You are what you decide to be in this world, and there is no changing the result because we drive the car in this walk of life. That isn’t a quote because I just came up with it out of the crowded arena inside my head, so eat it up, use it if you have to, but make sure the residency of its origin lie in my name please. All a writer wants is proof of existence. Here we go. You know how I bring it here. Cold, brutal and direct with zero punches pulled. Running begins now..
Homeland on Showtime, Season 1 Quick Review
We have all seen it before in shows and films. The CIA operative who is in too deep, knows too much, has the complete picture arranged in her mind like a piece of opera music, and only needs a few souls to trust her and believe in her. The soul who screams everything isn’t as it seems, that the rosy picture painted on the news is made of crimson and not cherry pasts and bright futures. Claire Danes and Damian Lewis deserve awards for their work, because they each play slowly ticking timebombs. Dave Matthews’ song, Timebomb, repeatedly played in my head as I watched the final 4 episodes of this series’ first season. A ticking explosive device waiting to be set off at any given moment. Danes’ energized renegade operative, who has all the pieces to the puzzle that is Lewis’ returned POW turned Soldier Press Hero and how he is a silent terrorist prepared to do damage to his “homeland”. That is the main plot here. A CIA spook who is trying to convince her superiors and associates that this man isn’t a hero and instead has been turned. The X-factor here is that Carrie suffers from a bipolar disorder that requires medication and speeds up and mixes her focus at times. Her trusted confidant, Saul(Mandy Patintkin), loves her brain but fears it as well. We spend 12 hours putting the detective story like clues together. This is arguably the best show on television right now. Homeland’s first season ranks with The Sopranos, Dexter, Justified, Brotherhood and Rome’s first seasons. Memorable, explosive, consistent and packing a punch lasting long enough to send a man out into the night on a midnight ride with only a cigar and music to string an opinion together. When I finished this series at 130am, I got a cigar, got into the car and drove for 2 hours before landing at Barnes Hospital to pay a surprise visit to my old man. Homeland is great for its intensity and persistence alone. You don’t see the cliched plot devices or old script hands used here. All the scenes and twists are fresh and serve a purpose. Lewis’ Nicholas Brody, returning after declared dead and missing for 8 years after a failed mission in Iraq in 2003. Danes’ operative Carrie, immediately convinced that Brody is rogue and spends the entire season proving to herself, the rest of the CIA and us that she is right. I won’t spoil anything here but the style, dialogue, strategy and format used to provide the answers here are thrilling and worth the ride. That’s all we want as viewers. A reason to spend 12 hours with a story. A payoff. Homeland provides one. It validates your ticket. GREAT television series cause us to become lazy ass couch potatoes. Glued to the screen and attached to little else. These shows are few and far in between. Most shows I watch come after their air date and through DVR. Homeland is appointment television. A sophisticated terrorism saga told through realist vision. A visceral series that focuses directly on the war on terror. Whether Season 2 keeps up or not is yet to be seen, but if there is a series that needs to be watched, its this one. It has everything we wish for in entertainment. Great acting, thrilling pace, a worthy story buried inside a unique and original perspective. Brains, brawn and efficiency. Season 1 is available on demand and on DVD. Find it, watch it, give it an hour and see what you think. Detectives exist in all of us, a willing need to find an answer to a deadly question. Homeland sends you on that mission and journey having to do with one center dilemma. Is he bad or is she just crazy? If he is bad, why is he doing it? Who will believe Carrie? The war on terror is as fresh as the war on drugs. Cells pop up faster than headaches and this show provides us with a point of view from the CIA, the terrorists and the public. This is my new favorite show to spread the word about. Watch it and I will tell you more. My tease here is over.
Spags/Rams/Fate of the Franchise
The Rams are a disgusting team to watch. Blunt. Painful. They only lost by 7 points on Sunday but the margin of error was more than 20 points deep. The Rams consistently beat themselves. Let me tell you about their opponent, the San Francisco 49ers real quick. The 49ers are the #2 seed in the NFC and they showed the fans at the Ed Dome why they changed so quickly from last season with the same parts. The 49ers went from third in the NFC West in 2010 to going 13-3 and owning the #2 seed in the conference in 2011. The only difference was a head coach. Jim Harbaugh joined San Francisco this season after winning at Stanford with Andrew Luck for years. Harbaugh took over a mixed up franchise who recently let go of hall of famer Mike Singletaire. Harbaugh didn’t select a quarterback in the 2011 draft, opting to stick with disgraced and replaced vet Alex Smith. He maintained the West Coast offense and featured the running back, Frank Gore, as the center of the universe and Smith as the minority in the offense. The strength of the 49ers was Brad Selley’s defense, powered by MU products Justin Smith and Aldon Smith to go along with Patrick Willis. Harbaugh didn’t gain any new set pieces. He used Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Smith, and Gore on offense, just as Singletaire did in 2010. He didn’t take any snaps but he took the same team and got results that the franchise hadn’t found since 2002. Now, for the first time in 9 years, they are going to the playoffs. What happened there that couldn’t happen in St. Louis? A lot of things happened there. Harbaugh made that team better. Unfortunately, Steve Spagnuolo was unable to overcome injury, early deficits and a lack of depth in St. Louis to do what Harbaugh did in SF. As a result, Spags will more than likely lose his job in the next 48 hours. Bill Parcells put it best. A head coach is only as good as his record. Spags’ record in 3 seasons is 10-38. The worst record for a coach in STL football history. Spags is a class act, but in pro sports it begins and ends with results. Kroneke has to do something. Spags can’t be the only one to be cut in this surgerical procedure. GM Billy Devaney and OC Josh McDaniels must go as well. Blow up the ship. Giving Devaney and Spags another season could prove to be detrimental to this franchise. The Rams lease at the Ed Dome only lasts for 3 more seasons. Time is running out. If things don’t improve, Kroneke will move the team and I wouldn’t blame him. The Rams haven’t had a winning season in over 6 years. After winning 7 games last season under Sam Bradford, they regressed this season and lost 14 games. That is a huge step backward and something MUST be done. It’s never the head coach’s fault, but he is the first person to be axed. Cry foul or scream madness, but that is just the way it is. I’ll play the Bruce Hornsby song if I have to. I don’t know who will be brought in to stop the bleeding. Chargers GM AJ Smith comes to mind. Jon Gruden and Jeff Fisher are rumored coaches. Who knows? The Rams job isn’t as shitty a job posting as some think. There is hope here and pieces in place. Bradford, soldier of misfortune Steven Jackson(for now), Brandon Lloyd, Danario Alexander(whenever he plays, he makes plays), James Lauranitis, Chris Long, Robert Quinn, Quentin Mikkel, along with injured vets Danny Amendola and Ron Bartell. The Rams own the second pick in the 2012 draft and have a chance to select a luxury player or trade the spot and collect picks. We are unfortunately chained to a highly overpaid and overrated offensive line and lack depth at linebacker, in the secondary and painfully unmatched at wide receiver. The answers to this downward speeding ship are scattered and hard to find, but the first move has to be cleaning house. I was highly favorable of the hiring of Spagnuolo in 2009. The defensive minded coach was the brain behind dismantling the Tom Brady machine in the 2007 Super Bowl and was a big catch on the market after Jim Haslett was let go. He came here and did his best but wasn’t properly equipped to push a sinking franchise in the right direction. He couldn’t sustain success and as a result, he is the first body to catch a bullet.
Blues Running into a reality wall.
The Blues still own the 5th spot in the conference, but haven’t won in their last 3 games. They are losing critical games inside the Central Division as well. They lost to the Red Wings on Wednesday, lost a shootout and collected a point on Friday against Nashville, and got easily defeated in Detroit on Saturday. Suddenly, the Blues cruising ship is losing speed and stalling a bit. The goaltending has been shaken a little but Halak and Elliot are making big time stops and lining their team up for a win. The sticks aren’t producing a lot of goals. Three goals in their last three games explains the problem. The Blues are playing a strong 60 minutes but getting outgunned and can’t finish plays. Players like Patrik Berglund aren’t finishing plays and doing their job. The Blues are turning the puck over and getting sloppy. Hot sticks like TJ Oshie are still scoring but aren’t as consistent. The power play came alive for 2 games but went silent on Saturday. The shootout production hit an all time low on Friday as the Blues lost in a 5 round shootout. Halak made 4 great stops and earned the right to victory but 2 Blues couldn’t win the game with a score. The presence of a sniper is hurting this team. Chris Stewart has had a rough start and Andy Mcdonald is missing so the younger players like Oshie, Perron and Bergie are being leaned on. The result is a mixed bag. Oshie has 12 goals, Perron is delivering on assists and Berglund may just be the biggest bag of frustrated talent since Erik Johnson rocked the bluenote. The Blues are still 15-6-5 under Hitch but the wheels are loosening. GM Doug Armstrong has said he is a buyer at the deadline and that is a good thing. Between now and February 27th, the Blues will find out how much consistency they are capable of and what they need. Their next three games are against beatable teams in Phoenix, Edmonton and Colorado and they are all at home, where the Blues own one of the best records in the NHL. 6 easy points lie ahead of this team and with the Blackhawks and Detroit playing great hockey, the Blues need to keep up. Goals scored has been a problem for 3 straight seasons. The power play hasn’t been consistent in multiple seasons. The ability to win on the road is a tough spot for this team. Beating division opponents is a required asset for a playoff team and the Blues couldn’t do it in December. They went 2-5 in the division in December after a perfect 3-0 in November. When the Blues are right, they are beating their rivals. That will have to continue this week. Will the Blues continue to slip or regain their winning touch?
Cardinals Face More Offseason Unfortune
New rules in Cardinal land. Keep Matheny away from knives. Furcal away from batting cage nets. Freese away from bars. Berk away from the 80s. And Chris Carpenter away from fishing trips in the Amazon. He broke a toe this month while fishing with Doc Halladay. It isn’t known which toe was broke and whether surgery was needed but Carp did suffer an injury and this kind of incident has to be avoided. Lock these players down. They are worth too much money to the franchise. The Cardinals are paying Carpenter 10 million in 2012 and they can’t lose him over a fishing accident. Plain stupid. Do this or the Cards are officially looking for trouble. Quarantine the players until February? We are 48 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting. My safe bet is to inform the players to be regular citizens until then. Stay in St. Louis. Stay at home. Don’t touch sharp material. No planes. No late night drag races or drinking contests. Be a fucking nerd until spring training. Without Albert Pujols, every hand is needed on deck in 2012. Put it in a memo immediately. In 2012, no fuckups are allowed in Cardinal Nation. This is where Matheny will be tested. While players respected him as an ex-catcher and assistant to Mo, will they offer him the same respect as a manager? Can he crack the whip and lock down troublesome bodies? That is where I’m looking right now.
Dear Floyd Mayweather,
Enjoy your 90 days in jail. That fight you lined up in May is off now. Lessons need to be learned little man.
1.)Stop breaking the law, asshole.
2.)Stop beating women and hitting officers.
3.)Upon your release, take off the chicken outfit and get into a ring with Manny Pacquiao or you will be incomplete.
I respect Floyd’s skills but I really don’t like the guy. Classless fella who finally got what he deserved. A slap on the cheek for his unguarded arrogance and disrespect for authority. Here’s to Floyd getting his ass kicked in jail or at least running into a shank. His jail time knocks out a spring matchup with Pacquiao and sets the unbeaten pound for pound champ on a collision course for a fight in the fall of 2012. He will have plenty of time to think about his next fight.
This clears the way for a fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez for Manny Pacquiao. After three close battles, these two vets deserve another shot for a clear cut decision. Pac Man and Marquez produced one of the most entertaining fights in recent memory. Give them another while Floyd does his time. Miguel Cotto is out there as well but Manny beat him so soundly the first time a rematch isn’t warranted. Set up Pacquiao-Marquez IV.
The Random Fire-
-I’m watching Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes frame for frame as he takes us through the film and how it comes together. The blu ray in effect. The technical aspects and stories. Staring behind the curtain of a production. I’m a film junkie. Love this shit.
-A reminder: Clint Eastwood is the original bad ass and quite a talented man. Actor, director and composer.
-Fright Night with Colin Farrell was decent and a fair remake if you are in for a straight up treat. Oscar work doesn’t exist here but it works for a horror flick.
-Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov needs to focus less on “the universe” and more on his goaltending. Dude got smoked for 2nd time in a week. 5 goals on 16 shots.
-The 24-7 climactic battle today on NBC should be one of the better Winter Classic matchups in the five year history of the event. The Rangers/Flyers rivalry is one of the oldest and juiciest in league history and both teams sit atop their divisions and near the top of the Eastern Conference. Seeing Rangers goalie Henrik Lanquist go up against Bryzgalov in net and the physical teams collide will be entertaining and that’s all you can ask for at this point. The Flyers are without Chris Pronger but Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Daniel Briere, Jarmoir Jagr and Max Talbot are picking up the slack. The Rangers supply a reliable force with Ryan Callahan, Martin Gaborik and Brandon Dubinsky. This game will distinguish hockey as the ultimate love/hate brutality theater because each team wants to destroy the other. All respect and zero mercy at Citizens Park tomorow. The Winter Classic introduces old time hockey and a rare cable spectacle of a game sorely missed regularly on ESPN, ABC and FOX. For one day, The NHL gets the spotlight and deservedly so.
-The National is my band of the week because their music packs so much visceral power. Their music is a slow building wave of emotional vigor and poetic dive into love from soulful artists who write from experience. Method songwriting produces the greatest songs and The National are a fine example. Here is a selection from their first CD, Boxer, and it’s called “Lucky You”. An understated yet perfect late night ballad.
Bonus Selection Revisit here-“About Today” taken from The National’s song used in the great newly released on DVD movie, Warrior.
-One thing about 2011. Restaurants are changing. Prices going up, portions going down and it’s only getting worse. Food is the new oil.
-Greatest thing about water. Year round, nothing tastes better ice cold than water. It also doesn’t go bad. You can leave it in your car for 2 months and come back to enjoy the taste. Water, along with food, will be the most sought after product in decades to come. Who has it and where is the cleanest form of it?
-Tim Tebow and the Broncos lost on Sunday but backed into the playoffs with a Raiders loss. Typical unconventional Tebow action that leaves him with a 7-4 record as a starter but a horrible completion percentage. The Chiefs were the latest team to find a way to contain Tebow and ended up shutting him down completely. If I am playing him, I play man coverage in the secondary and flood the box with bodies to cut down his running game and force him to beat you through the air. He has exceeded expectations but needs to work on his passing skills to stick around as a QB of the future. However, if I am the Steelers rolling into next Saturday without Rasheed Mendenhall and safety Ryan Clark, I am a little worried about facing Tebow in his home field. Entertaining games to come.
-Lesson to be learned on Sunday night. Tony Romo is a choke artist once and for all and Eli Manning has “big game” ability in his genes. The Giants stomped the Cowboys at home and won a playoff berth.
-Drew Brees is dangerous and will be a threat to any NFC team looking to sneak past New Orleans to the Super Bowl. Brees played the entire game Sunday and threw 5 touchdown passes. Last week, he took over the yards thrown for record previously held by Dan Marino at 5,087 and this week, instead of sitting(like Aaron Rodgers), Brees dismantled the Panthers and is ready to duel this weekend.
-I’d love to see a Packers-Patriots Super Bowl or a Saints-Steelers/Patriots Super Bowl. I aim for an explosive matchup.
-Going to watch the Blues practice later this morning at The Mills Mall. This will be my first Blues practice since Brett Hull laced up the skates.
-Lesson to be learned from another new year. Keep your friends and family close. On New Year’s Eve, I had friends over to my home and it was as good as it gets for this 29 year old. A couple movies, Wii action, and a cigar to go with great conversation fueled a night of easy going fulfillment. I found out long ago that I wasn’t a party hound. I’m getting old and boring real quick and I am fine with that. I’ll be the guy at 50 sitting in his backyard watching his kids play around next to a fire with a cigar in his mouth and his hands wrapped around his wife.
-I turn 30 next month and the mark carries little reach for me other than to illustrate a point. I have higher goals set for myself. While those closest to me think I am content in a warehouse, I have goals that exceed a workplace with a roof covering its floor. I can tell you one thing. I don’t want to be driving a forklift when I am 40 years old. No way. Whether its breaking into the field of writing or seeking out a career with a climb, I am ready for anything. I love where I work. Senoret provides me with good hours, solid pay, and a reliable future. However, I have seen guys driving forklifts until they retire past 60 and that WILL NOT BE ME. I am always looking for a better spot and that will never change. A reminder to the doubters out there or the people who think this young man is content. The sky isn’t the limit but my aim is right below.
That’s it. All the juice that is fit to spin into news. Keep your eyes open and your opinions fresh. Stay kind but don’t rewind too often. The past is a catalogue best visiting only when a point needs to be referenced. Take the hits but keeping moving forwards. As Rocky said, that’s how winning gets done. I have no doubts that when catastrophe strikes this earth, humans will turn on themselves and go for anything available. That is why I suggest that every living soul learn(at least) how to use a firearm. Do it. The people who hate weapons will beg for them to save their lives in the end. Just do it. Until then, stay loose.
Good morning and good luck,
Dan L. Buffa