Monday, June 30, 2014

Hodgy Beats & Left Brain - "Nowadays"

The Odd Future crew made their collective name on free mixtapes, but at this point, Hodgy Beats might be the only member who still cranks them out every once in a while. Hodgy’s last tape, the Untitled 2 EP, is about a year old, and he’ll follow it up this Friday with a new one called I Need Some Answers. First single “Nowadays” features some serious rapping-ass rapping and a beat from Left Brain, Hodgy’s partner in the duo MellowHype. The song’s new High5Collective-directed video makes the exceedingly cool choice of putting those two on four-wheelers out in the desert. I Need Some Answers is out 7/4.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Wizards Trade Second-Round Pick for Cash Considerations

"It's especially disappointing considering there was real talent on the board. Missouri point guard Jordan Clarkson went to the Lakers. Louisville's Russ Smith was taken one selection later. Baylor's Cory Jefferson and Florida's Patric Young could have filled in as depth along the frontcourt. Instead, the Wizards gave away another potential cheap player for nothing more than cash, which only appears to benefit the owner."
Washington Post:
For the first time since 2009, the Washington Wizards entered the NBA draft without a first-round pick, having shipped it (and a future second) away in the October trade that brought them Marcin Gortat, and to absolve themselves of Eric Maynor and Jan Vesely in the Andre Miller swap.

Ultimately, the Wizards elected to end their season in a manner similar to the way it began, trading No. 46 overall pick Jordan Clarkson, a point guard out of Missouri, to the Los Angeles Lakers for cash considerations. Washington received just less than $2 million in the deal, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, granting them more flexibility on the free agent market, which opens July 1 and is expected to include Gortat, Trevor Ariza and six other Wizards.

“We focused in on two, three players [Jarnell Stokes, Johnny O'Bryant and Dwight Powell] who we thought would be there but were gone by the time it was our turn to pick, and we didn’t want to waste it and just bring someone in that we didn’t think would fit in with what we were trying to do,” Wizards General Manager Ernie Grunfeld said after emerging from the Wizards’ draft war room at Verizon Center late Thursday night. “Nothing really came up for us and we felt like it was best to move the pick for cash considerations, and this way it opens up another roster spot for us to get someone who’s established.”

The last time the Wizards traded their pick for cash was in that 2009 draft, which also marked the last draft that the Wizards did not take a player. That year, the Wizards selected guard Jermaine Taylor out of Central Florida with the 32nd overall pick before shipping him to Houston for $2.5 million.

Prior to Washington trade on Thursday, the Suns used the No. 18 pick acquired from the Wizards in the Gortat trade to select Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis in the first round.

With the draft behind them, the Wizards’ front office will turn its attention to free agency in hopes of re-signing most, if not all, of the team’s core on the heels of the team’s first playoff appearance in six years and a run to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Andre Miller is expected to be brought back as the backup point guard under the final year of his contract that’s worth $4.6 million, bringing the Wizards’ 2014-15 payroll of Miller, John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Nene and Martell Webster to about $46 million. With the cap expected to fall around $63 million, the Wizards will have a fair amount of space to go after Gortat and Ariza, who are likely to demand the highest salaries among the team’s free agents.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

2014 FIFA World Cup: Group Stage

The U.S. Men’s National Team will play Group H winner Belgium in its next match on July 1, at Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, in the Round of 16 at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

The U.S. men’s national soccer team is going to the knockout stage of the World Cup, not because it defeated — or even tied — Germany on Thursday afternoon. They lost the game, 1-0, but won the right to remain at soccer’s quadrennial jamboree by virtue of a superior goal differential over Portugal in Group G, the so-called Group of Death.

Germany (2-0-1, seven points) rode Thomas Müller’s 55th-minute goal — his fourth of the tournament — to win the quartet and earn a round-of-16 meeting with Algeria on Monday in Porto Alegre.

The USA won 4-3 when the two nations last met in a friendly in June 2013. They have met twice before at the World Cup. Germany won 2-0 in 1998, when current USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann scored the second goal, and 1-0 in the 2002 quarterfinals.

Miroslav Klose is only the third player in World Cup history to score in four different editions of the competition (after Pele and Uwe Seeler).

Nani put Portugal ahead in the opening five minutes. Michael Bradley missed a golden opportunity in the second half, as his shot was cleared off the line by the knee of Ricardo Costa, but Jermaine Jones drew the United States level with the best goal of his life. Clint Dempsey scored in the 81st, but the win wasn't to be. With a last-minute goal in the 95th minute, Cristiano Ronaldo and Silvestre Varela combined to steal a draw on virtually the last kick of the ball.

The victory over Ghana attracted the biggest U.S. television audience for a football match - 16 million people. The draw with Portugal smashed that record with an average of 24.7 million viewers. And the match against Germany in Recife is expected to surpass even that.

The concluding game of the NBA Finals last week drew an audience of 18 million as the San Antonio Spurs beat the Miami Heat, while Major League Baseball's hallowed World Series averaged just short of 15 million viewers. The audience for regular-season games in the NFL in 2013 was 21 million, although the Super Bowl was the most-watched program in US history with 111.5 million viewers.

U.S. Men’s National Team defender John Brooks scored the game-winning goal in the 86th minute and forward Clint Dempsey scored the fifth-fastest goal in World Cup history as the USA earned a thrilling 2-1 victory against Ghana in front of a crowd of 39,760 at Estadio das Dunas in the Group G opener for both teams at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Brooks became the first U.S. MNT substitute to score a goal in a FIFA World Cup. Dempsey became the first USA player to score in three separate World Cups and U.S. MNT goalkeeper Tim Howard made four saves to lead the squad to its third opening-game win in the tournament. It also marked the USA’s first international win against Ghana, which defeated the U.S. in the two previous World Cups.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

OK Go - "The Writing's On The Wall"

"The Writing's on the Wall" is a single written and performed by the alternative group, OK Go, the first single from their upcoming album Hungry Ghosts. The single premiered along with the music video on June 17, 2014, and was published as part of the band's EP Upside Out, released the same day. Like previous OK Go videos, Writing's video is a one-shot music video where the members of the band interact with a number of props to create numerous optical illusions during the course of the video, reflecting on the theme of a song about a failing relationship due to the couple having different points of view.

The video for "Writing" was co-directed by OK Go frontman Damian Kulash, Jr. along with Aaron Duffy and Bob Partington, creative personnel from the Special Guest and 1st Ave Machine agencies, respectively. The music video premiered at a special presentation at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art on June 16, 2014, with its world premiere the next day via Rolling Stone's website and OK Go's YouTube channel.

The video is shot in a single take using a hand-held camera mounted with round handles, moved about by members of OK Go and assistants through a warehouse with various stations created by everyday objects, clothing worn by the band, and painted surfaces in specific arrangements. Each station plays on the use of optical illusions once the camera is set in position, such as those by Felice Varini that play on the illusion working from one specific point, or illusions like the Necker cube that are based on a lack of depth perception. All the illusions were created by the camera shots, without the use of any post-processing special effects.

Pre-planning of the video was done about two months prior to the physical set construction, determining how the video would progress and using computer mock-ups to figure out the concept. The warehouse set was located in Bedford–Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, where the band resided during the setup and filming of the video. It took about three weeks to assemble the set, finding that some of their original concepts did not play out in real life and required some fine tuning, such as positioning an apparent pile of junk as to resemble band member Tim Nordwind's face at the right angle without losing the fact that the junk was still made from common household objects. The video took about 65 takes to get right during filming. The concept of the one-shot was considered critical to the video as it provided immersion for the viewer in the unfolding of the video, making them more interested in the song. Nordwind considered this video to be the band's most difficult one to film given amount of involvement they themselves were in, including manning the camera and performing costume changes.

2014 FIFA World Cup: Intro

More information:
» Washington Post: Five World Cup innovations

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Best of Inside Amy Schumer

“Am I a hero?” Amy Schumer asks during Season 1 of Inside Amy Schumer. “Yeah, I’m probably a hero.” For fans of sketch comedy, Schumer has become a hero of sorts, delivering two solid seasons of very funny television with a stealthy talent that makes it all look easy. Even more impressive, Schumer has stood out on dude-dominated Comedy Central, paving the way for more female-centric series like Broad City.

Whatever her recipe, it’s working: Comedy Central just announced a renewal for Season 3 of Inside Amy Schumer to premiere in 2015.

Monday, June 16, 2014

2014 NBA Finals: Spurs Clinch Series 4-1 to Win Fifth Title

Washington Post:
SAN ANTONIO — The rest of the NBA has been waiting for the San Antonio Spurs to go away for several years, counting down the days until Tim Duncan walks away and takes Coach Gregg Popovich with him, anticipating when age and attrition will make this team fade as all dynasties must do.

But somewhere inside Duncan is the competitiveness he had when he first chose shooting at a rickety hoop over hitting the beach in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Duncan is 15 years removed from his first NBA championship and has been around long enough for the Spurs to transition from a boring to beloved brand of basketball that is built around the talents of many instead of the charms of one or three.

The Spurs used their precision execution and selfless style to complete a redemptive run to their fifth NBA championship with a 104-87 victory over the Miami Heat on Sunday.

“For whatever reason, it is sweeter than any other,” Duncan said of his fifth title. “Whether it be because of the time frame, because I’m coming toward the end of my career . . . It’s amazing to think about having done this five times, the kind of company I’m in, the people who have had such amazing careers. To still be in a situation where we can win or I can win another championship is just an amazing blessing, and it’s not taken lightly.”

Learning to evolve and adapt, Duncan has adjusted his game to make room for an exciting but at times erratic shooting guard from Argentina (Manu Ginobili), a slithery point guard from France (Tony Parker) and now a stoic, lithe 22-year-old with cornrows from Riverside, Calif. (Kawhi Leonard). Leonard was named NBA Finals MVP after holding his own against LeBron James and fulfilling the prophecy of Popovich, who before last season proclaimed him the future of the franchise.

Before the game was even complete, James walked down from his bench to congratulate the Spurs, first embracing Leonard. Leonard scored 22 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and continued his inspired play over the past three games, when the Spurs turned what was expected to be a competitive series into a rout. He became the youngest Finals MVP since Magic Johnson in 1980.

“It just feels like a dream to me,” Leonard said while crediting Duncan’s presence for inspiring him. “Just coming here and seeing him prepare every day and having that drive and will to win at the age he is and after winning all the championships he’s won before I got here just motivated me to go even harder because I’m young.”

The better team defeated the game’s best player, and it set a playoff record with 12 games decided by at least 15 points, including all four wins in this series. If not for four missed free throws in a critical stretch in a Game 2 loss, San Antonio very well could have swept the Heat. The 70-point differential and 52.8 percent shooting from the field in the five-game series both were Finals records.

Duncan joined John Salley as the only players in NBA history to win championships in three different decades, but Duncan’s run is much more remarkable because he continues to make significant contributions. With the arena shaking from exuberant fans bouncing in the bleachers, Popovich embraced Duncan, whispering into his ear while the Prince song “1999” blared from the rafters.

In the seven years since San Antonio last won a championship with a four-game sweep of James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, James has won the league’s MVP award four times and led the Heat to two championships. Miami’s last title came last year at the expense of the Spurs, who squandered two opportunities to claim another title.

James came out ready to beat the Spurs by himself as he scored 17 of his game-high 31 points in the first quarter and recorded blocks on Duncan and Mills. But in many ways, James often looked all alone, as he did with the Cavaliers in 2007. His all-star teammates — Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade — combined to score just 24 points. “Tried to inspire my teammates to try to get a win,” James said. “Obviously, I didn’t do enough.

“We’re not discrediting what we were able to accomplish in these four years,” he said. “We lost one, we won two and we lost another one. Take 50 percent in four years in championships any day. Obviously, you want to win all of them, but that’s just the nature of the game.”

The victory comes at a tenuous period for the Heat franchise. James, Wade and Bosh can opt out of their contracts and become free agents this summer.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

2014 Stanley Cup Final: Kings Top Rangers in Game 5 2OT

USA Today:
LOS ANGELES – It figured that a team that needed three Game 7 road wins to reach the Stanley Cup Final would need a double-overtime thriller to win the Stanley Cup.

The Los Angeles Kings, who proved its resiliency throughout the postseason, showed it one last time Friday night when defenseman Alec Martinez scored at 14:43 of double overtime to give the Kings a 3-2 win against the New York Rangers and their Stanley Cup title in three seasons.

Justin Williams, who scored the first goal 6:04 into Game 5, was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player of the playoffs. He finished the postseason with 25 points in 26 games, including seven points in the Cup Final. Williams scored the OT winner in Game 1 (3-2).

"Tonight's not a night to reminisce, but there will be a time this summer when you look back at what an amazing run it was," Kings center Mike Richards said.

The Kings needed a third-period goal by Marian Gaborik just to send the game to overtime. General manager Dean Lombardi had acquired him at the trade deadline to score big goals.

"We showed all year we can come back and we came back in this one," Kings forward Kyle Clifford said.

Three times in the series, the Kings came from behind to win against the Rangers

"I think it was a little easier last time (in 2012)," said Clifford. "We had a little more adversity this time."

The Kings had to come back from a 3-0 series deficit in their first round series against the San Jose Sharks. They won Games 6 and 7 against the Anaheim Ducks in the second round. Then they took a 3-1 series against the Chicago Blackhawks, only to have the Blackhawks force them to a Game 7.

The Kings join the Blackhawks as the only teams with two championships since the salary cap was introduced in 2005.

While it is too early to call the Kings a dynasty, they certainly have been the top NHL team over the past 36 months. They have played 64 playoff games in that span, and won 42. In between their two championships, they reached the Western Conference Final.

When the salary cap was introduced, the prediction was that it would be difficult to keep good teams together. But Lombardi has effectively managed his salary cap and somehow has managed to make this Kings team even stronger than the Kings squad that captured the Stanley Cup two years ago. Lombardi has cemented his place among the NHL's top general managers.

The 2012 team won on the strength of defense and goaltending, and the 2014 team had the goaltending, defense and a dangerous offense. The Kings scored three or more goals in nine of their last 10 playoff games.

With only Gaborik and Willie Mitchell eligible for unrestricted free agency, the Kings have the potential to make another strong run next season. They might be able to re-sign Gaborik, who played the best hockey of his career in the postseason. His 14 goals were only one shy of Wayne Gretzky's team playoff record.

He seems to be the perfect fit for center Anze Kopitar. It's the best situation Gaborik has had for his ability.

Los Angeles had the top four scorers in the playoffs, led by center Kopitar; his 26 points were one more than teammates Jeff Carter and Justin Williams, and four more than linemate Gaborik, who led all players with 14 postseason goals after scoring 11 during the regular season.

The Kings played 26 games in the postseason, only two short the maximum.

"I'm emotionally spent like I've never been before," Dustin Brown said. "It's an accumulation of everything."

Drew Doughty and Jeff Carter played six extra games than their teammates because they helped Canada win the Olympic gold medal in Sochi.

"It's been a long year, a lot of games, I'm pretty tired right now," Doughty said. "I never thought it would be possible to win both in the same year."

In 2012, the Kings dominated on their way to the first championship in franchise history. The Kings won the Cup in 2012 after taking a 3-0 lead in all four rounds. They lost four games, including two in the Final to the New Jersey Devils.

This postseason, they needed an historic rally in first round, becoming the fourth team in NHL history to rally from an 0-3 deficit to defeat the San Jose Sharks; they needed three straight Game 7 victories on the road, an NHL record; and they needed three overtime victories on home ice against the Rangers.

The Rangers, if nothing else, had been hard to kill. They were 5-0 in elimination games in the 2014 playoffs and 11-2 in their last 13 overall. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist had a goals-against average of 1.00 and a save percentage of .971 in those five victories.