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.