Monthly Archives: February 2014

Meryl Davis and Charlie White of Michigan win gold at Olympics

White and Davis accepting their record 6th U.S. title in January. The duo became the first to win gold for the U.S. in ice dancing this afternoon. Photo/USA TODAY

White and Davis accepting their record 6th U.S. title in January. The duo became the first to win gold for the U.S. in ice dancing this afternoon. Photo/USA TODAY

Stephanie Sokol for The Pit

Michigan residents Meryl Davis and Charlie White took home gold today for Olympic ice dancing. The duo was the first in the United States to win the title.

Yesterday, the skaters earned an international personal best with a score of 78.89, according to the Associated Press.

During the final round this afternoon, Davis, 27, and White, 26, finished at 195.52 after earning 116.63 points in the free dance today for their chilling performance to “Sheherazade.”

The University of Michigan students placed in second four years ago, but their score left them 4.53 ahead of second place dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, who won in 2o1o. Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia took the bronze.

“I told Charlie in the middle of the program I felt like I was in a dream,” Davis said about yesterday’s performance in an interview with the Associated Press. “It is such a surreal experience.”

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Iconic child star Shirley Temple Black died late Monday

Stephanie Sokol for The Pit

Shirley Temple Black, one of the most well-known and successful Hollywood child stars, died last night, according to her publicist. She was 85.

Photo/FLICKR

Photo/FLICKR

Known for her signature singing, corkscrew curls, starring movie roles and tap-dancing, Temple Black also served as a diplomat for a majority of her life. The star died of natural causes at her home in Woodside, California.

Shirley’s career began at age 3. After her role in 1932 film “War Babies,” she quickly became a household name, and began earning $50,000 per movie by the time she was 10.

The starlet’s success led to product lines, including dolls and apparel for little girls.  Earning title of box-office star from 1935 to 1938, she gave people hope during the Great Depression.

Some of her most famous films included early movies “Little Miss Marker” (1934), “Curly Top” (1935) and “The Littlest Rebel” (1935), though she had success in acting for 18 years, with more sales at the box office than other stars of the time, including Clark Gable and Bing Crosby, according to CNN.

While her acting career slowed down by 1940 when she ended her contract with 20th Century Fox, Temple eventually moved on, and at age 22, got married to Charles Black and became a foreign diplomat. Serving in the U.S. delegation to the United Nations from 1969 to 1974, served as U.S. ambassador to Ghana from 1974 to 1976 and served U.S. ambassador to Czechoslovakia from 1989 to 1992, according to CNN.

“She captured the affections of millions around the world by her endearing performances on the silver screen as a young girl, but I also admired Shirley for her selfless service to our country later in her life,” former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, who appointed her to Czechoslovakia, said in a statement released by his spokesman. “In both roles, she truly lifted people up and earned not only a place in our hearts — but also our enduring respect.

“Barbara and I send our condolences to Shirley’s family and countless fans around the world.”

Temple Black’s family made a statement that they “salute her for a life of remarkable achievements as an actor, as a diplomat, and most importantly as our beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and adored wife of fifty-five years of the late and much missed Charles Alden Black.”

Temple was awarded two lifetime achievement awards for her performing career, survived breast cancer in 1972 and in 1958, returned to the screen in an hourlong show, “Shirley Temple’s Storybook.”

A remembrance book is available to share memories on shirleytemple.com.

Indie pick of the week: Emi McDade

Stephanie Sokol for The Pit

Self-described as an “acoustic singer-songwriter with soul-jazz influence,” Emi McDade has a strong and emotional voice, almost Amy Lee meets Sarah McLachlan.

Emi McDade is a soul-jazz acoustic singer from Glouchester, England. Photo/EMI MCDADE

Emi McDade is a soul-jazz acoustic singer from Glouchester, England. Photo/EMI MCDADE

Music has always been a big part of the 16-year-old’s life. Emi, who grew up in a small town near Glouchester, England, came from a family of classical musicians.

Mozart and Beethoven were celebrated in the McDade household, and her mother ran the music school in town, Beauchamp. Though Emi was home-schooled, she spent a lot of time there, and considers it a second home.

“As cliché as it sounds, music is everything,” McDade said. “Music can do powerful things – it can give you the courage to make a difficult decision, it can make you go out and tell “that person” you love them. It can make you put the past behind you and move on with your life. That, to me, is something incredible.”

On  her Youtube channel, Emi shares her own songs as well as covers. Growing up in “the middle of nowhere,” Emi has an appreciation for nature, and when she seeks inspiration for music, she heads to  her “thinking spot”– a tree stump in the woods– to ponder life.

“Every time I write a new song, I write it differently to the last,” Emi said. “It might be a phrase someone said, it might be hitting a wrong chord when I’m supposed to be practicing scales, it might be the way the sunlight shines, scattering a thousand diamonds through the sky in the morning frost, or hell, I might just be feeling hormonal and want to dwell in my own misery.”

Emi’s strong emotion is channeled into her songs, many of which deal with lost love. “Broken Lullaby” was a song she wrote taking a different angle on a break-up song, writing from the perspective of a cheater losing their love and realizing what they lost– something she had not been through but wanted to explore through a song.

Aside from that track, she said most of her other music is autobiographical, like “Do You Still Love Her,” which Emi said was “about a boy.”

Emi started playing gigs about a year ago, and mainly performed around Glouchester. Some performances include BBC Introducing, Sportbeat Festival, Tall Ships Festival, Brockfest, ‘Our Big Gig’ and Oxjam.

This year she will be extending her tour, including performances at The Fleece in Bristol on February 22 and The Wardrobe in Leeds April 20. She will also release her debut single and EP in the next couple months.

“I’d be willing to bet that most people you might ask would tell you there’s one song, maybe a few, that has gotten them through some difficult point in their life. What I strive to do is to be “that song,” even just for one person,” Emi said.

For more of Emi, check out her website, follow the singer on Twitter @emi_mcdade or like her Facebook page.

Say it ain’t snow: I’ve had enough

Life's a cup of tea

When I was younger, snow was a novelty. I used to get excited for snow days, doing a “snow dance” of sorts and anxiously awaiting the call that school would be closed. I loved playing in the snow with friends, making snowmen, animals and forts, and having snow ball fights. It used to be fun. It used to be more tolerable.

Then, this year happened. All of these “polar vortexes” and blizzards with names like “Hercules” and “Nika.” First of all, I don’t understand the whole polar vortex concept, because I thought vortexes were circles, like the eye of a hurricane. And also on that note, why did the Weather Channel decide that last year these snowstorms were worthy of having an identity? They also act like each one is the end of the world, with breaking news alerts telling us we are going to get another inch or two.

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NORTH SHORE BENGALS BEAT CEDAR COVE COUGARS AT KITTEN BOWL I

The Inaugural Kitten Bowl. Photo/HALLMARK

The Inaugural Kitten Bowl. Photo/HALLMARK

Stephanie Sokol for The Pit

Things got frisky this afternoon at one of the most important moments in sports history, the Inaugural Hallmark ChannelKitten Bowl. The North Shore Bengals took home the first ever Kitten Bowl Championship, beating the Cedar Cove Cougars 24-20.

The first game brought hard work with The Bengals’ Ferrell Owens and Manti Meow leading their team to victory, defeating the Last Hope Lions 40-35, after the Lions faced a hairball loss at the end.

Next up, the Cedar Cove Cougars versed Home and Family Felines to find out who would go up against the Bengals. With Tomcat Brady’s unending strength on the field, Cougars took the game.

Despite the pawsitive cattitude of their star running-cat, the Cougars fell short when they went up against the Bengals. The game was close though, with strong purrformances by both teams.

The Bengals seemed to be in the lead at 13-10 following the first half, but the Cougars pounced back, with the lead going back and forth until the Bengals’ strength and purrsistance on the cat grass earned them the championship title within the last moments of the game.

Though many kittens played with purrfection at tonight’s game, showing their strength on the Hallmark field, the Kitten Bowl left it up to fans’  vote to decide the MVK (Most Valuable Kitten) of the Night.

Indie pick of the week: Rachel and the Kings

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The sound of Rachel and the Kings is a dynamic mix of alternative rock with a hint of country and a touch of symphonic soul.

Rachel James is the lead singer of Denver, Colo. band Rachel and the Kings. Photo/ RAT KINGS

Rachel James is the lead singer of Denver, Colo. band Rachel and the Kings. Photo/ RAT KINGS

Fronted by female vocalist and classically-trained pianist Rachel James, who encompasses the emotional and vocal capacity of Carrie Underwood, Haley Williams and Alicia Keys the Denver, the band formed 1.5 years ago.

“I started classical piano training at the age of 5 and had been singing for as long as my parents could remember me talking,” Rachel said. “I grew up singing in choirs and competing in piano competitions. In high school I performed a lot but I also listened a lot. Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Tchaikovsky and Chopin. If it was a good song, I loved it.”

Other members Dave Preston, Noah Matthews, Ian Short and John Powers are the “Kings”. The five artists have diverse music taste, with favorites including The Beatles, Bill Withers, Tori Amos and Jimmy Hendrix.

As Rachel put it, they all just love great music.

“This music is inspired from my own story and the stories of the people around me,” Rachel said. “The loves in my life have made a huge impact on my art. I want to write things that are good for the human heart or inspiring for the mind. I think you could call it indie-symphonic-pop-rock. But everyone has their own terms.”

“Not Giving Up,” from 2013 album “Tonic,” talks about pushing through and continuing on, even when the going gets rough.

“I wrote that song at a very dark time in my life, when I could decide to keep getting up, or just stay down,” Rachel said. “For my son, for myself, for my family, for my faith, I decided I wanted to get back up. I wanted to love others and I wanted to love life. It was my reminder.”

One of the first shows for the band was “Gimme the Gig II,” a competition that they were surprised and honored to win so early on. Since then, Rachel and the Kings have toured throughout Colorado, including opening for Third Eye Blind at First Bank Center.

According to Rachel, 2014 will bring big things for RAT Kings. New music will be released with collaborations that she is excited about. Listeners can look for a new track and headlining show in March.

“I hope they can take something with them. If they can see a part of themselves in the art, then I will feel satisfied,” Rachel said. ”It doesn’t have to mean to them what it means to me, just as long as it means something.”

Video for “Not Giving Up.”

Want more Rachel and the Kings?

Follow the band on Twitter: @RAT_Kings

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