Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Broken Bells

Ordinarily, I consider "supergroups" or bands formed with members from other established bands to be pretty mediocre (except for Audioslave's first album, that was cool).

In this case I must make an exception because Broken Bells are amazing.

The group is headlined by Brian Burton, better known as Dangermouse of Gnarls Barkley fame and James Mercer, frontman and pseudo-dictator of the Shins.

The two co-wrote the eponymous debut album while Mercer took a break from The Shins with Burton producing—and doing a masterful job— and playing a myriad of instruments in the process.

The album blends Mercer's uniquely haunting vocals and indie sensibilities with Burton's wide range of hip-hop influences. It makes for a very pleasing sound, highlighted in my opinion by lead single, "The High Road".

Sure the video is weird, but the music is just so cool I barely even notice.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

2010 NFL Draft: Hokies and Irish Have Big Weeks

As always, there were plenty of surprises during the NFL Draft and several of them happened to involve the schools we follow here at Stars & Slights.

The biggest news was certainly Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen falling all the way to the Carolina Panthers who selected him with the 48th overall pick.

This will be viewed by many as a bad thing, but I see some positives in the fall for Jimmy. The biggest knock on him is his perceived "cockiness" and this will certainly take him down a peg or two. It's important to be humbled (though the many sacks he took in college certainly helped) and there's no doubt Mr. Clausen now has a very different perspective from which to learn and work.

Also, Carolina is a very talented team. The big problem for them was an oft-injured Jake Delhomme. With the Rajun' Cajun' now in Cleveland, Clausen has a shot to be the guy in Charlotte once he's ready.

For me, the most exciting moment of the draft came four picks later when Brian's Pittsburgh Steelers selected Virginia Tech defensive end Jason Worilds, who will move to outside linebacker in Pittsburgh's 3-4 defensive set.

Worilds was the first Hokie drafted and will take his relentless motor and strong work ethic to an organization that values those things perhaps more than any other team in the NFL.

Some other surprises included Irish wide receiver Golden Tate slipping to the 60th overall pick (far lower than I would have taken him) and former Hokie walk-on Cody Grimm was selected in the 7th round.

Grimm is an undersized linebacker who has worked extremely hard and made himself into one of the Hokies' leading tacklers and an NFL safety prospect picked up by Tampa Bay. Truly inspiring.

Here is the complete list of players drafted from both schools. Best of luck to all of those drafted and to everyone signing free agent deals as we speak (type).

Notre Dame

QB Jimmy Clausen- Carolina, Round 2
WR Golden Tate- Seattle, Round 2
OT Sam Young- Dallas, Round 6
C Eric Olsen- Denver, Round 6

Virginia Tech

LB Jason Worilds- Pittsburgh, Round 2
S Kam Chancellor- Seattle, Round 5
OT Ed Wang- Buffalo- Round 5
P Brent Bowden- Tampa Bay, Round 6
S Cody Grimm- Tampa Bay, Round 7

Friday, April 16, 2010

Remembering April 16th

By Nikki Giovanni

We are Virginia Tech.

We are sad today, and we will be sad for quite a while. We are not moving on, we are embracing our mourning.

We are Virginia Tech.

We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly, we are brave enough to bend to cry, and we are sad enough to know that we must laugh again.

We are Virginia Tech.

We do not understand this tragedy. We know we did nothing to deserve it, but neither does a child in Africa dying of AIDS, neither do the invisible children walking the night away to avoid being captured by the rogue army, neither does the baby elephant watching his community being devastated for ivory, neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water, neither does the Appalachian infant killed in the middle of the night in his crib in the home his father built with his own hands being run over by a boulder because the land was destabilized. No one deserves a tragedy.

We are Virginia Tech.

The Hokie Nation embraces our own and reaches out with open heart and hands to those who offer their hearts and minds. We are strong, and brave, and innocent, and unafraid. We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be. We are alive to the imaginations and the possibilities. We will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears and through all our sadness.

We are the Hokies.

We will prevail.

We will prevail.

We will prevail.

We are Virginia Tech.

Also, here's a link to a typically beautiful article remembering our worst day by Coleman Collins.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Collateral Murder

I'm not ever really sure what to say about this.

First, WikiLeaks is an extremely important website that you should familiarize yourself with. It gives whistleblowers a safe and secure way to get out information in the form of documents and video that wouldn't come to light otherwise.

You know it's a useful tool when a 32-page U.S. CounterIntelligence report stated they wanted to marginalize the site so it would cease to be. They justified the thinking in part, because countries like China, North Korea and Russia have already blocked the site.

Yeah we should follow the lead of nations that don't allow a free press. That seems American.

That being said, on to the main point. The video below has been making the rounds and everyone should see it.

Be advised, this 17-minute video has been edited down from raw footage and contains harsh language, along with a few comments from our soldiers that is quite embarrassing.

I'm supportive of our troops, but the proper comment after firing upon a group of unidentified people and realizing two children are wounded is not, "Well, it's their fault for bringing their kids to a battle".

To boil things down (which does the story a disservice, but you can read the details in several places) a U.S. helicopter crew fired upon and killed a group of Iraqi "insurgents", among them 2 Reuters cameramen.

For a very interesting and enlightening interpretation of the video, check this link to former infantry sergeant Anthony Martinez's blog

Ultimately, while this video makes me angry I'm taking it with a grain of salt. Certainly tragic and food for thought. Again, the video is pretty disturbing so watch with care.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Black Snake Moan

I was reminded of this film recently because I remembered how hot Christina Ricci is.

Anyway, Black Snake Moan is a really intense, truly unique film starring Christina and Samuel L. Jackson.

It's not recommended viewing for people who have been sexually abused, as there are some pretty vivid flashbacks as seen in this particular clip. It's handled well in the film, however the movie does begin with a sex scene between consenting adults. Probably not a movie for the easily offended.

However, if you like the blues and people trying to get themselves moving in the right direction, you'll dig it.

In other news, Samuel L. Jackson should put out a blues album.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ice, Ice Jimmy

Just like 'Ice Man' in the classic 1986 Tom Cruise movie Top Gun, aspiring NFL quarterback and former Notre Dame player Jimmy Clausen is ice cold, especially when under duress. He makes few mistakes when under pressure and waits for unsuspecting DBs to slip up or miss a step before capitalizing on their mishaps.

Clausen, who decided to forgo his senior season at Notre Dame for an opportunity at achieving his lifelong dream of playing in the NFL, has faced scrutiny about his personality for years.

Some thought he was too cocky, like Taylor Mays. The former USC star said he thought Clausen was "a little bitch" before he played the Irish QB this past season. This judgement was passed after Mays watched the 2008 Hawaii Bowl highlights where Clausen made an aloha sign after throwing a touchdown pass to Golden Tate. That perception changed after Mays began working out with Clausen while training for the NFL combine.

Others thought he was a poor leader. Todd McShay, self-proclaimed football guru and inexplicably employed by ESPN, has not been shy about his feelings on Clausen's leadership skills. He and Mel Kiper Jr., an actual football guru, debated the subject at length in a segment aired on ESPN before the NFL combine. But former teammates along with Kiper, Jr. have defended Clausen as a strong leader.

No one questions his mechanics, though. As you will see in the ESPN article featured here Clausen meticulously practiced and perfected his throwing mechanics with veritable quarterback genius Steve Clarkson, who has tutored the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Leinart, J.P. Losman, and Matt Barkley. This will also be a feature article in April 19 issue of ESPN the Magazine.

One question remains - where will Clausen be locked and loaded in the 2010 NFL draft? As ice cold as he is, Clausen likely does not care where he winds up just so long as he gets a chance to play in the pros unlike his brothers.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Jarell Eddie: Future Hokie Star

Jarell Eddie is a 6'7", 210-pound small forward from Concord, NC. He's rated highly by all the recruiting services and is part of an excellent recruiting class coming in next season for Seth Greenberg.

All those player rankings and "star ratings" are nice, but I like to see a kid play before I dub him "the talisman".

For those unfamiliar with the word, talisman is used on occasion by soccer announcers to indicate a special player. It could be defined as, "Something that apparently has magic power" or as, "Anything whose presence exercises a remarkable or powerful influence on human feelings or actions."

After watching this video, Jarell's got the goods folks. Just take a look.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Too High, It's Too High...

I'm still waiting on the Supreme Court to issue its opinion in American Needle Inc. v. NFL. For a review of this case and its possible implications click here

For now though, the best week in sports is enough for me. What other week in the sports calender compares to this one? We've got the Final Four, the Masters (which--North of the Mason-Dixon line--marks the official start to spring), and Opening Day.

Given the theme I'm trying to keep with my posts--the intersection of law and sports--the sheer volume of quality events this week got me doing some looking around the interweb for a story of note.

Couldn't find much with regards to March Madness. The old guard around Augusta National keep things pretty sealed up (Martha Burke is long gone and I'm nearly certain Tiger won't be giving anything away during his Tuesday press conference). That leaves baseball.

The Common Law Origins of the Infield Fly Rule does everything possible to show that legal scholarship need not be stuffy (in fact, it mocks the heck out of it). Along the way, the article does a really nice job at describing one of the most confusing rules in baseball.

If you're looking for a quick read (the article is barely 8 pages) give the article a try (if only for a few hilarious gems in the footnotes).

On a related note, check out this piece in the New York Times describing the relatively consequences of the "The Common Law Origins of the Infield Fly Rule."

Friday, April 2, 2010

R.I.P. Matt James

Tragedy struck the Fighting Irish football program today when incoming recruit Matt James passed away after falling from a third-floor hotel balcony in Panama City, FL. He was days away from his 18th birthday on April 9.

James, a four-star offensive tackle from nationally acclaimed St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, OH, was a U.S. Army All-American and USA Today first-team All-American. Many projected him as an early starter on the 2010 edition of the Fighting Irish.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire James family in this time of need.

Just A Bit Outside

The official start to the baseball season is not until Easter Sunday but that doesn't mean we haven't already gotten into the swing of things here are Stars and Slights.

Major League
Special thanks to long time friend and S&S regular Andy S. for the tip on the highly entertaining Harry Doyle soundboard provided below that helped kick off our pre-season excitement.

For those of you wondering who I am talking about, Harry Doyle was the name donned by longtime Milwaukee Brewers announcer Bob Uecker in the movie Major League. Doyle is an eccentric broadcaster for the atrocious Cleveland Indians in the midst of a resurrection from worst to first in the AL.

Not familiar with the movie? After you're done kicking yourself listen to the sound clips below.

Regular Season Opener
Justin and I are sure to be at odds this Sunday as my beloved Red Sox host his beloved Yankees in what is sure to be one of the more exciting regular season openers for the MLB.

Two of the game's ace pitchers, Boston's Josh Beckett and New York's CC Sabathia, will duel under the lights of Fenway Park.

You can catch the action on ESPN at 8pm EST.

New Home for the Twins
Though it might not be exciting for all baseball fans the Minnesota Twins have a brand new facility in the warehouse district of downtown Minneapolis.

Target Field will host its first regular season opening series against the Red Sox during the week after next. Yours truly will be there Thursday, April 15 to watch the Sox battle the Twins at 12:15p CST.

I will be sure to document the day and stadium accordingly but here is a link to all the information you will ever need to know about Target Field.


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