How Do You Clean Your Head Out?

Posted in Uncategorized on October 19, 2014 by dbuff82

How exactly does one clear out the noise in their head?

I’ve asked this question since I started writing. I was 12 years old and wanted to write about baseball. I wasn’t a troubled kid but I had energy and a will to express myself that couldn’t work face to face. So I went to the page. I had terrible handwriting by the way. It was like reading coded letters from a guy with 2 fingers and floating in outer space. So I eventually found a keyboard and went to work. Life has never been the same since. I don’t just write to write because it’s fun starting at a computer screen. I write to clear the noise out of my head. There’s nothing more therapeutic for me than writing and drinking coffee. A hot cuppa joe and a way to exit the real world and just put something into words. But…it doesn’t always work.

Sometimes, the noise in your head is so loud that a physical activity is required. A run. A workout. A trip to the batting cages. Something to clear out the noise.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Let’s give it a try today because my head is so full that it could heat up a bag of corn.

The Cards are done and I am back to that normal feeling of having free time in the evening. A baseball schedule is gone. The everyday thought of where the game is and who is pitching and what will happen. With no offense to hockey or football, baseball players go at it daily. Hockey takes 3-5 off days and football is once a week. Pardon my letdown but it isn’t the same.

This is where movies come in though, right? Those 2 hour escapist exercises where you climb onto a tank with Brad Pitt or you stand between Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Durvall in a courtroom? Maybe you stay at home and go back to the 1930’s and hit up Boardwalk Empire or climb a ladder with Chicago Fire. Something right? Man those people look so clean and sharp even though they are supposed to be fighting fire, avoid gunfire or just waking up in bed. That can’t be real….

I know. I should go outside. Go to the park. Feel the fresh air on your face. Pick a pumpkin or apple. Take some pictures. Run around. Be cool and free. Take the kids. Be a family. Put up decorations. That might work too.

The existential crisis of all people is finding worth in every single day you are here. Some attach that to God. Some attach it to what happens on Earth(haven’t checked out Mars yet so I am sorry Mars people or things). What are we doing here? Are we doing it right? Once you have found something, how hard is it to keep it or do right by it? That is the noise in my head. Am I doing enough and am I doing it right?

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Does Protesting Really Work?

Posted in Random Fire with tags , on October 10, 2014 by dbuff82

I was inspired by a fine rant on Facebook from Jason Hall(go on there and search for him) and it made me tear into this subject. What is it about protests that makes people think they are changing things for the better? Disagree all you want but has something happened at a protest that has produced positive results on a terrible situation? If so, please provide the name and date.

This all started when Michael Brown was shot and killed by Darren Wilson, a police officer on duty. Everyone instantly(before reading any real facts about the incident) jumped to their conclusions and joined their side of the race wars. What happened to Brown was tragic(depending on whose account you read) but the idea of rioting, looting and turning a city into a black hole on the United States map couldn’t have been the logical answer to the injustice. What did that say about our city that whenever something bad happens, people don’t attempt to stop the crimes yet only increase it. I want to know what happened to my city and how it got so dark.

Soon enough, baseball games had protesters outside in the streets because that’s right, people going to see America’s National Past time will love to see people shouting and getting in their way. That’s great. Or, let’s stand next to I-70 and try to block traffic because every single protester there knows EXACTLY what happened between Brown and Wilson. Let’s just say that Wilson did mess up and pull the trigger and was wrong; Does that really mean torch the city, shout at others and neglect the justice system? No. That isn’t the right way. People write their own rules when it comes to protesting or responding to tragedy.

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The Fight For Equality Continues

Posted in Uncategorized on October 5, 2014 by dbuff82

It seems to me that the fight for equality in this world is a war that wages on throughout our lives. Long ago, African Americans simply wanted to live the same way as whites and other genders as one world and nation. There are incidents in Ferguson that have raised hands on the racial tension that still thrives today. No matter how hard a certain group of activists fought long ago, the war is still there, breathing. For me, it isn’t the only unfortunate fight. There is the same sex marriage debate that wages on. There is another terrible injustice being waged at this very moment. Equality among genders. A solidarity if you will. It is a fight that Emma Watson is taking upon herself to make right.

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I know what you are thinking. Here is some actress trying to soak up some headlines and get some feel good time with the world. Hey, look at me, I am a good person. I call bullshit on those people. All this does is tighten the lens on Watson’s career. You see, she thrives on the attention of men in her movies, so this could be a risk. A lot of men won’t like her movement. Trust me, there are a lot of males still living in the Mad Men age, “Draping up” relationships and marriages. Hey, ladies, do this and do that or else I am gone. That still happens here in 2014.

I stand up in the name of feminism. I think women deserve equal rights, in the workplace or the home or wherever the setting needs to be laid out. I was raised by two great parents, but my mother is a saint. She lives for her kids and she takes care of sick kids at Children’s Hospital. She also cares for my brother. I grew up around strong women. My grandmother, Henrieta or “Meme” as I called her, was a strong voice in my life. She preached patience, goodness in the soul and made sure I was a nice and gentle person. She fought off the hate in people when she was around them. My wife, Rachel, works 60 hours a week and is also a great mother to my three year old son, Vincent.

There isn’t equality for women in the workplace. This is the tip of the iceberg for the campaign. Men still make more money. I don’t really have to break out the numbers and scales for you.  For a lot of men that I have been around, this seems to be the way they want it.  The men make the dough an the women stay home. Screw that. I don’t see it that way. My wife makes more money than me and there isn’t anything wrong with it. As long as my son is taken care of and a roof stands over our heads, I can keep breathing and walking. You don’t need to measure pride up against survival to get the point here.

I take a certain pride in knowing my wife can dominate a male driven market, and that is sales. Give it a name. Car sales. House sales. Computer sales. My wife sells tile and is making a name for herself in an industry dominated by men. I am proud of my wife. I don’t need to sleep comfy at night thinking my writing and warehouse work are just as strong. Why is it in life that men and women have to be measured in terms of who is better at something? Why not find the best person, male or female, for a job instead of judging it on gender? That’s still a problem.

Racism was a huge problem. Same sex marriage still has a problem winning over the religious folks because the invisible man they believe in told them it’s wrong. Gender Equality doesn’t seem too hard to understand but today, it is still an issue.

HeForShe doesn’t just speak about women in the workplace. It stands for all violence and abuse towards girls and women. There’s simply too much of it. You don’t have to know who Ray Rice is to know about domestic abuse towards women. It happens every hour of every day. What’s wrong here? Why is there still so much violence towards women? Don’t ask Stephen Smith about this.

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Tom Hardy Carries The Drop

Posted in Film-Addict Pieces with tags , , , on September 19, 2014 by dbuff82

“There is no devil. I think some people die here and they go see God and he tells them no, you can’t come in. You will be alone…forever.”-Bob Saginowski

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Tom Hardy is amazing and carries the latest Dennis Lehane joint, The Drop. The movie is equal parts gangster thriller, subtle romance and quiet character study. It will be known as James Gandfolfini’s last completed work but let it be known that the film belongs to Hardy, rocking ANOTHER accent here as Bob Saginowski, a quiet calculating man who tends bar for Gandolfini’s Marv, a old lion still trying to play the criminal hustler game.

Michael R. Roskam’s direction, along with Lehane’s adaptation of his short story entitled Animal Shelter, keeps you off balance. The first half of the film is slow building and resembles the increasingly fast shaking of a tree. Little plot points fall to the ground throughout the 105 minute running time, but you don’t really know the characters until about halfway through. That’s good filmmaking and even better acting.

You have no clue what to make of Hardy’s Bob and that is the way it should be in this pot boiling thriller. Is he slow witted or slow? Is he up to something or is he just plain? Why is he so quiet yet observant? Hardy spins a cobweb around his character and keeps the viewer a distance. Like Russell Crowe or Clive Owen at their best, Hardy lets his facial expressions do the heavy lifting. A stare down with Belgium marvel Matthias Schoenaerts contains about four lines of dialogue but the way the two men stare at each other makes it seem like paragraphs are being recited. In this movie, dialogue doesn’t have to spoken for actions to be expressed. The actors don’t need to bore us with words. I felt like I knew these guys in one life and had no clue they existed in another. There is a darkness in Hardy’s Bob that I couldn’t put my finger on until the climax of the film, when a bomb suddenly detonates inside the plot and springs the film towards its final resting place.

John Ortiz plays a perceptive detective. Noomi Rapace plays the woman that acts as the cartilage between Hardy’s lost soul and Schoenaerts rebellious felon. The acting here is seamless but it can’t be said enough how key Lehane’s writing is. This is the same guy who created the worlds of Mystic River, Shutter Island and Gone Baby Gone. Worlds that looked like a rabbit’s nest and bar full of criminals and degenerates but instead full of regretful sad people. His writing evokes classic Boston underground noir and his script places gold at the feet of the actors.

I have a good feeling Hardy could play any role and do it well. There are a handful of actors who create a connection with the audience ANY time they work. A group of performers who give a shit and respect that moviegoers pay with their money and their time. Hardy gets that. He doesn’t waste films. He doesn’t take films off or phone it in. Look at his work in Locke, Inception, Bronson, or Lawless. The different characters that he inhabits and brings to life. I think Hardy could follow me around and after a couple of days, play me in a movie. He is an actor who other actors want to watch work. Gandolfini plays a much sadder version of Tony Soprano here and is dynamite, but even he knows this movie belongs to Hardy. Bob’s relationship and connection with a lost pit bull sets the the groundwork of the plot, but Hardy never plays it like its a device. He treats it like it is real and makes it work.

The Drop is a good dose of September cinema. If you have been waiting for something REAL to land in theaters that makes you think a little, doesn’t show its hand too early and feels authentic, The Drop is your ride. It’s gritty, heartfelt and quite sinister. Towards the end, when the plot comes full circle and Hardy shows his true colors, you will know something special is going on.

The Drop doesn’t beg for your attention like some films. It lays bread crumbs and you come running.

 

 

9/11: A Test of How We React

Posted in Random Fire with tags , , , on September 12, 2014 by dbuff82

9/11 Memorial in NYCI won’t keep you long today. A short quick evening dose.

13 years ago today I was a young man at Mizzou who didn’t have a class until 11am(psychology). I had no care in the world. No wife. No kid. I hadn’t met Rae yet(even though she lurked somewhere on the campus). I woke up on September 11, 2001 to an image on a television that I didn’t understand. I thought someone slipped on a Michael Bay movie. It wasn’t a movie. It was real. It was painful. That whole day didn’t change us as a nation. It pushed us closer to the acknowledgement that some things are out of our control. It reminded us that life isn’t about the blows that we take. It’s about the reaction we give forth next. 13 years later, I still feel for the families that lost loved ones. Fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, nephews, cousins, or friends.

The human body is made to feel these things even when it isn’t directly affected. We are built to relate to one another’s condition. I can tell you this. 9/11 didn’t destroy us. It was a test. A test of how much we can depend on each other, without depending on our military or government to speak for us. A test of how we react. How we react to a horrific change in our culture and the world we live in. Never forget people. Never ever forget what happened that day. It’s hard for me to forget because of all the innocent lives that we were lost in a matter of hours. Tell your kids about it. Talk about it with your friends. In a day and age where athletes misbehavior and the latest actions of celebrities crowds the news waves, don’t forget about 9/11 and your feelings on it. 9/11 put everyone on watch and reminded us how powerless this world can be. We were knocked down that day by an evil few could understand. We eventually got up.

At the top of my “bucket list” is visiting the memorial and seeing the Freedom Tower. Walking around the fountains. Touching the names engraved on the border of the fountains, where the World Trade Center Twin Towers once stood tall. Taking Vinny and talking to him about what happened that day. That is the least I can do. Telling my son about the lives lost that day, the reality learned and the way the country reacted. The blue collar people. The high class community. The poor. The rich. A lot of people lost important people in their life that day. The more we remember them, the better off we are.

Thanks for reading and have a good night folks.

Ray Rice Broke A Sacred Rule And Pays For It

Posted in Uncategorized on September 8, 2014 by dbuff82

You get taught at a very young age to not strike a woman under any circumstance. It’s just wrong. Same as stealing, lying and cursing in church. There’s wrong and then there is very wrong. Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice didn’t just punch his wife in an elevator. He knocked her out cold and dragged her off the elevator. Up until today, people couldn’t see the actual punches or the many Ray threw at his wife. All they saw was the aftermath. In new video on TMZ, you can see Rice’s wife walk into the elevator with her husband and get into a small fight. What results is Ray punching his wife out. It’s ugly. It’s wrong. It makes me want to punch a wall. 

My wife and I are part Italian. We fire venom at each other frequently and have so for our 12 years of being a couple. We hold no vocal punches but we have never struck one another. I have gotten seriously and dangerously mad at my wife but I have never hit her. This isn’t the movies. This isn’t Goodfellas. This isn’t the old ages. There is nothing right about striking a woman. Ray Rice will never be able to live this down. Ever. People will say, “Well, Michael Vick tortured dogs, and he was brought back.” That’s apples and oranges. Rice will be back but he lost respect from me forever. 

My son Vincent hit a girl in daycare weeks ago. Vin is going to be three years old on Sunday. Still, I grabbed his hand and smacked it. I yelled at him. He has to know that is wrong. He may be young and not see the difference when it comes to hitting a boy or a girl, but that is what parenting is all about. Informing your kid at an early age that some things are just bad. 

Rice flunked a chance to apologize weeks ago and only did better in his second press conference. He can come to a podium tomorrow but it won’t be for the Ravens or any other team. Baltimore cut Rice and the NFL suspended him indefinitely. I would assume he won’t be back all season. If so, this is a huge win for Roger Goodell and the league. Show the sternness and make an example out of Rice. They put a rule in play last week about this kind of personal conduct, but go ahead and get it right now. This will only be good for the future of this league.

There isn’t much more to say here. Have a good day folks. Men, next time you even think about striking a woman, remember this. Once you hit a woman, you can never take it back. Ever. It is a stain on your soul.

-DLB

Ray Donovan Loses Its Creator For Third Season

Posted in Film-Addict Pieces, TV Show Spotlight with tags on September 5, 2014 by dbuff82

ray-donovan-season-2-premiereAnn Biderman makes tough guy shows. When a show with her name on it starts, one can expect heavy handed testosterone and convincing action. From NYPD Blue writing to creating Southland to bringing hard nosed fixer Ray Donovan to Showtime, she has delivered a product that is expected to piss vinegar and crank up the macho primal side of men bent by their past and pushed hard by their current conditions. She doesn’t create soft characters or plots. That is why I find it troubling and sad that she is leaving Ray Donovan after this second season. The third season, which starts production next year, will have a new showrunner. Biderman will stay on as a creative consultant but depart for her next tough guy series. There was said to be financial overruns that contributed to the decision.

I am not sure I like this news. To me, the show is at a creative peak after last week’s episode, “Walk This Way”. In one hour, every demon inside the South Boston family of the Donovan’s came home to roost. In a birthday party for the young son Conor, you had drinking, fighting, shouting, cheating and tons of bad history being brought to the table. Star Liev Schreiber directed the episode and delivered some of his best acting in the series to date. Schreiber keeps digging into this role like a boxer digging into his opponent’s body with stiff hooks. The work from Jon Voight, Dash Mihok, Paula Malcomson and others was top notch. The second season has been  because the show is more open to intriguing plot details. The first season was strung around Ray’s raging war against his father, Mickey(Voight, Emmy worthy from the start). This season, the history of the family and outside threats(Hank Azaria’s FBI agent) and internal dysfunction(the sale of the gym) has come front and center. With Biderman departing, I am not sure a new showrunner comes in and sets up shop. Continue reading

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