The Daily Dose: In case you missed it

What you missed this week from my work across the globe.

Every Saturday, I will travel back to where it all started and provide a weekly dose of links. The stories I wrote that you may have missed or skipped over. The group of eyes I have assembled here are the ones who have been with me since the beginning so I want to keep it all here at least one day a week. What happened while I was away?

The Cubs are a win away from a World Series. First time in eight years. The Indians are in the World Series for the first time in 19 years. The Cards are watching. The Blues are slumping. The Rams are dumping. Most importantly, the fall season is here and tonight is chili cook-off. So here are the doses you may have missed.



The Accountant movie review

A look at Cardinals coming and going this winter Continue reading “The Daily Dose: In case you missed it”

Jose Fernandez: Baseball lost a true stud 

Miami Marlins righthanded phenom Jose Fernandez threw his last pitch on Tuesday, September 20th against the Washington Nationals. He completed eight innings and struck out 12 batters from one of Major League Baseball’s best lineups. The kind of game baseball appreciators would have seen for years from the talented kid who was always smiling. 

On September 25th, he died tragically in a boating accident. He was 24 years old. Far too young to die. When you least expect it, death and life come together in an ungodly fashion and take a bright young person away. Nearly two years ago, the fine young St. Louis Cardinals talent Oscar Taveras died in a drunk driving car accident. The feeling this morning is eerily similar. A shot to the stomach. 

The baseball world lost a true stud. What is a stud? When someone is merely doing their job and it becomes an event to watch them do that job, that person is a stud. When Fernandez pitched, it was an event. Akin to a Saturday night PPV boxing match or playoff game in October. 
On July 28th, Fernandez faced the Cardinals for the last time and surrendered 5 runs and lost. A fellow Cuban star connected to Fernandez’s path, Aledmys Diaz, hit a home run off of him. It was a true event to watch the two childhood friends square off. You could take away the other players on the field and leave the pitcher, catcher, and the hitter standing between them at the plate and it would be electrifying entertainment. 

There should have been more Fernandez and Diaz showdowns. More back and forth talent contests. Fastballs clocking in close to 100 mph taking their chances with premium bat speed. Man, that’s just tough to swallow. 

That is the kicker. We will never know what Fernandez could have been and it’s painful. He had the makings of Felix Hernandez with a dash of Max Scherzer and Carlos Martinez thrown in for good measure. His MLB career will conclude with a 38-17 record, 2.58 ERA, and 589 strikeouts in just 471.1 innings. His ERA+ was 150, which is ridiculously unfair to hitters in any ballpark. He averaged 12.5 strikeouts per nine innings. 

He was the kind of pitcher who made the best hitters in baseball glare back at him after a strikeout as if they were mentally calling the baseball police for the pitcher  being especially mean to their bats. Fernandez was a special talent. 

More so, he was a budding family man. His young wife is expecting their child and Fernandez couldn’t have been more excited. In an Instagram post showing off his wife’s beautiful baby bump, he talked about the journey a kid would take them on and preached, “family is first.” He wasn’t just a talented athlete. Fernandez had his priorities straight and was a good guy. 

He was heavily involved in a charity foundation that fought cancer and raised awareness for its victims called Live Like Bella. He wanted to do good things. This is a guy who saved his mother from drowning when they were defecting from Cuba. It didn’t matter if there was a baseball diamond or not, Fernandez brought his A game every single day of his life. 

Now, he is gone. Way too soon. 24 years old isn’t long enough for anyone, but Fernandez made a dent in his short yet robust life. 

I’ll remember the fiery competitor that was easy to admire and respect. 

I’ll remember the smile that illuminated a packed stadium every time it stretched. 

I’ll remember the look on a hitter’s face when he was overmatched by a Fernandez offering. 

Most of all, I’ll remember the kid’s heart that seemed larger than life. 

Jose Fernandez was on top of the world, and now he is out of it for good. 

Take a few moments today. Watch some highlights. Watch him pitch. It will make you feel better about the game of baseball. 

‘The Girl on a Train’: Blunt elevates material

Guest critic Landon Burris reviews the new thriller.

**I’d like to welcome film critic Landon Burris to the Dose. He will be supplying the site with a few movie reviews to keep the ceiling from getting too dusty. He’s a guy who knows his movies and grades them with a blunt instrument. Here are his thoughts on the latest cinema treats. 


Movie – The Girl on the Train
Rating –
Runtime –
112 minutes
Directed by –
Tate Taylor
  Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Edgar Ramirez, Lisa Kudrow and Allison Janney

Image result for girl on a train movie

Based on the pulpy Paula Hawkins novel that can be found at any grocery store, Wal-green’s or, appropriately enough, train station, The Girl on the Train is an adult thriller that is never as sexy or clever as it wants to be but still manages to be an entertaining, and, occasionally, affecting piece of cinema.  Carrying the film is Brit actress Emily Blunt, whose portrayal as the titular girl that likes to ride the train, Rachel, elevates the material.

Working against the film’s favor are the multiple comparisons, warranted or not, to 2014’s outstanding Gone GirlThe Girl on the Train is the highest profile film of its sort since Gone Girl, and the similar themes and Universal’s marketing beg for the association.  However, The Girl on the Train simply does not have as clever of a script, and it’s director, Tate Taylor (best known for 2011’s The Help) is unable to deliver much more than the sterilized, squeaky clean suburban look and creates a mystery by withholding key plot details, and even then most will figure out the film’s twist before the big reveal.

Granted, the film is still quite entertaining, and its initial premise is fairly clever.  Rachel is a sad and depressed woman, who gets her kicks by watching the lives of others out the windows of a train she takes to and from Manhattan on a daily basis.  She zeroes in on the seemingly idealistic life of a couple in a beautiful home (played by Haley Bennett and Luke Evans), and is genuinely interested in what’s happening to them.  It all seems strange enough, and becomes stranger when it’s revealed that Rachel used to live two houses over from the one she’s obsessing over, where her ex-husband Tom Watson (Theroux) lives with his new wife Anna (Ferguson) and their infant daughter.

Complicating things is Rachel’s alcoholism and seeming obsession with her ex, whom she regularly calls and texts, usually during states of excessive drunkenness or even periods of blacking out.  Rachel’s life is in such shambles that she crashes on a friend’s couch and even showed up drunk at Tom’s house one night, attempting to steal his baby in the process.  However, Rachel is the film’s heroine, even as she humiliates herself and pours vodka into her water bottles, one cannot help but pity her and hope things work out.

While Blunt is never deglamorized enough to look like a truly hopeless alcoholic (though her nose is a rosy red hue for almost the entirety of the proceedings), her struggles and pain as she copes with her problems are perhaps the film’s best assets.  She’s a sympathetic character, and her connections to the film’s main mystery, where a girl Megan, the one who Rachel fixates on during her train commutes, disappears without a trace, make Rachel an unreliable and tragic witness.  That Rachel can barely remember certain events due to her intoxication certainly does not help either.

The Girl on the Train dabbles in issues and topics that are often overlooked or ignored, outside of its protagonist being a serious alcoholic, the film also touches on themes of domestic and verbal abuse, as well as women feeling like domestic prisoners.  That said, the film’s all white, privileged leads (who all, even down to Rachel, seem to have enough money to not care) and muddled story structure prevent it from being as poignant as it should be, and the film’s “shocking” conclusion borders more on camp than it does legitimate chills.  Emily Blunt’s performance and the bells and whistles of being a major studio picture keep Girl on the Train from being a Lifetime movie of the week, and the movie is not a terrible way to spend two hours in the theater, but one cannot help to think that it could have been something more.

Rating: 3/5(worth the trip)

Fallen cop should make us be better

Blake Snyder may be gone, but he can teach us a valuable lesson.

I didn’t know Blake Snyder. I feel like I got to know him today too late. He was a 33 year old cop with a wife and two year old kid. Cute, right? Blake was shot and killed this morning when he responded to a disturbance call in Affton. An 18 year old shot him point blank as Blake got out of his squad car, voicing the young man to show him his hands.

This is just terrible. Blake served St. Louis County police for four years and had a two year old son that won’t have a fucking clue why dad isn’t coming home tonight. In case you forgot or don’t have kids, two years old is when a kid starts to recognize, download, and capture every thought and reaction. They start to get it. I can’t imagine the pain and torment swirling through the Snyder home right now.


Death has zero fucks to give about your personal situation. It lands down and takes, and leaves before you can file a complaint. It’s a real son of a bitch. Right now, his wife is having to plan a memorial, funeral, and other things that she didn’t plan on this week.

Blake got up this morning thinking it was just going to be another day at the office. Strap on the badge, put on the gun, and protect and serve a little. He won’t go home tonight.

We live in such a violent, cruel, and unforgiving world with enough cynicism and hate to fill a galaxy. When are we going to come to grips with ourselves and the ability to end life? It’s a disease that is spreading. It has nothing to do with white and black and everything to do with right and wrong. White and black lives matter. All life matters. 

Do me a favor and try to be less cynical tomorrow when you wake up. If you have to be cynical, do it in the afternoon and evening briefly. Cut that shit away. Hug your kids. Shake a friend’s hand. Kiss your loved ones. Smile more than frown. Do something happy. Go to bed with a sentimental vibe. Look around. Appreciate the time. Some don’t get enough of it. Some barely get any at all.

It’s okay to be sentimental, folks. It basically means you are allowing yourself to be optimistic. We need more of that and less of the killing thing.

The difference between a smile and a sad face is a mere decision to make it that way.

Blake Snyder wasn’t a perfect man. There’s a fair probability that he could be a real asshole on occasion and maybe even perform some practical jokes. He was also a good man who, according to his chief of police, liked helping people and that is why he became a cop in his late 20’s and not his early 20’s.

There’s no doubt that I look at this painful tragedy and think of my own situation. I am a 34 year old man, one year older than Blake. I will be 35 in February. I have a wife and a five year old son. Over a decade ago, I applied to be a St. Louis County police officer. I aced the written tests. Passed the physical and the video analysis. I never heard back from them. I didn’t become a cop and instead entered the warehouse industry and eventually, writing and radio. I will be home with my family tonight.

Blake will not and that really screws me up. I sit back and imagine what his son is thinking. I imagine what Vin would think if I wasn’t coming home. During our 20 months in Arkansas, Vin and I became closer than ever. We did everything together. We were two peas in a pod. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Best friends. Allies.

I can’t leave without Vin asking where I am going. I can’t return home and touch my front door without  a massive hug from Vinny. He needs his dad. I need him. Separating that cord is a scary thought. I can’t stop thinking about that today. The “What if” game….is a mindfuck.

Let’s all try to be better tomorrow. Less violent. More forgiving. Smile more. Frown less. Be more sentimental than cynical. The world has cynicism for days.

Rest in peace, Blake. I didn’t know you but I’ll try to be better from here on out.

590 The Fan: From warehouse to radio

It’s okay to do what you want to do until it’s time to do what you need to do. What if those two things merged, though?

Working in a warehouse isn’t for everybody, but I did it for seven years. Five different warehouses over those years but the one constant that connected them all. No air conditioning. Yes. The odor I projected after a 10-12 hour day of lifting, shipping, and receiving rivaled the pandas at the neighborhood Zoo. Sweaty days with a large fan blowing hot air around the dock area is not a way to live if you have a passion to do something else. You do it though to provide for a home and hope something better exists.

I’m not a fool. I don’t have a college degree. I took three swings at MU and Forest Park Community College and struck out everywhere but leaving others and myself in debt. After working in the movie theater and a warehouse briefly out in Hazelwood, I worked for Whelan Security and wore an outfit that would make Paul Blart blush.

In 2007, I joined the team at Senoret Chemical and worked there until 2012. Afterwards, it was unemployment. It’s not easy from making 15.50 an hour with quarterly bonuses and benefits to accepting 9-10 dollars an hour. I don’t care what kind of person you are. It’s bad. I had cups of coffee with Bommarito Wines, Conway Freight, and more time with Ronnoco Coffee before moving to Arkansas and becoming a stay at home parent/writer.  Continue reading “590 The Fan: From warehouse to radio”

‘Kingdom’ delivers soulful season finale 

“You ride like lightning and you’ll crash like thunder.”

Ding ding! Kingdom on Audience viewers and addicts, take your corners! The Season 2B finale packed a punch and left viewers floored at the physical entertainment and the drama that lingered afterwards.

It was never about the rematch in the first place. In a classic twist on a show about fighters that focuses on their battles outside the ring, the Season 2B finale was relentless in closing sub plots and reopening old wounds while opening entirely new threads.
The Rematch

Ryan Wheeler(Matt Lauria) and Jay Kulina(Jonathan Tucker) taking the ring in a rematch that looked like the world ender to every fan in the audience but inside it was a bittersweet tale that every Kingdom fan knew how it was going to end. Jay, unfit for any overly lit room much less an octagon with blazing bulbs flashing all over the place, taking the ring days after his girlfriend Ava was brutally murdered. Ryan, a King Beast seeking revenge and the alpha badge of Navy Street, trying to block out the fact that his best friend needs a true friend and that he has to hurt him. Two friends meeting again.

Pale imagery and the polar opposite of what took place in Episode 203, where Jay was on top of the world and Ryan was less than 100 percent and wrapped up in demons. It goes to show you that winning a fight and a title doesn’t make a fighter whole. It just pushes his destiny further and further away. When Jay won the title, he didn’t feel anything. He didn’t feel the long lost fever of a championship belt. He felt incomplete so he attached himself to Ava and the allure of drugs.

As the fight begins and all the odds are stacked against Jay, it’s almost as if you want the beating to be over so Jay can recover properly. As fans, we never know what is going through the mind of a fighter. If you ask them, they won’t tell you. In a similar fashion that Jay used Ryan’s physical injury against him, Ryan takes advantage of a distant and ill prepared Jay in the rematch. In a testament to Jay’s “heart of a lion”, he holds it together until the early moments of Round 4 before Ryan finishes him off.

As Ryan screams for his belt, you get the idea it’s all a show. Ryan didn’t want to fight in the first place back in Season 1. He does it to please others and also to keep the demons inside his head quiet or to a dull roar. After the fight talking with Alvey, he gives him the belt as a way to show a hunger still exists. I think he wants to get rid of it so he doesn’t get close to it or the fact that, like Jay, he feels nothing for it. It’s a belt. Something you hang in the office or at the gym. It’s as meaningful as Chapas’ ashes sitting on Alvey’s desk. It is meant to embody that you won something but in the end, it hinders a fighter.

Ryan won and Jay goes to the hospital. Let’s take a few steps back to the beginning of the episode.

Jay Kulina: The Pale Rider

Jay standing outside his hotel looking at the clean up crew taking apart the crime scene is a great stand alone acting effort from Tucker and he has no dialogue. The pure strength of an actor isn’t a big speech. It’s what he can do with what isn’t spelled out or written for him or her. What can you do with your eyes, face and movement? Tucker excels at this often. In a 2-3 minute sequence, he shows the audience a pale rider. Someone who has had the life sucked right out of him.

Ava may have hindered him as well as Alicia(Natalie Martinez, absent from the finale) but it was more than that for Jay. A man who learns something new and painful every season. Tucker doesn’t hide a single bit of pain in his expression. Imagine a paper airplane hitting the ground and catching fire. That’s Jay Kulina. Only after defeat did the man recover and smile.

Alvey: A Man Apart

The season started with Alvey drinking himself into a stupor and the finale features him alone once again. That reunion with Lisa(Kiele Sanchez, burning her own candles elsewhere) never materialized. Roxanne(the lovely Wendy Moniz) broke it off with him early on because of the messy drama fires around him. His son Jay is in the hospital and his younger son Nate is in the midst of a comeback but still mixed up in personal anguish. Everything Alvey fought hard to push himself from while staying attached is going on without his effect. He’s a man apart and this gave Grillo the seeds for a performance that SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN Emmy consideration.

I love the way every seasonal break has ended with Alvey alone in the gym. A man ready to fight his demons yet unequipped for battle. Here’s a guy who trains harder than anyone in the gym, drinks his meals, and has enough rage to fight three guys at once. With Alvey’s torment and disconnect at the moment, all he has is the gym. All he has is what he is going after. 

Grillo is at his best when Alvey is at his worst. The emotional volcano spill that the elder Kulina causes allows the seasoned actor to go anywhere he wants with Balasco’s writing fueling his car like an engine with horsepower to spare. 

Nate and Jay: Brothers Looking Out

As he cleaned out Jay’s room, Nate found Will’s business card next to the bed. Instead of raging against his brother for intruding into his personal life, he just walks into the hospital room like a wounded puppy looking for a little protection. The relief that has to fall off his shoulders that some part of his family knows that he is gay has to be enormous. Jay has always been someone Nate could trust, and Jonas and Tucker are beautiful in this scene together.

Leave it to Tucker to sprinkle some true comedy on the room when he jokes about positions with Nate. After all the pain and anguish Jay has gone through, the internal trust he has with Nate gives him some resemblance of a win. Well done men. 

Christina(Joanna Going) also makes amends with Jay at the hospital but it reads more like an apology to her own identity as a mother. After pouring so much drama on the Kulina household this season, she writes him a letter that covers ground that fans didn’t even see. Here is a mother who has treated her oldest son unlike a son. Christina depends on Jay more than any mother should and seeing Tucker do the dialogue-less torture reaction locks horns perfectly with Going’s dialogue. These two have given television the most emotional mother/son pairing since Jax and Gemma Teller on FXX’s Sons of Anarchy. Bravo. It’s not an easy balance to maintain but Going and Tucker make it look easy.

After so much waiting and wondering, Ryan and Lisa finally share a warm moment and a kiss. It happened near the end of Season 1 but was more lust than passion. Lisa, needing something that isn’t broken in her life, finally sees something in Ryan that hasn’t been there for a long time. Protection and love. It was only a kiss but it surely turned into more.

This sets up another uncomfortable yet highly entertaining dynamic in Season 3. Alvey isn’t going to be pleased about this development. While he knows it can’t work with him and Lisa and there is history there, do you really think Alvey can train Ryan during the day and then watch him leave with Lisa at night? Fire, ladies and gents. Fire. The Ryan-Jay showdown was the driving force behind Season 2B and the Alvey/Ryan/Lisa tripod of doom will puncture Season 3. They may not fight in a sanctioned fight but they will come to blows.

Every television show should aim to get better each year. Instead of resting on your laurels and dishing out potent yet similar entertainment after acquiring people’s attention, a creator and his cast/crew should keep pushing. Balasco, Grillo, and company have done that with this latest batch of episodes. Every 52 minute episode felt like a brilliant edited film and something to dissect and wonder about for days. It didn’t feel like ordinary television. Kingdom ascended higher this season with pulse pounding drama and knockout worthy action. It’s something else. A signature blend that isn’t afraid to take bold risks in order to spin a story few have told.

For all the people who wanted a real dynamic show about fighters and their lives, look no further than AT&T’s Kingdom. It’s got everything. This blood drunk drama knows how to hit a person where it counts. Unlike most TV shows, Kingdom doesn’t aim to merely please. It aims to knock you out. Season 2B did just that. There are 30 episodes at your disposal folks. What are you prepared to do? Take the plunge.

The pilot featured a weary yet wise Alvey Kulina jogging through the streets with peace in his mind and hunger in his back pocket. He had everything. At the end of Season 2B, all he has is what he is going after. A bottle, a bag, and nothing else.

Great television challenges you every week. Thank you Kingdom. Please come back for Christmas.



STL Up Late interview: Bobby Jaycox and Eric Christensen

Bobby Jaycox and Eric Christensen are just like you. They get up every morning to grind away at a day job to pay their bills and keep wood on the fire of a regular life. It’s not until after the sun goes down that these two men get together with other notable and talented STL comics(RAFE WILLIAMS!) and produce gold record caliber television with the KMOV talk show, STL Up Late. 

After speaking with We Are Live co-hosts Chris Denman and Travis Terrell last month,  Jaycox and Christensen sat down with me to discuss the show’s intentions, how real life hot topics play on their series, and the value of storing enough energy to chase their comic dreams. What followed was inspirational dialogue that should light a damn fire under every aspiring funny bone specialist with a dream of entertaining. 

Buffa: Tell me about STL Up Late. 

Christensen: I was doing improv at the Improv shop. I had been doing comedy for a long time in Chicago and thought St. Louis needed some of that. People told me STL needed the cool stuff I was doing in Chicago. STL Up Late was a way to show people there is cool stuff here and also follow my passion at the same time. 

Buffa: Why watch STL Up Late over the other mainstream late night talk shows like Fallon and Kimmel?

Jaycox: All those people are career people. When you see us, you see people that are working for no money and putting in long hours in during the week to make something for people to enjoy. I feel like we set a bar pretty high for the stuff we put together. 

Buffa: Comedy is at a high point right now. Do you see it as a means to heal a soul or merely produce a distraction?

Christensen: They’ve always said laughter is the breaking of tension. I definitely think doing comedy is therapeutic in a lot of ways. 

Jaycox: I can imagine a lot of things missing in a society but I can’t imagine comedy not being there. So it’s everybody’s job to keep it on the trajectory of doing new and good things. Some people hit a plateau and think they can’t do anything new. Look at Louis CK, who does a new hour every year. Anything is possible. There’s people who start on YouTube and then are on Netflix. The people who continue to do new things and drive it. 

Christensen: Since the beginning, it’s important to keep the serious things in check. That’s comedy’s job.  

Buffa: Rafe mentioned something on Tuesday’s WAL broadcast about using heavy hitter topics like the election, gay marriage and gun control in his sketches and comedy in a different way. What is your take on using those real life topics?

Jaycox: I definitely think that part of hitting on political stuff is kind of like growing up. It’s not what your age is. It’s how long you’ve been doing stand up. In order to make those points, you have to be like the Beatles and make those first few albums. 

Christensen: You have to earn it. 

Jaycox: Yeah. Bill Burr was at the Fox and he was hitting all those hard topics and even his fans were getting uncomfortable. That’s his job. He’s going to give you laughter and make you think about coming onto my side by the end. 

Christensen: On STL Up Late, we’re never going to attack those points. We don’t look at gay marriage and think we have to make a joke. If there’s something there that is funny, we will do it. 

Jaycox: It’s like putting your finger on the pulse and trying to see if there is anything we could do. Like Rafe did with the finger gun. 

Buffa: If you can get one of them on your show, who would it be? Hilary or Trump?

Christensen: It’s gotta be Trump. 

Jaycox: Trump. There’s too much material. We’ve done stuff with Trump.

Buffa: The We Are Live crew is on STL Up Late this weekend. How did you meet Chris and Travis?

Christensen: They’d asked me a while back to be on and then Rafe was on. Josh McNew(STL Up Late director) shot a lot of their stuff. 

Jaycox: I’d met Chris at Helium when he judged a contest there recently. 

Buffa: What’s the harshest part of producing comedy and chasing this dream? The sacrifices. 

Christensen: Time. 

Jaycox: You have to have a day job. I don’t know anyone just doing comedy. You have to do a day job, have a social life, and do comedy. Trying to fit more time into comedy. 

Buffa: You have to commit energy to it. 

Jaycox: That’s exactly right. I knew I had a show so I had to reserve my energy. You can’t go out late. You have to save energy. 

Buffa: You run into an aspiring young comic. What’s the first thing you tell him?

Jaycox: Don’t listen to anyone. Listen to yourself. Don’t worry about trying to be someone else. It’s hard enough being yourself. Whatever you’re inspired by, do it. 

Christensen: Start creating. Don’t worry about the next step. Put your stuff on paper and start recording. Start making something and it will take off. 

Jaycox: A great quote I heard is “you don’t have to be great to start. You have to start to be great.” Just get out there and start. It’s an immediate fail or pass on stage in front of an audience. If you are more determined than anyone else, you’ll make it. 

Buffa: What’s the pre-show routine?

Christensen: We will run scripts. Dry rehearsal. Block them out. Dress rehearsals are next. I’m writing the moment I wake up until I get to the theater. Focus on the scripts. 

Jaycox: I try to be as present as I can. If I’m thinking about the next thing, that takes a toll. If I’m in the moment, things go well. You can tell when any of us aren’t present. 

In order to make it in comedy, you have to give a shit. Every day. Every time on stage. A message that is re-affirmed when you talk to Jaycox and Christensen about their work. They do it for the love of the game and the hope that the road leads to bigger and better things. 

Watching STL Up Late, you see all the hard work and sacrifice come together on stage. It’s a living breathing thing. See how hard these guys work to create original unfiltered comedy now that you know their story. 

Bobby Jaycox, Eric Christensen, and company are trying to make comedy great again in STL and it’s a goal they don’t take lightly. Be a part of the experience.