Football fans everywhere will be glued to their TV screens tonight as the NFL Draft starts at 8 PM EST on ESPN and the NFL Network. Millions more will be following the action on Twitter, which has become the ultimate meeting spot for sports fanatics. You can follow me our NFL guru, Anthony Stalter, during the draft on Twitter @AnthonyStalter, and you can follow me @clevelandteams. Yes, I’m a tortured Cleveland Browns fan, so the draft is my annual Super Bowl.
Cleveland will be one of the pivotal teams in the draft with the #4 pick, and many are predicting that they will take running back Trent Richardson. But the Minnesota Vikings are making noise about trading out of the #3 pick, and that could mean Richardson goes to a team at #3. These tow teams will be pivotal in a draft that could be very hard to predict after the first two picks.
You can follow Anthony’s NFL draft coverage at ScoresReport.com. You’ll see his mock drafts along with analysis of the top draft prospects and sleepers.
The 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang is coming up, and Ford is planning some radical changes for the 2015 model that will represent the anniversary Mustang. It’s a big risk for Ford, which kicked off the retro revival of the Mustang back in 2004. That redesign offered a brilliant interpretation of the original Mustang and became a huge hit. It also started a trend, as Chevrolet and Chrysler became inspired to create retro versions of the Chevy Camaro and the Dodge Challenger. These pony cars were also big hits, and the Camaro has surpassed the Mustang in sales in recent years.
Ford has definitely milked quite a bit of success from this retro Mustang, but then they were faced with a huge decision going into the 50th anniversary. Do they create the ultimate retro car to cap off this great run, or do they take a risk and go with a modern design? Well, it looks like the modern look is in, and it will be based on the Evos concept pictured about that was unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Auto Show. Don’t worry, that’s not THE car that will be the new Mustang, but it’s the starting point. It looks nice, but it doesn’t make you jump and say “I want to sell my car!” It looks way too much like a generic, Japanese sports car. But, there were some renderings out on the web of what this might look like after the Mustang lights and accents were added in, and it did look pretty cool.
A new, edgy Mustang is a huge risk, but car companies can’t be successful by playing it safe. At least they learned that much from the disasters of the last 30 years. We’re anxious to see what they come up with.
It had to happen eventually: I don’t have a column.
Well, not really, anyway. I mean, normally, I’ve got an interview or a preview of a new series or a commentary on an existing TV series, and it’s enough to fill up an entire column, but not this time. Between all the writing, transcribing, and family matters going on over the past few weeks, I’ve had precious little time to watch TV these past few weeks, and what I have watched has tended to be in short spurts, which means that I’m way behind on just about all of my favorite shows. Mind you, that’s not to say that I don’t have anything to say. I’m just going to kind of run through some of the things I’ve been watching lately – some new, some old – and offer up my thoughts about them.
First up: the same show just about everyone else was talking about this morning:
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
Seems like only yesterday that I walked up to Jimmy Fallon at the TCA Press Tour and asked him outright if he was scared shitless about starting his talk show. (His response: “Why, yes. Yes, I am.”) Now look at the guy: slow-jamming the news with the President of the United States. You know, I’d say “I don’t care what your politics are, that’s just awesome,” but I know Republicans better than that. I will, however, note that President Obama earned a little extra respect from me for taking the time to give a shout-out to Key & Peele. It wouldn’t surprise me if you forgot that I talked to them back in January, since the piece didn’t get so much as a single comment, but they’re a hilarious couple of guys, and they deserve all the success they’ve been getting with their Comedy Central Series. But I digress. Here’s that slow jam I mentioned, just in case you haven’t caught it yet:
Dancing with the Stars
If you’re a parent, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that the addition of children to your life inevitably results in a number of changes to your lifestyle, but one of the most crucial is how it affects your TV viewing habits. It seems like it’d be easy to tell a little kid what they’re going to watch, but you’d be surprised. Battles are often fought in our living room over what I want to watch versus what my daughter calls “my shows,” a short list which includes a variety of programming that I have no interested in sitting through. As such, my wife and I regularly try to find shows that are at least somewhat of a middle ground for us all, thereby avoiding these arguments with a little lass who’s 1/4 my size, and in an effort to avoid watching “Dance Moms” at all cost, I finally asked a question I never thought would come out of my mouth: “Do you want to try ‘Dancing with the Stars’?”
The South has played a large part in forging the identity of the United States. Its influences include BBQ, country music, NASCAR, and taking life a little bit slower than those in the north. It is the region of good times and good old boys. And if there’s one segment of motorcycles that defines the entire U.S. industry, it’s the heavy cruiser. Nowhere else do these big, bellowing beasts sell in such large numbers.
They’re so important, in fact, that 50% of all motorcycles sold in the U.S. are cruisers. And with all that money on the table, the segment is crucial for many brands to be successful in the United States. Yamaha knows this too. Since 2004, Yamaha’s Star brand has had a double-barreled focus on selling more metric cruisers. So here we are, deep in the heart of Dixie to test Star’s newest motorcycles, because if you find success here, you can make it anywhere in the U.S.
Origin of Star
Yamaha is not new to selling cruisers, and neither are their Japanese competitors. Termed “Metric Cruisers,” these Japanese bikes have been available for some time, but like the metric system as a whole, adoption has been spotty at best. Reason being, many of the metric cruisers didn’t have the qualities customers wanted. They may have been more reliable, but they looked flimsy, had plastic instead of metal in most places, and didn’t offer the attitude that cruiser customers wanted. Star’s goal is to create bikes that change those perceptions.
Since 1978, Yamaha has sold cruisers. However, customer research showed that this dissuaded many potential customers since they didn’t want to be associated with Yamaha’s supersport products like the R1. They were into style, not speed. So for their more basic tastes and needs, Yamaha branched out their cruisers under the Star banner in 2004. Star has its own team inside Yamaha devoted to giving their customers the experience they want: high style, large customization and a reasonable amount of refinement.
With this focus, Star has a full lineup of cruisers to fit a bike for every person and every need. From the starter bike V Star 250, all the way up to full baggers like the Stratoliner Deluxe, Star has a full portfolio that drives home their brand values. Star had all their products available to ride in Atlanta, but one stuck out in particular to show what they are trying to accomplish.
I’ve had some memorable times in Las Vegas over the years, as Sin City has always been about creating over-the-top experiences with all the gambling and wild nightlife. But on this last trip I tried something new and exhilarating that I’ll remember for years!
I was invited to check out the all-new Machine Guns Vegas (MGV), a unique attraction that will soon be on most to-do lists for guys visiting Vegas. MGV combines a VIP ultra lounge setting with the ultimate firearms experience. The selection of guns you can shoot will blow your mind, so it’s perfect for gun enthusiasts along with first-timers who want to feel the thrill of firing these powerful weapons.
I’m the latter. I’d never shot a gun before even though I’d always wanted to try it. Now I’d get my chance, but it wouldn’t be with a simple handgun. I was going to shoot three badass, fully-automatic machine guns, and I couldn’t wait to try it.
As soon as you arrive at MGV you enter into a spacious and comfortable lounge area where you can relax and get ready. The staff is very professional and you can pick all sorts of packages for your experience. Guests are matched with a shooting host who uses interactive multimedia displays on an iPad to showcase each of the shooting experiences offered. Long lines are not an issue here as you can relax in the lounge while you pick your experience and wait your turn. My experience would consist of three machine guns – the M4 5.56 (US), the MK-47 (Russian) and the HK MP5 9MM (German).
After talking to my instructor, we decided to go with the biggest gun first, the M4 5.56 carbine fully automatic machine gun. The M4 is a shorter and lighter variant of the M16A2 assault rifle, sharing 80% of the parts, but it’s still a beast. It’s used by the U.S. military and is slated to replace the M16 for many combat units in the army. The instructor explained the proper way to shoot the gun. The stance is critical, as you don’t want this thing to knock you back when you fire. Balance and leverage is important as you keep your right foot back and prepare yourself to lean forward as you press the trigger. The instructor then sent out the target and I was ready to go.