Live From Kansas

Hello ladies and gents,

Allow me to be blunt here and quick.  First, let me talk about the unfortunate, deadly, tragic and completely monstrous elephant sitting in the room.

The James Holmes story.   One 24 year old man walks into a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado with three guns, 2 cans of tear gas and one goal.  Chaos.   He would later surrender to police and tell them he was the Joker.  Holmes also wired his house to explode if the police happened to crash his door.   He lined it with water bottles and a dangerously explosive liquid chemical.   Holmes opened fire in front of a movie screen at 1239 am while a packed house watched The Dark Knight Rises.   He killed 12 people.  He injured up to 71 people.  He officially wounded 40 people but ask the 6 hospitals in the area for the right count.   I don’t have it.  What I do have is a message.  It is that the world we live in is a mad one.   There are a lot of people like Holmes, who can walk into a room, kill strangers in cold blood and have no motive.   Unlike the Columbine shootings, he didn’t kill himself after he emptied his bullets.  He exited the theater, sat in his car and waited for the police to find him and arrest him.   When I think of Holmes, I think of John Doe from the movie Seven.   A man who is excited about the aftermath of his carnage.   Let’s get something straight.   The Dark Knight Rises doesn’t make   anybody pick up an assault rifle and kill people.   It just doesn’t work.  Movies don’t kill people.   People with trigger fingers complete the job.   Movies are meant to go deep inside us and leave a mark, but never drive us to kill.   Christopher Nolan, the cast and crew of DKR and Warner Brothers studios are appalled by this tragedy.   It was never their intention.   Nolan’s finale involves a masked terrorist, Bane, who plans to overthrow a city and burn it to the ground.  People will connect this to the shootings and its comically insane.   Holmes called himself the Joker, labeled “a agent of chaos” in The Dark Knight by Nolan and his writers, but that doesn’t work either.  Nolan’s work is fiction.  Holmes’ work is real.  I went to the Dark Knight marathon on Thursday night and enjoyed it.   I never carried an ounce of thought for a man walking into the theater at Chesterfield Galaxy and opening fire on us.   When I went to the gym in the wee hours of the morning, got on the Precor machine only to see the CNN headline, ‘The Dark Knight Massacre”, I was appalled and shocked.  I immediately thought about the people sitting in that theater, 20 minutes into the movie, comfortably lifted away in escape, carrying little thought that their life would be changed forever in seconds.   Bullet hole or not, James Holmes affected millions of lives Friday morning.   His acts changed things.   His work mirrors one of the villains in Batman’s world, but the chilling reality that Holmes work existed in the real world will make everyone weary from now on when they enter a theater.  Holmes wore a gas mask, bulletproof vest and all they could see were his eyes.   The kiss of death in their eyes.   When the planes hit the towers, I immediately thought about the people on the plane and the ones on the floor of the towers that were hit directly.   I try to put myself in their shoes and I visibly shake.  It’s that reality of relative thinking.   The thing that won’t be talked about the next few weeks are the fact that Holmes didn’t have a motive but had a plan.   He carefully planned this out over weeks.   He picked a crowded spot, full of kids, and with a movie carrying a theme of anarchy.  People will underestimate and fail to give Holmes enough credit because of what he did.   We will blame the movies, the mothers who took a 3 month old to the movie, the theaters security, and everything else instead of giving Holmes the credit of defeating our defense and taking lives.  People didn’t want to give Osama Bin Laden credit either.  They wanted to make up conspiracies, blame our own government and make up wild stories in order to avoid giving credit to the bad guy.   Remember, a great bad guy is one who succeeds.  Holmes is the ultimate bad guy.  He did something horribly memorable.   He won’t be forgotten.  He will be remembered for this crime long after the chemical injection takes the life out of his body after a guilty verdict puts him on the metal slab.  Give the man credit.  I will.   He will lose the battle but he will win the war.  The most chilling part about it. He isnt talking and clearly seeing his plan play out. He had response times, weaponry, the ability, and his calm cool collected demeanor only says one thing. He is enjoying the aftermath of chaotic murder. He didn’t kill himself like the columbine shooters did. He is enjoying this.  There are no good things about him but he isn’t a coward. He’s an evil man with an evil plan.  Any person who can take random lives without feeling anything is colder than most. He will stand trial, get the injection and exit this world.   You think this will make future murderers pause before committing a crime?  Get real.  Unfortunately, it will only give confidence to them. A lesser man would have been caught in the lobby or failed to fire at a person. James Holmes did the ultimate deed and he will pay. Any future followers won’t think twice. Security can be heightened but it won’t stop future tragedy. It’s a horrible reminder of our fragility.

One more thought on the Aurora shootings and I will shut up. Movies go deep into our minds but they don’t make us kill. We make the choice. Go watch Dark Knight Rises and enjoy it. It’s the best I have seen all year. Don’t be afraid to go to the movies.  The Colorado shootings remind me of my favorite Ernest Hemingway quote. A tragically bittersweet note. “The world is a beautiful place and worth fighting for.” I believe in the second part.

On to Lighter News…

The Dark Knight Rises deserves every dollar coming its way.  Christopher Nolan’s finishing touch to the trilogy is a brilliant caper to a serious reinvention.  It is the best I have seen this year.   For my full review, head right here.

http://www.film-addict.com/news-and-reviews/a-dose-of-buffa/item/518-the-dark-knight-rises\

The Cardinals beat a hot Cubs team 4-1 behind another great starting performance from Kyle Lohse and a monstrous home run by Matt Holliday, who continues to hit like a mad lumberjack.   Holliday hit the longest blast in Busch Stadium III’s history at 469 feet.  Lohse threw seven more solid innings, improving his record to 10-2 and his ERA dropping to 2.72.   Here is what Lohse has done in his last 10 starts.  He is 4-1 with a 2.54 ERA in 67.1 innings.    In 122 innings, Lohse has only allowed 4 home runs.  He deserves at least three more wins.  Lohse owes the Cardinals a solid final year in his 4 year deal because he choked up the first two.  People think he sucks or that he is overachieving.   I say he is cutting it even in a contract pursuit.   Make that money!  Lohse is getting it done and coupled with Lance Lynn, is making the absence of Chris Carpenter a non factor in 2012.  The starting pitching is doing the job in July.  The bats have let the team down and tonight platted 4 runs early and held on.  Jason Motte has 21 saves in 25 tries.  He hasn’t blown a save in a month.  He completed the 9th inning with only 6 pitches.   Tonight the Cards gained no ground on The Pirates or Reds, but they played a complete game and got contributions from the whole team.  Starting pitching, timely hitting, good defense and a solid job from the bullpen.   May I have another tomorrow night?

The hot temperatures aren’t going away.   The forecast for the rest of the month is VERY FUCKING HOT.   If you can’t handle it, stay home.  If you go out in it, stop bitching about it.  I worked in heated conditions for the last 10 years of my life.  At some point, you just tell yourself the heat has won and deal with it.   Argue about gas prices before the weather.

Writing this from my KC post.   I love coming out to the in law’s because it is so quiet out in the country.   Off the beaten path in DeSoto, Kansas, nobody knows me and there are no trains, cars, parking lots, noisy kids or much of anything going on.   If this is God’s country, I may just buy one of his books.  I like a departure every once in a while.  I call it upsetting the established order of a life.

St. Louis Rams 2011 1st round draft pick Robert Quinn was charged with a DWI this past week.   Athletes will never understand that when they join a national sports team, their behavior must be appropriate.  Whether they like it or not, they are role models and need to behave.   Think of it this way.  If I get a DWI, the damage is internal for the most part.  I get a fine, a slap, bad looks and a gray cloud over my head.  It blows over.  When a known athlete and sports figure like Quinn makes a big mistake, the headlines spread across the city and kids start rethinking why the men coming to their schools telling them to do right is drinking and driving.   They become hypocrites for believing in athletes.   Quinn’s mistake is downright pathetic.   Talk to Leonard Little and ask him about regret Mr. Quinn.   I have zero sympathy for people who drink and drive.  I did it once and swore to never do it again.  You could kill somebody if you drink and drive.   Quinn will learn a harsh lesson in privilege.

Also, don’t blame the guns for Colorado’s tragedy.    Guns are not responsible for killing people.   Once again, people are.  Unless I am mistaken, guns don’t go off unless they are triggered and aimed at a target.   The gun haters will run the gauntlet on this tragedy and they have no merit.   Remember, give credit and blame where it is due, and that is with James Holmes alone.  I know how to fire many guns.  9mm, 45 magnum, 12 gauge shotgun and an assault rifle.  That doesn’t mean I am going to walk into a theater and kill people.  I carry that choice because the world we live in is driven by choice and that alone explains the murders.

I am feeling my age and taking the toll.   One of the things I admired about The Dark Knight Rises was Nolan’s willingness to show Bruce Wayne/Batman in a crippling older state.   Fighting crime comes with pain and damage.  When we see Wayne 8 years after the events in The Dark Knight, he is using a cane and has become a full recluse.   He has no cartilage in his knees and carries tons of scar tissue, including some in his brain.  I admired that because in every other comic book adaptation, the heroes feel no pain and live on no matter what.  In Nolan’s world, Batman collects scars along with dealing them out.   I am beginning to feel the wear and tear on my body.  There is fluid in my left elbow which may require a cortisone shot or orthopedic surgery.  My knees can’t stand to bend down for more than 5 minutes.   My right shoulder sends shooting pains across my chest when I do the incline bench press.   I have been relegated to repetitions and that is fine.  Every body has a limit and I am hitting mine.   If I play a doubleheader in softball, my feet and back let me know it because I play it all out.   I haven’t been kind to my body for the last 14 years so I expect some pain but at 30 years old, I am becoming an old man.  I don’t think it is too soon but it sucks all the same.

I have hit my limit.  It’s time to shut it down.  My kid is getting up in 5 hours and I need to get a few hours of horizontal rest.  The road is calling my name tomorrow for a run so my legs need rest.   All together, I am going to start life all over again in a few hours so the writing will stop…for now.

Thanks for reading this and come back again.

-D. Buffa

The News In My World

Opening Round of Fire

Let me start things off by saying hello.   I am still around, alive, blood flowing, heart ticking, walking, talking, breathing and full of white hot rage.   At some point of every hour of our lives, we are angry about something.   A person, thing, ideal, or phrase that makes us homicidal or suicidal.  It’s part of living.  Being unhappy with some aspect of the way life is being lived so we quietly protest.  What do you think the difference is between you yelling inside your car with the windows up and the air on at the stupid ass driver who just cut you off as opposed to getting out of the car at the next stop light and ripping their head clean off?  It’s called quiet protest.   That’s our state of mind, or at least the portion of us that fight the good fight that includes staying out of jail.   I don’t like tight spaces in the middle of murderers, evil men, bad con men, and rapists.  It’s like a blind political war room mixed with Celebrity Jeopardy.  You go to jail and you get to pick the way you die.  At best, its by your own hands.  So instead of acting out and killing someone or coming close, we button down the hatch and stay civil.   Spit the words out of your mouth and feel good about pointing out retardation.  I sit here, one of the billions one earth who sat in their car or chair, contemplating the idea of murder before the sharp glaze of freedom brushed through their eyes and reminded them why they fake half their living minutes.   If you want to do something about it, you pay for it.   Ask the bodies in the ground at the local cemetery.  Ask their advice about fighting the good fight until the final and you will find a lot of regretful souls.   You know how you get the truth from people.  Ask the person they vent to about you.   Their face is a born again lie fest.  2012’s truth comes directly from the source and only from the source.   The only question is…do you trust it and are you ballsy enough to ask a person who doesn’t like you why?  Instead, I googled myself and found 27 other Dan Buffa’s who run around the planet Earth.  Go figure.   I am not even mad enough to act out on my rage.  I am also not even my own person.   Fuck!  And so I begin with what else….another rant about the Cardinals, my blood boiling baseball team that likes to play the underachieving acquaintance who always lures you into bed only to tell the next day when you are both sore from a night of rage infused free will chasing sweet haze of animal poses that they don’t want a relationship.   The Cardinals lead me on right and left, and manage to keep my spirits high by winning or appearing in World Series every 4-6 years.  Fuck!  Here it goes.  The latest mindfuck leg cramping fit rant about my baseball team.   Friends of mine bet me I would punch our doctor if he mentioned the Cubs in a happy light.  I told them they were crazy and that she was a woman whose humor was more dry than a piece of sandpaper.  They still put 20 dollars down on my rage overflowing at the OB doctor who would examine my wife.   I won the bet, held my rage in check, and she happened to not even utter a word of sports french inside the appointments.   In the 10 months since Vinny has been born, I have written, watched and followed my Cards but with a lower camouflaged form of obsession.  You can’t notice it as much unless you are close enough, sitting next to my plate of food as I grip it extra tight in late and close games.  I keep it at bay most nights, falling asleep in late one run games, allowing my dreams to sort out the victims.  I often serve the role of detective when I visit the crime scene the next morning.   The Cards are still my wishing well of infinite doom but their failure doesn’t scare me as much as it used to.  I wouldn’t jump off a tall high rise for them anymore.  These days its more like a small 4 story apartment complex that serves as my limit of danger within myself and this team’s flight or plight.   It’s not an easier way of observing them but my own idea of restraint.  I still envy people like my wife and father, who can politely yell at the television scream only to look at me with a straight face when I feel like kicking a three legged dog in the jar about the manager’s decision to leave a worn out arm in to give up the go ahead run.   Really, why does the hitter feel its a good idea to swing at a pitch that could have been a measuring stick aimed above their head for a height exam?  Answer that in less in 90 words and I will buy you lunch.  Why lunch?  It’s cheaper.  Anyway, baseball doesn’t rule my life anymore but it owns a fair measure of real estate on my soul.  The itch is always there and will never leave.  That ability to throw stats, wise knowledge, and a fairly un-bias take on the situation at hand in sports.   I did say un-bias, right?   Sure.  Allow me to finish my own sentences and write the rest of this blog.   Read it or not, my job is only to clear my head of infinite ideas and thoughts.  Think of a hoarder cramming newspapers into their shower.   Feeling the need to take up the space where you clean yourself in order to satisfy an urge.  So instead of doing that I come here and write.   Write nearly 1,000 word opening rants about our quiet rage, baseball and my own dealings with the two.   By the way, did I tell you that I just wrote a 1,000 word opening rant in this blog?  Well, I did. 1,015 words to be exact.  Let’s move on with the Cardinals complaint.   Filed now..

Cardinals Rant #2,919

The Cards are a hard team to watch the past couple years.   They find many different ways to lose and constantly fall on their heads.   They make errors that put a strain on a solid starting pitching staff.   They get a ton of hits but have no consistent clutch appearance.  They lose a ton of winnable games.  They lead the league in one run losses.   They lost 3 one run games on their just concluded horrific road trip, which included leaving around 49 runners on base.   They lost 5 out of 6 games against the Reds and Brewers, the teams surrounding them in the division.   Against their division since the end of May, the Cards are downright bad.  The Pirates defeated them easily at Busch.  The Reds swept them in Cincinnati.  The Brewers looked very average barely slipping by the Birds this past three game set.   The Cards don’t lose a lot of games by a wide margin.  They make it close and painful so it hurts.   The many teams they face will tell you it isn’t easy to finish them off, but their record is better than the Cardinals.   Look at the stats.  The Cards have done their part offensively over the course of the season as a whole, but in July, their bats have gone cold while the temperatures outside have risen.    It’s a troubling trend to witness.  Your team putting the tying and winning runners on base only to strand them infinitely and lose the game.  The Cardinals pulled off a comeback victory on Monday, getting the best of former Brewers closer John Axford for a three run rally for a 3-2 win.   The win could have served as a launching pad.  Instead, the Cards lost two straight and sit 4.5 games out of first place on July 18th.  This team has been maddeningly inconsistent.  They played the part in 2011, and with the help of the Braves stormed back to win the World Series.   They pulled a fast one and stole the trophy.  In 2012, they are doing it again.  Playing inconsistent baseball, showing flickers of hope followed by an overflowing sense of dread.  Can they turn it around?  Time will tell….

One could say this team needs a starter, reliever and new set of bats or mind sets.   Mike Matheny needs to switch out his bible sessions with happy endings at home.  The poor guy is finding out that 162 games as a technical leader of a team is ten times tougher than being the mental leader of the team.   We need rotation help because Waino is throwing a lot of innings, Lance Lynn looks tired in the 1st inning, Kyle Lohse will come back to earth soon and Jake Westbrook has to start throwing flat fastballs soon.   Joe Kelly is the finest surprise of 2012 and he only has one win.   The kid has pitched great since he showed up in June and he hasn’t been given shit for run support.   Look at run support as a true sign of a starter’s worth and not quality starts.   It’s not if the pitcher is doing his end or not.  It’s the run support he is getting that holds his record high or low.  That’s not negotiable.  It’s sports politics.  Compare it to ratings.  There is no clear logic in them but they look nicer than real studies.  The Cardinals need another bullpen arm to shove a bad arm out.  They need a safe guard starter to be ready to swoop in just in case Waino or Lynn hits a wall or Jaime Garcia doesn’t come back until November.  They can also use a bat off the bench that knows how to get a hit with runners in scoring position and one out.  The Cardinals need a shot in the arm.  Any sort, any kind or flavor.  Give me Will Clark or Larry Walker.   At this point I will take a Jeff Weaver.  Something to mix things up because either Lance Berkman’s humor has worn off or the boys in the hall are too wound up and need to visit Roxy’s one more time this weekend.   Losing to the Reds and Brewers is unfortunate and disappointing.  Losing to the woeful Chicago Cubs at Busch this weekend would be downright sinister.  Think of Michael Bay directing a remake of Goodfellas.  Yeah, that bad!

I promise I will recite the rest of my blog in smaller doses.  I just took my meds.

The Other Guys

The Dark Knight Rises comes out Friday and I have already seen it.   I have to withhold my review(stupid critic/press embargo rules) until then but allow me to say this.  It didn’t suck.  For more, read my review on film-addict.com this Friday at midnight.   There’s my required plug for my movie website.  Stop telling me how nice it looks and just go there and tell about 20 people to do the same.  Websites are like babies.  They need nutrients and good care to grow.  And a lot of help.

The Blues resigned Jamie Langenbrunner and traded B.J. Crombeen as well as giving David Perron a solid four year deal.   All the deals serve purpose and worry me at the same time.   Langenbrunner is a grinder, veteran and a guy who will do anything but is he taking up a young player’s spot?  Crombeen wasn’t a good fighter and not a much better hockey player so Ryan Reaves(2 yr contract) gets his spot…finally!   Perron has a shaky head but tons of skill so we will see.  Does T.J. Oshie get a deal before Friday’s arbitration hearing?  I believe that is up to Oshie’s camp and not the Blues.  I think the Blues want to sign him but Oshie wants to acquire that restricted tag next year.  Who knows?

The Rams truly haven’t done much to warrant my attention, so who cares at this point?  If they win, fans will show up by Week 9.  If they lose the first 3 games, every home game will be blacked out.   All I am asking for is a pulse this season.  Good luck Fisher.

The Newsroom on HBO is a brilliant show because Aaron Sorkin pulls zero punches and goes for the jugular.   A creator and head writer should let the audience know how they feel about certain timely political events and he does.  Also, Jeff Daniels and Sam Waterson are wonderful in their roles.   Two actors we all know that are at the top of their game here.  Watch it or leave it.  Just forget about your political alliance and enjoy the war room battles.  This show isn’t about the right or left wing. It’s about the death of news and the rebirth of delivering it right.  The show delivers that self-righteous cooler than the other side of the pillow chill that few shows about real things can do.  I appreciate and look forward to that for at least 18 more episodes.  Other HBO products are coming right along.  True Blood is still a devilish guilty pleasure.   I can’t wait for the third season of Boardwalk Empire to begin.

Vincent continues to do things I can’t believe.   Spit out words, come to a standing position, show bits of sophistication and enjoy life.   He is a normal baby in many ways but a special little bastard in ways only a parent can notice.   The man knows how to flirt and has a special face for it.   It could be a fellow 10 month old girl or a grown 37 year old cougar.  Vinny loves the ladies and knows how to work it.   Man goes outside without pants on and gets more chicks.   Being a baby is great.  People love you for your chunkiness and don’t make of you for it.  All adults are envious of babies getting all the attention because they make it look so easy.

Boxing gets better each day after a scary May where we had one horrible injustice and two positive drug tests along with a popular champion losing his career to an accident.   Last weekend there were two fights that were solid battles without controversy.   Heavyweight Brit’s David Haye and Derick Chisora met in the ring and Haye kicked the shit out of him.   Later that night, Danny Garcia, undefeated but unknown all at the same time, knocked out title contender Amir Khan in the 4th round of a fight many picked for Khan.   This was a replacement fight, after Khan’s previous opponent failed a drug test and fell out.   This was the second replacement fight due to a positive drug test this past month.   Victor Ortiz was beaten by a replacement fighter as well.  Khan didn’t run and hide like Ortiz.   He was caught with a huge sweeping left hand on the side of the head and never recovered.   However, he fought to the end of his rope.   Ortiz had a broken jaw and sat in his corner, quitting for the second time in his career.   Khan knew he was doomed but went down swinging.  In boxing, brutality and doom are your friends and foes.  Khan is a good boxer but was caught with a good punch.  That’s boxing.  And that is why we love it.  A good clean solid beating.  Congrats to Garcia and Haye.

People, stop asking about the ending to the Dark Knight Rises.  Stop asking about the quality of Tom Hardy’s performance as Bane compared to Heath Ledger’s Joker.  Just go see for yourself.  It’s a helluva ride and worth taking.  If you want to brush up, re-watch Batman Begins, the first Nolan Batman film.  It ties directly to the plot of DKR and brings the theme and story full circle.  That’s all about that.

Watch it this for kicks. Call it a little Heath Ledger brilliance when he plays the Joker, “The Agent of Chaos”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=ZRG1tWQN6e8&NR=1

Listen to anything Black Keys, Adele or Mumford and Sons.  You will be safe inside that fresh tube of great artistry.  Please feel good about the music you listen to.   Everybody has their own taste and needs.   Don’t feel ashamed for listening to something others frown on.   Dave Matthews has as many haters as lovers, but that doesn’t stop me from sweating under the lights watching him for 3 hours at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, a place I have grown to hate with a passion.  Listen to what makes you glide.

Keep in touch with your family for the bare bottom reason of getting the last word in before something bad happens.  All the other happier reasons too.  Whenever I talk to my dad, I try to leave every rock uncovered.  It never works out that way because it would get awkward but I have that ambition going in.   In this world, you never know.

Which friends can you trust?  The ones that are mean to you with honesty.  I tell my good friends that I am their best friend but not their nicest one.  You have to pay for those.

The filmmakers chose the right actor in Jeremy Renner to follow up Matt Damon in The Bourne Series but is the movie worth a shit?  We will find out on August 3rd.   Along with Damon’s great lead work, all three films were spectacularly tight morally ambiguous action films across the board.

What is it about people who say Y’all instead of “all of you” or “you all” that pisses me off?  I guess the idea that it sounds good.  Fuck with the dictionary all you want but makes sure the product isn’t annoying.  Paula Dean’s fat ass can’t stop saying “Y’all” wherever she goes.   She says it as many times as Ozzie Guillen says “fuck”.   I hate her show, cooking and presence with a passion and it all starts with that phrase.

Speaking of Guillen, Showtime’s new season of the Franchise is riveting television as usual.  Following Guillen’s troubled Miami Marlins as they take a big step in rebuilding a baseball team in a city that doesn’t give a shit about it and just watched the Heat win the championship, Showtime follows the mold of HBO.  Find a loud, ignorant profanity laced speaking manager and let it all hang out.   Following in the footsteps of Rex Ryan and Bruce Boudreau, Guillen makes you watch.   Also, MLB Productions does a great job of showcasing the action and giving us the inside track.

That is all.  Abrupt.  Finish.  Tonight, my end comes in this format.   Quick and to the point.   Reread the opening rant.  I’m proud of that part the most.

Thanks and goodnight,

D.L.B.

“Always, for what it’s worth”

 

 

 

 

 

The Rum Diary’s Spell

I am here to tell you The Rum Diary is a very good fucking movie.  A concoction rarely made in Hollywood but quietly breeding on the hills outside the cage.  First, let me tell you what I am doing here.   I love the movies for very easy reasons.   The escape, the delightful mind game and the aftermath that leaves you in a wash of amazement.  When done right, movies can transport you the fuck out of a hot, exhausting summer that’s only get revved up.   The Rum Diary, adapted from Hunter S. Thompson’s story about a crusading journalist going up against real estate kingpins in Puerto Rico, is one of those ridiculously hypnotic experiences that reminds you of the imagination lacking in Hollywood on a full time basis.  While Christopher Nolan creates masterpieces, The Rum Diary tells a different story.   A tale of hard fought journalism.  Johnny Depp is the reason the movie was made.  He found it in Thompson’s home a little after Hunter committed suicide and brought it to his Hollywood suits.   He got it made and the story wasn’t changed in any way.   Thompson’s dirty rotten bastards story line is kept intact and for good reason.  If you can dig down deep into the plot full of rum, bad decisions, dangerous women and consequences followed by serious action, you will find a lesson with a slow pulse.  As Thompson’s muse in the Rum Diary, Depp’s Paul Kemp explains to his readers, “There will be ink, full of rage.”    When you like a movie, you walk the streets explaining how great it can be and try to convince people to see through the crazy subplots and recognize a moral.   Some movies need a little time and patience.   They don’t deliver the goods in the first half of the movie yet struggle to keep the stranglehold on the audience.  It’s not easy to do anymore.   Instead of dusting off fine old books and putting them in motion, Hollywood wants to dust off a franchise or do another remake.   Where’s the creativity gone?  People do their best work when they don’t seem to care as much what the entire world will think of their product.  We need more renegades in Hollywood.  Bruce Robinson and Johnny Depp take that leap of faith in this movie.   A mad man tale about taking your last shot at redemption.  How many armies can a single man build?

In the movie, Paul Kemp comes to Puerto Rico looking for work with a newspaper to mull his writers block on a novel.   Kemp is a drunk and a seeker.   He moves with the current of crazy addictions.   He gets involved with the wrong people, makes a bad friends, and finds himself being a hired writing gun for a real estate shark to steal an island for hotel construction.  Soon enough, full of booze, drugs and paranoid momentum, he finds himself coming out of his haze and realizing the story he must write.  Too bad the paper he works at is closing up shop due to a lack of creativity.  Kemp finds himself in a state of moral clarity yet sees his hands tied.   All the while, falling in love with a beautiful woman named Chenault(Amber Heard, classy and sexy as ever).   Depp is the perfect man to step into Thompson’s world of madness.   In Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, he played a bumbling writer on a road trip to hell.   Here, he plays a man pulling everything together at the wrong time.  A man who wants to fight the good fight and only needs a barrel of ink, willing eyes and paper to make it happen.  Johnny Depp hasn’t aged a bit as he turns 49 this year and he is a uniquely versatile actor because he can play any role and seem convincing.   He can go on rants and sound profound while looking out of sorts.   He can do it all and isn’t afraid of any choices.   The man who plays a cutthroat pirate can also play a lawyer and an alcoholic writer.  I admire him as much as I like him, because he doesn’t fake anything.   He was a close friend of Hunter S. Thompson’s and got the movie made to honor his memory.    Thompson was a different kind of journalist.  A gonzo journalist.  A form of reporting where the reporter inserts himself into the story to make the idea seem more interesting and wild.   Thompson didn’t just write stories.  He lived them.  Every damn moment.  I like that.  Calling his work an acquired taste is like calling whiskey a muscle relaxer.  It doesn’t begin to explain the appeal or ultimate delight.

The Rum Diary is worth watching because it’s different, doesn’t answer all the questions, nor does it feature characters who we can nail down inside 5 minutes.   It’s original, fresh and quietly provocative.   At the heart of it is the battle for the soul of true journalism and the unfortunate state of the newspapers at the moment.  For a movie taking place in 1960, The Rum Diary tells a timely tale and asks a good question.  Do we still tell the news or merely print it?  Somewhere, Aaron Sorkin would appreciate this movie.

Watch the movie or buy the book.   Find the soundtrack as well.  They are all worth seeking out.

“Like most others, I was a seeker, a mover, a malcontent, and at times a stupid hell-raiser. I was never idle long enough to do much thinking, but I felt somehow that some of us were making real progress, that we had taken an honest road, and that the best of us would inevitably make it over the top. At the same time, I shared a dark suspicion that the life we were leading was a lost cause, that we were all actors, kidding ourselves along on a senseless odyssey. It was the tension between these two poles – a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other – that kept me going.”
― Hunter S. ThompsonThe Rum Diary

-D.L.B.

The Independent Thinker

This is the one you take right before you go to bed.   The quick dose of unfiltered opinion that doesn’t have an overall meaning but carries enough narrative strength to give off the impression something productive happened.  Ideas Up for Blogging Auction.

As I watch Robert Downey Jr. take me through Sherlock Holmes 2 scene by scene on this Blu-Ray feature, allow me to fire off a few things here.

  • The Cardinals get a big series against a bad team.    Beating the horrible Rockies 3 games out of 4 doesn’t constitute a nation wide address, but in my eyes, the Cards are learning to win at home and beating this team down is what playoff teams do.   Win, win, and win again.   Losing a single game to the Rockies hurt enough, so the series had to be taken.   It’s a huge win for many reasons.  Lance Lynn reminded you why it’s okay to let Chris Carpenter(more on him in a few) go for the season and why he is a National League All Star.  He pitched 6 gutsy innings without his best stuff and stopped a nasty 3 game losing streak.  He has 11 wins before the All Star break.  Without his contributions alone, the Cards are a bad team.  He passed the test today.   The test of falling from grace and coming back to life again.  Lynn has hit an innings wall yet he can still pitch.  Carlos Beltran has 60 RBI and leads the National League.  Jason Motte has 19 saves(albeit theatrical ones) and finished the job tonight in an appearance that wasn’t entirely needed but I’m all for padding closer’s stats.   At the end of the night, the Cards were 5 games over .500 and close to the Pirates and Reds in the standings.   Let’s look closer.

*5 Cardinals are all stars.   Yes, it’s not right that the All Star Game decides home field advantage in the playoffs but that is the way it is at the moment and fighting over it only loses oxygen so let’s pass it up the fuck up.  The All Star is important because it gave the Cards the home advantage over the Rangers and played a huge part in our triumph in 2011.  The fact that David Freese sneaked in yesterday only makes our chances better.   The fan voting got Pablo Sandoval into the mix over David Wright and that is downright stupid.   However, fans decide one game a year and it will never change.   Freese has solid numbers and deserved a spot.   He is hitting .286 with 13 home runs and 50 RBI.  His numbers are second only to Wright.  I don’t need to hear anywhere that he doesn’t deserve it.   Freese is a hometown kid, a World Series hero and a solid third baseman.   Beltran, Lynn, Yadi Molina and Rafael Furcal join him in an excellent representation(all fan voting and no Tony La Russa selections) for the Birds.  Tuesday will be an exciting night to see TLR madness unfold one more time and hopefully see The NL bring it home.

*Chris Carpenter is done.   We all knew it.  Now it’s time to get over it.   Carpenter wasn’t going to pitch through a nerve injury in his shoulder.   No way.   Shut him down, get it fixed and have ready for 2013.  We can all whine how unfortunate it is and how Carp’s body is made out of parts these days, but that is the nature of the business.   We all know what he can do when healthy and if you forgot already, revisit September and October of 2011.  He threw 4 complete games in September, including the last game of the season to send us into the postseason.  He outdueled Roy Halladay to win the division series with a complete game dominating performance.   He pitched the Cards past the Brewers and Rangers in route to a World Series title.   Carpenter will be back and will be effective again.   After 6 surgeries, I can’t count the guy out.

*Speaking of persistent pitchers, Jason Isringhausen is still playing and he is doing it in LA with Albert Pujols as a member of the Angels.    Years after being cast out by Cardinals fans after a disastrous 2008 season, Izzy is getting paid to come out of the bullpen and pitch effectively.   He got his 300th save in New York last year and is in the American League this season and its a courageous body of work.   Izzy’s six surgeries(3 on his right arm) usually knock out baseball players.   Izzy plays on because he loves the game and not just because he wants a paycheck.  He is the exception to the rule and proof that a heart never stops ticking until the owner is ready.    Izzy is all heart and will.

*Allen Craig is officially the most underrated power hitter in baseball.   43 games, 13 home runs and 43 RBI to go with two stints on the disabled list.   Craig continues to hit, produce and convince me he can be a full time player.   His rise along with Jon Jay’s play in center are proof that the Cardinals farm system is able to produce talent that needs a few tweaks but can be highly productive.  Craig is the reason Lance Berkman’s 12 million dollar salary can go away in 2013.   That’s savings and wins at the same time.

*Kyle Lohse is having a helluva walk year.   8-2 with a decent ERA and a consistency lacking in the previous 3 years.   He has been pitching solid since the middle of 2011.   He  was the best pitcher in 2011 overall and is doing it again this season with a sharpened array of pitches and the intelligence to know when to throw them.  Good for him and us.    Do you keep him after the season if he keeps this up?  Sure, but not at 4 years.   You only walk down that road once.

*Matt Holliday deserved to be an All Star over Jay Bruce and all you have to do is look at the stats.   Since April 19th, Holliday has been on fire and I love to see his critics in St. Louis crawl under a fucking rock when he plays so damn well.   The 17 million dollar bargain(see Carl Crawford’s deal in Boston and Jayson Werth in Washington) continues to hit everything.   He collected 2 more hits last night and 2 RBI.   He now has 14 HR and 56 RBI to go with a .318 batting average.  In his last 10 games, he is hitting .459.   He hits everything hard, hustles like he is trying to stay on the team and has improved in the outfield.   Holliday is the hardest working guy on the team, and all you have to do is look at his jersey to see why.

*Tony La Russa can stir the pot without being the manager of any team.   His All Star omissions of “kicking impossible” Johnny Cueto irked Dusty Baker, even though Tony selected Bruce over Holliday.   Here is the deal.   La Russa is a sure fire Hall of Famer and Baker isn’t.   Dusty has never won the World Series because his teams simply weren’t good enough and he has no clue on how to push his team past limits.   Could Dusty juggle 14 starting pitchers and lose a player in 2002 and propel his team to the pennant?  No way.   Dusty is a jealous old hack who is envious of what La Russa has accomplished.  I hope Tony sent Dusty a fuck you card telling him the 10 reasons why he is managing the All Star game for the third time in Cardinal red and Dusty is on team #3 trying to get there for the first time.

*The Bullpen is the Achilles heel of this team.  Pure and simple.  The rotation has pitched well in the past month and over the course of the season.   The bullpen is the team giving up leads, allowing runs late and giving off an uncertainty that leaves a nasty after taste in a fan’s mind.   I feel safe with no one in the pen right now.  It doesn’t matter how the starters or offense do if a bullpen can’t hold a lead.  The Cardinals have lost a ton of one run games lately.   Ask me what the biggest need is and its bullpen help at the deadline.

*Whether or not the Cards need a starter is up to Jaime Garcia.   If his time table is positive for a return in August, then we don’t need a starter.   If it’s delayed or uncertain, find an arm.  Carpenter is down.   Lynn, Wainwright, Lohse, Westbrook and Joe Kelly are in.   They are doing a fine job and holding up well into the middle of the season.   However, Lynn and Waino’s work load might reach a questionable limit soon.   John Mozelaik needs to keep a look out for an arm.   I am not talking about Zach Greinke or Cole Hamels.  It will be a low hanging fruit probably, which explains my need to examine the area before acting quickly.  I have a bad feeling Jon Jay will be trade bait and not Shelby Miller.

*Right after the All Star break, we take on the Reds for three games in Cincinnati.  A huge series.  The Cardinals are 2.5 games behind the Pirates, who own a 2 game lead over the Reds.   We have 6 games against the Pirates in August, but here is what we need to do.   Be a better team at home.  We are only 21-19 at home and for a team classically strong on home turf, that number is downright atrocious.  Get it together at Busch.

Moving on while I can hold off my baseball addiction meds.

  • The Blues signed David Perron to a four year deal worth 15 million, in a move that signifies hope and assurance.   Perron missed 90 games due to a head injury and the Blues showing the faith to lock him up for four years at nearly 4 million per season is a good risk for the franchise.  Perron scored 21 goals in only 50 games and is a difference maker on the ice.  This is his middle contract and a good shot to see what he brings now that he has security.  I always said the young three were going to have to show something new and Perron is easily the sharpest of the Berglund-Oshie-Perron combo.   Berglund got a 2 year deal before 2011-2012 and Oshie is up for a new deal at the moment.   My feeling is that The Blues will hand Oshie a 3 year deal worth 3.5 million annually.   He is still young, relatively cheap so its easier to keep him than lose him.  However, Oshie may resist a long term deal, reach for another 1 year deal only because he would be a restricted free agent after the 2012-2013 season and get the kind of contract Perron received or better elsewhere.

*The Blues also won’t be making any huge signings this offseason but will probably trade for help.   Bobby Ryan and Shane Doan are two creatively sound options for GM Doug Armstrong to reach for.   Ryan gives you the goal scorer that is needed and a young player with years ahead of him if the Ducks decide to dangle him out the window.   Doan is a proven scorer who can fit in well with this team.   A top line defenseman is also desirable but looking for one that works isn’t easy in this thin market.   After the 2012-2013 season, the Blues lose a ton of payroll and face a better market.    It’s interesting to imagine what is going on in the mind and mobile device of Armstrong, President John Davidson and Owner Tom Stillman.   The Blues can afford to lose Matt D’Agostini and Jamie Langenbrunner if it means acquiring some younger more talented help.   The Blues are almost there when it comes to being a legit Cup threat.

*Elsewhere in hockey, Sidney Crosby and The Penguins make a ridiculous wager of the bank and the soul with a 12 year deal, The Minnesota Wild make their Miami Heat move and sign Zach Parise and Ryan Suter and Martin Brodeur makes the right decision to end his career in New Jersey and stay away from The Blackhawks.  Who gives out 10-12 year deals in a contact sport?  I laugh at teams like the Penguins giving a concussion prone superstar a 12 year deal.   The Wild have to earn it now that they are paper threats.   Brodeur going to the Blackhawks would be like Pujols leaving the Cardinals, which is not classy at all.

  • The Rams have absolutely nothing going on but offseason shop talk.   Bradford’s future is being stripped and remodeled every day on NFL prime time but what is the difference if you have nothing to go off.   Bradford enjoyed a decent if not great debut season, got banged up and looked horrible in his second season and now has his third offensive coordinator overseeing the operation.   What’s not to love?
  • What needs to be watched in theaters?  After making another plug for my website, http://www.film-addict.com, I will tell you The Amazing Spider Man was a solid reboot and erases my hurtful memories of Tobey Maguire as Spider Man and gives Emma Stone another showcase.   Oliver Stone’s Savages is an intoxicating trip through the sweetness and bitter regret of the drug business.   Call Stone a risky attention hogging filmmaker, but isn’t that the point?   When he swings at something, he always has two hands on the bat.  Ted is the best comedy of the year because it handles a risky concept with the ease and skill of a pro.  Seeking A Friend At the End of the World is for the hopeless romantics who need a little breath of fresh air and works so well because Steve Carell and Keira Knightley are brilliant.
  • The Dark Knight Rises gets closer and closer to my eyes.   I have a very evident and vocal boner for this movie.   Nolan’s Batman films are so well done and fascinating to watch because he injects a timely message into each of them and makes you think.  The fierce ideal that good and bad aren’t simply black and white sides in this world.   There’s a gray area in those labels that is harder to fit into a neat realm than people give it credit for.   Nolan isn’t afraid to shed lights on our darkest traits.   Greed, power, ability, responsibility, regret, revenge and the darkness in each of us that is noticeable if not always engaged.
  • My son is a fighter.  Vinny beat the shit out of a kid in the gym daycare this week and I am part proud and part scared.   Is this the life a parent hates to foresee?  Being the parent who gets called about your son’s violence towards others and not the other way around.   Vinny is a monster for a 9 month old.  He is 24 pounds, all baby muscle, can stand on his own, crawl like a snake and do things other newbies simply can’t.   He didn’t just pounce on another 9 month old and throw some punches.  He had the tenacity to be separated, fake going for another toy and pounce on the kid again before being separated for good.   Vinny was up for a play and the kid wasn’t, and the result was clear.  My kid is a tough little bastard and not to be reckoned with.  Welcome to my new challenge.   Kids challenge your endurance in every way possible.
  • TV Section 

*The Newsroom on HBO gets picked up for a second season and after 2 hours, I can easily see why.  The show works and is a timely series.  Aaron Sorkin writes dialogue and monologues for television like David Mamet does for films.   People don’t speak this clear, proud, real or fast in real life so we appreciate it on a screen.  The interactions between Jeff Daniels and Sam Waterson make the show for me.  An aging wolf talking to a seasoned pack leader.

*True Blood finally becomes “must watch” television for me in season 5.    Why?  Eric and Bill are finally teaming up instead of going head to head, which is stupid because Eric is so much older.   Alcide is finally getting his shot with Sookie, which needed to happen 2 seasons ago.   The show has a legit, entertaining bad guy in Christopher Merloni’s vampire instead of a lame witch, ferry or refugee.   Most of all, characters are evolving and showing new shades in it’s fifth round.  Count me in.

  • Boxing Recommendation-The reason a fight between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Miguel Cotto could qualify as the fight of the year.   Young gun versus smart veteran.   Boxers turn into legends because they are smart fighters and know how to go about their business.  Canelo, the young Mexican champ with atom bombs for fists, needs a challenge and the proud Puerto Rican fighter Cotto can give it to him.   Cotto has a brilliant record and career of taking the tough fights and producing entertaining slug fests.   His only three losses came in tainted fashion against Antonio Margarito and losses to the two best pound for pound fighters in the sport in Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquaio.   Canelo has made a slow rise to more stiff competition, brushing off Shane Mosley in May and now needs a legit opponent.  Cotto could bring the fight to his doorstep in September now that the mentally unfit Victor Ortiz went down with a broken jaw.
  • Music Area-Band of Skulls are the one band you haven’t heard about who have two brilliant albums.  Punk rock done right.  Check out their live version of “Lay My Head Down” from their latest album, Sweet Sour.
The Buffa Rundown-Random Sentences
  • Emma Stone’s appeal lies in something deeper than beauty or skill.   Her presence can make any film better.
  • Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes divorcing isn’t a huge deal folks.  It happens all the time in Hollywood.   Let’s not trash Cruise’s beliefs or Holmes’ need to get out.   Scientology isn’t any crazier a religion or notion than believing one man climbed up atop a hill and laid down a set of commandments or believing in little angels flying around.  I hate it when the public instantly trashes the more popular or different thinking party.   Grow up my friends.
  • Traveling to different movie theaters is a fun experience that needs to be taken by any true cinema fan.   Plan your next trip to cinematic paradise by checking out our cinema spotlights on film-addict.
  • Movie adaptations from books are best being made differently than the book.   Who wants to read a reel for reel copy from a book?  The cinema is made for reinvention and imagination so let’s not cry over little details.   Movies are books in motion and it should be kept that way.   It’s impossible to please the book lovers so I implore all filmmakers to not even walk down that road.
  • Lee Child didn’t like the studio’s choice to cast Cruise as Jack Reacher in One Shot, one of Child’s books which was made into a movie.   The producers changed the title of the movie to Jack Reacher, kept Cruise and cut Child loose.  Good for both parties.  Child will never like the movie and the studio will never please Child.
  • Working out in this heat is a challenge of the mind and body.   That is all.
  • The secret to the success of the Sherlock Holmes movies lies in two things.   The chemistry of Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law along with Guy Ritchie’s ability to inject his own brand of madness into the filmmaking process.   I thoroughly enjoy both these movies and await a third entry.
  • I am getting used to 100 degree temperatures.   Bodies can adapt to any kind of weather.
  • Dave Matthews Band lands in St. Louis next Wednesday and I will be there to see them do their thing.   Matthews and company put on a simple pleasure in their shows. Play for 2.5 hours and leave the fans satisfied.   At this point in their career, DMB are fan base pleasing artists searching for quiet innovation in a studio and fulfilling a promise onstage.   They aren’t making ground breaking music.  They are simply extending an open hand to their loyal fans by hitting the road for 6 months and failing to disappoint.  After a year off(mostly) from touring in 2011, DMB’s tour this year is in promotion of their new album, Away From the World, which lands in stores in September.
Well, that about wraps it up.  Thanks for reading and come back for more when the plate is empty.
Goodnight and good luck,
DLB