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…

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