The Buffa Bullet Round

First comes the blast.  Then come the bullets.   I present to you the brief opinionated banter session.  The Buffa Bullet round starts now….1,000 words inside 30 minutes.

  • Drive Angry was exactly what I needed on a Monday night.  A blood drunk hard boiled action film that knew exactly what it had to give. Full throttled action packed excitement with an originality rarely seen in Hollywood these days. The plot doesn’t really matter, but it pertains to the grim reaper, revenge and a sinner getting his final wish. Cage and William Fichtner excel and Drive Angry exists purely as guilty pleasure fun.   This is what I wanted from Ghost Rider and instead I find my joy on a lonely Blockbuster wall.  Drive Angry is the kind of film critics pan because they can’t understand how to enjoy it without doing their job.   Cage is a ex-con who comes back from the dead to avenge the death of his daughter and save his granddaughter from a Satan nut job.   The grim reaper(Fichtner) gets in his way but Cage is assisted by Paige(the sweet fox Amber Heard) and the film is the quickest 105 minutes on a screen or television.   Everyone fits their roles here.   Cage as the boiling anti-hero.  Heard as the femme fatale.   Billy Burke as the baddie.  Fichtner as the Accountant.   David Morse as the old wise friend.  This film doesn’t require you to think, reason or wonder about what’s possible.   You sit there and enjoy it.  The gravy comes in the form of American muscle cars, including a 1969 Dodge Charger and Chevy Chevelle.  I really enjoyed this movie.  Give it a look on DVD.
  • The Blues have to beat a team in the Central Division to gain some confidence along with the idea of being able to conquer a team that will most likely follow you into the playoffs.  The last win against a divisional opponent came on December 3rd against Columbus.   Pathetic.  Lost inside a thrilling season is the missing ingredient required to beat the best who share a house with you in the Western Conference.  Until the Blues beat the Wings, Hawks, Preds or Blue Jackets, they won’t have a life.  Also, they need to win period so they can hold onto home ice advantage.   They are the most dominant home team in the NHL.  Locking down that advantage is at the top of the list.
  • Manny Rameriz is back in baseball.   Some guys simply can’t find a life outside of baseball.   Manny is the ultimate moron.  He cheated not once, not twice but three times.  He serves a 50 game suspension before joining the A’s.   Somebody must of slipped Billy Beane’s coffee a pill.
  • Act of Valor carries the unique chance to see real Navy Seals work inside a fictional plot.   The film deals with a make believe terrorist plot, but many parts of the film were assembled from real war stories.   The Seals in the film won’t be named for security reasons but they were given the script by the directors and had full rein to dictate the plot and story.   The result is a once in a lifetime chance to see a film starring the real deal heroes that help keep this part of the rock safe.  The film took three years to film in order to accommodate the men, and this weekend the film touches down in theaters.   The film sells itself.  There is no need to watch this film and wonder who is doing the stunts and how real it is.    The film contains scenes where live ammunition is used.   That’s real enough.
  • Justified rolls into my Tuesday evening tomorrow.   The highlight of my week on TV.   Folks, watch this show.  It’s worth every minute.
  • It’s wild to think what one man can get done in a day.  Sent off my blog right before the crack of midnight.   Slept for 4 hours.   Got up for work at 4am.  Went into work at 455am.   Clocked out at 330pm.   Got home, hung out with the kid, acquired new music, and fed the kid.   Made it to the gym.  Watched a flick.  Writing another blog and will clean up the head in a few minutes before calling it a night.   Put your mind to it and anything is possible.
  • I can’t tell you if I am ready for the 24/7 baseball madness with the Cardinals.   The offseason flew by thanks in part to Pujols mania and now spring training is on the doorstep.   Whether I like it or not, the obsession will begin.   Pain meds in the mail.
  • I have already explained it to you but I like our chances this season.
  • NBA action is hard to enjoy when so many players take games off with lazy play, stupid fouls and a ridiculous lack of intelligence.  You don’t see this in the NHL or the NFL, the other high contact/energy sports.    That’s why players like Kevin Durant are easy to appreciate.  He plays it the right way and does things the right way.   Blake Griffin is overrated.  Durant is not.
  • Watching your kid get sick and suffer at the hands of a cold can’t be cured by any medicine known to man.   Vinny can’t breathe clearly and the little guy only finds a bit of solace in sleep.   Poor guy sounds like Tony Soprano in a marathon right now.  A father can only sympathize and associate this with growing pain toughness.
  • A Taste of the Band of Skulls new album for your listening pleasure.   “Bruises”.  Hardcore blues rock doesn’t get any better than this.  There’s something about a pale yet hot female artist blaring the blues from her lips that goes down the tubes easy and smooth.
  • NBC’s new drama AWAKE with Jason Issacs looks promising.   A show about a cop being unable to associate which life is real after a horrible car wreck tears his family apart.  The one where he wakes up with his son alive or the other where his wife is still breathing.  Fascinating enough to follow.

I’m running out of words here so I am pulling this brief stream of consciousness to a close.  Thanks for reading and stay thirsty for news while I reload the hands for next time.

Goodnight and good luck,

Dan L. Buffa

1,043 words and counting so sue me….

The Buffa Blast

Hello again,

Let’s discuss the latest activity in the world of sports, film, general thought and opinion in addition to the random arena of topics.   There are certain men who preach, teach and  simply throw their opinion onto others backs.   I intend to unload my clotted mind onto this page in order for me to be able to keep moving and collect new material.   The head weighs 8 pounds and it can fill up quick and notify you that a clearing is in order.   The funny thing about writers is that we always have something to say or put down.  Time is all I need and for an hour, I can uncoil a little.   Let’s move…

The Blues rip apart the Islanders and Wild at home, 5-1 and 4-0 respectively, but are failing to beat their division rivals.  The Blues lost to the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1 on Sunday afternoon in excruciating fashion.  Carrying a 1-0 lead into the third period, the Blues collapsed offensively and gave up a couple heartbreak goals in route to their first loss of the season after leading going into the 3rd period.  A tough way to spend a day in the Windy City.   With the loss, the Blues are 0-6-1 against their own division.    They have lost twice to Detroit, and fell to Nashville and Columbus this year as well.   The Blues do have 36 wins and are 4th in the conference in points and only 5 behind the Red Wings, but you feel like they are getting knocked around by the divisional rivals.   This needs to change.  I could sit here and rant on and on about the recent prow of young studs like David Perron(6 goals in 9 games), Alex Pietrangelo(a point in 20 straight games) and the goaltenders(Halak and Elliot each have 6 shutouts, tied for the 1st spot in the league and most combined in the NHL).   The Blues have 26 wins at home this season, a strength that will be golden if we acquire the advantage in the playoffs.    David Backes continues to be a leader for the team, in the statistical columns and in persona as well.   Andy McDonald returned this week and has 2 goals and an assist.    Elliot notched his 6th shutout today and the Blues defense continues to keep teams off the scoreboard in the 3rd period.   That is the single biggest turnaround in the Blues this season.  Their defense doesn’t give the other team a lot of chances.   The past 2 seasons were plagued by late game breakdowns and 3rd period giveaways, but this season, the Blues are stout in the final frame and are controlling the middle of the ice, in what I like to call the exchange zone.  For now, the Blues are thriving.  When they lose, its by a goal or in a shootout and the margin for error is so small it doesn’t feel like a loss.   When they win, they are clobbering teams or outlasting the better ones with a tougher physical style of play.   A defenseman like Kent Huskins returned this week and the man isn’t as fast as others but he brings a physicality to his job few can match.   He hits guys, takes them down and moves them away from the play.   A special brand of player.  The skill players like Pietro, Perron, Oshie, Berglund and Backes are the soul of the team.   Huskins, Ryan Reaves, Barrett Jackman are the rough and tough heart.   One guy I am looking for something out of anytime soon is Chris Stewart.  The same player who slammed onto the scene last February to score 13 goals with the team has maintained a stiff cold streak all season and has been demoted to the third and fourth line.   Stewart is a free agent this offseason so his downfall carries an interesting twist.   Did he hit his ceiling and rolling down or does he not care enough?  Whatever the answer becomes, he needs to do more.  This team is rolling but they must be able to take down their division rivals or else come playoff time, the end will be too near.   The 2011-2012 Blues have provided fans with a whirlwind record and consistent style of play that leaves much to be desired and from here on out, a lot  of expectations.

The Rams Hired former Atlanta Falcons GM Les Snead to be their new general manager and team up with Jeff Fisher to pull this football team out of the gutter.  Les Snead will be Jeff Fisher’s “Doug” in Rams Land.   The Hangover reference is well placed here if you think about it.  Snead will be the answer to Fisher’s prayer because this team, this city and the future of Rams football needs REAL leadership and Stan Kroneke(heart in LA or not) is making as good of a play as he can.  How will the actions of Snead/Fisher affect the future of the Rams in St. Louis?  It’s hard to tell but the first thing that needs to happen is injecting life into this team.

The Cardinals are in Jupiter, Florida and prepping for a defense of their World Championship.   Their 11th title felt the best because of the manner of which they acquired it.   Going from a dead team on August 25th to a last second playoff team and surprising powerhouse teams like the Phillies, rival Brewers and the Rangers.    The only way they can top that is by doing it again and collecting their 12th championship.    The style can be less brutal and the deficit may stay away, but I expect this team to be back in the thick of the hunt for a few simple reasons.

1.)The division around them didn’t get better at all.   The Reds made some low key moves and upgraded the back end of their rotation.  The Pirates just acquired an overrated AJ Burnett and did little else.  The Brewers lost Prince Fielder to the Tigers in a mega deal and may lose Ryan Braun for 50 games due to steroid use.   The Astros are going to be horrible for at least 2 seasons.   The Cubs will always be a threat but their pitching staff/defense will never allow their light hitting to do any long term damage.   Theo Epstein has a lot of work to do there.   The Cardinals are easily the strongest team in the division.

2.)Adam Wainwright’s return to the rotation bolsters it and delivers instant credibility.   Kyle McClellan won’t make a start this season and Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook will anchor the end of the rotation instead of the middle.   Wainwright is a bulldog competitor and while his innings/pitch count load will be down early, I expect him to be in beast mode by June.   Chris Carpenter is back to his comfy #2 spot after carrying the rotation the last 3 months of the season and into the playoffs.   Everything is strong in the rotation, with or without Roy Oswalt.

3.)The lineup is solid.   Losing Albert Pujols will hurt, but the presence of Lance Berkman, a hungry Matt Holliday, David Freese, and newcomer Carlos Beltran cover the patch up just fine.   You can sit and cry about Pujols’ lacking presence and I see your point but refuse to linger on it.   He’s a 25 million dollar man now and his blood was too rich for the Cardinals’ dollar.   Move on and you have a well balanced machine made from on base percentage, power and speed.   Jon Jay and Allen Craig will plug holes in the outfield and bench.   Daniel Descalso and Tyler Greene will give the defense a plus on the infield.   Yadi Molina’s bat is always a plus in the 6th or 7th hole because he gets his bat on the ball and doesn’t strike out.   The lineup will do damage if the majority can stay healthy.

4.)Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan are gone but Derek Lilloquist and Jose Oquendo are here and the foundation isn’t gone.   Lilloquist took over for Duncan for the final two months of the season and handled the staff well.   This isn’t a young staff so the experienced Yoda with the pitching binder isn’t required for success.   La Russa being out of the hot box will be a visually awkward thing to witness for the mere fact he has been here for 16 seasons but Matheny will do fine.   Duncan leaving the team hurt but having an experienced player who has the respect of the entire team in Matheny fills two voids with one body.   MM is a hands on teacher and won’t hide behind the vets in his first season.  I expect Matheny to take control of this team.

5.)The Rest of the NL doesn’t look overpowering.   The Phillies got weaker with the loss of Ryan Howard, Oswalt, and Raul Ilanez and advanced age of Chase Utley and the rest of their roster.   The Marlins acquired Jose Reyes(hamstring pull guaranteed by start of May) and Heath Bell, but Ozzie Guillen will do little to instantly turn that team into a serious threat.  The Nationals are a sleeper and the NL East will be a shootout but I don’t expect the Braves to blow another big lead and there are 2 Wild Card spots now which includes a playoff.   The Giants, Rockies and Dodgers are all middle of the pack contenders depending on their moves.   There isn’t a single team in the National League that stands as a legit threat.  The Phillies have pitching but can’t score runs.  The Marlins’ pitching staff is still average.   The Brewers lost two sluggers.   The Giants can’t score runs.   The Braves’ pitching staff is strong but injury prone and we saw how their stability looked in September.  Their closer caved after a couple blown saves.  The Cardinals main need will be health in 2012.   If they can stay healthy, their chances are as good as any of the other top NL contenders.

Spring training officially begins in two weeks and the obsessive fever pitch is about to begin.  Can you feel it, Cardinal Nation?  I sure can.

The Other Things In Sports-

The Jeremy Lin Story-Suck it up now because it’s all downhill from here.   When teams start defending Lin, stepping up, cutting down his shooting space and pressure him, the real test begins.   If it wasn’t happening in New York, this wouldn’t be a story.  I was riding the Tebow train since college, so I had a good reason to stand behind and believe in that fight.  That happened in the far end of the NFL world in Denver.  In New York, in Knickerbocker land, Lin is becoming a sensation.

Lebron James wants to go back to Cleveland someday, but first he better win in Miami or he will have two cities calling for his head.   The man is making enemies very fast after spending the first 7 years of his career sitting in a throne.   My respect for him is decreasing because he is no longer that special player you HAVE to watch.

Local boxing talent Devon Alexander fights at Scottrade Center next weekend against tough competitor power puncher Marcos Maidana.   The featherweight East St. Louis brawler lost to Timothy Bradley in a headbutt/clinch filled 12 round decision that thrilled few and left Alexander with a huge welt on his head and career.   This fight stands to determine what kind of “boxing threat” Devon can be.  If he loses, his career starts to seriously crumble.   If he takes the dangerous Maidana down, his career picks up.  Huge fight for the little boxing kid.

While the Super Bowl provided the result I wanted, the commercials rather sucked.    The only one I truly loved was the Chrysler spot featuring Clint Eastwood.    The gruff, powerful seasoned tough guy compared a team’s halftime thought process to the recession and struggle faced in America and particularly in Detroit’s motor plants.   Eastwood made the spot stick because he has been around for so long and served in multiple facets of the American struggle.  He is an actor, director, Oscar winner, former politician and historian.  He is also a no bullshit conversationalist and the words that come out of his mouth feel like his own and not some nerdy TV writer.  The final few lines, “America can’t be knocked down with one punch.  We get back up again and when we do, they will hear the roar of our engines….yeah.”   Eastwood defines old school toughness and that commercial worked.

Movie Reviews-

Safe House Review-Predictable entertainment.   A good thriller with outrageously enjoyable action sequences, compelling “all in” performances and a quick pace.   Daniel Espinosa isn’t changing the way movies are made or reinventing the wheel of film here.  He is making a credible worthy action thrill ride with a destination we are familiar with but are game to follow through with anyway.   Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds are the two headed star power monster of this story and they handle the cat and mouse plot points well, playing two men playing on opposite sides in the beginning but slowly meeting in the middle as twists and turns present themselves.  The result is a good movie and worth the ticket.  Anyone who calls this throwaway material isn’t getting the point.  This is an expectations film.  Walking in with the right mindset in what to expect is important here.  This isn’t a full feature silent film best picture nominee hopeful.  It’s a rock ‘em sock ‘em action picture.  Jump in or stay out.

The Vow is exactly what you expect from the poster and trailer.  A Valentines Day sappy love story served up well by its two leading stars, especially Channing Tatum as a man dealing with the obstacle of all obstacles.  Convincing your wife of 5 years to fall in love with you all over again after a horrific accident wipes out your memory.   That’s all there is here.  The result is effective if only for the execution from Tatum.   Rachel McAdams is the stunned reeling wife and she plays it straight and ordinary.  Tatum, in small gestures and dialogue deliveries and restraint, plays it better.   He makes this film better than it deserved to be.  A Nicholas Sparks contender that never steps out from its original gimmick.  Take your girlfriend to see it men but don’t be afraid to check the sports scores outside the theater during the slower movements of unqualified storytelling.

Ghost Rider 2-Please don’t judge me.  I saw this sequel drivel thinking I was going to get a guilty pleasure action packed ride and instead I got a stupid, empty hearted, rather boring rehash of the Johnny Blaze saga.  Nic Cage looks to riding on fumes in his acting and I don’t know why.   The man is immensely talented and has a resume to back it up. He is making horrible choices and needs to find a peach quickly.   He isn’t even going through the motions here as the Rider, a man who sold his soul to the devil and now is an eternal flaming badass who gets hot and bothered when evil steps up.   He is simply lost and smirking here.  The film is horrible.    Do not see it.

Star Wars, Episode 1 in 3D-The three dimensional value is tasteless and doesn’t make the film any better than years ago when the largely disappointing second chapter in George Lucas’ enterprise was released.   Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor star in this prequel to the original films, but the huge problem here is the dialogue.   It’s just plain bad.   There are annoying characters like Ja Ja Binks, a creature from a planet needing the Jedi’s help to survive.   Jake Lloyd does little to stand out as the kid version of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader.  He is just a whiny kid with some powers.   My biggest issue here is the question of the re-release of the film.   Lucas is a greedy money whore who knew he ripped his Star Wars fanbase in half with the production and here he is reaching for more cash and it doesn’t look good.

Song of the Week-The Black Keys performing “Gold on the Ceiling”.  Pure Musical gold, and through this music video you get the entire Keys persona.  Their rise from low crooning blues rockers to lyrical giants of sold out stadiums.   The old beat up mini van makes an appearance and you see two regular gifted musicians thrust into a limelight that burns their eyes yet sets their careers on fire.

DVD of the Week-50/50

The cancer comedy starring Joseph Gordon Levitt as Adam, a young man dealing with the obstacle of all obstacles.   Cancer.   His performance is the special ingredient in this film, a production that wisely stays away from melodrama and instead deals a straight hand about the most deadly disease in the medical world.   Adam gets a rare form of cancer that attaches to his spine, and along with his friend(Seth Rogen) and a therapist(Anna Kendrick), he tries to keep a positive outlook amid his recovery.   The film is all about the little things in life when it seems to be ending.   Adam sitting all by himself at home listening to music.  A moment where he kicks Rogen out of the car and has a period of rage before calling his therapist to calm down.    His moments with Rogen, who created the idea with his real life friend, the director Will Asner.   Asner had cancer early in his life and Rogen convinced him to make it into a movie.  Levitt is a legit young talent and there’s a moment towards the end of the film that sets his acting skills apart from the rest.   50/50 is a good comedy drama about dealing with the beast of cancer and is worth a look.

Breaking Dawn in The Twilight Series isn’t worth a look unless you have already invested time in the franchise.  Just stay away from this teen melodrama that never ceases to unload average cinema upon our heads.   The battle of Jacob and Edward for Bella’s soul and the wolves/vamps quarrel continues here with the fourth chapter in a series thankfully nearing its end.   There really isn’t a script here.  Just a series of “you better not do that”, “Oh no you didn’t”, and “Don’t make me” challenges.   The film is one big anti-climactic subplot to the real story.  In other words, Bella gets pregnant and might die watch.   Help me.

In Time carried an ambitious theme but lacked the follow through required to make it stand up over 2 hours.   Andrew Niccol’s story about a futuristic society where time is actually money and the moment you hit the age of 25, your wrist includes a clock on your life.   Justin Timberlake is Will Salas, and he tries to take matters into his own hands once a mysterious loner named Henry(Matt Bomer) gives him a lottery load of years.   A Robin Hood theory that loses its weight in the end because the execution is lacking.   Let’s put it this way.  You are intrigued here but not enough to clearly call this a good film.  The result produced a shrug of the shoulders here and a quick withdrawal without any special features investigation.  I saw all I needed inside the running time and it wasn’t good.   Cillian Murphy and Amanda Seyfried also star here but the acting isn’t the problem.  The problem lies in the story and its finish.   Insufficient.

I need another great movie to cleanse myself of the crap harvesting in the theaters recently.

Oscar Watch Preview-5 things I am Thinking

1.)Billy Crystal is a prick and retired actor but he is a great host who knows how to blend energy and comedy into a broadcast.   He will do better than the sleep inducing combo of James Franco and Anne Hathaway from last year.

2.)I hope Brad Pitt wins Best Actor for a few reasons.   Pitt took the role of real life A’s general manager Billy Beane and put his own spin on it.   His virtuoso wise cracking and confident performance carried one of the best films of the year in Moneyball and he deserves to be rewarded for it.   Pitt is a superstar and disappearing into roles only gets harder so he must do more acting to get the job done.   He is also playing a still living person, a hard task taken lightly by few in Hollywood.   Pitt knocked the role out and deserves the Oscar over his buddy, Clooney, who was very good in Descendants but not as memorable as Pitt.

3.)Don’t worry about the running time folks.   People give so much of their time to stupid reality television all year and the Oscars happens once a year and they want to speed it up.   Let the speeches run wild and the event stay loose.   No one likes to be rushed when they just won an award.

4.)I have not seen the Artist yet and will probably not unless it does indeed win Best Picture.  I have never watched a silent film and find the task to be not so inviting.    When will the point come when you just scream at the TV….fucking SPEAK already???!!!

5.)I still hate the 9-10 Best Picture nominee idea.   Why double the list?  It takes away the credibility and pride of winning the award if more parties are allowed into the race.   There were 5 Best Picture nominees for decades and all of a sudden the Academy wants to expand the list just to appease the whines of Hollywood.   Ridiculous.  It makes the award weaker in my opinion.   I haven’t seen half the films nominated and that either makes me wish I found more gold, make better choices or plain not care as much.   It would be like adding an extra Cy Young award or an extra MVP in the MLB race in each league.   Players would love the opportunity to win but feel a little less inside knowing the path to winning was easier.  Keep it at 5 next year folks.

Bonus Ultimatum-If Whitney Houston gets an honoree moment, I will shoot someone.  She starred in 5 films and only one of them was any good.   This will be a sign of the downfall in America.   Houston had a great voice, was good in The Bodyguard but made a lot of mistakes and drowned her talent in drugs.   Stop holding court for Whitney Houston, people. She wrecked her own talent with drugs, booze and alcohol. Shovel was in her hand. I’m tired of hearing sympathy notes for her.

Moving on towards the finish line here…what else is there to talk about? Random fire time now.

Band of Skulls’ Sweet Sour and Heartless Bastards’ Arrow are the new purchases in my CD player right now.   Once in a while you have to get out there and buy an album and own the actual disc.   By the end of the weekend, I bought Mumford and Sons live and a few other songs on Itunes so I dipped my beak in both waters.   However, after giving a listen to the discs, I like my choices.   Band of Skulls is all punk rock soul, reaching for the heavens with its dirty and free rock spirit and cooling down with the smooth power punk slow tunes.   The Band of Skulls can speed things up with a hard moving song like Sweet Sour(Sour by the minute/sweeter by the hour) but cool things off with Bruises, an addictive track featuring a lovely female lead vocal.  There’s a lot to love here.  Heartless Bastards carry a very distinct hard to label folk rock pulse that’s easy to follow.  Their 10 song dish mixes up folk, rock, slow ballads and powerful finishes with a deadly strong female lead vocal and sweeping guitars and a light touch of the blues.   Both bands prove that the abstract brand and combination of music they use is legit and they do it very well.

The Cardinals and Yadi Molina calling off negotiations right before spring training carries deadly recall from the Pujols talks that led to his departure in December.  What are the Cards worried about with Yadi?   His relationship with Matheny was meant to be a deal sealer but apparently the two sides have distance.  It could be the Molina party.  How many years does he want?   My terms would be a 5 year deal worth 10 million.   His last contract was a bargain for the infinite talent Molina hands this team(4 years for 16 million).   He wants to get paid but for how much and how long?   He has to understand the team’s needs and goals.   I only wonder how far off the two sides are and why they can’t produce an extension.   After the loss of Duncan, Molina is too important to Matheny to depart.   A friend of mine has kidded for weeks that Molina will join Albert in LA but I don’t want to believe that.   Molina means a lot to the Cards but we all know no fates are sealed in professional sports.  Money comes into play sooner or later.   Will he stay or will he go?  He has stated the door isn’t closed until October.

Another powerful episode of Freddie Roach on HBO this weekend.   A look at the prep and drama surrounding the Pacquiao-Marquez fight in November is covered in the 5th episode.   The breakaway of this series is the inside access we get into Roach’s everyday life and dealings.  A meeting outside his gym with a former boxer/trainer and the missing payments and abuse of a female client.   The drama pertaining to Pacquaio and his personal trainer the night before the fight.   Roach’s medical needs for his Parkinson’s disease every day.   Injected into the massively alert proceedings are Roach’s insight into the history of his own life.   Talking about his early fighting days and personal losses comes close and brutally accurate to the emotional power of Peter Berg’s storytelling here.   He lets the subject and his tales dictate the camera and its path and that is the genius of this show.

Part of the skill of being a dad is knowing when to let your kid cry or choose to help him.   Fuck its hard!   For instance, during the middle of the night, when he all of a sudden lets out a powerful strings of cries that really deal a blow to your conscience.   Think of it as a poker player staring you down at a table after making a huge bet and begging you to match it.   Instead, a parent can call his bluff and let him cry it out, go back to sleep and continue on with their own few hours of freedom.   It’s an ongoing battle that never ends until they leave your house and even then, he will play on your emotions and see how far he can walk before you take away his crutches.   Its the game of life and its grand.   Vinny wakes up suddenly and wants to know if he can get attention and as my wife warns me, this is where the gritty get tough and the weak fall.   Its cute to sit outside his door and listen to the desperate screams and cries and its tough to let it go on.   A first time parent can think he or she is the coolest and cutest person in the world by rescuing the kid from temporary hell.  It’s not until the kid is older that you know the kid was playing you the entire time.   Parenting isn’t just about care, joy and happiness mixed with consistent torture.  It’s all just another game within a game.

Kevin Durant is the real deal.  Unlike Lebron, he can make the choice to stay in Oklahoma and bring a championship there.   Russell Westbrook will have to decide if he wants to be The Pippen to Durant’s Jordan, but KD can stick around and make it happen.   Durant dropped 51 points on the Nuggets in a comeback win for the Thunder and the kid constantly reminds you he is a special talent.   Durant sank a 3 pointer and drove the lane for another 2 to tie the game and finished off Denver in OT.   When he hit the 3 pointer, he sat next to his mom on the sideline and gave her a hug and kiss.   Durant has the skills to bring a city a championship and the partner in Westbrook to see it through IF he decides to stick around for a few years.   James stayed  in Cleveland until after his 7th season and he bolted and is running into a wall of hate so his falter will serve a lesson to players like Durant.   Stay in your rookie town and change the game by winning it all.   That’s legendary.

What if Lin is the real deal?  Adding a small dessert to my first section on the new found here comes after Lin drops 28 points and 14 rebounds on the champion Dallas Mavericks in a thrilling win in New York.   Teams are starting to know about Lin and his skill set, and the road only gets tougher for the guy.   He waited a long time for his opportunity and now he is doing everything he can to seize it.  It’s not like I don’t want him to succeed.  I love a comeback story out of nowhere as much as the next guy.  I also know how hard it is to overcome high expectations.   Lin has his work cut out for him.  Can he carve up the competition or not?

My personal prediction is that Albert Pujols will have another decent yet not a “Pujols type year” in 2012 in his first year with Angels before breaking out of the cage in 2013 and 2014.  There will be an adjustment period for the Machine once known as a Cardinal, but he will need time to get set in the AL.   The Angels will contend for a playoff spot and teams will be careful with Pujols and he will continue to hack away and reach at the outside breaking pitches many managers have labeled as his kryptonite.  However, by 2013, Albert will be locked in and ready to destroy the weaker AL pitching and do damage.  Prince Fielder will do well because he is 5 years younger than Albert but his challenge will be consistency as he approaches 30 years old, age, health and Comerica Park.   Albert Pujols will continue to do his thing.   I’m only stating the dominance won’t start until 2013.

Dereck Chisora and David Haye both have failed to beat either of the Klitschko brothers, but they must step into a ring to face each other.  The two Brits got seriously hot and heavy after Chisora’s loss to Vitali Klitschko on Saturday night, and the post fight conference brawl included punches, cuts and tempers that can only call for the two men to settle things inside a box.   Get it done.  Both have made headlines for their words and not their actions so far in their career.  Haye wanted to rip the heads off the Klitschko brothers before his loss to Wladamir.   Chisora spat in Vitali’s face and slapped him at the prefight weigh in this past week.   A lot of dirty play and words and far less punching going on.  The difference is Chisora gave the Russian champ a decent fight and Haye didn’t even make Wladamir break sweat.   After the public fight, there must be a real one.   Old school law calls for two boxers to settle their biggest quarrels in the ring of fire.

On Saturday, I took my wife out for an anniversary dinner.  We have been married for 7 years and on May 6th, together for 10 years.   It’s a promising milestone for any couple to cross those finish lines when they started young and still love each other years later.  We live in a cynical world and one where the divorce rate easily defeats the happily ever after rate.   It’s the world we live in and its something I still in believe in.    Everlasting love.  Strong tough love.  The kind that outlives fights, differences, rough patches and human emotion.   We’ve made it this far and I can tell you I am in for another 7 years.   The road is worth the occasional and sometimes everyday pain.   That’s marriage.  A choice to stay in the fight and see it to the very end because you love someone enough to make it work no matter what.

There are reasons I don’t believe in GOD.   It starts with logic and ends with personal opinion.   Mainly, I don’t believe in him because there is no real proof to his existence.   That helps the credibility factor.   I believe in things I have seen and know very well.    Cold air, the sun, bills, a baby’s smile, the smell of coffee, the taste of a woman’s lips and the aches and pains of the human body.   I believe in those things because they exist in real life and GOD does not.  Who wants to believe in a spooky, weird, flawed father figure who supposedly created this world and did a pretty poor job if you look around at the poverty, greed, death, and general animalistic look of our race?   I believe in people, actions, reactions and the next struggle.   I believe in what I can see and all I see in GOD is a crass, unfair and entirely fictional tale.

With that final take, here is an extra dose of belief talk from the legend himself, George Carlin.   Something to add on to the end of another furious rant.

That’s all for now.  My work here is done and it’s time to get some rest before another work week begins.

Thanks for reading,

D.L.B.

 

 

 

A Slice of My Mind

Hello again my friends,

With only 90 minutes to write here after a cold long epic draining 11 hour work shift at Senoret Chemical HQ leaves me with little time to mess around, allow me to throw a few spins on a random order of topics.   Pay attention, follow along and you may learn something or find a flavor that matches your own desire for fresh bold news.  Here we go.  The hands are loaded, the mind is engaged and the time is now to write.  Launched…

Super Bowl Recap-The Giants took down The Brady Machine again, 21-17.  I call it the Brady Machine and not the Patriots because he is the face, soul and main power source of the team.  He is a one man wrecking crew.  Stop him and you can easily beat the Patriots.   The Giants are more balanced and therefore a far more threatening team to face on a huge stage.   This wasn’t a shocking Super Bowl.  I told you it would happen because the first time in 2007 wasn’t a fluke.  The Giants beat the Patriots in the same fashion, with late heroics and gutsy plays.   A detective isn’t required to explain this, but here are a few reasons.

*Eli Manning simply outplayed Tom Brady.   Eli didn’t make mistakes and made the bigger clutch throws.   Brady threw a INT, tossed a pass into no man’s land for a safety, and overthrew Wes Welker late with the score close.   Manning didn’t throw a pick, saved his best throws for last and won the game with a steady diet of completions that included a memorable sideline toss to Mario Manningham that propelled the final drive.   Manning completed an exciting season that began with him declaring himself an elite quarterback like Brady and ended with him outplaying him and beating him for the second time in 4 years.  It’s a great story and something to admire.   Peyton is moving over now because Eli is carving a fine name for himself as a clutch quarterback that wins in the playoffs against anybody.   He has beaten Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady(twice) to win his 2 rings.  Fittingly, he won this won in Peyton’s current house.

*The Giants defense are Brady’s achilles heel.  His weakness that has flashed its nasty colors throughout his career.   There are two teams that wreck Brady and they are the Giants and Ravens.   How do they do this?   Mix up the blitz packages, play man to man coverage in the secondary and contain the quarterback.  Most of all, they have pass rushers who can break through on a four man rush.   Beasts like Jason Pierre Paul and Osi Umenyora.  The Giants only sacked Brady twice but for the better part of the game they kept him off balance and weary enough to hesitate before throwing.  Brady didn’t complete a pass over 20 yards because the G-Men rushers got to him fast enough to withhold him from unleashing a serious assault.   He pecked away for points but never did serious harm.  In the end, Brady was beaten and contained by the Giants.

*Good for Tom Coughlin, a coach who can’t escape the next firing rumor.   This offseason, he will get an extension and peace of mind.   He is cleared of the hot seat for once again outfoxing Bill Belechick.

*The Super Bowl was entertaining and well played.  Each team was in the contest for the haul and for the third year in a row, the game outplayed the commercials.   That’s all you can ask for when your team is out of the playoffs and you sit down for the big game.   Everybody loves a funny TV spot but a well played battle between the last two teams standing makes for a very healthy evening and experience.

Football is now over and the year that nearly saw a portion of the season get cancelled was completed like any other and efficient and compelling.

The Blues are Becoming Road Warriors

The key to any team’s long term success is being consistently impressive on the road.   Playing in other team’s houses and winning.   That is the key.   The Blues jumped on the road last Saturday, lost a close battle to Nashville but rebounded to win easily in Ottawa and outlast New Jersey in overtime last night.   The Blues are undefeated against the Eastern Conference in 2011-2012.  The Blues were down 3-2 last night in the third period, had their starting goalie(Jaro Halak) pulled early, and were looking at a sad end to a road trip.   Instead of falling, Patrik Berglund scored with 5 minutes left and TJ Oshie netted a shootout goal to seal the 4-3 victory against the talented and streaking Devils(winners of 5 in a row before Thursday).   I am very impressed with bounce back ability of the Blues.  They can take a rough punch and come back strong.   Losing to a division power in Nashville or Detroit stings our playoff standings and personal attitude, but every team has to move on and play the schedule.   These are big wins on the road.   The goaltending has been the structural core of the process.   Brian Elliot rescued Halak on Thursday and picked up the win with a few big saves that kept the Blues within striking distance.     Together, the Blues stoppers have 10 shutouts and rank in the top 10 in the NHL in many categories.   While the scoring is balanced and solid, the goaltending has been tremendous.   Halak and Elliot are performing at a high rate and that gives confidence to the skaters in front of them.   The Blues have to continue this road strong play if they are to get a decent playoff slot.   The Blues are a legit playoff team right now, so now the question only is where do they fall.  The main setback of this team is being unable to beat Detroit or Nashville who have beaten us a combined 4 times in a row.  If you are going to last in the playoffs or make it to the finish line in good shape, the Blues have to beat the teams in their division.

The Cardinals are weeks from spring training games and will defend their championship on April 4th in Miami against the powered up Marlins team led by Ozzie Guillen.   The Cardinals are different and bold yet ready.   The best thing about winning it all is you stay the champion for an entire year.   An ocean of new faces flood the dugout this season and no matter how it looks, I am excited about the new era.   Mike Matheny will have to find the fine line between leadership and control, the bats will have to live without the torrid hitting abilities of Mr. Pujols, and health will chase this team for the entire season.    Adam Wainwright’s ability hangs over the rotation.   Jason Motte’s effectiveness will shape the bullpen.   Matt Holliday is the highest paid player but not the face of the franchise.  This team became an ensemble the moment Albert went west and I like it that way.

Side Note.  Roy Oswalt would fit comfortably into the rotation but isn’t REQUIRED for this team to damage.  He is a seasoned pro and All Star arm but also a pitcher who nearly retired due to back pain in 2011, is chasing big money and getting few takers.   The Red Sox and Rangers balked and went elsewhere.  The Nationals signed Edwin Jackson for 10 million over Oswalt.   The Cardinals seem to hold interest but aren’t going to overextend themselves for an aging arm.   While I do want to see Kyle McClellan traded to make room in the bullpen, Oswalt will be tough to haul in if he wants 10 million plus.   He could be a steal like Berkman or a severe bust like Brad Penny.  Cards general manager John Mozelaik is playing this poker game perfectly.

The Rams Waiting on a General Manager

The hiring process is down to a list of 6 names and the pick has to come within the next 2 weeks.   How much longer can the Rams hold out and leave Jeff Fisher with no reach in the payroll and decision making on this team.  I won’t get into specifics but the idea of who this team wants in the drivers seat with Fisher has to become evident here soon.   The draft is less than 2 months away so time is ticking away right now, which isn’t good for a recovering franchise facing dismissal.

Movie Reviews-

Chronicle-This teenage superhero wasteland action thriller follows three high school types who acquire telekinetic powers after they climb down into a hole in a field made by devices they can’t explain.  This film is very good because it is the first film that deals with superhero activities by using realistic special and visual effects.    Everything is meant to look and feel analog and ordinary.    This isn’t a CGI heavy no brainer about bad deeds.  We get three well rounded characters who struggle with their new abilities.    Imagine being in the bathroom and getting a jolt of new energy and ability and get up in the middle of the night and feel different.   Chronicle was a highly original take on the superpowers genre. Three teens mysteriously acquire powers and it changes their lives for the good and bad. I liked this film because it asked the ultimate question. If you were given powers, would you use them for good or bad?  See this film for the unexpected thrills.   Halfway through the film, things get really bad but the story isn’t forced and the descent is convincing and shocking.   Powers don’t always bring pleasure.

Drive(On Blu Ray)-Here is one of the best films of the past year.   A crowning achievement that sneaks up and floors you.   Drive is a visceral rush of a cinematic entertainment. This one has it all. Action, drama, romance and a little dark comedy along with the originality of a renegade filmmaker and writer. This is what the movies should be like. Watching Ryan Gosling’s lone wolf of a hero deliver poetic justice, you know you’re watching something great. One of the best films I’ve seen all year. See it in order to believe it.  Gosling plays a mysterious “driver” who is a stunt driver by day and a driver for hire by night.  He has nobody and walks around LA like a ghost.  People see him and a couple care for him but he notices little until he falls head over heels for his neighbor Irene(Carey Mulligan) and her son Benicio.   With the new found affection comes problems, as Driver comes into contact with Irene’s husband Standard(fresh out of jail) and his criminal troubles.  Soon enough, Driver is on a collision course with bad men of all kinds and looking out for not only his own but his two new friends’ lives.   All of this serves up a fine twisting action thriller with equal parts drama and full born action gore.  Drive features the most gruesome kill scenes of any movie in recent memory and that’s a good thing.  This film oozes good vibrations and cool juice.   As the credits roll, you feel the need to ask for more.  That’s the mark of a great movie.  Leaving the lips thirsty.

Birthday Wish for a 30 year old man.   Keep breathing.   Trust me, the ability to stick around for another round of tortured joy is all I need to keep the body moving.   The only way age effects you is when gray hairs pop out of your goatee and your body alerts you that it is shutting down soon.   30 years felt weird for 48 hours but now feels all the same.  Just keep living.

Vinny Note of the Week.   The little man never ceases to be a captivating monster of true pride.   Working the 10-12 hour shifts ends with the reward of locking eyes with the little man before the bed calls for a visit.   Life’s pleasures are dealt out in small doses but the measures of a kid keeping his dad’s head up is limitless.  Right when the pressures of work stresses the mind over, Vincent comes in and clears out the noise.   Kids have that ability.  Chaos for sure but joy wrapping around the turns.

Boxing Bits-

*Manny Pacquiao taking a fight with Timothy Bradley is a sad sign for this era of boxing promotion.   Bradley is undefeated and talented, but he is a headbutting technical foul loser who will be crushed by the punching power of Pac Man.    The reason for him resisting a 4th fight with Marquez or taking on fresh power puncher Canelo Alvarex boggles the mind.   What happened to two men ending their troubles by climbing into a ring?   What happened to making a fight with the best happen and settling things inside the box and not via Twitter snipes?  Muhammed Ali needs to call Pacquaio and tell him to fire his promoter and get in the ring with Floyd Mayweather Jr..  Floyd will beat Miguel Cotto(a boxer I love but know well can’t keep up with Floyd’s speed) and Pac Man will pound Bradley.   The world will move on and the boxing republic will sigh.   This is a black eye for boxing.  Promoters aren’t giving boxing fans what they want to see.   One guy in particular.  Bob Arum of Top Rank Promotions who handles Pacquiao’s fights.  The fault is on him this time and not Money Mayweather.

Song of the Week-“Someday Baby” by RJ Burnside

An old school blues cool rocker that feels right after a long week.  Unwind with this slow building jam that knows exactly how cool it sounds.

Meme’s legacy has me thinking tattoo.   For the first time in my life, I am thinking about putting ink on my body in memory of my late grandmother.   She is worth it and may be featured across the top of my back if I find myself into a shop this spring.   I have never thought of tattoos as a requirement to express yourself but every once in a while the thought comes into my mind.

HBO’s Luck has me connected to watching a few more episodes.    Slow building like Treme and The Wire(early on), Luck is taking its time with showing its chips and revealing the players but for good reason.   The show is laying powerful roots of revenge and greed on our minds in small doses.  Horse track racing betting sagas leave few noble souls dry.  The addiction of gambling and doing something you are good at(no matter the law bending) is an interesting blend from Michael Mann and David Milch.

The NBA leaves little interest but Lebron James continues to fuel me with stories and thoughts.   What happened to the king?  His fallibility is akin to a boxer misjudging a punch.   A man forgetting the additional pressure of changing teams.   Unlike MJ and Kobe, James lost not only his crown when he left Cleveland but his bulldog desire to be the best and win a championship in his hometown.   Playing in the comfortable Miami heat, he looks laid back and bland.  Less hungry to kill his way to a championship.   If he leaves without a ring and splits his career in two cities, his legacy will go limp.   Yes there is no equal to Jordan but Kobe is far closer than Lebron.   Love or hate Bryant, you must respect his five rings.  He did something Lebron couldn’t do.   Win on his own.

That’s all I got tonight.   Time is up and the night must begin.  I am taking my wife out tonight for dinner and a movie.  Dinner on the Hill and a movie afterwards.   After a 52 hour workweek, it’s time to unwind and have some fun.  Sleep will be included later but for now, I must keep moving.   That’s always the goal in life.  Keep the chains moving and put one foot in front of the other.  I will be back with more later but for now the Buffa Blast Train is pulling into the station for a good long rest stop.

Thanks for reading and goodnight,

Dan L. Buffa

 

A Win-Win Situation

Good morning friends,

I begin this latest compulsive explosion with a little rant.   Lighting the fire…

I love good guy/bad guy standoffs in film and television.   The first scene between two men who know they are on a collision course that involves possible gunplay, violence, and death.   It’s an old school love.  Good and bad in the same room contemplating a move and a future of dead ends.  Everything starts fresh when we are born.   Everyone gets a clean slate at birth.  We are born good and decide to stay that way or go bad.   A scene in Justified between Raylan Givens(Timothy Olyphant) and a mobster from Detroit(Neal McDouragh) signifies this standoff perfectly.   Raylan is the proud noble yet deadly badge looking at a bad man threatening his way of life and town.   Both actors nail the scene and add in all the possible pathos, grit and realism.   Nothing is saved or shortened.  It reminded me of the classic scene in Heat between Al Pacino’s detective and Robert DeNiro’s thief.   Two men who know their paths in life have led them to this intersection of choice, purpose and a need to impose their will.   I love this shit.   It symbolizes everything we are and strive to be in this world.   Are we good or bad?  When do we make that decision?  Villains of the world exist in the small decisions as well.   Do we blast other people to hide our own imperfections or are we clearly diabolical with our intent?   Questions and answers surround us every day and no year other than the highly eventful 2011 taught me that lesson more.  All we have in life is what we are going after, and at this moment I am going directly towards finishing a rant before I get a few hours of sleep.   I turn 30 years old in a little over an hour.   Let’s get to work.

Super Bowl Preview/Hype/Semi-Prediction

The Giants have beat the Patriots two times in a row for many reasons, all involving a little luck, skilled play and fair weather odds.  A couple of those reasons are concrete.   Here they are.

1.)The Giants pass rush finds a way to break through and put legit pressure on Tom Brady.   During the Week 9 defeat of the Pats, the Giants generated such a fearful pass rush that at times, Brady was getting afraid of nothing.   With no players swarming him in the 3rd quarter, Brady ducked in the pocket and threw a ball into the ground.   Look, Tom Brady is a machine, and rarely makes a mistake or looks shaken in the passing zone.   He connects on throws that Tim Tebow works for weeks on to perfect.  So its very noticeable when a team shakes him up.  If you get to Brady, you can beat the beast.  Its as simple as that.  Forget the little things and look at the big picture here.  If the Giants put more pressure on Brady, their chances of winning go through the roof.   The Ravens and Giants are the two teams that manage to knock Mr. Perfect off his game.   This is a reason I think the Giants can win for the third time in a row.

2.)Eli Manning takes advantage of the turnovers that his defense gives him.  When the Giants intercepted Brady twice in Week 9, Manning turned those breaks into 10 points in a game that was decided by 4 points.   Manning doesn’t waste mistakes made by his counterpart.  His deer in the headlights expression withstanding,  Manning is a clutch playoff performer and an underrated quarterback.  During the NFL lockout last year, Manning called himself an elite QB and caused a shock wave throughout the sport.   A label usually reserved for guys like Brady, Peyton, Rodgers, Brees and Big Ben.   When I heard it, all I cautioned was for the younger brother to live up to it and earn the status.   Here we are, with Eli staring down Brady in the Super Bowl.  Win or lose here, he has lived up to it.   When you talk about Eli, its hard to not discuss Peyton.   The older brother took many seasons and playoff chances to take down Brady.   Peyton suffered so many Foxboro meltdowns before beating the Patriots in 2006 before defeating the Bears in the Super Bowl.   Other times, Peyton has come up short, most recently against Brees two years ago.   Eli Manning went up against the undefeated Patriots in 2007 and beat Brady and company straight up with a performance many nailed down as a fluke.  Until now.   What if Eli takes down Brady again?  He will become the better Manning, at least for the time being.   This isn’t taking anything away from Peyton, who I admire a lot.   Peyton Manning is coming off his third neck surgery and ran into a unbeatable machine himself in Brees and the Saints.   Peyton will go down as one of the greats no matter what and that is whether he finishes his career in a Colts jersey or different uniform(more on that later).   This weekend, though, Eli Manning gets a chance to make a name for himself.

3.)The Patriots have zero running game outside of a small Danny Woodhead attack.  Brady is great but if he can’t throw and get the necessary time to get set up, where do they go?  The Giants are ready to stuff their paltry running game and right there is when this game will be won.  When Bill Belicheck can’t adjust to a great defense, what will he do to save the game?  A great riddle that awaits this game.  Its very possible the Patriots come out and throw up some points but it won’t be easy.  The Giants have the better defense and the more efficient offense at the time.  They match up well with the Patriots and play them tough.   Brady fans, start to worry.

4.)The Head Coach battle.   The great Belicheck against the much maligned Tom Coughlin.   Different men, similiar pressure and a very deciding game.   You see, the Patriots win over the Ravens in the AFC championship game was their first over a team with a winning record in 2011.   It was the Patriots first playoff win since 2007.   That streak doesn’t fall on Brady alone.  His head coach has some demons to clear out of the box.  Shortly after the Patriots last Super Bowl win, claims and reports flooded the league of the Patriots stealing play calls and signals during playoff games.   The Patriots didn’t deny one charge and ended up losing draft picks and suffering big fines for their cheating ways.   Many stupid people claimed every team cheated, like the idiotic classmates telling the teacher its okay to steal answers on a test because the whole class was doing it.   It clouded all the Super Bowl wins and raised unbreakable doubt in the true ability of Belicheck’s team.   Winning Sunday means the demons would leave the box and peace could enter.  The Giants are playing for a chance to prove their 2007 win wasn’t a fluke and they really do know how to beat Brady.   The Patriots are trying to reclaim a sense of glory they lost after their 2007 defeat and the allegations and uncomfortably truths raised afterwards.   Every team plays for something other than to simply win.   Every Super Bowl carries juice.   This one carries plenty.  Coughlin plays in a city carrying the highest expectations and a fanbase that has wanted his head for years.   What else can Coughlin do if the Giants win their 2nd Super Bowl in 5 years?   Coughlin has never made an excuse or reached out for special interviews to explain his side.  He has gone about his business and done the right thing in coaching the way he was born to coach.  He didn’t change for the Giants front office or fanbase.  He stuck to his guns and landed in the biggest game on earth again.

5.)Semi-Prediction.   The Giants take down the Brady Machine again, winning in the final minutes based off the exact same reasons I stated above.   The Giants pass rush ability, Manning’s clutch play and ability to capitalize, Brady’s gun shy fear of the Giants and the 4-0 record and style of play shown by the Giants the past month make this game a matchup that falls in New York’s favor.   I won’t give numbers but I am betting on the Giants.  I picked them when few around did over the Packers and still think they will be champions once again.

“Once more into the frey, I live and die on this day…”

The Grey/ Movie Review

The Grey won’t leave my head.  Its a good thing.  As I drove to Kentucky last weekend,  I’m staring at rivers, trees with a survival instinct.  Look at myself.  What’s on my person?  Movies make you think differently.   The Grey is about a group of oil drillers on a plane who crash in the middle of Alaska.   Their security detail, Ottway(Liam Neeson) is in charge of protecting them from wolves, but their circumstances bring several other troubles once seven survivors start out on foot trying to make their way to help, water, fire and food.  Their main nemesis are a pack of wolves who see them as intruders and only want to protect their home.  Wolves have learned to evolve along with their conditions.   They survive naked, without weapons and hunt their own food and find their homes.  They aren’t evil.  Seeing the group of men hunted by wolves in this movie is riveting because of the realistic nature of the rival mindsets.  The humans want to live and the wolves want to protect and live as usual.   The Grey is great and highly entertaining because its more than just an action film.  There is real drama here and a genuine story.   Neeson’s Ottway is a torn man who longs for his wife and a sense of peace.  He is thrown into a leadership role once the plane goes down.   Neeson handles the part with his usual convincing tough guy skill.    He is the heart and soul of a film floating in a sea of fine supporting performances.   The torn soul of bravado and courage forming the glue.  The poetic subplot, realistic standards and execution were so great.  Haywire was a great movie for action and style with minimal plot.  The Grey was a solid journey into the isolated wilderness of the soul and the things and people we fill it with and lose when we die.  A thought provoking action film.  Neeson has been on fire since the passing of his wife and this is the first role where we see his pain, given the role of Ottway who is living in mourning the entire film.  The scene where he talks about his inability to believe in GOD and where he rips him for failing to help are true gravy moments.  Sometimes action films can become something more.    What a movie.  2 weeks in a row.

Californication Blunt Force Drama

David Duchovny’s show is a direct blunt shot to the most ugly areas of human affection.   There’s a scene in this week’s where sex is the main discussion at a dinner table with three different couples.  Duchovny plays renegade fuckup artist/freelance writer Hank Moody, and he is the center of attention at this table of dirty tales.  Every kind of erotic encounter is thrown on the table.  Anal sex, porn, circle jerks, toys, fantasies and torn past relationships.   Moody is jaded soul who has messed up a ton of lives with his imperfections and inability to be a good husband and father.  He can only be one at a time.  He never gets it all right.   DD plays the role like a seasoned pro and this scene, full of R rated banter and invigorating acting, puts the rugged heart of this show on full display.  Flawed men and women who can’t decide if they want to spend the rest of their lives together but they want to hang around and try to be good people while they make a run for it.   All the songs are well known tunes covered by new artists.  The acting is blunt.  This is a great show.

*I haven’t dipped into the new HBO horse racing gambling drama LUCK yet.   Michael Mann is a producer and directs the first episode and the cast, lined with Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte, is first rate, but I haven’t been pulled in yet.   Something about the plot hasn’t yanked on my interest yet.

The Blues Resume The Hunt

After an All Star break that seemed to take a month, the Blues are back in action in their dogfight in the Central Division.   They lost in Detroit and scored a tie against the Penguins before the break 11 days ago and went in a single point behind conference leader Detroit.   They begin the second half against the Kings at home before starting a string of road action that will define the season.   Do the Blues need to make a trade?  I say no unless a willing suitor comes forth with a player who won’t shake the chemistry of the team and help their chances.   We can always use a legit goal scorer or front 4 defenseman.  However, with Andy Mcdonald and Alex Steen on the mend from concussion induced hell, the Blues are looking at getting 2 great players back in the lineup soon.  Why trade for a player when your injury list features a couple jewels?   This team needs to get sharper on the road and stay as stout as possible with a majority of the games in February and March coming away from Scottrade Center, where the Blues are a decent(no, awesome) 19-3-4.  The Red Wings, Blackhawks and Predators aren’t going away.   The Blues season turn around has been great to watch for any real fan, but it only means something if the winning ways can be sustained.  Looking forward to seeing David “Freight Train” Backes and the boys get back at it and go for the gold.  I don’t see this team going away.

*Sam Gagner scored 8 points against the Blackhawks on Thursday night, tying an Edmonton Oilers record with 4 goals and 4 assists.   In a day and age where individual accomplishment is becoming a rare feat, and Gagner scored himself a pretty successful night on the third night back from the break.   Worth mentioning.

Cardinals Make a Plea for Roy Oswalt and I say…

Why not?  Health issues pending or not, Oswalt is a plus pitcher with big time experience, success and an arm that instantly makes the Cardinals rotation that much better.   If the Cards were able to obtain him, either Jake Westbrook or Kyle Lohse would be traded and I have no problem with that.   Westbrook makes 9 million and Lohse makes 11.   Oswalt is commanding a one year deal worth 10 million.    Due to his record and status, he is worth that low liability cash.   There are legit reasons to be worried here.   Oswalt nearly retired in the middle of the 2011 season after the Cardinals roughed him up at Busch Stadium.   In the playoffs, Oswalt pitched very well against the Cards and only allowed 2 runs in 15 innings.  Oswalt has chronic back issues and that scares any team making an investment.   However, I like his upside and what he can do for this team.  He wants to pitch in St. Louis and if John Mozelaik can make it happen, the rotation becomes one of the best in baseball.

The 2012 Cardinals will rely heavily on healthy old players.  Players like Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, Rafael Furcal and David Freese have missed significant time due to injury in their careers and their availability will write up the 2012 seasons.   The loss of vital parts like Pujols, La Russa, and Duncan can only be fixed if the returning parts can stay in the lineup.   The secured closer spot means more than anything to the pitching staff.

Other Things
*Whether Rams stay beyond 2014 or not, let’s enjoy the next 3 yrs of football.  We can’t change the past and in this case the future won’t show its cards so let’s sit back and enjoy the Bradford/Fisher era as long as we can.   Don’t hate Kroneke either.  He invested a ton of time, effort and money in this city and fortunes and business ethics may force his hand in an unpopular direction.
*Listening to Adele is good times.   The British goddess with hips that could shake battleships can really sing and she sings from a reservoir of pain fit for music making therapy.
*Act of Valor, the new film that features real active duty Navy Seals, looks to be legit dramatic action adventure fun that can’t be faked.   The plot is fiction and there are actors involved, but the stars of the show are real bad ass soldiers of fortune.   This stems from the Seals effort to bring down Osama Bin Laden and will be a movie to go after when its released later this month.   The trailer features a great song by Snowpatrol called “When the Storm Ends”.
*The time has come for me to finally point out that I am sick of Tim Tebow.  The kid enjoyed a great rookie season where he put to rest doubts on his ability to find a measure of success at the quarterback position.  He threw 12 touchdown passes and only 6 interceptions while running for 6 touchdowns on the ground but right now I will point out that having him on Super Bowl coverage and sucking up coverage is nearly as bad as Peyton stealing thunder from his little brother with the big game taking place in Indy this weekend.   Memo to Peyton and Tebow.    Shut it down and resume the madness this summer when we all give a shit.
However, a few words on the Peyton Manning/Colts situation.   I understand every intention to rebuild around your team and do the necessary things to turn a fallen franchise around.  I disagree with the Colts notion of dismissing Peyton Manning and letting him sign with another team while they draft Andrew Luck.  I am not a fan of Luck and think Peyton has greatness left in him.   The Colts simply have to renegotiate his salary and contract, delete the 28 million dollar bonus and give him a new deal that allows them to filter new talent throughout the roster of a team that went from playoff contender in 2010 to a top draft pick seeking team a year later.   Draft Luck if you want but the last thing you do is send Peyton away.  He rebuilt your franchise in 1998 when there were no fans.  He has produced a Super Bowl and many great seasons.   There is no reason for this team to throw him away.  They can draft Luck and keep Peyton around for another 2-3 years while not paying Luck crazy money with the new rookie salary cap.  This is just an opinion but the Colts would be disrespecting Peyton by letting him go and if they did, I hope he comes back to lay down some vengeance.  It’s hard to picture him in another uniform.
*Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton suffers an alcohol relapse in Dallas this weekend.   Ooops!   This isn’t a big surprise.  Alcohol addiction is no easy beast to beat and Hamilton also deals with a drug addiction.   This isn’t a defense.  All I am saying is….fuckups will always be fuckups, only covered in noble clothing and acting from time to time.   Hamilton is a liability but as long as he hits like a machine and doesn’t completely lose his way off the field, I expect zero to come of this.
*Blake Griffin dunked over Kendrick Perkins this week and the sports world shakes.   I really wish Michael Jordan would come out of retirement and take these kids to school.   Griffin is a beast and highly talented physical energy bolt who never holds back in attacking the net, but this was just a great play and not the best dunk of all time.   Perkins is a very good defender but Griffin dropped a bomb over his shoulder and beat him on one play.    This isn’t that big of a deal.   Griffin’s jimmy curl hairdo is a big problem.   THursday night, Griffin was thrown on his ass in a game against Denver.
*Babies are unpredictable consistently entertaining little people.    It’s amazing what parents consider to be amazing when their kids are so young.  For example, my son Vincent finally took a shit after a painful 24 hour struggle last weekend as he deals with new food and when it happened, it was big news around the Buffa House.  It was worthy of rolling on the CNN scroll at the bottom or the ESPN byline on the side of the television during Sportscenter.   It’s a big deal!   Vinny pinching one off after a long time is akin to Kobe hitting a game winning 3 pointer after being shut down all night.   Highlight reel baby activity does involve a dump.   Welcome to my life.
*My best friend Chris “Irish” McHugh lives with my wife, son and I now.   He joined my work this past month and has become  a guy I can call a close friend and confidant.   He is the yin to my yang.  The jelly to my peanut butter.  The white chocolate to my pretzel.   You get it.  He is the dude.   My partner in crime.   Its easy to get up and go to work each day when you do it with your best friend and rock to the Black Keys.  My workplace carries an uncertain future.  My friendship with McHugh carries little drama outside of the next endeavor we choose to tackle.  I’ve known him through good times and bad times.  He has stayed a great friend. A brother. That’s the difference between a friend and a best friend.  One who doesn’t change when his or her circumstances do.  That’s Irish.  Love you man.
*Whenever I hear the song “Holocene” by Bon Iver, I think of Meme.   Before the holidays last year, Rachel and I were making a DVD of Vinny pictures for Christmas gifts to my family.  Of course, I arranged the soundtrack and Justin Vernon’s heartfelt falsetto filled slow burner was the centerpiece of the feature.  Now, when it comes on, I nearly stop everything that I am doing, stop moving, and reflect on what isn’t around any longer.   Music and movies do that to you every day.  Remind you of what is lost and what can be found but also take you back to scenes down memory lane.   A bittersweet experience that won’t soon go away.
*Floyd Mayweather signing up to fight Miguel Cotto on May 5th instead of Manny Pacquiao is a direct failure on Pacquiao and his promoter Bob Arum’s part.   Mayweather made it known that he wanted to fight Pac-Man and instead of nailing the biggest fight in 20 years down right away, Arum stalled, Manny let him get away with it, and now we are left with a second rate fight.  Cotto is one of my favorite boxers and is a proud Puerto Rican fighter, but he can’t slow down the incredibly fast and supremely skilled defensive master in Mayweather Jr..   Pacquiao will take a fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, something that is required after 3 close battles.   I don’t completely hate these fights.  I am just disappointed we didn’t see a megafight between Floyd and Manny before the undefeated Mayweather Jr. goes to jail in June.   Arum fucked this up because he was afraid of Manny losing and seeing his cash cow take a big blow.   Arum was completely hypocritical here.   During the first 2 rounds of talks between the two camps, Arum ripped Floyd for being afraid to step into the ring against Manny out of fear of losing.   Now he is afraid of seeing Pac-Man take a loss.   This makes little sense and has Arum coming off as being scared and Manny taking a hit for letting him get away with it.   Now the fight is put off until November.   I don’t think  a loss to Floyd or Manny would hurt their chances of a rematch or future matchups.   Instead, we get the second best fights.  I hope Miguel makes Floyd earn a win and I look forward to the 24/7 series.   I also hope Manny closes out Marquez and beats him assuredly before the talks with Floyd resume.
*Turning 30 years old feels different than most birthdays.  I feel like I am reaching the first old man milestone.
*The Song of The Day, Weekend and Morning.
“Draw The Line”(live) by David Gray
A bare bone yet potent ode about the limitations of the individual soul and the ambitious bridge to attaining a sense of purpose and happiness.   Gray sings about the real struggles in life and doesn’t hold any punches.   That’s what makes him great.  What you see is what you get.   A singer-songwriter who creates music with purpose.  A storyteller.
That’s all I have for now.   Thanks for reading and taking this in if you gave it the time of day.   It’s time for me to draw the line and pull the curtain.  I didn’t wish to change your thinking but only relieve the pressure on my own mind.   Hopefully this was a win/win situation.  If not, better luck next time.
Goodnight and good luck,
Dan L. Buffa
I treat every birthday the same.  It’s a finish line passing.  A checkpoint along the walk of life.   I have many left to pass and check, so this 30th stop shall pass in the same manner as the previous 29.   I’m still breathing…