A year or so ago, I got to know an old high school friend Mario Mathon. He was an ambitious young man and fellow Italian. As young wise guys, we shoot for the stars and wait for permission later. Mario and I were admirers of the sweet science of boxing and slaves to a good cup of coffee, and he asked me to write something up about a band he was starting up. Along with Amonte Henry on drums and Jordan Mays on guitar, Mathon wanted to take the world by storm by plunging listeners into a world of soul, R&B and storytelling. The kind of music where you forget that your feet have to touch the ground and you literally take flight. It’s hard to find a single genre for Mathon’s band, 1917 Soundtrack. His band doesn’t settle for one sound. They take a road trip through the different floors of music and don’t need an elevator. If you have the chance to be in a studio recording room with Henry’s mad drums and Mays’ electric guitar streaks, you don’t need to worry about stopping. On December 26th on Channel 11 in St. Louis, Missouri, 1917 Soundtrack gets a spotlight. What the hell am I talking about? Let the man behind the idea, Mario himself, sell it to you. Continue reading
Let me admit up front that I am a Manny Pacquiao fan. I have always admired the fighter and held his best interests close to my chest. In sports, it’s easy to pick favorites and attach some emotion to their ups and downs. It’s part of the addiction. So when I say Manny needs to accept Floyd Mayweather’s terms for a May 2nd fight in 2015, I mean it. There is no way out for Pacquiao here. Say yes or forever be a coward.
This fight is the only fight casual boxing fans want to see. Hardcore fight fans also want to see it. It would launch 200-300 million dollars in revenue. Las Vegas would light up. Showtime and HBO would come together and promote it across billboards, buildings, and outer space satellite stations. If this were 1975, the fight would have happened. Back then, when two fighters wanted to beat the shit out of each other, it happened quick because the suits didn’t come into play until after the fight when the money was being collected. These days, it’s political, slow moving and horribly impersonal. Boxing as a sport is one big hesitation.
I won’t place blame on one side here. Each garners a decent amount. Floyd started out with requesting Olympic style drug testing, which only stands for a mind control tactic of his. Boxing has done a good job of weeding out cheaters so why ask for advanced testing for one bout. Come on. Manny balked and it broke down. Next time, Floyd went to jail because he is a moron and the fight didn’t happen. The next time, Floyd wanted a huge portion of the cash up front and Manny balked. Then, Manny lost twice and the hopes seriously depleted. Throughout it all, I place the most blame on Top Rank/Pacquaio promoter Bob Arum. He used to represent Floyd and they don’t like each other anymore. Arum also has a tricky way of setting up boring and lopsided fights between his own fighters. Arum isn’t a cancer in the sport but he’s a pain in the ass here. He is making it hard for this fight to get made.
When I heard about legendary goaltender Martin Brodeur possibly putting on the Note and blocking a few shots for the Blues, I didn’t know what to think. I grabbed my legs to see if they were awake. I refreshed the page. Looked around. Here is a guy with 688 wins and 113 playoff wins. That alone gets you inside any door of a team in need of a goaltender. That is a passport and excess into any “big deal” club in the league. Marty is legit and his skills didn’t diminish in 2013-14 with the New Jersey Devils. He was 19-14 with a 2.51 goals against average and a save percentage of .901. He is 42 years old and the Devils chose Cory Schneider over Brodeur. The team he spent 22 years with guarding their pipes behind their players wanted to part ways. He received no offers in the offseason. He was probably ice fishing on a pond somewhere in Montreal when his cell phone rang this week that the Blues may need a body in net.
That’s how it happens in sports. You could be holding a clipboard one minute and suddenly be asked to carry the weight of the world during the next minute. You could be sitting on your couch thinking about painting the walls in your living room and suddenly be called by a General Manager. Blues GM Doug Armstrong had no problem bringing Marty in. Here are a few reasons why it works.
Forget the location of the Rams games in 2015 and beyond. Let’s talk about the quarterback position. Who plays this spot after this year? Another year where three different quarterbacks are slotted in as the lead arm and neither of them impress or survive long enough to make us ponder their contract situation? The Rams are mind boggling and inconsistent, but the biggest leak exists at quarterback. In this day and age, in this game, a solid quarterback is needed. You can be a ball moving runner like Russell Wilson, a management guy like Joe Flacco or Alex Smith or you can be a gunner like Peyton Manning. If you want to make it to the playoffs or the Super Bowl, a team must have confidence in their quarterback. The Rams don’t have it on the field right now and may not have it on their roster at all. It’s a depressing state to be in for so many seasons, especially after the drafting of Sam Bradford in 2010.
Music and movies can make a great couple when the right filmmaker is at the controls. Music can elevate scenes inside a flick and take them to another place while transforming the film from a visual pleasure into something with feeling and emotion. John Carney provided audiences with a taste of this wicked combination with Once, a film about two Irish singers who fall in love during the production of an album. It was also about two lost souls coming together and using every ounce of ability they had in order to recapture their lives. Carney takes that easy going formula and broadens the horizons with Begin Again, a tremendously heartfelt film starring Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley. He switches the locale from London to New York and inserts real life musicians Adam Levine and Ceelo Green into the fold.
The plot is simple. Dan Mulligan(Ruffalo) is a down on his luck music producer and he is on the edge of dropping everything when he stumbles into a bar and hears Greta(Knightley) spinning an acoustic to a clearly uninterested bar of young souls. Carney is a genius here, as he shows Dan coming to the center of the room, drunk and staggering yet clearly inspired and feeling rejuvenated. Greta is simply sitting on a stool singing while producing some light rhythm with the guitar, but Dan sees the drums kicking up in his head and he pictures a cello and violin getting involved into the process. Right before our eyes, Carney is showing us how a simple page of lyrics and a voice can be the beginning of something special. As he tells Greta later, this is where greatness happens and one can see clearly. When you are your lowest point, drunk and seemingly out of options. Dan sees something in Greta and together, they do something nobody has done before. Create a live album around New York City. Everything else is icing on the cake.
The dialogue produced by Carney is spot on. It’s brutal, real and doesn’t ignore the cutthroat mindset that many people run into when working in the music industry. The cast handles it extremely well, with Hailee Steinfield, Catherine Keener, and Mos Def contributing solid supporting work along with Levine in a role that may not turn him into a movie star but reveals that there is more to him than Maroon 5. James Corden provides the epic comic relief as Greta’s friend from London who makes NYC seem a little less serious. Corden is a Tony Award winning performer and brings an array of abilities to the table.
Last weekend, I woke up to a text from a friend. She said there was some commotion relating to a website I wrote for, Arch City Sports, and I needed to look into it. Once I saw the Twitter feed and the two fellow St. Louis Cardinals writers and friends talking about a certain article on ACS, I knew exactly what happened and what I had to do.
In this day and age, where a war wages on between print and digital journalism, page views are the new drug for websites. Page views above all else. I wrote for ACS for over a year and liked the flow of traffic my articles got. I liked the interaction I got on Facebook and the comments that grew from the reads. The page views weren’t bad either. However, last weekend, the question rose straight out of the ground. What is more important? Journalistic integrity or page views? If the answer takes more than one moment of thought to an honest and ambitious writer, stay away from keyboards and computers. When in doubt, my fellow hungry and unpaid reporters and prose dispensers, maintain a high amount of integrity.
Long live the unfiltered action film designed just for the junkies of the genre. I grew up on Stallone, Arnold and Van Damme policing my cinematic streets. I was 17 years old when Keanu Reeves starred in the Matrix, and the rumor is true. That film changed the way movie fans looked at and critiqued action films. Reeves and his stunt double from the Matrix trilogy, Chad Stahelski, have come together to make John Wick, a furiously fun action film that qualifies as the best knock em sock em exercise I have seen in 2014 and possibly the past few years. Directed with a reckless abandon and a need to resist the urge to be realistic, John Wick’s tale is simple. Wick is a retired hitman who is living peacefully away from a world that once knew him as being the most deadly killer around. When a group of thugs(morons) come into his life and take something very dear to him, he makes a comeback. That’s it.
“John Wick isn’t the boogeyman. He is the man you send to kill the fucking boogeyman.”
Here are 10 reasons why you should see John Wick in theaters.
10) The film is 97 minutes long. A lean, mean and completely electrifying experience that doesn’t ask for too much of your time and doesn’t make you check your phone once. It’s like Wick himself. It gets to the point rather quickly and keeps moving like one of his bullets do as they are fired from his Smith and Weston handgun. This thing has one thing on its mind and that’s kicking ass. Long speeches and boring love stories have no place in this film except if it is a flashback.