make a 25-yard touchdown catch. “I figure if I got two feet and a knee down, to me that is a catch; that’s why I got up and took off,” he told reporters.

September 19, 2010
With 3:12 left in the first quarter, the Eagles had the ball at their own 48-yard line, and Michael Vick threw a deep seam route to DeSean Jackson down the left side. Fortunately, the call was challengeable, and first-year head official Clete Blakeman actually did get it right in reversing the call and deeming the play an incompletion. If there's no gray area, why did former head of officiating Mike Pereira, who commented on the play in his role as a FOX analyst, seem unsure whether it would be upheld or overturned?

September 8, 2013
Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson's 20-yard touchdown catch was overturned after replays showed Johnson lost control of the ball when he fell in the end zone.

September 8, 2013
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning finds wide receiver Victor Cruz for an 18-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

September 22, 2013
Washington Redskins wide receiver Aldrick Robinson's would-be go-ahead touchdown catch was overturned during the second half against the Detroit Lions in Landover, Md. The play originally was ruled a legal catch and a touchdown by the officials on the field. It was ruled after the review that Robinson had failed to maintain possession of the ball as he tumbled to the turf in the end zone. Referee Ed Hochuli announced “the ball was rolling on the ground.” The Lions defeated the Redskins 27-20.

“The camera view was on my right side,” Robinson said. “When I came down with the ball, I had it secured in my [left] hand the whole time. I’m just trying to brace myself to the ground. But, I mean, naturally my whole body was moving, and the ball was in my hand. So the ball moved with my body. It kind of looked like the ball was sliding on the ground. But . . . it was a touchdown. I had control of the ball the whole time.”

More information:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Arcade Fire Debuts New Single "Reflektor" on SNL

Rolling Stone:
Over the course of a two-hour late night block on Saturday, NBC offered Arcade Fire an unusual space to show off their new wares. A spot as the featured musical act on Saturday Night Live's 39th season premiere segued into a 30-minute special, Here Comes the Night Time, where the band showcased more new songs from their upcoming album, Reflektor.

For the SNL premiere, hosted by Tina Fey, Arcade Fire started off with its latest single, "Reflektor," which found vocalists Win Butler and Régine Chassagne calling out to each other over disco beats. At one point, Chassagne left the stage to sing inside a mirrored box, which reflected her image dozens of times.

After SNL, the special, which had been previously recorded "Live from the Salsatheque" in Montreal, began with Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler parading down the street, followed by a line of fairy tale creatures including a human-sized rabbit and a dancing skeleton. As he made his way up into the venue, he passed James Franco talking on a pay phone – the first of Here Comes the Night Time's many celebrity cameos.

More celebrities continued to drop in for oddball cameos: Bill Hader and and Zach Galifianakis called the band from what they claimed was space; Michael Cera, playing the part of a bartender, offered his co-worker a running criticism of the band as they played; two people wearing giant heads revealed themselves to be Ben Stiller and Bono. Rainn Wilson, Aziz Ansari, and Eric Wareheim also made brief appearances.

The Canadian rockers have released few details on the highly anticipated follow-up to their last LP, 2010's The Suburbs, but LCD Soundsystem mastermind and DFA co-founder James Murphy said the quality of the songs he worked on took any pressure off of him as a producer, and allowed him to suggest different approaches or ways of fine-tuning the material.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

(W) Virginia Tech vs. Pittsburgh

Logan Thomas threw an early touchdown pass, Cody Journell kicked four field goals and No. 24 Virginia Tech sacked Pittsburgh's Tom Savage eight times in a 19-9 victory on Saturday.

"We got eight, but I bet we probably missed eight," coach Frank Beamer said.

The Hokies (6-1, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) won their sixth straight game and ended a four-game losing streak against the Panthers, avenging a 35-17 loss a year ago that sent Virginia Tech into a long skid. More importantly, a year after throwing three interceptions at Pittsburgh, Thomas and the Hokies were turnover-free for the third straight game.

With their relentless defensive front playing at the top of its game, the Hokies finished with a season-high eight sacks Saturday, including a career-high three from defensive end Dadi Nicolas, and limited the Panthers to just 210 yards. It’s the most sacks Virginia Tech has had since a 2006 win over Duke, and the Hokies were credited with seven additional hits on Savage.

"(Virginia) did something similar with one of their guys and I guess they had a bunch of sacks," linebacker Jack Tyler said, speaking of Cavaliers freshman linebacker Max Valles, who had two of Virginia's seven sacks against the Panthers.

Seeing that, he said the Hokies decided on a similar approach this week, and it worked. Nicolas finished with three sacks, Derrick Hopkins had two and four other players had at least a share of one. The Hokies had 10 stops for loss.

Savage, who tied an ACC record with six touchdown passes three weeks ago in a 58-55 victory against Duke, never had much of a chance to get wide receivers Devin Street and Tyler Boyd into the game, but said that's not all on his line.

"Any good quarterback, you can't worry about that stuff," he said of the pressure. "I have the best line in the country. I'm confident with those guys out there. It's just my job to get rid of the ball."

Savage, a pro-style quarterback who was only cleared to play this week after sustaining a concussion against Virginia, has been sacked 15 times in his last two games. The Hokies came in leading the country with 13 interceptions, sharing the national lead with 19 sacks and ranked fourth overall, allowing just 264 yards per game.

The Hokies were sharp at the outset, driving 71 yards in eight plays the first time they had the ball. They didn't get to third down a third-and-9, when Thomas hit freshman tight end Kalvin Cline (career-high four catches for 65 yards) for a 27-yard touchdown. Cline was double covered, but behind his man, and Thomas hit him in stride heading toward the pylon on the right side of the end zone.

"These past couple games, Logan's definitely put it on the money," Cline said of his first career touchdown.

Thomas finished 19 for 34 for 239 yards, and ran 16 times for a team-best 27 yards. Even though the Hokies offense stalled pretty much the rest of the way, gaining 211 yards in the last three quarters after 104 in the opening 15 minutes, it hardly mattered because the defense was allowing almost nothing.

Journell added field goals of 48, 37, 42 and 23 yards, and missed on a 33-yarder.

The victory leaves the Hokies entering their bye week in prime position to compete with Miami for the ACC’s Coastal Division title. The two teams do not meet until Nov. 9 in South Florida.

More information:
» SI: Tracking Antone Exum's ACL Rehabilitation

Friday, October 11, 2013

Pusha T - "Nosetalgia" w/ Kendrick Lamar

KRS-One's admonition from "The Bridge is Over" — "you better change what comes out your speakers" — flickers until his moan steps out of the shadows and arches from one side of the track to the other. What these two musicians are after is nothing less than the belt. And what they use to get it is an analogy that juxtaposes the coke-dealing game with their own battles for artistic supremacy.

My Name Is My Name is the solo debut studio album by American hip hop recording artist Pusha T, one half of the hip hop duo Clipse. The album was released on October 8, 2013 under GOOD Music and Def Jam Recordings. In promotion of the album, Pusha T released the mixtape Fear of God and the EP Fear of God II: Let Us Pray in 2011, along with collaborating on the GOOD Music compilation album Cruel Summer in 2012. He also released another mixtape Wrath of Caine in early 2013.

"Nosetalgia" contains samples of "The Bridge Is Over", written by Scott La Rock and Lawrence Parker, and performed by Boogie Down Productions; samples of "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right", written by Homer Banks, Carl Hampton and Raymond Jackson, and performed by Bobby Bland; and samples of "Do You Like Scratchin'", written by Trevor Horn and Malcolm McLaren, and performed by Malcolm McLaren.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Washington Redskins Name Change Debate

Washington Post:
President Obama: "If I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team — even if it had a storied history — that was offending a sizeable group of people, I’d think about changing it."

Obama is only the latest to weigh in. Prominent sports journalists have announced they will refrain from using the name. A Native American tribe in New York has launched a national ad campaign. On Monday, it will hold a public conference near the Washington hotel where National Football League owners are meeting. And, in a move that has been described as potentially more significant than any lawsuit or legislation — both of which are also in the works — a group led by a former Federal Communications Commission chairman is working to persuade broadcasters to stop saying the name on the airwaves.

Yet even with opposing voices growing in numbers and power, key constituencies are absent from the name-change bandwagon: many of the nation’s 5.2 million Native Americans, the NFL, advertisers and the football team’s die-hard fans. When candidates at the Virginia gubernatorial debate were asked about the issue at a recent debate, neither took a position on it.

CBS Local:
Dan Snyder: “We'll never change the name. It's that simple. NEVER—you can use caps.”

Joe Gibbs: “One of the best things that I saw on that was that Rick Reilly article that came out about two or three weeks ago. I think that says it probably the best. For me, from the time I grew up as a young kid running around the hills of North Carolina, the only football team we could get was the Redskins. So from that time on, everything I’ve known or been a part of has been Redskins. I never, ever thought of it as anything negative; it’s all been a positive. I think that’s what I reflect on: I reflect on the song, the games and everybody being loyal Redskins people.”

Joe Theismann: "If I don’t have control over it, I can’t really worry about it. People besides me will make the decision whether or not the name will or should be changed, or will or won’t be dropped. Like I said, I can only talk about when I played and how much I respected and appreciated the opportunity to represent the nations.”

James "JB" Brown: “Now I understand that it may not be unanimous in terms of how the Native American population feels, but to me, that’s the driving point. If there is an overwhelming feeling that it is derogatory to them, I’m always going to be sensitive."

Michael Wilbon: "You cannot, as Roger Goodell first said a few weeks ago, say it’s essentially a term of endearment, it comes to represent strength and courage. No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t represent any of that. And so I’m disappointed in him for putting that garbage out there, because it doesn’t mean any of those things. It’s not like Braves or Chiefs. It isn’t. It’s a derogatory term. And so you can say ‘Okay, I’m going to leave this up to Dan Snyder. We’re going to work with the team. We’re going to look at this. We’re going to study. We’re going to listen'."

More information:
» Dan Snyder: "90% of Native Americans polled did not find the team name offensive"
» The Onion: Washington Redskins Change Their Name to D.C. Redskins
» The Onion: Redskins’ Name Only Offensive If You Think About What It Means

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Eva Cassidy - "Autumn Leaves" (1996)

Live at Blues Alley (1996)

"Autumn Leaves" is a much-recorded popular song. Originally it was a 1945 French song "Les feuilles mortes" (literally "The Dead Leaves") with music by Hungarian-French composer Joseph Kosma and lyrics by poet Jacques Prévert, the Hungarian title is "Hulló levelek" (Falling Leaves). Yves Montand (with Irène Joachim) introduced "Les feuilles mortes" in 1946 in the film Les Portes de la Nuit.

The American songwriter Johnny Mercer wrote English lyrics in 1947 and Jo Stafford was among the first to perform this version. "Autumn Leaves" became a pop standard and a jazz standard in both languages, both as an instrumental and with a singer.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Simpsons' "Treehouse of Horror XXIV" Intro, Annotated

"Treehouse of Horror XXIV" is the second episode of the 25th season of the American animated sitcom The Simpsons, and the 532nd episode of the series. The episode was written by Jeff Westbrook and aired on October 6, 2013 on the Fox Network.

In October 2013, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Guillermo del Toro spoke about directing the opening of the episode, saying: "The Simpsons titles are so iconic and yet they've never been riffed in this vein. I really wanted to land the connections between the [show's] set pieces and the titles and some of the most iconic horror movies, and intersperse them with some of my stuff in there for pure joy."

Monday, October 7, 2013

Gravity Sets October Opening Weekend Record

"As we recall from bitter memory, the Hubble and the space station are in vastly different orbits," Dennis Overbye wrote. "Getting from one to the other requires so much energy that not even space shuttles had enough fuel to do it. The telescope is 353 miles high, in an orbit that keeps it near the Equator; the space station is about 100 miles lower, in an orbit that takes it far north, over Russia."

Movie Pilot:
Alfonso Cuarón‘s space thriller Gravity has blasted off into the record books with it’s opening weekend, taking in over $55.6 million from 3,575 domestic theaters. This means Gravity is now the highest opening ever for the month of October, overtaking the previous record holder, Paranormal Activity 3, by $3 million.

That’s not the only record Gravity has smashed. Surprisingly, the movie is also the biggest opening ever for both of its principle stars. Sandra Bullock's previous best was recent release The Heat, which took $39.1 million on its opening weekend, while George Clooney's previous best opener was Batman & Robin with $42.9 million. (Yep, you read that right).

Internationally, Gravity also performed well, taking in $27.4 million and pushing its global total to $83 million. When you consider Gravity was made on a relatively low budget of $100 million, Warner Bros are no doubt rubbing their hands together in anticipation at the near certainty of making a healthy profit.

Gravity has also been a stellar showcase of what can be achieved with 3D and IMAX technology, and for the most part, audiences seemed receptive to paying a bit extra for the whole experience. 80% of domestic sales were from 3D screenings, while just around one fifth came from IMAX screenings. This result means Gravity also broke IMAX’s previous October record of $10 million.

More information:
» Still Feeling the Pull: Gravity and 2001: A Space Odyssey
» Slashfilm: Interview with Gravity Producer David Heyman

Sunday, October 6, 2013

(W) Virginia Tech vs. North Carolina

Hampton Roads:
Leading by seven only 4-1/2 minutes before halftime, Virginia Tech didn't think it would be too aggressive after being pinned at the 2-yard line by a North Carolina punt. Offensive coordinator Scot "Lefty" Loeffler called for quarterback Logan Thomas to throw out of the shotgun.

Thomas zipped a pass in stride to receiver Willie Byrn, who had gotten behind the defense. Byrn, bum knee and all, rumbled 83 yards down the field before being taken down.

Three plays later, Thomas and D.J. Coles hooked up for their second touchdown to give the Hokies a two-score lead on their way to an easy 27-17 win against the Tar Heels.

"That's Lefty," said Byrn, who became Tech's first 100-yard receiver this year with 123 yards. "He's just a smart guy when it comes to that stuff. It'll catch you off guard. I'm excited to see what he's going to do for the rest of the year."

The Hokies snapped a dubious offensive streak against the hapless Tar Heels (1-4, 0-2 ACC), whose season is quickly spiraling out of control. It was the first time since the Duke game last October that Virginia Tech scored more than two offensive touchdowns in regulation against a team from the Football Bowl Subdivision, a streak of 10 games.

"I would say this is football team finds a way to get it done, and I like that," head coach Frank Beamer said. "We grind. It's not always smooth."

Thomas has been lately, however. He went 19 for 28 for 293 yards and three touchdowns, going interception-free for the second straight game and putting another dent in the notion that the way to beat Virginia Tech is to stack the box.

All three of his touchdown tosses were in the first half. He hit Demitri Knowles for a 45-yarder in the first quarter to start the scoring and hooked up with Coles twice to send the Hokies into halftime with a commanding 21-7 lead.

He threw his way into the record book in the process. With a first quarter completion, Thomas moved past Tyrod Taylor on Virginia Tech's career passing list with 7,308 yards. He's now third on the Hokies' career passing touchdown list with 45, three shy of Bryan Randall's school record.

It wasn't all smooth sailing for Tech's offense. The Hokies bogged down in the third quarter, gaining only 13 yards. The ground game, even against UNC's porous rushing defense (234.5 ypg entering the game), only managed 48 yards, struggling with fullback Sam Rogers out in the second half with a leg injury.

UNC almost managed to get back into the game. Trailing 21-10, the Heels went for it on fourth-and-1 at the Virginia Tech 33 early in the fourth quarter. Cornerback Kyle Fuller wasn't fooled by a play-action pass across the middle, however, ripping a Marquise Williams pass out of tight end Jack Tabb's hands for a momentum-killing interception.

The Hokies put the game away after a muffed punt gave them a short field. Running back Trey Edmunds powered in for a 1-yard touchdown, Tech's fourth of the day, to make it a 17-point game.

It wasn't a record-setting offensive day, but it was one for the Hokies to feel good about as they hit the halfway point of the season.

"Any time you get a new offensive coordinator in your system, you're not going to just learn it overnight," Edmunds said. "I guess we're really starting to see how things are supposed to look."

More information:
» VT Returns to the Top 25 in AP Football Poll

Friday, October 4, 2013

Lauryn Hill - "Consumerism" (2013)

Lauryn Hill spent her last morning in prison Friday following a three-month stint for tax evasion, and she marked the occasion with a new single called "Consumerism".

The federal facility in Danbury, Conn. coincidentally rose to fame during Hill’s stay as the premise for Netflix’s hit comedy-drama, Orange Is the New Black, which first aired in July.

She pleaded guilty last year to not paying taxes on more than $1.5 million between 2005 and 2007. In addition to her prison sentence, she will spend three months under confinement at her home in South Orange, N.J.

Hill signed a record deal with Sony Music before serving time to help reduce her longstanding debt. The singer plans to release a five-song EP leading up to a full album.

Consumerism is part of some material I was trying to finish before I had to come in. We did our best to eek out a mix via verbal and emailed direction, thanks to the crew of surrogate ears on the other side. Letters From Exile is material written from a certain space, in a certain place. I felt the need to discuss the underlying socio-political, cultural paradigm as I saw it. I haven’t been able to watch the news too much recently, so I’m not hip on everything going on. But inspiration of this sort is a kind of news in and of itself, and often times contains an urgency that precedes what happens. I couldn’t imagine it not being relevant. Messages like these I imagine find their audience, or their audience finds them, like water seeking it’s level.

- Ms. Lauryn Hill

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Spotlight: Tom Clancy (1947-2013)

According to Publishers Weekly and the New York Times, best-selling author Tom Clancy has died at the age of 66. The author’s publisher confirmed that Clancy passed away Tuesday night at a hospital in Baltimore.

In a vaunted career that spanned almost 30 years, the scribe sold over 50 million books, swiftly earning a reputation as one of the premiere storytellers of military and espionage thrillers. During his career as a writer, Tom Clancy set the standard for military novels. Clancy wrote 17 novels that landed the No. 1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list.

Clancy began his career as an insurance broker before striking it out as an author in 1984 with his debut novel, The Hunt for Red October, which sold over five million copies. The book was later adapted for the big screen in 1988 and starred Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin and James Earl Jones. Clancy’s books Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger were also adapted into films and featured Harrison Ford as Clancy’s recurring character Jack Ryan. Ben Affleck took over the role of Ryan in 2002 for the film adaptation of Clancy’s The Sum of All Fears.

His writing gained him a loyal following within the armed forces in the United States and abroad, giving him inside access that frequently informed the plots of his books. But in a 2003 CNN interview, Clancy said he was always careful not to reveal classified information or sensitive details of how the elite troops he often wrote about operated.

Clancy, who was a part-owner of the Baltimore Orioles, founded the video-game company Red Storm Entertainment in 1996. Clancy broke into the gaming industry with popular videogame franchises like Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon and Splinter Cell.

At the time of Clancy's death, Paramount Pictures was working on a reboot of the Jack Ryan franchise, Jack Ryan: Shadow One, starring Chris Pine and directed by Kenneth Branagh. His last novel, Command Authority, is scheduled to be released on Dec. 3.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Clapton's "Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out"

Before Eric Clapton took the stage for one of MTV’s most legendary Unplugged performances, he and his band tried to work the kinks out of his cover of Jimmy Cox’s 1923 composition “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out.” This unpolished rehearsal didn’t make the final cut of Clapton’s Grammy Award winning 1992 Unplugged album, which features a cover of “Before You Accuse Me” among others, but the cameras were still rolling during his warmup.

"Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" is a blues standard written by Jimmy Cox in 1923. Its lyric, told from the point of view of a one-time millionaire during the Prohibition era, reflects on the fleeting nature of material wealth and the friendships that come and go with it. As a vaudeville-style blues, it was popularized by Bessie Smith, the preeminent female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s. Since her 1929 recording, it has been interpreted by numerous musicians in a variety of styles.

During his art student days in the early 1960s, Eric Clapton was attracted to London's folk-music scene and the fingerpicking acoustic guitar-style of Big Bill Broonzy. Along with "Key to the Highway", "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" was one of the first songs that Clapton learned to play in this style.

This clip, along with remastered songs, two DVDs and bonus rehearsal footage will all be released in Clapton’s new Unplugged: Expanded and Remastered reissue, which is set to hit stores on Oct. 15 via Rhino.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013