Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie Dead At 69

Music icon David Bowie passed away just days after releasing his new album Blackstar and celebrating his 69th birthday. It was unexpected to the public, but it was confirmed after that he had been battling cancer for the past 18 months. His wife Iman had posted various messages and pictures in the days leading up to his death.

He began making the album after his cancer diagnosis. The idea of having jazz musicians on the record came when he was in a jazz club and saw some musicians that he liked in mid-2014. The album was confirmed by producer Tony Visconti to be designed as a parting gift to the fans, with Bowie knowing it would be his last. Blackstar was recorded earlier in 2015, yet held off until Bowie knew he was near the end of his life. The hit album is peppered with Jazz music throughout, though it remains a rock album at its core. Bowie also drew inspiration from Kendrick Lamar. 

The music video for his haunting new single "Lazarus" was carefully planned to be released to the public when he was sure he only had a few days left. The lyrics to the song begin as, "Look up here, I'm in heaven!" The whole album is filled with lyrics about mortality, and when it was released a few days ago it was met with acclaim. Yet, none of us took any of the lyrics of the video for "Lazarus" to actually symbolize his fate. 

After a 10 year hiatus from music, he released The Next Day in January 2013 without much advance notice, and followed that up with an EP in the fall. That album was also received well and showed Bowie had reached yet another creative high point. He stayed away from touring though, with his last live performance coming in 2006 at a charity concert with Alicia Keys. 

Bowie was a true innovator right up until the end.

There's a starman waiting in the sky. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Ricky Gervais Takes On Mel Gibson

Ricky Gervais hosted the Golden Globes again this year, and of course the censors were ready through the night. He joked about a number of things from <i>The Martian</i> being considered a comedy (because a person being stranded in space, trying not to starve, with impending death on the horizon is a comedy) to the whole Sean Penn/El Chapo thing.

The highlight of the night came when Gervais met Mel Gibson. Gibson was one of the award presenters, so of course Gervais, who joked about him at previous Golden Globes, introduced him. He pulled no punches, having one long sentence bleeped out. The bleeped out line that he asked Gibson directly: "What the fuck does sugar tits mean anyway?" Sugar tits is of course a reference to Gibson's 2006 arrest when he drunkenly called a female cop sugar tits. Watch the awkward yet mesmerizing exchange below.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Abby Wambach Retires

Abby Wambach has ended her stellar career, playing in her final match for the United States Women's National Soccer Team in a 1-0 loss to China. She finishes with 184 International goals, a record for both women and men. The match was also significant as it was the US Women's first loss on home soil since 2004. It's almost fitting though, as the team gets set for yet another big change. Shannon Boxx, Lauren Holiday and Lori Chalupny also retired. That previous home loss in 2004 was during the 2004 Olympic Gold Medal victory tour, at the end of which saw fellow US Soccer legends Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Brandi Chastain & Joy Fawcett retire.

Speaking of Hamm, Foudy and Chastain, they were in attendance. And yes, they will be tearing up Bourbon Street with Wambach & Co:

Even though there were some questions as to whether Wambach would retire or not during the summer, you kind of felt it coming after the team won the Women's World Cup. At the start of this victory tour, it just felt like she was content and ready to move onto something else. Fittingly, Homare Sawa of Japan retired on the same day, sending off two of the best female players together.

Abby's legacy will not just be about all the goals she scored or the gold medals won. Her leadership and ability to rally her team (see: 2011 Women's World Cup match against Brazil) will be up there as well. She's also known for her being as awesome as can be when interacting with fans.

While giving an interview to FOX Sports after the match, "Beautiful Day" by U2 was playing over the stadium loudspeaker, which is a perfect way to describe Wambach's final match and career.

Abby Wambach looks on the Superdome Crowd

Monday, October 19, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens New Trailer

The new trailer of Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiered during the Giants/Eagles Monday Night Football game on ESPN. Of course, its already online and you can watch it as many times as you please. Call Guinness because the world record for nerdgasms will be broken tonight.

There is more dialogue than the previous trailer, our first look at Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and more Han Solo (Harrison Ford)! There is also a version of Leia & Han's theme from the original trilogy. Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) get the most screen time, fitting into the scenery just fine. No Jar Jar Binks type mistakes there.

Still no sign of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), though it might be smart to hold off and keep his story secret. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) seems influenced by Darth Vader, speaking to the burnt mask in once scene, but we'll find out for sure once the movie hits. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is in theaters December 18, 2015. It will probably make a gazillion dollars.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

U2 Rock The Garden With a Cameo From Jimmy Fallon

Time goes by so fast. I remember waiting agonizingly on Ticketmaster for an hour and a half getting my tickets for U2's Innocence and Experience Tour at Madison Square Garden back in December, and was lucky enough to get some pretty great seats. And now the show happened. It was all worth it, with U2 doing what they do best...knocking you off your feet in an arena.

The set list was largely a hits set of some of their biggest singles. I'm a big fan of deep cuts and rare songs being performed, but being in there and taking it all in, I didn't care what songs they played. It all worked so well - the moments of just the band on the main stage playing some of their loud rockers, and then them moments where they used the latest technology like the giant 3-Dimensional screen that the band walked inside of to put on an orgasm for the eyes. The new songs from their latest album Songs of Innocence packed a punch, especially "Iris", written by Bono for his mom who died when he was 14.

Jimmy Fallon was pulled out of the crowd, and he joined the band in a performance of "Desire". He famously dressed as Bono on the Tonight Show and performed it with The Roots, and then before the start of the tour U2 & Fallon dressed up as street performers to perform in the Subway. The Roots were then brought out to lend a hand on "Angel of Harlem". It's not often U2 have a special guest on stage at a concert, as they don't need it. However, it worked in this setting.

The show ended with a sing-along version of "One" that concluded with Bono singing a bit of The Beatles' "All You Need Is Love" since Paul McCartney was in the crowd to perfectly cap off yet another strong concert from U2.

Friday, July 17, 2015

2015 Women's World Cup Review

Its been over a week now since the end of the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, and we've seen the 3-Time Champion USA get a ticker tape parade in New York City down the "Canyon of Heroes" and an ESPY Award for Best Team. The parade was a fun celebration that I was glad to have attended, and a moment I won't forget. I'm also now 3-0 in World Cup predictions, picking Japan over USA in the 2011 Women's World Cup, Germany in the 2014 Men's World Cup (wrongly over Belgium though) and USA over Japan in the 2015 Women's World Cup.

Turf controversy aside, the 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada will be regarded as another turning point in the development of Women's Soccer/Football. The expansion to 24 teams came at the perfect time. I'd even argue you could have 32 teams if done correctly - I could name some who can easily compete. Europe has a bunch that would be worthy such as Italy, Iceland, Denmark, Scotland, Belgium, & Finland. The UEFA Euro is being expanded which should help further. Asia has North Korea back from a ban, and Vietnam could possibly grow with competition. Ghana, South Africa & Equatorial Guinea have talent in Africa. Trinidad & Tobago had a solid qualifying for CONCACAF, barely missing out and showing vast improvement. Jamaica have been working hard as well. CONMEBOL/South America is the Confederation that needs the most improvement, though Chile & Argentina could use a boost of appearing in a World Cup.

Cameroon and Colombia surprised by appearing in the knockout stage for the first time and showing they belong. China made it back to the Quarterfinals with a stingy defense, and will look to improve in their attack ahead of 2019. Australia and England both proved they were ready to take the leap and be considered as contenders. Especially England, who finished 3rd as the highest ranking European team, beat Germany for the first time, and captured the hearts of fans both in England and around the world with their determination and fight.

One thing we always remember are some of the outstanding goals of the tournament, such as James Rodriguez' wonder strike for Colombia at the 2014 World Cup. These were my five favorite of the 2015 Women's World Cup:

1. Carli Lloyd, USA vs. Japan. Well, she scored a hat trick. The best though was of course her blast from almost midfield. She juked her opponent, saw the goalie was up off her line, and blasted the sky high shot. Goalie Kaihori just could not get back in time, trying to track the ball and then getting it with the tip of her fingers, but it was too late.

2. Mizuho Sakaguchi, Japan vs. Netherlands. This goal was just a thing of beauty, showcasing why Japan is one of the most technical teams in the world, with multiple players getting involved before Sakaguchi buried it. The dummy by Iwabuchi fooled plenty. It was without a doubt the most creative goal.

3. Lucy Bronze, England vs. Norway. After tying the game, England kept pressing. They got the ball into the box drawing Norwegian defenders, but instead passed back out to a charging Bronze who blasted it up into the corner of the net.

4. Daniela Montoya, Colombia vs. Mexico. Montoya was outside the box but she sensed an opening, even pointing to the spot in front of her. When her teammate passed back to her she geared up, and blasted a ball that just seemed to keep gaining steam as it went to the back of the net.

5. Lisa De Vanna, Australia vs. USA. The US defense was stout all tournament, but Australia were able to break through with a wonderful team goal. Passing through multiple defenders to Michelle Heyman, she then taps the ball to an open De Vanna who expertly nails it right into the corner with her left foot.

The 2019 Women's World Cup will be held in France and will surely continue to build on the success. You can currently follow the NWSL (National Women's Soccer League) for your fix until the Rio 2016 Olympics. Do yourself a favor and watch a Portland Thorns FC home game to see what an energized and raucous crowd looks like.
France 2019 Women's World Cup bid logo. Will not be the final design.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Ariana Grande Hates America and Licks Donuts

Thanks to TMZ, terrible person Ariana Grande was caught on video with her boyfriend in a pastry shop saying, "What the fuck is that? I hate Americans. I hate America." So why do you live here? She was also caught licking donuts behind employees backs, and would send the employee back to get more, so she could spit on them with her boyfriend. She was also reportedly rude towards employees, which isn't the first time there have been reports of her being a total bitch to people.

In a PR spin she claimed she is passionate about fighting obesity hence her frustration with America. She also apologized. Sorry, her PR team released a forced apology. It's really a non-apology though, blaming obesity. It is so hilariously random. So I guess that's why she spread her germs all over donuts? She didn't explain licking/spitting on the donuts in her forced statement. I guess the way to combat poor health is by spitting onto random food... Nice to see Grande's "apology" is as tired, recycled and overproduced as her shitty music. If only she could apologize for that.

If she hates America she can easily move to North Korea or Iran.