Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Sing Off is a pretty good show

'Sing-Off' pretty good show so far...

princeton-footnotes-sing-off-NBC.jpgColleges and universities have a long and storied history of men's a capella groups. "The Sing-Off" has previously featured Tufts' "Beelzebubs," USC's SoCal VoCals, Yale's Whiffenpoofs and the Dartmouth Aires.

In 2013, the Princeton Footnotes are joining the competition, kicking off their Season 4 run with Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble," one of the most dynamic performances of the premiere episode.

The judges were split, however. Boyz II Men singer Shawn Stockman had praise for the leads.

"What's cool about you is your harmonies," says Stockman. "I'm going to shout-out the unsung heroes in your crew, the tenors and the baritones. If you guys are off, the whole thing is off. Big ups to you guys."

Ben Folds disagreed, though, saying the harmonies "came unglued" at moments, but he did enjoy both the dynamics and the nice arc to the song, while new judge Jewel cautioned the basses to lock in tight.

We really enjoyed it -- but it landed them in the Bottom 2 for the ultimate sing-off this week against Voice Play, battling on "Bye Bye Bye" by NSync, and the judges sent the Footnotes home, which really surprised us. 

Garth Brooks on Tour again!

It’s official: Garth Brooks’ self-imposed hiatus from touring is over, and the country superstar will return to the road for a world tour in 2014, his first since he announced his plan to quit touring in 2001.
Brooks, 51, made the announcement Monday, Dec. 9, to “Good Morning America” host Robin Roberts while discussing his new eight-disc box set “Blame It All on My Roots,” which grew out of his four-year solo residency at the Wynn Encore Theatre in Las Vegas.
He gave no specifics of when the tour would start or how extensive it will be. But he’ll likely provide a preview of what’s to come when he returns to the Wynn in January for two shows with his full band. He also said he’ll be joined on the tour by his wife, singer Trisha Yearwood.

"Wynn has allowed me to keep that room as a laboratory type of thing, so I’m going to bring the band out there and let the band experience this room,” said Brooks, who walked away from touring and recording to devote his time to his three daughters, until they were ready to go to college.
“It sure feels good to get to throw your hat back in the ring,” Brooks told Roberts. “All my babies are fine with it. Ms. Yearwood is fine with it. So now I get to do what I love to do, which is play music. I get to be with the person I want to be with, which is Ms. Yearwood. Our baby is a senior in high school,” he said. “My children are off on their own so the guilt of not being there…I’m a phone call dad now. ‘Hey, Dad, I love you, can I borrow some money?’'
His stint at the Wynn was a baby step away from home, a deal Wynn crafted to allow him to keep his commitments to his children to support their school studies and extracurricular activities. He scheduled performances only when they didn’t conflict with his children’s needs and used a Lear Jet provided by Wynn to minimize his time away from their home in Oklahoma.
He periodically brought Yearwood and one or more of his children along for the Vegas performances.

Mike Ditka

 Chicago Bears retire Ditka's No. 89 during ceremony

 Ditka appeared emotional as he recalled his career as a Hall of Fame tight end and then a Super Bowl champion coach.
"I saw Virginia (McCaskey) and she looks wonderful," Ditka said of the daughter of Bears founder George Halas. "I go back with her and (her late husband) Ed (McCaskey) to the beginning and I was a 22-year-old kid when I came to Chicago and met Mr. Halas. I was dazzled by that $12,000-a-year contract. I went out and bought a new car. I had it going."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell extended his congratulations and respect earlier on Monday.
"He is not only a great Hall of Famer and someone who continues to contribute back to the game of football, but he was one of those unique guys who could contribute on the field as a player and coach, and then continues to contribute to the game. I think it is a great recognition and well deserved."

Monday, December 9, 2013

Roy Halladay retires with Toronto Blue Jays


Citing a desire to avoid surgery for an ailing back and wanting to spend more time with his family, two-time Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay retired Monday after 16 seasons in the major leagues with the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies.



The 36-year-old right-hander signed a one-day contract to retire as a member of the Blue Jays, where he spent the first 12 years of his career. He choked up and held back tears while making the announcement at a news conference at the winter meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
"As a baseball player, you realize that's something you can't do the rest of your life," Halladay said. "I really don't have any regrets."

Halladay"As a baseball player, you realize that's something you can't do the rest of your life. I really don't have any regrets.
-- Roy Halladay

Halladay played for the Phillies from 2010-13, finishing with two injury-plagued seasons. He won an NL Cy Young Award in 2010, throwing a perfect game that season and a no-hitter in his first postseason appearance.
Halladay was 203-105 with a 3.38 ERA in 416 career games, including 390 starts. He had 67 complete games and 20 shutouts.
"It's been a very exciting process for me," he said. "I feel very good about it. There's always going to be things I miss. As much as I worked out, I'm not going to miss it. I'm not going to miss the cuffed weights and running poles."
Halladay was a six-time All-Star, won the 2003 AL Cy Young Award and went 148-76 with a 3.43 ERA in 12 seasons with the Blue Jays. He was traded to the Phillies after the 2009 season, and was 40-16 with a 2.40 ERA in his first two years in Philadelphia. But back and shoulder issues limited Halladay in 2012-13. He was 15-13 with a 5.15 ERA in 38 starts.
Former teammates were effusive in their praise for Halladay.
Chase Utley called him "the ultimate competitor."
"He is by far the hardest worker that I've ever seen and treated every game as if it were his last," Utley said. "It was no coincidence why he was the best pitcher of his era. I'm honored to have had the opportunity to watch him pitch for four years. I'll miss his presence and passion but, most of all, I will miss his intensity."

Roy Oswalt said Halladay was a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
"Roy was one of the best pitchers and students of the game I've ever had the honor of playing with," Oswalt said. "Hands down, he was the best pitcher of this era."
Halladay had shoulder surgery during the season and returned in September, but clearly wasn't right. He was 4-5 with a 6.82 ERA in 13 starts this year.
"It's so much fun to play the game and go out and compete," he said. "I looked forward to that fifth day more than anything. To go out there and know it's not going to feel good and I wasn't going to do it the way I wanted was frustrating. I tried to give everything I can but something was holding me back. I felt I couldn't give them what I wanted to."
Halladay badly wanted to play for the Phillies to have a chance at winning the World Series. The Phillies had already won three straight division championships, the 2008 World Series and 2009 NL championship by the time Halladay arrived. They had the best record in the majors in Halladay's first two seasons, but lost to the San Francisco Giants in the 2010 NLCS and St. Louis Cardinals in the 2011 NL division series.
In his final postseason performance, Halladay lost to Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals 1-0 in the decisive Game 5 of that 2011 matchup. Earlier in the series, the Cardinals were spurred when a Rally Squirrel scampered on the field.
"I think the one thing I took away from that is you can have the best team on paper, you can have the guys who want it the most," Halladay said. "But when the squirrel runs across home plate while your team is trying to pitch, there is nothing you can do about that. So you really start to realize there are a lot of things out of your control. It takes more than nine guys. It takes nine guys, and it takes the 25 on the roster. It takes the coaches, the staff, and it takes a lot of luck."

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com's Jayson Stark was used in this report.

Matt Prater

Denver Broncos Matt Prater kicked a record 64-yard field goal on the final play of the first half of an National Football League game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

The goal kick broke the previous record of 63 yards shared by Tom Dempsey (1970), Jason Elam (1998), Sebastian Janikowski (2011) and David Akers (2011).
Prater, 29, had a previous career best of 59 yards.
Janikowski missed on a 64-yard attempt in 2007. He also attempted a 76 yarder a year later.
This marked the 20th kick of at least 50 yards for Prater who has attempted 26 field goals from 50 yards or longer.

Denver Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, centre, runs with the ball after an interception during the third quarter at Sports Authority Field Field on Sunday in Denver, Colo.


WASHINGTON - Americans are aware of NASA but I do not think they realize how much NASA does and for how little money. Do you know what NASA's budget is for 2014? Thanks to our deadlocked and dysfunctional Congress there is no approved budget for the Government.
NASA is looking at roughly $17.7 billion requested by President Barack Obama for FY2014. That breaks down to roughly 15 cents a day per American and less than 1 cent a day per human on the planet. I include this last figure as much of what NASA does benefits all of humanity, not just Americans.
To put NASA's budget in perspective, consider these facts - Americans spend $61 billion on their pets per year. Also, a white collar criminal was ordered to pay $170 billion in restitution to his victims
NASA's budget is under review by OMB and facing absurd cuts like shutting down Cassini at Saturn - a perfectly functioning spacecraft monitoring the whole Saturnian system. Hear what Bill Nye the Science Guy says in an "Open Letter" to President Obama and what you can do to help.

Bill Nye addresses NASA's planetary exploration budget and here are NASA's current major planetary missions (this list does not include NASA's international participation with other space agency missions):
  • MESSENGER at Mercury
  • Moon - Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, LADEE
  • Mars - Rovers Opportunity and Curiosity; Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter; MAVEN enroute
  • Jupiter - JUNO enroute
  • Saturn - Cassini
  • Pluto - New Horizons enroute
  • Interstellar space - Voyager 1 and 2
Here is a listing of all NASA space missions past, present and future, including their websites - it is a long list indeed.
Here are a few highlights from that list:
  • Hubble Space Telescope (HST)
  • James Webb Space Telescope - HST's successor
  • International Space Station
  • Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Space Launch System (SLS) that will return the U.S. to manned spaceflight capability that can go to low Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and the asteroids.
NASA provides 24 hour a day monitoring of our star, the Sun using Solar Terrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) A and B (B sees the farside of the Sun), Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). These spacecraft provide realtime data on the Sun to help determine space weather and its effects on spacecraft and Earth, providing advance warning for solar storms.
NASA also studies Earth including:
  • Weather - hurricanes and tornadoes
  • Global climate changes
  • Polar ice
  • Ozone layer
  • Oceans
  • Space weather and its effect on aviation.
Planetary defense falls under NASA as well since it's searching for asteroids and comets that could pose a threat to life on Earth via the Near Earth Objects (NEO) program.
Whatever defense is mounted against a future comet or asteroid that has our name, we'll need NASA to carry it out. As I am fond of saying, "the dinosaurs are dead because they didn't have a space program."
Add to this already impressive mix of new technology, astronomy, aeronautics, astronautics, commercial space development, education, public outreach, jobs, inspiration and hope.
It adds up to a lot of bang for the buck.
Thank you NASA for all that you do for the planet, humanity, and America. Our future and survival lies in space and NASA will get us there IF given the necessary resources.

By Greg Redfern

Follow his daily blog at myfoxdc.com to keep up with the latest news in astronomy and space exploration. You can email me at skyguyiva@gmail.com.

Amazing Race

‘Amazing Race 23′: Jason Case & Amy Diaz React To Season Finale Victory


Amazing Race 23 Winners
Courtesy of CBS

Are you glad Amy and Jason won ‘The Amazing Race?’ Weigh in with your thoughts on this season’s competition.

The Amazing Race‘s 23rd season finally concluded Dec. 9, with Amy Diaz and Jason Case emerging victorious as this year’s top team. And while HollywoodLife.com is thrilled for the couple, our excitement pales in comparison to what they’re both feeling — and what they’re sharing online.

Amy Diaz: Hearing We Won Was ‘Music To Our Ears’

Amy couldn’t contain her excitement, following her team’s big win, heading straight to Facebook to celebrate with friends and fans:
#JasonAndAmy WE WON THE AMAZING RACE!!! “Four continents, nine countries, more than 35,000 miles — Jason and Amy, you have won the one million dollars and you are the official winners of The Amazing Race. After six second-place finishes, you’ve run in here on the final leg of The Amazing Race and you have won it!” ~Phil… Music to our ears!!!!! AHHHHHHH

She also used Twitter to respond to individual fans, thanking them for their support during her and Jason’s difficult journey.
Jason, on the other hand, stayed pretty quiet — at least on social media — allowing Amy to do most of the talking. He did, however, tease the season finale Dec. 8, tweeting out a video recapping season 23.

Mon, December 9, 2013 by  Andy Swift