True Detective Spotlight

When Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey made the deliriously comedic Edtv together in 1999, I would find it hard to imagine they would be tag teaming intrue-detective-poster-16x9-1 HBO’s darkly brilliant 8 hour miniseries True Detective over 13 years later.  Then again, each actor had taken chances by then in addition to their well-known comfort zones.   Woody didn’t stray too far from his weirdo humor except for random occasions like Natural Born Killers and The People Versus Larry Flynt(both involving a heavy dose of dark humor).  McConaughey flirted with his demons in Frailty and Lone Star.

Trust me when I say that each actor is on a completely different level here.  Their work on this show tells you how much of a roll they have been on in recent years. Playing a pair of detectives investigating a gruesome crime in 1995 while they tell modern investigators about their methods in present day, the two actors are spellbindingly flawless in their roles.

Creator and writer Nick Pizzalatto frames the 8 hours around these two cops and their personal lives.  Martin Hart (Harrelson) is a deeply flawed man with a wife and kids yet is slowly crumbling under the weight of infidelity and nerves that are nearly fried.  McConaughey’s Rust Cohle is the polar opposite, a spiritual outcast who gives new meaning to the word eccentric and practices methods other detectives find creepy and uncomfortable.

Watching these two work with each other and get lost inside these deeply layered roles, a viewer is taken aback at what they are watching.  Are these the same guys who wasted a decent part of their career playing softball instead of spending more time in the A List pro class?  It’s a marvel to partake in every single hour.

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Lucas Takes The Fight to Procter

My take on the Cinemax HIT series.

A Shot Of Banshee

Ever since episode 1, when he stepped into the shoes of the sheriff and put on the badge, our anti-hero protagonist Lucas Hood has set his sights on taking down Kai b749309212964f8bcf8147aea9fc8f3dProcter. Call it a bad man keeping a far more evil soul from the door(hat tip to True Detective creator Nick Pizzolatto there). During the season 1, they had their confrontations, a fight, and large amount of bad blood.  Then the season 1 finale brought them together as a team for the greater….bad of things. However, I knew they were going to circle back around each other. Like a pair of alligators feuding off the rest of the creatures in the water and coming back one another to finish the game.  I compare this to the long standing duel between Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder on FX’s Justified.   Sure, Banshee’s rivalry is thicker and doesn’t carry the long…

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Spending A Night With 1917 Soundtrack

“The live set is like stepping into a time machine portal into the 1950’s when R&B, Rock and Roll and Soul were being created.”-Mario Mathon

As a lifelong lover of music, I didn’t hesitate at the chance to watch my good friend and fellow artist Mathon record a session at Utopia Studios in downtown St. Louis1938012_987544336790_1249102921_n with his bandmates Jordan Mays and Amonte Henry. Together, they form 1917 Soundtrack, a group that defies distinction by a single genre and instead lives on the edges of multiple sounds. R&B, soul, blues, and a little rock mixed in there.  Give it a name but know this.  Hearing it makes your body come alive when Henry is pounding the drums, Mays working the guitar and Mathon strutting around the room with a microphone in his hand singing the blues.  Radio and news footage accompany the opening of their tracks and as they play, it’s nearly as if the band is driving a vehicle into a storm cloud of musicianship and taking you along for the ride.   It’s quite the experience.  Confidence flows through anyone’s veins while they watch music unfold. There’s a detailed rhythm to the recording of an album and that night I got to see the steps and work put forth by three men who want to make it big. What other damn reason would you be expressing yourself with so much passion for?

1926142_987498698250_12140651_oEach guy has a story that’s rooted in artistic drive and flawed grace.   As a friend and fan alike, I wanted to get the back story behind the need for this trio to use their free time to create something special. I write in my free time and do so because I feel I have something to offer people and it energizes my soul.  When I talked to Mathon about describing his music, the man was as blunt as a solo at Madison Square Garden.  “Saint Louis old school, birthplace, rhythm & blues, rock and roll, Chuck Berry, Etta James, Muddy Waters influence on the whole sonic and physical vibe of the music.”  Wrap your head around that.

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Mathon, vocalist and pianist,  hasn’t been easy on himself.  He is one of those artists who will sit there and tell you every day is a struggle.  This is the same guy who signed to a local hip-hop soul development deal as a teenager, eventually selling an urban-radio ad jingle to McDonald’s through local 3rd party producers.  He moved to St. Louis from Chicago at the age of 14, and met Mays based on their shared love of music in Brentwood High School.  Total opposites in personality while Mays was off pursuing his musical ambitions and education, Mathon would dedicate his time to the streets.  Mathon became enclosed in the deadly web of the sale and use of narcotics, eventually doing a two year prison sentence, spending the majority of his incarceration sharpening his musical sword.  Upon release he bounced around from local bands and production teams before hooking back up with Mays to write and record the “I Cant Believe How Much Of An Asshole Im Not Being” EP.

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The Bullet Round: STL Sports

Let me introduce this new round of action:  Since I started blogging to a pack of buddies via an email blast over 10 years ago, I have always liked firing out a post on a
Sam+Bradford+St+Louis+Rams+v+Arizona+Cardinals+QFtwXuRJVTnlwide range of topics.  I’d call it “The Buffa Bullet Round” or “A Buffa Blast”. Bullet points, quick and smooth, about different things. One-topic articles are great but sometimes, firing away on a wide range of things can make for a fun read. On a radio show, they do the same thing. Over the course of the 2-3 hours, a host goes over a range of topics offering his take. Here is my first dispatch/bullet round, STL sports talk.

  • As spring training heats up and games start on the 28th, center field continues to be a hot topic. The Cards brought in Peter Bourjos by shipping out the hometown boy David Freese so they could improve the defense in the outfield. In 2013, the Cards were wretched in the field out there and hurt their team’s chances by not doing the pitchers many favors. Bourjos was brought here to help that. Some are claiming Jon Jay can hit better than Bourjos, which if you compare the two’s baseball cards is true; however, remember the context of the trade that was made. Bourjos gives you fantastic defense in center field and if he can get on base, could change the lineup speed-wise. Jay has been good here and is a good teammate, but I just don’t see where he gets too many at bats if the Cards and Matheny need great defense in center. That was the idea. A platoon doesn’t work because Bourjos can’t hit lefties any more than Jay can. With Jhonny Peralta giving shortstop an offensive boost, I would be willing to sacrifice a bat for a glove in center until Oscar Taveras is ready. And that’s another thing: when Oscar is ready, how many starts will Jay receive? Like Daniel Descalso on the infield, I see Jay as injury insurance. Mark Ellis is rookie meltdown prevention insurance with Kolten Wong taking over the reins at second base. Jay is going to have a hard time finding at-bats unless he discovers some new defensive ability.
  • Thank you, T.J. Oshie, for slashing away at the Russian express in the Olympics. Oshie did a lot more than sink some pucks in a shootout: I have a feeling the “Oshie in Sochi” sensation destroyed the Russians’ morale and paved the way for their loss today against Finland. Coming into the Games with monstrous expectations, Russia didn’t see the Oshie Express coming and got cut in half. Oshie didn’t just perform amazingly in the shootout, say the right things about heroes, and earn an additional 160,000 Twitter followers in a matter of days, I think he handed the Russian hockey team a full-on case of depression. Good for the Americans, the St. Louis Blues and the tournament overall.
  • Let’s not forget about David Backes and his efforts. The man doesn’t go anywhere without making an attempt to change a team and affect the environment he is in. He scored his third goal today against the Czech Republic and shut down their best player, Jaromir Jagr.  Backes has three goals, one assist for the Games and consistently changes the other team’s complexion every time he hits the ice. It isn’t always about goals and assists in hockey, it’s about the rugged intangibles:  inspiring your team to do better,  pushing your teammates and setting an example. Backes is the perfect captain because he looks the part and works his ass off to prove it to others. Every game is a chance to be a presence. Backes is also helping find a home for abandoned dogs in Sochi when he isn’t dominating on the ice.
  • Thank you, Rick Majerus.  I am not a huge college sports fan but I appreciate the effect this man had on St. Louis Billikens basketball.  When he came here, the team was in shambles and not faring so well.  His hard work, maturation, belief in the school and fearless personality turned this team into something the entire NCAA tournament field will have to worry about.  Nice job, Rick.  Everyone should remember this guy by devouring some barbecue because that is what the man loved. Food, life, basketball and making everything around him better.  (Writer’s note: Eating barbecue in moderation, as in once a year to celebrate a man’s passion for life, isn’t going to end any lives.)
  • Every Cardinal fan who claims to hate Robinson Cano’s lack of hustle on groundouts can feel very good knowing their high paid outfielder, Matt Holliday, sprints down the line every time no matter what.    Holliday hustles the most on the team. Pure, true grit.

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Michael Sam’s Story is Only The Beginning

Here is my take on the Michael Sam situation.  While some would call it old, I like to think Sam’s courage in coming out BEFORE the draft about his sexuality will help many others shake the boulder’s off their shoulders in the future.  Yes, his sexuality has nothing to do with his play but it will affect his draft position and has given him the chance to help many others.  Athletes, especially football players in a testosterone filled environment, can’t just say this and hope nothing changes.  Unfortunately, that is the world we live in.  Sam’s story never gets old.   If you didn’t see this on Arch City Sports last week, here it is.

Two weeks ago, Missouri football player Michael Sam came out on National Television and said he is gay.  Since then, every media pundit, sports fan and many other imageedit_9_2231058776million or so souls on this earth have weighed in.   Support has come out in droves and everybody has a take on this.  The majority of the comments that aren’t supportive are people wondering why this is news in the first place, which is a good question.

Michael Sam coming out and stating his sexual preference to the world is news because there are so many people out there who can’t accept or root for gay athletes and don’t even support gay marriage.   They make this a debate and one that will wage on until being gay or not isn’t headline news.  This is a story because of all the conservatives and red states who can’t wrap their head around a fact that a football player is gay and can still be great in the game of football.    Heterosexual athletes don’t need to come out during an ESPN interview.   In 2014, gay athletes have to make a statement about their sexual preference and that is one of the many things that isn’t yet right and balanced with this world.

I won’t overload you with football statistics or politics here.  I am not a huge college football fan and won’t bust out my mock draft here because that isn’t the point right now.   The point is that Sam did something heroic and something many athletes would be terrified to do. That needs to be appreciated and talked about.  Imagine telling your parents your secret and how hard that is and then imagine telling your friends and teammates.  After you have digested that scenario, imagine telling the entire world and every NFL franchise that you are gay and dealing with the mega storm that comes with it.   There is nothing easy about what Sam did and making light of the statement he made would be a bad move for any football fan or regular person just reading a story.   Look deeper.

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Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show

First, let me state that I have never truly been a fan of Jimmy Fallon’s work until a few months ago.   He usually came off to me as childish and overaggressive with fallon-tonight-show-650celebrities.  This is a new love for me.  When he was given the reins to the Tonight Show(authorities are currently blocking Jay Leno from entering the building to retake the show) I didn’t give it much thought and figured it was all relative inside the NBC family.  However, after reading up on Fallon and how much he has worked for the position and how cool and down to earth of a guy he is, I took a chance and watched his show last night.

It was very seamless.  He hit the stage and immediately took off the shiny armor that hosts usually carry to their grave.   He talked about growing up in New York, filming the intro sequence with Spike Lee, pointed at his parents in the audience, and revealed that he was over the mountain in affection for his 6 month old girl.  Fallon stripped away everything before getting into the meat of the show.   It involved dancing with Will Smith, talking to him about skydiving and having U2 perform a song on the roof of the Rockefeller Center(where the show is hosted) and on the couch next to him to end the show.  For you Bono and U2 haters, the man and the band have still got it and he can sing effortlessly in any setting.   Great show.  Fallon talked about bringing the show back to New York and “hosting a show once hosted by Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Conan O’ Brien and Jay Leno”.   Fallon doesn’t laugh at all his jokes and I thank him for that.

Here is the reason I am going to watch Fallon.   He is fresh and starting something new here.   He seems more confident and has grown up while hosting the Late Show after Conan’s departure 4 years ago.  Elsewhere, David Letterman has lost a lot of steam on his fastball and seems bored.   Leno was just bland so I am glad he is gone.  I’ll always have a soft spot for Conan but he doesn’t get the guest lists he used to due to his battle with Leno.  I like Conan and still watch on occasion but he has reduced himself to severe self-deprecation.  Craig Ferguson is a hoot but also doesn’t get the guest lists and has a ridiculously long monologue.  Jimmy Kimmel is decent as well and has wild segments and guests but for some reason he isn’t a guy I look forward to.  He needs to do more stand up comedy.  At this point in time, Fallon is fresh and I tying my boat to his cruise ship.

Here are a few other reasons I am going with Jimmy-

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T.J. Oshie Becomes A Legend in Russia

This is the kind of story worth spreading around.  In case you missed my Arch City Sports piece earlier this afternoon, here is my Oshie piece from the Olympics game this morning that was heard around the world.  

The story reminded me of Rocky 4.   An American slaying a monstrous Russian dragon inside the foreign country.  Sure, Oshie didn’t tell the Russians “we can all change” but he did revoke the hero label, saying the real heroes wear “camo”.  Good for him and the Blues organization, which is doing quite well so far.   Patrik Berglund has a pair of goals, Alex Steen a couple of assists, and Backes has a goal.   Oshie made a little history today and here is my story on it.  Enjoy and have a good weekend.

Sure, it wasn’t Al Michaels screaming “it’s a miracle” this morning around the United States, but the St. Louis Blues’ T.J. Oshie definitely delivered the shot heard aroundTeam USA's T.J. Oshie scores the game winning goal over Russia during a shootout in their men's preliminary round hockey game at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games the world this morning in Sochi as he helped the USA beat Russia 3-2 via shootout.  In an epic morning battle that involved lead changes, blood, sweat, tears, a rejected goal and 8 rounds of shootout action, the St. Louis Blue delivered the kill shot.  Oshie has always been regarded around the NHL as a good hockey player, but today he turned into a legend.  No matter what happens the rest of the way, everybody who woke up at 6 a.m.  will remember where they were when Oshie sank the Russians.

I’ve said for years that Oshie is the best shootout artist in the NHL.  He is 7-10 on shootout attempts this year and lifetime he is 25-46 (54 percent).  That’s ridiculous.  Oshie has baby Jesus smooth hands when it comes to going one-on-one with a goaltender.  The matchup simply isn’t fair for opposing coaches and stoppers.  When he skates to the middle of the ice and leans down with his hands on his knees, the arena seems to shut off for him and silence surrounds the moment.  Certain athletes can do that in the middle of chaos:  clear out the noise and focus like an assassin. His shootout ability is akin to a base-stealing threat.  True base thieves in baseball steal bags off instinct and natural born ability, not just speed.   It takes confidence, precision and a dose of swagger.

I am sure, for some hockey players, that length of the ice from the center line to the net is shorter than it appears on television. A lot of players simply can’t make up their mind and are beaten by themselves when they reach the net.  Oshie is different, and so deadly. He skates in side to side before settling straight up the ice at the last moment. He can pause and choose where he wants to put the puck. His best move is where he skates in quick, slows it down suddenly, pauses, freezes the goaltender and buries a wrist shot right between the legs.

Oshie didn’t just score one shootout goal.  USA coach Dan Bylsma sent him out there six times total and Oshie scored four.   The same goaltender saw him six times and could only stop him twice.  That’s sick. Completely unheard of.  Once again, it doesn’t matter what happens tomorrow or next week; everyone will remember the USA’s effort today.  They will remember Jonathan Quick’s brilliance in net. They will remember the notorious Red Wing Pavel Datsyuk bringing Russia back with two goals. The oddness for me in the Olympics is seeing the teams separated and the unlikely groups of players. Quick playing behind three Blues players instead of in front of them, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaroslav Halak playing against the Americans. The familiar face of Datsyuk tormenting our souls and the team’s chances. This is why this event is so special, and why it’s only held every four years. It’s a celebration of the diversity in the talent of this league. All the countries, uniting rivals together for a couple of weeks, to battle for the most precious medal in all of sports. Just like any other huge sporting event, a particular moment can shine the brightest during a tournament propped up by skill.

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