Month: June 2013
Stream of Consciousness
Here we go, blunt and quick with bullets.
- Lance Lynn is overrated. He bumps a lot of four seam fastballs in for strikeouts and collects a lot of wins but does so because he receives a ton of run support. Honestly, he is a 4th rotation slot guy looking like an ace with his flaky record. He is 10-1 but is starting to break again in June. He got whipped by the Marlins and was saved by the bats. He blew a 3-0 lead tonight against the AAA Houston team and that is not acceptable. Losing to the Marlins is one thing. They have Jose Fernandez and Giancarlo Stanton to deal with. The Astros have Erik Bedard to put you to sleep on the mound and Brett Wallace to look disappointing. They don’t beat very good teams ever. At least not this week. Lynn pitched horrible tonight and except for coaxing the Cubs into looking like idiots, has struggled in June. What happens when the offense doesn’t spot him 6 runs?
- Speaking of losing to the Astros, if the Cards follow through and lose this game, they can find their own damn way to Oakland. An ass whopping will be waiting for them there. No excuse to lose to Houston when you are the Cardinals. They are pick me up games. Schedule makers giving you a night to rest your starters.
- The Blues can sign Patrik Berglund to a one year deal and Kevin Shattenkirk to a 4 year deal and I won’t bark. I just want to know what this team is going to do to put themselves over the hump for next season. Will the returning corps of Perron, Oshie and Berglund net us a deeper playoff plunge or offer more disappointment? We took a step back last season so what happens now. There isn’t a lot of money but hopefully Armstrong can be crafty and net us a difference maker. We can’t look at men on our roster to grow up anymore. They are who they are. They won’t get better. Alex Pietrangelo won’t turn into Al Maclinnis all of a sudden. The three potential all star kids won’t become Jarmoir Jagr next season. Chris Stewart will always be a streaky talent. What will be done? I know Hitch took over in midseason two years ago and had a lockout last year but this next season carries what kind of prediction? It can’t just be a playoff appearance. We expect more. We know Brian Elliot can’t find a way to stop LA in a playoff series. We know there isn’t a big time get the hell out of my way goal scorer on this roster. I do know Halak has playoff juice to spare but can he stay healthy or is he trade bait? So many questions and not one bit of certainty. That’s the Blues. There is a reason we haven’t won the cup since…well ever. Several coaches have left our team and went on to win Cups. Scotty Bowman. Joel Quennville now has two after being fired. It’s a sign of bad times. What happens next year? Please don’t let the Blues become the pitiful Chicago Cubs and have us keep punching out the painful proclamation, “Maybe next year”. We Deserve Better Than That.
- My kid got sick again today. A 104 degree fever and a high heart rate. My kid had major heart rate problems early in his life so when that spikes, he has our attention. Whenever the kid gets sick, he gets our attention. For the most part, he is a brute savage who is fiercely independent. However, he has spent a few rounds in the ring boxing at the tender young age of 21 months, so he has our attention. Damn kid.
- White House Down is genuine summer entertainment. More to come Friday.
- I was going to see Despicable Me 2 tonight(first one was aces) but well…see the post above about my kid. Shit happens. So do kids and fevers.
- The Cards just had problems pushing across Matt Holliday after a 1 out double and a steal. He was there with 1 out and Freese struck out and Shane Robinson(we know why he is playing) grounded out. You don’t waste scoring opportunities against the Astros. That’s like being handed a winning lottery ticket and dropping it in a sewer drain. It’s just stupid. If they lose, this one will frustrate the shit out of me. Very good teams don’t lose to awful teams after having a 3-0 lead early on. Lynn is to BLAME. He blew it.
- Ray Donovan is on Showtime On Demand right now and if you like hard boiled LA crime stories that mix in rough Boston accented tough guy family history and great character actor filled casts, check it out. Liev Schreiber, one of the most underrated actors in the business, anchors a fine cast as the title character, a “fixer” with serious daddy issues(who doesn’t when they were created by Jon Voight) and has an array of trouble to deal with when that particular dad gets out of jail too early. Bloody fists ensue and hot strong willed women stand by waiting to cuddle our hardened street warriors. This show is one to look forward to.
- Mowing the lawn sucks. Trying to figure out a lock cap on a gas can is in the brutal heat is worse. I pulled a deadly trick today. I let Vinny roam the backyard while I mowed the back strip. I got it done before the rain but poor Vinny got sick. Bad daddy move but life goes on. Kid is tough. Best thing about mowing is being done with it.
- I have three different coffees in my house right now and I trading off between them. I don’t drink a lot of beer or soda so I stick to coffee, sugar/aspartame free energy drinks and water. Mostly coffee and water. I like it, as you know, bold and black. As sophisticated as Helen Mirren and black as Viola Davis’ skin that makes this man sing like Buddy Guy. It’s almost iced coffee time and that(thanks to the brilliant Pj Nolan) can be made right at home.
- I am starting to put one foot off the Pete Kozma train. His average is dipping and his defense isn’t enough to let him hit .230. He has been steady and lasted just about as long as I hoped he would. Either let the red hot hitting Ryan Jackson come back up or take a look around the league for trade deadline options. Kozma is starting to trend down. He still gets big hits but they are getting fewer by the week. I don’t need him to hit .290 and bang in 60 but his offense is feeble at best right now.
- The Cards do have areas of need. Don’t let the nice record fool you. They have been steady in June but are failing to break out and get a bigger lead in the division. I won’t whine too much about being 18-21 games over .500 but when the team stays around that water mark for three weeks, there is a problem. The Cards starting pitching had frayed in June and their lineup is painfully eruptive yet still can’t solve lefties. The remedy. Get a power right handed bat off the bench and find a way to drop Ty Wiggington, who is slowly decaying in the dugout. Get rid of Shane Robinson(average player at best) and get a righthanded bat who can play some outfield and you can keep Kozma on the bench or bring up a kid from Memphis. I like our bullpen the way it is but there are so many moving parts its hard to put a finger on it, especially with a month to go before the deadline.
- Film-Addict Items posting this week. Channing Tatum piece. July Staff Picks. White House Down review. James Remar Charactor Actor spotlight.
- Lance Lynn went 7 innings and retired the last 8 he faced. Nice work but still doesn’t make up for the one horrible inning where you give up 4 runs to the Astros. Nope.
- The NBA Finals are done. Stop talking about them ESPN. Talk about football camps. BASEBALL. Tennis. Hockey. Lebron James is a big boy now and has 2 rings and more coming. Get with it and stand against it. The Spurs blew it big time. They let the hungry dog back in the cage and lost everything.
- The last 25 minutes of Dark Knight Rises is pure greatness. Christopher Nolan’s finale couldn’t live up to the Dark Knight but it was still a fabulous wrapup with a good bad guy and a sharp way of tying up the entire story. The chase scene at the end and the big reveal of the mysterious string pulling villain worked so well with the Gotham under nuclear attack mode and Nolan kept it all grounded. The final 7 minutes that includes a fine excerpt from the great American novel a Tale of Two Cities with Hans Zimmer and James Newton-Howard’s beautiful score is so fitting and poignant. Makes me wonder how much better Man Of Steel would have been if Nolan had produced and directed.
- My Man of Steel review may be toned back from a 4/5 to a 3/5. Just thinking about it more and more and putting it up against other summer and 2013 films. Snyder and Cavill made a good film but I don’t think it was a great one. That’s the blues of being a critic. You have a deadline and sometimes your mind changes days afterwards. I’d give it a B+. I don’t have a problem with Superman doing what he did in the end if you know what I mean. Sometimes bad men have to be STOPPED.
- Matt Holliday just struck out with Carlos Beltran on base. 3 more outs and this team loses to the Astros. This may release the hounds on the flaws on this team being camouflaged by a good record.
World War Z Review
*Since I didn’t publish my review for this movie on my website, I will come here and dish it out blunt and straight. A Buffa Film-Addict special. Enjoy. I won’t bore you with cast listing, director spots, running times or anything else. Just a dose of my thoughts on the film. Straight, like black coffee or whiskey. Also no official rating. That is hard enough when I need to publish my review. Here, all words. No thumbs, number count or rating. I will include a brief plot description.**
Plot-Gerry Lane(Pitt) is a former UN investigator who is called in by the government when a virus is unleashed and zombies take over North America. With his family held safely on a US Navy ship only if he helps find a cure, Lane must travel the globe and find an end to the madness before the world is completely under siege. He has 90 days.
World War Z works because its brain is larger than its gore count. Brad Pitt rightfully intervened in the editing process and brought in Lost Creator Damon Lindelof to do a rewrite of the script and added a pulse pounding 40 minute suspense filled finale that wraps the film up perfectly. Pitt plays the lead character very well, spinning an everyman vibe on this leading character and making him one of us. A man with a family trying desperately to figure out an end to the madness. The Zombies aren’t your normal undead foes here. They sprint instead of walk and take just 10 seconds to turn into a monster. The best parts of this film are the tension filled moments. When Pitt and a few soldiers are riding bikes across a downpour of rain in the dark trying to board an airplane. Pitt aboard an airplane where a zombie has gotten on board and there is only one way to smoke him out. A finale that includes a chase for a cure and a puzzle house full of deadly turns and moments where nobody is safe. The end works because the twist in the story isn’t revealed too early and the script, direction and cast all work well together. What I thought was going to be a CGI inflated mess of a film plagued by re-shoots is instead a very well done thriller. In every sense of the word, this movie shakes, rattles and shocks you. It’s a highly entertaining summer treat. I think Pitt needs to keep his hand in the producing chair as well as the acting gig because I can only imagine what that dreadful first cut looked like before he took the gloves off and cut it into this 115 minute adrenaline blast. I also really like the casting of True Blood and The Killing TV alum Mireille Enos as Pitt’s wife and mother of two daughters. They make a very believable couple and instead of hiring a hot bland actress, the filmmakers hired a woman with poignancy, depth and beauty. Nice one make believers!
Here is the trailer-
For my colleague Chris McHugh’s take, visit http://www.film-addict.com and feed your fix on all things movies.
A Killer Week
What a week it has been for this guy. A whirlwind experience that has included parts that felt like a Pink Floyd concert and others that felt like a long walk down the dirt road. A reminder to me that anything can happen at any time and most of the time, that thing isn’t that kind. As Rocky Balboa famously told his arrogant son in Rocky 6, nobody punches harder than life. Sly Stallone saved that series with the sixth film, a poignant tribute to the pugilist that never leaves the memory. It’s that blunt speech that he gives his kid outside of his restaurant that provides it with the magic. Rocky Jr. is mad because his life revolves around his dad’s legacy. When Rocky wants to do an exhibition with a young champion and get in the ring one last time, his son is afraid of the negative not on his dad’s life but on his own life and legacy. That’s when Stallone goes to work. He puts the kid in his place and reminds him of how you get things done in America in this day and age.
My Take on The Cardinals
I think it is fantastic that my Cardinals are 44-25. Being 19 games over .500 is an astounding achievement for dealing with the injuries that have fell upon this team inside three months of action. I don’t need to go over the list of injured starters to allow you to understand the impact that our farm system has had on the big league club. It’s great and only hints at the success that awaits us when we get fully healthy. What happens when a healthy Jaime Garcia rejoins the rotation in 2014? Jason Motte joining a highly formidable late game bullpen cycle of power arms. It’s cool and long lasting. However, today’s game against the Marlins just can’t happen. The best team in baseball, long road and woes to deal with or not, can’t cough up a series to a 21-50 team. The pitiful Miami Marlins took 2 of 3 from us this weekend and it’s kind of disgusting to think about.
The Latest Dose of Material
Sunday is where all the thoughts from the head fire out in random order and I just let it rip here. No order, no restriction and all unplugged prose. Let’s jump right in.
Game of Thrones and The Red Wedding
Oh boy how do I start this one off. This is for Game of Thrones fanatics, watchers, purists and enthusiasts. Sunday’s episode featured the most brutal sequence on television in a long time and maybe forever. This is worse than Noah Wyle and the intern getting stabbed by the patient in ER. This is worse than Ned Stark losing his head. It was far worse than anything on Sopranos or The Wire. Game of Thrones and its creators, original novel writer and actors pulled off a wicked finish to the second to last episode of the third season. Let me step back a little.
Two months ago I wasn’t even watching the show. I knew about it, heard the wicked claims and didn’t find time to watch it. I don’t have time to sit down and read all the books and what fun would that be in following it up by watching the series on TV. Book readers are a crowd that I respect and admire. They find time to do that and I just can’t. I love to write and adore my television. Suddenly sometime near the end of March, I dove into season 1 and didn’t reappear to normal living conditions until I was 3 episodes into season 3. You stop your normal evening schedule when you load up on a TV series. You forget to do certain things, like shower, eat properly or tend to your young son. You might as well grab a sword, a stick, a horse and ride to Westeros. I got engulfed in this series and loved every bit. There are stories I care less about but the general scheme is magnificent and hugely addicting. There is a tasty complexity to the show that other series’ fail to bring to the table. All the kingdoms fighting for supremacy in a cutthroat time is cool to watch and the nudity, blood and excess add to the pleasure. Back to Sunday night.
I am a Twitter bitch and Facebook wanderer. I knew something was coming. When Banshee’s lovely leading lady Ivana Milicevic tweets, “OH. MY. GOD” with the hashtag #GOT, something has got to be cooking. I knew a wallop was hitting the crowd who hadn’t read the story where SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER The Stark family is slaughtered at a wedding held by the Frey Kingdom. Robb Stark(wonderfully understated actor Richard Maddon) and the woman of the house Catelyn(Michelle Fairley) are sliced up and in the process, Robb’s wife, Talisa, is stabbed in the stomach a few times(5 to be exact). The only catch is Talisa is pregnant and stabbed several times. This part isn’t in the book and is instead cooked up by David Benioff and Dan Weiss, the showrunners. In the books, Talisa doesn’t exist and Robb’s wife isn’t pregnant and stays at home. In a way, this feverish ambush by King Frey, an old pervert who flirted creepily with Talisa scenes before ordering her demise. The entire scene was just brutal, bloody, and appetite quenching. The entire hour you could smell it coming. Book lovers knew it was coming. Non Book show addicts could smell it, just like I did. Once Talisa was telling Robb about naming the unborn child Eddark, you heard a match get lit in the room and the fire started. The bride and groom were carried off and the door was shut and then the music started. The Lannister music. “Rains of Castamere”(probably not spelled right but suck it faithful souls) filled the room(with Coldplay’s Will Champion holding the drum). Catelyn knew the jig was up and when she saw the chainmail under Rouse’s clothing, she tried to stop it. What was she going to do? The Stark’s were dead in the water. Sitting ducks. They were the gambler way in over his head at the tables at 1am with the real players looking at him with pity. It was sad. Robb looked like a serious threat to bring down the Lannisters and then he pulls a fast one on the Freys and pays DEARLY for it. Not only is his entire army killed and his own life is ended and the life of his mother is stopped, but his pregnant lovely wife is stabbed maliciously.
The toughest moment was Robb crawling up to the dying body of his bride, grabbing the severely bleeding stomach and looking broken. Once he watched her soul depart, I don’t think he cared one bit about his fate. His mother tried to reason with the Frey elder, but to no avail. The turncoat Rouse walked up, grabbed Stark, whispered a greeting from the Lannisters and stuck a knife in his heart. Catelyn sliced open the neck of the youngest bride of the Frey Elder before her own throat was cut. End of story. Poor young Arya, riding with the Hound to the wedding in hopes of being reunited with her Stark family for the first time since her dad’s head was cut off, is knocked out by her unlikely protector and carried away. A horrible ending for the Stark family for what seems like the duration of the show.
When will this family catch a break? It reminds you of George Martin’s writing and his ability to go against the grain of natural storytelling. I thought Robb was going to sack the kingdom of Tyrin Lannister and take over and avenge his father’s death. Instead, he is dead and so is his army and mother. The Stark’s jhopes rest in children and the bastard son, Jon Snow. I believe they will be quiet for a while.
This sets up the finale quite well but I have a hard time seeing the last episode top the Red Wedding. No way. How much more brutal can you get? They could have shown the penis being cut off in the previous hour and I wouldn’t rate it higher than seeing a pregnant woman stabbed repeatedly. That, I believe, was the show runners pushing the brutal pedal forward into our digestive system and making sure we remembered this episode all week and possibly all year. Whenever Game of Thrones is mentioned, the Red Wedding will come to mind. Without the relentless murder of Talisa, the impact isn’t as severe.
The intent of Frey was as direct as a blade itself. Take away everything Robb Stark has and will ever have after his demise. No son(or daughter). No wife. No parents. No Rule. No kingdom. Goodnight Stark Avenger(not named Tony). If you see a Stark this week, buy them a drink or two and tell them its okay. You may be lying but at least you won’t be carrying a knife or wearing chainmail.
Season 4 can’t be talked about until the season concludes next week. I may write something then or I may not. Only certain times do I feel the need to unload a TV solo blog. My favorite character is still Jaime Lannister because his history is so juicy and complex and his character arc is so interesting to watch and prepare for. His hand getting chopped off is the next thing on the shock list of Season 3. From that point on, the Kingslayer changed in more ways than one.
Take this as you will. It’s a dose of mental extraction from a guy who had the Thrones on the mind all day. Just a brutally brilliant episode.
That’s it. Thanks for reading and goodnight.
Time to Rant About The Cardinals
There’s no better way to start off a Saturday than to let the hands go and fire up a blog. Unload the noise in the head and simply give your take. It’s what I do. Hopefully you approve or at least respect me in the morning.