The Opener-On 830am on Christmas Eve, my sweet grandmother, Meme, passed away. She was a fierce 81 years old, and only fell because she made a tragic mistake one night at a party. She spent 13 days in the hospital and finally gave way to a horrible brain injury that defeated her mighty will. The world didn’t shake Saturday morning but it lost a wise soulful lady who made her presence known every time you came into contact with her. She blessed her company with a bit of sharpened wit and never let up on telling you what she was feeling. She loved her wine, 60 Minutes on weeknights and owned the Plaza Frontenac in her own mind where she enjoyed sophisticated French independent cinema. While this loss will rock my family to its very core, we will learn to appreciate a woman who always made you feel special. Honor her life by sticking her formula to our own journey and using it as a wise guide. Yes, I have used “wise” three times in this opening rant. Henrieta Bulus was wise. More than given at birth and greater than the sum produced at a certain older age. There’s no method to use in healing from a sudden loss. The human heart hasn’t derived a way to move on quickly without getting blown away by a missing person in their life. This will be the first of many sections about Meme because I could write for hours about her. She deserves words, and to me that is the highest regard a person can attain. The request of words to summarize her time here. While I build better ways to describe her, let’s take a look at my life in the past 48 hours. A whirlwind of small bits of material swung into a batch of prose.
Midnight in Paris
Woody Allen’s nostalgia filled enchanting waltz through the city of lights stars Owen Wilson as Gil, a writer trying to find a worth in his current reality by slipping in 1920’s Paris and meeting the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. Gil is a longtime screenwriter looking to invent something truly special and he feels old time Paris is a good place to start. He arrives there with his fiance’s family, and they have the opposite intentions of our lone wolf explorer. Gil is a romantic and man who craves “the golden age”, a place that doesn’t exist in his current reality but lies in an older time period that he can only escape to. Watch this film if you appreciate a sweet romantic comedy with great shots of dialogue and story details. Gil’s flight mirrors our own as we all wish to bite a piece of true life off the large pie known as life. Wilson locks into the role like an old pro, showing us a man desperate for a connection in a sea of modern realists with zero desire to play around in their own minds. A Woody Allen trait is to insert his leading men into stories that revolve around versions of himself. There is plenty of Woody in Wilson’s Gil. Neurotic adventure, ambitious romance and a dash of true talent. Allen loves to film in Paris and this is his best film in years, maybe even since Mighty Aprodite. See it if you like an escape.
The Rams Drop Another and Inch Towards First Place in Failure
The Rams were shut out for the second time on Saturday and it only goes to teach a Rams fan one thing. Wish for any sign of hope from this team and you shall be disappointed. Sam Bradford won’t play again this season, which frames his 2012 season in high tension anxiety to reveal which QB the Rams selected in the 2010 draft. The rookie of the year or the sophomore breakable piece of glass who couldn’t generate an ounce of excitement? Steven Jackson put together a 24 carry, 110 yard performance against a Pittsburgh defense waiting for him on every play. Jackson’s 1,000 yard season is a miracle when you think what he was working with. 3 different quarterbacks, no spark, no creativity and a dead end offense. Jackson’s 8 year career is a tragic misunderstanding of talent. He has fired off 1,000 yard seasons even in seasons that he doesn’t play 16 games but gets nothing to show for it. One wonders what he would do on a better team. If the Rams cared about Jackson at all, they would try to trade him for a batch of players before next season while he still has a year left on his deal. Jackson had an ugly contract dispute, but he became a team leader in the past 4 seasons and deserves better. Trade the fella. The Rams main culprit of misery is their inept ability to draft well. 4 of the 8 draft picks in this year’s draft aren’t on the team any longer. The top draft pick, Robert Quinn, has only started one game. What are we doing there? Our scouts are horrible or we don’t do the proper amount of homework, or they don’t give a shit. The Rams bad drafts and overpaid offensive line are the foundations of their 10-36 record in Spags’ coaching campaign. I agree with my good friend Irish. If you fire Spags, fire the entire coaching staff and front office. Clear house. Don’t just place the stick of dynamite inside one office. Blow up the whole building. Start fresh. Do it sooner rather than later. Spags has to go because sending a message begins with firing the head coach. Spags is 10-36 so he has to go. Josh McDaniels goes next because his offensive strategy has gone nowhere and doesn’t fit with Sam Bradford’s plans. Bradford carried more success under Pat Shurmur’s deadened West Coach schemes than McDaniel’s supposed run and gun formula. When you score less than 180 points inside 15 games, something is wrong. Fire defensive coordinator Ken Flajole because he can’t find a way to stop the run or prevent the big pass play. Fire the Special teams because they let Patrick Petersen beat them twice. Fire GM Billy Devaney because he has been here for too long and produced zero results and brought in players that didn’t pan out at all. Owner Stan Kroneke has to seriously look up and down the roster and inspect his front office and coaching staff. We will know a lot about him and his plans for this team post 2014 when he makes his moves in the upcoming offseason. Watch for an explosion. Soon, the Ed Dome will be empty, which means zero home games air on local TV. Soon, the hype for football will be as loud as the support for an NBA team is. Soon, people will hate the Rams so much they will beg for them to leave, not knowing the last chance for football in St. Louis leaves right with it. Soon, we will have nothing. Stan, your time starts now. Why did you reallllly buy this team??
The Blues Bring Things Home For Measure
With two games this week against Dallas and Detroit, the Blues attempt to distance themselves from lower competition in the Western Conference and make a run for Chicago in their Central Division. The Blues are 20-10-4 and are approaching the halfway point of the season. Since Ken Hitchcock’s arrival, the team is playing a fresher faster more successful brand of hockey and its paying off in the standings. The question is…do you make any changes to the roster? My feeling is no. Unless a need suddenly emerges, keep the roster intact. Why mess with a winning formula? If a player exists who can quickly improve the power play output and the cost on your end isn’t too hard, pull the trigger. If not, keep what you have and ride it out. GM Doug Armstrong is similiar to Cards GM John Mozelaik in knowing WHEN to make the move and not forcing the issue for little reason. The Blues play 11 of their next 14 games at home, a place they have dominated all season long. It’s crucial that they win at least 9 of those and get a point in 11 of them. This will keep up the pace and give them a shot at catching Chicago and Detroit while keeping them ahead of the lower rung teams. Just keep winning. Follow Hitch’s lead and play 60 minutes at a time.
While putting the brain to the green over the 2012 Cardinals team, its never too late to relive the 2011 World Champion Cardinals thrill ride through September and October. On Christmas, FSM replayed Games 6 and 7 of the World Series and its hard to watch those battles without a small smile on your face. A few things I will never forget.
-Joe Buck’s playcalling that puts him in high class of sports announcers. I have said for years that Jack’s kid was one of the best and in this series that notion became a truth. His call of David Freese’s game tying triple, slowly shouting, “Cruz goes back, and its….off the wall!” His mantra for the 2011 Redbirds. “They just won’t go away.” David Freese’s home run sailing out of Busch and stretching the series to 7 games. “We..will..see…you…tomorrow…night!” Chills go up and down the spine.
-Jason Motte’s final pitch, Craig catching the ball, and Yadi Molina bear tackling Motte at the pitchers mound. Pure elation.
-Freese’s dead on look at third base after his game tying series saving triple. He looked like a man possessed. His infectious smile friendly dance down the third base line after his game winning homer in Game 6. Everything about the local kid’s work makes you feel proud that he is a hometown boy.
-Albert’s 3 bombs in Game 3 rewiring the series and giving the Cardinals a much needed if short lived 2-1 series lead. Pujols turned a close brittle 3 run lead into a 6 run cushion by disposing of three pitches from three different Rangers pitchers. Hate him all you want but remember his work here and over his entire career.
-Beating Milwaukee in the NLCS brings all kind of pleasures. Slamming shut Nyjer Morgan’s mouth, shutting down Braun and Fielder in the right moments late and watching our bullpen almost singlehandedly preserve the series. A season long feud ended on one Jason Motte pitch in Game 6 in Milwaukee. Silencing every fan in the house never looked or felt so good.
-Chris Carpenter’s postseason defining defeat of his rival/friend Roy Halladay to win the NLDS 1-0 on the road at Citizens Park. He beat the best pitcher in baseball, shut them out in clutch fashion, and watched their best player, Ryan Howard rupture his achilles on the last pitch. The Cardinals crippled that city on one night in October.
The 2012 season brings new adventures and a new look but before we dive into the torture of that 162 game plunge, let’s remember the glorious run this team took. Start there before you design anything up in your head for next season. Trust me.
The Random Slices-
*Tim Tebow has exceeded expectations and can only stack great things on top of a highly transformative 2011 season. He experienced his worst game as a pro, throwing 4 INTs(2 for scores) and Denver got blown out by Buffalo. However, as people jump on him at the first sign of downfall, Tebow is taking the brutal defeat in stride and will be gunning for a playoff spot next week. Tebow has throw 11 TD and 6 INT, and ran for 6 more touchdowns on the ground. He has fumbled 5 times yet lost only 2 of them. He may not be a protypical or sound NFL quarterback, but he has done very well, isn’t done yet and deserves the chance to prove critics wrong in 2012. He’s an exciting player.
*Here is Edward Burns’ take on the process of delivering indie films digitally into our video on demands at home. Interesting read from the Hollywood vet, who once made a film for 23,000 and made 10 million back.
*I can’t seem to get Iron and Wine’s “Freedom Hangs Like Heaven” out of my head. Folky blues rock with spice on the back end.
*If you love fighting in hockey and wish a league would embrace it like the 1970s and let the blood fly for real, here is Seann William Scott(aka Stiffler) as a hockey enforcer in the February release, GOON. He plays a regular guy who defends a friend in the stands by knocking out the fighter on a hockey team in epic one punch style. He takes over the role and becomes a one man wrecking crew of anti-flaccid entertainment. He meets his match in Liev Schriber’s legendary fighter and there’s an epic fight in the end. There is nothing truly new here but if you crave old school hockey fights and need a badass tooth bashing rockheaded shitbrick to make it happen, here you are. William Scott is a regular comedy participant and while this film carries varying degrees of comedy, there is something far more grand taking place. Scott gained weight and muscle for the role and looks the part. Here’s a taste.
*Christopher Nolan doesn’t make films for simple financial gain or a tool for wasting time. He sets out to tell stories. The Dark Knight Rises is the third and final film in his Batman trilogy and I am sure it won’t disappoint. No other director comes close today when it comes to combining big screen spectacle, story an fascinating characters. He makes good and bad forces facing off seem Shakespearian. Secret Ingredient in this one. Tom Hardy as the ultimate bad guy, a terrorist named Bane.
*The Holidays are a very good way to ignite the recharging of the batteries. Seeing your family, answering questions, giving opinion and relaxing. This year was especially important. The only way to get over a death is to come together and help each other out.
*Who else writes to clear out the voices in your head telling you to talk about something? To me, writing is a competition. Write it first, get it out there and swell the minds with your thoughts. No true writer wants to call another’s work good or quality before giving forth their own. When I stage my opinion, I try to avoid Bernie’s opinion or other paid writer’s views until after I am done expressing mine. If I read something and think its shit, I’ll say it. If I think it is good, I get anxious and need to fire my own version out. Writers have to get to the bottom of their barrel first before seeking out other views. Its human nature. I love the works of others but see them as the competition. Writing is a mad arms race.
This latest race in my head is finished. Enjoy. Digest. Read it over. Respond or carry on. My worries on your end don’t exist. My work here is done. The mind is at ease for the time being.
Soon, that will change and I will come back. Until then, down this dose or give me else something to talk about.
Thank you and have a good safe day at your office,
Dan L. Buffa