Monday, August 31, 2015

The Most Dysfunctional Team in the League, Part III

"It's a good problem to have to have three quarterbacks that are competing and working their butts off and I feel like all three of them are capable quarterbacks," he said. "Some people say when you have three, you don't have one and I disagree with that. We have three good quarterbacks that I feel good about. I just feel like Kirk right now gives us the best chance."
Ironically, Griffin's concussion is only serving as an inconvenient (or, perhaps, very convenient) delay to the real saga on the immediate horizon, especially following Jay Gruden's Monday pronouncement that "Kirk Cousins will be the starter for 2015 moving forward."

Behind the scenes, according to team sources, McCloughan is attempting to maintain his same blunt charm as he navigates what now feels like an inevitable reality: Not only is Griffin's tenure with the Redskins likely coming to a close, but another kerfuffle will soon ensue if this is not handled with decisive tact.

As the clock ticks for Griffin to undergo his second neurological exam -- which won't happen until Friday at the earliest, and possibly not until next week -- so too does a separate but simultaneous count for the team to pull the trigger on Jay Gruden's growing desire to move away from Griffin altogether.

And so, in the wake of Gruden's declaration that the Redskins are now "Kirk's team," it is time to cut Griffin as soon as he is cleared. It is seemingly the only sensible outcome.

For now, the quarterback can participate in non-contact drills, which was the case at Monday's 11 a.m. practice. But the moment Griffin is cleared by neurologist Robert Kurtzke to resume full activities, the Redskins will have a $16.1 million liability on their hands. That's the figure Griffin would be owed next season through the fifth-year option on his rookie contract -- a figure that is fully guaranteed for injury in 2015.

The Redskins would be indecisive and financially irresponsible to bench Griffin and still allow him to practice, but they would also be naïve to think this will end quietly if that's the path they choose. Which is why cutting Griffin, sooner rather than later, is the only diplomatic choice.

Otherwise, we're staring down an obvious path to the type of grievances filed by Steve McNair against the Titans in 2006 and Daunte Culpepper against the Dolphins in 2007. In each of those instances, the respective teams barred their quarterbacks from participating in team drills -- despite both being healthy -- to limit the possibility of injury. In McNair's case, the team was on the hook for a salary-cap hit of nearly $24 million if he got hurt -- so the Titans were trying to force a renegotiation. In Culpepper's case, which is perhaps more relevant, the team had traded for Trent Green to be its new starter -- so the Dolphins did not want Culpepper to suffer an injury while they tried to trade him.

In both instances, the players filed grievances for breach of contract while fueling major headlines in their respective cities. And you'd better believe, two weeks before the season's start, Griffin eventually could be forced to do the same. Don't think he won't. After all, Griffin is the same guy who still took the field before Saturday's game in Baltimore to throw 30 minutes worth of passes, even though he wasn't playing in the game. He is the same guy who, despite awaiting clearance to return from a dislocated ankle last October, took the field before Monday Night Football to throw passes in front of the pregame crowd.

He is not above a spectacle. He is not afraid of the drama.

So, the clock ticks ...

» The clock ticks on a football decision that already has been made in the mind of Gruden, who team sources say is entirely convinced Griffin is not the quarterback to make his team a winner.

» The clock ticks on a financial dilemma that was created by the Redskins' decision to pick up Griffin's fifth-year option this offseason -- which ultimately has landed them in a situation that is now far more urgent (because of the injury clause) as a result.

» And the clock ticks on a very real locker-room distraction for every day Griffin remains a backup quarterback.

Sure, if the Redskins do cut Griffin, it would cause them to eat the $3.7 million Griffin is guaranteed for this year and take a salary-cap hit of $6.7 million. But it still might be the best option for the team at this point.

A trade is highly unlikely, since any interested team would need to sacrifice a draft pick and/or player(s) while also committing to the same contract burdens facing the Redskins right now. Such a cost would only be worth it if a team wanted Griffin as its starter -- and very few teams have such needs this close to the season. A New York Jets team source, for instance, says Gang Green would not be interested in acquiring Griffin, which eliminates one of the most likely potential suitors from the mix.

So where does this leave this fluid situation?

Griffin, according to sources close to the player, had not asked to be traded or cut as of Monday morning -- but he certainly has had multiple people in his ear telling him it is time to accept the reality of an inevitable divorce. It seems, at least, like he sees it coming. At this point, who doesn't?

So don't let the weekend's situation involving bad communication about the status of Griffin's concussion -- yes, a blunder in its own right -- cause you to become so distracted that you miss the real story, which has been lurking for days. Concussion or not, the Redskins have been contemplating a decision that could end this odd episode once and for all.

Drama? Oh, the real drama still lurks.

And it is now up to the Redskins to make sure it doesn't rear its ugly head once more.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Our Current Presidential Candidates

Daily Beast:
Independent presidential candidate Deez Nuts is pulling some impressive numbers at the polls. A recent study by Public Policy Polling (PPP) showed the candidate polling at 9 percent in North Carolina, 8 percent in Minnesota and 7 percent in Iowa.

According to The Daily Beast the "Presidential Sensation is a 15-year-old farm boy." The 15-year-old behind the "candidate" is Brady Olson, who reportedly filed to run for President with the Federal Election Commission on July 26 using the pseudonym.

“When I heard about the Limberbutt McCubbins story, I realized I could,” Olson tells The Daily Beast. (Limberbutt McCubbins, by the way, is a cat from Kentucky seeking the Democratic nomination for president.)

Now he’s trying to figure out his path to becoming the first 15-year-old President of the United States under an assumed name.

“The next step is to get some party nominations, like the Minnesota Independence Party or the Modern Whig Party,” Olson says. “It would also be great to find a VP, preferably McCubbins because the Nuts/McCubbins ticket sounds amazing."

Dozens of real Deez Nutses or Deez Nutzes do live as citizens in the United States of America with legally changed names, from Phoenix, Arizona, to West Hartford, Connecticut, from sea to shining sea, but a potential president does not appear to be one of them.

“Anybody can fill out a Form 2,” says FEC Deputy Press Officer Christian Hilland. “We do vetting, but it’s more about did they fill out the information correctly? Did they review the fields? It doesn’t speak to the authenticity of the individual who filed the claim.”

“Nuts” did, in fact, fill out a Form 2—a statement of candidacy—on July 26. The form had no information other than the Wallingford address and his Independent party affiliation.

Fellow Form 2 filers for the 2016 election cycle include Sydneys Vuluptuous Buttocks, Kenny Rodeo, Eden, and Ole’ Savior. Savior, a Republican, ran and lost in four other elections since 2006. Savior and Nuts join President Emperor Caesar, Buddy the Cat, Buddy the Elf, Jack Sparrow, James “Titus the Great” Law, Princess Oawlawolwaol, and Donald Trump in the 2016 race for the presidency.

You can fill out your own Form 2 here and—good news—none of the fields are immediately checked against public records searches.

You, too, can be Deez Nuts from Wallingford, Iowa. The problems will only start to appear when your grassroots campaign for the presidency starts to receive the support of almost one-tenth of the residents of North Carolina.

“We check for things like, ‘What election cycle are you running in?’ If one or more of those fields are missing, we have campaign finance analysts who review those reports,” says Hilland. “We send a letter to the listed address that asks for clarification or an amendment.”

Also, if he or she raises $5,000, whoever lives at 2248 450th Avenue is going to have to come up with a real name. Nuts will then have to file a Form 1, which requires a name, phone number and address that check out.

Deez Nuts busted onto the scene thanks to his cheeky name and his some-of-both-sides politics (he's against illegal immigrants but for gay marriage).

The "deez nuts" joke is more familiar to kids his age through references on Adult Swim's The Boondocks, a viral People's Court clip and various Vine jokes. But the true origin of Deez Nuts traces back much further -- eight years before this high school sophomore was born, in fact.

"Deeez Nuuuts" is the sixth track on Dr. Dre's influential G-funk 1992 debut The Chronic. Featuring Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg and Warren G, the track includes a comedy bit from Rudy Ray Moore, best known as Blaxploitation action hero Dolemite.

Rolling Stone:
If you could pose one question to Hillary Clinton, what would it be?
Why can't you be more open and friendly like Bernie?

If you had to back another presidential candidate, who would it be?
Either Bernie Sanders(D-VT) or Gary Johnson(L-NM)

How far are you willing to take this practical joke?
As far as America wants to take it.

A Louisville resident named Limberbutt McCubbins had apparently filed to run for president, gaining attention in recent months from a campaign watchdog and, most recently, The Rachel Maddow Show.

It's not entirely clear whether everyone realized that Limberbutt McCubbins is a cat.

In an interview, Isaac Weiss, 17, a rising senior at duPont Manual High School in Louisville, said he thought it would be funny to enlist his friend's cat to run for president. The presidential candidate belongs to 18-year-old Emilee McCubbins, who is also a rising senior at Manual.

So Weiss logged on to the FEC's website this spring and created "The Committee for the Installation of Limberbutt." According to FEC filings, Limberbutt is a Democrat. Or as Weiss puts it, a "demo-cat."

Candidate McCubbins is not the first non-human to become a presidential candidate. Others include a pig named Pigasus the Immortal in 1968 and Molly the Dog in 2008.

Anyone can start a committee to explore running for president, but actually getting on the ballot requires fundraising, an FEC spokesman said. It doesn't break FEC rules, per se, for a committee to be launched for a cat, the spokesman added.

Weiss said he and his friends started this process — which already includes a Facebook page ("The time is meow, watch out Hillary!" declares one post) and campaign swag — mostly as a joke.

"We often joked around that Limberbutt would make a great president," Weiss said of the 5-year-old cat.

He said what stood out to him was that it was even possible to register a cat with the FEC.

"Anyone can easily run for president, which is why if you go to the FEC website you'll see over 200 people listed—including Limberbutt," Weiss said.


Sunday night, Taylor Swift presented Kanye West with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award and an impassioned West told the audience he's planning to run for president in 2020.

"I don't know what I finna lose after this. It don't matter, though; It's not about me. It's about ideas. New ideas. People with ideas. People who believe in truth," West said. "And yes, as you probably could've guessed by this moment, I have decided in 2020 to run for president."

More information:
» NPR: "This Guy is Running for President, and So Are More Than 200 Others"
» Urban Dictionary: Deez Nuts and Bofa Deez

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Most Dysfunctional Team in the League, Part II

“That’s the coach’s decision,” Griffin said. “As we like to say, I just work here, man. And I just want to go out there and every opportunity that I get, just try to execute the plays like they need to be executed, make a play when I have an opportunity, and let the coaches do the rest.”

Brian Mitchell: “I watch this team. I’m passionate about this team. And I see this one dude who we talk about every day too damn much because he doesn’t know to shut up and perform.”

Chris Cooley: “I’m going to tell you that it wasn’t great offensive line play, but it wasn’t like you’re going to have to get killed if you’re behind that offensive line. And when you ask the question, does this coaching staff have this [film]? Do the other players see this? Yes. And you can talk all you want, you can have whatever hype you want. But when you show up every week and play and put it on film, the people that understand the game see what you’re doing. So they do know. Everyone knows what’s going on here.”

Joe Theismann: “The thing that disappointed me the other night is one of the things that is stressed very, very diligently by the coaches is protect the football in the pocket. Protect the football when you’re trying to escape the pocket. The ball just fell out of Robert’s hands when he wound up getting hurt. That’s a concern for me. That has nothing to do with the offensive line, absolutely nothing to do with the protection. That has to do with the fundamentals of the position, and those are the things that Robert, he can’t be a continuing work in progress.”

Jay Gruden: “We just have to make sure we do our best to put Robert in a good place, with play calls and and getting things going offensively. Hats off to Kirk and Colt. They’ve taken advantage of their opportunities in the second, third and fourth quarters and done some great things out here in practice every day. Robert’s done some good things out here in practice, and we’re judging — not just three drives in preseason games, but the performance through OTAs, training camp, and that’s why we’re going the way we’re going.”

Jerry Brewer (Washington Post columnist): "This should be a year to eliminate tumult and establish an atmosphere in which players, coaches and executives compete like crazy to change a culture. That is not happening as thoroughly as it should right now. And if the Redskins want to be more than a perpetual disaster, then they had better commence with honesty now. The starting quarterback situation can’t be full of factions and determined by the man signing the paychecks. There needs to be a final, frank conversation by all parties about whether Griffin is truly the unquestioned starter, and if so, how long he should have to verify those beliefs. There needs to be better accountability for all the players, veteran or rookie, McCloughan guy or not, star or role player, to create true competition. And there needs to be a crystallized understanding of what this franchise wants to be, in every aspect, that permeates every decision made. Then perhaps the pandemonium can bow to shrewd reinvention."

NBC Sports:
Griffin was sacked 33 times last year while throwing only 214 passes. How rare is that? Not since Hugh Millen of the 1992 Patriots has a quarterback been sacked so many times while throwing so few passes.

The NFL started counting quarterbacks’ times sacked as an official statistic in 1963, and in the 52 seasons since then, only six quarterbacks have been sacked as many as 33 times while throwing as few as 214 passes: Griffin, Millen, Randall Cunningham in his first season, Mike Rae of the horrendous expansion Buccaneers, Bobby Douglass of the 1969 Bears, and Archie Manning — who did it twice while playing behind the awful New Orleans Saints line of the 1970s.

It would be tempting to blame the offensive line any time a quarterback gets sacked that often, but in Griffin’s case it would be incorrect. Washington’s other two quarterbacks, Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins, weren’t sacked as often as Griffin. McCoy was sacked 17 times while throwing 128 passes, and Cousins was sacked eight times while throwing 208 passes.

NBC Sports:
As Robert Griffin III morphed from the rookie of the year in 2012 to a huge disappointment in 2013, questions started to be raised about whether his offensive line disliked him. At one point late in the 2013 season, it was observed that Washington’s offensive linemen hardly ever helped Griffin up after sacks, and reports out of the team’s locker room began to indicate that players were tired of Griffin’s refusal to take the blame when things went wrong.

Two years later, Griffin still doesn’t seem to be winning any friends in the locker room.

According to Jason Reid of ESPN, Griffin sidestepping his own responsibility for making the line look worse than it played is exactly the kind of thing that causes him problems in the locker room. Reid wrote on Twitter after Griffin’s press conference that coaches say “several” offensive linemen dislike Griffin.

There seem to be two problems facing Griffin. The more important one is that he simply hasn’t played very well since suffering a severe knee injury at the end of his rookie season. But another problem is that he hasn’t shown that he has the leadership qualities that a quarterback needs. And until he starts playing better, it’s hard to see how he’ll be able to rally his teammates around him.

Earlier this month, Frank Gore told NFL Media's Nate Burleson that Andrew Luck is a "different breed" who "runs the huddle" like no other quarterback he had seen in a decade with the 49ers.

Now Gore is convinced that Luck is a gridiron deity.

"He runs meetings like a coach. Basically, I'm playing with a coordinator on the field," Gore told The Jim Rome Show on Wednesday. "He's a football god. He sees everything. He sees the big picture of everything. ... He lets me know when [there's] something I don't see. He's just different. How he's in the huddle, off the field, in the meetings, he runs it. He runs the show, even in the off-season, he ran it. One day he had running backs, the next day he has receivers. He's just different. He's a football God."

High praise indeed, but it's not just limited to Luck's teammates.

Back in May, offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton pointed out that Luck's perspective and understanding is already at the level of an NFL coach after just three years in the league.

"It's well documented that he's a smart guy," Hamilton explained, "but now I think his overall football acumen, or should I say football aptitude, is at a point where his feedback and/or his suggestions, I really take heed of the advice that he gives."

We've lauded Luck's incredible pocket movement as the "eighth wonder of the world." In addition to ideal size and athleticism, his arm talent and willingness to make tough throws rank with Aaron Rodgers as the best in the league.

For all of those obvious physical gifts, though, it's Luck's football aptitude and leadership that have led Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin, former Giants coach Jim Fassel and NFL Media analyst Charley Casserly to predict that the Colts' quarterback will end up joining the pantheon of all-time greats.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Book of Mormon

"We modern-day sorts love to rib Latter-day Saints. There’s such rich material: the Osmonds, the bans on drinking, premarital sex, and caffeine(!), the back story (Jesus coming to America and converting the Indians, Joseph Smith digging up the golden plates), how teenaged missionaries are called 'elders.' Now Mormons are in for further teasing with The Book of Mormon (tagline: 'God’s Favorite Musical') opening on Broadway."
Matt Stone, one of the show's creators, described The Book of Mormon as "an atheist's love letter to religion."

For research purposes, the quartet took a field trip to Salt Lake City where they "interviewed a bunch of missionaries—or ex-missionaries." They had to work around Trey Parker and Matt Stone's South Park schedule. In 2006, Parker and Stone flew to London where they spent three weeks with Robert Lopez, who was working on the West End production of Avenue Q. There, the three wrote "four or five songs" and came up with the basic idea of the story. After a disagreement between Parker and Jeff Marx, who felt he was not getting enough creative control, Marx was separated from the project. For the next few years, the remaining trio met frequently to develop what they initially called The Book of Mormon: The Musical of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "There was a lot of hopping back and forth between L.A. and New York," Parker recalled.

There are numerous revealed changes from original script to final production. A song named "Family Home Evening", which was in early workshops of the show, was cut. The warlord in Uganda was called General Kony in previews but later changed to General Butt Fucking Naked. The song The "Bible Is A Trilogy" went through a major rewrite to become "All-American Prophet". The earlier version was based around how the third movie in movie trilogies is always the best one and sums everything up which led to a recurring Matrix joke where a Ugandan man said 'I thought the third Matrix was the worst one' which later changed to 'I have maggots in my scrotum' in the rewritten version. The song "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" was originally called "H-E Double Hockey Sticks".

The Book of Mormon premiered on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre on March 24, 2011, following previews since February 24. On April 25, 2011, the producers confirmed that "counterfeit tickets to the Broadway production had been sold to and presented by theatergoers on at least five different occasions". An article in The New York Times reported, "In each case, the tickets were purchased on Craigslist, and while a single seller is suspected, the ticket purchases have taken place in different locations each time. ... [T]he production’s management and Jujamcyn Theaters, which operates the O’Neill, had notified the New York Police Department".

In the Broadway cast recording's liner notes, Frank Rich wrote that "The Book of Mormon scrupulously follows the old testament of Broadway circa 1945–1965, A.D., even while fondly spoofing it":
  • "Hello!" (the opening number) and "Turn It Off" evoke, respectively, "The Telephone Hour" in Bye Bye Birdie and "I’ll Never Be Jealous Again" from The Pajama Game. Other songs, Rich writes, owe much to the parodies of Tom Lehrer.
  • The reprise of "Orlando" harkens back to "Maria" from West Side Story, while "You And Me (But Mostly Me)" uses very similar chord progressions to "The Wizard and I" and "Defying Gravity" from Wicked.
  • "Sal Tlay Ka Siti" is strongly reminiscent of Alan Menken's "I wish..." ballads like "Somewhere That's Green", "Santa Fe", "Part of Your World" and "Out There".
  • "Hasa Diga Eebowai" starts as a gentle parody of The Lion King's "Hakuna Matata" and mentions the song before taking a radical turn.
  • In a series of interview segments for, Casey Nicholaw describes the scene of the Africans performing the "Joseph Smith American Moses" pageant before the Mission President as a "total riff" of the Siamese performance of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" for the British envoy in Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I.
  • Both Rich and Kristin Rawls see roots for "I Believe" in The Sound of Music—he in "Climb Ev'ry Mountain", and she in "I Have Confidence".
  • The opening scenes of Act I and II parody the Hill Cumorah Pageant.

"I don't think anybody would want to see a two-hour-long Mormon-bashing, and we wouldn't want to see that either," Parker tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "We love the goofiness of Mormon stories. Some of them are incredulous, and we loved almost all the Mormons that we had ever met. So this was sort of this conundrum that we like to talk about — we think what they believe is really, really ridiculous, and yet they seem like pretty happy people."

Take the creators of South Park and the composer of Avenue Q. Add solid musical storytelling, Mormons, Uganda, AIDS, a chorus line and a healthy amount of smut — and you have The Book of Mormon, Broadway's blasphemous, hilarious and oddly endearing new hit.

Because this is Parker and Stone, that dire setting is the frame for a show that features tap dancing and pop anthems, a Greek chorus and a Lion King-esque ensemble number. Along with critical acclaim, the musical has received largely positive feedback from Mormons who have seen the show, Parker says.

"The official church response was something along the lines of 'The Book of Mormon the musical might entertain you for a night, but the Book of Mormon,' — the book as scripture — 'will change your life through Jesus,' " Stone says. "Which we actually completely agree with. The Mormon church's response to this musical is almost like our Q.E.D. at the end of it. That's a cool, American response to a ribbing — a big musical that's done in their name."

"Before the church responded, a lot of people would ask us, 'Are you afraid of what the church would say?' And Trey and I were like, 'They're going to be cool.' And they were like, 'No, they're not. There are going to be protests.' And we were like, 'Nope, they're going to be cool.' We weren't that surprised by the church's response. We had faith in them."

Matt Stone: "We did take a field trip to Salt Lake City with Bobby Lopez, our co-writer, who had never been to Salt Lake City. And we interviewed a bunch of missionaries — or ex-missionaries. For us, it was pretty easy to find [these people]. We just talked to waiters in downtown Salt Lake City. Almost every single waiter had been on a mission. So that was where we got a lot of our research."

More information:
» The New Yorker: "God Squad"

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Most Dysfunctional Team in the League, Part I

"Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III left Thursday's preseason home opener victory against the Lions after suffering a stinger and what was later confirmed to be a concussion on a play early in the second quarter. Head coach Jay Gruden said after the game that the quarterback is following concussion protocol and will get a further examination."
I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a head coach be as openly hostile to a starting quarterback as Jay Gruden was toward Robert Griffin III in D.C. last year. In the final month of the season, it seemed like there was always another passive-aggressive shot being made. It was all pretty unprofessional, like a Coors Light commercial remixed with Facebook comments. And almost all the fans were on Gruden’s side! The media was just as bad. Even his teammates turned on him. Remember DeSean Jackson’s “basic people” Instagram? This was how the whole year went.

So …

This is what the most dysfunctional team in the league looks like. Drink it in. We started this week with RG3 telling a local reporter that he thinks he’s the best quarterback in the league.

Now Griffin’s been hurt for two years straight. He’s trying to change his game and adjust to his own post-injury limits, but the usual Washington dysfunction just compounds the problems. It’s all such a mess. Kirk Cousins is doing a weekly guest spot on the radio, and hosts are teasing it as a possible interview with the starting quarterback. The offensive line is a nightmare. There are no tight ends anymore, and Jackson is already hurt. Gruden’s offense wasn’t even that great in Cincinnati, with real talent, but it looks even more hopeless now. The local media is ready to tear him down for all of this, and even ex-Redskins have said as much.

So, we all just have to watch one of the most electrifying rookie quarterbacks the NFL’s ever seen get run further and further into the ground. I’m not exaggerating when I say this is one of the most depressing sports stories of my lifetime.

After false reports on the team-sponsored broadcast, preseason game no. 2 ultimately ended with a concussion that will keep Griffin out indefinitely. It should be more surprising that RG3 stayed in the game as long as he did last night — and some people are upset — but given how little Gruden seems to think of his starting quarterback, it’s par for the course. There will be no special rules for RG3 this year, and every endorsement will be more tepid than the last. If there are still people in D.C. who think Griffin is a prized asset worth protecting at all costs, they do not work for the Redskins coaching staff. If anything, it’s surprising they’re not running naked bootlegs every play to see if someone will solve this problem for them.

More information:
» Washington Post: "Jay Gruden expects Robert Griffin III to remain the starter once he returns"
» Recap vs. Cowboys, Thanksgiving 2012: "Robert Griffin III passes for 311 yards, 4 TDs"

Monday, August 17, 2015

Tame Impala - "Let It Happen"

In May 2014, Kevin Parker spoke of his growing inclination toward the recording of another album in a triple J radio interview, explaining that: "I'm getting more and more sucked into the world of making an album. It's weird how it happens naturally, it's almost feels like a seasonal thing. I've started to think about tracklistings and all the things that come with an album." Describing the sound of the new album, Parker said "I'm gonna try to make it a bit more minimal this time; only use what's needed ... instead of a supreme pizza, where you just throw everything on". Jay Watson added: "[It’s] probably gonna be less rock again and more electronic again, even more than the last one".

The band's third album, Currents, was released on 17 July 2015.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Highest Altitude Rescue Ever Performed in North America

When helicopter pilot Andy Hermansky left the base camp of Alaska’s Mt. McKinley at 7,200 feet, the winds had subsided to a manageable 50 miles per hour. They’d been much stronger for the past several hours, and there was an injured climber stranded high atop North America’s tallest mountain.

Reaching the climber, who’d broken his leg and was fighting hypothermia, meant navigating high altitude, stiff winds and grave risk. Such challenges are nothing new to Hermansky, a National Park Service contractor who flew 350 hours last year and pulled 14 people off the mountain.

The climber was among four people near the summit on May 11 when it all went bad. They were linked by a rope, and one of the men fell and broke his leg. The others evacuated him to a large, open area called the Football Field, put him in a bivouac shelter and split up to continue down the mountain, according to the Anchorage Daily News. It wasn’t clear why the group split up.

The guide, who himself took a tumble as he descended the mountain, arrived at a camp at 17,200 feet. Climbers used a satellite phone to call for help, because both the injured climber and one other man in the party were still on the mountain. The National Park Service launched a search and rescue operation the next morning. The Alaska Air National Guard spotted the injured climber some time later.

After meeting with rescue rangers at 14,200 feet, Hermansky, who flies for Alaskan helicopter operator TEMSCO, made his first flight of the day to check the conditions where the injured climber sat.

Flying airliners at altitudes of 35,000 feet is routine. But helicopters, with their relatively small rotary wings, struggle in thin air. Hermansky was flying a Eurocopter AS350 B3, commonly known as an “AStar.” The same model made headlines several years ago when a test pilot briefly touched down on the summit of Mt. Everest.

Hermansky flies a stripped-down version to save weight, making it easier to fly at high altitude. After his first check on the climber, during which he flew to 20,100 feet, Hermansky returned to camp and picked up a ranger. He wanted to confirm the helicopter would have enough power to fly with the additional weight.

Satisfied he could make the mission, Hermansky returned the ranger to camp, then set off with a rescue basket dangling 125 feet beneath his helicopter. The wind was strong and steady.
Pilot Andy Hermansky in his AStar hauling a rescue basket near base camp on Mt. McKinley.

Hovering at nearly 20,000 feet, Hermansky placed the rescue basket directly next to the injured climber. The climber managed to pull himself into the basket, and Hermansky set off down the mountain toward base camp. He descended at just 1,000 feet a minute; anything faster would have created unbearable wind chill for the victim.

The rescue happened at 19,833 feet making it the highest altitude rescue ever performed in North America.

“It was a big deal,” Hermansky told the Alaska Daily News.

It was among a very few rescues of its type, but Hermansky’s day wasn’t done. Authorities eventually spotted the body of of the fourth man in the climbing party and dispatched Hermansky and a ranger to retrieve it. It was 18,000 feet up.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

ARISE Music Festival 2015!

Named one of the Top 7 Next-Gen Festivals in North America - Buzzfeed
Named one of the Top 20 Yoga Festivals in the World -
"Part Burning Man...Pure Colorado" -- Denver Post
"Colorado's best festival …" -- The Grateful Web
"Politically charged" - Rolling Stone Magazine
"… a festival that brings everyone together." -- Hey Reverb
"This festival is that special" - DubEra

Monday, August 10, 2015

Gary Clark, Jr. on Individuality and Hope

Gary Clark swept the 31st annual Austin Music Awards for 2012-2013, collecting eight awards, he earned the following: Band of the Year, Musician of the Year, Song of the Year - "Ain't Messin Round", Album of the Year - Blak and Blu, Electric Guitarist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Blues/Soul/Funk Artist of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year. For his song "Ain't Messin Round", Clark was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rock Song in 2013. On January 26, 2014, Clark won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B performance at the 56th annual Grammy Awards Ceremony for his song "Please Come Home." In 2014 and 2015, Clark won a Blues Music Award in the 'Contemporary Blues Male Artist of the Year' category.

Clark's new album The Story Of Sonny Boy Slim will be released worldwide on September 11th, 2015.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Goodbye, Stewbeef: #JonVoyage to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

"With the second best overall viewership in its history, Jon Stewart’s farewell from his 16-year satirical reign on Comedy Central was watched by 3.5 million last night. The best Daily Show viewership ever was the 3.6 million who tuned in for the October 28, 2008 visit by then Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama. The 3.5 million is up significantly from the 2.5 million who saw the star-studded finale of The Colbert Report on December 18 last year."

Omaze co-founder Matt Pohlson: “Over the last 16 years, no one has done more than Jon to engage people around the issues that truly impact our lives, and it’s fitting that he leveraged his final show to raise more than $2 million for this incredible cause.”

Stewart partnered with charity fundraising platform Omaze to raise money for New York Collaborates for Autism. Donors who gave $10 or more were entered in a drawing to attend The Daily Show’s final taping, meet Stewart and hang out on the set. More than 47,000 people from 78 countries donated, generating a whopping $2.23 million for NYCA.

Cathy Trost, senior VP of exhibits and programs at Washington, D.C.'s Newseum: “From ‘The Daily Show’ anchor desk, Jon Stewart dissected the news with blistering wit and wisdom as millions watched. He also was a voice for a strong and free press, and against the silencing of journalists by repressive regimes. We are thrilled to accept the donation of these artifacts to the Newseum collection, because they are part of America’s cultural and media history, telling an important story about how political satire and news as humor made ‘The Daily Show’ a trusted news source for a generation.”

Brian Lowry, Variety columnist: "When Johnny Carson announced his retirement in 1991, Bob Hope was quoted as saying that it was “sort of like a head falling off Mt. Rushmore.” Stewart’s leave-taking doesn’t rise to that level, but as latenight-TV monuments go, odds are they’re not going to be building many more that will rival this one."

Frank Bruni, New York Times columnist: "Last week, as the comedy that is Trump held on to his lead in polls of Republican voters, we learned that President Obama had repeatedly summoned Jon Stewart, of Comedy Central, to the White House. That was a smart move, in terms of Obama’s stewardship of his image, his awareness of Stewart’s influence and his recognition that Stewart is in some odd sense the Walter Cronkite of the last decade."

Bill O'Reilly: "So the departure of every hairstylist’s poster guy will leave a void in the world of political satire. Undeniably, Jon Stewart was great at what he did. Whatever that was."

Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart have been appearing on each others’ programs to debate since 2001, rarely agreeing on anything. In 2012, they also engaged in The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium at George Washington University, which some navel lint gazers said might not have been the 2012 presidential election’s most important debate but was definitely the most entertaining.

Louis C.K.: "I’m really amazed by what you did here. It’s really impressive. That you did this show for this long and you kept it this good for this long. And you stayed with the world’s events, and you were a voice of reason, and you were funny…it’s really like one of the great comedy accomplishments of all time."

Stephen Colbert: "We learned from you by example how to do a show with intention, how to work with clarity, how to treat people with respect. I know you are not asking for this, but on behalf of so many people whose lives you changed over the past 16 years: Thank you."

Under host Jon Stewart, 52, The Daily Show has risen to critical acclaim. It has received two Peabody Awards for its coverage of the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. Between 2001 and 2012, it has been awarded 18 Primetime Emmy Awards in the categories of Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series (winner for 10 consecutive years from 2003 to 2012) and Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music, or Comedy Program, and a further seven nominations. The show has also been honored by GLAAD, the Television Critics Association, and the Satellite Awards. America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction, the 2004 bestseller written by Stewart and the writing staff of The Daily Show, was recognized by Publishers Weekly as its "Book of the Year", and its abridged audiobook edition received the 2005 Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album. In September 2010, Time magazine selected the series as one of "The 100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME".

More information:
» April 27, 2007: Jon Stewart Interview on Bill Moyers Journal
» July 11, 2003: Jon Stewart Interview on NOW with Bill Moyers
» Rolling Stone: "Jon Stewart, The Long Goodnight"
» Rolling Stone: "10 Times Jon Stewart Outdid Journalism"

Trevor Noah takes over hosting duties on The Daily Show on September 28.