Monday, December 21, 2015

Best New Music

"Summer Jazz"
The Tins
Love on Strike

Breakfast in Fur
Flyaway Garden

Ancient Cities
Ancient Cities

"Tree House"
Husky Rescue
The Long Lost Friend


"Lego My Ego"
Jo Passed

"Today's The Day"
Tarmac Adam
In Place

"Story About A Broken Heart"
Benjamin's Brother
Like The First Time

"Running Away"
The Royal Foundry

"Ichigo Ichie"
Jake Shimabukuro

"Let's Get Back"
Matt Andersen
Honest Man

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The League Wraps Up its Seventh and Final Season

The League was never going to be an MVP-type TV show. Even though it scored the occasional celebrity cameo and a few members of its cast have since gone on to grab acclaim and bigger paychecks elsewhere, it always felt like a bench player. The kind of sturdy, hard-working athlete that bounces from one organization to another (in this case, from FX to FXX), gets along great with teammates, and occasionally scores some highlight reel-worthy moments and decent numbers while never breaking any records.

“I don’t really pay attention to the ratings,” says series co-creator Jackie Marcus Schaffer. “We never have. We probably should but we just don’t. We’re just grateful anyone’s watching the show. I know the ratings are okay if somebody walks up to me and I’m wearing a hat or a backpack with The League on it and they say, ‘Hey, I’ve seen your show!’ and I’m, like, ‘Aw, somebody has heard of this show! That’s amazing!’”

Even the best athletes have to hang it up some time. So it is that The League is set to wrap up its seventh and final season this week. And true to the spirit of the show and its place in the bloated TV landscape of 2015, it’s walking away quietly but with head held high, sticking to the show’s ample strengths: the crackerjack trash talk between the six frenemies who share a fantasy football league, injections of crazy energy from ringers like Jason Mantzoukas and Leslie Bibb, and plenty of untoward activity that would land any normal person in the pokey.

What you’re likely not going to see is a flurry of thinkpieces and gushing essays looking to place The League in the pantheon of cultural greats or copping to its enduring legacy. That’s a little too high-minded for an often low brow show. The true testament to what this series has wrought for a generation of NFL fans and comedy enthusiasts will be the little things: the catch phrases and stray bits of dialogue that have crept into message board and bar chatter, and in the names of fantasy football teams that are direct references to the show. In the top 100 this year: “Vinegar Strokes,” “Password Is Taco,” and “Chalupa Batman.” 

“We don’t get a lot of press, but mostly the fans stayed with it because it was funny,” says Jeff Schaffer, Jackie’s husband and the other mind behind The League. “In the end, the fact that at almost every NCAA basketball and football game, there’s a Mr. McGibblets there. Or people talking about frittatas or Eskimo brothers or how every time someone sees a Jetta, they wonder if there’s a hot girl in it. It’s gratifying to know that other people thought they were funny enough to tell their friends. And that’s how the show survived.”

That’s a modest assessment of The League’s staying power, and only partially true. The show came along in the midst of a boom in the world of fantasy sports, a market that is raking in billions of dollars each year. (Not for nothing is the fact that this show’s final season was quietly sponsored by a certain daily fantasy league.) Being tangentially affiliated with one of the most popular professional sports leagues in the U.S. certainly didn’t hurt, nor did the occasional cameo by star players like Jay Cutler, Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch.

Even more important to the show’s longevity was the rapport of the six actors that have remained front and center since the first episode aired back in 2009. That’s one of those x-factors that is almost impossible to predict, no matter how many chemistry tests and auditions you put your players through. That goes double for a show that relies almost entirely on the cast’s improvisational skills.

The League probably had more to prove on this front than most shows. The half-dozen leads were a pretty ragtag bunch: a couple of UCB vets (Nick Kroll and Paul Scheer), two folks best known for their work in mumblecore movies (married couple Mark Duplass and Katie Aselton), a stand-up comic on the rise (Steve Rannazzisi), and a musical comedian from Canada known best for his viral videos (Jon LaJoie). Not even a bank of supercomputers tasked with putting together the cast of a TV show might never have landed on this assortment. Random as it was, everyone involved willingly gushes about how the six leads hit their groove from the jump. 

“I think the problem with improvising in TV or film is everyone is trying to make themselves look good and they forget that the biggest tenet of improv is to make everyone else look good,” says Scheer, who played The League’s beloved douchey punching bag, Andre. “I don’t know how it was or how it came together, but with this group, everyone was always looking out for each other. We’re always trying to set each other up, and make the scene, and not ourselves, look better.”

That generosity only helped to elevate the show as a whole. Even with one of its cast members (Duplass) landing parts in Oscar-winning movies like Zero Dark Thirty, there was never a star that rose above the rest of the gang. It was pure ensemble comedy to the end, and it was written and acted with that same spirit in mind. Each character saw his/her share of ups and downs but they always all end up in the same place: usually sitting on a couch watching a game together or huddled around a bar table giving each other shit.

If that camaraderie on screen seemed to deepen, it was only a reflection of what was happening behind the scenes. True, Duplass and Aselton were married, and Kroll and Scheer were already buddies, but working in close proximity for long periods of time (the first season’s six episodes were filmed in just over two weeks, and they kept that kind of fast-paced production schedule throughout) only drew the six leads closer together and made filming the show’s last installment a bittersweet affair.

“I felt like the whole week leading up to the last day, it just kept sinking in,” remembers Rannazzisi. “A lot of the locations we were shooting at, like my house on the show and the bar…it felt weird. It felt good, like we were going out the way we wanted to.”

“Everyone was together,” says Jeff Schaffer of the show’s last shooting day. “We wanted to make sure that the last scene was with the whole group. And the amazing thing is that up until the last second, we were still making the show the way we started it, which was, like, trying to beat that joke, pitching on this. The last shot we were still doing that. That’s the way the cast is and that’s the way we are.”

While the show won’t go out on top of the ratings, everyone involved is walking away with their pride intact, their profile raised and zero regrets. Sure, it may not have made as much of a dent in the cultural world as the other unscripted TV show that Jeff Schaffer worked on (Curb Your Enthusiasm), but it put up good numbers and left it all out on the proverbial field. And thanks to the wonder of streaming services, it is ripe for rediscovery and, hopefully, reappraisal for years to come.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Famous Coaching Wisdom

"You take on what's right in front of you. You want to do the best you can with the opportunities that you have."

-Donald Francis "Don" Shula (born January 4, 1930) is best known as coach of the Miami Dolphins, the team he led to two Super Bowl victories, and to the only perfect season in the history of the National Football League. Shula was named 1993 Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated. He currently holds the NFL record for most career wins with 347. He has been head coach for six Super Bowls, a record tied with Bill Belichick. Shula's three Super Bowl records and total NFL wins still remain unbroken.

"Talent sets the floor. Character sets the ceiling."

-William Stephen "Bill" Belichick (born April 16, 1952) is the head coach for the New England Patriots of the National Football League. He also has extensive authority over the Patriots' football operations, effectively making him the team's general manager as well. Since early 2000, Belichick has coached the Patriots to six Super Bowl appearances. His teams won Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, and XLIX and lost Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. Belichick is the NFL's longest-tenured active head coach and currently is fifth in regular season coaching wins in the NFL at 221, and first in playoff coaching wins with 22. His four Super Bowl victories as head coach are tied for most all time with Chuck Noll.

"Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile."

-Vincent Thomas "Vince" Lombardi (June 11, 1913 – September 3, 1970) is best known as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers during the 1960s, where he led the team to three straight and five total National Football League championships in seven years, in addition to winning the first two Super Bowls following the 1966 and 1967 NFL seasons. Lombardi is considered by many to be one of the best and most successful coaches in professional football history. The NFL's Super Bowl trophy is named in his honor. He was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971, the year after his death.

“Little things make the difference. Everyone is well prepared in the big things, but only the winners perfect the little things.”

-Paul William "Bear" Bryant (September 11, 1913 – January 26, 1983) was best known as the longtime head coach of the University of Alabama football team. During his 25-year tenure as Alabama's head coach, he amassed six national championships and thirteen conference championships. Upon his retirement in 1982, he held the record for most wins as head coach in collegiate football history with 323 wins.

"When I was duck hunting with Bear Bryant, he shot at one but it kept flying. 'John,' he said, 'there flies a dead duck.' That's confidence."

-John Harvey McKay (July 5, 1923 – June 10, 2001) was the head coach at the University of Southern California from 1960 to 1975 and of the National Football League's Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1976 to 1984. In 16 seasons at USC, McKay compiled a record of 127–40–8 and won nine AAWU/Pac-8 conference titles. His teams made eight appearances in the Rose Bowl, with five wins. Four of his squads captured national titles (1962, 1967, 1972, 1974).

"Besides pride, loyalty, discipline, heart, and mind, confidence is the key to all the locks."

-Joseph Vincent "Joe" Paterno (December 21, 1926 – January 22, 2012) was the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions from 1966 to 2011. With 409 victories, Paterno is the winningest coach in FBS history. The team won two national championships—in 1982 and 1986. Paterno coached five undefeated teams that won major bowl games and, in 2007, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach. In all, he led the Nittany Lions to 37 bowl appearances with 24 wins.

"To me, this thing is a lot about life. Not every day in life is going to be great. Some of the greatest people are the ones that respond to adversity when things are not right and people aren’t saying the best things about you. Coming back from disappointment and showing a little character and being relentless, those things go a long way."

-Frank Mitchell Beamer (born October 18, 1946) is currently the head football coach at Virginia Tech, a position he has held since 1987. On November 1, 2015, Beamer announced that he will be retiring from coaching at the end of the 2015 football season. From 1981 to 1986, Beamer served as the head football coach at Murray State University. He is the 6th winningest and one of the longest tenured active coach in NCAA Division I FBS.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

#ThanksFrank: Beamer Gets VT to 23rd Straight Bowl Game

"I'm very aware of the situation with me, Virginia Tech, how long I've been there, how long I will be there," Beamer said. "I'm very aware of it, and I'm not going to be there longer than I feel like I'm a real plus for Virginia Tech. When I stop being a plus for Virginia Tech, you guys are going to have to come to Blacksburg to find me. At my house in Blacksburg, not the football office."

Shane Beamer mobbed his father, Frank, but he was late. Bud Foster was already there as both assistant coaches rushed to embrace the beloved 69-year-old Virginia Tech patriarch.

Chuck Clark intercepted Matt Johns with 59 seconds left, securing a 23-20 win and a 23rd consecutive bowl game for the retiring Frank Beamer.

Virginia Tech (6-6, 4-4 ACC) took on the personality of its head coach over the final three games, playing with a resiliency that lifted the Hokies to a bowl game and an extension to Beamer’s career. ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reported midway through the game Justin Fuente would be the Hokies’ next head coach, but the Virginia Tech players weren’t ready to wish their current coach farewell.

Twice in the second half, the Hokies trailed rival Virginia by a touchdown, and both times a stagnant offense found life. Quarterback Michael Brewer, ineffective most of the day as the Cavaliers bludgeoned him, connected on several long passing plays to keep pace with Virginia.

After the game ended, the Hokies lifted Beamer on their shoulders and carried him off the field with the Commonwealth Cup in his hand. It was the 12th consecutive win over rival Virginia (4-8, 3-5).

“I love this football team,” Beamer said afterward on the field. “They battle. They do what it takes to win. They’re a great character group of kids. I love them to death.”

Michael Brewer threw for 237 yards and two touchdowns for the Hokies. Running back Travon McMillian added 81 yards on the ground and receiver Isaiah Ford had 121 receiving yards and his school single season record 10th touchdown of the year.

November 21, 2015: Beamer's last game at Lane Stadium as coach

Roanoke Times:
He’ll get to coach for that home crowd for the 180th time in his Hall of Fame career. He's gone 136-42-1 in Lane during his 29 years, a winning percentage of .763, which more than doubles the overall win total of any other Virginia Tech coach.

The longest winning streak Beamer had at home was 16 games from the start of the 1999 season to the first four games of 2001. He also had home winning streaks of 12 games (2007-09), 12 games (1995-97) and 11 games (1993-94). Beamer had 18 seasons in his 29-year Virginia Tech career in which he lost only one or no games at home.

Along the way, there were plenty of big wins. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster, who has been with Beamer every year since 1979, when he was a linebacker and Beamer the defensive coordinator at Murray State, had a tough time narrowing down the memories.

There was his first win as a defensive coordinator in 1995 against a Miami team that had given Tech troubles, the Thursday night win against Clemson during the 1999 BCS title game season when defensive end Corey Moore took over, the 62-0 rout of Syracuse later that season (“We just kind of rolled sevens,” Foster said) and, more recently, comeback wins against Nebraska and Miami.

“I don’t know that I’ve ever heard the stadium explode like that Nebraska game on Danny Coale’s catch or us stopping Miami on that particular game here a few years ago,” Foster said. “We’ve had a lot of good wins here. This place became a really good place that was a tough field to play in. We’ve got to do that one more time.”

Five of the Hokies’ nine assistant coaches played for Beamer at either Murray State or Virginia Tech — Foster, defensive line coach Charley Wiles, defensive secondary coach Torrian Gray, linebackers coach Cornell Brown and his son, running backs coach Shane Beamer. Stinespring has been on his staff since coming on as a graduate assistant in 1990.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Jill Andrews - "Cannibal"

We were huge fans of Andrews’ band The Everybodyfields, and the Knoxville, Tenn., songwriter's solo material is just as satisfying. Andrews was kind enough to stop by the Paste studio during CMJ to perform a few tracks from her latest album, The War Inside.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

#ThanksEinstein, #HelloJetman

In 1912, struggling to fashion the equations, he wrote to a colleague that 'Never before in my life have I tormented myself anything like this.' Yet, just a year later, while working in Zurich with his more mathematically attuned colleague Marcel Grossmann, Einstein came tantalizingly close to the answer. Leveraging results from the mid-1800s that provided the geometrical language for describing curved shapes, Einstein created a wholly novel yet fully rigorous reformulation of gravity in terms of the geometry of space and time.

It was a hundred years ago this November, and Albert Einstein was enjoying a rare moment of contentment. Days earlier, on November 25, 1915, he had taken to the stage at the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin and declared that he had at last completed his agonizing, decade-long expedition to a new and deeper understanding of gravity. The general theory of relativity, Einstein asserted, was now complete.

The month leading up to the historic announcement had been the most intellectually intense and anxiety-ridden span of his life. It culminated with Einstein’s radically new vision of the interplay of space, time, matter, energy and gravity, a feat widely revered as one of humankind’s greatest intellectual achievements.

Live Science:
Time after time, experiments have proved that Einstein's theory of general relativity, which describes the way gravity behaves, especially when dealing with high speeds and large masses. In the new study, physicists looked at gobs of data on planetary orbits to look for tiny anomalies that couldn't be explained by either Isaac Newton's theory of gravity — in which gravity is a force between objects that depends on their masses — or Einstein's general relativity theory, which says gravity is a warping of space-time itself.

And Einstein's theory holds up, once again.

"They've assembled decades of data of planetary motions to look for deviations from Lorentz invariance, a cornerstone of both [special and general relativity] and the Standard Model of particle physics," said Paul M. Sutter, an astrophysicist at Ohio State University who was not involved in the new study. "If someone finds evidence for this [violation], it's instant Nobel."

More information:
» Popular Science: "General Relativity: 100 Years Old And Still Full Of Surprises"
» The Guardian: "Relativity versus quantum mechanics"
» Smithsonian: "Why String Theory Still Offers Hope We Can Unify Physics"

Thursday, November 5, 2015

"Floating Cities are Generally Not Fata Morgana Mirages"


A video is being widely shared on social media (and the "weird news" sections of more traditional media) claiming to show the image of an impossibly large city rising above the fog in the city of Foshan (佛山), Guangdong province, China.

Some have said this is an example of a fata morgana, a type of mirage where light is bent though the atmosphere in such a way to create the illusion of buildings on the horizon. This is utterly impossible in this case, as fata morgana only creates a very thin strip of such an illusion very close to the horizon, and appears small and far away. It does not create images high in the sky.

No expert has actually looked at this video and said it was a fata morgana, and they won't because it's obviously not.

The second and more common type of "floating city" illusions is with buildings that are simply rising up out of clouds or low fog, and hence appear to be floating above them. This has led to "floating city" stories in the past, with this recent example, also from China.

This is simply a photo of building across the river, but when cropped it appears like they are floating, which led to all kinds of wild stories of "ghost cities". This actually came from mistranslations of the original news reports, where local people (who knew exactly what they were looking at) were simply marveling at how pretty the scene looked, with the buildings appearing to float above clouds.

The image actually looks quite like this older image taken from a video published in June 2015.

Here we can see the image is more obviously faked in some way. The "floating" building on the right goes in front of the mountains. This means it cannot be some kind of natural phenomena. The image is either a digital composite, or it was filmed through a window or other sheet of glass.

While the two examples are not identical, there's enough similarities to think that they were faked in the same manner.

Here's an example of someone posting a reflection on Weibo, and calling it a "Mirage" (海市蜃楼) On Weibo it's quite common to see the word "mirage" used to describe a photo of buildings in cloud. i.e. it's generally used figuratively.

Cities in clouds are popular subjects in China. While some videos are obviously just a city in clouds, they are described as "海市蜃楼", or mirage. An image search for this word gives many other examples, largely of buildings rising above clouds, but also some Fata Morgana, as well as many artistic interpretations.


In the decades following “Vanderdecken’s Message Home" in 1821, few other than the most superstitious (or most intoxicated) of sailors actually feared the Flying Dutchman, but real fata morganas made their way into the blossoming mass media of America. In 1871, the Sentinel of Santa Cruz, California reported a fata morgana that made a steamer appear “four or five stories high,” while other schooners played about beautifully in the mirage. Some 20 years later in Buffalo, New York, 20,000 people gathered to witness a fata morgana on Lake Ontario. Though Toronto was over 50 miles away, “its church spires could be counted with the greatest ease” through the mirage, reported Scientific American.

At work here is some basic physics. When the sun heats up the atmosphere above the ocean, it creates a gradient of temperatures: Near the surface, it’s still relatively cool because the water is chilling that air, but sitting above that is a layer of warmer air. Now, light doesn’t always travel in a straight line. When it hits a boundary between two layers of the atmosphere that are different temperatures (and therefore different densities), it bends and travels through the new layer at a different angle. This is known as refraction. The change in the light’s angle of travel depends on the difference in density between the two layers.

How does bending light create a mirage? The rest of the effect is caused by how your brain works. When light hits your eyes, your brain assumes it arrived there in a straight path between you and the object reflecting the light. So if light is bent on its way toward you, your brain will think the object is where it would be if the light’s path was straight. This is why when you are looking down on a surface of water, objects under the surface will appear to be in a different spot than they actually are—just ask a spear fisherman…if you happen to know a spear fisherman. The human brain doesn’t automatically account for the refraction. (Interestingly, the brains of some birds like ospreys do correct for the effect so that when they dive headlong into the water after a fish, they are right on target.)

In the case of a fata morgana mirage, light reflecting from a distant object such as a ship is bent downward as it passes through the colder, denser air near the surface of the ocean (or sometimes cold land, particularly ice). But your brain places the object where it would be if the light came to you in a straight path—higher than it actually is. This bending effect can even work with the curvature of the Earth if conditions are just right, which is why some fata morgana images can actually be refracted cities and ships from beyond the horizon.

The opposite situation is what produces mirages like an oasis of water in the desert. In this case, a hot layer of air just above the surface bends light rays up toward your eyes, causing your brain to perceive things as much lower than they actually are. The desert oasis is actually the sky. This kind of mirage is known as inferior, while the fata morgana, which places objects higher than they actually are, is superior.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Redskins Attorneys: No Trademark Has Been Cancelled for Being Disparaging

"The cancellation of the team’s trademark registrations won’t go into effect until the Redskins have exhausted the appeals process in federal court. Even if the team takes the case to the Supreme Court and loses, it can still use the name “Redskins” and leverage trademark protections under state law. Still, the team has argued that losing its protections could hurt its brand and aid copycats who want to sell unlicensed merchandise."
Washington Post:
Nearly four months after a federal judge ordered the cancellation of the Washington Redskins’ federal trademark registrations for disparaging Native Americans, the National Football League team is appealing with a provocative tactic: listing the names of porn, clothing and beer companies that use offensive language but nonetheless have the support of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

“By way of example only, the following marks are registered today: Take Yo Panties Off clothing; Dangerous Negro shirts . . . Midget-Man condoms and inflatable sex dolls,” the Redskins’ attorneys wrote in their opening brief filed Friday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, based in Richmond. The lawyers later added a footnote with 31 more trademark registrations, many of them unprintable in The Washington Post. On the list: “Party With Sluts . . . Redneck Army apparel . . . Booty Call sex aids . . . Dumb Blonde hair products.”

In their bid to preserve the Redskins’ trademark registrations, the team’s attorneys are making a two-pronged argument: How can the government allow federal trademark registrations for those inflammatory entities but strip the Redskins of their protections? And, regardless of how offensive a trademark’s name might be, how can the government reject a registration without infringing on First Amendment rights?

“A ban on registering ‘disparaging’ trademarks unconstitutionally burdens speech based on content and viewpoint, just as would a ban on registering copyrights for ‘disparaging’ books,” wrote the team’s attorneys, led by Lisa Blatt and Robert Raskopf.

Maury Lane, a spokesman for the team, said in a statement: “In fact, since 1870, over three million trademarks have been registered, and we have found none that have ever been cancelled for being disparaging. We believe that the government’s action tramples core principles of free speech and sets a dangerous precedent for other brands.”

The team is on its third attempt in the past 18 months to save its trademark registrations.
It lost the first round in mid-2014, when the federal Trademark Trial and Appeal Board declared in a 2-to-1 ruling that the name offends a substantial number of Native Americans and is therefore ineligible for federal trademark registration under the Lanham Act, which doesn’t permit such protection for names that “may disparage” or bring people into disrepute.

The appeal board had been petitioned by a group of five Native American activists, led by Amanda Blackhorse, a Navajo Nation member and social worker.

The Redskins sued Blackhorse and the four other Native Americans in federal court in Alexandria to overturn the ruling. But the team lost that round in July, after U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee upheld the appeal board’s ruling.

Most notably, Lee said stripping the team of its federal trademark registrations doesn’t violate its First Amendment rights. He said such protections are a form of government speech carrying the government’s endorsement and are therefore exempt from First Amendment scrutiny.

The Redskins’ attorneys, in their opening brief before the appeals court, contested Lee’s argument.

“No one today thinks registration reflects government approval,” they wrote. “But if this Court holds that it does, how will the government explain registrations like Marijuana for Sale . . . [or] Licensed Serial Killer? . . . Does registration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unconstitutionally endorse religion?”

Attorneys for Blackhorse declined to comment. They are expected to file a response in court by mid-January.

More information:
» Maxim: The Washington Redskins are appealing a federal judge's cancelation
» 9News: "Washington Redskins 'Racist', But Colorado Redskins OK?"

Monday, November 2, 2015

Tool/Primus Headline Monster Mash in Tempe, Arizona

"The music is a catalyst for the ideas," says Keenan, who saw Bill Hicks perform only once, but nevertheless owns bootlegged versions of the albums Rykodisc is planning to release. "His ideas were what really resonated with us. I think that's what he really liked about us as well -- that we were resonating similar concepts. Unity is the philosophical center. Evolution. Change. Internally and externally. Individually and globally. That's pretty much the gist of his comedy no matter what he was talking about -- music, porno, smoking. Whatever it was, it came back to the idea of unity and evolution. Evolving ideas."
Consequence of Sound:
Tool will temporarily step out of the studio to headline Tempe, Arizona’s Monster Mash festival on Halloween (October 31st). It marks Tool’s only confirmed performance of 2015 and return to the stage for the first time since embarking on a brief US tour in April 2014. The lineup for Monster Mash also features Primus and Coheed and Cambria."

Rolling Stone:
Tool's only scheduled tour date of 2015 – a headlining set at Tempe, Arizona's Monster Mash – happened to fall on Halloween, so the dormant group celebrated the occasion by resurrecting their cover of Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter" onstage for the first time since 1998. Not only did the Lateralus crew dust off the Houses of the Holy classic, the group did it in full costume as Maynard James Keenan performed the song as Robert Plant, with the rest of Tool similarly donning Zeppelin-era clothing, Stereogum reports.

Tool's Monster Mash gig marked the first show by the full band since March 2014 – the members of Tool did reconvene sans Keenan Friday night for a VIP warm-up gig in Tempe – and the only concert the group has planned for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, Keenan will tour in support of Puscifer's new LP Money Shot, work on his upcoming authorized biography and possibly work on Tool's first album since 2006's 10,000 Days.

"They're working hard in their own way; I'm working hard in my own way, and I've got nothin' for ya," Keenan told Rolling Stone of his band mates' progress on the new Tool album.

AZ Central:
At Tempe Town Lake, the most popular costume of the night appeared to be that of "diehard Tool fan," a point the long line at the Tool merch booth drove home. The Tool sweatshirts and hoodies were sold out even before the anticipated evening temperature drop.

Which was a boon to With Our Arms to the Sun, the local band which shares management with Tool and opened the show. They had some cozy autumnal overgarments left even after their scorching, well-received afternoon set. You've got to give a band props for successfully conveying what they classify as "cinematic experimental music from the desert" in the harsh light of day.

ÆGES never spared the hooks throughout its energizing set which included a new song "Another Wasteland" which Winters claimed was "The first time we ever played that song, in front of 25,000 people." At the merch booth, Josh Breckenridge, frontman for With Our Arms to the Sun, told me there were 30,000 tickets sold for the Saturday show.

Coheed and Cambria's latest material is a complete 180 from the usual prog-rock concept album discography we're used to hearing from Claudio Sanchez and company. The band's new album is (gulp) a non-concept album with nothing to do with Sanchez' continuing Armory Wars storyline, making their set a most schizoid affair, as if you had selections from Rush's "2112" and Queen's "News of the World" on the same mixtape.

When Primus took to the stage with two giant lit-up mushrooms bookending the band, you could still see the stage somewhat. It was then that a lot of the new arrivals had to make an executive decision. Do we stand where we can hear the vocals clearly but can't see anything or sit in the Food Court where you could see the videos clearly but the vocals were only heard from a distance. Since most of Les Claypool's vocals are a mumble anyway, the Food Court seemed the safer bet.

It's undeniable that Claypool wrenches sounds out of a bass that no other homo sapien does (and admittedly, most bass players don't have a bass with a whammy bar to facilitate such experimentation). He's a master technician who has influenced everyone from the kid down the street practicing in his parents' basement to the guy that does the poppin' breaks on every Seinfeld episode. A little Primus goes a long way for most non-musos and as far as watching a craftsman playing a bowed stick bass that looks like a giant toothbrush from far away, you might as well be watching a carpenter sand down a table. And if that carpenter is wearing a Mr. Krinkle pig mask and playing something else in the background, no contest.

By the time Tool took the stage at 10 p.m., you were lucky to find a patch of grass on a hill where you could see a portion of the pentagram that hung above the stage. Tool fans went nuts when they played Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter" for the first time since 1998, with Maynard James Keenan allegedly dressed like Robert Plant. I say allegedly because the video feed which allowed us to see every inch of Les Claypool's face earlier was turned off and only offered computer graphics later on.

"Does anyone remember Napster?" our faux Plant exclaimed. After completing this classic rock staple, Maynard said, "Thank you good night!" and three minutes of bass feedback followed.

People on the grassy knoll behind the closed water-slide section were concerned. Was this Maynard's way of getting back at Tool fans who took things too seriously, as his recent New Times cover story claimed? Admittedly doing one song and vacating the premises would've been the greatest Halloween trick of all time but he came back to give us the good and bad news.

"The good news... is it's fucking Halloween. The bad news is... we are not Led Zeppelin."

If Tool fans also lack a sense of humor, as demonstrated by their purported intolerance of Puscifer, Keenan wasn't going to let it ruin his good time.

"When you play shows for tens and thousands of years, it's always exciting when someone really famous shows up," he said, getting everyone's hopes up until he name-checked some dude dressed as The Caped Crusader up front. "It's a real honor, Batman. I'm a great admirer of your work," he said.

The biggest cheers of the night came when Keenan sang "Learn to swim, I'll see you down in Arizona Bay" during his Bill Hicks tribute "Ænema."

Consequence of Sound:
In anticipation of Tool’s performance at Monster Mash, frontman Maynard James Keenan spoke with David Accomazzo of the Phoenix New Times. Understandably many of the questions posed to him were about his three-time Grammy Award-winning rock band. “But as with any time he’s asked about Tool, his answers quickly become curt,” Accomazzo notes, “A hint of exasperation creeps into his voice and he exhales heavily through his nose.”

Asked about the humor found in Tool’s albums, Keenan responded, “Yeah, it’s there, but people miss it because they’re so focused on the other bullshit.” He added, “It’s lost. Insufferable people … It’s just ridiculous, retards. I’m sorry. Can’t help them. Way too serious. Too much. Lighten up.”

In the interview, Keenan also admitted that the rest of the band “had to con me into” playing the Monster Mash performance, and when it comes to Tool’s long-awaited new album, he replied simply, “There’s nothing to say. I can’t.”

Instead, Keenan appears focused solely on his other band, Puscifer, which is set to appear at Monster Mash, ironically enough. In the interview, he also spoke extensively about his burgeoning wine business.

Keenan has given a statement to Billboard magazine: "It is unfortunate that during an interview about Puscifer's Friday release of Money Shot, a comment I made, in the context of a much lengthier discussion about obsessive fanatics, was taken out of context by a few “news” outlets so they could drive up their own readership. It's called clickbait and it's boring. Our core fanbase aren't fanatics. They're music lovers, artists and good people. It's the fanatics that are insufferable."

More information:
» Setlist: Monster Mash at Tempe Beach Park
» Phoenix New Times: "Tool Fans Will Just Have to Wait"

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Frank Beamer Announces Retirement at End of 2015 Season

Hokie Sports:
BLACKSBURG - Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer announced Sunday his intention to retire upon the conclusion of the 2015 season. Beamer informed Virginia Tech officials, his players and coaches today.

“I have always said that ‘I want what is best for Virginia Tech,’” Beamer said. “Because of my love and passion for this great university, this program and our tremendous fans, I have decided after 29 years that it’s time. Today, I informed Dr. Timothy Sands and Whit Babcock of my decision to retire at the conclusion of the 2015 season.

“I was going to wait until the end of the season to make this announcement, but I’ve always believed in being open and honest with my players and coaches. I know Hokie Nation will continue to give our players and our coaches their full support in these last three games, and hopefully through a bowl game. I will be forever grateful to everyone who made these past three decades the best years of my life. It’s an emotional day for me and my family. I am so honored and humbled to have served as your head coach.

“I will speak about my retirement at my regular press conference tomorrow, and after that, my sole and absolute focus will return to coaching these players as best as I can and encouraging our coaches and staff who I care for so deeply.”

Beamer owns a 277-143-4 (.656) career head coaching record in 35 seasons, including a 235-120-2 (.661) mark during his 29 years at Virginia Tech. His 277 career wins are the most of any active FBS coach and are sixth all-time in the FBS. But perhaps two of his most notable accomplishments are the fact that 100 percent of his senior football student-athletes have graduated dating back to 2012 and that 25 different sets of brothers have played for him at Virginia Tech.

A 1969 graduate of Virginia Tech, Beamer was a three-year starting cornerback for the Hokies and was a member of the school’s 1966 and 1968 Liberty Bowl squads. After taking over as the Hokies’ head coach in 1987, he built the football program at his alma mater into a national power. He has guided the Hokies to 22 consecutive bowl games, the longest active streak recognized by the NCAA. A former defensive back for Virginia Tech, Beamer’s No. 25 jersey was retired by the school in 2002. On Aug. 6, 2015 the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors officially renamed Spring Road in front of Lane Stadium as “Beamer Way.”

“Coach Beamer contacted me earlier today with his decision to retire following this season,” Virginia Tech Director of Athletics Whit Babcock stated. “Coach will always remain one of the most beloved figures in college football history. He’s a future Hall-of-Famer, an educator and a role model. His contributions to Virginia Tech and the game of football - both on and off of the field – are unquestionable and beyond measure.

“It’s been an unbelievable honor and privilege for me to work with the winningest active coach in college football for the past two years. Like the hundreds of players and the thousands of lives he has touched and impacted in such a positive and profound manner over his life and career, he has positively impacted mine as well and I am a better athletic director for it.

“He coached the game the right way and no one coached it better, no one. You cannot ‘replace’ Coach Beamer. What an amazing run it was over the past 29 years! He will be missed on the sideline, but he and Cheryl will always be part of the Virginia Tech family.

“Moving forward, first and foremost, we will focus our efforts on supporting Coach, his staff, and most importantly our students who play football, in order to finish this season on a high note. I’m confident the Hokie Nation will rally around them and do the same. Coach will lead our program through the remainder of the season and hopefully in a bowl game for the 23rd consecutive year.

“Today is about Coach Beamer and celebrating all that he and his staff have meant to Virginia Tech. Once the regular season is completed, I will speak about our search and finding the next great leader for our program. That is for another time. Today is both a sad and proud day for the Hokie Family. We will stay strong, together.”

Beamer’s legacy as one of the game’s most influential coaches will be marked by consistently stellar special teams play and exceptional defense. The Hokies have blocked 136 kicks (67 punts, 41 field goals and 28 PATs) during his tenure. Dating back to 1996, no Power Five program has registered more sacks (740.0) or interceptions (335). Since the start of the 1995 season, Ohio State (15) is the only Power Five program that has produced more seasons with 10 or more victories than Virginia Tech (13). A total of 93 Virginia Tech players under his tenure have been drafted by the National Football League, while numerous others have signed NFL free agent contracts.

Beamer guided the Hokies to four ACC titles (2004, 2007, 2008 and 2010), five ACC Coastal Division crowns, three BIG EAST Conference titles, two “major” bowl victories, six BCS appearances and a trip to the 1999 national championship game. Tech won the BIG EAST title in 1995 and 1999, and shared it in 1996. The Hillsville, Virginia, product was voted BIG EAST Coach of the Year by the league’s coaches each of those seasons and was tabbed the Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year in both 2004 and 2005. Following the 1999 season, he earned eight national coach of the year honors.

“Over the past three decades, Virginia Tech and Coach Beamer have transformed the university and the football program together and have created a legacy on which we will continue to grow,” said Virginia Tech President Dr. Timothy Sands. “Coach Beamer built our football program into a consistent winner through continuous innovation, a relentless work ethic and a commitment to integrity, while Virginia Tech was becoming a major research university with global reach.”

“Virginia Tech and our football team share these values,” Dr. Sands continued. “The spirit of ‘Ut Prosim’ (That I May Serve) and the strong community we call Hokie Nation have created a special bond between our university and its football team, a result that would not have been possible without Coach Beamer’s leadership through his words, but most importantly, through his integrity and actions.

“Laura and I want to thank Frank and Cheryl Beamer for their many contributions and we look forward to celebrating the indelible contributions of these remarkable Hokies.”

Beamer’s illustrious coaching career began as an assistant at Radford High School from 1969 through 1971. Then, after one season as a graduate assistant at the University of Maryland, he went to The Citadel where he worked five seasons under Bobby Ross and one year under Art Baker. His last two years at The Citadel, Beamer was the defensive coordinator. In 1979, he went to Murray State as the defensive coordinator under Mike Gottfried. He was named head coach at MSU in 1981 and went on to compile a six-year record of 42-23-2.

He is married to the former Cheryl Oakley of Richmond, Virginia. They have two children, Shane, a former member of his father’s football team at Virginia Tech and now the associate head coach/running backs coach at Virginia Tech; and daughter Casey, a 2003 graduate of Tech. He has four grandchildren, Sutton, Olivia and Hunter, children of Shane and his wife, Emily. Casey, who married former Virginia Tech wrestler Canaan Prater in 2012, had her first son, Hudson, in February.

Beamer was born in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, and grew up in Hillsville, Virginia. At Hillsville High, he earned 11 varsity letters as a three-sport athlete in football, basketball and baseball.

Sports Illustrated:
So what’s next? Beamer has made Tech a high-level job, and the university won’t lack for interest. Rumors have been flying about Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez for months, primarily because of his previous connection to Tech athletic director Whit Babcock. But no one really knows for sure who will be calling the shots next season.

The only thing we know is it won’t be Frank Beamer for the first time since 1987. Hite hopes Beamer is able to end his career with his bowl streak alive. The Hokies have games left against Georgia Tech, North Carolina and arch-rival Virginia. Beamer and Tech have won 11 straight against the Cavaliers.

“I know the guys who played for him, they want to make sure this group takes him out the right way,” Hite said. “They want to see him win these last three games. I think our team will fight their asses off to get him out of here a winner.”

More information:
» Roanoke Times: Memphis head coach Justin Fuente to be next VT head coach

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Harvest Guide: Cutting, Trimming, Drying, Curing

"Marijuana will lose approximately 75 percent of its weight during drying due to water evaporating from plant matter. Buds dried too fast will be frail and may start to crumble. Keep humidity between 45 and 55 percent in your drying room to prevent this and to help keep aroma and flavor locked in. Buds are done drying and ready for curing when stems snap when bent rather than just folding over. Air exchanges during curing should occur every four or five hours with curing bins left open for 10 minutes at a time."
High Times:
If a grower can consistently examine trichomes and keep accurate time records from the start of the flowering photoperiod (12/12 light cycle), then it should be no problem for the grower to begin flushing out the grow medium in preparation for the harvest.

There are various methods by which even the most amateur grower can tell when buds are truly ripe for the picking. The simplest and quickest way to know is by examining the pistils, or long hairs, that cover the plant’s buds. At the onset of flowering, these pistils are white and stringy. But as the flowering period comes to an end, they begin to turn color, first from white to orange and then again to a dark red or brown. These color changes signify the maturation of the buds; however, the color and time frame may vary significantly across different varieties of cannabis.

As with pistils, trichomes also begin to change color as the buds mature. But in this scenario, a grower wants to harvest buds before they get too dark in color. Even a subtle amber hue in these glands could mean that cannabinoids have begun breaking down and decomposing, which means less potent pot. Using a magnifier between 50x-100x, advanced growers look for a creamy or milky white color in trichomes that tells them it’s time to harvest.

The Two-Step Flush
The last two weeks of flowering should be spent getting rid of any built-up nutrients in the growing medium, a process called leaching, or flushing. By removing all access to nutrients, the plant begins to consume its stored food reserves. These reserves are nasty compounds that we don't want in our smoke, such as sugars, starches and various other elements. Harvesting plants that still have these undesirable elements present will only result in a harsh smoke and terrible burnability.

Flushing should begin about 14 days before harvest by stopping all nutrients and using only pure water to feed the plants. By providing no nutrients, you force the plant to rely only on what is left in the growing medium to feed on. The actual act of flushing is achieved by over-irrigating the medium until the nutrients inside are dissolved and washed out the bottom of the container. The best way to do this is with a two-step flush technique. (The process is an easy one.)

 First, flood the grow medium with a heavy dose of water and wait a few minutes to allow all of the salts (nutrient buildup) to break down. Then add more water to chase out the first dose. By waiting a few minutes after adding the first dose of water, you're allowing enough time for the water to dissolve the salts. As salts decompose, they can be effectively flushed out by the second dose. Traditional leaching usually employs only the first flush of water, which isn’t always adequate for complete dissolution.

A few days after flushing, you should notice signs of nitrogen deficiency. The leaves will go from dark to light green, eventually turning completely yellow. Another sign is a reddening of the leaf stems, starting at the center of the leaf where the blades come together.

Test your flush by snapping off a leaf and tasting the juice that flows from the stem. If the taste is bitter, there's still plenty of food in the plant's system. When the juices are clean and taste like pure water, the plant is clean enough for harvest. The bitterness is from nutrients and other chemicals that you definitely do not want in your smoke.

Dry Air = More Resin
 One final flush should occur a day or two before harvesting, with the final 24 hours of the garden’s life being spent in relative dryness. This last deluge should be done with fresh water and can be a single or a two-step flush, depending on how much fertilizer was applied previous to the final two weeks of flowering. This will be the final watering your plants ever get. In doing this, you help ensure that the plants will begin to slowly dehydrate as you approach harvest, which in turn will aid the plants in their final hours of resin production.

Some gardeners even like to allow their medium to go bone-dry before harvesting. The idea is that resin production seems to skyrocket if the medium is allowed to dry before harvesting, but this isn't due to dry medium – it's due to dry air.

When the relative humidity in the garden is low, your resin production will increase. This is a natural response cannabis has to dry air, an attempt to protect itself from hot, dry conditions. Marijuana resin actually has one of the highest UV-resistance ratings in the plant kingdom. The resin reflects light, preventing the buds from getting sunburn. (This is also why it's so easy for helicopters to spot marijuana from the sky; it glows when seen through UV-sensitive equipment.)

Lowering the humidity in the room on that last night before harvest morning will ensure increased resin production, without having to let the medium go bone-dry first. Additionally, some growers like to subject their gardens to prolonged dark periods of up to 24 hours just before cutting, claiming they notice spikes in resin production. This is all right as the low humidity will cut down on light uptake anyway, plus it helps to make sure liquid foods within the plants drain down to the root zone.

What Time of Day to Harvest?
Timing the harvest is paramount to the final quality. Harvest your precious buds in the dark, just before the lights normally come on. If possible, do not allow the plants to see direct light as long as their roots are attached. Direct light on a plant will draw up stored starches and sugars from the root system.

"When the resin glands or trichomes (on your buds) are about one-half turning a milky white or amber in color (versus clear or translucent), and the small hairs have begun to turn orange, brown or reddish in color, it is then almost time to harvest your weed. You have a window of 5-7 days for peak harvest and potency. I will tell you, the more amber the trichomes have turned, the 'stonier' the pot will likely be. This is why I recommend harvesting when about 1/2 of the resin glands have turned amber in color - be patient, and be sure of what you see."

Harvest & Manicure
Most indoor growers begin taking off the large fan leaves about a week before actual harvest. This is a good idea, especially once these leaves begin paling from green to yellow in color. Continue your harvest by taking off all leaves not associated with the buds and then move on to trimming off the smaller sugar leaves. Look for leaves with little resin coverage first and then move into the interior of the nuggets. It’s easier to remove leaves within the buds once they have dried out a bit, but that adds extra time and a second round of manicuring. By turning buds over and getting to the underside of smaller sugar leaves, it becomes easier to snip away at the stem and remove the entire leaf. Many growers like to only trim off leaf edges that come out of buds, leaving an aesthetic shape to the bud with the heavily resinated portion of the sugar leaves still intact within the buds.
Once the plants are cut, trimmed and manicured to perfection, it is best to hang branches upside down on strings strung across open spaces to get maximum air flow over your buds. Keeping buds on the branches does slow the drying, as the branches do retain some water however, this is the easiest way to completely surround buds with dry air without using drying chambers or machines.

Drying for Taste and Burnability
Now that you've harvested and are ready to dry and cure, you will want to preserve as much of the vibrant color and taste of your herb as possible. Buds should hang dry for five to seven days at the ideal temperature of about 70ºF with 50 percent humidity. You want to get most of the water out of the buds in those first days and then slow the process down for another week or so during the curing process.

At four to five days into the dry, the tips of some buds might be dry enough to pluck off and sample. After the buds have gone through their full cycle of drying, we want to slow the whole thing down and draw the rest of the moisture out very gradually. This is the curing process.

What’s the Cure?
If your herb is harvested correctly, there is very little need for long cures. Long cures are needed to make harsh herb smoke smoother. If you start out with smooth, clean herb, there's less need for long cures. Most buds should be cured and ready to smoke in less than two weeks after the drying period. Expert growers who harvest properly can complete curing in five or six days, but a good average can easily range from 10 to 14 days.

Inexperienced growers often tend to get impatient and only cure for a few days, but this can be a costly mistake when it comes to potency. Allowing the buds to cure evenly, which means drying at a slower rate, removes moisture within the buds so that all the THC can be converted in its psychoactive form.

The curing process evens out the moisture levels in the herb. You want the same amount of moisture in the center of the buds as you do on the outside of the buds until they are almost totally devoid of fluids. Completely drying the herb too fast can trap moisture in the middle and not allow for a proper cure.

For the curing process, you want to put the half-dried buds into air-tight containers. Inside the container, the buds will become evenly moist, inside and out, as they begin to “sweat." You can check to see if your buds are sweating and releasing moisture by gently squeezing them between your fingers to see if they feel damper than they did a few hours before sealing them up. Glass jars with rubber seals and lockdown lids are the best option for curing, but for large amounts of harvested buds, you’ll need something much bigger. Tight-sealing rubber or plastic bins are the best option for large quantities of buds but many growers feel these containers impart a plastic-type taste onto the buds. This can be offset by adding a small slice of lemon or orange peel to the bins toward the end of your cure.

Once the buds are again evenly moist, open the containers to let the moist air exchange with fresh air. Air exchanges are essential to the curing process. Not only do they prevent condensation from forming in your curing bins, but the fresh air is drier than the air you just allowed to escape from the container. The moisture still trapped in the herb will again slowly escape and moisten the new, fresh air. Open the container several times a day to exchange the moistened air with fresh air to slowly draw out the moisture in the buds. Eventually (again, one to two weeks) the moisture level in the herb will be at the right level to stash away and, of course, smoke!

"Roughneck is a hybrid Centennial Seeds bred from Jamaican Lambsbread and the Purple Rhino IBL. The result is a powerful Sativa-dominant hybrid that expresses beautiful purple hues and a delicious, somewhat savory bouquet. With its heavy Sativa influence, the effects are very strong and markedly stimulating. Roughneck is reccommended appropriate for: pain, focus, mood elevation, appetite suppression. The plant is easy to grow and very productive. Examples of Roughneck have tested >22% THC. Flowering time: 9 - 10 weeks."

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

HarvardX Neuroscience Series: Poetry of Perception

Part 1/8: Poetry of Perception from HarvardX Neuroscience on Vimeo.
"The world is given to me only once, not one existing and one perceived. Subject and object are only one." Erwin Schrödinger. An eight-part series on representations of perception and sensation.

Words by Walt Whitman
Animation by Sophie Koko Gate
3D Floater Animation by Tomas Kemp
Narration by Peter Blegvad
Sound + Music by Oswald Skillbard
Produced by Nadja Oertelt

Part 2/8: Poetry of Perception from HarvardX Neuroscience on Vimeo.

"Both artists and scientists strive, even if in different ways, toward the goal of discovering new uniformities or lawful regularities." Hermann Helmholtz

Words by Emily Dickinson
Animation by Hannah Jacobs
Narration by Anna Martine
Sound + Music by Oswald Skillbard
Produced by Nadja Oertelt

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

John Lennon in I Met the Walrus

The Atlantic:
In 1969, then 14-year-old Jerry Levitan snuck into John Lennon's Toronto hotel room with a tape recorder and probed the English singer about the state of the Beatles, their dwindling American fan base, and the meaning behind his music. In 2007, the conversation was animated by James Braithwaite and turned into a short film, I Met the Walrus, which went on to win an Emmy and be nominated for an Oscar. 

Braithwaite is represented by Machas, a creative consultancy based in London.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Nathan Fielder's Nathan For You

"It's weird. I don't really have goals. I just try to make sure I'm enjoying what I'm doing. Once I start to get sick of it, the next thing becomes obvious. The genesis of me wanting to even pitch a TV show was that I'd done these three minute segments on this show in Canada. I had done so many in that format that I wanted to try and make a full 20 or 30 minutes funny. That was my challenge. Now that I've done 16 episodes of this show I do wonder if I could make an hour and a half funny. I do have a desire to do that, but at the end of the day I just want to be funny and feel excited about whatever I'm working on."

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Tooco's Short Film Genesis

The Atlantic:
The Argentinian artist Francisco Miranda, aka Tooco, has an exceptional eye for intricate design—and it's apparent in this surrealist short film, Genesis, that he calls "a voyage through the creation of life...from the tiniest cells up to the huge universe." Miranda worked with the graphic designer Guillermo Daldovo on this piece, and is represented by Machas, a creative consultancy based in London.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Drake - "Hotline Bling"

Rolling Stone:
Since Drake debuted the song on OVO Sound's Beats 1 radio show in late July, the track has proved to be a smash hit. "Hotline Bling" recently climbed to Number Three on the Billboard Hot 100, which makes it Drake's second-biggest pop hit to date, almost pushing him towards his first-ever Number One hit. The track has often been called a remix of the rapper D.R.A.M.'s tropical "Cha Cha." While Drake has never confirmed that "Hotline Bling" is a remix of "Cha Cha," the song does contain a sped-up sample of Timmy Thomas' "Why Can't We Live Together."

"Hotline Bling" has also become a popular track to cover for other artists. Everyone from Nick Jonas to Erykah Badu have either covered the song live or recorded it to distribute online. Badu's remix in particular reimagines the song from her perspective and interpolates not only her own single "On and On" but her ex-boyfriend Andre 3000's hit "Ms. Jackson" as well.

In today's pop world, the true measure of a song's impact is how many tributes it inspires — vines, dance routines, covers, memes — and "Hotline Bling" is a runaway success by this standard, as well. The track has spawned numerous alternate renditions and remixes (including Seth Everman's wacky Nintendo-fied take).

Rolling Stone:
On the track, Iman Shumpert raps about his new contract, his flair for flashy plays ("I know they love that highlight reel/That's why they focus on the Jumbotron"), and the Cavaliers' painful loss to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.

The Cavaliers guard is no stranger to the rap game. Heading into the playoffs last season, he recorded "The Offs" for the quest to end Cleveland's championship drought – but alas, the team came up short. He released another track soon after inking a $40-million deal to stay with the Cavaliers in the offseason, this time about life back in Chicago and the downside of having millions to one's name. And, unlike essentially every other NBA player who ever fancied himself a rapper, Shump actually belongs in the booth.

Producers BC Kingdom and Jonny dispense with Drake's treacly organ sample in favor of a minimal series of steel-drum-like blobs. These combine with Mila J's vocals — husky when they're low, breathy when they're high — to give the song an unexpected sensuality. This version sounds more like a come-on than an expression of angst: a notable transformation.

Badu is probably the most unexpected artist to enter the "Hotline Bling" fray: Most of her competitors are young singers looking for an easy way to generate additional interest. Badu comes at "Hotline Bling" from her typically idiosyncratic perspective -- "you used to call me on your cell-u-lar device at night." She then interpolates one of her first hits, "On and On," and sneaks in a reference to her ex-boyfriend Andre 3000's work in Outkast ("forever ever?").

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Courtney Barnett - Live On KEXP

Courtney Melba Barnett (born 3 November 1987) is an Australian singer-songwriter and guitarist from Melbourne. Known for her witty, rambling lyrics and deadpan singing style, she attracted attention from the North American and UK music press in October 2013 with the release of two EPs and well-received performances at the CMJ Music Marathon. At the latter event, Barnett was mentioned by both Rolling Stone and The New York Times as a standout performer.

Barnett received international critical acclaim in 2013 with her second EP, How to Carve a Carrot into a Rose. "Avant Gardener" from the album was named 'Best New Track' by Pitchfork Media in 2013. Barnett combined these two releases into one, The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, released internationally on 20 May 2013 via House Anxiety/Marathon Artists. It was named the album of the week by Stereogum. The track "History Eraser" was nominated for the APRA Song of the Year.

Barnett’s debut album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, was released on 23 March 2015 to widespread critical acclaim. Barnett leads the number of nominations, with eight, for the ARIA Music Awards of 2015, including for Breakthrough Artist, Best Female Artist and Album of the Year for Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Present Moment.

...a similar version is also attributed to Alice Morse Earle and Babatunde Olatunji (and Albert Einstein)...

Experience Project:
"The past is just a memory. The future is just an idea. Reality resides in the present."
"The past is history--the future's a mystery...the here-and-now is a gift. That is why they call it 'the present.'"

DMT Metal:
"The past is only a memory, the future is only a vision, so look well into your present moment for IT is the only place One will ever BE."

Good Reads:
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
― Mother Teresa

"I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past."
― Thomas Jefferson

“The past exists only in our memories, the future only in our plans. The present is our only reality.”
― Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

“I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.”
― Alan W. Watts

“The past is a ghost, the future a dream and all we ever have is now.”
― Bill Cosby

“Gratitude looks to the Past and love to the Present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

“Past is dead, Future is uncertain; Present is all you have, So eat, drink and live merry.”
― Peter O’Toole, paraphrasing Albert Einstein in a Charlie Rose interview

“How can the past and future be, when the past no longer is, and the future is not yet? As for the present, if it were always present and never moved on to become the past, it would not be time, but eternity.”
― Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

“It's being here now that's important. There's no past and there's no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can't relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don't know if there is one.”
― George Harrison

“Nothing is more precious than being in the present moment. Fully alive, fully aware... Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh

“The future depends on what you do today.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

“The future starts today, not tomorrow.”
― Pope John Paul II

“Real generosity towards the future lies in giving all to the present.”
― Albert Camus, Notebooks 1935-1942

“The present is theirs; the future, for which I really worked, is mine.”
― Nikola Tesla

“The present changes the past. Looking back you do not find what you left behind.”
― Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss

“You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you'll escape one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.”
― John Green, Looking for Alaska

“The past was gone and the future had yet to unfold, and he knew he should focus his life on the present…yet his day-to-day existence suddenly struck him as endless and unbearable.”
― Nicholas Sparks, The Choice

“No time like the present, a thousand unforeseen circumstances may interrupt you at a future time."
― John Trusler, Proverbs Exemplified, 1790

Quote Garden:
"With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

"One problem with gazing too frequently into the past is that we may turn around to find the future has run out on us." ~Michael Cibenko

"If you worry about what might be, and wonder what might have been, you will ignore what is." ~Author Unknown

"Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness." ~James Thurber

"We can easily manage if we will only take, each day, the burden appointed to it. But the load will be too heavy for us if we carry yesterday's burden over again today, and then add the burden of the morrow before we are required to bear it." ~John Newton

"If you have one eye on yesterday, and one eye on tomorrow, you're going to be cockeyed today." ~Author Unknown

"Trust no future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead past bury its dead!
Act, — act in the living Present!
Heart within and God o'erhead."
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Psalm of Life

"The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly." ~Buddha