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Coldplay’s Ghost Stories

Posted by Greg on Jun 30, 2014 in Music

Ghost Stories, the new album from British chart-toppers Coldplay is by far the band’s weakest lyrical album. Then again, Chris Martin has never been a master wordsmith/lyrical charmer. But for all the lyrical deficiencies, the band’s new disc is sonically their most daring and at times, one of their most rewarding. But, make no mistake about it, Ghost Stories is more than anything, a Chris Martin solo record. Nowhere on the disc does it feel like Coldplay as a band are contributing. Oh sure there’s a rhythm section and guitars but who can really hear it amid all the humming of the machinated noises and studio tricks that absolutely drench this album. If you told me Martin recorded this in his bedroom, I’d be hard pressed to think otherwise.

Issue two goes to whoever it is that felt it was a wise idea to release a wintry, nocturnal breakup album in the middle of spring. These are the days the Northern Hemisphere lives for: beach weekends, barbecues. Nowhere in that algorithm does Martin’s divorce (blow by blow) factor into this equation. From start to finish, very little, if any, of Ghost Stories feels like summer. This is a deeply melancholic and morse effort with few, if any, bright moments. That being written, one can credit the band for staying current and catering to the EDM masses. In trying so hard to be both despondent (”Midnight”) and danceable, they’ve forsaken the ebullience and triumphant nature that drenched their last two albums.

Granted, “Sky Full of Stars,” is indeed one of their best pop hits and a few others (”Another’s Arms,” “O,” “Oceans”) have the spartan intimacy of Parachutes, but this album wobbles way too heavily towards both self-indulgence and sonic alienation. More albums like this and I’m off the Coldplay train, a ride I’ve been happy to be on since 2001.

Ah, hell, maybe I should give the band a break, after all even stalwarts like U2 had albums like Pop, and Ghost Stories is nowhere near as wretched as that.

 
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Charlie Strong at Texas

Posted by Greg on Jan 8, 2014 in Sports

Far be it from me to call myself an expert about college football, but every now and then something catches my eye and makes me wonder. There is no doubt that former Louisville head coach Charlie Strong is a first-rate football coach, but he won at Louisville in a conference with only a handful of top-flight coaches and rosters. Folks like Bob Stoops, Mike Gundy and Art Briles are proven winners and have been stalwarts in the Big 12 for at least the last half-dozen years. Add what Kliff Kingsbury is doing in Lubbock and Strong has his work cut out for him.

What Mack Brown did at Texas is astonishing and UT backers may soon quickly realize the old saying, “You don’t know what you got until it’s gone.” That being written, there’s still a strong chance Strong can keep UT winning and push them farther than they ever thought possible. But accepting is more than just Xes and Os, UT is an icon, a global brand, an institution with a God complex. Louisville might have been easy, but excelling in Austin is a whole new breed.

Let this be known, I’m pulling for Strong with every fiber of my being. He’s a stand-up guy who promotes discipline, academics and solid core values, I’m just a bit leery on whether or not Longhorn Nation is the right destination for him in the foreseeable future.

Ah well, only got nine more months to find out.

EDIT (July 22, 2014): If his public press conferences and media appearances are any indication, Charlie Strong and Texas will be contenders in the very near future. Hell, maybe even this year.

 
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Nick Saban vs. The Media

Posted by Greg on Dec 14, 2013 in Sports

All weeklong ESPN created a mountain out of a molehill. The mountain you ask? Nick Saban’s contract extension sat on his desk unsigned. WHOOP DEE FREAKING DOO. Why is this news? Last I checked, Saban leads a pretty busy life. Now that the Tide have a few weeks off before the bowl game, recruiting has taken precedence in his life. Why oh why does the media have to create this absolute non-story out of something so freaking trivial? Because it sells? Because it’s a slow news week? Because they so BADLY want him to take Texas job?

Saban has said time and again he has learned the lessons of the Miami Dolphins debacle and that his family feels content at Tuscaloosa. Why can’t we just take the man on his words and WAIT until it’s actually a story. Lordy me, sometimes ESPN royally irks me. This week was one of those times.

 
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A brief opinion about the Zimmerman trial…

Posted by Greg on Jun 27, 2013 in Op-Ed

Being a Central Florida resident, it’s near impossible to escape the George Zimmerman trial. With a low volume of work on my plate this week, I’ve found myself glued to the George Zimmerman trial. I am not proud of this statistic, but sadly it has been much of what I’ve watched since Monday. To be fair, I’m a Jack Bauer Republican who firmly supports the right to bear arms and defense. That being written, I still feel like we have a gun-crazy culture and that far too many people wield weapons that shouldn’t. Moreover, I’m a devoted pacifist and cannot ever fathom picking up a concealed weapon. Read more…

 
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American Idol Notebook, Vol. 1.

Posted by Greg on Mar 14, 2013 in Music, Op-Ed

I was pretty disappointed to learn that last week American Idol advanced the mediocre Paul Jolley and failed to advance Elijah Liu, but I am esteemed by the enormous amount of female talent. In many ways this is a big year for American Idol. A female hasn’t won since Jordin Sparks and the most talented finalist hasn’t won since Jordin’s year as well. Read more…

 
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Vinnie Caruana Needs a Sedative

Posted by Greg on Feb 26, 2013 in Music

Someone tell me whose idea it was to give this guy the chance to create a solo record. Good grief. City By The Sea is Vinnie Caruana’s debut solo effort and if these are the best six songs he can muster, then quite frankly, maybe I Am the Avalanche was a better career choice. The EP does have its charms. Album closer “Kingwood” has a jaunty organ, “Boy, You’re in Heaven” is string-laden, while “City By The Sea” has some luminescent piano work. For those that like singalongs, there’s a couple of those too. Read more…

 
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Foals’ Holy Fire is One Big Letdown

Posted by Greg on Feb 13, 2013 in Music

For the last half-decade, many have told me to listen to said British band. Being the curmudgeon that I am, I refused. I figured I’d go to the band on my own when I felt ready. As it happens, their new album Holy Fire was sent over and so I decided to listen. I guess now I felt ready (whatever that means). So, three listens. Time for a verdict.

All I can say right now is over-freaking-rated. Read more…

 
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Side Effects Starts Promising, Ends Ridiculously

Posted by Greg on Feb 9, 2013 in Movies

Leave it to provocateur Steven Soderbergh to muck up a potentially tremendous film. Side Effects, the latest from the director of Traffic, Haywire and countless others, takes a potentially convincing story and railroads it to pieces. How exactly the film has gotten such rave reviews befuddles me. Read more…

 
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Welcome to Karma, Dwight Howard

Posted by Greg on Jan 21, 2013 in Sports

Dwight Howard was ejected last night during the Lakers loss. The team is now so far removed from playoff contention, they will have to pull off a miracle to make the playoffs. As an Orlando resident, no one is happier about this than me and the rest of my fellow Orlando residents. Howard’s ongoing soap opera about wanting an exodus from Orlando was tiring and a distraction. While he’s a tremendous loss, it’s far nicer to see a team of harmonious, team-driven athletes trying to overachieve and prove people wrong. Read more…

 
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Understanding the Manti Te’o Saga

Posted by Greg on Jan 21, 2013 in Sports

The real tragedy –– or oversight ––– in the Manti Teo girlfriend hoax is that people are losing sight of what really happened here. A college student got mixed up in something online ––– whether complicit or victim ––– and let it get away from him. Whether this means he’s pathological, detached from reality or something far more sinister, the sad reality is, he really is just a kid. In his apology this weekend he wrote that he was afraid to admit to his father that the relationship was fake because he was worried his father would end it. Whether this is all a big hoot and the farthest thing from the truth, it reminds us that college football players really are just kids. While it’s easy to lose sight of this, given how much we glorify them on Saturdays and during the bowl post-season, these really are just youthful adolescents just beginning to enter their formative years. Read more…

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