Touchdowns and Turnovers: A Super Bowl 50 Review

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Kickoff
The Super Bowl pits two of American football’s best teams against each other for a competition extravaganza like no other. This year being the 50th Anniversary of the inaugural matchup, proved to provide a super-sized portion of all things American pop-culture (and Coldplay). I found it difficult to write about the entire production as it included a three-hour pre-game show, an epic Half-Time Show, commercials in which companies spend millions on, and then there’s the game itself. So, in an effort to condense the review, I decided to categorize three things in which I enjoyed (Touchdowns) and things that I wish were different (Turnovers) of the entire production.

Touchdowns
Betty White “Dabs”
If you’re like most people, you probably weren’t paying much attention to the pre-game show. At three hours long, it contained much of what you’d expect. There was plenty of commentary from former NFL players turned TV personalities. There was plenty of speculation and introspective dialog. If you missed all of that, hopefully you didn’t miss a special piece that was made to present a sense of anticipation of the game and apparently directed by Hollywood legend, Ron Howard. It featured several A-List celebs talking about what the game meant to them but comes of superficial as Howard decides to “take it a different direction” and focus on the players. What made this mockumentary entertaining is witnessing Betty White talking nonsense about the sport but successfully pulling of Cam Newton’s signature move, “The Dab” while Howard tells her that the scene isn’t going to work. You don’t have to be a comedian to know how funny (and eventually ironic) this is. Betty White relating to anything modern pop culture is just pure gold as far as I’m concerned and she’s the true winner of the game.

Lada Gaga’s Star Spangled Banner
It was announced not two weeks prior to the big game that Lady Gaga was invited (yes invited) to sing the National Anthem. The internet was instantly on fire about the subject. The pop icon is known for being a bit outrageous and many of critics claim that her talent is purely manufactured. What most don’t know is that in the past year or so, she’s been going through some sort of personal transformation. The nay-sayers were still not appeased. The Star Spangled Banner is one of the toughest, most complicated pieces of music ever composed. Some of best vocal artists in the world have tackled it and failed miserably. Although dressed up (perhaps purposely) like she was at the presenting ceremony of The Hunger Games, Lada Gaga absolutely smashed it on stage. I can go into how she executed every note precisely and timed the verses with excellence. I can tell you how this flawless human rendition of the anthem ranks up there with one of the best to put her in the same company as the late, great songbird, Whitney Houston. I could even tell you that I qualify this statement by noting that as a veteran and sports fan, I’ve seen it perform hundreds of times. That wouldn’t do it any justice, though. If you missed it, do yourself a favor and find it on YouTube. You won’t be sorry and your perspective of Lady Gaga may even change a bit.

Jonathan Stewart’s Touchdown
Yes, the Panthers lost. Yes, Cam Newton was supposed to pull off “Superman” feats. If you look at the game stats, though, Carolina dominated the field of play. Despite the ominous Denver defense, the Panthers moved the ball up and down the field with conviction. The end result on one of those drives resulted in one of the only two touchdowns to be made the entire game. In fact, it was the ONLY touchdown as a result from a field drive (Denver’s only TD was from a fumble recovered in the end zone). Stewart rushed and leaped, yes leaped, nearly six feet in the air for an over-the-top landing into the end zone. This TD was an amazing feat of atheism and truly the greatest sporting highlight of the game itself. This is why fans of the sport watch. Old school football at its best.

Turnovers
The Officials
More specifically the lead official, Clete Blakeman. In a clearly biased calling throughout the game, he threw the yellow flag on the Carolina Panthers more in that single game than they’ve had nearly all year. I don’t know about you, but the logic is unclear to me. Carolina was clearly the best team of the year. Not only statistically but in performance. You don’t take a season losing only one game to lose the Super Bowl on penalties. It doesn’t make sense. There was a retracted call on the field where they basically told the Panthers, “Ooops, our bad!” on a reception call that could have helped them. How does an official retract a holding call from a player (Talib) that has been consistently unabashed in committing fouls towards receivers? Furthermore, after a clear statement from the NFL Officiating authority stating that such fouls will not be tolerated in any game, how is it that Talib remained in the game?

The Quarterbacks
I’m not even going to get into their play because, in all honesty, I think both future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning and MVP Cam Newton did as much as they could. I will say that watching Newton back up his fumble was disconcerting but if you watch the replay, I think he may have done so because he thought that his lineman (#96) had the ball covered. Nonetheless, it’s really the QBs attitudes that got to me the most. Cam wasn’t his normally cheerful self for the entire game. Maybe he got a memo before the game stating that this was Peyton Manning’s show, I don’t know. Maybe, he was simply nervous for his first Super Bowl appearance. It just seems like even when they did well, Cam was still off. No dancing. No “dabbing”. Not even a smile. Cam wasn’t having fun and believe it or not, this is crucial to this team. As for Manning, he was his typical smug self. Now you can call it being humble but I think even his team wanted to know his future. Instead, he just kept mentioning that he was going to “go home and hug his family”. Whatever, dude. You just won the Super Bowl. A task that has been eluding your for years and there’s rumor of your retirement. Instead, you give your sponsored endorsements a shot out. Gotta keep those residual checks coming in…

The Commercials
Just face it. While many of us are truly about the game. Many are about the sideshow commercials. This year’s commercials were nothing spectacular. Yes, we got some new movie trailers. But they were for movies in which we already had trailers for. Nothing new to see here. Christopher Walken being all serious about a Hyundai was amusing while that Mt. Dew commercial was just outright creepy. I mean, if you’re going to combine the (and I quote), “Best things of the internet.” You could at least choose the outright “best”. Babies, I’ll give you that but monkeys and puppies rank lower than say kitties, girls, and epic failures. Not a dry eye was in the house when the Audi commercial aired with a millennial taking the aging astronaut on a “rocket ship” ride while playing David Bowie’s, Starman (along with a dedication to Bowie in the end). Budweiser got savage on drunk drivers in a very serious ad and I got a chuckle out of Amy Schumer and Seth Rogan. The problem is that the good commercials weren’t really Super Bowl commercials. Starman and Schumer/Rogan actually aired the week prior on the interwebs.

Final Score
With all the hype around this game, I feel that it’s going through an identity crisis. Around the world events like this are taking either a purist perspective or an entertainment perspective. I think the NFL, in its 50th year, is trying to ride the fence of both. The game itself was rather boring, when you look at it and pick it apart. Both teams were equally matched in skill and it came down to the officiating staff to be the deal breakers. The side show entertainment was good in places but most of the highlights building up to the game itself seemed to overshadow the main event. Perhaps this is a sign of the times. We’re a society that puts value in the temporary high of the buildup. We like the preconceived notions of the concept but then falter when it’s time to deliver. Nonetheless, as a fan of the sport, I was a disappointed on a couple different levels. As a fan of pop culture, it was like a super bowl size of Skittles. Sounds like fun at first but you know it’s too sweet to take it all in at once. Oh, and speaking of Skittles… what was up with Steven Tyler looking like he just came out of Tijuana Auto Body Shop?

Links:
Stats – http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2016020700/2015/POST22/panthers@broncos#menu=gameinfo&tab=recap

WooGuy – https://cheezburger.com/728069/fans-on-both-sides-agree-woo-guy-was-the-worst-part-of-the-super-bowl

Betty Ford Dabs – http://www.ew.com/article/2016/02/07/super-bowl-50-betty-white-dab

Panthers’ TD – http://ftw.usatoday.com/2016/02/jonathan-stewart-hand-jive

Super Bowl 50 Refs – http://www.today.com/popculture/so-who-was-hot-ref-calling-super-bowl-50-social-t71901

Super Bowl 50 Commercials – http://www.eonline.com/news/737823/why-were-the-super-bowl-commercials-so-damn-creepy-this-year

Super Bowl Review #1: Half-Time Show

This year’s was better than the past couple years. This, of course, being in terms of synergy and choreography between the performers. Each act stood their own while keeping to their purpose (a sensational mash-up of all things them). One thing that I really think hurts the Half-Time Show is presentation. We live in a world of instant gratification and because of this, lip syncing is the norm for live performances such as this. A couple years ago, electronic music fans busted on LMFAO for “faking the dj funk” while an aging Madonna lip synced flawlessly. A decade prior Ashley Simpson got slammed for faking it on SNL. An act that pretty much destroyed her career. Two decades ago, Milli Vanilli got their Grammy pulled. Do you see the trend?

If you watched the pre-game show, CBS interviewed Coldplay (who were ironically wearing the SAME outfits). The interviewer asked them what it felt like to perform in front of Millions of viewers. They were incredibly nonchalant about it. No indications that they spent a tons of time preparing or rehearsing. Why is this? Because they didn’t need to. All they had to do was go through the motions.

Nonetheless and for whatever reasons, lip syncing is the norm. With that comes the responsibility of a huge number of engineers that have to squeeze three hours of performance by several different artists into one 30 minute piece. First thing that I noticed was the sound was lower than the rest and the audio kept dropping out. Not Coldplay’s fault in the least. But it exposes that what you’re hearing through TV was pre-recorded. TV magic at its finest.

Otherwise, the audio was clean… too clean. I mean, during the game, did anybody notice the constant “wooing” of an off camera fan that just happened to be close enough to the audio feed? This guy wouldn’t stop and it was constant throughout the game. It was so bad that had I purchased high priced seats on the 50 yard line to sit next to that guy, we’d have words. That’s not my point though. My point is that if they aren’t able to filter out that noise for the broadcast, then how is it that they can get such a clean sound from a “live performance” in a stadium? The answer is, you can’t. That’s what makes live broadcasts so special. It’s in the flaws that we appreciate the ability to perform such a dynamic diplay in such a short time.

So my advice, for what’s it worth, is to go back to live playing. You want a most memorable show? Quit trying to polish up what is authentically genuine. The part that made this Half-Time Show good was watching the synergy between Beyonce and Bruno Mars as they do a sort-of “old school battle”. It was funk versus flavor and when Coldplay finished up their threeway mash-up with some melody and a tug on the heart strings, that was it.

Beyonce came out fierce and in charge. The queen of R&B Pop was not to be upstaged by anyone. Including performance “headliners” Coldplay. Whom, in the beginning seems like they were going through the motions but later got into it after Bruno Mars and DJ Mark Ronson brought the uptown funk. Despite all the hype behind the suggested homosexual theme (you are in San Francisco Bay area, duh!) many different vibes played out. They macho funkiness of Bruno Mars. The girl power/black power movement imaging portrayed by Beyonce and then there was Coldplay who was sort of fogged by it all. Yet there was synergy between them. A team effort to perform something amazing. While it could have been technically executed better, that’s what they need to focus on from now on.Screen-Shot-2016-02-08-at-10.22.02-AM-620x413

NASCAR Unknown Wins the Fan Vote Using Viral Marketing

NASCAR Unknown Wins the Fan Vote Using Viral Marketing

Fans, spare me the debate why, technically, she’s one of the sport’s most popular drivers. Instead, I’d like to address that the “Fan Vote” went towards an unknown named Josh Wise… a part-time driver in NASCAR’s premier series, but has built a fan base using DogeCoin and Reddit as his forum.

The reason I post this is because in the DJ realm, the controversy of “buying votes” and “buying likes” on Social Media is a HUGE deal. In this, you pay people to like your social media or chart your music so that it renders more attention. This practice doesn’t necessarily reflect the talent or otherwise worthy of the media, but rather that you are able to market your media towards a greater number through the use of bribery.

I’m not judging the talent of Danica Patrick but it bothers me more that Josh Wise got the fan vote. He did this with not by being the face of the sport or even competing aggressively to create a natural presence. This was done by simple viral marketing. As with the music industry, this kind of “cheating” does nothing for the integrity of the craft involved. It shocks me deeply, but then again, the sport itself is driven on sponsor dollars.

Why Big Banking Doesn’t Want You Using Bitcoin!

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Portions of this article were used in the following article published in the Huffington Post:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-rampton/should-i-start-accepting-bitcoin_b_4937935.html

 

If you’re anywhere that isn’t under a rock, you’ve heard of BitCoin. Many companies actively take BitCoin and the user response phenomenal. This goes to show that a standardized credit based free-trade form of currency is something that is not only in demand but needed. Like any new technology, there are sure to be bumps in the road. This statement holds true especially when dealing with a technology that could shake the foundation on how people exchange currency and do business altogether.

One thing is for certain, those that jump on the BitCoin bandwagon are pioneers in the new way that the world will eventually be doing business. There will be no more popping open the currency exchange websites to get an approximate conversion rate from your American Dollars to Great Britain Pounds. Traveling abroad will no longer mean carrying a portable chart of conversion rates. You will simply log in and trade your electronic currency and in all honesty, this scares the hell out of the world banking industry.

This is only a speculation, of course, but the fact remains that under rather interesting circumstances some BitCoin exchange services have been falling under fire. With the arrest of Bitinstant CEO, Charlie Shrem for money laundering and the most recent shutdown of Mt Cox, this is cause for concern over the reliability of BitCoin as a substantial method of currency exchange. You can bet all your BitCoin stock that the big wigs of the world’s largest banks are far from shedding the slightest of tears. If anything, it only fuels their fire.

Those who are invested in BitCoin in some way or another shouldn’t worry, though. Let’s keep in mind that these are exchange services that operate like banks and not the system itself. Just as in banking, you’re going to have people that are going exploit the naivety of others. The difference is that banks extort the money through carefully regulated means. BitCoin, as a form of currency and a technology is a fairly new concept. There are sure to be a few glitches that will certainly be cause for concern but are far from being the destruction of the free exchange currency system.

One of those glitches is with security. Whenever you deal with currency of any kind, it’s certainly a topic of discussion. Online technologies are always subject to scrutiny because of this. Recently, the “Pony” Botnet attacked and stole the contents of several BitCoin wallets. The number was 85 to count. Most certainly this means the end of the currency, right? Think again. BitCoin claims hold of nearly 1.3 million wallets. You would have to be a math genius to factor the microscopic percentage of those who lost their wallets in that breach of security.

Let us not forget that this past holiday season, the information from millions of debit cards users were high jacked from major corporate retail establishments. This forced banking giants like Chase Manhattan to have to automatically reissue cards to a countless (and unreleased) amount of customers. You can applaud the bank for taking a proactive stance on customer service but the fact still remains that they let this occur. Putting this into perspective, the BitCoin incident doesn’t seem all that major.

Companies that utilize BitCoin would be doing themselves a favor in using the currency. Online retailers like Overstock.com have boarded that BitCoin train with wild success. In their first day of using the currency, they reported $126,000 in sales at the close of the business day. This was impressive enough for many of the investors and media outlets sitting in the bleachers to take notice. Amidst the scrutiny that surrounds the currency, this kind of profit seems to prove that at the very least that accepting BitCoin could find itself a great niche market until it becomes a mainstream technology.

The key to this market is in knowing who your market is. BitCoin is technology based and those who are waning on how the currency operates are likely not going to utilize it until it becomes a mainstay in payment options. Online transfer systems like PayPal took several years to become the standard and even then, it took a partnership with parent technology EBay to push it forward. This kind of partnership is exactly what BitCoin will need to remove the doubt from those who are still very unsure.

The partnership needed won’t come out of the ether, though. It is acquired by generated interest. This is where businesses and personal users come into play. Since the currency is regulated by those who utilize it, this is crucial to its acceptance. Many smaller businesses are already exploring the use of BitCoin as an option for payment for services and goods. Like Overstock.com, an ample security platform should already be put into place. Forward thinking companies with a stout data security infrastructure (Amazon, we’re looking at you!) should be leading the pack in the acceptance of BitCoin as a common currency.

With any innovative technology, there comes a learning curve with not only users but the technology itself. Just as the online music exchange that was Napster inherently revolutionized the way people got their music, so will BitCoin in how people pay for items and services. This kind of alternative to monetary currency is still very much in the development stages but could prove to be a powerhouse in the years to come. Companies that are in on this revolution will find themselves taking part of history in the making and there isn’t a price on this kind of publicity that can ever be bought with a dollar.

 

Resources:

http://www.businessinsider.com/charlie-shrem-arrested-bitcoin-ceo-2014-1

http://www.nbcnews.com/business/markets/bitcoin-exchange-mt-gox-closed-time-being-n37896

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/24/us-bitcoin-security-idUSBREA1N1JO20140224

http://blockchain.info/charts/my-wallet-n-users

http://www.wired.com/business/2014/01/overstock-bitcoin-sales/

 

 

 

 

 

 

White Noise – Not Just Another Old-School vs New-School Argument

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As I see a DJ friend post a picture of his young child standing on a chair behind his decks with the headphones on it reminded me of how my children were so inquisitive about what I used to do there. Of course, this is a decade ago and my children are now grown. Seeing my friend’s pictures, though, brought me back to when my youngest was diligently watching me mix and scratch those vinyl records and inquisitively asked what it was that I was doing. My children didn’t become DJs but my musical influence impacted them. My oldest son is a practically self-taught guitar player and in my youngest, I see the making of a great event promoter or club manager. My eldest daughter, whom I fostered during her teen years, performs with fire and hoops at music festivals as a dancer.

As many older DJ types do, I’ve had many a conversation regarding the state of the cultural scene of dance music. There’s no denying that it has grown incredibly popular over the past few years. I will spare you the arguments as if you’re reading this; you’ve already heard them many times over. What bothers me the most, though, is the HUGE generation gap occurring in dance music culture. It’s a rift that is dividing dance music culture exponentially, especially here in the United States. Acronyms like PLUR are being replaced with YOLO. Treasured melodies are shunted in place of “the drop.” Musical flow is being pushed aside with clanking noise that is out of tune. Cultural heroes that were placed on pedestals because they worked hard at perfecting their craft are now asked to leave and make room for flash-in-the-pan icons that merely “press play” and jump around like idiots.

What’s the answer?

Like others I began to ask myself, “Is this what we worked so hard for?” The answer is obvious. It’s a blatant no, but I’m not satisfied with just a simple answer. I need to know why and this puzzled me until I saw my friend’s picture.

Looking back at the past decade, I see that depression is no longer a disease but a trend. In the information age, identity is not determined by originality or the deeds of one’s doings. It’s determined by the ideas and concepts bestowed to you by others. Designer and outlaw drugs are no longer. These are fabricated and sold to an indiscriminate market. Legal and prescribed drugs are now the choice. Marketed on television. Sold at Wal-Mart. Legalized by voters.

There’s a generation of kids that are in search of themselves. Perhaps they feel isolated. Perhaps they are indeed without a clue on how to “be themselves”. Perhaps they were never taught. I can’t speak for any of them but I can relate my observations. Twenty years ago, my generation built dance music culture from the ground up. We were outlaws and looked upon as outcasts. This became our identity it also became what defined us. It didn’t matter what you listened to, what mattered is that you part of it as a whole. We were an elite group. Today’s generation hasn’t experienced this so therefore they can’t clearly understand it. So why should we expect them to?

 

Only because I care.
Well as any parent should, we try to teach. On the surface, this is good for dance music culture. The problem lies with the rebellious nature of children. As the quote above states, perhaps it is this new generation that wants to have the struggle or at lease emulate the struggle. They WANT to repeat our offenses and DESIRE to have the struggle we had to validate who they are. This is impossible, though. Twenty years ago, raves like Electric Daisy Carnival were just that, Rave Parties. It was a few hundred people crammed into a dusty warehouse where you had to call an info-line for intentionally half-assed directions. Today, they’re “music festivals” and you know the lineup, location, date, and time your favorite DJs are playing months ahead of time where you can click on a website for up-to-the-minute information. Then it was a $10, non-refundable, ticket printed at a local Kinko’s. Today, it’s hundreds of dollars with a package that includes a cornucopia of goodies. It’s no longer a struggle to find the “rave” and the only struggle it is for others is to decide which one to go to.

Sadly, this generation will never know the struggle and perhaps that’s what’s most upsetting for both sides. They want to be independent but will be nothing more than the heirs of what the older generations have provided. They attempt to create facsimiles of the culture and some even show a bit of individualism and creativity but the delivery is flawed. It ends up being just an offshoot of someone else’s idea or a redesign of something already in existence. I wish that I had the answer but I don’t. I hope to continue inspiring young people, as I did my own children. Maybe I’ll be successful but I don’t think on those kinds of terms. For my generation, it wasn’t about recognition. It was about being part of something greater than ourselves.

P90X3 Hits the Streets!

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No other workout system has received as much attention as the P90X workout system presented by Beachbody. Millions of people have bought and used this system since it was introduced back in 2004. Ten years have passed and professional health guru and P90X designer, Tony Horton has released other types of fitness workout programs targeted for the person looking to lose weight and tone up in a short amount of time. None of which have reached the acclaim that has people dedicated to P90X. With the release of the third installment of the Power 90 Extreme system, the P90X3 workouts have taken that extreme to a whole new level.

Shorter Workouts
One of the biggest complaints from users of P90X was that the workouts were far too long. At an average of an hour and fifteen minutes, those who followed pace with Tony Horton and the crew would often struggle with simply finding the time to do the workouts six days a week. P90X3 workouts take the high energy of the original and squeezes them into half hour segments allowing for greater use of the time.

Portability
Another downfall of the original P90X system was that it was hardly portable. If you traveled frequently, working out in your hotel room was definitely plausible but difficult providing that you had your DVDs and a player to follow along with. The P90X3 workouts address this problem by including digital file versions of the workout that allow you to upload them to your computer, smart phone, or tablet with ease. The Beachbody website also has answered the call for an application where you can record your progress and schedule your workouts.

Same Community Support
The greatest aspect of the P90X3 workouts is that through the Beachbody.com website you have an incredible amount of support and resources available to you. Coaches, trainers, and fellow Beachbody enthusiasts like yourself can still log in and ask questions, get advice, or simply share their experiences with others.

The Quintessential Little Beach Town

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On the furthest, most western end of the Interstate Highway 8 rests a cozy, little neighborhood that is reflective of everything somebody would expect from the California coast lifestyle. As the name implies, the coastal neighborhood of Ocean Beach in San Diego, California is the quintessential little beach town. Originally developed in the late 19th century by D.C. Collier, Ocean Beach CA real estate was always meant to attract those drawn to Pacific Coast. In 1913, the short lived Wonderland Amusement Park opened up and featured attractions and thrill rides until its untimely closure only two years later. Today, a few of the buildings remain but the city has acquired most of the land and it is now one of the few leash-free beaches in the entire state.

Any homes for sale in Ocean Beach CA are a prized treasure. Ocean Beach CA real estate consists primarily of smaller, cottage style units and are often stacked in two or more with an average cost of just under $500,000. Parking is a premium as you get closer to beach and the neighborhood can easily be divided into three specific areas. The area north of the Ocean Beach main street of Newport Avenue is the core of the neighborhood. It provides the easiest of access to not only the beach but also is walking distance to the numerous shops, world renown eateries, and entertainment venues that are nearby. To the south of Newport Avenue leads into the Sunset Cliffs State Park and condos there provide an excellent view of the coastline. To the east of north-south median of Sunset Cliffs Boulevard rests a gradual incline to the peak of Point Loma taking claim to some of the best views of not only the coast but the San Diego Bay and Downtown San Diego.

The appeal of Ocean Beach is not only its location but the community as a whole. Although not an incorporated town, OBecians, as residents kindly call themselves have a strong sense of community. It’s this small town atmosphere that make homes for sale in Ocean Beach CA a place for residents to live and thrive for their entire lives. With Point Loma High School ranked in the Top 100 schools in the state, Ocean Beach is the type of beach town you want to call home. It’s a place where diversity and community values are not only heralded but celebrated.