The Epic Read

Lets run into this stream of conciousness as we run into 9/11/11 here on the clock.  First, a rant about clocks.

That’s right my friends.  A fucking clock. Clocks are everywhere.  Imagine if you ditched every fucking clock in your house?  What’s life like working a full time job?  Relying on clocks and alarms to kickstart our day.  Nothing says “wake the fuck up” like an annoying bullshit talking alarm that never stops unless you throw it into the wall.   Alarms rule our lives and their headmasters are clocks, so guess what everybody, we are ruled not only by banks but also by clocks.  They inform us how much time we have to get from one place to another and how long we can stay or have to be there.   We eat dinner and check the clock for our shows or a game.  We are at work and we train our eyes on the time clock so we know when it’s time to put tires to the ground, keys in the ignition and remove ourselves from the parking lot.   The worst feeling is, leaving work and looking at the clock, knowing in less than 12 hours, work will be approaching again.   Fuck clocks and their motives.  Their ambition is to make us feel trapped, like we don’t have anytime in the world.   Driving through at Starbucks, I get my coffee, give the lady un-exact change and ask her the time because I don’t want to look at my watch because I memorized how my watch compares to my phone clock and to other clocks.  I need a new reference, so fix my damn espresso and give me a new read.   That’s when time really fucks you.  Playing the “which one is for real” game.   Working your nerves and pulling your strings while never revealing which clocks are right.  Are they right in the military because the bastards shout it all the time?  Are they right in banks because they store all the money, which dictates our lives in the first place?  Our clocks at home are like minor league clocks, holding little stock to the real time outside of our house.  Fucking clocks working against us and keeping us in the dark.   We literally never have a real idea on what time it is.   215pm at home might mean 219pm at work and that means my alarm needs to be adjusted so I can still get my 5 snooze taps per morning.   That’s right, Mr. Cellphone Clock, you ring your bell at 5am and I pushing your ass 5 yards immediately.   Tapping the snoozes is like registering penalty flags to yourself for feeling unmotivated.   Three taps one morning and we are starting our day near the end zone, in safety territory, but not the cool safety.  The 2 points on the scoreboard against us safety crap.   It’s not cool.  Time isn’t cool and not on our side.  Fuck you Mick Jagger!  Unemployed, aluminum foil faced fucking 90 pound soaking wet pussy machine lip swirling fuck!   Stop making great rock songs and I will give you a fresh timecard to punch in at my warehouse.   That’s right, gimme shelter and I’ll give you a 30,000 pound Lowes order shipping out at high noon motherfucker.   Time kicks our ass daily and it all starts with clocks.  They are everywhere.   On our arms, in our pocket, across from the TV, in our car and in our grandma’s house.   What does it mean to be self employed or be a millionaire?  Having zero fucking need for a clock.   Mark Cuban gets up every day, sticks another needle in his referee voodoo doll, and doesn’t need to look at a clock.   Bill Gates crawls out of bed(or is lifted by small tiny midget angel men) and stares at his bedroom wall sized computer monitor feeling no need to see 1 number separated by this (:) before a set of other numbers.   It fucking rules our lives and I hate it!  When I leave town and go see the in-laws in Kansas City, I rarely have to look at a fucking clock.  Light and dark make my time capsule observation in the country.   Camping is another spot where cell phones are deemed useless and clocks are only an excuse to look at if you are having a shitty time getting eaten alive by mosquitos, constantly making fire and eating beans while talking about things that never enter a conversation in your own zip code.   When I come back home and get into robot gear, the games start again and the clock owns my life.   Clocks own our lives.   Please don’t deny it because I will ask you to fill out an application telling me what you do for a living.   Here’s a picture of our lives.   Our heads tilting down, up or to the side to look at a clock.   “Momma, can I have a few more minutes?”  “You cannot, get back in line.”  Think otherwise and you are fucking moron.   Men can be the owners of the universe and still hand their dick to a clock.  Same goes for the estrogen powered female race.   Rocking the tight gray suit-skirt-minimal makeup-espresso-blackberry look won’t hide you from checking the clock to see how much time you have to pound that subway sandwich baby, but I do like the way you hold it.   Ladies and gents, time owns our lives and every clock is a official reminder of our ticking timebomb of a life on this cold rock we call earth.

That was a real rant my friends.   Being an official “ranter”, I must occasionally unleash a healthy pinched off loaf of fine prose that is laid down like a steel toed boot to the skull.   I can do it all.  Cover topics, rant, complain and praise.  Lets get things rolling with a movie I will call one of the best films of the year.   A movie called Warrior.   Follow along and you will pick up the idea.

Warrior Review(Spoilers included for the people who want to know NOTHING about the film)

A tale of two brothers, Tommy(Tom Hardy) and Brandon(Joel Edgerton) Conlon.  They come from a broken home, where their dad, Paddy(Nick Nolte, in crash and burn mode) drank himself under the table and took out his frustrations by beating up on their mother.   When the mother couldn’t take it anymore, Tommy went with her to California while Brandon stayed with dad and the family was shattered.   Flash forward around 20 years and Tommy has returned home from Iraq(his duties, actions, and reasons unsure until later) to find Paddy sober and Brandon working as a school teacher with a wife and 2 kids.  Tommy does want to train to fight in MMA because a tournament, Sparta Tourney, is gathering 16 fighters from around the land and pays 5 million to the winner.   Brandon needs a lift because happiness doesn’t come with a healthy paycheck.   His daughter has a heart defect and his house is 3 months from foreclosure.  These are two hardened men who have to fight in order to fulfill the most important things in their lives.  For Tommy, it’s helping a fellow soldier friend.   For Brandon, it’s paying the bills.  Brandon’s wife(Jennifer Morrison) doesn’t like seeing a bruised husband come home with a roll of cash, but that’s the brutal swing of fate for a blue collar family.   Warrior tells a realistic modern time crushing tale about survival of the fittest and the strong.   Soon, the two men find themselves on a collision course, yet they have zero idea each other are involved.  Paddy trains Tommy and Brandon goes back to his old gym rat Frank(Frank Grillo) to find his way around a ring.   The rest isn’t written by Shakespeare, but here are 7 reasons I truly loved this film and it hung with me all day long.

1.)The acting is top notch.  Hardy gained 30 pounds of muscle, adopted a East coast accent and fully develops into the silent killing machine that is Tommy Conlon.   Edgerton carries the beaten up boxer smashed pitbull complection to put Brandon on the table as a guy doing everything for his family.    Nolte is in top form as the retired drunk trying to piece together 30 years of mistakes.   Morrison, Grillo, Kevin Dunn and Kurt Angle in a small role all add their own little spice to the pot.    This is Hardy and Edgerton’s film to carry and they do a great job of showing us blue collar tough personified in the ring.  Hardy is all boiling intensity and Edgerton is cool and assured.  Conflicting roles that pit two souls together as brothers from different sides of the spectrum.

2.)The story is aces because near the end of the film when the two eventually meet in the ring(this was given in the trailer, so lay off me for giving it away), you don’t know who to root for.   You respect each character for their reasons and when you find out more about Tommy’s motives, you only cheer for his quiet persistence.    Tommy tells Paddy early on, “I liked you better as a drunk.  You missed all the fun of watching her die.”   Tommy’s grudge against Paddy is breaking their family apart.  His grudge against Brandon is staying with his dad.  Brandon didn’t get to see his mom so there is an anger between him and Tommy, who didn’t communicate with the two once he left.   Director Gavin O’Connor is so good at implementing emotional punch into his films, and it starts with a real story rooted in family bonds and values.   In Pride and Glory, it was a family of cops who faced corruption and turmoil.  In Warrior, a family of fighters are trying to treat open wounds that aren’t healing.   O’Connor makes testosterone tales that are spiced up with true emotion.   He co-wrote the script and injects a toughness into every scene.

3.)The MMA fight scenes are authentic and real to the bone without being overly violent.   We feel every punch, kick, and choke hold from our seats but the action is quick and swift and doesn’t drown out a queasy viewer.   The filmmakers save the hardest punches in the slower dramatic scenes to fully lay us out on the floor.  This is a movie that fully reveals the MMA industry for putting money into the sport, laying it out as a new power and a real sport of highly skilled and trained athletes.  Your doubts about this sport end when this film’s credits roll.   Tommy is a multiple punch smash artist with his tommy gun round of punches.   Brandon is the Rocky like underdog scrapper, who wins his fights on the ground.   Each character carries a different mixed martial arts style and it’s nicely injected into the film.  This is UFC/MMA’s official introduction to the movies.

4.)O’Connor didn’t just make an action film about fighters.  The running time is long at 2 hours and 13 minutes, but the minutes are earned here because he sets up the story with assertive conviction.   We get to know Tommy and Brandon before we see them get into a serious fight and the outlines of their story are quickly laid in cement before the blood spills.   This is a film about brothers and family and not just an MMA movie.   The MMA is a color for the family drama and not the other way around.

5.)While I can already tell you Hardy is a star to watch from his recent work record(Bronson, Inception, the upcoming Dark Knight Rises), Edgerton is an actor to watch.  He reminds me of a tougher Daniel Craig, with the rock smashed face and edgy overall look.   Edgerton is an Australian and he mastered a hardened Pittsburgh steel American accent.  Brandon Conlon is the real star of this story, and the moral center of the film because of his plight from UFC fighter to school teacher to MMA underdog.  He is the hero of the film.

6.) The ending is well played and earned.   When the two men get into the ring and lock skulls, we don’t know what we want or what will happen.  Its a truly unpredictable pledge once the scene begins.   This wasn’t easy to write and harder to act with.   Hardy and Edgerton shine the brightest here and own the film in the final 15 minutes.  The wonderful pacing of the film leads up to the big showdown and when its over, the audience doesn’t feel cheated and might even be holding back some man tears.   An emotional film about taking chances and earning your living with your birth given fists and ability.   At the core, its a film about forgiveness and all it’s shades of gray.   The final moments of the film are played out right because the filmmakers took the right amount of time to set it up so that when it hits we understand it completely and agree with it.

7.)The film hit me on an emotional level because of my real life relationship with my older brother.   We had two great parents, but near the age of 20 my brother came down with a condition and it separated us as close friends and true brothers.   These days, I don’t get to see my brother or talk to him as much as I want and as a younger sibling, it hurts.  The blame is on my end and his, but it’s rough and this film taught me how every day is a chance to make the call and stay in touch.    Breaking down disease built barriers all comes down to effort and showing it daily or choosing to stay away.   Watching this film’s ending got me more emotional in a theater than I ever have been recently.   It made me want to call my brother just to say hello and keep the blood line fresh and the friendship enabled.  Movie that strike us on an emotional level are the ones we don’t forget.

Warrior is a truly great film that will emotionally knock you to the ground and that’s what you want when you enter the theater.  Entertainment and connection.   See it or potentially feel the weight of a chance passed by.   This is Grade A entertainment.   Movies don’t get much better than this.

The Other Stuff

  • The Cardinals won again and closed the deficit in the wild card race to 5.5 games with 17 games left to play.   A sweep completed tomorrow is required for this team to realistically stay alive in the race.  The Cards are 11 games over .500 for the first time in 3 months and still 6 games behind the Brewers.   A potentially killshot inducing homestand is turning into a comeback trail.   After dropping 2 of 3 to the Reds, the Cards are 5-1 against the teams they are chasing right now in the Brewers and Braves.
  • Here’s something else for the Cards crowd.   In the last three wins, the Cards have only hit 1 home run.   During the second half, the Cardinals’ recipe for success hinged on the home run.   Long balls were our way of exporting success into the standings.   Against the Braves, the Cards have manufactured 8 runs the old fashioned way.   That’s impressive.
  • They keep hitting into double plays though.  2 more on Saturday night puts this team at 155 for the season and 10 short of the record for all time embarassment.  Double play shuffle shows that we put runners on base but exploit the fact we don’t start the runners and can’t steal bases.   Tony La Russa’s American League style offense doesn’t include a running game.   A team relied on bombs gets exposed in double plays.  This isn’t impressive.
  • Albert Pujols seriously flirting with .300 is good television.  One minute, he is nearly there.  The next, he is pushed back.   Right when he gets within a hit of reaching a .300 batting average for the first time all season, Pujols records 3 straight outs and falls back to .296.   Since the guy is red hot and hitting .400 on this homestand, I believe he will reach .300 in Pittsburgh next week or sooner.  This is what being a supreme supporter entails.  You live and die on each at bat.   When Pujols was enduring the worst slump of his career, many Cardinal fans took the opportunity to use the ugly offseason contract talks to cast him off.   They forget this guy is the greatest player in Cardinal Red since Stan Musial and deserves better.  That’s right you picky “best fans in baseball” bullshit crowd.  Stop hating.   For 13 million per season(3 million deferred every year), Albert Pujols has delivered top notch production.  In early October, he will once again carry solid to great numbers so appreciate the guy for his all around greatness and save your disgust for La Russa or the rotation.
  • People are underestimating the value of Peyton Manning to the Colts offense.  Imagine pulling Daniel Day Lewis out of Gangs of New York or Paul Newman out of The Color of Money and you have the idea.  Manning runs the show in Indy.   He called plays at practice, changed them at the line of scrimmage in games and was the master decision maker.    His injury is serious business and big discomfort for people all over the NFL world.   Love or hate him, Peyton is good for football.   You either root to see him succeed(like me) or wish for his downfall(a few of my friends).   Either way, the man helps power the sport and is the engine of the Colts.   Without him, you pull 5-6 wins off their total.   His neck injury is serious.   Knee surgeries and elbow operations are routine.   Neck is a brittle career ending area.   If he comes back too soon and gets rocked, his playing days are done.   Does he want to leave the game like Montana or Elway where he leaves on his feet, or get carried off the field like Troy Aikman or Steve Young?  Without Manning, Sunday’s take a hit.   All along, I knew he was going to miss some time.   Neck injuries are the exception to the rule of being a tough NFL player.
  • The Detroit Lions will score points, win some games but will carry the NFL’s fiercest pass rush.   Thanks in no small part to Ndamukong Suh’s monster potential and aggressive style, the Lions doubled their sack total in 2010 and will put pressure on QB’s and destroy quarterbacks.    Calling them a playoff team might be a stretch, but ask the Rams how much fun they had when they lost 44-6 last season in Detroit.   Don’t take this team too lightly.
  • Also, why is everyone ditching Donovan McNabb?  Sure, he sucked in Washington, but who doesn’t suck as a Redskins quarterback in the last decade?  Ask Jason Campbell about his time there.  Mike Shanahan never liked McNabb and didn’t use him properly or equip him with the right tools.  McNabb put up solid seasons in Philidephia because he had a supporting cast to help him.  Certain QB’s are talented yet need strong players around them.  Donovan isn’t like Peyton and can’t turn water in wine.  However, when Adrian Petersen lines up behind you, your job is much easier.  With a strong defense and talented receiving core and the best running back in the game helping you, who can count out McNabb and the Vikings?  Fools will rush to try.   I am not a huge fan of the guy but to me he is right back in Philidephia with a new Brian Westbrook(Petersen) and a solid 1-2-3 punch of receivers(Percy Harvin, Vincente Shiancoe, Bernard Berrian).   Don’t blame McNabb.  He is a soft thin skinned black man.   Blame the shitty Daniel Snider led Redskins, who won’t go anywhere with Rex Grossman or John Beck as their QB.
  • Here’s to Sam Bradford rolling onto the field tomorrow at the Ed Dome and handing out justice to the over hyped Eagles.   Let’s hope the Eagles offensive line is still undecided and Chris Long and company run all over them.   Let’s hope the Michael Vick from his late Atlanta days shows up and he starts firing sidearm interceptions.    Can Bradford find lanes for passing in a secondary including Dominick Rogers-Cromartie, Nnamdi Asanmaga and Asante Samuel?  It’s like driving a car into a police enforced road block.   Can Steven Jackson pound the Eagles up front and generate the running game?  Will the Rams offensive line keep Bradford on his feet long enough to find tiny Danny Amendola on the slant?  So many questions for the first week and I will say this.  I like this Rams team, fear for their safety anyway and like what Steve Spagnuolo is doing.   May the best team win.   Football is a special game because it’s all about who decides to show up and play great.   One week prep for one game.    Here we go.
  • Now that the Blues listened to me and Blues fans on Backes, can I put in another request?  Save the “we come to win” commercials.  They are as bad as the “playing like a Cardinal” spots and don’t promise a damn thing.  Of course David Backes shows up to win.  What the fuck else is he going to do?
  • Right now I am pretty excited.  Why?  Tomorrow, I am going to get up and go for a decent 6-8 mile run around South City.    I do this because when the games start, the eating and drinking starts for me.  Swing around fun town at Buffa’s.   A quiet way to enjoy football with a pregnant wife is to keep the food coming and the noise at high level so the baby hears it and gets familiar with Sunday rituals.  I don’t just watch the Rams game.  Sunday is an all day event.   12pm games on Fox followed by the 3pm game on CBS, all day coverage on the NFL Network, rolling along with the Sunday night game and ending with Sportscenter highlights.   You literally need a mouthguard and playbook to endure the 10 hours of festivities.  Football days usually involve a big pot of chili(powered by beef, a special sauce, cheese and onions) and a consistent supply of beer.  Human beings shed a piece of themselves on NFL gameday.  We get to play coach, player, ref and part time sponsor all in a day’s work.  We scream, wince and scream some more.  If you don’t understand, you suck and must change the channel back to TLC.
  • Daddy prep is in full gear.  Tonight, I calmly walked into Vinny’s room and turned on every music device we have for this kid.   Rockebye baby to ocean music to simple chimes.  After turning them on(4 devices in all), walk into the middle of the room and just stand there and suck it in.   This is the sound of chaos of being a first time father.  Noise at a new level.  Screams, silent pouts and a general frustration with the human race and the circle of life.   Sure, I will be a great dad but this is only spring training and I am taking my licks early.  Saying you suck at it is the first step to getting better at it.
  • Here’s another rant about the dads I have ran into this year while waiting for my kid to show up.  The negative fucks.  Yeah, the dads who tell you all the shitty things about being a parent entails.   These comments come out of their mouth right after they say its wonderful you are pregnant.   The smile turns into a dreadful my life is over yawn and in comes the negative air.   You won’t sleep again!  I know.  You will lose things and have to change your entire house.  Sure thing, everything except the electrical outlets.  They tell you the kid will shit everywhere, including on your life and sexy time.   This is when I tell them to stop telling me about their life.   Dads who weren’t meant to be dads love the new guys on the job, especially the ones who are excited.  They ask me if I am ready and prep their stream line of laughter when I say yes.  Sometimes, I say I am not ready and am scared shitless but hearing tons of negative advice doesn’t help anyone so shut the fuck up.   Every dad is a self prescribed know it all.   Since they have replaced their cologne cabinet with shit, pee and baby powder, your life must be over as well.  I am sick of it.   These guys need to think before they screw their girlfriends turned pregnant wives.   You run into an asshole like this every week and they tell you the same thing.  Be ready for this and worry about that. I tell them all things will take care of themselves.   There is no daddy to be school.   Becoming a dad is like going to a negotiation table with zero notes.   All one guy can do is hope his kid is healthy and all he has to deal with is shitty diapers.   There will be times where I don’t sleep and hate my kid followed by diaper changes that make me never crave a chocolate shake again and redefine the word, “fall apart brownies”.   I get it fuckers!  Lay off the poor man look.   One guy I will never forget.  This guy carried contempt, sadness and despair all in one greeting.  He didn’t say much and didn’t have to.  His face was like a 500 page book on “shoot me at least three times so the real pain kicks in”.   This guy didn’t want to be a dad and I knew it so we skipped the advice routine.   Here’s the end game.  There is no school for being a dad just like there really is no school for driving or a class for life.  You get thrown into it and survive on sheer will power.   It comes down to effort put in or time spent hiding from responsibility.  Hey men all around the world, read this before you slip it in because you are too lazy to find a condom or fail to understand the word, birth control.  Once you get a woman pregnant and she wants to keep it, the game is started and the biggest challenge of a lifetime is on.  That’s my premature, weightless full of shit free hot air advice for guys thinking about becoming dads.   Understanding how to become a dad before you actually have your kid is like trying to understand women.  When you think you know, you are still less than halfway across the street.  Just go with the flow and fuck safe and assured.  Please, don’t tell dads to be it sucks.   That’s bush league.
  • Song of the Day-The National, “About Today“.  Used in Warrior, these slow building method rockers know how to pack a punch into a single tune.  The crumbling voice of the lead singer walking this redemptive story along its path.  Listen to it twice for full effect.  The lead singer barely sings above a whisper and sets a fire in your soul here.

  • Here’s why Denis Leary is a man on a mission for firefighters getting their due.  After 9/11, firefighters and other first responders were beloved heroes, but that didn’t help their horribly low pay and post Ground Zero cleanup duty effects on their health.   Leary has donated more than 10 million to firehouses receiving better equipment and technology along with making a television series solely dedicated to their existence. He basically refuses to shut the fuck up about firefighters heroics and won’t stop until they are taken care of.   Here’s an article on it.

  • Here’s one more piece of advice from me.   I don’t like to dish it out too often because you have to walk a fine line between helping someone and harmfully preaching a person’s head off.  Today, after you wake up and pull it together, do yourself a favor and call a family member, loved one or good friend.   If you don’t want to or severed ties long ago, make the call anyway.   You only get one blood family in this life and hatred included or not they are your family and you have to keep in touch.   Life was never meant to be easy but family pulls you through the shitty eras of our lives.  Call them and tell them how valued they are in your life.  You can even mix it into a routine checkup call so you don’t feel weird.   On a day where nearly 3,000 innocent people died, this is required duty.   So many people died that day before their time and before they got to see something important to someone close to them.   We simply don’t express ourselves enough people.   It’s the truth and I see it every day.   A separation or isolation.   That’s just not living.   Instead of playing it safe, rescue yourself and call someone today.   Call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while.  Call a brother or sister.   A simple way to honor the dead on 9/11 is to keep in touch with the living.   Do it while you can.  Before your time is up.   Do the right thing today because tomorrow might not even exist.  That’s all I got.

Thanks for reading as always and entering my theraputic experience here.  I write to clear out the noise in my head and keep things quiet in my mind.  As I take care of that, I also inform you of my opinion.  All this is here is a circle of information and resolution.   Good conversation is needed in this world.  The good old fashioned journalism war room back and forth fire talks that leave two friends or combated souls tired but feeling they just learned something about themselves and someone else. Enlightenment is a tricky experience that’s worth your time.   Hopefully, my words here get you talking.  If not, I failed at my job as the voice of the people.

So long and goodnight,

Dan L. Buffa





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