FNF Kicks Off August With Featherweight Faceoff

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN’s Friday Night Fights returns again this week with another big card.  This week’s show is headlined by a must-see match between the undefeated former Interim Featherweight Titlist Javier “El Abejon” Fortuna (22 – 0, 1 NC, 16 KOs, ESPN.com #10 ranked Featherweight) and Luis “La Estrella” Franco (11 – 1, 17 KOs).  The pair will face off in the night’s ten-round main event.  This Friday’s show will be broadcast live from Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Oklahoma.  It will be aired live on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and its broadband sister, ESPN Deportes+ at 9pm ET.  Audiences can also check it out online via WatchESPN. 

Sentiment from Fortuna’s camp is very high right now.  His advisor, Sampson Lewkowicz shared his thoughts on this week’s fight.  “Franco is very dangerous, but this fight will prove that Fortuna is the best Featherweight in the world,” he said.  “When he wins this fight, he will challenge any Featherweight or Super Featherweight in the world.”  Fortuna, who is trained by Pablo Sarmiento (Sarmiento also trains Middleweight Champion Sergio Martinez) comes into this week’s fight on the heels of a first-round knockout win over Miguel Zamudio in his most recent bout.

Franco is hungry for a win.  His most recent match ended in a twelve-round split decision loss to Mauricio Munoz.  Franco’s trainer, Jorge Rubio, discussed expectations for his fighter’s upcoming match.  He was realistic but optimistic in his outlook.  “Franco has prepared well for this fight and he’s training hard,” he said.  “I think we’re going to win the fight. Fortuna is a big puncher, but we’re going to be better than him in that fight.” 

The bout between Franco and Fortuna is just part of Friday’s card.  Also scheduled for Friday night will be a ten-round co-feature between former Welterweight titlist Kermit Cintron (33 – 5 – 2, 28 KOs) and Jonathan “Muka” Batista (14 – 1, 7 KOs).  Cintron comes into Friday’s fight looking to get back in the “Win” column after having to settle for a draw in his most recent match—a ten-round bout—against Adrian Granados.  Batista on the other hand, is looking to keep his winning ways going.  He won his last fight with a first-round TKO over Charles Rodriguez. 

Teddy Atlas and Joe Tessitore will both be ringside with all the action for ESPN2.  Todd Grisham will be in studio with all of the latest boxing news and notes.  Delvin Rodriguez and Pablo Viruega will have the call again this week for ESPN Deportes.  Leopoldo Gonzalez will be in studio for ESPN Deportes with all of the latest boxing news and highlights.  And Bernardo Osuna will have live interviews and reports for ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes. 

Friday’s card is promoted by Warriors Boxing and sponsored by Corona Extra. 

Fans at home can join in on Friday’s fights, as well as every fight when they go online and get the ESPN Live Friday Night Fights app.  The Live Friday Night Fights app is available on the official Friday Night Fights Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/espn.fnf.  It allows fans to score the fights round-by-round themselves from the comfort of their own homes.  While there, fans can “Like” the official Friday Night Fights Facebook page and keep up with all of the latest FNF news.  Fans can also keep up with all of the latest from Friday Night Fights on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ESPNFNF and http://twitter.com/ESPNBoxeo

The latest Friday Night Fights schedule is listed below.

Upcoming Schedule:

Date Time (ET) Main Event Location   Networks
Fri., Aug 9 10 p.m. Rustam Nugaev (24-6, 14 KOs) vs. José Hernández (14-6-1, 6 KOs)—10 rounds, Lightweights  Morongo Casino, Cabazon, Calif.  ESPN2,  ESPN Deportes+, WatchESPN
Fri., Aug 16 9 p.m. Andrzej Fonfara (23-2, 13 KOs)  vs. Gabriel Campillo (22-5-1, 9 KOs)—12 rounds, Light Heavyweights U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago ESPN2, ESPN Deportes+, WatchESPN
Fri., Aug 23 TBD Argenis Méndez (21-2, 11 KOs) vs. Arash Usmanee (20-1, 10 KOs)—12 rounds, Jr. Lightweights  Turning Stone Casino, Verona N.Y. ESPN2,  ESPN Deportes+, WatchESPN


*Schedule subject to change

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Aerosmith Proves It Can Still Rock On New Live DVD & Blu-ray

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Rock for the Rising Sun, the latest live release from veteran rock band Aerosmith is a nice addition to the library of any fan of this Boston based rock band.  The concert film follows the band’s journey through Japan on the heels of some of the worst disasters that have ever beset any nation.  Having seen a tsunami that wiped out much of the country and the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant all in one year, the people of Japan needed something to bring joy back to their country.  Enter Aerosmith.  The band brought its music to the people of Japan, proving once again that music truly is the universal language.

This latest release from one of rock’s most well-known and revered bands is an interesting live chronicle of the band on the road.  It’s interesting to note that while the performances were primarily a show of support for the Japanese people, the concerts served a secondary purpose for the band.  The recording’s accompanying liner notes state that before heading to Japan, an injury to front man Steven Tyler had suffered an injury during the band’s run of shows in Latin America.  This led to at least one date being postponed so as to allow Tyler to recover.  The notes go on to state that Tyler’s injury meant the risk of postponing more than just the one date.  But being the legendary band that Aerosmith is, its members—Tyler included—soldiered on and played the previously held off date and even went on to Japan.  This is a bold statement about the band’s dedication to its fans.  And with the performances presented in this recording, audiences will see that dedication first hand.  They will also see a respect for the people of Japan as the band spends time away from the stage during its tour.  It makes this a tour documentary that any open-minded Aerosmith fan will appreciate.

There are those that have complained about how this concert documentary was assembled.  Yes it is an assemblage of performances culled from the band’s tour.  But there’s nothing wrong with that.  Rather than forcing audiences to buy one performance or another, director Casey Patrick Tebo and Eagle Rock Entertainment have culled the best of the Japan tour for a full concert experience.  The additional off-stage segments help complete the experience.  It shows the band in full drive on stage and during its more relaxed moments.  This isn’t the first “rockumentary” to ever be assembled in this fashion.  Keeping this in mind, it negates the argument of those that would complain about the overall manner in which the film was assembled.  Anyone that is open-minded enough about this will appreciate the full effect of the on-stage and off-stage moments. 

The concert footage recorded across the band’s tour of Japan is a telling statement.  Here is a band whose members are all in their fifties or older.  So they aren’t able to move around the stage like bands whose members are much younger.  But as the old adage states and as the band shows, “age is just a number.”  The band still rocked out plenty of hits both past and present during its performances.  Fans will enjoy the mix of songs such as ‘Mama Kin’, ‘Sweet Emotion’ and ‘Toys in the Attic’ next to more recent hits such as ‘Boogie Man’, ‘No More No More’ and ‘S.O.S. (Too Bad).’  While it wouldn’t necessarily be considered a career-spanning set of songs, the set list included in this recording covers a relatively impressive swath of the band’s catalogue.  It goes all the way back to the band’s earliest hit, ‘Walk This Way.’  This is just one aspect of the recording that fans will appreciate.

The set list included in the performances culled during the band’s tour of Japan present a good portion of Aerosmith’s catalogue.  But what is a performance without the proper recording of the songs.  That is another of the positives to this recording.  The audio and video quality of the performances is right on par with other recent live recordings released by Eagle Rock Entertainment and Eagle Vision.  The use of the black and white adds its own element of nostalgia to the whole experience, especially as the band visits the site of the dropping of the A-Bomb.  The emotion on the faces of the band members is so telling.  Viewers can really tell that seeing the sight exactly as it was on that fateful day moved the band.  By comparison, just as much enjoyment and energy is visible during the band’s time on stage.  That same enjoyment translates with ease to home viewers.  And it makes each performance and the entire recording that much more enjoyable.  Rock for the Rising Sun is available now on DVD and Blu-ray in stores and online at http://www.aeroforceone.com/shop.cfm/pk/category/ac/detail/cid/313127/prodid/1653310.  After fans order the new DVD and Blu-ray, they can keep up with all of the latest news and more from Aerosmith online at http://www.facebook.com/aerosmith and http://www.aerosmith.com

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com

Roberts Releases Another Fun, Family Friendly Album In Recess

Courtesy:  Carpet Square Records

Courtesy: Carpet Square Records

Singer songwriter Justin Roberts’ latest full length studio release, Recess is another enjoyable album from the beloved children’s artist.  His new album comes less than a year after the release of his most recent album, LullabyLullaby was a departure of sorts for Roberts, who is more known for his indie-pop style songs than the much softer material on that release.  That’s not to say it was a bad album by any means; quite the opposite.  Rather, it was interesting in its own right because it was such a departure for him.  Now having returned to style on this latest release, parents and children that have come to know his more standard indie-pop style songs have twelve more songs to enjoy.  And they collectively could not have come at a better time, considering that kids and parents across the country have begun counting down the days to a new school year.

Recess could not have come at a better time, as parents and children across the country have officially begun the countdown of the last month of Summer vacation once again.  The album fittingly opens with its title song, which celebrates the one thing about school that any young child loves more than anything.  And he does quite the impressive job on the song, too.  Somehow, through his interpretation of the song’s lyrics, Roberts is able to put himself into the shoes and mind of a child.  He is able to so vividly express the mix of emotions that a child feels, watching the clock and dreaming of being able to get out on the blacktop and play, expending his or her energy.  The energy that builds through different spots in the song is spot on.  It reflects the energy and anticipation that builds to that magical moment when the recess bell rings.  The song’s joyful culmination is just as wonderfully interpreted.  Listeners can so easily close their eyes and see in their minds, every single bit of what Mr. Roberts sings both here and throughout the song.  It makes for such a wonderful musical movie of the mind so to speak.  It’s just part of what parents and children will enjoy on this new release.

The title track to Justin Roberts’ new album is a fun way to open the album.  And it’s just one of so many fun songs for the whole family on this album.  Roberts does a great job of expressing the joys of childhood throughout this album, not just on its opener.  ‘Hopscotch’, ‘Check me out, I’m at the Checkout’, and ‘We got Two’ so expertly capture a child’s joy at the little things in life that adults take for granted every day.  For all of the joys of childhood expressed in this song (and others), Roberts does something interesting at one point on the album.  He takes listeners into the mind of a dog–believe it or not–in ‘Every Little Step.’  This is one of the highest of high points on this album.  Interestingly enough, it’s just as easy here to close one’s eyes and take in the song from the subject’s point of view.  One can actually see a young puppy waiting at the door for his young human friend, telling listeners of his happy thoughts of his friend.  The dog in question sings happily in this song, “I’m with you every single step of the way.”  Along the way he outlines various situations and declares his loyalty to his friend.  It’s just a happy, poppy song that again, will have both parents and children smiling and singing along.

For all of the upbeat peppiness that dominates Recess, it isn’t all high energy.  That’s not a bad thing.  It does sport a pair of more mellow pieces in ‘Looking For Trains’ and the album’s closer, ‘Red Bird.’  The placement of both of these tracks is spot on.  ‘Looking for Trains’ comes in halfway through the album, allowing listeners to catch their breath.  ‘Red Bird’ closes the album.  The string that connects the pair to the rest of the album is that while they are both far mellower than their companions, they still celebrate the simple things that any youth enjoys and that far too many adults take for granted.  Roberts reminds audiences in the prior of the joy in the simplicity of listening for the sound of a train off in the distance.  One could argue to a point that the train is used here as a central point for an allegory not about trains, but about looking for life’s positives.  This could be a stretch.  But there is some truth in this statement as he sings, “It seems like you’re always looking for trains.”  The album’s closer is written and performed with much the same sincerity and gentility. 

‘Red Bird’ is a perfect counterpoint to the album’s high energy opener.  It would be interesting to know the story behind this moving work.  Roberts sings in the song’s opening verse, “I don’t wanna cry no more/The wolves headed down to my door/I don’t wanna live like I did before/There was you.”  This single line paints something of such a bittersweet back story.  By contrast, the more calming and happier refrain of “I just wanna cry some more/Watch all these wolves run away from my door/Cause I don’t even know who I was before/There was you” presents a beautifully moving picture of someone that has overcome great pain and found happiness despite that earlier pain within the song. The gentle strains of the strings and piano together make this song such a wonderfully emotional work, as does the picture painted through Roberts’ lyrics.  His equally subtle vocal style adds even more joy to the song.  The combination of all of these elements is certain to evoke some very powerful emotions in some listeners.  It’s such a bold, yet gentle reminder that through all the bad, there is good.  And it makes for the perfect way to close out such a wonderful new release from Justin Roberts.

Recess is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online from Justin Roberts’ official website at http://justinroberts.shop.musictoday.com/Product.aspx?cp=13368_61886&pc=6NCD12.  Fans can also go to Roberts’ official website and his official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/justinrobertsmusic4kids to keep up with all of the latest news, tour information and more from the man himself.  He will be touring the Midwest through the first half of August before taking a break and then heading to the West Coast and back up the East Coast in September.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Ducks, Hoyas Headed To Camp Humphreys For 2013 Armed Forces Classic

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

College basketball fans will get a special treat this Fall when two of the best teams in NCAA Division I basketball head overseas for the 2013 Armed Forces Classic.

This year’s Armed Forces Classic—the second annual contest—will be held at Camp Humphreys, a military base in South Korea.  The game will feature a matchup of the Oregon Ducks and Georgetown Hoyas.  It will be held on Friday, November 8th on ESPN.  The contest is part of ESPN’s Veterans Week Initiative, which honors America’s men and women in uniform both past and present, at home and abroad.  It will be held at the 1,000-square foot Humphreys Community Fitness Center on Camp Humphreys.  The fitness center houses three full-sized basketball courts, in indoor pool, a 200-meter running track, weight training and cardio equipment, an indoor rock climbing wall, racquetball courts, and other well-known fitness equipment.

The game itself is just part of what members of both teams will do while visiting Camp Humphreys.  They will also serve dinner to the troops at a base dining facility, hold youth clinics for families of those that are stationed at the base, and even hold open practice and tour the base during their stay.

Commander Colonel Darin S. Conkrigh was asked about the teams playing on base for soldiers and their families this year.  He was ecstatic in his response.  “Camp Humphreys is extremely proud to host this year’s Armed Forces Classic,” he said.  “I can’t think of a better way to provide the Soldiers and Families stationed here on Freedom’s Frontier a taste of home than through a sporting event of this magnitude.”

This year’s matchup is just the latest in a series of games played each year on U.S. military facilities around the world each year over a five-year rotation.  The series of games began in 2012 at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany.  ESPN Regional Television owns and operates the yearly matchup.

Basketball fans can get more information on this year’s Armed Forces Classic online at http://www.armedforcesclassic.com.  Basketball fans can also keep up with the latest NCAA Basketball on ESPN news at http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Anselmo’s Solo Debut One Of 2013’s Most Brutal Metal Records

Courtesy:  Housecore Records

Courtesy: Housecore Records

Philip H. Anselmo has returned.  And along with his band mates in The Illegals, he has never sounded more intense.  There are those that upon hearing this album have instantly tried to compare this record to Anselmo’s work with Pantera, Down, and Superjoint Ritual.  Here’s the thing.  Anselmo’s solo debut is nothing like the work that he did with those bands.  He even noted in an interview concerning the record that he wanted to do something completely different.  Go figure, the opening number on this record is titled, ‘Music Media Is My Whore.’  And the very fact that the album’s title is Walk Through Exits Only should tell listeners right off the bat that he intended to do something completely different than he had previously done on this record.  That would seem to be the point of the album’s title at least.

Those that can let themselves get past the expectations of this album being more of what he has done before will appreciate it for what it is.  It is a record that mixes elements of death metal and grindcore to make a work that simply put, is brutal.  While it only consists of eight tracks, all eight songs on this album are sure to impress those that are open minded enough to accept them.  Drummer Jose Manuel Gonzalez manages his duties with the power and precision of a jackhammer.  And guitarist Marzi Montazeri is just as sharp whether soloing or playing his role as guitarist.  The only comparison that can possibly be made to that of Montazeri here is Slipknot guitarist Mick Thompson (#6).  On a side note, it would be interesting to hear the two perform or record together.  Along with bassist Bennett Bartley, the quartet’s metal onslaught is complete throughout the course of the album’s eight tracks.

The musical side of Walk Through Exits Only is certain to impress those that are open minded enough to accept Anselmo’s new project for the departure that it is.  The time signatures are all over the map.  There are straight speed metal songs placed alongside more technical pieces.  A prime example of this is the placement of ‘Usurper Bastard’s Rant’ being bookended by ‘Betrayed’ and the album’s title track.  ‘Usurper Bastard’s Rant’ is one of the album’s more technical songs.  It helps to break up the momentum of the other pairing of songs, keeping listeners’ ears much more easily. The other songs have more of a thrash/speed metal vibe that is certain to make any purist metal head proud.  This is just one of a handful of examples that runs through the album’s sequencing.  Audiences will find even more examples of that balance on their own in picking up this record.  Speaking of balance, credit where credit is due.  The balance of the music and vocals add to the album’s brutality. 

 The production values on this record deserve their credit, too.  Anselmo co-produced the record alongside Mike Thompson.  And the partnership between the pair played a major role in the album’s success.  There is a certain power about the record all the way around.  Anselmo’s vocals and the output from his band mates are balanced quite well, allowing all involved to really come through.  The total output is a sound that while it carries influences from other bands, is still its own.  And it is that identity that will ultimately show through and make this a record that any metal head and any devoted Phil Anselmo fan will appreciate in the end.  It is available now in stores and online.  Fans will get their chance to see the band perform songs from the album live, too.  The band will perform Wednesday, July 31st at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  That performance will be followed up by a performance at Wooly’s in Des Moines, Iowa this Friday, August 2nd.  All of the latest tour dates from Philip H. Anselmo and The Illegals are available now online at http://www.facebook.com/phillipillegals and Anselmo’s official website, http://www.philanselmo.com

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

PBS Box Set A Must For Any College Science Class

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS’ Space, Time and The Universe is a must have box set for any higher level college physics instructor.  This four disc set encompasses the complete NOVA presentation of The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos.  The two presentations are taken from author and scientist Brian Greene’s books by the same name.  Greene even hosts both programs, making the program even more interesting.  This is a major bonus in that rather than hear from a bunch of academics (which does happen in both presentations), audiences get to hear from Greene himself in his own words.  Audiences that have yet to see either feature yet will understand why in watching these two programs for themselves.  The transition from episode to episode helps to make the overall presentation even easier on audiences.  Add in ergonomic packaging, and audiences get in Space, Time and the Universe, a set that any science nut will appreciate.

Space, Time and The Universe is a success for PBS’ NOVA series right off the bat because of the inclusion of author and scientist Brian Greene.  Greene is joined by a number of others within the science field.  But he is the real star of the four-disc set.  He brings the concepts discussed in the set’s four discs as much into layman’s terms as possible without overly dumbing them down.  String Theory and the concept of parallel universes dominate the set’s first pair of discs.  It is tied into Einstein’s search for Unified Theory and the possibility that the Big Bang was in fact not a singular event, but one of many events brought on by the intersection of parallel universes.  Both sides of these concepts are discussed by Greene and his fellow scientists.  And those that can pay attention will find everything discussed quite interesting.

The second pair of discs included in Space, Time and The Universe expands on the String Theory by going into discussions on teleportation, multiple galaxies and much more.  Having this pair of discs accompany the prior pair was entirely fitting.  Just as String Theory has increasingly become mainstream thought, so have the concepts of teleportation and multiple galaxies and universes.  They are no longer just fodder for science fiction fans and TV shows.  Most enlightening from this half of the set is the reality of what would be required for teleportation to be a reality.  In simple terms it explains that as of right now, teleportation isn’t humanly feasible. As with the presentation of The Elegant Universe (contained on the first pair of discs in this set), this and other concepts are presented in a way that is just enough for those with the slightest of interest in science to understand and appreciate.

The general presentation of both halves of Space, Time and The Universe makes the whole a DVD worthy of any college level physics class.  The explanations behind the topics discussed are simplified just enough to be at viewers’ level.  Greene and the other scientists and academics interviewed talk to viewers on their level rather than talking at them or even down to them.  This makes it much easier for the intended viewers to remain engaged in both features.  It’s the most important part of the set’s success.  There is one other aspect of this set that viewers will appreciate.  It is the set’s packaging.  PBS has packaged all four discs in a safe and ergonomic fashion.  Each disc contained inside the case is given its own spot on either side of two inserts.  This is increasingly becoming the standard across the board for multi-disc boxes both on DVD and Blu-ray.  Not only does it protect the discs from becoming scratched, but it also conserves space on a person’s DVD rack.  In an age in which less is more, this is a solid positive for this set.  And combined with the features’ overall presentation, it all makes Space, Time and The Universe enjoyable for any science lover of any level, whether student, professor or even novice.  It’s available online now via the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=13262334&cp=&sr=1&kw=space+time+and+the+universe&origkw=Space%2C+Time+and+The+Universe&parentPage=search.

Once audiences have ordered this DVD set, they can get the latest NOVA news online at http://www.facebook.com/NOVAonline and http://www.pbs.org/nova

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com

UFC’s Frankie Edgar Offers Insight On UFC 163 This Weekend

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN is teaming up with one of UFC’s best fighters this week.  The worldwide leader in spots welcomes UFC great Frankie “The Answer” Edgar as a guest analyst for UFC’s upcoming IFC 163 broadcast this Saturday, August 3rd.  Edgar will serve as guest analyst on ESPN’s SportsCenter beginning Friday.  He will offer insight into the card, which will be broadcast live from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.  He will be on hand through Sunday, offering his own thoughts pre-fight and all the way to post-fight. 

Edgar was quite happy to be joining ESPN’s ranks when asked recently about bringing his knowledge of UFC to the mainstream masses.  “Getting to work with a major sports network like ESPN is a great opportunity,” he told FrontRow on Sunday.  “Whenever ESPN covers UFC through its various platforms, the sport gets introduced to mainstream sports fans. The more sports fans see and learn about the sport the more quickly it grows.” He added, “I don’t know if I can emulate any of them but I really like Stuart Scott and I know he is a big UFC fan.  I’m looking forward to catching all the anchors up there. I did meet Stuart Scott once before at a fight, so it would be cool to run into him again.”  Edgar comes into this week’s coverage of UFC 163 on the heels of a featherweight division win over Charles Oliveira at UFC 162.  His record currently stands at 15-4-1.  His most well-known wins was an upset victory over B.J. Penn at UFC 112.  The victory earned Edgar the UFC Lightweight title.

Glenn Jacobs, ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer, shared his thoughts on Edgar joining ESPN this weekend.  He was just as pleased with the announcement.  “We’re excited to have Frankie as part of our coverage of UFC 163,” he said.  “As someone who went five rounds in the octagon with Jose Aldo earlier this year, Frankie will bring a unique perspective to our fans.”

Fans can get even more info on this weekend’s UFC 163 card on the official UFC Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/ufc.  And for all of the latest from ESPN on Edgar’s insight on SportsCenter, go online to http://www.facebook.com/SportsCenter and “Like” it. 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Collins’ New Project An Impressive New Prog-Rock Record

Courtesy:  InsideOut Music

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

First impressions are everything in this world.  Whether it be a first date, that first job interview, or a band’s first album, that first impression makes all the difference in said person(s) future successes.  In the case of prog-rock trio Sound of Contact, the band’s first impression in Dimensionaut is quite the first impression.  Fronted by second generation rocker Simon Collins—son of Phil Collins—the band’s twelve-track concept album is one of the year’s most intriguing records.  Being released via InsideOut Music, it also qualifies as one of the year’s best independent releases.  Throughout the album’s sequencing, listeners are treated to a record that obviously draws from a number of influences.  Those influences include the likes of: Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, and even his own dad’s former band, Genesis just to name a few.  The thing of it is that the trio has taken those influences and made a record that improves on the sounds crafted by those bands.  In turn, it becomes an album that stands out as a fully original and enjoyable listen from start to finish.

Dimensionaut offers listeners more interesting moments than can be listed in one sitting.  So one will try to pinpoint just a sampling of what makes this album a success.  Right off the bat, the band impresses on its short, acoustic opener, ‘Sound of Contact.’  The harmonies between Collins and band mates Dave Kerzner (keyboards, acoustic guitar, backing vocals) and Matt Dorsey (guitars, bass, backing vocals) are spot on.  And the gentility of this opener makes it s perfect opener, as it leads to the surprise heaviness of ‘Cosmic Distance Ladder.’  Having gone from the gentility of the album’s opener, it serves a double purpose.  On one hand, it makes for a solid transition within the context of this album.  And keeping in mind the album’s overall concept, the song’s very title makes it all the more well-placed in the grand scheme of things.  On another hand, it proves how effortlessly the band’s members can switch from the softer side of the prog world to the much heavier side of things.

‘Pale Blue Dot’, the album’s third song, is another highlight to Dimensionaut.  This is one of those songs that openly draw from earlier prog bands, including that of Collins’ father.  Strangely enough, if one allows one’s self to fully be immersed in this song, nowhere does he sound more like his legendary father.  If one were listening to this song without knowing it was Simon Collins, one would very easily be led to believe that it was indeed Phil Collins.  That is how close the father and son sound to one another.  In terms of the song itself, it’s another well placed piece in the album’s overall layout.  The album as a whole is about a being that can travel between time and space.  The being’s journey is one meant to broaden the human experience.  So it is only natural that early on in the being realizes how insignificant we are in the universe.  The metaphor is used, comparing mankind to a “pale blue dot.”  It’s a relatively good visual.  And in partnership with the almost ethereal musical style, it stands out as one of the most incredible moments on this album.  It is so easy to close one’s eyes, take in the music and really be able to visualize what the being in question must be experiencing at this point in the story. 

The whole journey culminates in what can only be described as prog-rock at its best in the near twenty-minute epic, ‘Mobius Slip.’  The four-movement opus offers its share of heavy and soft from start to finish.  Its ability to mix its more mainstream elements with material more appealing to prog-rock purists makes it the perfect ending to this musical and lyrically existential journey.  Collins’ drumming is just as solid as his father’s, if not better.  The musicianship of his band mates is just as expert as the epic eventually leads to a conclusion that wonderfully book ends the album, closing it just as it opened.  By the time that the song ends, listeners will have realized that they have just experienced an album unlike anything that they have ever heard.  And they will realize, too, that this is an album that proves the promise of Sound of Contact for the future.  In the meantime, audiences will get to experience this journey live when the band hits the road in support of its debut.  The band will perform at the famed Whiskey A Go Go in West Hollywood, California on Wednesday, August 21st.  The trio will also be playing dates in San Diego, California, Birmingham, Alabama, Atlanta, Georgia and more.  Fans can get the band’s most current tour listings online at http://www.facebook.com/soundofcontact and the band’s official website, http://www.soundofcontact.com

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Nine For IX Series Continues July 30th With “Swoopes”

Courtesy:  ESPN/espnW

Courtesy: ESPN/espnW

espnW and ESPN Films’  Nine for IX  series continues this coming Tuesday, July 30thSwoopes, will debut Tuesday night.  The film, which centers on women’s basketball star Sheryl Swoopes, was directed be ESPN’s own Hannah Storm.  It follows Swoopes’ career from college athlete to coach at Loyola University.  It also focuses on one of her most pivotal choices – the decision in 2005 to publicly come out as being gay.

Swoopes was considered to be as good as NBA legend Michael Jordan during her time on the hardwood.  She won a national title at Texas Tech, three Olympic Gold medals, three MVP awards, and three consecutive WNBA Championships with the Houston Comets.  She was also one of the pioneering players that helped to establish the WNBA.  As if these accolades weren’t enough, She also had a Nike shoe named after her, the Air Swoopes.  Her off-court life wasn’t as successful.  After giving birth to her son, Gavin, during the WNBA’s first season, Swoopes would later divorce her high school sweetheart before coming out publicly in 2005.

Through all of her issues with relationships, finances, and her personality, Swoopes never gave up.  Viewers will see in this profile of Swoopes, how she overcame it all.  Swoopes will air Tuesday, July 30th at 8pm ET on ESPN.  The schedule for the remaining four movies in the Nine for IX  series  is listed below.

August 6: The Diplomat

August 13: Runner

August 20: The 99ers

August 27: Branded

Each film will be available online the day after its broadcast via iTunes and Amazon.  A special DVD gift set containing each film in the Nine for IX series will be available October 15th, 2013.

To keep up with all the latest news from espnW, fans can “Like” the espnW Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/espnW.  And to keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www,facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Giving Fans Comprehensive College Football Coverage

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN is hitting the road this Summer with its college football coverage.  The network with go on tour on the DIRECTV Mobile Studio Tour.  The ESPN DIRECTV Mobile Studio will hit the road beginning Monday, August 5th.  It will be on the road for two weeks, crisscrossing the nation as it covers some of college football’s best.  The tour is coordinated with the start of preseason camp and is topped by a variety of preview shows including ESPN All-Access: Penn State Training Days. ESPN2 or ESPNU will air College Football Live at 5pm ET daily from each stop on the tour.  Re-broadcasts will air on ESPNU at 5:30pm ET.

Each broadcast will include interviews with coaches and players from each team profiled.  Even more coverage will be available on SportsCenter and across ESPNU’s programming.  A complete schedule of the ESPN DIRECTV Mobile Studio Tour is available below.

DIRECTV Mobile Studio Tour (schedule subject to change)

Date Location Network
Mon, Aug 5 Georgia

Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit & David Pollack

Tue, Aug 6 Clemson

Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit & David Pollack

Wed, Aug 7 South Carolina

Tom Rinaldi & Todd McShay

Thu, Aug 8 Alabama

Tom Rinaldi & Todd McShay

Fri, Aug 9 Oregon

Samantha Ponder & Brock Huard

Mon, Aug 12 Louisville

Joe Tessitore & Brian Griese

Tue, Aug 13 Ohio State

Joe Tessitore, Brian Griese & Joey Galloway

Wed, Aug 14 Notre Dame

Joe Tessitore & Brian Griese

Thu, Aug 15 Stanford

Samantha Ponder & Rod Gilmore

Fri, Aug 16 Oklahoma

Chris Cotter & Robert Smith



Audiences can keep up with all of the latest news from ESPNU when they “Like” its official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/ESPNU.  Fans can also get all the latest college football news and general college sports news on the official ESPNU website, http://www.espn.go.com/college-sports and on its Twitter account at http://twitter.com/espnu.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.