Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Cover Tuesday: I'm Getting Older Too

By Justin Cates

"Landslide" was released by Fleetwood Mac in 1975 and you still hear that version quite a bit in commercials and elsewhere. Whenever I hear it though, I'm reminded of how much I prefer the 1994 version released by the Smashing Pumpkins.

The stark acoustic guitar paired with Billy Corgan's mournful vocals is a huge departure from the angst-ridden aggressive style of most Pumpkins tracks.

I couldn't find the studio version on YouTube but it's worth downloading—legally even—if you're into that sort of thing. This is the audio of a live performance from 2010.

Next we have a pretty amazing cover completely different stylistically from the original.

Again it's a soft, introspective rendition but this time it's of Metallica's blood-pumping classic "Enter Sandman".

Youn Sun Nah is a South Korean jazz singer with a beautiful voice that turns an arena anthem into something completely different.

This is the first time I've been able to listen to this song without feeling compelled to run through a brick wall. The song is now completely haunting and unnerving in a way it never has been.

"Sleep with one eye open" has a far creepier connotation when it's being sung sweetly over acoustic guitar instead of James Hetfield growling over loud guitar riffs.

Things take a dark turn in the middle of this version too with some terrifying vocal runs and demonic breathing/singing that takes this cover in a very different direction.

This last cover isn't really something I'm terribly into, but I'm sure it will please at least one of our regular readers.

This is a band called A Static Lullaby covering Britney Spears' "Toxic" for a compilation called Punk Goes Pop.

I would enjoy this a lot more without the periodic scream/singing in the chorus, but this version still does a fine job of destroying Britney's original.

Besides I though we needed something loud and aggressive after two quiet, thoughtful covers.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Comparing Notre Dame and Virginia Tech's Recent Draft History

By Justin Cates

Just like recruiting in college, you can never be sure of the success of an NFL Draft class until years down the line.

However, initially the 2013 draft is a reflection of last season when Notre Dame broke out in a positive way and the Hokies fell flat on their collective faces.

The Irish had 6 players selected this year—the most since 2007—while Virginia Tech had only two players picked.

The first Hokie wasn't taken until the sixth round with pick 171—the lowest the first Tech player has gone off the board since 1993 when no Hokies were drafted.

A number of the undrafted players agreed to free agent deals with various teams just moments after the final pick was made Saturday, but today we're looking at the draftees.

Earlier in the week Brian pointed out a note from NFL.com writer Gil Brandt pertaining to the most successful college programs in terms of players drafted.

Corey Fuller hopes to add depth to the receiving corps in Detroit.

Not including this class, both Virginia Tech and Notre Dame have seen 50 players selected since 2001.

Currently, there are 34 Irish alumni and 27 Hokies on NFL rosters though of course this will likely change a good bit in the coming months.

Still, the numbers give us an interesting look at one of the similarities of two programs that few people would make a connection between apart from Brian and I.

That will change soon with the announcement that Virginia Tech will travel to play Notre Dame in South Bend in 2016.

Tight end Tyler Eifert was the first Irish player selected with Pick No. 21 (Cincinnati) 

It will mark the first meeting between the schools in football and it comes as part of Notre Dame's agreement with the ACC to play five football games per season against conference members.

It remains to be seen when the return date in Lane Stadium will be, but either way we're very excited to finally have a meeting on the field.

It may be a long way off, but consider the gauntlet thrown down for our game preparations.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Arizona, Guns and Money

By W.T. Salisbury, M.D.

Arizona is a very strange place. In many ways it hasn't changed much from the old west, except there are far more golf courses now.

Oh yes these people love their golf and their dry heat, but most of all they love their guns.

Naturally, to protect those guns their state government passed two bills last week to make sure no one messes with them.

One of the bills bans Arizona police departments from destroying guns in their possession. It instead requires—in most cases—law enforcement to sell those weapons.

People in favor of the legislation have pointed out that destroying those weapons won't prevent crimes. That's true of course.

"It's not appropriate to tell taxpayers that they must subsidize, with their dollars, the destruction of useful property for no good reason, to accomplish nothing, other than make people feel good," Peoria Republican Rick Murphy said.

Fair enough sir. And it is with that reasoning that I propose that we make it illegal to destroy confiscated drugs once they're in police possession. 

There's no sense in destroying perfectly useful property just to make people feel better right? People will still be buying it out on the streets anyway, might as well make a little money for the state.

But drugs aren't legal you say. True, but the end of prohibition is nigh if we're trying to make money, "rules" be damned. Besides, if the justification of this law is that it's silly to destroy useful property then it's clear those in charge don't understand the value of drugs—outside of alcohol of course.

There's a mountain of statistical evidence that supports the reform of drug laws, but that's not what this particular column is aimed at discussing. We can tackle that some other time while I'm in the midst of a legally induced drunken stupor. 

No, today we're trying to make cash via the flimsy premise of "usefulness". 

Money is all we can talk about these days. Cut this, cut that, reduce spending but increase revenue! This idea of legal one-stop-shops for guns and drugs could rake in the cash and mitigate much of Arizona's $50 billion debt.

They could really help their economy here. Who wouldn't want to go to a police station to pick up a handgun—slightly used—and a bag of weed?

Tourists would flock from all over the country to Flagstaff, Tucson...Hell even Phoenix to hit up these fledgling one-stop-shops. Support small business!

I can see a burgeoning cottage industry here. 

"Get a gun! Get some drugs and see the Grand Canyon all in an afternoon!"

I'd even be willing to wager you'd see a sharp spike in attendance at Suns games and that's almost impossible. 

An Arizona bargain bin. 

The second measure passed prevents governments from creating a registry of gun owners and gun transactions involving federally licensed dealers. That is actually a perfectly reasonable idea and it's worth noting that it was something that was included in the legislation that failed to pass the senate at the congressional level in Washington on the same day.

That doesn't make it a a bad idea to pass similar legislation at the state level—especially given the incompetence of the senate—but people do like to complain an awful lot about redundancy in government...most of the time. 

Back to my initial point, if we're going to sell confiscated guns, the drugs should be treated the same. While you're there snag a cheap car or some of the other stolen property collecting dust in the evidence room. It's like Wal-Mart but more exciting.

I've got plenty of other ideas for the Arizona tourism board they may want to take under advisement in conjunction with these new laws. 

Apart from the canyon, there isn't a great reason to head to that state. It's mostly desert interspersed with strip malls and the elderly. 

There are also coyotes—of the mediocre hockey variety as well as the animal.  

These are dangerous creatures and if you live there they will end up in your backyard mauling the family pet. Visitors are not immune to this trouble.

Arizonans are big fans of fences, particularly if they signify some kind of border. Therefore, I would propose a series of protected fenced off parks for children and dogs to roam about in peace. It would also allow visitors a safe-haven where they could relax and soak up some of that famous "dry-heat".

But there are also terrifying and deadly snakes that slither about in packs with the hopes of murdering you once you're asleep. To combat this, all tourists should be given snake bashing sticks as soon as they get off the plane. 

It'll be just like receiving a lei upon arrival in Hawaii, but infinitely more practical. 

Oh I could go on and on, but I refuse to give out any more free tips to Arizona. I can of course consult with your government and tourist board as you see fit, however I will be charging four times my normal fee plus expenses. 

I have strong references from the Columbian and Cuban tourist  boards which you may find useful in justifying this arrangement. I assure you, my fees are more than worth it.   

Trust me, I'm a doctor.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cover Tuesday: Get The Led Out Johnny and Kurt!

By Justin Cates

Clearly the world came off it's hinges a bit last week, so I temporarily shelved this edition of cover Tuesday.

Now that things have settled down for a minute, it seems like a fine time to resume our pseudo-weekly ritual.

First up is quite possibly the best Led Zeppelin cover you'll see anywhere on the Internet.

This comes to us from the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors tribute to the honored Zeppelin.

It features original Zepp drummer John Bonham's son Jason behind the kit and Ann (vocals) and Nancy Wilson (guitar) of the band Heart out front.

Contrary to popular belief, you can in fact cover a song as challenging and transcendent as ,"Stairway To Heaven", just don't ever attempt it in a music store because you will be judged and promptly chastised.

"No Stairway? Denied!"

It's a beautiful rendition, fully fleshed out with a handful of backing musicians and multiple choirs.

The kicker is when you see how much John Paul Jones, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page love the version.

Robert Plant cries! I can't really fathom a moment watching someone play such a wonderful thing and think, "Wow, we wrote that".

It's a moving song to begin with, and the band's reaction adds to the emotions of the moment.

Next on the docket is the late Johnny Cash's cover of Bob Marley's classic, "Redemption Song".

Joe Strummer joins him and as all the covers on Cash's American albums, this one is tinged with a melancholy that can only come from a voice as weathered as JC's

You can hear the weight of his life's experience in every word he sings. It's like the world is sitting on his shoulders and he's just tired of it all.

It's one of Marley's most lyrically poignant songs, focusing on the troubles of humanity but it's also an expression on the great physical pain he was experiencing as he battled the cancer that ultimately took his life.

The connection between the two men performing this song at the end of their lives is obvious. My only complaint is I wish Johnny's was solo just like the original.  

It would appear at this point that I've gone from the musical triumph of the first song to an increasingly dark playlist culminating with Kurt Cobain's piercing wail. My bad.

Cobain was trendy without trying to be, the "Anti-Bieber" in other words. 

I couldn't remember what the third song I had in mind last week was, so I organically stumbled onto Nirvana's cover of the Meat Puppets', "Lake of Fire".

The cut comes from Nirvana's 1994 release MTV Unplugged in New York—remember when MTV was a thing that mattered? I mean really mattered because things like Unplugged were cultural events not just, "OMGZ MTV TRL Bieber takeover in 10 min!!! #Belieber #SoHawt".

That felt dirty just jokingly typing it. Anyway, this Nirvana cover is terrific and one of my favorite moments from that Unplugged session.

Editor's Note: Without trying to, I found pictures of both Johnny Cash and Kurt Cobain holding kittens.   For whatever reason, the Internet goes bonkers for that kind of stuff so I'm presenting them here to show an added dimension to these emotional complex individuals. Plus, it's kind of funny.


Creepy but cute. Seems about right Kurt.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lift Your Spirits Up

By Justin Cates

Today is a dark day for many reasons.

There is of course the obvious sadness emanating from Massachusetts following the bombing near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Today also marks 6 years since the shootings on the campus of Virginia Tech that touched the lives of so many people important to me as well as many I'll never know beyond the intangible bond of belonging to the same community.

It's a day I always spend in reflection. I think about where I was, where I am, and where I might be going. I also invariably think of those who are no longer able to enjoy the latter two states of being.

There are many uplifting thoughts and quotes floating around that serve to console the heavy hearts of those touched by tragedy. I tend to come back to a simple thought I've mentioned before from one of my favorite musicians, Warren Zevon.

Knowing that he was dying, when asked what lesson he would like to impart to those he would soon depart he said simply, "Enjoy every sandwich."

Don't take anything for granted. Savor everything right down to a quick meal as you rush out the door. No one knows when things will come screeching to a halt.

We are sad that this is true, but that's why we have each other.

The flag pictured above was made the night of that shooting six years ago with my roommates and close friends. Through shock and pain it was cathartic and a proud sign of unity and strength in a time when both were sorely needed.

We weep for those lost in these tragedies and we curse those responsible, but we do it together and that's important.

Humanity has the power to cause unthinkable harm to itself, but we also possess the unique ability to band together and move ahead.

No one is immune. From American students of all ages, marathon runners and spectators, or the 31 people killed yesterday in Iraq, the world is all too often engulfed by the worst in humanity. It's easy to be disgusted by it all.

But somehow, wherever the worst happens, the best happens too.

People manage to put their differences aside and do what they can to help others.

We see it in the first responders who always selflessly rush into harms way in the moment. We see it in the aftermath in the kindness of total strangers directed at people they will never meet.

It restores faith, if only for a short while, that we can strive for something more than these senseless acts here at home and around the globe.

We're in this thing together, for good or ill.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Cover Tuesday: Peppers, an Apple and Multiple Boys

By Justin Cates

I really dig Fiona Apple and on this song she reaches into the Beatles back catalog to cover "Across the Universe".

It's by no means one of the best Beatles songs, but it's still good music in it's own right. On a side note, I've never entirely warmed up to the film of the same name though there were certainly some good bits in it.

Essentially, I thought it was the Beatles adapted for teenage girls. Remember, send those angry comments of dissent to Brian.

Anyway, as she often does Fiona Apple performs this song beautifully with a hint of melancholy. It doesn't hurt that the music video depicts something I can only describe as "beautiful chaos".

I could be crazy, but around the 3:45 mark I'm relatively certain that John C. Reilly steals a record from the juke box then leaps out the window.

Apparently, Fall Out Boy are about to release another album but I can't say I really care anymore. At the risk of sounding like a hipster who dislikes a band once it gets popular, they kind of lost me with their more recent releases but I really enjoyed the first few albums they made.

Their first EP My Heart Will Always Be the B-Side to My Tongue, was released in may of 2004 and featured acoustic renditions of two of their previous songs, two new acoustic tracks and this cover of Joy Division's 1980 song "Love Will Tear Us Apart".

When you strip away all the other stuff going on in their songs, you can begin to appreciate that Patrick Stump actually has a good voice when he's not screeching depressing Pete Wentz lyrics.

This last one is one of those classic surprises where I don't even know how I found it.

This is the Red Hot Chili Peppers covering the Beach Boys standard "I Get Around".

It stays true to the original while still giving it a distinct Peppers flavor. Flea's funky bass—complete with a pelvic thrust—and John Frusciante's guitar flair reminds us who's covering this classic.

I was really impressed with the vocals. I never realized the range of Frusciante. He totally nails the falsetto here and the group's harmonies make me happy.

Here's hoping they do the same for you.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Big Mac's Are Out to Get You OR Welcome Back Doctor!

Editor's Note: Prior to the reception of this column, Dr. Salisbury has been out of contact for many weeks. According to a brief note accompanying this diatribe, Doc has been on a journey through South America checking up on some property he owns there. It should be noted that any and all medical advice administered in this space be taken with a grain of salt as during the time I've known him, he has yet to produce a proper confirmation of his credentials. Per his request, his byline will now have his letters following his name. 

By W.T. Salisbury, M.D.

Hello friends! Jim Nantz be damned that's a wonderful greeting. I come to you fully rejuvenated following an extensive retreat  in the southern America.

While I was fighting my way through customs and stewing in various airports during extensive layovers, I was confronted with a disturbing series of advertisements.

Right. Most advertisements are rotten to the core and feature little to no truth. We all know this in our hearts, however, there are some ads that rise above the scum in an unnatural way to set themselves apart with their horrifying suppositions.

In this instance, the culprit is McDonald's.

We all know the food factory to be one of the world leader's in hamburger sales and obesity induction.

Usually, they hide behind the number of total sales made and the strange products exclusive to their en-arched monopoly such as "ribs" made from leftover meat shavings, golden french fries and milkshakes that inexplicably stay frozen in a sweltering car through the duration of a summer's day.

Recently, they've done away with the charade and cut right to the core of their message.

To Hell with your brain, this shit tastes GREAT!

They aren't wrong. 

If you can somehow shut your mind out of the decision and focus on the disturbingly delicious dish placed in front of your food hole, it is in fact a tasty treat. 

The actual fact that it's murdering you not withstanding, the flavor (i.e. FAT) simply melts in your mouth like a rare French delicacy. 

Those aforementioned golden fries—perhaps emblematic of the arches—disappear down your gullet like the lifeblood of civilization. 

The monstrous soda you receive with your "medium" combo washes away any misgivings you might have. The nectar of the GODS! It's a wonderful salve for your aching wretch of a body and any and all side-effects are an afterthought. 

Of course, we all know by now the horrifying consequences of voluntarily ingesting poison into our delicate systems. 

No, I have no problem with that. I've done it and I'll do it again. 

The trouble is with the insidious advertising aimed at the lowest common denominator of humanity. It's designed to make Joe six-pack shut down what little brain activity he has working in his favor so that he mindlessly shovels garbage into his beer-encrusted, cigarette-seeking mouth. 

Literally, this campaign commands you to ignore the one part of your body capable of making rational decisions and instead follow the sage advice of your stupid tongue that would gladly lick the underside of a tow-hitch if it enjoyed the post-winter salt content. 

McDonald's is attempting to murder you with slick advertising. You shouldn't be happy about that.

Sure, you might enjoy a disgusting hamburger slathered in pickly/mayonaise sauce on occasion but that doesn't mean it's a good idea.

Just realize that with this idiotic ad campaign the burger giant is quite literally admitting before our eyes that this product is a bad idea, but it tastes so gooooooooood.

Keep that in mind the next time you're hungry and too lazy or incapable to cook something that isn't actively trying to kill you.

The golden arches are keenly aware.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Cover Tuesday: A Kick in The Shins

By Justin Cates

The eclectic mix of songs I picked last time were surprisingly popular, so I'll attempt to make this a weekly thing since Tuesday's are dumb. 

The first one today isn't particularly random, it's just good. 

Before frontman James Mercer decided to fire his band and replace them with the new Shins, they made this terrific cover of The Postal Service's "We Will Become Silhouettes". 

I'm pretty sure I've posted this song previously, but I don't care. It's terrific.  

Next up is The Band. I rank them right up there with Little Feat for most underrated band. It's another case where you've heard their songs and enjoyed them, but didn't know it was them.

The first tune from The Band I really fell for turned out to be a cover of the Bob Dylan tune "I Shall Be Released". I think this version from the Band's debut album Music From Big Pink is the definitive version.

Granted, I've never been a huge Dylan fan but I still appreciate his art. I just think the vocals of Richard Manuel, Rick Danko and Levon Helm are far superior to those of Mr. Dylan's original cut.

This song is also cool because of the Dylan/Band connection. The Band was Bob's backing group when he toured the U.S. in 1965 and Europe in 1966 after going electric.

The Kooks are an indie band from the UK that has perhaps best been described as a less abrasive Arctic Monkeys.

They are self-described "musical whores" listing countless recognizable influences like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Police and David Bowie.

In fact, their name is derived from the classic Bowie song "Kooks" and the distillation of all these influences has led to a really cool sound beyond their initial label of "typical Britpop".

Today's selection is a cover they did of the Gnarls Barkley hit "Crazy".

The Kooks have stripped it down to simple acoustic guitars. Luke Pritchard's heavily accented lead vocals completely change the tone of the song, and while a little rough in this video where he's playing in the street, are quite honest and charming.

Monday, April 1, 2013

April Fools

The Interwebs are a scary place today. More than normal even. As usual, Mr. Samuel Clemens sums it up best.

I've no dirty tricks for you all so fear not.

Editor's Note: I tried to type Clemens several times and each attempt ended with me typing Clemson. NOT COOL BRAIN! April 1st has cluttered and confused my mind. Be wary friends. 


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