Month: January 2014

“Her” Is A Romantic Mind Trip

Ladies and gents, here is my Dose of Buffa movie review special.  Since Landon Burris reviewed this film for my site,, I come here with my take on the film.  I watched it at The Moolah last night and came away impressed, dazed, confused and looking at my IPhone a bit differently.   As always this will be quick and blunt.  First, let’s provide you with a setup.

PLOT-Theodore is a love letter writer in the near future and while his warm words liven up plenty of lives around the world, he is full of grief, regret and sadness.   When he acquires a new operating system with a female voice, everything in his life starts to change.   What kind of effect can a piece of software have on our lives if it were developed specifically for human interaction?   Spike Jonze’s tale dives straight into that.

MY TAKE-This film presents you with quite the experience.   Think of a world where the Siri on your IPhone suddenly developed into something much more.   Think imageedit_1_6896800883about a world where Siri became your secretary, best friend and lover all at the same time.  That is what writer/director Spike Jonze is pointing at with his latest film, Her.

Without the effortless grace of Joaquin Phoenix, who play broken hearted better than any actor alive, this film would fall apart.   He is our moral compass and the character who serves as our point of view for the entire film.  His Theodore is a great writer of love letters(personalized Hallmark cards) but a man who is still suffering from the bluntness of a divorce and working his way into a world where connection is starting to be done via computer and person instead of face to face.  Thank goodness Phoenix’s rapper detour was a hoax because the man is a gifted actor.   The most subtle line readings and quirks in Theodore are flushed alive by the same man who once played Johnny Cash so well.

Jonze’s future is an interesting one.   You no longer type on computers.  Everything is voice activated.   You command a standard operating system to read your emails, texts and news instead of scanning for them.  Phones have gotten smaller and look like a small pocket book.   Video games are played like an advanced version of Wii.  People rarely stop to talk in public.  Everyone seems to be talking to themselves.  At first, it’s weird and doesn’t sit straight.  Eventually, the familiarity of LA’s skyline(given a futuristic wipe here) and the new fashion styles and way of life encompass your world as if it was there all along.

Scarlett Johansson is the voice operating system called Samantha, and she becomes not only a part of Theodore’s life but connects to him in a way that we have always wanted our computers to do yet couldn’t find the way to execute it.   She arranges his documents, emails and schedule.  She gets him up in the morning and also wants to hear about his life.   At first, the coupling is pleasant and serves as the perfect ally or wingman in the world.  Your personal adviser inside your earlobe.

Then, Samantha wants to know more, want more, and is curious about the physical parts of Theodore’s world.   I will be honest and admit.  The sex scenes and erotic nature of this film produce laughs and intimacy within the audience and frames the idea of Jonze’s direct/indirect design of the world.

Johansson is amazing using only her voice and making you crave the rest.   Voice  work is no easy task when you have to go through the gauntlet of emotions inside a serious film.  Scarlett does great work here creating this OS that seems to be so real yet is something we can’t touch yet…want to.   Amy Adams gives a more introspective, soulful and more impressive performance(gasp!) here than she does in her Oscar nominated work in American Hustle.  Her scenes with Phoenix are the lone bit of real human connection here that seems familiar and seemed at the same time.   Rooney Mara and Chris Pratt give fine supporting performances in key roles.

All in all, this film works as a romantic drama that doesn’t forget to make you laugh.  There is one episode of early phone sex that will have you laughing loudly(let’s just say pregnant nude photos mixed with sexy kittens).   I like the fact that Jonze keeps you off balance with the injections of different genres and plot developments.  We are never too comfortable with Samantha or her relationship with Theodore and that is the point.   Separating artificial intelligence from real human interaction while appreciating the value of both and using it to wake yourself up.  When we first me our Theo, he is smiling yet lost and hollow.  By the end, he has traveled a bit and we have seen that transformation.   Jonze doesn’t forget to enrich the journey while tripping your mind with different ideas.

Her is unpredictable, earnest, impressively acted and presents a brave new world to us while filling our eyes with candy.  I highly recommend it.

An Interview With Author Joyce Maynard

My Film-Addict connections presented me with a chance to interview author Joyce Maynard a couple of weeks ago and I jumped at the chance.   Her book, Labor Day, isimageedit_1_2628712017 being made into a film and without giving away too much, I can recommend the film.  Maynard is a celebrated author, known to some folks for her long list of novels and for her memoir chronicling her time with J.D. Salinger decades ago.   In person, she is quite exquisite and wonderful.  A free speaker and a proud woman who can bake a fine peach pie, write a decent love story and holds a conversation well.  I posted this film-addict piece last week and wanted to share it here with my Dose subscribers and readers.    This wasn’t my normal interview.  I brought the kid with me and Joyce got a kick out of it.   The conversation last 30 minutes and touched on a lot of things.

“If you choose to be a cynic, there are lots of things you can pick at (with Labor Day). I choose to go on this journey. I’m a romantic.”- Joyce Maynard

I’d like to say I am built out of equal parts in my beliefs and perspectives.  There are areas of life where I maintain a cynical outlook on the world and others where I have more emotional views.  However, when it comes to love and matters of the heart, I am 100 percent old school romance.   I am not alone in that area.  Joyce Maynard, celebrated author of Labor Day, spares nothing with her words and wears her heart on her sleeve when she writes her novels.

Labor Day was adapted for the screen and directed by Jason Reitman, and on a press tour stop, I had a chance to sit down and talk to Maynard.   The story is about a mother and son who take in a mysterious man who has just escaped from prison.  What starts out as a hostage situation takes a very unpredictable turn and springs many surprises on the reader.  The same effect happened with my interview assignment.  What started out as an interview assignment quickly turned into a passionate comfortable conversation about life, choices and of course, the book’s story and characters.

“This is not a cynical movie.  It’s an unconventional love story.  Do we really want to see how life goes?  I like to imagine the way it would go.  It’s not perfect.  I wasn’t going to make some Nicholas Sparks happily after fairy tale.  This is a believable love story for mature people.”

The interview was on Thursday in downtown St. Louis, a day after the evening screening I took in at The Tivoli.   Maynard held a Q & A after that event, and I was the lucky one who was sitting behind her at the screening.   When the lights went up and before she could make it way to the front of the theater, I had the chance to introduce myself and ask her what she thought of the film.   This is where a lot of celebs would brush you off and proceed on.  Maynard instead leaned in and poignantly said, “It’s such a beautiful film”.  Once you get a chance to talk to this lovely woman, you see that she doesn’t waste any encounter in life and takes her fans as seriously as they take her stories.  In the entertainment business, it’s a two way street and fortunately for this writer, Maynard lives on it.


Is Ryan Miller Worth The Squeeze?

It is that time of year where NHL trade rumors hit the highway and start to move at remarkable speeds, confounding fans and whipping teams’ faithful units into agitated frenzies.  Some say it’s good for fans to mix it up in the heat of the battle while others complain about blood pressures hitting the roof.   I prefer to observe, show restraint and wait  for the actual suits to make things happen.   With that said, I think we can still circle the situation and present our take.  Being faithful supporters of the St. Louis Blues, we owe ourselves that much.  So let’s look at it.

The million dollar question is quite simple.   Do the St. Louis Blues need to make a serious play for Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller?  The two parties have circled each imageedit_1_8180860284other like attractive parties at a ballroom dance session for years, so the hype isn’t premature.  Buffalo and St. Louis have talked about this before and part of me suggests Doug Armstrong had played out many scenarios in his head of how this could go down.  Let me weigh in here with my decent amount of knowledge on hockey and the Blues needs.

First, let me state that I am not completely for the deal or entirely against it.   I stand in the middle, contemplating each play here as the days pass.   My belief is that Jaro Halak and Brian Elliot are each pretty good goaltenders and make a solid duo but may not be able to stand alone during a time of need.   Neither has shown over a decent amount of time that they can handle the #1 job but have very solid stats to back up their cases.   If I had to choose one for the playoff run, I would stand with Halak.  It can’t be forgotten what he did in Montreal in 2010 during the playoffs.  He earned the 4 year deal with the Blues by playing that well in place of Carey Price.   Elliot can play well for a certain period of time but has come up short in back to back playoff appearances against the Blues new nemesis, the Los Angeles Kings.  Part of that was a result of overall team letdown, but Elliot self destructed when the rest of the team needed him to stand on his head.

The Blues also have a hot rookie waiting down with the Chicago Wolves, in Jake Allen.   About this time last year, Halak went down with an injury and Elliot self destructed during the season and Allen stepped into the net for the Blues.  For the better part of February, Allen was amazing in net, showing the hunger and ability that created the possibility that the Blues had in their own system a true #1 goaltender.

Allen is the biggest reason I think Ryan Miller isn’t needed.  I can see Halak or Elliot being moved before the deadline for talent, but I am not sure we need another goaltender.  If you have two pretty good goalies on your roster and another potential franchise stopper in your minor league system who got a taste of NHL action last season, why trade away valuable pieces for Miller?   Buffalo isn’t going to hand their premiere goalie away without prying draft picks, good established players and possibly the IMOS Pizza franchise from St. Louis.  In the immortal words of Timothy Olyphant in the underrated film Girl Next Door, “Is the juice worth the squeeze” here?


Tony La Russa-“The Relentless Grinder”

I really don’t care what people think about Tony La Russa choosing to go with no logo on his Hall of Fame cap.   Get over it.  I have no problem with it.  He managed in three cities and each meant something to him.  Respect a man’s choice for honoring where he came from and where he made the most of his time.  With that said, I had a chance to participate in a 25 minute media session with La Russa last Sunday.  Here is what I got out of that session.

Tony La Russa never wasted any words when speaking with the media during his career as a manager.   While those words could be short ended and sparse at times, he is direct and carried a dry sense of humor about him.

When these media sessions go well, the player/coach treats them like a conversation and not an interrogation.   La Russa simply sat there and talked to us before he signed for the fans.  Here are are his thoughts on various subjects.

On Sunday, La Russa gave an intimate 25 minute conversation about his years in St. Louis, instant replay, and getting into the Hall of Fame.  It was one of thoseimage (7) conversations that you didn’t want to see end and wouldn’t soon forget.

On getting into the Hall Of Fame-

“I had convinced myself it wasn’t going to happen.  This has been a surreal experience.  All the pieces they give you and the other guys.  It’s heavy stuff.  You get the call and they don’t tell you anything else.  They tell you to come down.   They tell you that your life will be different.  There’s some far out stuff that is impossible to comprehend.”

La Russa, even after making it into the Hall, isn’t comfortable being a part of it.

“I still think the Hall Of Fame is a place for players.  I always thought the managers in there were guys like Earl Weaver and Sparky Anderson, who lit the room up with baseball.   When we won the Championship in 2006, there was a feeling something was there, having won one in each league(like Sparky).  It may be hard to avoid it.   I am not comfortable with it and the biggest reason is I never thought good fortune was hall of fame criteria.  I have been lucky enough to be in places like Chicago, (Oakland), and St. Louis.  The only thing I want is to not disrespect Chicago or Oakland.  They will make their decision soon.”

One year after Stan Musial passed away, the legendary Cardinal still comes to Tony’s mind.

“You don’t ever forget about people like him(Stan Musial).   One of the best things DeWitt has done is make sure to remind his players that they are just a part of history.  The greatest example of what a player should be.  With Stan, he is the model.  Stan had all the qualities.  10 out of 10.  He is the perfect guy.”


The Unemployment Blues

I can write and I can do it very well.  I say this because I have many pages of evidence and feedback.   I don’t piss excellence in the morning but I know how to put words together and gauge people’s interest and keep them coming back for more doses.   One of the most important things in life is knowing what you want to do with your life and seeing a path to getting there.  I want to write for a living more than anything, but right now there isn’t a single job waiting out there for me.   There are people out there with Journalism degrees who can’t get work writing the spoken word on paper or on the internet.  2014 isn’t the year of the writer unless you know somebody or catch the right person’s eye.

So I digress.  I am currently out of work and will likely be heading back to the warehouse environment soon.   This isn’t the ending I wanted and surely wasn’t where I planned on being when I left the previously mentioned warehouse last March.   That’s life and the way things turn out these days.   I have been out of work for 12 months of the past year and a half.  I am a stay at home dad and a damn good one.   I get up with the kid most mornings and battle the 2 year old to a draw most nights.   My wife, Rachel, works 50 plus hours a week selling tile so the paychecks there are never a guarantee.

During my time at home,  I have gotten the chance to write for 4 additional websites to go with this one and Film-Addict.  I go on the radio once a week with Rob Butler in Arkansas and have conducted several interviews with actors, writers, directors and just recently, baseball players for my beloved St. Louis Cardinals.  I have savored the time at home with Vinny.  I have watched him grow up from a small 9 month old baby to a 2 year old beast.   I will never forget this time I have had with him and the opportunities that have come my way and opened doors for myself.  I have met a lot of unpaid yet brilliant writers and joined the population of prose dispensers.

Plenty of out of work hacks would have shacked up at home and watched enough reality television to make their eyes hurt or sat there and covered themselves in despair and disgust.   I have made good use of my time away from the land of the employed and found myself as busy or busier than when I was actually making money.   I have seen my writing vastly improve and take a sharper route to the end of pieces and I have gotten more creative while only earning less than 50 dollars for my services around the net.

There is a bittersweet flavor to being out of work.  You do plenty but see no return.   You see bills stack up and remain unpaid and there are times where I feel compelled to go pick up a lackluster shit job to simply pay off some of those overdue slips.   I have grown bitter during my unemployment and have shown more attitude towards my wife.  I have gotten very angry at my son for doing things a 2 year old simply does no matter what.

My inner anger has grown  more intense.  Part of this stems from losing my job at Senoret in 2012 when the owner decided to pack up and sell.   A large chunk comes from getting fired last June without warning or reason from Bommarito Wines(I will name that one no matter the blowback on future applications and resumes).   There are days where I wake up frustrated and annoyed at my predicament and I take it out on the wrong people.  That is typical human behavior.  Our aim with our mood and attitude is never sharp.   We just let it fly.  Being married for just about 9 years, you know how to cut down your spouse even when they don’t deserve it.   I have done that way too often in the past year.   It doesn’t matter how many times your wife is mean to you really.  That doesn’t make it okay to fire back at her when she is the only one working and stressed beyond her mind.   If this sounds like me sitting in a therapy session and you holding the notepad, that is because sometimes I come here and just need to rant.

When I found myself on the job block, I thought this was my best opportunity to find something different.  Warehouse work was drying up and the social media and web content arenas were just getting warmed up.  I figured I could make an impact there.  I even had a couple bites on the market there.     I interviewed at Eagle Bank and Trust for a social media manager position and left excited.  A whole new area of expertise extracting me from robotic warehouse work.  And let’s call it what it is.  Warehouse work, unless you have a clear path up in the ranks of management or really dig that kind of work, is robotic mind numbing crap.   People go there because they have no other skills most of the time.  I have a skill and a way with people so I don’t feel like I belong there.   When I interviewed at the bank, I thought I was breaking free.  Sometimes a dream is extended though.   I got word from Pat Kelly that the bank job had went to someone else.  When I emailed the marketing director at Eagle Bank to say thanks for the opportunity to interview, he told me it was still open.   I got the drift.  I had been passed up.

Someone with a college degree probably swooped in and took the job.   It’s amazing that in some areas of work a college degree gets you nowhere because you are a woman(my wife applying at a car dealership, where she surely had everyone else out-schooled) and then there are other jobs when the job holders desire a college degree in an area of work(social media and web content) where a piece of paper from a community college doesn’t seem like the biggest prerequisite.  I know more than a few people who have college degrees and no job to show for it but here is a gig where I was probably passed over for somebody who had a simple business degree from a local college.   Once again, that’s life.  It can beat to your knees one day and show a little hope the next day.

I wouldn’t mind staying home with my kid and working a little but then again, who wouldn’t?   My dream is to write for a living and I can only hope one of these passion gigs I am doing right now turn into something real down the road.  When it comes to jobs, you can take a job and quit looking entirely or take a job and keep up the search.  I will never stop looking until I find my dream job.   I may be old and gray when I finally do write for a living but that won’t be too late.   Sure, I write because I want to and not because I need money to do it but when you have a family, MONEY needs to be made and joy in what you do doesn’t matter.

The American Dream in life is doing what you want and love to do while getting paid for it.  I know I have a unique gift to write and connect with people on social media and know I can help someone’s business with these skills or improve people’s lives.   People have told me this and I know it myself.   That’s not enough in this world.

There is virtue in knowing you have found your place in life and seeing what you were put here to do.   It is something quite else to be paid to do it.

Thanks for reading and have a good weekend,




The Way I Used to Write: Buffa Archives

*Disclaimer-I used to rant!  I still do, but to a lesser extent and with a limit in mind.   Here is an entry from July 15th, 2011.  A week or so before Colby Rasmus was traded, before David Backes was captain and before our magical run.   It’s very long.  Epic.  I used to pump these out once every 2-3 weeks.  I wrote down a ton of topic notes and then hit the keyboard for 3 hours with coffee being sent through an IV into my veins.  An automatic machine gun that never ran out or jammed.   Old School rug burning and the way every writer starts out.  Swinging for the Fences.  Check it out and forgive me now.  By the way, it’s around 10,000 words long.  Pack a lunch….and a dinner. I would say enjoy but I can only hope you don’t walk away completely.

The Buffa Daily News of the Week

A stream of semi conscious thought begins with an opening statement.
A reminder. If it comes out of your mouth, than in some way, you meant to say it. The one thing I hate in life is people who don’t appreciate a good memory. A family member or friend will say something to you and days or months later will forget that it ever happened. They will say that they didn’t mean it. It was a fluke of built up proportions inside their throat that got put on the vocal chord speedbelt without editing. What they forget is that the target never forgot the intention of the words. Hopefully, by now, you understand what I am talking about. Joking doesn’t exist. Sarcasm is a tool used to shadow real intent. When words come of someone’s mouth, the makers had a clear intention for them. It’s almost unfair how sickeningly good my memory is. I remember everything that comes out of a person’s mouth, or pretty close to everything. This isn’t taking everything personally, trust me. This is a database of dialogue that helps in future conversations and arguments. If you said it to me in a tantrum or a blast during an argument, there was truth to it and for that it must be stored in the memory. Words aren’t wasted here. If drunk or high, words still aren’t wasted. If mad or happy, words aren’t wasted. Truth serum isn’t needed anymore. People reveal themselves through the language they speak. If its thrown in your direction, there was meaning and precise thought behind it. Remember this always.Now let’s begin with the ideas, thoughts and random bits hiding inside my brain. Let the unplugged firing session begin.A Tragic Note-Arlington firefighter Shannon Stone died last week at a Texas Rangers game while lunging for a baseball thrown to him by Josh Hamilton. Stone was sitting in the outfield bleachers, reached over a waist high pole, and flipped over it down between the seating area and the outfield wall 20 feet head first into a concrete floor. Lights out. Stone was a 18 year veteran of the firefighting force in Brownwood, Arlington. He died tragically and suddenly in front of his 6 year old son, who fellow friends and coworkers said was inseparable from his dad for his entire life. This is a sad story that will likely bring a lawsuit from the family’s lawyers about the safety measures in Arlington Stadium. This is two accidents in two seasons for the Rangers. Last year, a man with a few beers in him, flipped over a middle section onto the concourse below, and lived. Stone fell to his death doing what many fans would do. Reach for a baseball given to him by an All Star baseball player. Personally, I don’t reach for baseballs at games, but if thrown right in my direction by Albert Pujols, I might see the need to make an effort. Stone was stupid, but did something risky and paid for it. He was a firefighter after all. They are paid to take huge risks in high danger situations. Hamilton will feel horrible for a while. He didn’t kill a person, but he flipped a baseball that forced a fan to overextend himself and plunge to his death. If I were Hamilton’s “special adviser”, aka the person who keeps him away from drugs and alcohol, I would keep a close eye on him these next couple days and weeks to protect him against a relapse. Watching a man fall to his death the minute you connect with him and his kid is rough ground for a fragile addict like Hamilton. Just a precaution.

BLUES-Taking 5 players and going with it-David Backes-Give him The Captain stitch. Backes has earned it with his solid play, leadership and pure style of play over the last 3 seasons. A captain isn’t about points, goals or winners. Its about reputation. What the other players think of you and how your play sprinkles onto their future chase. Backes breeds toughness, smart play and knows how to play hockey. He deserves the right after Eric Brewer jokingly carried it for several seasons of mediocre play.
-David Perron-A mystery that could only get worse with decision making on horizon. GM Doug Armstrong pumped these team up with veteran juice last week with the additions of Jason Arnott, Jamie Langenbrunner, and Scott Nichol. This puts David Perron in a hard spot if you ask me. Perron has been sidelined completely from hockey activity since November after suffering a mid-ice blind sided hit from Joe Thornton. Since the hit, Perron scored a game winning goal, took a seat the rest of the season and hasn’t done much since the last game at Scottrade. He is a poor French boy with a headache that won’t go away. Armstrong has a suddenly crowded roster that includes Matt D’Agostini, a 20 goal scorer from 2010-2011 who doesn’t deserve to play on the 4th line unless David Perron is out. Unless Perron starts hockey activity by next week, he will be out until November. What do you do with the talented yet head broken kid? Big decisions coming up. The team insurance is paying him while he heals from his massive concussion, but this isn’t a money issue. It’s a roster issue. He can’t go to Peoria, but he can go on the extended injured list. Perron’s concussion has built a huge boulder in the middle of his career. Highly unfortunate.
-T.J. Oshie-Wake up kid. Fourth year is the make or break session. A one year contract from your team means only one thing. Impress me now. Fan favorite or not, Oshie is on the hot seat.
-Patrik Berglund-A 2 year deal doesn’t mean to lay down the ambition verve either. Bergie, when he is on and playing at full ability, is a game changing talent. A Colby Rasmus like talent that is only great when fully realized. Berglund has the size, skill and soft hands to score 35-40 goals in this league, but will he ever do it? 50 point seasons need to stop now and PB needs to step up.
-Jaroslav Halak-Look you little Slovakian fuckstick, its time to put up or shut up. The Blues found you more muscle, but can you provide a consistently strong net presence. The soft goals need to be cut down. This team needs a dominating goaltender to take over the games where they can’t light the lamp. Can you be that guy? The team gave you a 4 year safe and secure contract after seeing you play a great half season in Montreal. We stole you from Canada, so prove your worth.
Note-The Blues sign former sniper/right winger Jonathon Cheechoo to a 1 year, 2 way deal. If the name sounds familiar, that’s because Cheechoo was a promising scorer five years ago. From 2005-2007, in two seasons, Cheechoo tallied 93 goals and 69 assists with the San Jose Sharks. He was a grinder, a goal scorer, and a guy who would get dirty if he had to. However, his production slipped so bad that in 2009-2010, the Ottawa Senators released him. If you are looking for the answer to the riddle of his lost touch, look elsewhere. He simply stopped scoring, lost value, got traded and then released. The Senators released him when they traded for Dany Heatley, who has since left Ottawa. From 2008-2010, he had 10 goals. He spent the last two years in the AHL in Worchester. Playing for a different Sharks team, he had 18 goals and 29 assists last season. His deal with the Blues is a second chance in the NHL. A go for broke signing that leaves low liability on the Blues end and gives Cheechoo a chance to recapture what was lost years ago. The scoring touch. With Arnott and Langenbrunner, I’ll take this 30 year old winger looking for redemption because he doesn’t have a weight on his shoulders, will have to earn his minutes and could end up being a steal. A two way deal means his contract is valid in St. Louis or Peoria, meaning the Blues can send him back to the AHL if he doesn’t produce up here or a spot is needed for younger talent. In general, Cheechoo is back yet on the clock. An exciting deal. The pay is 600,000 dollars if he makes it up to the NHL with the Blues, and 105-225,000 if he stays in Peoria. The Blues are paying Cheechoo as much money to attempt to revive his career as they are Brian Elliot to fight with Ben Bishop for the backup goaltending slot. Its make or break money and a contract that puts the ball in the player’s court. Cheechoo has been training all summer, working on his speed and hopefully can get back being the once promising player who collected 10 points in a playoff series. A comeback story only missing the production. As Yahoo News’ Greg Wyshynski writes, Cheechoo’s headline can read:”Blues sign former 50 goal scorer”, which is comparable to seeing the poster for M.Night Shymalan’s next movie with the reading, “The Director of the Sixth Sense and Unbreakable”, not knowing what the result will be. Cheechoo is a mystery. Will he be worth the look or a waste of time? We’ll find out.

CARDS-Jaime Garcia getting a 4 yr, 28 million dollar deal with two options is a smart move by Mozeliak. Lock up a talented young lefthander for 7 million a season in the prime of his career. A similar deal that Mozelaik worked out with Yady Molina and Adam Wainwright. A testament to Mozelaik and head scout Jeff Luhnow’s system. Look up and down the roster. Garcia, Pujols, Molina, Wainwright, Jon Jay, Fernando Salas, Eduardo Sanchez, Kyle McClellan, DD, and Jason Motte. Future rotations arms Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez are on the way. The Cardinals are building a team of young guns. A team of minor league born talent fully arrived. Garcia is latest to be locked in. Garcia is 9-3 with a decent ERA and duplicating 2010’s success. Anytime you can get a very good lefthanded starter at a young age for 7 million a season set up long term, you take the deal. If this is on the table, the Cards need to get it done.


The 2014 Winter Warmup Coverage


Before I drop a ton of links on you(because I am really too lazy to post every single story I did individually), let me tell how amazing it was to cover the event.

For the first time, I had a chance to ask players questions, get inside the head of John Mozeliak and get a feel for how these guys are in person.   For the most part, they are simply regular people doing a job.   That applies to my work the past three days, a whirlwind event that overwhelmed me at first but left me saddened to let go by the end of the 72 hour stretch.   I got back in touch with old Busch Stadium faces like Melody and Dan McLaughlin.  I got Tony La Russa to open up with a 8 minute storytelling session about toughest stretches as a Cardinals manager.  I asked Matt Holliday, Trevor Rosenthal, Daniel Descalso, Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez and Oscar Taveras questions and got detailed answers and insight.   I met and had a good time talking with local writers Brian Stull and Derrick Goold as well as Bryan Burwell.   Jim Hayes and I talked about our kids.  I shook nearly every Cardinal player’s hand that went in front of the microphone.

The hardest part for me was separating my die hard fan nature from my professional need to report on the event.  I wanted to make my readers feel like they were there with me as I went through the process.   I got congrats and kind words from sports writers and friends on Twitter that couldn’t make the event.   That to me is the greatest return on hard work.   People you admire and look to telling you that you did a good job.

There were perks.  All the Starbucks coffee I could drink.   Fruit baskets.  Sweets.   A flat screen TV behind me with the Broncos and Pats game on.  The ability to talk sports with national sports writers.  All in all, a wonderful experience and one that I didn’t want to see end.  Some people get 15 minutes of rock star experience.  I got three days.  This experience convinced myself that I could do this for a living.  I can write solid coverage as well as commentary and make each compelling.   You be the judge.  Check out my coverage starting with the Descalso Interview piece and ending with the Day 3 Wrap Up.  I will also be writing a Tony La Russa spotlight and Mike Matheny piece because those two gave 25 minute plus media sessions.  All the coverage can be found at, the blog site that I wrote for.

Saturday, January 18th Coverage-

Daniel Descalso Interview Clips

John Mozeliak Feature With Quotes

Adam Wainwright on 2014 and ahead-

Day 1 Wrap Up

Sunday, January 19th-

Mark Ellis Feature

Shelby Miller on 2013 and his 2014 plans

A Tale of Two Closers

Day 2 Sights, Sounds and Insights

Monday, January 20th-

Matt Holliday including his stance on PED(probably my best piece)

Peter Bourjos Spotlight

Day 3 Wrapup

Enjoy the coverage and come back for more later this week.

-Dan L. Buffa

Top 10 Films of 2013 + Extras

In 2013, I saw 86 films.  Picking out my top ten can feel like selecting the 10 kids from that monstrous pack of creation that stuck with me the longest or were just superbly produced. As the months go by, the list grows and sometimes an early hit wonder of mine (Quartet) can fall off the list due to a wonderful Hollywood finish.  Once again, my top film of 2013 probably won’t be nominated for any main Oscar categories.  That’s not the point when a critic selects his list.  The most important thing is to pick a film that hit you the hardest, made you reflect on it the longest and had you holding every other film against it.   Without further delay, let me unveil my top 10 list of movies in 2013.   Agree or not, this is my list and I am sticking to it.

Dan Buffa’s Top 10 Films of 2013


10.) Captain Phillips

Tom Hanks anchored this true story of the Maersk Alabama freighter being taken over by Somali Pirates.  Director Paul Greengrass laced this film with an unusual tension that kept you hidden from the details of how this story unfolded.  Hats off to Hanks for blowing me away again with a final scene that saw his character finally come undone and the brilliant thespian bared every ounce of emotion a performer could inside one scene.


9.) Gravity

Credit Alfonso Cuaron and his son Jonas with redefining the horrors of space with their nail biting masterpiece.  Sandra Bullock proves The Blind Side was only a warm-up round for her skill set as she anchored this 90 minute pulse pounding story of a pair of astronauts being stranded in the worst possible place.  George Clooney offered assured support but this movie belonged to Bullock.


8.) The Place Beyond The Pines

The first film of 2013 to officially knock me on my ass was Derek Cianfrance’s powerful ode to fathers and sons.   Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper split up the running time and a powerful supporting cast including Ray Liotta, Eva Mendes and Dana Dehaan made every bit of detail sting our nerves as this epic drama drew to its conclusion.  If there is a dark horse for directing this year in the Oscars, it’s writer/director Cianfrance, a filmmaker who makes movies that move him and aim to floor us.  Well done, sir.


7.) The Spectacular Now

Director James Ponsoldt rightfully let his two stars, Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley, take control of Scott Neustadter’s script and the result was a coming of age wallop akin to the effect left by last year’s Perks of Being A Wallflower.   Teller and Woodley were soulfully vulnerable and made us crawl into the large funnel tube that is teenage angst.  The quiet moments in this film were its best, where it dared to step outside the bounds of a usual young romance film. Keep an eye on Teller.


6.) The Wolf of Wall Street

Martin Scorsese’s intoxicating and detailed riff on Wall Street gangsters in the 1990’s was given the proper jolt of swagger by leading man/Marty muse Leonardo DiCaprio(no actor dominated a film more so this year) and a solid supporting cast.   Terrence Winter’s script spared little in Jordan Belfort’s drug fueled sex packed rage endowed fall from grace and DiCaprio was like a bull rider, dragging us through the final few moments of this 3 hour epic dance through the devil’s lobby of temptation.  Stop complaining about Scorsese giving the stage to this real life mad man and just bow at his ability to make you care about him in the end. imageedit_11_9839680481

5.) The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The most involved and relatable film of 2013 and probably the past few years, Ben Stiller’s adaptation of James Thurber’s short story was just about perfectly rendered.  A regular man who escapes via daydreaming finally gets to live one of those wild tales out in real life.  Sean Penn, Shirley Maclaine, and Kristen Wiig offered occasional grace, but Stiller is the virtuoso at work here, warming out hearts with this unlikely hero and making us laugh at the same time.  This film had a heart of gold.


4.) 12 Years A Slave

We all know about the horrors of slavery, but director Steve McQueen and leading star and sure fire Best Actor candidate Chiwetel Ejiofor tell you the whole story here and it feels like a band aide being ripped off your skin about one of the darkest spot’s in this nations history.  Michael Fassbender astounds as a pure evil slave owner and Lupita Nyong’o(like Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips) opened our eyes on a brand new talent.  This film will win a lot of Oscars and deserves just about every one of them.


3.) Prisoners

This film just beat me up in the same manner Zero Dark Thirty did, in a good way of course.  Intense, powerful, thought provoking and overly personal for this father.  If Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal aren’t nominated for their career best work here, something is wrong with the academy.  You will never see the final third coming, at least not all the details.  Director Denis Villeneuve immerses us in the process of a missing child’s case and stages things perfectly while screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski doesn’t pull any punches with these painfully real characters.  Prisoners rocked me.


2.) Fruitvale Station

The best film I didn’t see coming was Ryan Coogler’s take on the sad story of Oscar Grant, played with award worthy authority by Michael B. Jordan.   Together, these two brave men present us with the raw angry good hearted man with a criminal past and violent tendency who had the encounter of a lifetime on New Year’s Eve in 2008.  This movie made me take a long walk after seeing it before I could get in my car and go home.  Tightly wound and brilliantly conceived.


1.) Lone Survivor

Peter Berg was born to direct this brutally heroic true story of a Navy Seal mission gone wrong that led to a David VS. Goliath styled shootout in the mountains of Afghanistan.  Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Ben Foster and Emile Hirsch are the four man crew sent to gather intelligence on a Taliban that are ambushed and find themselves in a one sided battle.  Berg makes sure you feel every bone crunch and skin tear, and the actors(especially Wahlberg) give a fearless heart to these real life heroes.  This movie demands your attention even though it won’t win any major awards because of its relentless display of violence that actually happened.  The best war movie since Saving Private Ryan; this movie hits you like a bullet to the chest.


Random Categories-

Best Sequel-The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Man of Steel was heavy and thick.  Iron Man 3 was very light at times.  Wolverine was better than the last Logan mission but not great.  Catching Fire, anchored by the hottest actress in Hollywood Jennifer Lawrence and an excellent supporting cast, was equal parts action packed, dramatically involved and all together thrilling.   I saw it twice and would see it again.  There wasn’t a minute wasted there.

Most Fun At The Movies-Fast & Furious 6

Bittersweet entertainment in a way with the death of co-star Paul Walker in November, the sixth entry in the street racing family saga had a special kind of flavor to it with The Rock joining forces with Diesel and company.  Everything was perfectly over the top and the stunts were amazing and once again underrated throughout Hollywood who dismissed the action film as stupidity.   Well, it’s called a summer blockbuster for a reason.   Popcorn blast!  The Rock and Diesel tag teaming a monstrous Russian or the ultimate girlfight between Gina Carano and Michelle Rodriguez or the plane/runaway car chase.  Name a scene in this flick and it gets the blood flowing quick.  Please don’t confuse furious with Oscar here folks.  It’s all cool in the gang.  And we can’t forget the greatest use of a post credits sequence, with the arrival of the one and only British badass Jason Statham to the mix in round 7 as the bad guy.  2015 can’t come soon enough if you ask me.

Biggest Disappointment-Inside Llewyn Davis

This looked like a wonderful combination of music, drama, and acting but in the end only the performance of Oscar Isaac stuck with me.  Easy and smooth.  The Coen Brothers will be adored for their work again but to me it was an uneven film with a nagging storytelling method and a result that felt incomplete.   The filmmakers always make films that are called magnificent that fail to register with me as anything other than good or decent.  I thought the infusion of folk songs would push this one further up but in the end the murky directing and storytelling left me filling unfulfilled.

Best Overall Performer-Matthew McConaughey

There isn’t a hotter actor in the game right now than the Texan who redefined our expectations when seeing him headline a film.   On a roll in more ways than one, McConaughey gave three Oscar worthy performances in 2013.  In Dallas Buyers Club, he was a renegade electrician who used the AIDS disease to regenerate his hunger to live.  In Mud, he was a wanted man living in the woods pining for his lost love who connects with a pair of kids instead.  In The Wolf of Wall Street, he had three scenes and owned every one of them as Mark Hanna, the original wolf who teaches Belfort how to hunt.  McConaughey’s story continues in 2014 with HBO’s True Detective and Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar.

Best Acting in a Single Scene-Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips

With barely any dialogue and a load of internal combustion, nerves showing and all, Hanks reminds you why he is one of the best in the business and constantly surprising us.


That’s all I got.  Come back for Doses of Buffa this month as the reviews and analysis continue.


Dan Buffa is the co-creator, administrator and writer for the movie website, He also contributes to United Cardinal Bloggers, Arch City Sports, Aaron Miles Fastball, and writes for his personal blog,  He is also a published writer for the Yahoo Contributor Network.   Dan is a St. Louis, Missouri born and raised writer with a need to inform and the ability to pound out 1,000-1,500 word pieces with ease.  When he isn’t writing or drinking coffee, he is spending time with his wife and son in South City.  Follow him at @buffa82 on Twitter and reach him for thoughts, comments and general feedback at


My Sweet Mother Unplugged

Sometimes, I wonder what my mother really thinks of me.   When I talk to her on the phone, she sounds and speaks like President Obama talking to us over a television broadcast.  Guarded and unsure of what to say next.   Sometimes, I think my mom has a lower opinion of me or an objective she wants to throw at me through the telephone wavelength.  Maybe she is simply cautious all around.

The mere thought scares the shit out of me.   My sweet mother unplugged.

90 percent of the time, my mother is an angel.   She will cook for me at moment’s notice, send me home with a bag of shit she doesn’t want and smile with the last ounce of strength she can muster at the end of the day.

To many, hearing her real thoughts would be scary.   What does this nice small woman really want to tell you?  I think of this every time we talk.   She asks me how the family is and my current state, but seems to be holding something back.   This has nothing to do with my unemployment status or any real plan.  I just think she is holding back.   At the same time, if she did let it rip and told me how she felt, I may be the one crying.   That’s the game we play in our heads on a daily basis.  How much of the truth do we want?

I came out of this woman after a long round of labor and after my dad drove her through 2 foot of white powder back on February 3rd, 1982 in one of the greatest snow storms in the history of St. Louis.   She has a good reason to let me have it.   She raised my brother and I as best as a woman could.   My brother encountered an illness in his 20’s that hampered the family, yet my mother carried on strongly.   My dad is a strong man himself, but my mother cleans, cooks, takes care of my brother and generally worries about the general state of the world in her free time.  She treats her dogs like daughters and treats her body like a cellphone searching for a signal in a brick room.   Struggling and moving in place.

Seeing my mother curse or become enraged is like watching the Blair Witch Project for the first time.  You want to pretend it’s not real but are enthralled by it at the same time.   You look away and back in her direction.   You look for a camera.

My mom can curse and fire venom as quick as a welder with arthritis.   She cut down a neighbor for not raking her leaves one time while emptying the dishwasher and I am not sure watching Bruce Lee break someone’s arm would have been more entertaining.

Seeing your calm sweet mother lose her nerve for just a few minutes is unsettling, cinematic and sad at the same time.  What if she could do this more often?

One day, I want to tell my mom to let me have it.   Shoot me down for failing in college and wasting my grandmother’s money.  Rough me up for killing the hope of having your son graduate college while you were still alive.   Give me hell for bringing my son Vincent over right after you did yardwork for 7 hours and cleaned up dog shit.   Unleash your other anger on me.  Tell me how hard and soul consuming taking care of a 33 year old is.

Spin me a “what if” story that has lived in your head for years.   Instead of asking about me, talk about you for once.  Go for it.  I can handle it….I think.   The result would be enlightening and somewhere off in the distance glaciers would fall to the ground.

It’s amazing what we dare to ask for in life before we think about being able to handle it.  More than anything, I want to talk to my mom on the phone as if nothing was hanging over our conversation.  I want her to be honest with me.   I am old enough and so is she.  Tell me the things I have long suspected yet have not heard out loud.

When I think of my sweet mother unplugged, I imagine shackles falling to the floor.   The rust and bone of many years crashing along with it.   Most of all, the sound of bullshit being vaporized.

Then again, what do I know?  I am 31 and oh so young.


Dan Buffa is the co-creator, administrator and writer for the movie website, He also contributes to United Cardinal Bloggers, Arch City Sports, Aaron Miles Fastball, and writes for his personal blog,  He is also a published writer for the Yahoo Contributor Network.   Dan is a St. Louis, Missouri born and raised writer with a need to inform and the ability to pound out 1,000-1,500 word pieces with ease.  When he isn’t writing or drinking coffee, he is spending time with his wife and son in South City.  Follow him at @buffa82 on Twitter and reach him for thoughts, comments and general feedback at

Animal Sounds in Tower Grove

The sound of that baby crying doesn’t sound human.    One room over, I can hear the poor thing begging for reprieve from being stripped, inspected and overall bothered.   I say leave the damn thing alone but then again I take my kid to the doctor’s regularly.   It’s never as bad when it’s someone else’s kid making animal sounds in Tower Grove.

This is the Doctor’s office experience.   Signing in and writing down your info for the 65th time.   Staring down other sick or fucked up foes.  Checking your phone while it struggles for reception like a fish in dirty water.   In a way, I struggle for reception every time I go to this place.

Dry skin.


Broken bones.

High blood pressure.

You name it and I’ll hate it.  Going to the doctor’s isn’t as bad as the dentist because they don’t scrape your gums with sharp metal prods but it still doesn’t rank high on the like list.

I wish we could have the doctor treatment they get over in Kenya or back in the wild west days.   No white coat.  The person comes into your house with his cool looking suit/vest/pocketwatch attire and his neat little bag of tools.   It’s more personable.   It’s overall just a better experience.  He is here to see me and that’s it.  I don’t have to talk to some overweight reception clerk or look at 20 other depressed souls.  I can see my front door and his face in one shot.  Those days are gone.  Now it’s military style.

Come in and sign in.   Tell us about yourself.  Are you dying right now?  Are you sick?   Do you feel like your finger may just drop to the floor?  Are you allergic to five people coughing on you at once?   Afterwards, wait in a small room for 20 minutes while the doctor catches up on their far too busy schedule.  Read all the scary paper we stick on the walls.   Juicy tidbits such as “You could die tomorrow if you don’t follow this 47 steps of healthy living!”  Are you kidding me?  You could die walking your doggie!!

When the doctor arrives, you are never ready.   They look at you blankly and ask you the same questions the sheet did in the lobby.   What is this?  A memory exam or a test on whether the words my fingers write lie to the words coming out of my mouth?  I need something and you got it.   Quick.

And then they want blood work.  Suddenly, this visit turns into an action film.   A stop here never ends without a poke, prod or drip.   Nothing is free in life.  Insurance or not.  The baby wasn’t acting out in that room.  This place really does suck.   Who is holding me?

My order calls for two needles.   A flu shot that I apparently missed into my right arm and another into the fat vein in the left arm.  One to make me feel woozy and in need of a candy bar.  The other to prevent sickness but cause temporary irritation.

I will never get used to seeing my own blood shoot into a tube.  Yes, I have to watch.  Behind the scenes of my own body and what that crimson liquid actually looks like.  Sign me up.  Once I get over being stabbed twice inside 5 minutes in this building, I pay full attention.   Who can look away and not feel disappointed they just missed a mini horror reel?  They take just enough to not have you pass out looking at it and then ask you to verify the info on the tube that you just gave them.   Good thing I spelled my last name because that woman look confused when I said “BUFFA”.

Afterwards, with two patches on my arms, I finally get to leave with my prescription for dry skin cream and another round of pills for my high blood pressure.   In the world of medicine, the stronger the dosage the harder it is to pronounce correctly.   Americans sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger when they try to say these words out loud.  Which makes me think it would be awfully funny for Arnold to play a doctor in an elderly facility?   Undercover cop and tough as nails of course but hearing him recite Trizamilinathome a few times would be comic gold.

They don’t want any money but do want to schedule another visit.  Sick, dead or alive you are coming back for more waiting, pokes and useless recycled info.    I swear the biggest schemers in life are small practice doctors.  The ones who treat ordinary patients with minor conditions.   They don’t get the trauma emergency variety.   I feel like re-routing a car crash victim with one arm to their doorstep just to see how they react.  “Put the lap top down and get your Greys Anatomy on woman!”

Into my car and out of the lot.  Into the spot at the coffee shop.  Where I ask for a drop of black snot.  Everything’s more normal now.

Which makes me wonder for a minute.  What would these people hear if this place didn’t have my coffee?

Animal sounds in Tower Grove.


Dan Buffa is the co-creator, administrator and writer for the movie website, He also contributes to United Cardinal Bloggers, Arch City Sports, Aaron Miles Fastball, and writes for his personal blog,  He is also a published writer for the Yahoo Contributor Network.   Dan is a St. Louis, Missouri born and raised writer with a need to inform and the ability to pound out 1,000-1,500 word pieces with ease.  When he isn’t writing or drinking coffee, he is spending time with his wife and son in South City.  Follow him at @buffa82 on Twitter and reach him for thoughts, comments and general feedback at