Holiday Greetings From A Cigar Smoking Gorilla

Hello there,

Excuse me while I indulge my inner thought process here as I gulp red wine and take in an annual Christmas tradition of watching Love Actually and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  As I watch Hugh Grant shake his skinny British ass, let’s unload a round of ammo here.  Starting off with a message from Billy Mack(played by the wonderful British old man Bill Nighy): “Kids, don’t do drugs.  Become a rock star and they give them to you for free.”

List of Thoughts ranging from absurd to important to random.

  • A year ago today, in the early morning, my grandmother Meme passed away after a 13 day stay in a coma.   The wrong exit for such a kindred spirit.  If you know me well,  you can say I am social and have a personality taking up the space of a mall parking lot.   I talk to anyone and share little fear.  I got my bluntness from my father.  I got the social fever from Meme.  Before she took her final steps down that staircase and into her fall, she was talking, living, and drinking red wine.   She soaked up life by the hour.  She watched 60 minutes, sucked down vino like it was going out of style, and loved French cinema.  She was unique and special.   She is gone.  It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.   She deserved to go out surrounded by family, winking, talking and alert.   Having her plug pulled was just wrong.  That’s life.  It takes place in a fine world but is absolutely cruel at times.  Frank Sinatra once said, “You’re flying high in April and shot down in May”.  That was my family last year.   After the birth of my son, his health struggles and ensuing recovery, we thought we had won and were digging in for a wonderful close to a tough year.   Then, Meme fell down 9 steps at a Christmas party and smacked her head on the pavement at the bottom.  Concrete.  She left us at that moment.   The rest leaving only a line of goodbyes that got harder each time.  I remember randomly staring into my cell phone to see a facebook message from my uncle, saying “Meme took a fall, call your parents.”   Fuck, I thought it was nothing.   A year before, Meme fell down outside my parents house and broke her hip.  She spent some time in a hospital and recovered.   This time was different.  I got to Mercy Hospital and knew immediately it was doom.  Nancy Koplar, who was at the party, gave me that fake smile of relief as she left and I arrived. Meme made it out of surgery that night, my parents went home and I slept at the hospital on death watch.  My parents, especially my father, knew doom was awaiting.  That’s death.  It doesn’t just show up.  It drops down, wrecks the street, kicks open your door and screams in your hallways.  Death is a bitch and always will be.  We can be fortunate for the time spent with the deceased but what do you do if their time was wrongly cut short.  You get pissed, hot, full of rage and think about hurting something or someone.  Then, you realize this is your grandmother and real life and not your best friend inside of a guilty pleasure action movie.  Meme will be missed tomorrow.   This Christmas will be tough.   A year later means the wounds are still tender and open.  A few tears will be shed at some point because you either try to keep your mouth shut and not get my mother sad or you feel the need to say something and make her sad anyway.  It’s a tricky walk of life that we all have to play.  RIP Meme.  
  • Love Actually marked a fateful sad role for Liam Neeson.  In the film, he plays a grieving widow trying to get over the recent death of his wife while dealing with the springing emotions of his step son and his feelings for a classmate.  A few years later, Neeson lost his wife in real life, Natasha Richardson, to a skiing accident.  Afterwards, he proceeded to douse his career in a loving way with older action hero roles.  Taken and its sequel, A-Team, Batman Begins, The Grey and Unknown.   All quality to great films.   This holiday classic was the requiem to the horrible dream for Neeson personally but sprung his career in a new direction and pumped new life into it.  Talk about bittersweet.  I can only imagine if his wife didn’t die would he do so much action?  A question worth asking but I will add this.  Neeson is a kickass action star and it doesn’t get more convincing.  So when Taken 2 veers into familiar directions, we still watch because of Neeson’s raw ability to entertain with his thinking man’s action stardom.
  • Merril Hodge pisses me off.  The former Steelers fullback let it rip on Tim Tebow again on Sunday night football and I don’t know why.   Hodge has always hated Tebow and doubted his abilities.   He did this before Tebow started his remarkable run with Denver before going quiet while it was happening.   He started talking again when Tebow failed to take more than 2 snaps all year under center for the Jets.   He said the Jets didn’t know how bad Tebow before they traded for him.   Let me ask Merrill Hodge a question.  How the hell do you gauge a player’s worth in practice?  If we did that, Mark Sanchez would be a Super Bowl caliber player and not a replaced average quarterback bound to fight for his job for the rest of his career.   How did Tebow seem so bad last year when he took a 1-4 Broncos team and turned them into a playoff team and went on to upset Pittsburgh in the first round.   That’s why he is talking.   His former team was ousted by Tebow and his first play from scrimmage toss to Demaryous Thomas for the winning touchdown.   Maybe Hodge is just against it.  Let me make myself clear.  Merrill Hodge is a fucking idiot.   How does he know Tebow is so bad if he barely played all season?  What is he basing his view on?  All I can see is a man who wins when he is put in charge of the offense?   Tebow has barely said a word all season before telling Rex Ryan he wasn’t his bitch last week and opting out of meaningless Wildcat formation plays.    Is Ryan mad because Tebow came back and beat his Jets last season?  Along with millions of other people, not all Tebow fanatics, I wonder why Tebow hasn’t been given a shot this season with Sanchez’s futility and the Jets depressing state of play.   Why was he pushed to the side for a third string quarterback?   I will tell you why.  Rex Ryan doesn’t want to be proved wrong.  If he put Tebow in this week and the Florida kid took the team and city by storm and won a game, Ryan would look like a complete retard and be fired on the spot.   Instead, he will keep Tebow on the sidelines where he can do no damage to his ego or future.   Ryan was stubborn to the point of resembling a 5 year old this season and it will cost him his job.  I see Ryan’s angle.  I don’t get Hodge.  His words are completely meaningless.
  • It’s a no brainer to say Denver is fine without Tebow.  Peyton Manning is rejuvenated and powered that team to a 12-3 season and virtually looks unbeatable.   Tebow’s exit from Denver was appropriate.  The Jets were a rather perfect fit.  A ground and pound running attack, sturdy defense and a head coach ballsy enough to throw him into the fire.  Boy we were wrong.  I would wager money on the fact that Tim Tebow could have won more games with his unpredictable ability in the pocket than Mark Sanchez and his INT tendencies.   Any quarterback can look good in practice.  Tebow thrived in the moment of the action.  In the 4th quarter, there wasn’t a more dangerous force in the second half of 2011.  Tebow deserved better than this.  I will say he is a flawed quarterback with accuracy issues and a god craving that I simply don’t have.  He is a genuinely good guy and a talented player who deserved a chance.   When the Jets were reeling, there was zero reason to leave Tebow on the bench.   He could have changed their season.  We will never know.  If the Jets have a heart, they will release Tebow this week, let him be picked up by Jacksonville and allow him to begin his career with that franchise.   Do it right, New York.  You have already done enough wrong.
  • The Rams were very impressive on Sunday in beating Tampa Bay on the road, 28-13.  Down 3-0, the Rams got an interception return touchdown from white hot rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins to make it 7-3 and never looked back.  They used three more Josh Freeman interceptions to build a 28-6 lead in the third quarter and evened their record at 7-7-1 going into the final week against the hottest team in the NFC, The Seattle Seahawks.   If the Rams can pull off an upset, it will be their first winning season since 2005.  That doesn’t matter right now.  The Rams will at least finish 7-8-1 and that is an outstanding improvement from 2-14 in 2011.  Jeff Fisher and his coaches have stamped this team with a newfound toughness and soul that has been lacking since Mike Martz departed.   The kind of attack that screams, “fuck you, we are coming for your head, need recognition and will do anything for a win.”   If they had been sharper, the Rams could be 9-5 right now.  Hold onto that lead in Detroit and resist the urge to take a delay of game penalty in San Francisco and we may be in the playoffs.   Instead, we are even and looking good.  Our defense won that game in Tampa but the offense finished the job.   Given turnovers to work with, Bradford threw a pair of touchdown passes to Lance Kendricks.  Steven Jackson ran for 81 yards with a touchdown.  The Rams looked really good.  I’ll take that.
  • NFL notes.  What happened to Eli Manning and the Giants?  They have gotten their ass kicked two weeks in a row and are falling out of the NFC playoff picture?  Don’t blame Manning alone.  This entire team is stinking it up.   New York isn’t having a shiny season in the NFL.  The Steelers are out of playoff contention.   After last year’s first round bow out, this is the 2nd year in a row the Steelers will be a non factor.  Surprising only to a certain degree.   The Giants create more of a question mark and puzzle.  The Steelers didn’t have Big Ben behind center for three crucial weeks and had their momentum stripped.   The Giants just started to suck.   The Patriots almost lost to Chad Henne and the Jaguars.   Next year. that will be Tebow’s team.   Said it here first.  Its hard to bet against any team right now that doesn’t carry the name of Seattle or Denver.   Who picked those teams heading into the season?  Seattle is destroying teams and made a fool out of San Francisco on Sunday.  It wasn’t even close as Pete Carroll embarrassed Jim Harbaugh on prime time television.  Denver is playing so well with an average defense simply because of Peyton Manning’s ability to either stake his team to an early lead or bring them back.   This is something Peyton didn’t always do with Indy.   He couldn’t bring his team back and defy the odds.  With Denver, Peyton looks hard to beat.  I never doubted his ability.  Man has done it with two franchises and a long list of receivers.  Suck it Brady.  Green Bay looks beatable.  Houston is tough yet lacks the dynamite passing game and big stop defense.   Atlanta looks more legit every week but Matt Ryan can’t get it done in the playoffs.   Once again, the NFL playoffs will produce a different champion.
  • Watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.   My 2nd round of required holiday film pleasure.   Chevy Chase was at the top of his game in the best Griswald adventure.  Randy Quaid’s Cousin Eddie was priceless and nothing gets better than Chase’s rant at the end upon seeing his Christmas bonus.  20 years later, it is still hilarious.
  • The holidays are good for the simple reason that they make you stop to remember what you have lost but more importantly, what you have.   I have a great family.   A wife and a 15 month old ambitious little boy.  I have a good paying job with opportunities to rise through the company.  My wife is employed and makes good money.  I stay in touch with my family and have overcome some losses and hardships.  This year, a couple good friends of mine and I launched a movie website that continues to gather acclaim and is poised for a run in 2013.  It’s our little passion project that also labels us film critics.   I have a sea of friends and a solid group of trusted allies that I can depend on.  My wolfpack is intact.  My love for sports, film, and life in general is intact.   I also know that people know what I represent.   Originality and blunt opinion.  That’s all you can ask for.  In a year of change, maintaining your signature presence is important.

Stay thirsty my friends and happy holidays,

Your Trusted South St. Louis City cyber source,

Dan L. Buffa

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Author: D. Buffa

A regular guy who feels a journalistic hunger to tell the news. I blog because its wired into my brain to write what I think in print. I offer an opinion. A solo tour here. Take regular stories and offer my spin on them. Sports, film, television, music, fatherhood, culture, food, and so on. Commentary on everything. A St. Louis native and Little Rock resident who wants to write just to keep the hands fresh and ready.

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