Who’s on First? The Week in Sports

Summitt stepping down

Women’s college basketball is a sport frequently overshadowed by its male counterpart, but it’s also a sport that has its fair share of basketball legends. One of those legends is Pat Summitt, who has coached the women’s basketball team at the University of Tennessee for 38 years, racked up 1,098 career wins, and won eight national championships. Summitt is Tennessee women’s basketball, which makes Wednesday’s announcement all the more shocking: Summitt is stepping down from the position she’s held for almost four decades due to a debilitating medical condition, and instead will assume a “head coach emeritus” role that will be less “hands on” but will still allow her to mentor players.

Back in August, 59-year-old Summitt revealed that she had been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease, and that condition deteriorated over the course of this past season, to the point where, according to The Tennessean, she had to be directed down the sideline to shake the hand of an opposing coach after a game, “an act she had done more than 1,300 times” over the course of her career. Longtime assistant Holly Warlick will assume head coaching duties, undoubtedly using what she learned under Summitt to continue to steer the Lady Volunteers in the right direction.

Ugly start to NHL playoffs

At their best, NHL playoff games are among the most exciting sporting events in the world: the speed is high, the battles are intense, and the thrill of sudden-death victory is immeasurable. However, this year’s playoffs, just a week old, have looked more like something out of Fight Club than the peak of the “coolest game on Earth.” The NHL has been rocked by dirty misdeeds, horrific hits, and dangerous stick play since the playoffs began last Wednesday, creating a stream of hard-to-watch highlights that has been pretty much non-stop.

The carnage started with Nashville’s Shea Weber slamming the face of Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg off the glass as time expired in Game 1 of their series, a WWE-style move that earned Weber a $2,500 fine. The shenanigans continued from there: the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators got into a street fight; Carl Hagelin of the Rangers elbowed Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson in the head; Chicago’s Andrew Shaw ran over Phoenix goalie Mike Smith; Arron Asham of Pittsburgh tried to decapitate the Philadelphia Flyers’ Brayden Schenn; Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom crosschecked Boston’s Rich Peverley in the face; and, most recently, Raffi Torres of the Phoenix Coyotes, a chronic cheapshot artist, left his feet to hit Chicago’s Marian Hossa last night, knocking the Slovakian winger out and sending him off the ice on a stretcher.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, there have been 804 penalty minutes, eleven game misconducts, eight suspensions, and two fines in just 22 total games so far in these playoffs. All of these antics have some worrying that the NHL is earning itself a “Wild Wild West” reputation, garnering media attention of the wrong kind. So how does the NHL put a stop to these gruesome plays? Some fear it will take a player being killed or paralyzed for the NHL to wake up, while others feel harsher penalties and a stronger backbone from those in charge of the league will help clean up the dirty play.

NFL schedule released

Spring has sprung, the weather is getting warmer, and summer will be here soon. Obviously that means it’s time to start planning for…football? Pigskin fans rejoiced on Tuesday night as the NFL unveiled its full schedule for the 2012 season, some five months before the games will begin. The 2012 campaign will kick off with the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants hosting the Dallas Cowboys in a rematch of the last game of the 2011 regular season, one that saw the Giants eliminate the rival Cowboys from playoff contention. There are plenty of interesting match-ups to watch for in Week 1 as well: Peyton Manning will make his Denver debut when the Broncos host the Steelers at Mile High Stadium; Manning’s old team, the Indianapolis Colts, will (in all likelihood) kick off the “Andrew Luck era” with a visit to Chicago; and the San Francisco 49ers will travel to Lambeau Field to face the Green Bay Packers in a battle of NFC heavyweights.

Other games of note include a playoff rematch between the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens in Week 3, a six-team showcase on Thanksgiving Day, and a rematch between the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions in Week 2, the teams’ first meeting since the near-brawl between their respective coaches a few months back. According to the Hartford Courant, the Giants will have the toughest schedule in the league, while the Broncos will have the second-toughest (based on opponents’ records in 2011). The league will also hold two games outside of the United States again this year: the Patriots and St. Louis Rams will play in London on Oct. 28, while the Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks will play in Toronto on Dec. 16.

HBO’s Girls: Yeah, I know those people

If you haven’t been reading the incredibly intense amount of press around HBO’s new half-hour dramedy, Girls, here’s a primer. It’s a show about a bunch of people you probably know, doing stuff and having relationships very similar to the things you do and the people you sleep with.

I was skeptical at first. Because really, how could life as 24-year-old girl possibly be made into a television show that’s at once believable and entertaining. No one (not for lack of trying… I’m looking at you, Broke Girls) had yet succeeded in capturing the 20-something je ne sais quoi of the Millennial generation, and I didn’t have high hopes for this show, despite Judd Apatow’s involvement. But goddamn was I wrong.

Sitting down to watch, I armed myself with a pen and paper, ready to jot down all the inane things that happened, so I wouldn’t have to re-watch in order to bash the show in this review. Well, I stopped writing about six seconds in when writer/director/star Lena Dunham’s character, Hannah, gets financially cut off from her parents and begins what is basically a 34-minute panic attack. By the end of the episode,  she’s been fired from her unpaid internship, has terrible sex with a terrible boy, and demands that her parents continue to subsidize her tragically hip/New York City/un-paid internship lifestyle with $1100 a month while stoned on opium tea.

I chucked the notebook and actually laughed out loud through the majority of the episode. Because as ridiculous as some of the antics of the characters are, they’re real. We are like that. This generation is incredibly honestly written by Dunham, and it is hilarious – the best example of which is Hannah’s insistence that she’s “the voice of her generation… or a generation” when handing her parents her memoir, which is all of six pages.

Jezebel has had a string of wonderful articles about Gen Y in relation to this show specifically, and has said about it, “Girls is a television program about the children of wealthy famous people and shitty music and Facebook and how hard it is to know who you are and Thought Catalog and sexually transmitted diseases and the exhaustion of ceaselessly dramatizing your own life while posing as someone who understands the fundamental emptiness and narcissism of that very self-dramatization.”

Truth. This isn’t your average show about wealthy white girls trying to make it in New York. And yet, it’s exactly that, which is what makes it so great – they’re not wearing Manolos, living in huge apartments on waitress salaries, or chilling at VIP tables at exorbitant nightclubs. It’s shockingly realistic, both in its portrayal of young women as well as, in general, the lives of young, affluent jobless Americans.

Hannah is both a unique character, and an embodiment of a newly emerging archetype. She’s an English major, working an unpaid internship, living with a girlfriend, sleeping with an idiot, and covered in tattoos that are “illustrations from children’s books.” She’s the quintessential entitled single, white female of the post-9/11 generation.

The other characters, Hannah’s roommate Marnie (the one with a boyfriend), is a wholesome, normal girl, with what appears to be a normal 9-5 job; Shoshana, a student, wears a pink Juicy Couture sweatsuit, lives in a $2100 (admittedly parent-subsidized) apartment with Sex and the City posters. (She’s a Carrie, a Samantha, and a Miranda!) The fourth one is British Jessa, Shoshana’s cousin, who is full of wanderlust, travels the world, and wants to eat dinner at 1 am. Together, they are a pretty well-rounded, multi-dimensional example of what urban post-grads look like in the 21st century.

Even Business Insider has delved into the Girls debate with an article that’s squarely on our side. “‘Girls’ accurately captures the tension between baby boomers and their struggling offspring: Twentysomethings increasingly turn to their parents for financial support, and many have come to expect it,” writes Kimberely Palmner. “Hannah is outraged that her parents would even consider cutting her off. She’s so close to creating the life her parents want for her, she argues—don’t they want to help her achieve it? Why aren’t they grateful that she’s not a drug addict, and that she’s actually trying to make something of herself?”

Besides the general topic of the show, the writing is fantastically droll, and the acting pretty decent.

The fantastic Chris Eigeman makes an appearance as the boss who fires Hannah for asking to get paid, which is great, because once upon a time, he starred in Gen X movies of the wealthy/young/affected genre, such as Metropolitan, Kicking and Screaming, and The Last Days of Disco. 

Ultimately, this is a show for Millennials and their Boomer parents to laugh about a difficult situation that neither side is totally responsible for. It puts a somewhat silly face on the terrible job climate for young people while still sympathizing with the parents who thought they would be able to retire, like Hannah’s mother (“I just want a fucking lake house!” she screams).

Don’t we all.

Watch the trailer, it’s funny.

Top 10 greatest Bob Dylan covers

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Amnesty International, a four-disc set of Bob Dylan covers is coming out. What better way to commemorate this release then to compile some of the best and most interesting covers from one of the most covered men in American music?

Bryan Ferry, “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” – 1973 – This version is too cheesy to be true. Starting this article it was a must to find the kitschiest Dylan cover from the 1970s possible. I just did not think I would be blessed by the gods above, and given this earnestly bizarre and oddly respectful cover of one of Dylan’s most lyrically beautiful songs. The words that put Dylan in a league with Ginsberg and Kerouac are given the girls-in sunglasses-and-leather-bodysuits treatment. Only Bryan Ferry could’ve pulled off this heist.

Jimi Hendrix “All Along the Watchtower” – 1968 –  This is probably the most widely recognized Bob Dylan cover, and for good reason. Hendrix and his axe take the track into remarkable new territory, which is what any good cover should do. This is not just one of the greatest Bob Dylan covers of all time, but one of the greatest covers of all time. It’s also has one of Hendrix’s best solos.

Miley Cyrus “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go,” – 2012 – As fundamentally strange as these words seem on paper, her voice speaks for itself and does incredible justice to the Blood of the Tracks classic. It’s a reminder that this former Disney Channel megastar has great pipes and a fundamental grasp of American roots music in the way much like Bob Dylan. (Well, not the first part.)

The Black Keys “The Wicked Messenger” – 2007 – One of the most popular bands going adds the disturbing seriousness to the John Wesley Harding two-minute deep cut, what is a simple ballad on death becomes a elaborate story of violence and more, almost a feature-length adaptation.

Sonic Youth “I’m Not There” – 2007 – From the sensational Bob Dylan bio-pic of the same name, the garage rock innovators take on this undiscovered gem Dylan recorded with The Band. It resonates so deeply with Dylan’s overall oeuvre, themes of freedom and disguises, forms and formlessness.

Odetta “The Times They Are A-Changin’” -1965 – This woman was just as legendary a folk singer in her own right and contemporary of Dylan who died just a few years ago. The progression is Odetta’s version is more soulfully enduring. Dylan wasn’t remembered for his vocal skills, but Odetta was. She gives the anthem with hip-shaking rhythm that Bob Dylan was too much of short-haired white boy to realize the song could rise to the next level with.

DM Stith “Gates Of Eden” -2010 – This cover does more with melodic instrumental sound than Dylan had ever played for the original. (It was just him and the guitar.) DM adds track after track of building instruments and noises, taking the religious epic to new heights, giving it new meaning. A song takes on interesting dimension with the speed of a van screaming down the highway rather than hobo walking through a cemetary.

The Byrds “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” – 1968 -This version is a Country-fried twist from arguably the greatest Dylan cover band of all time, The Byrds. They made huge hits out of “Mr. Tambourine Man,”  “All I Really Wanna Do,” and “My Back Pages.” This version is the opening track from the Byrd’s ode to classic country, Sweethearts of the Rodeo. They slow the song down and remove every second verse lyric. It’s a genius re-invention that allows the musicians the space melodically personalize their instruments.

Rhett Miller “Champaign, Illinois,” (“Desolation Row”) - Not so much of a cover but news verses, set to the old chords from the 11-minute Highway 61 Revisted closer, but revolving around the southern Illinois city known asa former insutrial city, but also the home of the University of Illinois. Rhett’s new words continue in the Felleni-esque allegorical display that defined the original song, some of the finest lyrics Bob Dylan ever written.

Guns N Roses “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” – 1991 – It’s great that Axl Rose could take Bob Dylan’s cowboy ethos and transport it to the land of hair metal. All the stuff I said about Hendrix and “All Along The Watchtower” can apply here, because of Slash’s great solo, the added depth of melody and Axl does have a great voice.

Haute and Dangerous: In the office

Blend In, Stand Out

Your mother always told you that you were special, and I’m not here to tell you any different. Regardless, you don’t want to be the one on the receiving end of the venomous stares from the water cooler club (“Oh, look, Marcia. That skank from accounting wore a ballgown to work again….”) If you overdress, you look like a snothead who thinks they’re better than everyone else. Underdress and you look like a slob (there goes that promotion!). How does one find balance?

The reality is that, just like you, every office is a unique entity with its own distinct dress codes. Don’t think of words like “casual,” “business casual,” or “power suits unite” as boring rules as much as a foundation you use to build your fab wardrobe. Ensure that your outfits aren’t distracting (stilettos so painfully tight that blood starts to pool up and leak so your cubicle suddenly looks like a crime scene) and/or uncomfortable (a chainmail micro-mini that just won’t stay put) for you and your coworkers, you can get that promotion and make a few friends while still managing to dress better than everyone else. Who says you can’t have it all?

Buy Good Lingerie

Finding the perfect bra is hard. So difficult, in fact, I would bet that’s why we haven’t had a female president yet. It’s hard to focus on things like homeland security and foreign affairs when your underwire is digging into your rib cage like the iron claws of a hungry eagle. When you invest the time and money into finding the right unmentionables — supportive, breathable, pretty — your clothes look better, you feel more confident, and you’re able to focus since you won’t be constantly fidgeting with rogue straps and abrasive seams.

Go The Extra Mile

Think of every sports movie you’ve ever seen. Think of that one emotional scene with the tearjerker music where the coach (preferably played by Denzel Washington) gives a speech so moving, so inspiring, that it motivates his team of lovable underdogs to go forth and achieve seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

This is what should be playing over and over in your head when you’re out shopping. Go the extra mile, overcome obstacles, and take that outfit to the finish line. Don’t buy those $400 pants and cheap out at the last minute — spend the extra $50 and get them professionally tailored. Scared of wearing makeup? Set up an appointment with a professional who can customize your look and teach you the ins and outs of application. And why is a 25 year old with a full-time job still buying the bulk of her wardrobe at RAVE (you know, one of those stores where you can’t find even a simple tank top without padded cups sewn into the bust)? Go forth and conquer. To the victor go the spoils. Carpe diem. You get the picture.

Hygiene is an Ongoing Battle

So, after a particularly rowdy night out, you woke up in a dumpster and came straight to work. These things happen, which is all the more reason to be prepared. So, next time you’re at the drugstore, pick up one or more of the following:

  • deodorant
  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • dry shampoo
  • makeup remover/face cleaning wipes
  • hairspray
  • comb
  • a pretty case to keep it all in

Put your newly-assembled car case (or cubicle case) in your car (or cubicle) so you can continue living your Lindsay Lohan-esque lifestyle without looking like her.

GIVEAWAY: $100 of Custom Stickers That Kick Ass

Sticker MuleJoin us on Twitter tomorrow (Thursday) for the chance to win $100 bucks of store credit on Sticker Mule. The TNGG team is a fan of Sticker Mule for a few reasons:

  1. They’ve made it way too easy to make custom stickers.
  2. You can even print skins for your iPhone or laptop.
  3. They’re the official printer of stickers for companies like Reddit, Mashable, and others, which we think is awesome.

Tomorrow, TNGG is teaming up with Sticker Mule for a Twitter giveaway to bring you some sweet stickers of your own design. 

Sticker MuleDATE: Thursday, April 19. 

TO ENTER: Use the #TNGGgiveaway hashtag and tweet to @stickermule answering the question: “Whether it’s on your car or your laptop what kick ass sticker do you already own?

THE WINNINGS: One (1) lucky winner will receive $100 store credit on Stickermule.com. Follow TNGG’s Twitter handle @nextgreatgen for updates. We hope to tweet you soon!

DISCLAIMER: TNGG has not received any compensation for this post. Sticker Mule is providing the prize for this contest’s winner. All opinions stated here belong solely to the author.

Beach House blissful beats build up to Bloom

No, the picture to the right isn’t a smartphone camera photo beneath some random marquee. It’s the cover art for Baltimore-based indie dream pop duo Beach House’s new album Bloom. Their new work is set to be released May 15, 2012 on Sub Pop.

To bring readers up to speed, the band Beach House consists of French-born Victoria Legrand and Baltimore native Alex Scally. They formed in 2004, with Scally playing guitar and keyboards, and Legrand on vocals and organ. “Since their 2006 self-titled debut, this duo has been churning out a consistent line of dreamy melodies, characterized by simple beats, blissful guitar lines, and [Legrand’s] vocals, which [can] only be described as a crossover of the soul of Robert Plant and the rasp of Janis Joplin (though not quite as raspy).”

Now, the band has released three albums, most recently 2010’s Teen Dream. That record “stands starkly opposed to its predecessors: forsaking the foggy insularity of lo-fidelity for a bold, bright, sharply-produced sound that makes for brilliant use of dynamics.The grand change in sound has coloured the aesthetic perception: the languorous, melting, opiate haze of past records summoned summer days thick with humidity, but, now, the stark, defined, crystalline palette sounds like night-time, with its high contrast between bright lights and whole blacks.” Pitchfork’s Stuart Berman wrote about the album, “Its billowy synth lines and sleigh-bell accents made it perfect winter listening. But the album made even more sense as the warm weather arrived– Teen Dream captures Beach House in the midst of a great thaw, the frosty surfaces melting away to reveal full-blooded passion.”

But that was so 2010. Beach House is releasing their fourth album next month. No doubt the band will try to push against the walls even more. Scally even admits it: “We started to grow really tired of the kind of sloppy or fast sound of lo-fi that we were so into in the beginning.” Stereogum concurs, “The move away from this atmosphere is in concert with a band striving to break new creative ground and work into more expansive, shiny tones.”

What’s interesting to note is that in Bloom, the band doesn’t get stray too far away from the dreamy atmospheric melody that made them famous in the first place. If anything, they’ve trimmed the music fat and kept only the most substantial parts that make their songs great.

The album might start off unfamiliar to devoted listeners, but it doesn’t completely deviate what people have come to like about them. In fact, Beach House carves their name even deeper into the trunk of the music scene that they undoubtedly own.

BeAcH HoUsE 4EveR

Queue It or Screw It: The Gang’s All Here…and There…Oh, and Over There, Too!

Everybody needs friends. The Girl Scouts advised that you “make new friends, but keep the old.” The Beatles got by with a little help from their friends. They also “ate sandwiches” with their friends, but that’s beside the point.

In the last few years, TV has been all about friends. No, not Friends (although it may as well be since they’re all trying to recreate that ensemble-casted juggernaut), but groups of friends that make up the ensemble cast of hit shows. Gone are the solo-act days of Roseanne, Everybody Loves Raymond, or Whitney (because let’s face it, that last one never really had any “days” to speak of). It’s all about the ensemble – the bigger the better. Are You There, Chelsea? Only one name in that title. And I will forever regret wasting the 10 minutes I spent on it—I could’ve been cleaning the grout in my tiled bathroom with a toothbrush! 2 Broke Girls? Getting there, but once the sprinkles are off the odd-couple cupcakes (so to speak), viewers may be left wanting. But wait! There are more – cast members.

In Modern Family, arguably the best comedy on TV right now, there are nearly a dozen.  Each member of the family serves to advance one plot or another in their own way. You’d think that the “the whole family coming together to argue about and then solve a problem” thing would get old (as it really, really did on Brothers & Sisters—how many Merlot-induced fights and revelations can happen at one table?), but it doesn’t. Maybe it’s because episodes sometimes focus more on one family than another, but I’d argue that it’s tough to find an episode that doesn’t feature at least one hilarious contribution from every cast member (including the baby). Every cast member gets a chance to steal the show, and as a result, everyone shines.

In How I Met Your Mother and really-similar-but-just-not-quite-as-good Happy Endings, they cut Modern Family’s cast in half. In comparison, that may not seem like much, but for a single-camera comedy, splitting screen time among five or six actors, each with their own plots and subplots, trials and travails, it’s still a challenge to bothModern Family honor each character’s individual storylines and maintain an ongoing thread of connection between them all.

Hanging out at the bottom of the appreciation heap (one critical, one for people who don’t know what good TV is) are Cougar Town and Community. Both shows feature groups of friends brought together by proximity—the former a cul-de-sac, the latter a student union—and both came back late in the game for midseason after juuuuust missing the axe.

Cougar Town is okay. The creator (Bill Lawrence) also ran that paragon of quirky ensemble dramedy, Scrubs. Lawrence channels the bigtime quirk into Cougar Town, right down to the snarky title cards that change every episode in an attempt to explain why Cougar Town is relatively devoid of cougars. The characters are weird, they do things no normal adult does, and the whole thing will probably end up being a withdrawal dream from Jules Cobb (Courteney Cox)’s booze-fueled slumber. Seriously, they drink a lot of wine from very large glasses. Often.

Community is awesome. It is far weirder than even Cougar Town (the next strangest in this list), but if you get it, you love it. Everybody functions simultaneously as a team and foils for each other. Just like any group, some are closer than others, and loyalties change from time to time. Just like another awesome NBC show, 30 Rock, Community is chock full of topical pop-culture references and hilarious send-ups of other TV shows or movies.

I feel that I should also mention Parks & Recreation here.  I’m not going into detail because I write too much about it already, but there’s an ensemble cast, it’s awesome and you should watch it.

The best way to show you how these ensembles interact is to show you. Compare them one after another, pick your favorite (or three), and catch up!

Modern Family:

How I Met Your Mother:

Happy Endings:

Cougar Town:

Community:

HIMYM is on Netflix Instant Watch and the others can be found on Hulu. Grab three or four of your nearest and dearest, pour a decent red into your own Big Joe, and wonder why your friends aren’t as funny.

Nice Apps! Top 5 for Earth Day

Next Sunday, April 22, marks the 42nd Earth Day. But, get your eco-pants ready, because beginning tomorrow, it’s Earth Week.

Over its tenure, Earth Day evolved from a 1970 American creation to an international holiday celebrated in more than 175 countries. In fact, Earth Day Network cites that the billion people who celebrate the holiday account for it being the largest civic observance – worldwide.

Keep in mind that Earth Week isn’t just for recycling, but for implementing a range of lifestyle changes that benefit the planet and its current and future inhabitants. While every day is a good day to recycle, use this week as a catalyst to begin your new focused practice.

And, while going green is a humble tribute to the environment, it’s admittedly good for your wallet, too. Sometimes we call this phenomenon “congreenience,” but feel free to experience all of the benefits – earth-related and otherwise – that these Earth Day-specific apps will provide you.


Saturday March 31, Earth Hour 2012 kicked off Earth Week activities, engaging a billion people in more than 5,000 cities and towns worldwide.

iRecycle (iPhone and Android)
Earth911 brings us a way to follow, participate in and promote sustainable Earth practices. Pulling from its nationwide recycling center directory, it’ll provide you the nearest site (approximately 800,000 in total) where you can recycle or dispose of potentially harmful materials (e.g. batteries). After you find your spot, you can talk about it and share your experiences via social networks. And to ensure you’re in the know, this app aggregates environmental news, too.

Meter Readings (iPhone and Android)
Pay closer attention to your energy [in]efficiency! No, really. All of those times your dad scolded you for leaving a light on in the other room, or neglecting to turn off your bedroom overhead fan, perhaps he knew a thing or two about eco-friendliness – in addition to frugality. Despite being a monthly expenditure, your electric meter is also a ticker that keeps track of your environmentally-facing behavior. LivingGreenChannel reports that those who watch their meters save an average of 10 to 20 percent on their electric bills. This app tracks your meter, effectively allowing you to monitor your energy consumption.

Carbon Footprint (iPhone)
Tracking your energy use is one thing, but what about all of the other crap that contributes to an inefficient planet? Riding the bus or bike versus driving to work/school every day can certainly make a difference – one that you can track, too. With this app, you can monitor your carbon footprint through GPS-enabled technology, and set monthly emissions goals to monitor and ensure your progression toward overall efficiency. You enter your data – date and time of gas fill-up, how much you filled – and will track your fuel usage and emissions for multiple cars. Data it provides includes miles per gallon, dollars per day of driving, projected carbon dioxide emissions per year, percent difference from average American C02 emissions, total carbon emissions to date, etc.

The Green Gas Saver (iPhone)
Who knew that Speed Racers were risking more than their safety while weaving through traffic and taking quick corners? In fact, driving behavior largely affects your fuel economy. Meaning, habits such as putting the pedal-to-the-metal once the light turns green, accelerating up hills, and driving over the speed limit can suck down your precious and expensive gasoline supply. This app will sound an alarm once you’re engaging in these bad practices, making you aware of your gas-guzzling behavior. To track your progress, you can follow the scores and projections it gives you.

Good Guide (iPhone and Android)
Behavior is only part of the battle when trying to eco-ize your life. Yes, it’s important to monitor, track and improve your habits – especially those that harm the planet, and thus many others, in addition to yourself. However, there is only so much due diligence before the issue is out of your hands. While you can choose to carpool, turn the lights off and recycle paper, plastics and batteries, you should also monitor the products you purchase and the sustainable practices and principles of the producing companies. With this app, take a photo of the product’s bar code and find its ratings based on environmental, social, and health impacts, along with an overall rating.

Who’s on First? The Week in Sports

Guillen in hot water

Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen is no stranger to controversy. However, his recent comments have stirred emotions far beyond the baseball diamond. In an interview with Time magazine, the Marlins skipper reportedly said, “I love Fidel Castro,” and went on to say that he respected him for staying in power for so long. Yes, the same Fidel Castro who is a Communist dictator and has been accused of killing tens of thousands of Cuban citizens. Predictably, Guillen’s comments created a firestorm in Miami, the hub of Cuban culture in the United States.

Guillen’s remarks set off a round of protests at the Marlins’ ballpark in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, as well as calls for Guillen’s immediate dismissal. Reacting to the mounting pressure, the Marlins suspended their skipper for five games on Tuesday. Later that day, the Venezuelan manager apologized to Cuban-Americans at a press conference as well, saying, according to the Associated Press, that he is “very sorry about the problem” and “will do everything in [his] power to make it better.” Guillen admitted his mistake, but also insisted that the comments he made were misinterpreted and didn’t come out the way he intended. The Marlins’ decision to suspend their manager after just five games was, in all likelihood, an attempt to quell the unrest in Miami, but it may not be enough.

When asked about Guillen’s comments, Cuban players around the league did what Guillen probably should have done: they kept their mouths closed, or offered the equivalent of a “no comment.” The controversy comes at a particularly bad time for the Marlins, who, despite a 2-3 start, had been riding a wave of good feelings from opening a brand new stadium and signing a few big names in the offseason.

Petrino shown the door at Arkansas

When it was reported on Apr. 1 that University of Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino was involved in a motorcycle accident, the immediate reaction was one of concern for the coach’s well-being; few people were aware of the chain reaction Petrino’s accident was about to unleash. It was first reported that Petrino was the only individual involved in the crash. However, it turns out that Petrino was riding with a 25-year-old Arkansas employee named Jessica Dorrell, who had been given a $55,000 per year job by Petrino just days before the crash.

Details emerged indicating that Petrino, who is married with four children, had been carrying on a sexual relationship with Dorrell, a former Arkansas volleyball player, for some time. Sports Illustrated reported that Petrino misled Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long, insisting that he was riding alone. What started out as a motorcycle accident quickly blossomed into a scandal, and Long responded by firing Petrino on Tuesday. According to the Los Angeles Times, Long’s investigation revealed that Petrino had given Dorrell $20,000 on top of her recent job. Yahoo! Sports says Long fired Petrino due to his “conscious decision to mislead the public” and to what Long called a “pattern of misleading and manipulative behavior…both before and after the motorcycle accident.”

In a statement released on Tuesday night, Petrino said he was sorry for his actions and added, “I have no one to blame but myself.” Petrino’s disgraceful exit ruins what had been a successful tenure at Arkansas, as he led the school to its first Bowl Championship Series appearance in 2011 and a 21-5 record over the past two seasons.

Bubba masters Augusta

Let’s face it: golf has a reputation as being an elitist sport, and most professional golfers are stuffy, boring, and vanilla. And then there’s Bubba Watson, who started a boy band with some colleagues, has a YouTube account with videos of him smashing vegetables, owns a “General Lee,” and took the golf world by storm when he won the Masters, golf’s most prestigious tournament, in a sudden-death playoff on Sunday.

Watson’s dramatic hook shot onto the green earned him a tap-in for par, besting South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen to give the 33-year-old the first Major championship of his career. Despite the loss, Oosthuizen actually hit one of the best shots of the tournament: a double-eagle, also known as an “albatross,” which is a two on a par five, on the second hole of the final round. Watson’s win has led to “Bubba Fever” around the sports world, and his endorsement deals are expected to skyrocket. Some pundits are claiming that the fun-loving Watson’s success will be good for golf as well, as his laid-back style may influence kids to pick up what many consider an older man’s game. Bubba Fever has already led to a surprising color popping up on the links: Watson, who used a pink driver in the Masters, has inspired golf supplier Ping to make 5,000 Bubba-style pink drivers available to the public. Let’s just hope Bubba’s success hasn’t inspired others to adopt the shirtless overalls look…

NHL playoffs kick off

Only 16 teams remain, and the battle for the right to hoist the Stanley Cup in June began with a three-game slate: first, the Philadelphia Flyers will visit Pittsburgh faced the Penguins in the most recent incarnation of their fierce in-state rivalry. Adding fuel to this series’ fire will be one of the team’s most recent meetings, in which Philadelphia’s Daniel Briere thinks he was injured on purpose and Flyers’ coach Peter Laviolette climbed onto the boards to shout at Pittsburgh’s coaches.

Later on, Detroit visited Nashville to kick off their series with the Predators, and the Los Angeles Kings traveled to Vancouver to face the Canucks, who will be without Daniel Sedin, still sidelined with a concussion. Four series started last night: the defending champion Boston Bruins, who will be without Nathan Horton for the remainder of the playoffs, welcomed Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals to Boston; the Ottawa Senators traveled to Manhattan to take on the New York Rangers; the San Jose Sharks headed to St. Louis to take on the resurgent Blues; and the Chicago Blackhawks took to the desert to face the Phoenix Coyotes.

Finally, the eighth and final series will start tonight night, when the New Jersey Devils head to the Sunshine State to take on the Florida Panthers. The scheduling is a bit funny when one considers that the Panthers, who haven’t been in the playoffs in over a decade, are the last team to start the postseason. Someone at the NHL has a sense of humor…

Oil Canada! We Stand on Gilded Knee

Over the past few months, the Keystone Pipeline has dominated energy dependency news through the battle between transnational company TransCanada Corporation, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and the Obama administration.

But the 2,147 mile path the pipeline will leave across the Midwest seems miniscule compared to the political battle erupting over its construction.  If completed it will have a diameter that is 30-inches wide and will carry upwards of 590,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

According to BusinessWeek, the average retail price of regular gasoline in the U.S. was $3.84 a gallon as of March 20, up about 17 percent since January. With gas prices rising at the pump, and unemployment rates high in the Midwest, many argue that the pipeline could bring down gas prices, at the very least.

Unfortunately, sources call out that claim as false.  According to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the pipeline will actually increase the gas prices paid for by Americans by up to $4 billion a year.  It will increase prices in the Midwest.

“Rather than providing the US with more Canadian oil, Keystone XL will simply shift oil from the Midwest to the Gulf Coast, where much of it can be exported to international buyers – decreasing US energy supply and increasing the cost of oil in the American Midwest.”

 

Paying to kill the environment

In an article for the Huffington Post, Frances Beinecke, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council, warned of the environmental impacts. Including the link between fuel efficiency and tar sands usage, price decrease, and the false hope of improving fuel efficiency standards with the pipeline.

The pipeline is a proposed transport system for crude oil spanning eight US states and three Canadian provinces. Four phases make up the construction of the pipeline. The longest branch begins in Alberta, Canada and ends in Wood River, Illinois, was completed in July, 2010.

While supporters in the United States claim benefits for Americans, some believe the winner would ultimately be Canada.  The maple leaf country would potentially be able to open more markets for oil exports.

But the final, disputed phases face obstacles over environmental and geopolitical controversies.

The pipeline was initially developed in a partnership between TransCanada and US company ConocoPhilips. TransCanada is now the sole owner after buying out ConocoPhilips for $550 million. The final phases of the extension, known as the Keystone XL, were proposed in 2008.

US Congressmen Wasman and Rush have targeted the Koch Brothers as beneficiaries of the right-wing financiers. House Republicans tried to advance a bill that would have expedited review of the pipeline to force the President to make a decision in early November.

The political tug-of-war over the benefits, transparency, and impacts of the pipeline leaves Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper tight-lipped over his country’s’ plans to diversify its oil exports.

Since the specific part of the pipeline controversy doesn’t cross an international border, it doesn’t require permission from the U.S. Department of State as the entire project did. Construction could technically proceed.

But, Environmentalists have majors reasons to oppose Keystone XL extensions. To name a few:

-The destruction of a boreal forest the size of Florida
-The destruction of the Sandhills, Nebraska ecosystem, covering over a quarter of the state
-The effect on the crucial Ogallala Aquifer in the event of an oil spill. This aquifer spans eight states, provides drinking water for two million people, and supplies 83 percent of Nebraska’s irrigation water. All proposed routes still pass through areas above the Ogallala, where the water supply is vulnerable to the impacts of an oil spill.
-Clean energy. Since when are oil sands “green energy?”

 

The Wildcard

President Obama. After anti-pipeline activists flooded social media outlets, the airwaves, and eventually, the area around the White House, President Obama announced that “the decision on the pipeline permit would be delayed until 2013.”

After re-evaluation and a political showdown with Republicans in late November, Obama stepped away from the decision. In January he denied a permit for Keystone XL to bring in oil sands from Canada, citing environmental concerns.

The Now, Obama has reviewed a  new, moderate route to circumvent polarized arguments from both sides of the aisle. On March 22nd, Obama announced his administration’s decision to expedite the construction of  the Cushing, Oklahoma branch of Keystone XL.

Naturally, both sides of the aisle are incensed. Activists currently await new developments from the President, who has remained silent on the issue at the recent week’s North American Summit. Construction on the project could start in June.