Thursday, July 31, 2008

Song Of The Day - July 31, 2008

It's been a few days since our last post - sorry about that. We've been caught up in a few things but now we're back in business with a brand spankin' new song of the day. 

Today's featured song, EMT, is from probably one of Chicago's best kept secrets: Shock Stars. I first discovered this amazing group while I was at a Lucky Boys Confusion concert (another awesome Chicago band). LBC put on a pretty sweet show at Legend's on the campus of the University of Notre Dame this past spring. One of my buddies actually drove in for the weekend just to see LBC perform and they certainly did not disappoint him nor anyone else in attendance. 

After the show I saw the lead singer, Stubhy, walking to the backstage area (a round of beers in hand) so I shared with him how great of a performance LBC put on. A combination of things led to the events that transpired: the music was still ringing in my ears, I was fairly imbibed, and there was a ton of background noise so I thought I heard him say "thanks" and "go tell the guy at the merchandise table to put five shots on me...tell him Stubhy said it's ok." I approached the guy at the merchandise table and shared with him what I thought I had heard. 

He looked a little confused and left to go confirm my supposed encounter with Stubhy. When he returned he told me that Stubhy had said "put five Shock Stars cds on me." The Shock Stars are a side project of Stubhy's with five other musicians.

Either way you slice it Stubhy is a generous man. I was a little disappointed at first but free merchandise is definitely an adequate consolation prize. I took the cds and distributed them to the group of friends I was with.

In the long run, the cds were much more beneficial to me than a few extra drinks. Feel For A Heartbeat, the first Shock Stars album, earned itself a permanent location in my music rotation in my car and on my playlists. The band utilizes a unique combination of rock and techno that is sure to one day earn them fame. For now, they're a relatively unknown group with at least one huge fan eager to promote and attract new fans for them. 

Note: The shots of the band are from a concert they gave on Halloween, hence the costumes. Check out a nice review of Shock Stars here.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Rich Rodriguez Is Never Wrong

He's always wrong.

Well maybe that's a bit of an overstatement, but it has become apparent that he has trouble admitting he is capable of wrongdoing.

Thursday, July 24 at the Big Ten preseason media conference in Chicago, IL Rich Rodriguez took to the podium for his first public statements since the fiasco with his new employer, the University of Michigan, agreeing to pay his former employer, West Virginia University. If you need your memory refreshed check out this article from the Stars And Slights archives.

As you may recall, Rodriguez claimed that he didn't have to pay West Virginia University even though he had signed a document stating he would do just that if he left the school without their blessing. He eventually admitted that he did, in fact, owe monetary compensation to his former employer, but his current employer stepped up to the punch to pay the majority of the buyout clause. On Thursday Rodriguez claimed that he wanted to say more on the issue but that everyone wanted to move on and that is why the settlement was reached.

"There's a lot of things that I would like to talk about, but I want to move on. That's one of the biggest reasons that everything got settled because I think everybody wanted to move on." 

By everybody, he means the University of Michigan. The school was embarrassed by the issue and realized that it needed to take care of the matter before Rodriguez became tied up in the courts. Michigan administrators probably wanted to avoid appearing in court, too, making their decision to reach a settlement increasingly important.

Rodriguez could have left it at that, but he decided to keep running his mouth despite his plea to move on from the issue.

"Am I disappointed with certain things? Sure I am, disappointed in that maybe not all of the things that I thought were truthful had an opportunity to come out to set the record straight on certain situations."

Let me clarify: Rodriguez is a stubborn child. Not all of the things that he thought were truthful had an opportunity to come out? Either he didn't disclose all relevant information to his lawyers or... well that would be the only possible scenario that information was absent from the issue. Failing to provide all relevant information in a manner that in some way prevents justice from being served, if my interpretation of the law is correct, would be obstruction of justice. 

The record was set straight, Dick. You signed a contract, breached it, and then were forced BY LAW to pay the consequences for your actions. Behind closed doors Rodriguez has to be thrilled with how everything turned out. Instead of forking over the total $4M bill he has to pay less than half ($1.5M) over a period of several years. 

So, if you're reading this Dick, stop being such a stubborn fool and just do what you were hired to do: coach football. 

Song Of The Day - July 28, 2008

Today's featured song is a cover of the biggest hit from probably the greatest band to come out of Norway, a-ha. No doubt a one-hit wonder, a-ha's claim to fame was the product of it's debut album Hunting High and Low, which was released in 1985. "Take On Me" is personally one of my favorite songs of all time, though I don't necessarily hold the original version in the same regard as the version shown below by Reel Big Fish. RBF is a ska band that isn't very fond of the music industry, as noted by songs like "Sell Out" and "Don't Start A Band." These jokesters love the music they play and are not afraid to follow the beat of their own collective drum. For the 1998 movie (and cult hit) BASEketball RBF covered "Take On Me," adding new life to the old classic by introducing horns and a traditional ska sound. Like most singles produced for movies, the music video for RBF's "Take On Me" features clips from Trey Parker and Matt Stone's hilarious film about a fictional new sport that combines aspects from the title's namesake: baseball and basketball. 

The first video that follows is the Reel Big Fish version while the one below it is the original creation from a-ha. Which do you like better? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.

Reel Big Fish


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Song of the Day - July 27, 2008

Today's song of the day combines a number of performers. The video below is an outstanding take of Eric Clapton's version of "Crossroads". Originally written and performed by Robert Johnson, the enigmatic grand-father of Rock and Roll, Clapton makes you wonder what Johnson could have done if he'd only been granted an electric guitar in his short lifetime. Clapton is a legend in his own right, and his appreciation of the blues is well known. This is a crisp performance with some really soulful playing by the band as a whole.

Friday, July 25, 2008

ESPN + College Football Live = Garbage

Over the years I have become less and less of an ESPN fan. They have shelled out numerous stories with many factual inaccuracies and biases and it's disappointing and contradictory that they claim to be the worldwide leader in sports.

Their latest transgression occurred recently on the show College Football Live. On the ticker they show on the left-hand side of the screen they show various teams and their upcoming schedules for the season. At the bottom of the visual they include a little information about the team and/or coach and then list key returners and key losses. For Notre Dame, they list key losses as Tom Zbikowski and Maurice Crum.

Apparently Charlie Weis and co. were so upset over the loss of Crum that they decided to insert him at the starting inside linebacker position. Or maybe, just maybe, ESPN is incapable of typing Maurice Crum into Google. 

Maurice was a senior last year, so maybe that confused them. However, he applied for and was granted a 5th year with the Fighting Irish. This information is readily available on the internet at the official athletic website. It can be found in the section entitled roster. It can also be found here about halfway down the page.

It's amazing how the self-proclaimed worldwide leader in sports can't fact check or do any research to corroborate their statements. Scratch that. It's sad. Very sad

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Will Fans Bale Christian Out?

London news outlets are reporting that Christian Bale, who plays Bruce Wayne and Batman in The Dark Knight, has been arrested for allegedly beating his mother and sister.

As you may recall, we paid tribute to the sheer genius that is The Dark Knight a few days ago. For as much acclaim as the movie has received thus far not all has been fun and games. Critics raved about the film during its production. Then came the tragic news of Heath Ledger's death, which perhaps elevated the pre-release hype to its outrageous levels. 

And now this. Say it ain't so Christian.

Hopefully these off-set antics won't detract from the film because it truly is a masterpiece that deserves all of the praise it has received. Food for thought: Babe Ruth was an alcoholic and a womanizer, but those traits are overlooked when speaking of the Bambino's affinity for hitting home-runs. It's not like either of these men cheated. I would feel much less at ease about the situation if this were the case. 

Christian has denied the accusations, but for now we must wait and see how the story unfolds. I'm hoping that the allegations turn out to be just that: allegations.

Song Of The Day - July 24, 2008

Today's rendition comes from that band across the pond whose music was considered innovative, creative, cutting-edge, inappropriate, weird, and awesome all at the same time. The Beatles are one of the greatest rock bands of all time. In fact, in 2004 Rolling Stone magazine selected them number one on their list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. The Beatles are  well known for stretching the envelope and innovating in the recording studio by introducing instruments, sound effects, sound loops, double tracking, and many other studio tricks. With more than 40 singles, albums and EPs that reached the number one sport on the music charts it is difficult to select just one of their masterpieces, so expect more from Paul, John, George, and Ringo in future song of the day posts.

Without question, today's song is from perhaps the strangest album produced by the band. The Yellow Submarine album is unique in that the band did not consider it to be a true studio release since several of the songs had been previously released on other albums (including "Yellow Submarine" and "All You Need Is Love"). Today's song was initially supposed to be called "Hey Bullfrog", but unexpectedly started to bark during the recording sessions and the title was changed to "Hey Bulldog." The video is a clip from Yellow Submarine (the movie). This version of the film was only released in Europe (the song was a bonus segment) because it was thought at the time that American audiences would not be comfortable with the length of the movie. Behold, The Bealtes in animated (and no doubt drugged) brilliance.

Fun fact: the Yellow Submarine album was produced by Apple Corps, a record label founded by The Beatles. Ten years after its formation in 1968, Apple Corps filed a lawsuit in 1978 against newly created Apple Computer for trademark infringement. A settlement was reached in 1981, although relations between the two companies have always been on thin ice. Since the original settlement, several additional lawsuits have been filed. For a better synopsis of their embattled history, click here.  

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

University Of Texas To Honor Durant, Give Away Honors

Earl Campbell. Roger Clemens. Ricky Williams. T.J. Ford. These are the names of the only athletes in Longhorns history to have their jerseys retired. Next year the Longhorns will add an accomplished group of athletes to the bunch, but I'm not sure all of them truly belong.

According to the Associated Press, Vince Young and Kevin Durant will have their jerseys retired along with seven other former Longhorns athletes. The biggest shock among the two headliners is Durant, who played one season for the Longhorns. Given, his list of accolades during that one season in college were surely impressive: 
  • Started all 35 games
  • 25.8 points per game 
  • 11.1 rebounds per game 
  • Led Texas to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament
  • National Association of Basketball Coaches Division 1 Player of the Year
  • Oscar Robertson Trophy recipient (first ever freshman to win)
  • Adolph F. Rupp Trophy recipient (first ever freshman to win)
  • Naismith Award recipient (first ever freshman to win)
  • John R. Wooden Award (first ever freshman to win)
On top of this impressive list of accomplishments, Durant was chosen with the 2nd pick in the NBA draft by the Seattle Supersonics, who recently relocated to Oklahoma City

But why would any school feel inclined to honor someone who graced its halls for one year? Even if he goes back to finish his degree, which he is apparently doing, he only played for one season. It's not like he led them to an NCAA title like Carmelo Anthony (another one and done college player) did for Syracuse in 2003.

My main contention with this whole thing is that Durant didn't really do anything for Texas. Ok so he helped guide them to the Sweet Sixteen. All of his other accolades were personal. Even though he helped bring more notoriety to the school he failed to do what Carmelo did (to date, Syracuse has not retired his jersey).  I just don't see how one year of service warrants the equivalent to a lifetime achievement award. 

Durant deserves to be honored for his outstanding performance in college, just maybe not in the way that Texas and other universities and teams choose to celebrate their tradition.

Campbell won the Heisman Trophy in 1977 and is enshrined in both the college and pro football halls of fame. Clemens pitched two All-American seasons with the Longhorns baseball team and helped lead them to a national championship in 1983. Ricky Williams won the 1998 Heisman Trophy and set many NCAA Division 1-A records (some of which were later broken) including most yards in a career (broken one year later by Ron Dayne from the University of Wisconsin) and career rushing touchdowns and career scoring (both of which were broken one year later by Travis Prentice from Miami (OH) University). T.J. Ford only stayed for two seasons with Texas' hoops team, but he led them to their first Final Four appearance since 1947 (and also the Sweet Sixteen) and won the Naismith and Wooden awards along with being named player of the year by every major sports outlet. At the time of his retirement, Ford was the only basketball player to have his jersey retired.    

Album Review: O.A.R. All Sides

O.A.R. (Of A Revolution) released their sixth studio album All Sides last week, to both critical and fan distaste. Some see the new record as a bit too poppy and that's led to mixed reviews including this Rolling Stone review that says among other things that O.A.R. have, "...cultivated a slick pop sound to match their arena-size ambitions."

I can certainly see why some might feel that way. All Sides features songs that do sound more polished and that's largely thanks to producer Matt Wallace (Maroon 5). The big thing about the record that jumps out to me is that the songs have a much more mature sound. While I've always hated making the comparison, in some spots this record feels a bit Dave Matthews Band inspired.

I think the band has come a long way and this album is potentially as good a studio album as the band has put out. Despite Rolling Stone only giving All Sides 2 stars, they also gave In Between Now And Then, potentially O.A.R.'s best studio album just 2 stars when it released in 2003.

One thing that's clear on this effort is that the addition of Mikel Paris (keys, bongos, back-up vocals) really helps to fill out their sound. The featured song today, the first single off the album, "Shattered (Turn The Car Around)" benefits from and leans on Paris' key riff throughout. Other album cuts show Paris' flair on the bongos. "Whatever Happened" opens with a tribal sounding intro with nice percussion and a strange vocal that melts into Jerry DePizzo's saxophone part.

There are some songs that sound more like older O.A.R. songs. Tracks like "Living In The End", "What Is Mine" and "This Town" which was featured heavily on ESPN's coverage of the College World Series this year manage to blend their new maturity with the more upbeat classics of their past.

It's exciting to watch a band that continues to grow and push themselves as they get older. Clearly, O.A.R. still hopes to become more mainstream but they still stay true to their roots for the most part. Ultimately, this is a band that will continue to earn their bread on the road for some time as they will no doubt keep filling venues all over the U.S.

Based on early listens, I would definitely recommend this album to both new and old O.A.R. fans alike.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Several Things

Today we've got a new song and some general catchup. After a few days I've warmed to and even am beginning to enjoy the new Hokie football uniforms. I agree wholeheartedly with Brian on his assessment of The Dark Night. Excellent stuff, and worth seeing multiple times. Heath Ledger was/is the man. Today's song comes from Panic At The Disco, a really cool cover of "The Weight", originally performed by The Band. This was taken from an AOL Music Session.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Song Of The Day - July 21, 2008

This one I'm particularly excited about. Little Feat is a band that always sort of flew under the radar, but their musicianship is top notch and the list of bands and artists who called Little Feat friends and influences is long and distinguished. I grew up listening to these songs, my Dad was a big fan and still is. In recent years I've become enamored with them and in particular with lead singer (usually) and lead guitarist Lowell George, one of the pioneers of slide guitar in rock and roll. Lowell was known for his unique style, largely derived from his unusual choice of a slide, a Craftsman 11/16 socket. Look carefully when this video shows his solos and you can clearly see it on his left pinky. This song is "Cold, Cold, Cold" off their 1972 release Sailin' Shoes. This video appears to be from a concert in Holland in 1976 or so. I chose this one in particular for the slide solos. Enjoy the funk.

Nike Strikes Again

Once again the coming of a new football season is marked by the Virginia Tech football team being outfitted with new uniforms. They aren't quite Oregon ugly, but they are pretty rough. I think that by the time the season rolls around I'll have warmed up to them. The worst part about it for me is the almost West Virginia style new wave number font we've got now. Honestly Nike, quit tinkering. Use Oregon as your guinea pigs, not us. Thanks.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Song Of The Day - July 20, 2008

We interrupt the traditional song of the day posts to bring to you a collection of songs. In honor of the biggest opening weekend blockbuster in movie history ($155.34 million), today's serving contains small snippets of songs comprising The Dark Knight soundtrack. I saw the newest installment of the Batman series last night and came away thoroughly impressed. The late Heath Ledger (Joker) put on a performance for the ages with his dark and maniacal demeanor. If he doesn't win a posthumous Oscar I will be truly shocked and disappointed. Even though Ledger has garnered the most attention the other members of the cast were equally impressive. Christian Bale (Bruce Wayne/Batman), Aaron Eckhart (Harvey Dent/ Two-Face), Michael Caine (Alfred Pennyworth) Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox) and Gary Oldman (Lt. James Gordon) were the ones that stood out, although Maggie Gyllenhaal (Rachel Dawes) was remarkably better than the previous Rachel played by Katie Holmes. Director Christopher Nolan has an incredible grasp on the Batman series (he directed Batman Begins, too). Go see The Dark Knight. It's worth more than the price of admission.

LPGA Gets (Sexy) New Image

A division of a New York modeling agency called Wilhelmina is trying to create a new image for the LPGA. The women's tour is already a stark contrast to the PGA tour:
  • LPGA players are far more accessible and fan friendly than PGA tour members
  • It's more impressive to watch a 100-pound body with a 5'4" frame hit a ball 260+ yards than a 200-pound body with a 6'0" frame hit it 300+ yards
  • Men with no interest in golf (or women's sports for that matter) are enticed by short skirts and tank tops
  • The LPGA tour lacks one truly dominant player (especially with the retirement of Annika Sorenstam)
We think this a great idea to attract new fans to the sport. The agency will try to seek sponsorships and endorsements for the seven ladies it has chosen. We have no real issue with the list (or the concept) aside from the absence of Natalie Gulbis and Erica Blasberg.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Breaking And Entering

If you're fond of our song of the day section you'll love what the guys at Breaking And Entering serve fresh to your interwebs on an (almost) daily basis. Saldivar, one of their writers, and I were in the NDDL (Notre Dame Drumline) together. It appears as though he is as passionate about music as we are, and after reviewing their site we give them our full endorsement. Check them out, you won't be disappointed. In the unlikely event you are blame them.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Song Of The Day - July 17, 2008

Today's selection is brought to you in part by the guitar gods. With so many greats (Jimi Hendrix, Joe Satriani, Slash, Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, Kirk Hammet, Eric Clapton, Yngwie Malmsteen, John Petrucci, etc.) it is difficult to choose just one as the all-time greatest. The fact of the matter is that there are a multitude of guitarists worthy of mention in conversations of the greatest ever. It is not our intent to debate the issue, rather add another name to the list. Michael Angelo Batio is not as well known as some of the names listed above but make no mistake about it...he belongs in the same breath as the greats. He played in three different bands (Holland, Michael Angelo Band, and Nitro) early on in his career and has since produced solo works. Batio is ambidextrous, allowing him to perform incredible feats with his famous double-guitar. The only name associated with this song is "Michael Angelo Batio Double Guitar Solo." Even if you don't like his style of music you will be amazed by his abilities as a showman and virtuoso guitarist. Rock.

Fun fact: Batio taught Tom Morello while in college.

Cutting Room Floor News

We're the first band to get chosen from submissions to be featured on a website called College OTR. It's just a short little blurb but it's cool. Check it out here.

It's kind of funny, the writer said "Stars and Slights" is a must have track, but she featured "Drive Me" on their site. Updates are slowly but surely coming on the CRF myspace page as well, take a look

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

It's Almost Football Season...

Today, somewhat on a whim I went out and purchased the NCAA Football 09 for Playstation 3. We don't actually own one of the systems, but someone's is at our house making it fair game for use. After playing two games already against a human opponent, I think it's safe to say that the game experience is truly immersive. The gameplay is pretty good so far but we're just getting the hang of it. I'll be sure to poat more as things progress on the video game frontier but so far the only thing that sucks about this game is the fact that Matt Ryan is on the cover of the PS3 version. I'll be sure to remedy that soon.


It's late night now and after contesting several virtual gridiron battles our early verdict is that this game is awesome. The gameplay is very smooth, almost too smooth at first as it takes some getting used to. You really have to talior your game plan to the team your using. I tried some long passing when I was West Virginia playing against Clemson in Morgantown and failed to have much success. It was only when I started using screen passes and the absurdly fast Noel Devine that I began to make some noise offensively. More to come.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Song Of The Day - July 15, 2008/MLB All-Star Edition

If you're a regular here at Stars and Slights we're guessing that, like us, you're an avid sports fan. With that said, today's song of the day is in honor of the 79th MLB All-Star being played at Yankee Stadium in what many are deeming a final send-off for "The House That Ruth Built." Arguably one of the best places to watch a baseball game, Yankee Stadium has hosted the New York Yankees since 1923. Aside from an array of famous baseball games it has also played host to several college and professional football games (former home of the NY Giants), boxing matches, concerts, soccer matches, and religious events such as masses (the most recent of which was conducted by Pope Benedict XVI). 

John Fogerty's "Centerfield" is a baseball classic and, with the exception of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame," is one of the most recognizable song associated with America's favorite pastime. "Centerfield" is the eponymous title of Fogerty's 1985 album that reached #1 on the US Billboard charts. Pay close attention to Fogerty's guitar in the video. It's a baseball bat...awesome.

Swarbrick To Be Announced Notre Dame Athletic Director

The wait is finally over! In a press conference on Wednesday Jack Swarbrick will be announced as the new Athletic Director at the University of Notre Dame. Credit the guys over at Blue-Gray Sky for breaking the story, which was initially reported by WTHR news (an NBC affiliate in Indianapolis).

Swarbrick's name was not thrown around much in public discussion pertaining to potential successors to Kevin White, who left ND for Duke University. Steve Orsini (AD at SMU), Rick Chryst (MAC Commissioner), and Joel Maturi (AD at University of Minnesota) were among the other candidates.

ND wanted to make sure it found the right man for the job so it sought out the aid of Parker Executive Search. Though he was not the first name to come to mind when the job opened up Swarbrick is indeed an excellent choice. His bio is very impressive and he's an ND alum, a trait that many Domers were hoping the new AD would possess. He was also a finalist for the NCAA president job in 2002 when Myles Brand was hired.

Congratulations to Jack, his family, and Notre Dame! 

Song of the Day - July 14, 2008

Today's song comes from the vast labyrinths of the You Tube world. Julia Nunes has developed quite a following with her fun ukulele covers of popular songs and her original tunes as well. She always seems to be enjoying herself, and you'll likely find yourself checking out her countless other videos once you watch one or two. This particular video is a cover of Weezer's "Keep Fishin'" off their 2002 album Maladroit.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Song Of The Day - July 13, 2008

For your listening pleasure today we bring to you Less Than Jake. These rockers from Gainesville, Florida are a unique blend ska, punk and even a little bit of pop. After 16 years in the music industry they are still alive and well, which is more than most bands that belong to their genre(s) can say. "The Rest Of My Life" comes from their sixth studio album In With The Out Crowd, which was released in 2006. The album was not well-received by diehard fans as it marked a distinct escape from the traditional LTJ sound, which features involvement from the horns section. 

Fun trivia fact: "The Rest Of My Life" was co-written by Mark Hoppus, formerly of Blink-182 and now +44.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Remembering A Yankee Great

Following the Yankee’s 9-4 victory over the Blue Jays in Toronto, the Yankee family learned that it had lost one of it’s own, former player and longtime broadcaster Bobby Murcer passed away Saturday at the age of 62 after a battle with brain cancer.

Murcer played for the Giants and Cubs, but it’s his time in New York for which he will best be remembered.

Murcer joined the Yankees in the mid 1960s and followed in the footsteps of fellow Oklahoman Mickey Mantle to eventually play center field for the Bronx Bombers.

For his career, Murcer hit .277 with 252 home runs and 1,043 RBI.

In Major League history just 24 players have hit above .275 while also hitting 250 or more home runs, totaling more than 1,000 RBI, stealing more than 125 bases and hitting 45 or more triples.

Among that group only Murcer, George Brett, and Rogers Hornsby struck out fewer than 1,000 times.

But it isn’t stats or even his knack for pulling off the delayed steal that Murcer will be remembered for.

His defining moment came on August 6, 1979 on the same day that he gave one of the eulogies at his friend and Yankees captain Thurman Munson’s funeral in Ohio.

On the schedule for that evening back in New York were the first-place Baltimore Orioles, and manager Billy Martin was going to give Murcer the night off after an emotionally and physically draining day. Murcer insisted that he be in the lineup, saying that something was telling him to play and that he wasn’t tired. His performance was legendary.

With the Yankees trailing 4-0, Murcer hit a 3-run home run in the 7th inning, then hit a walk-off 2-run single in the bottom of the 9th. He drove in all the Yankee runs in a dramatic comeback for the ages.

Murcer never used the bat again, instead giving it to Munson’s widow Diana. He would later say of the game that he was playing on “shock adrenaline”.

Perhaps the best quote to memorialize his passing is the same one Murcer used all those years ago in eulogizing Munson. Murcer quoted the poet and philosopher Angelo Patri saying, “The life of a soul on earth lasts longer than his departure. He lives on in your life and the life of all others who knew him.”

That quote rings true for both of the friends, now united again.

Song of the Day - July 12, 2008

Today's cut comes from across the pond. Arctic Monkeys formed in 2002 and are usually classified as indie rock or post-punk revival. Whatever you call it, these guys make infectiously catchy music with an edge to it. "I Bet You Look Good on The Dance Floor" is off their 2006 debut album Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not which became at the time the fastest-selling debut album in British history. I can't help but dance around when this song comes on. This particular version is a performance from the Glastonbury Festival in 2007.

Friday, July 11, 2008

ND Secondary Takes A Hit, WR Too

In a statement released by the University of Notre Dame this afternoon it was announced that the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football team will be without two of its players next season: Junior CB Darrin Walls and redshirt senior D.J. Hord. 

Both losses hurt the team, though the loss of Walls is particularly hard to swallow. Walls had a tremendous spring and has NFL potential. While his departure is unfortunate there are a few positives: The secondary is perhaps the most talented unit for the Irish with Terrail Lambert, Raeshon McNeil, Gary Gray leading the way and freshmen Robert Blanton and Jamoris Slaughter adding quality depth. Some of the younger players will be given a chance to earn playing time, too. Walls has two years of eligibility remaining.

Hord will be transfering to a D-1AA school TBD. Injuries have plagued the career of this former 4-star recruit.

Here's what Weis had to say:

“We won’t have Darrin with us this season but I hope to have him return for the spring semester. Fortunately, cornerback is a position of strength on our team and this will provide opportunities for increased playing time for our corners.”

“I'd like to thank D.J. for all he has given to this team in his three years and wish him well in his future endeavors."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Song Of The Day - July 10, 2008

Well since I dropped the ball on Tuesday, July 8 we will feature two songs of the day. The first song is "Stop Drop and Roll!!!" from the album of the same name by Foxboro Hot Tubs. If you're a fan of Green Day you might want to give them a more in-depth look than just this video because FHT is a Green Day side-project, featuring Billy Joe Armstrong (vocals), Mike Dirnt (bass), Tre Cool (drums), and several other artists. According to Billy Joe, "The only similarity between Green Day and Foxboro Hot Tubs is that we are the same band."

The second song is "I Can't Quit You Baby" by Led Zeppelin. Jimmy Page shreds his guitar throughout the song as Robert Plant provides blues-like vocals. This is a live version from the early 1970s. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Rich Rodriguez Admits He's ScUM

In case you hadn't heard, Michigan's Rich Rodriguez isn't exactly an honest man. While still employed by West Virginia University he actively participated in a courtship by the University of Michigan (scUM), his alma mater, for the head coach position of their football program. WVU sued Rodriguez for $4M in accordance with his buyout clause and Richie cried wolf. Finally, after months of bickering back and forth between the two sides, it appears that the saga has been resolved.

Not enough time on your hands to read all of the articles? Here's a quick run-down: Rich Rodriguez admitted that he signed a binding contract with a buyout clause worth $4M. ScUM will pay $2.5M and Richie will pay the remaining $1.5M. The university is thrilled with their excellent hire. 

Note - Don't tick off the state of West Virginia. Nothing good can come of it

Update - Just found this not too complimentary article on Rodriguez from the Detroit Free Press. It's worth a look.

Song of the Day - July 9, 2008

Today's update is a Weezer blitz. The song of the day is from Weezer's new self-titled release (also known as the Red Album). The featured track is "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations On a Shaker Hymn), a nearly six minute epic that goes through what essentially amounts to ten different songs in one track. Also we've added a link to view the band's video for the monster hit single "Pork and Beans" which has been viewed in excess of 9 million times. In the coming weeks I'll have a review of the album which I shall try to make somewhat unbiased, but from the prospective of a huge fan.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Song Of The Day - July 7, 2008

Today's song comes from Chicago, IL rockers Smashing Pumpkins. Although not all fans of the band are pleased with the Pumpkins' latest efforts after a nearly 7 year hiatus we here at Stars and Slights continue to indulge ourselves in the musical genius presented by Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlain. After the release of their seventh studio album, Zeitgeist, the duo (minus original members James Iha and D'arcy Wretzky) has continued to write new music. Although the Pumpkins are touring with a bassist (Ginger Reyes) and guitarist (Jeff Schroeder) the entire Zeitgeist album was record by Chamberlain and Corgan. Today's song entitled "Superchrist" was written during the Zeitgeist sessions but was not included on the album. I especially like how the worked the violin part into the video. Enjoy.

"We didn't feel we understood the song and thought playing it on tour would help us sort it out" - Billy Corgan

*Edit - Today marks the 10th anniversary of Smashing Pumpkins Day.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Song of the Day - July 6, 2008

Today's song comes from alternative rockers Death Cab For Cutie off their most recent release Narrow Stairs. This album has some instant classics including this song "Cath..." which is potentially my favorite song on the album. It's a laid back rock tune in the style that only Death Cab can deliver. Check out the album, but try this for a taste.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Roger Goodell To NFL Rookies: "I'm Gonna Bust A Cap In Your..."

In case you haven’t heard, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is not pleased with the current state of rookie contracts.

“Money is not going to players that are performing. It's going to a player that never makes it in the NFL. And I think that's ridiculous."

Imagine this scenario:

You’re a ten-year veteran in the NFL. You’re a free agent. While not a superstar you’re still very gifted. All of those years on the gridiron have begun to take their toll on your body, but you’re still rock solid and an attractive athlete to many NFL franchises.

During the free-agent signing period you’ve spoken to numerous teams, all of which have told you the same thing: “We would love to have you on the team, but if you can’t take a significant pay cut we can’t sign you.”

Unfortunately, this scenario is very realistic given the current structure of the NFL rookie salary cap (or lack thereof).

While there is no cap on rookies the NFL has a “hard cap” for teams, meaning that no team can exceed the cap for any reason. The cap is determined by the Defined Gross Revenues set by the league each year as a reflection of the previous season’s total revenues (the inclusion of all revenue streams was renegotiated in 2006 to add things like naming rights and advertising). The cap itself is a product of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), the most recent of which was negotiated in 2006.

In case you are confused, here is the actual mathematical equation:

 Projected revenue x CBA Percentage = Players Share Total Revenue

 Players Share minus Projected League wide Benefits = Amount Available for Player Salaries

 Amount Available for Player Salaries / Number of Teams = Unadjusted Salary Cap per Team

So while there is an overall cap that teams must abide by, there is no such cap for rookie contracts which, by the way, are indeed accounted for in the overall cap. Under this system unproven rookies can earn more money than seasoned veterans!

All other things being equal, that’s like placing a higher value on a high school diploma than a college degree.

Sure, high rookie contracts can help veterans by inflating their worth. But is that really necessary? With a rookie cap teams would be able to invest their money in many different avenues, such as veteran players, advertising, or even stadium improvements. Rookie players wouldn’t be working for free, mind you – there is a league minimum salary. 

As of 2007, the minimum structure salary was as follows:

Rookies and first-year players $285,000
Second-year players $360,000
Third-year $435,000
Fourth-year $510,000
Fifth- through seventh-year $595,000
Eighth- through tenth-year $720,000
Eleventh-year and longer $820,000

Once rookies prove they belong in the league they can renegotiate their contracts. Plus, these figures exclude endorsements.

'Ridiculous' Rookie Contracts

  • Matt Ryan, the No. 3 overall pick in the NFL draft, signed a 6-year deal worth $72 million ($34.75 of which is guaranteed money) with the Atlanta Falcons.
  • The No. 1 overall pick, Jake Long, signed a 5-year deal worth $57.75 million  ($30 million guaranteed) with the Miami Dolphins.
  • Last years' No. 1 pick, JaMarcus Russell, signed a 6-year $61 million contract.

Welcome to your teams, gentlemen. You are officially the highest paid players on your teams and you have yet to take a snap as a professional (JaMarcus played in 4 lackluster games last season throwing for 373 yards, 2 TDs and a 55.9 QB rating). 

Indianapolis Colts President Bill Polian (father of Notre Dame special teams coach Brian Polian) has been one of the most ardent supporters of a rookie cap. 

"The union has to give us a firm, definitive, rookie salary cap. We're perfectly willing to have the money that does not go to the rookies go to the veterans. Nobody is looking to save money. But we're sick and tired of giving exorbitant, incredible sums of money to players who haven't proven they can do anything but play against Eastern Michigan."

Caps In Other Leagues

Maybe the NFL should take notes from other leagues. The NBA has a system that is very intuitive - rookies are paid in ascending monetary value the higher they’re picked in the draft and everything is scaled to a set maximum value. The NHL recently created a rookie salary cap, too. The MLB has no salary cap, rather a luxury tax.

So if you were an NFL owner why would you pay someone who has never played a down as a professional an exorbitant amount? The simple answer is that you don’t want to. You would much rather use that cash to sign veteran players to build the pieces of your puzzle.

Is There An End In Sight?

It should be a no-brainer. Once you’ve shown that you won’t be a "flop" you can negotiate a new contract worth millions. Until then, however, it does not seem “fair” for the older players in the league, who have already proven themselves, to earn less than the best players coming out of college.

I know what some of you are thinking. NFL players are at risk of injury every time they step on the field. They’re walking occupational hazards. What if they are hurt? What will they do with their lives post-football, especially with so many years ahead of them? 

Here’s a thought: They could fall back on the education they received in college. After all, they are STUDENT athletes.

Last month team owners unanimously decided to opt out of the CBA, which makes the likelihood of a strike more plausible. So all that needs to happen is for team owners and the NFL Players Association to negotiate a new CBA. 

Easier said than done.

*For an incredibly thorough analysis of the NFL salary cap visit Ask The Commish

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Song of the Day (Happy B-day U.S.A.)

Well the good 'ol U.S. of A. ain't what it could be, and it ain't what it was either. In the spirit of the thing we give you famed Irish tenor Ronan Tynan singing God Bless, America. May freedom and independence rain down upon you in the form of hot colorful embers.

Cutting Room Floor Rocks the Crystal

Friday night saw Alan Brown, Luke Sweet and myself playing our old and new tunes alike in Centerway Square in seasonably beautiful Corning, New York. Sans a lead guitarist, Luke took over the picking duties and did a fine job as we played what we’ve come to refer to as “CRF unplugged/plugged in”.

There was a solid crowd and we were generally well received by friends, family and strangers alike.

Our set list was pretty standard CRF fare, with a couple new covers thrown in, including my new favorite song to play live “We Will Become Silhouettes”, a cover of a cover as it were. Overall, the show was a great success and thanks to all who helped make it so.

The set list from the show is as follows:

All songs are original unless otherwise noted

1. Rainy Day
2. Crooked Teeth (Death Cab For Cutie cover)
3. Brilliant Night
4. Goodnight Boston
5. Sitting, Waiting, Wishing (Jack Johnson cover)
6. Losing Time and Your Would-be Girl
7. Forsyth Street
8. We Will Become Silhouettes (Postal Service/Shins cover)
9. Walking Alone
10. Up To You
11. No Rain (Blind Melon cover)
12. 11:12
13. No Thanks Ms. M
14. I’ve Got A Feeling
15. Hey Girl (O.A.R. cover)
16. Stars and Slights

(Photo courtesy of Phil Morehouse)

Song of the Day - July 3, 2008/ Fourth of July Edition

This one's for America. I think it's safe to say that we'll be taking the day off tomorrow from posting, but this one's a timeless rendition of our national anthem. Jimi Hendrix performed this near the end of his set at Woodstock in 1969, he was the last to play and closed out the festival in strong fashion. Comically enough, after being introduced as "The Jimi Hendrix Experience" he corrected the new group's name to "Gypsy Sun and the Rainbows".

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Michigan Football: Where _________ Happens

After viewing the video below we would like to hear what you think belongs in the blank. Sucks!, for example, would be a perfectly suitable response. Feel free to respond with a phrase, too. It's up to you! You can give your answers in the comments section of this post.

Michigan Football: Where _______ happens.

Credit for this awesome video goes to the guys over at Black Heart Gold Pants, an Iowa Hawkeyes blog. 

Song Of The Day - July 2, 2008

Today's song, "Dark Blue," is brought to you by Orange County, California rockers Jack's Mannequin. Originally from Something Corporate, frontman Andrew McMahon spent an entire summer writing the tracks on Jack's Mannequin's  debut album entitled Everything In Transit. On the day he finished mastering the last song on the album, McMahon was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which forced him to forgo touring and undergo chemotherapy. The album was released on schedule and was received well by critics and fans.

"Dark Blue" was the opening song performed by Jack's Mannequin on their March 28, 2008 performance at Stepan Center (or 'space-aged dome' as McMahon referred to it) on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. For their encore, JM performed a cover of Tom Petty's "American Girl," which can be seen below.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Song of the Day - July 1, 2008

Today's song comes from Columbia graduates turned indie rockers Vampire Weekend. They made the cover of SPIN magazine before even releasing their first album (talk about pressure) and their off-beat, genre mashing style makes for pleasant melodies and interesting lyrics. Big ups to anyone who can mention Lil' John in a song with a straight face.

All 'Dawgs Go to Heaven

There’s something delightfully southern about having a live animal for a mascot. LSU has Mike the Tiger, Tennessee has their blue tick hound Smokey, and perhaps the most famous of all live mascots is UGA, the white English Bulldog who prowls the sidelines between the hedges at Sanford Stadium at the University of Georgia.

Sadly, UGA VI, passed away last Friday and was interred Monday afternoon at the traditional burial place for all Georgia mascots, a marble memorial inside Sanford Stadium.

Now I’m no Georgia fan, especially after the Hokie-Bulldog debacle in the 2006 Peach Bowl (I’ll never refer to it by the sponsor’s name) and I’ll only root for the ‘Dawgs if it’s convenient for my team, but UGA represents a fine tradition indeed.

Owned by Savannah attorney Frank W. “Sonny” Seiler, whose family has owned the line of UGA’s dating back to 1956 when the mascot became a regular at football games, UGA has become a proud symbol of the university and a full-fledged celebrity.

“People pet him so much his head gets sore,” Seiler once said of his prized bulldogs. “He’s like a politician who shakes too many hands.”

UGA V (the most recent UGA’s father) was in the motion picture “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” portraying his father and was the same UGA who jumped at Auburn receiver Robert Baker during a game in 1996 (shown above). His father before him, UGA IV was the first live mascot invited to the Heisman Trophy presentation, when he accompanied Herschel Walker to the Downtown Athletic Club in 1982 dressed for the occasion in a tuxedo.

UGA VI, whose full name is “UGA V’s Whatchagot Loran?” (more on that later) leaves behind an impressive legacy as well. He leaves his post after compiling the best record of any UGA with 87 wins and 27 losses. Including 2 Sugar Bowl wins (2003 & 2008) and 2 SEC Championships (2002 & 2005).

Perhaps the best eulogy was given by Georgia athletics director Damon Evans who said of UGA, “UGA VI was a damn good mascot and a damn good dog.”

Now how delightfully southern does that sound?

Now for the name explanation. The voice of Georgia football is Larry Munson, a professional fan essentially who refers to the team as "we" and openly roots on the 'Dawgs while maintaining a strangely pessimistic view on things. Whenever he sends it to his sideline reporter Loran Smith he says, "Whatchagot Loran?"

For a classic sample of Larry Munson in action, click on the link below to him describing young Herschel Walker.


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