The Buffa Blast

The Buffa News and Notes of the Week

Happy Holidays, now lets get down to business.   There isn’t a better indicator of Christmas than snow on the ground, low temperatures freezing the air and good old fashioned warm hearted gestures.  Since we don’t have all of the proper ingredients yet, I bring you the news.   What I will bring you is the brutally honest truth.   I don’t believe in GOD on earth, have little use for politics, and only deal in things that matter to me or have been requested attention from others.   Follow me here as I load another bullet into the chamber and fire it out.

Meme Update-The last 10 days haven’t been kind to me or my family as we struggle to come to terms with the fact that more likely than not, my grandma will not make it through Christmas.   The shock and awe of tragedy is the speed it can take hitting you on any given day.   One day she was completely fine and the following night she was not.   One mistake ladies and gents is all it takes.   My grandma made a fatal mistake.   Older people taking steps while drinking is like young people choosing to drive while under the infleuence.   Dangerous methods of transportation.   I don’t beat myself up over it every day but I will admit one level headed soul could have told my grandmother to sit the fuck down and take it easy.  She went down being herself.  If you knew her, you would understand she wasn’t happy until she spoke to every single soul at a party.   She wanted to ask questions, grab the person’s arm and get answers.   She was wise, spoke many languages and was persistent so you couldn’t bullshit your way out of 20 questions with the little lady.   My idea of her moments before the fall include her getting up from one group of people to go seek out another and it just so happened that the required pack of souls who hadn’t been slammed with a dose of Meme were located downstairs.   Meme probably had 2-4 glasses of wine, was having fun, forgot about her just healed broken hip, and tackled the steps with stub heels and the carpeted stumps defeated her.  She took a tumble backwards down the 9 step case and smacked her head on the wooden floor below(supported by concrete beneath).   Imagine slamming your head into the hardest man made surface outside of pure metal and you have it.  The final hit was the one that broke her.   It took her down.  Everything else that happened before didn’t matter.  The broken wrist, collarbone or punctured lung would heal in time, even for an 81 year old.  The blow that did my grandmother in is the same blow that ends athlete’s careers.  A blow to the head.   Brain trauma.   The one thing doctors and surgeons play with and examine to this day is the ability, activity and strong/weak areas of the brain.  They haven’t completely figured it out.  They know one side specializes in one ability and the other carries another trait, but the recovery ability is something they haven’t touched on yet.  The heart is so different.  Something happens to that area and they immediately know what it is, how it can be fixed and how long it will take.  The brain leaves so many question marks.  My grandmother wasn’t brought down by her age alone.  She was brought down by a mistake.   One brutal mistake.   Folks, don’t drink and drive.   Think before you drink and walk.

Now let’s get on with it.  First, a review of a very good film.

“What do you see?”-Gyspy

“Everything, that is my curse.”-Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes 2 is a game of shadows and entertainment.  If you want something fun and engagingly cool at the movies, please go see this film.  It’s an old fashioned adventure film that will razzle and dazzle you for two hours and take your mind off ordinary stress related issues.  The plot is fairly simple.   Professor Moriarty is using multiple terrorists to launch an attack on the world so wars start, money is made and the evil empire he is putting together eventually overtakes the government.  Sherlock and Watson must stop him and enlist several tools and friends, including a gypsy woman(Noomi Kapani) and Sherlock’s brother, Eli(Stephen Fry).   In the end, it comes down to a battle of wills between Holmes and Moriarty, something we all expect but have no idea how fun it can be.  Why does this film work so well? Let’s pop the hood and take a look.

-Robert Downey Jr. is the key ingredient.  While his chemistry with Jude Law is important, Downey’s slick smart and cool portrayal of Holmes is the reason to see this movie.  The chief export of joy.  Downey doesn’t take it too seriously and isn’t afraid to add a bit of comedy to serious moments.   He is the ultimate actor.  One who can morph into any kind of hero.   A skilled performance.  Downey Jr.’s Sherlock is the guy every man wants to be.  Smart, nimble, tough and persistent in every corner of their life.

-Digging Guy Ritchie’s Holmes formula.  Instead of boring us with the slow moving more soft spoken Holmes, Ritchie engages Conan O’ Doyle’s earlier version of Holmes and once again serves up the thinking man’s action hero.  There are smarts to his strategy here.  Every Ritchie adventure consists of clues, history, juicy dialogue battles and the usual Holmes/Watson gamesmenship.   Anybody who shits on Ritchie’s formula doesn’t like fun.   With a cineplex full of depressing powerful downers, action stories with a brain included are required.

-Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law do make for a great team.   Finding the right actors to fill legendary roles is the most important part of reinventing Sherlock Holmes and these two talented actors are up to the task.  Ritchie paired the two as friends before the start of the first film and the interplay comes through on the big screen.  Their exchanges are relaxed, carry a unique brand of humor and always entertain because the two are working partners but on a simple plain are best friends trying to look out for one another without making it look homesexually inaccurate.   Downey Jr. and Law are brilliant here.

-Jared Harris makes for a great bad guy, playing the legendary Professor Moriarty with an evil blend of menace and brains.   Harris doesn’t overplay the role yet doesn’t tip toe around it.  This is the greatest villain Holmes ever faced because each found a match in each other as far as ability was concerned.   The first film’s villain, Lord Blackwood, was a fake magician easily taken down by Holmes.   Moriarty is a lot more difficult to defeat and very intelligient, making a fine match for Holmes’ mad methods.

-Everything about SH2 is big in scale.  The sets, costumes, action, drama and overall spectacle.  Ritchie doesn’t mess around or go light in these areas of Victorian period delight.   He pumps up the surroundings with wild colors, characters and a culture lost long ago.    It supports the story very well.

Sherlock Holmes is a perfect “getaway” delight.   Action adventure, humor, and a little drama.   The ending fulfills the time spent and sets up a third film.   I left the theater feeling that I wanted more but in the best possible way.  I didn’t want the adventures to end and felt like going back for another round of entertainment.  SH2 is classic entertainment.  It sweeps you off your feet for two hours, takes you back in time and tosses you into an adventure before setting you back in the modern hour wondering why things got so damn boring.

 The Cardinals Seeking an outfielder.   There are people who can wait and analyze a move after it is signed, done and complete.   A few of my friends are patient when it comes to speculation.   They have an ability I do not currently own.   The ability to NOT pay attention to MLB news updates.   I am a different blend.   I like to stick my hand inside the oven while the product is still cooking.  I’m bad.   I dig into all the hype, talk and potential until my brain needs 5 minutes to uncoil.   The Cardinals are a brand new band.   Tony La Russa and Albert Pujols are gone.   Mike Matheny doesn’t have a game of managerial or coaching experience but he takes over the team that just won the World Series.   GM John Mozelaik is slowly putting his roster together.  He resigned Rafael Furcal, Skip Schumacher and pulled JC Romero from the free agent market.   This is Mozelaik’s team now.  The Walt Jocketty products are few and far between on this roster.  Mozelaik cleared out most of La Russa’s coaches and confidants.  He brought in his own manager and assigned his own coaching staff.   He allowed Pujols to walk and won’t make a big pitch for Prince Fielder.  Mozelaik is as cool as a cucumber.  Everything is riding on his shoulders and he seems to approve of the pressure.  He likes the danger that bold choices bring to his desk.   If Matheny fails, it is on him.  If The Cards fall and the Angels rise, Albert’s defection will somehow bite Mo in the ass.   This is common sense news folks.   Mozelaik knows exactly what he is doing.  He was preparing for Albert Pujols-less baseball in September and October.   He formulated his plan of attack in November and engaged it in early December.   So far, I like his moves.

Furcal, Skip, and Romero are solid smart low key moves.   Role fillers and then some.   The next question for this team is the outfield depth.  Please save me the Adron Chambers speech.  The kid needs more time.  In less than 20 at bats he put together some solid at bats, got on base and did a few things but lets not go crazy and say he can replace a .300 hitter like Jon Jay.   Chambers is a good speed bat off the bench late in the game but his defense in the outfield is suspect and his long term value is in question.  He can’t replace Jay or Allen Craig.  NO way.  Save me the Matt Adams hype note from Memphis.  I don’t care what he did in the minors.  There are tons of power bats down there who arrive in the majors and fizzle.  Look at Nick Stavinoha and Joe Mather.  Save it.  We’ll see him in September for a few at bats.  Until then, ship his ass to the Andrew Luck department of worthless hype and hard-on’s.   Let’s get serious.  Here are a few of the candidates.

Ryan Ludwick is a smart, low key fit for the Cardinals.   Mozelaik brought Lud to the Cards in 2007 and kickstarted his career after knee injuries delayed it in Cleveland.  Lud is a plus defender and can hit for power.  He will drive in 75-85 runs and performs well at Busch.   He will only cost you 2-3 million per year and you can lock him down for a 1 year or 2 year deal.  Lud doesn’t have much leverage after a down year split between San Diego and Pittsburgh.   I didn’t like when we lost him in 2010 and would like him back in this lineup, backing up Jay in center and filling in for/splitting time with Craig in right field.

Coco Crisp has been linked to the Cardinals in talks.  Crisp is a known trouble making pest but he is an effective leadoff hitter.  He hit 8 home runs and drove in 54 while hitting .264 last season but he also stole 49 bases.  That’s right.  A base stealer.  Something the Cards haven’t had in a long time.   The Cardinals didn’t steal 49 bases as a team in 2011.  This is something to look into.  Crisp would cost the Cards 4-6 million at least and may be worth a look.  He is the player you hate to face but wouldn’t mind having on your team.

Carlos Beltran-The expensive big fish on the market.   Beltran’s talent is clear cut.  He destroyed the Cards in 2004-2006 while with the Astros and Mets, but has become an injury prone mess since 2009.   Beltran hit .300 with 22 HR and 84 RBI last season between the Mets and Giants but will command a high salary.   After Michael Cuddyer got 10 million per season from Colorado and Jason Kubel got 7.5 from Washington, I would expect Beltran to command 15 million per season.   However, sources say he will take a 2-3 deal worth 12.5 million a season.   Still rich for my blood but I wouldn’t dispute the move if the Cards signed him.  Every player brings risk and Beltran’s risk is greener than others but his potential impact is immense.  He can play all outfield spots and hit anywhere from the #2 hole to the 6th spot.  A potentially dangerous player, in terms of potential and injury threat.

Ryan Ludwick, Crisp or Carlos Beltran?   My money is on Beltran.  My brain is with Ludwick.   I would be fine with Crisp.

The Blues win an ugly battle against Columbus on Sunday, 6-4 and roll into 4th place in the Western Conference with 42 points.   This team is 13-2-4 under Ken Hitchcock.  Enough said.  They are doing a lot of things right at the moment and will try to continue the trend against Colorado tonight on the road.  Sunday’s win was characteristic of Hitchcock’s effect on this team.  They simply don’t give up.  On a night where Jaroslav Halak gave up 4 goals and the defense struggled at times, the Blues were relentless and kept after the puck.   The troubles with shootouts continue to confound this team but hopefully the shoots taken in those extra sudden death sessions improve and the Blues grab a post overtime victory under their new coach.   Until then, I’ll enjoy the rugged new brand of Blues hockey.   While the Rams tank another season, I am happy with the Blues taking over the winter here in St. Louis.  It’s about time the bold moves of Doug Armstrong pay off.

The Rams lose again.   World moves on.   The examination process takes longer if you wish to inspect the losing ways of this football team.  What is Arizona and Seattle(both 7-7 with bad to average quarterbacks) doing differently?  The Rams roughly have the same talent buildup here, so why aren’t we seeing results?  The Seahawks have beat us twice along with the Eagles and Chicago.   The Cardinals beat the 49ers last week.   What is wrong with the Rams? It doesn’t start and end with the coaching, but there has to be a problem there.   Injuries have hurt, but I look at the ridiculously stupid penalties this team takes.  How can you win football games if you aren’t disciplined?  The NFC West competition has improved their play with the same or lesser talent.  The Rams can’t do so.  I don’t care if they are playing hard for Spags or McDaniels.  This is a results driven league and the St. Louis Rams aren’t getting any results.

Game Notes from the Cincy defeat-

*Kellen Clemens played well for a guy who has only been here 2 weeks.  Clemens developed momentum on drives and threw for a late touchdown before coming up short.  However, Kellen did as much or more than Sam Bradford has done all season.   He gives a small ounce of excitement to the final 2 games.

*Chris Long racked up sack #13 on Sunday.  A stellar player having a career season on a bad football team.   Long has slowly developed into the premiere pass rusher the Rams were hoping for when they drafted him 2nd in the 2009 draft.  Long has put together 2 very strong back to back seasons now.   Him and Robert Quinn give you a foundation on the defensive line for years to come.

*The defense played “bend yet don’t break” for another week, allowing big yards on the ground and enough points to outlast their offense while performing horribly on special teams.   This unit deserves better and saves us from a winless season but spots can be strengthened.

*The Rams would be smart to sit Sam Bradford for the rest of the season with his high ankle sprain.   The next two games are against Pittsburgh and San Francisco, two very powerful defensive minded playoff teams looking to position themselves for the playoffs.  Tell the kid to shut his mouth and ride the bench.  I don’t care about Bradford’s desire right now.  I care more about his desire to live to see another day when he is shell shocked and scared of getting hit.   Bradford hasn’t shown me that yet.  The ability to take a hit and not see his play completely drop in production.  Bradford isn’t healthy and can’t play.  Start Clemens the last two games for the sheer fun of seeing what he can do and saving your franchise player for a fresh start.  Spagnuolo’s future may hinge on his treatment of Bradford.

*If the Rams finish 2-14 and get the #3 pick, The GM(whoever that is) has to give serious consideration to trading it for more picks because the Rams don’t just need one player.  They need a quartet of producers.   The Rams need to start prepping for 2012.   This season is horrendously over.

Ndamukong Suh may be a dirty old school player but the big guy is a game changing defensive player and begs the question;  Did the Rams make the right choice?  Franchise Quarterback or Franchise defensive player?  The call goes to the Rams, due to Bradford’s potential impact and Suh’s negative impact, but in five years the answer may be different.


Musician to Investigate-Frank Ocean.  Give his new song with Jay Z and Kanye West, “No Church in the Wild”, a listen.   An unorthodox choice for this blog but something new and fresh.

Black Keys Song of the Week-Mind Eraser, from their latest, El Camino.  A hard charging blues rock song that defines the band to a direct tee.   This is what they do.  Make hardcore blues rock that lingers and drives you to the rest of their music catalog.   One of the best signs a band is working its magic on you is when you search for their older work.   Listen to this song and tell me it doesn’t move you or get you going in their direction.

Weddings-Good, bad and ugly traits.   Over the past weekend, I had a chance to serve as best man for a fourth time at a wedding and the experience always brings a few different flavors.   The good comes in the form of being directed associated with the wedding.   You are the eye of attention and get to do things first.   Eat first, make the toast and push the proceedings along.   I gave another speech and it went well and hit the marks.  I like weddings.  I am a believer in marriage not only because it has worked for me but also for the idea of marriage.   Two people meeting out of the blue, falling in love and deciding to spend the rest of their life with one another.  The promise of a lifetime.  Isn’t that what we all strive for in some way?  Companionship.   The bad part comes in dealing with all the anxiety and nerves of the pre wedding activities.   Getting to the facility, dropping your belongings in a room and heading to the hall to go over the plays for the wedding.   Stand here, walk to here, look here and hold this.   Weddings are an event and one small fuckup cripples the entire day so careful tactics are taken.  Wedding planners are bitches because they promised heaven to the bride.  The Groomsmen show up and do the best they can to make it happen.  My part was walking up to my friend Eric, standing next to him, smiling and handing him the rings.   The speech was extra.   Weddings are symbolic of life.  Stress, nerves, anxiety and the pursuit of happiness all in one night.  The ugly comes when people close to you drink too much because when people really drink, emotions come out and make themselves known.  Unstoppable forces meet unfortunate people and things happen that can’t be reversed but only heal over time.   Overall, weddings are good and fun but will wear you down with the pressure and aftermath.   I still believe in the institution of marriage but continue to question the procedure for which it is reached.

Fatherhood At Three Months

What is there to say that hasn’t been said by dad’s that have run around before me?   Probably little, but they didn’t have a son as cute, willing or time consuming as my little man Vinny.   Every day I come home and the kid is pissed, sleeping or hungry or a combination of all three.   I am tired and holding little energy but I make it a task to spend a little time with the guy every night.   Tonight, I read him a fine sweet book, “Go The Fuck To Sleep”.   That is the title of the book and it was a great Christmas gift.  This is a book you can’t read straight faced or get through without breaking into laughter.  Lines such as “You are hungry, that’s bullshit, now go the fuck to sleep” stopped me three times in my tracks.  We don’t do the ordinary books to rock our kids to sleep here at the Buffa’s.    Unorthodox approaches our house frequently.  As I laughed, Vinny stayed wide awake and looked at me like I had a few too many drinks.   Being a parent requires you to call a few audibles and do things differently just to tell yourself this is a fresh experience.   While exhausting and patience sucking, being a parent is the role of a lifetime.  And it never ends.  I’m up for the ride.

Here is another song because it reminds me of my family and our struggle with getting over a tough event.   David Gray performing “Draw The Line” live in a studio in London like he’s blasting a package of C4 inside his chest.  That’s the only way Gray can bring it.   Straight and blunt and with meaning.  There are few musicians you look at on stage or in studio and say to yourself, “what you see is what you get”.   Gray belongs to that group.  An English musician with one idea.  Sing from the heart.  Give this raw edged song a listen.  I’m touring Youtube at the moment and came across this one inside various searches.

Moving on to the Random Topics-Bullets included

  • Tim Tebow’s Broncos lose to Brady and the Patriots and people wish to smack Tebow for not leading a comeback.   Well, when your defense gives up 41 points and your fellow offensive players like to fumble the football, what can a quarterback do?  Tebow had another solid game, throwing for 194 yards and rushing for 90 while scoring 2 touchdowns on the ground.   Tebow is playing great football and did all he could against one of the best QB’s in the game.   It’s time to leave the man’s religion alone and analyze his football skills alone.
  • Ben Roethlisberger had a performance on Monday Night Football many will wish to forget.  Playing on one leg, Big Ben threw 3 interceptions and fumbled once and his Steelers lost 20-6 to the suddenly Super Bowl threat SF 49ers.   When your quarterback commits 4 turnovers, you won’t win that often.
  • Blues president John Davidson has a point when discussing the rising number of concussions in hockey.  It’s the speed of the game, the size and athleticism of the players and taking away of mid ice tactics that lend themselves to bigger hits.   Players can’t hold and hook players in the middle of the ice and without the red line taking away two lane passes, players are getting caught cold in the neutral zone.   In the end, unless you change the framework the game has taken, the concussions won’t stop.
  • You can take every measure possible in hockey and football but bad injuries will happen.   It’s a physically brutal sport and you can’t teach players how to not hit someone.   The players know the risks involved.  They know the sport is slowly killing them one game at a time.
  • Andre Ward beat Carl Froch in the super middleweight Super 6 boxing championship on Showtime on Saturday, staying unbeaten and beating a flawless british fighter on the Boardwalk in Jersey.   Ward took apart the unbeaten Froch and outpointed him easily while earning a close decision.  While the two American judges had it 115-113 for Ward, the british judge(feeling zero empathy) gave the fight to Ward at 118-110.  With Froch representing Britain, I take the lopsided Ward decision as a true indicator of who won the fight. 
  • The Yu Darvish negotiating rights victory by Texas is absolutely ludicrous.  Why spend 51 million dollars on one player to only win the rights to negotiate a contract with him?  Did Nolan Ryan and company fail to see the mistake Boston made with Daiska Matusurka.  They handed over 50 million to win the rights to talk a deal,and Daiska has been a shell of himself since his America arrival.   Darvish is a Japanese pitcher with 99 wins and a 1.99 ERA in Japan.   There is no data telling me that will transmit over to the states.  There is no real way to tell.   The Rangers won’t give Prince Fielder, a proven slugger, a long term contract but they will hand 51 million to negotiate a potential 120 million dollar contract for a guy who hasn’t thrown 1 major league pitch yet.   Sounds like giving a rookie QB 50 millio before he takes a snap.   Darvish could be Ichiro or he could be a complete bust.   The pursuit makes zero sense to me.  
  • One intriguing quality about Beltran coming to St. Louis is his friendship with Lance Berkman, who teamed up with Beltran to nearly cripple the Cards in 2004.   Beltran also sported a .385 on base percentage in 2011 while hitting .300 with two clubs.   If healthy, Beltran could be a great signing.   Place him in the #2 hole in the lineup with the speed and power.   This is just an idea.  If they sign Lud or Crisp, I would understand and support it because it’s smart.   Signing Beltran could produce a big reward if they take the leap.
  • MMA fights are highly skilled fights but they don’t last long enough to throw pay per view money on.   There is nothing worse than tossing 50 dollars on a fight only for it to last 2 minutes.  Mike Tyson used to be a sure bet for a waste of cash unless you liked seeing human eclipses inside a boxing ring.  I’d rather give my 60 dollars to a boxing match because the chances for a 90 minute 12 round battle are higher.  Fighters get up off the mat more often because they are only allowed to toss fists and not elbows, legs and heads. 
  • The Dark Knight Rises trailer promises high stakes action between Batman and Bane.    For the people who can’t erase Joel Schumacher’s Batman films from their head, the mention of Bane won’t perk interest because Schumacher didn’t portray him right.  He isn’t just a muscle goon.  He is a highly intelligient deadly villain who can get into a person’s head. Think of the Joker with muscle to go with brains.  The final chapter in Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece 3 film set comes down to Batman/Bruce Wayne deciding to return to Gotham after being casted out at the end of the Dark Knight.   He comes back to see his city in ruins, this time at the hands of a terrorist named Bane(played by the deliciously evil Tom Hardy).   Anne Hathaway shows up as Catwoman, and the usual players(Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman) all come back along with Joe Gordon Levitt and Marion Cotillard.  Nolan’s films are so good because he pays as much attention to story strength and character development as he does to the action and set pieces.   Everything is done with skill and class.   This will be the film of the year in 2012.  Here’s the trailer for those seeking to wet the lips.

  • The NBA lockout ends officially on Christmas day and while I couldn’t care less, there is new hope for basketball fans seeking a fix.   I don’t carry resentment towards Kobe, Lebron or Derrick Rose.   I just find it difficult to care until the playoffs come around.   The shortened season works for me and should be tested in other sports.   Shorter season with the playoffs featured at top billing.  
  • HBO’s 24/7 just gets better and better.   There are so many things to love about this show.  Liev Schriber’s narration.  The film work and sequences.   The music chosen to carry the scenes of physical carnage.  The stories behind the fighters and players.  If sports were made into a theater play, this would be the best example.   Players fighting for respectability and triumph against  a sea of competitors while dealing with the normal issues of life off the ice or outside the ring.   Boxers locking together mind and body before a fight.   Its hard to ignore emotion in a show focused on taking us inside the lives of athletes.   I highly recommend this show.   24/7 Rangers-Flyers premieres their second episode tonight. 
  • Woody Allen’s film about a writer getting lost in Paris sounds like an idea for an evening with Owen Wilson.   Wilson is a comedic actor but can be effective when inserted into the right role.   Here he plays a guy who walks into the past during hallucinations overnight in Paris.  
  • Warrior comes highly recommended on DVD this week from me.  Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton play rival MMA fighters struggling to make ends meet, physically and psychologically, so they enter a tournament and set themselves on a collision course.   Father issues,abandonment and hatred enter the picture in this fighter drama.  NO, its not just about MMA fighting.  There is a story about brotherhood here.  
  • The Packers losing to the Chiefs only reinforces the idea that anything can happen on any given Sunday.   When they hoist the AFC in another Super Bowl, they will be glad they lost in the regular season.

Something tells me today will be a day that Iwill never forget.  There’s so much on the table that the idea of  thinking this 24 hour set will go down like any other isn’t valid.  I expect lots of drama. 

That’s all for now.  So long for just a little awhile. 

Goodnight and good luck,

Dan L. Buffa

Also….The only thing I can say that is comforting about Meme’s exit is being reunited with my grandfather Larry.   Its only been 21 years since he died so that’s nice. Other than that, this passing will rock my family. Like I said, this could be a day to remember or forget.

We will see. Life is full of surprises.

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