Month: July 2013

“Nightlife”

I’m gonna do something a little different today: review a music album. In this case the album is Nightlife by Montreal band Skip the Foreplay.

Fusing metalcore with trance/dubstep/electronica has been trending recently. Some bands, like British quintet Bring Me the Horizon, have done a masterful job of it. Others have had more mixed reactions. Skip the Foreplay is somewhere in between, I believe. They haven’t quite hit their groove yet, but I see great things in their future.

Let me just say for the record – I’m not a die-hard dubstep fan. I’m more into dance, electronica, and techno. I see the merits of dubstep and recognize that it can be innovative, but I’m hesitant to jump on the bandwagon, as it were.

Anyways, back to the album.

The first real song on the album is “DJ,” which is one of my favorites. It begins with a driving guitar part and a nice solo before the lyrics kick in. Then comes “DTK,” (which stands for “Down to Kill”) another good song, although I didn’t particular care for the sampled vocal loops halfway through. I think the point of the song is communicated through the lyrics well enough already.

As the album’s title Nightlife suggests, the lyrics mostly consist of clubbing, partying, and having a good time. It’s not completely banal, though. Probably the best lyrics are on “Destination Nowhere,” the aforementioned “DTK,” and the aggressive condemning of the “Date Rape Predator” on track #8.

I really like the second-to-last song, “Mash It Up” – it was actually the first ST4P song I heard. “Champagne Showers” is a cover of an LMFAO song, which might make some metal fans roll their eyes, but it’s a good way to close out the album. Track #10 is called “This City (We’re Taking Over)” and is essentially a shout-out to the party life in ST4P’s hometown of Montreal, while also featuring a couple of guest vocalists.

ST4P stands out due to their vibrant mix of metalcore intensity and pulsating dance rhythms. Fans of both metal and dubstep will find plenty to like here. They also don’t go overboard on the Auto-tune, which is a welcome development from other trancecore bands. In short, I like the sound and feel of this album. It’s both well-produced and doesn’t feel artificial. Hopefully the best is yet to come for these guys.

Martin and colleagues reinvigorate the recruiting trail

Ever since Doug Martin took over the NMSU football program, he’s made a marked change in recruiting quality players from different regions of the country.

As of today, NMSU already has 11 verbal commitments from 2014 recruits, and many of them are from Texas, a place that Martin really wants to hit hard. To that end, he has five staff members recruiting the Lone Star State.

“I think the football in that state is the best in the country, and I know for a fact that there are kids in Texas who didn’t get recruited who could come and play for us right now,” Martin said recently. He’s also spoken of the need to be great evaluators of talent.

You see, at a small school like NMSU, we don’t get commitments from high school kids who are already 6’5″, 260 pounds. We have to look at a variety of factors when we see a young kid’s highlight reel. What will he look like a year or two years from now? How much will he need to hit the weights? Is he good enough to get on the field right away, or will he need a redshirt year?

This is a challenging, but rewarding, part of being a football coach, as there are a lot of diamonds in the rough, especially in a talent-rich state like Texas. So many kids get overlooked by recruiters from big-time programs. It’s easy to look at those kids as unwanted leftovers, but football is a funny game. Sometimes the best high school players can be busts in college, and sometimes extremely talented kids can play for a losing high school team.

Recruiting and developing in-state kids is also a big part of Martin’s plan. He’s been putting together a large, inclusive walk-on program so New Mexico kids can stay close to home.

“There are a lot of unfinished products right here in this state,” Martin said. “The level of player is improving, and the level of coaching is improving. We need to get those kids in here and see if we can mold them and finish the job. Getting local players to give us a chance and start building a community tie will help us move forward.”

I greatly appreciate this philosophy as a way to strengthen community and state-wide ties. Martin believes in connecting with the city of Las Cruces and improving town-football relations. So far, he’s had some great feedback after making positive changes in terms of getting players involved in community service.

I feel confident that we’ll be able to develop some great high school kids in the near future. Hopefully, more kids will take note of the positive steps we’re taking to build a winning program in Las Cruces!

NMSU Class of 2014 (as of August 7th)

  • Andrew Allen, QB (Texas City/Texas City, Texas)
  • Cassius Corley, QB (Grants/Grants, New Mexico)
  • Jonathan Jackson, RB (East Central/San Antonio, Texas)
  • Jamin Smith, OL (Douglas County/Castle Rock, Colorado)
  • Dezmond Candelarie, OL (North Mesquite/Mesquite, Texas)
  • Travis Parnell, OLB (Rio Rancho/Rio Rancho, New Mexico)
  • J.B. Copeland, OLB (Carroll/Southlake, Texas)
  • Will Clement, OLB (Kinkaid/Houston, Texas)
  • Austin Davenport, ILB (West Mesquite/Mesquite, Texas)
  • Adaryan Jones, CB (Carroll/Southlake, Texas)
  • Dalton Herrington, S (Halletsville/Halletsville, Texas)

A dangerous, thrilling endeavour

What is mankind’s greatest accomplishment? Think about it.

The invention of the incandescent light bulb? The discovery of atoms? Or perhaps it was an exploratory scientific feat?

In that case, the Wright brothers’ successful flight of the airplane or Charles Lindbergh’s trans-Atlantic flight would be the most likely candidates.

A man was once asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest. He simply responded, “Because it’s there.”

I feel like this was the same spirit that drove the Apollo astronauts to the moon.

 

Throughout human history, people of all different cultures and walks of life have dreamed of reaching the moon and walking upon it. Many of these individuals were mocked or insulted for thinking of such a foolhardy adventure.

One of those many people who dreamed of exploring outer space was President John F. Kennedy. The year was 1961, and the only reason that Kennedy’s dream was not considered foolish was because America was locked in a “space race” with the Soviet Union. Four years prior, in 1957, the Soviets had launched the first satellite, Sputnik, and changed everything. Suddenly, exploring space – including the moon – became not only a real goal, but a reachable goal.

Therefore, President Kennedy began consulting with NASA about ways to travel to the moon. Kennedy himself probably didn’t think about individual spacecraft, technical specs, or data computers. He didn’t have a hugely detailed plan about engineering contractors or groups of astronauts. All Kennedy had was a vision – he wanted the U.S. to commit to landing a man on the moon before the end of 1969.

As we all know, Kennedy did not live to see this goal, as he was assassinated in November 1963. But what he set into motion paved the way for NASA to start Project Apollo, whose mission statement was to realize the end-of-the-decade ultimatum.

Apollo astronauts were the best of the best – physically fit, highly intelligent, and capable of making life-or-death decisions at the drop of a hat. The vast majority of them were armed forces veterans and test pilots who chose to compete for a spot to land on the moon. Several were veterans of the the earlier Mercury and Gemini programs, which accomplished much in the way of rendezvous, docking, and spacewalks – all of which would be crucial on the Apollo missions.

The race to the moon was long and arduous. One of the many setbacks was the sheer fact that everything in the spacecrafts was brand-new and state-of-the-art. Endless tests put NASA behind schedule and made conflicts inevitable. There was immense pressure on all parties to get to the moon – both fast and before the Russians.

This backfired tragically in January 1967 when the first Apollo crew was killed during a cabin fire while performing a routine launch pad test in preparation for their mission. NASA temporarily grounded the program before convincing Congress to continue funding future Apollo missions. After fixing and fire-proofing the spacecrafts, NASA officials gave the greenlight for the first manned flight of the project, Apollo 7. More than 18 months after the Apollo 1 fire, Apollo 7 lifted off and invigorated spirits around the nation. This was followed by Apollo 8, which orbited the moon ten times in December 1968, proving that men could fly to the moon and back without adverse side effects.

After testing the lunar module vehicle on Apollos 9 & 10, the first manned mission to the moon launched in July 1969. Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong became instant icons and changed the world with their 30-minute trek on the moon’s surface. In doing so, the space race was won and the face of scientific exploration was revolutionized.

But that wasn’t the end. Project Apollo continued with the successful lunar landings of Apollo 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17. (Apollo 13 suffered a burst oxygen tank on the way to the moon that forced the crew to abort the lunar landing. They returned safely to Earth by using the moon’s gravity to swing them back home.) All the landings included valuable discoveries about the moon’s composition, age, and other things.

In my opinion, the men who journeyed to the moon were not just pioneers, but American heroes. These astronauts sacrificed countless man-hours and drew upon all their skills to fly, explore, and essentially conquer space – not for America, but for mankind.

They came in peace for everybody. You see, the moon landings were a unifier during a turbulent time for the world. Violence in Vietnam was escalating. Riots were occurring daily in America and western Europe. People would turn on their TV sets and see chaos and turmoil. But then Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin provided a breathtaking distraction. The world watched in awe as men set foot on another world.

There is little doubt that the human spirit craves adventure. We were born to create and discover. Exploring the moon was a pivotal moment for the world and the individuals that inhabit it. When thinking about the moon landings, I am proud of the bravery and courage that those astronauts exhibited, as well as their curiosity and willingness to explore the unknown.

Even if you didn’t gather around the TV set with your family all those years ago and watched Neil Armstrong take his “one giant leap,” you can still appreciate and admire the hard work and innovation it took to bring men from the earth to the moon. I hope that mankind will continue to dare to do the impossible.

A rebel without a media outlet

Let me just say it, straight up. No frills, no pomp, no political correctness.

Being liberal isn’t cool. Neither is being conservative. You know what is cool?

Being yourself.

 

What I mean by that is this: as an American college student, people pressure me. Politicians, media, newspapers all scream at me to take the initiative as a free American and take up a banner for a certain political cause. I see many people around me standing up for what they believe in – from pro-lifers to LGBT activists and everything in between. And that’s OK. Part of being an American is standing up for what you believe in without fear of a Tiananmen Square situation happening. We have the God-given right to voice our opinions and to do so in a respectful manner. I’m very grateful for that freedom.

Unfortunately, the mainstream media (both liberal and conservative) is constantly pressuring college students like me to “do the right thing.” The media caters to extreme-left groups and extreme-right factions. You see Fox and CNN go back and forth against each other like the Bloods and the Crips. You see various liberal or conservative politicians fight back, lie, verbally assault each other, and generally show themselves to be despicable people.

I’m not saying that the left and the right are the same; they aren’t. But they use the same rhetoric to get things done. They manipulate peoples’ emotions and religious beliefs (or lack thereof). They persuade people to see only one side of a certain issue – taxes, abortion, war, etc. In order to see things clearly, people need to think for themselves, not be coaxed into a certain position by the smooth-talkers and butt-kissers.

So in conclusion, I’m not gonna be easily deluded into believing lies from either side – or both for that matter. I don’t subscribe to a certain party, media outlet, or try to pretend that things are the way the Democrats or Republicans claim they are. I have my beliefs. I really do. So please don’t think that I’m apathetic or cynical. I just feel discouraged that so many people are easily swayed by the media. Be yourself, and have your own beliefs. Don’t be ashamed of your rights or the blessings that allow you to have that freedom. Seriously.