Archive for August, 2013

Wind Down with R.A. Dickey

Posted: August 30, 2013 in Sports

Dickey

 The last long weekend kicks off today; for some it’s about moving out and moving on (good luck to all you heading to College, University, or those who just got evicted), and for others it’s the last time they’ll be able to really relax. Thanksgiving is hectic and the Christmas Season Holiday Season can also be a challenge to get in any “me time”. If you’re heading to the cottage/trailer/camping for last time, there’s a book that would make for a great read if the weather is going to be lousy (like it appears to be this weekend here in Timmins): R.A. Dickey’s Wherever I Wind Up.

 For those who don’t know, Dickey is currently the knuckleballer for the Toronto Blue Jays, and possibly one of a handful of bright spots for this club (because the season has been nothing short of a disasterpiece). He’s the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner (which means he’s really, REALLY good) and has been through a lot in order to get to where he is today.

The books does a great job capturing his childhood by reminiscing how life was like to be born to a couple that wasn’t prepared to have a child, growing up with a struggling mother and then going to a private school. R.A. talks about how he managed to survive on his own as an adolescent while his mother was battling her demons and his father was distant, all the while hiding the fact that he was abused multiple times by a babysitter and a random person out on the farm.

From there, R.A. talks about his lack of a UCL (a key ligament in the elbow that, by not having him, cost him a HUGE sum of money) and having to rebuild himself as the knuckleball pitcher he is today. R.A. also goes over the struggles of being brought up and sent back down a number of times, putting his marriage in jeopardy, going to a sports psychologist to overcome his demons, and all the while putting his faith in God and hoping that He would lead Dickey to stability as a Major League Pitcher.

Dickey’s story is nothing short of impressive to read; how he was able to overcome all the obstacles, break himself down as a pitcher and as a human, and build himself back up again to be a constant professional who doesn’t shy away from who he is anymore. In fact, he’s now using his past to become a leader in the community and encourage people, especially kids, to speak out against child-abuse when he’s not working on the most baffling pitch in the game.

At just over 300 pages, Wherever I Wind Up will keep you captivated and is a great way to wind down the summer.

Thanks for reading and say connected with me on Twitter: @ChrisFudali

Advertisements

Roc’n the Sports Scene

Posted: August 29, 2013 in Sports

Jay Z Robinson CanoI love a “what if” situation when it comes predicting the future; throwing out ideas, kicking around scenarios and potential outcomes are what makes life intriguing and fun. It’s why sports are, arguably, the most fascinating things to follow. “Who will sign with what team?” “Who will get traded where?” “I think this move makes the most sense.” Subplots are added that can create great discussion with family and friends. When Jay-Z announced he was going into Sports Management, it had me (and a lot of people) very intrigued.

Jay-Z made headlines when he announced that he was launching Roc Nation Sports earlier this year, a division of Creative Artists Agency (or CAA, not to be confused with CAA) and signing New York Yankee Robinson Canó. Since then, the company has gone on to sign Geno Smith, Victor Cruz, Skylar Diggins of the WNBA, and NBA superstar Kevin Durant. This young group of talent that has the potential to bring in big bucks made me wonder who else Jay-Z & Co. would consider signing. Let’s go through a semi-short list of names that I’ve come up with that have to meet the following criteria: 1) pick a player from every one of the four professional sports (apologies to UFC and MLS); 2) be fairly young; 3) be a star or a star-on-the-rise.

NBA:

Rajon Rondo – The young and talented Rondo has one more year on his deal (expiring in 2015 and is the 48th in the league for pay) and is on a team that’s rebuilding. There’s a chance that his price tag might be a bit much BUT if he comes back healthy and really gels with the crop of youngins that the C’s have acquired as of late, he may want to stick around…if he’ll get PAID.

Why he would fit: People think he has an attitude issue now and the possibility of him being backed by a legend like Jay-Z would only inflate it a little more. BUT, there’s also a good chance that Jay-Z could pull Rondo aside and tell him he’s got some growing up to do.

NFL:

Colin Kaepernick – This was actually a lot tougher than you probably would have thought because Russell Wilson and Josh Freeman are almost in that Kaepernick category (Wilson having a legitimate chance to make it to the Super Bowl this year and Freeman…well…good luck, Josh!). His deal is set to end in 2014 and is making peanuts in the league.

Why he would fit: He brings together the best of all possible worlds. He’s inked up (and loves talking about it), his upbringing is a feel good story, he’s a pro athlete at the hardest position, and has style! You could put him in a white dress shirt, sleeves rolled up, on the beach in Mexico next to Jay-Z sipping on some spirits and that picture totally works.

MLB:

David Price – Another toss up between him and Miguel Cabrera but Miggy’s contract (which ends in 2015) is huge now even if there’s a chance he’ll get more than the $22-million he’s slated to make at the end of 2014. Here’s the problem: Cabrera will be 31 and going into free agency, so his numbers may drop. David Price is two years younger and available for arbitration now.

Why he would fit: Someone will be more than willing to throw the bank at Price and a lot of people think that will be the L.A. Dodgers. Jay-Z is already (primarily) based out of the New York City, so to have a West Coast Connection (should Price land there) would be nothing short of spectacular. Picture Price, Jay-Z and Matt Kemp going to a Lakers (or Clippers) OKC game? Amazing.

NHL:

Nail Yakupov – As a hockey fan, this was the toughest but Nail came to mind the fastest and here’s why: he’s young, very talented, and VERY outgoing. Remember when he scored that goal against the Kings and some people lost their minds? Yes his entry level contract expires after 2015 but if you lock him up now and the future could be bright.

Why he would fit: I went over other big names that are expiring soon that include P.K. Subban (a VERY close second), Patrick Kane (2A), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (meh), Corey Crawford (young goalie who won a Cup but goalies can fall hard), and Jonathan Toews (too serious…wait, what’s going to happen to the Blackhawks in a couple years?? That’s another blog in for another day). Nail makes the most sense because he’s got the most upside and there’s a chance that the Oilers could part ways because of their depth up front. Which leads me to think a great fit for Nail would be alongside John Tavares in New York. The Islanders are (soon to be) moving to the Barclays Center and if put those two on a line together for opening night, it should make some magic that a struggling franchise needs badly.

Thanks for reading and stay connected with me on Twitter: @ChrisFudali

Hesitating on the new NIN.

Posted: August 28, 2013 in Music

 NIN-Hesitation-Marks

I’m torn on the new Nine Inch Nails album. Yesterday, it was posted to their site and Facebook page that Hesitation Marks, the 28th Halo in the series, was (and at the time of writing this, still is) available for free streaming on iTunes and Deezer. I would say that when it comes to NIN, I’m a fan; I’m not necessarily a die hard but I will enjoy anything and everything they put out and do my best to support it (including you, Year Zero). But when it came to Hesitation Marks, something felt a little different. Something I couldn’t put my finger on…

 …something just felt off…

 …until 2:48 into the third track, and second single, “Came Back Haunted.” The first sound of a noticeable guitar riff.

 Maybe it’s because of songs like “Hurt” or “Head Like a Hole” that carry a good and heavy guitar riff with the backings of the synthesizers and other samples. It’s been a slow move for Trent Reznor & Co. from that to the NIN we’re hearing more and more from. Don’t get me wrong, the album is still solid.

 Songs like “Find My Way” and “In Two” hit you with bass like a lot of slow, but booming hip hop songs would. And there are some definite potentials on here that have the foundation to make for a great live show, including the aforementioned “Find My Way”, “Disappointed” (with what feels like clapping), and “All Time Low”.

 Hands down, the biggest surprise (but not a total surprise because it) is the third single “Everything”. It has a very retro feel to it; like someone told The Cure to write a song that Trent Reznor would take lead on the vocals and then blow up part way through with distortion (pretty much the only way he can).

 This album as a whole has a great “one-off” feel to it; you put it in your car, probably listen to it once and then you can brush it off as another NIN album. It has some great songs that would work for a live show but feels a little repetitive for a casual fan (NOTE: if you’ve never seen NIN live, shell out the $50 or whatever it costs and do it because it is spectacular). It would be nice to have Trent add more guitars to the songs instead of falling back on the synthesizers, but if that’s the direction of the band he’s going with, this album does hit all the right marks.

 Thanks for reading and stay in touch through Twitter: @ChrisFudali.

PJ

Recently, Pearl Jam (or to me known as “The Greatest Band on Earth and possibly the Milky Way Galaxy) released a video for their new single “Mind Your Manners”. Take a look:

AMAZING! (again, I’m biased but not foolish; there’s a reason I said “possibly ther Milky Way” because you don’t know what else is out there…yet.)

Here’s a look back on the videos that Pearl Jam has done with a little breakdown of each one.

Alive (1991): The video that started it all (and a song that they sometimes end concerts with because, with an extended solo, is nothing short of phenomenal). What’s even cooler is that the band with a live version of the song instead of the single release (a version that you can get off the “European Deluxe Edition” of Ten).

Even Flow (1991): Pearl Jam! In Technicolor! And the debut of Dave Abbruzzese (look at that hair flying!) The version heard in the video was actually an alternate version used for the movie Singles and if you go to Seattle, the Moore Theatre where Eddie jumps from still exists (you learned something new!).

Jeremy (1992): Uh oh. The video that ended it all. If there’s one lesson to be learned it’s that you do NOT have that many close up of Ed Vedder and get away with it. Ever. (but what is “forever”, really?)

Oceans (1992): (Wow. So, “forever” really wasn’t that long then.)The video that Americans didn’t get to see (because Ten was too big already). It features Ed surfing, Jeff Ament in short hair, Mike McCready having fun, and Stone Gossard….wait. STONE GOSSARD?!?! SHORT HAIR GOSSARD?!?! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the death of grunge.

Daughter (1993): The first “unofficial-official” Pearl Jam Video. The guys didn’t want any videos released but had this ‘fine’ thing slapped together for promotional release (and, dare I say, could be a pioneer of the ‘lyric video’ we see a lot of today on YouTube.)

Do The Evolution (1998): It may not technically be a music video if the band isn’t in it…right? Some say yes, others (LOGICAL people) say “no, it totally counts.” The most shocking thing is that it was only 6 years between Jeremy and Oceans until Do The Evolution came out but felt like a lifetime.

I Am Mine (2002): Okay, the first music video of the band where we actually see the band; little older, short hair all around except for the keyboardist (BOOM! Seriously, his name is Boom. Boom Gaspar.).

Save You (2002): TWO VIDEOS FROM ONE ALBUM?!?! Just over a decade later and it happened! Amazing! The fact that they decided to go with a song called “I Am Mine” and followed it up with “Save You” should be taken as shots to the industry, but….TWO PEARL JAM VIDEOS!

Love Boat Captain (2002): Amazing! A third video from one album and…wait…is Ed wearing the same shirt as he did for “I Am Mine”? Yes. So, clearly they just shot all these videos at once and released them at separate times. But…ah, who cares? THREE VIDEOS!

Thumbing My Way (2002): …and, the videos keep coming. As it turns out, they filmed all the videos at Chop Suey, a restaurant in Seattle, and you can buy all of them on DVD. The more important question here is: WHY DIDN’T I KNOW ABOUT THIS EARLIER?!?! *bangs forehead off of desk*

½ Full (2002): The last of the “Chop Suey Sessions” (if no one has come up with that, I want credit!) and another “unofficially-official” video for the band. Solid song, too bad it wasn’t made as a single.

World Wide Suicide (2006): Long-Hair Eddie makes his return and is also rockin’ a neatly trimmed beard. Oh, also forgot to mention that during the “Chop Suey Sessions” (CREDIT HERE!) Matt Cameron of Soundgarden is behind the drum kit (and has been since 2000; over 13 years! Hooray for job stability!)

Life Wasted (2006): This is a great song and a great video. It feels how an actual music video should with great shots and amazing art.

The Fixer (2009): Directed by long time friend and movie maker Cameron Crowe, Ed does his best Jim Morrison impression by singing to the back of a crowd a couple of times and makes for some great shots.

Just Breathe (2009): Recorded live and sounds really good with the live string section in the background. Also, click here for a cool cover of it (probably the best cover since Johnny cash did this).

Amongst the Waves (2010): It’s funny that when I talk to people about Pearl Jam, they all say “their earlier stuff was better”. Songs like Amongst the Waves makes you really appreciate Pearl Jam and what they can do as a rock band.

There you have it, all the music videos Pearl Jam has released “officially” to date. Fingers crossed there’s more to come.

Thanks for reading and if you want to stay connected with me, do so on Twitter @ChrisFudali.

YouTube Advent

Posted: August 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

For those of you new to this, the YouTube Advent is a collection of videos found on YouTube (or through other means online) that are meant to help you get through the week. Sometimes funny, sometimes touching, but mostly funny or to give a “WTF?!” moment. Like any good advent calendar, it’s up to you to decide whether or not to watch all the videos at once or watch them once a day and slowly devour their deliciousness. This week’s collection is for August 26-30, 2013 and, as always, includes a break down of the video. Enjoy!

Mall Proposal – Yes, this is probably staged and not a real proposal (notice that a train interrupts it? That’s what I call “a tell”) BUT it does include someone taking a ukulele to the head! Not since the Honky Tonk Man have I been this impressed with the use of a piece of musical equipment (apologies to the Road Dogg, but Honky Tonk was the original).

Long Board Stop – I’m going to throw this out there: I hate long boards. I find the riders get in the way, have issues controlling them, and give the appearance that “I don’t have Tony Hawk’s talent and if I ride a regular board run the risk of getting called out as a poser.” BUT, if you happen to put a hipster who resembles Ron Swanson on one and start him at the top of a hill, you have my full attention.

Dirt bike Rider vs. Ram
(How I believe this conversation went down afterwards.)

Mom: “Honey, how were the trails today?”
Son: “Horrible. I had a ram come after me.”
Mom: “What?!”
Son: “A ram. It came after my bike.”
Mom: “Riiiiight. A ram.”
Son: “No, seriously! We wrestled and everything. Let me upload the video, edit the bad language so it doesn’t offend you, and put the theme of Benny Hill in the background to prove it!”
Mom: “I don’t like you wrestling with wildlife; it’s dangerous! Next time, just remove yourself from any potential harm.”


Dirt Bike Rider vs. Ram (rematch)
(How I believe this conversation went down afterwards.)

Mom: “How were the trails today? Any RAMS??” *snickers*
Son: “Yes, actually. I took your advice and got away as quickly as possible.”
Mom: “Good.”
*Meanwhile, the ram is seen on top of the hill, standing upright and yelling “BIKERRRRRR!!!” into the sky like Rocky in Russia.*

Georgia Tech Speech – This is nothing short of spectacular. With school starting on Tuesday, and a lot of freshmen about to move in, this should be an inspiration to everyone. Stay in school, be motivated, hone your craft, and dominate.

Thanks for reading and if you want to stay connected with me, do so on Twitter @ChrisFudali.