Monday, December 31, 2012

Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt Perform Duet

In honor of New Year's Eve —which is a stupid non-holiday but a fine excuse to drink until people aren't insufferable— I give you this strangely intoxicating youtube clip of Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt being cute.

Zooey is well-liked by me because of her sultry singing voice and tendency to be adorable. While I can understand if you think she's overly twee (sickeningly sweet) I must vehemently disagree.

JGL is pretty much the new cool. He's currently in that phase that Matt Damon went through where he surprises people by how badass he actually is. I'd say he's done well, though I wasn't very impressed with Inception.

It wasn't that confusing, and as South Park pointed out:

"Just because an idea is overly convoluted and complex doesn't make it cool! Going to multiple dream levels sounds like a really stupid idea."
None the less, these two are really pleasant to hear singing and the song is topical. Enjoy and have a safe and happy New Year.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hokies Embarrassed, Win Russell Athletic Bowl

"My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over."
-President Gerald Ford

I knew the Russell Athletic Bowl would be ugly, but who knew we would witness one of the worst played games in college football history?

Virginia Tech won on a missed Rutgers field goal in overtime. The Hokies didn't score until the fourth quarter and Rutgers only scored three points on offense.

The lone Scarlet Knights touchdown came on a botched Hokie snap on the game's opening drive, when Logan Thomas inexplicably tried to pick the ball up and run before he fumbled in the endzone.

Replay seemed to show Thomas down for a safety, the first of many curious calls by the Big XII officiating crew.

The Hokies managed just three yards of rushing in this game. That's an average of 3.4 inches per carry.

The Tech fan base was completely apathetic about this game, myself included. I felt kind of bad, but I really just wanted to get it over with so we could get to the important business of finally making some offensive coaching changes.

Tech fans have been expecting such changes for years, but now it seems there is enough overwhelming evidence something must happen that not even Frank Beamer can 'aw shucks' his way around the issue.

Pete Roussel of reported last night that Tech wide receivers coach Kevin Sherman will be leaving to accept a position at Purdue. Sherman refused to address the issue after last night's game.

That's just a drop in the bucket and to be sure, the receivers were far from the biggest issue on offense.

That being said, the routes have been awful for years. Several times last night in Orlando Logan Thomas expected wideouts to be somewhere else, throwing an interception on one such play.

The receivers haven't been consistent and their aversion to making blocks may speak to childhood instances of trouble with Legos.

More likely, they were poorly coached.

I expect much more to change with at least one coach "retiring" while others accept positions elsewhere before being outright canned.

It was a painful season, but perhaps it was necessary to get the changes Tech needs to get to the next level.

Ultimately, Tech had its worst season in 20 years and somehow still managed a winning record and a bowl victory.

Not bad with a bunch of incompetent coaches.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Westboro Baptist Church Can Suck an Egg, and Other Thoughts

Editor's Note: The following are my thoughts and reflections on the recent spate of despicable violence in America. I didn't talk about the specifics of those acts because I learned long ago that they can't be explained. My attempts to create one coherent narrative may well have failed, but hopefully someone gets something from it. It's mostly me working out my own stuff on "paper".

Sometimes it takes a major event to shake loose the truest emotional reactions of the human psyche.

Our day-to-day lives rarely allow us —or perhaps we don’t allow ourselves— to reflect on our emotions unless something jarring occurs.

In those instances, we’re forced to confront the fears and anxieties that lie at the very core of even the most hardened amongst us.

The terrible killings of two firefighters near Rochester, NY coming on the heels of the unthinkable murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT have brought back to the surface all the pain experienced by Hokies like myself in April of 2007 and beyond.

We all deal with pain and grief in our own ways, and the families that directly lose someone in these tragedies should be allowed to do so on their own terms as well.

However, that wouldn’t be the case if the Westboro Baptist Church had their way.

They’ve protested funerals in the past, and hollowly threatened to protest many more including those of the Newtown victims.

In August of 2012, President Obama signed into law the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012.

Among other things, the legislation forced protests such as these to move at least 300 feet from the funeral site of a member of the country’s armed service members.

It seems necessary to take further steps as the protests now extend to innocent civilians and even children.


It's been snowing like mad here today, and I've been ruminating on several thoughts this afternoon and evening. I rarely feel more of the gonzo flair than when snow is coming down and I'm stuck inside furiously hammering out rhythms of text.

At one point, I was reminded of a conversation that friend of the blog and theoretical contributor Andy and I had the other day.

We were sitting together Monday morning as I read some of the reports from Webster — a suburb of Rochester where he lives and works.

Andy later informed me that the Westboro crazies planned to take their act on the road once again for the funerals of the public servants who died trying to do their jobs.

He wanted to go out and meet their protests with one of his own. I was cordially invited.

After struggling to string together my thoughts on these matters today, I finally reasoned that sneaking one of my Dad’s cigars would be the best way to ease my brain to attempt to put things together.

Earlier in the weekend, we had spoken of getting a cigar and engaging in a casual airing of grievances, but the tobacco shop had been closed.

I bundled up and shoveled a single path down the driveway, curving around the corner just beyond where the porch light reached.

I stood smoking in the shadows listening to the still night air as the snow continued falling around me.

I reflected on the aforementioned violent events and my relation to them, and I thought about what Andy had suggested regarding protesting the crazies.

I considered what I would say in such a confrontation, and while I fear it would be viewed purely as a threat, I think it’s the only fair question that could be posed to such unreasonable people.

“What if someone killed you Mr. Phelps? What if some gun-toting fiend showed up at one of your protests and popped off a few rounds hmmmmm? Would that be God’s will?”

Invariably, he would deflect the question and dive into some hateful rant on gays in the military or recklessly declare murdered children being part of God’s plan. You can never make headway with these people and I’ve often thought that they are best left ignored.

It was then that I realized, they can’t be ignored.

I respect the right our Constitution grants us to speak freely without fear for persecution from the government.

However, I think it’s clear that some speech can be considered so incendiary and hateful that it does the public no good to hear it.

If you’re of similar mind, I encourage you to sign this petition asking President Obama to declare the Westboro Baptist Church a hate group.

They’ve already been banned from entering the United Kingdom, and I think some of their language is close enough to be considered advocacy of violence toward various religions, ethnic groups and homosexuals — an important part of the FBI’s formal definition of a hate group.

At the very least, the President can take action to make their tasteless funeral protests more difficult.

Here’s hoping he goes a step further.    

Monday, December 24, 2012

First Song From Space: "Jewel In The Night"

Since Flight of the Conchords put the image in my head of David Bowie in space, I've often pictured him recording his classic album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars somewhere in the dark expanse far beyond our planet.

Now, space recording has become a reality a little closer to home.

Col. Chris Hadfield has added to his list of many firsts by becoming the first person to record a song on the International Space Station (ISS).

Col. Hadfield was the first Canadian to walk in space and will become the first Canadian commander of the ISS in March of 2013 during his current mission.

All very impressive, but this song is quite the feather in his cap as well.

It certainly adds a whole new meaning to the "space rock" genre.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Paul McCartney & Nirvana

It was big news last week when the 12-12-12 benefit concert for victims of hurricane Sandy went down.

Major acts like Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, Roger Waters, and The Who (what's left of it) all came together in New York City's Madison Square Garden to raise money for victims of the October storm.

The headliner—which in this case is a fancy way of saying, "You go on at 1 AM"—was Paul McCartney, a man who at 70 years old rocks much harder than his contemporaries, and even many of the younger acts around.

Recently, Dave Grohl took time from being in every band ever to reunite what's left of his first successful group, Nirvana.

Along with bassist Krist Novoselic and guitarist Pat Smear, Grohl took to the drums and asked Sir Paul if he'd like to jam with the group.

The result is "Cut Me Some Slack", a new song that will be featured on the soundtrack for Dave Grohl's forthcoming documentary Sound City, about the famous recording studio of the same name.

The trailer for the film is below as is the group's performance on from the 12-12-12 concert.

There's a good video of the guys playing on Saturday Night Live last weekend, but the bass isn't as prominent and the rhythm section is what we all really want to hear. It's very vintage.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Another Christmas Song

Recently, during our swapping of demos I pitched an idea to band mate Luke Sweet.

"I dread all the pending Christmas music. We should make a seasonal song about how seasonal songs blow."

So I wrote one and decided to make a silly video to accompany it. I hope you enjoy my cheeky take on how annoying Christmas music can be.

Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Tegan And Sara Return With Heartthrob

Canadian sisters Tegan and Sara Quin are back with the release of Heartthrob January 29.

In advance of the new release, Tegan and Sara have put out the first single "Closer" accompanied by the cool video below.

"Closer" is incredibly infectious in the best of ways. Give it a listen and enjoy the visuals of a ramped-up teenage bash complete with trampolines, balloons and karaoke.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Justin's Top 5 Albums of 2012

It's officially December which means the world will once again feign wistfulness over a fairly unremarkable year dominated by another round of American political chicanery.

It also means it's time for countless year end lists to conveniently organize our subjective tastes into neatly numbered order.

I listen to a lot of music and in attempting to make my own such list, I realized I didn't entertain many new releases this year. It wasn't intentional, but I certainly didn't check the collective music pulse very often in 2012.

None the less, I offer you my personal highlights from another go around to pass the time until absolutely nothing happens with the end of the Mayan calendar. If something did happen though, you should have these albums in your zombie-proof bunker.

I secretly hope something goes down, otherwise I'll have to make New Years plans.

Jack White- Blunderbuss

Jack White's first solo effort has received loads of praise and rightfully so. It has vintage Jack White guitar aggression mixed with thoughtful, albeit sometimes puzzling lyrics. White really stretches out on this album and shows off his chops, playing not only guitar but piano, bass, drums and he even banged on his guitar case when called for. All in the name of beautiful noise.

Ben Folds Five- The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind

Here's another album that I've praised before and I don't plan to stop anytime soon. Ben Folds Five reunited to make an album that completely captures the spirit of their previous work while showing the maturity that comes with getting older. "Do It Anyway" is the feel good lead single that can't possibly leave you feeling blue, but I've grown to think the strongest song on the album is the title track. Ben Folds Five is criminally underrated, and this album is proof positive.

Fiona Apple- The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

As are most Fiona Apple albums, this one is beautiful, strange and decidedly awesome. What some may consider a drawback—the inconsistent flow and stylistic changes song to song—are one of my favorite parts of the album. Fiona Album doesn't care what anybody thinks and makes music that pleases her first and foremost. She doesn't worry how accessible the tunes are, so long as they're good. Also, she made a delightfully weird music video for stand-out track "Every Single Night".

Tenacious D- Rize of the Fenix

I know, I know. You either agree with their self-applied, "Greatest band in the world" label or you think it's childish drivel. I tend to view Tenacious D as a combination of both. The lyrics are often silly and offensive, but their musical skills are unquestioned. They'll never truly be able to top their eponymous debut album, but this one comes a little closer than Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. Jack Black's vocal gymnastics never get old just as Kyle Gass' guitar work and Dave Grohl's drumming never cease to drive the show.  

Honorable Mentions

I realize that was only four albums, but as I said my intake of new releases was somewhat small this year. As a compromise I give you several albums that were very solid, but didn't find a place on my list. 

The Shins-Ports of Morrow

Some really good songs on here propped up by lots of fluff. I really wish frontman James Mercer hadn't completely changed his band bringing in all new members.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse-Americana

It's truly amazing that these guys still rock the way they do. It's also a really cool idea to rework a bunch of American standards like "Oh Susanna" and turn them into searing jams. 

Benjamin Gibbard-Former Lives

This album would probably make my list at number five, but it was released recently enough that I haven't had a chance to give all the songs their due yet. "Teardrop Windows" is a nice jam featuring a very funny music video.


Related Posts with Thumbnails