Month: January 2016

No NFL team adoption for me

When the Rams left St. Louis on January 12th, my team affiliation was gone. For good. While I hold a special place in my football heart for Peyton Manning(something that has been there since his debut), I won’t merely drop my Rams devotion and pick up another team like I would buy a new shirt at a clothing store. Where’s the special in that?

I’ve always been a traditionalist when it comes to sports. I root for St. Louis sports teams, because those are the teams I grew up on. I don’t root for a team because everyone else does or because it’s cool or would create millions of hot take articles. I was born into the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team but was too young to know about the Cardinals football team in St. Louis. When the Rams came calling in 1995, I saw it as a chance to truly love and follow an NFL team. I was 13 years old. Ready for get fully acquainted.

Now that Stan Kroenke has come, waved his money flag like a can of rogaine in the late 1990’s, I see no reason to cheer for the Rams or any other football team. I laugh and sneer at the people who grab another team within a week and change their Facebook and Twitter profile or cover images to that team. How is that even possible? How can that happen so fast? The NFL isn’t even that great of a sport to just switch to another team.

A bunch of guys smashing into each other repeatedly, lowering their brain strength and longevity in life one head smash at a time. The NFL sucking millions of dollars from fans while not caring about their own players. The writing has been on the wall for years. Maybe having an NFL team like the Rams, horrible or not, concealed the wound. That blockage is gone now. All I see is greed, a waste of time and a pure vault of energy to be relocated elsewhere.

So when 2016 begins, I won’t be following a team. Manning will be retired and there are other players worth watching, but the blood pressure drive and addiction to follow the sport will be gone. That deteriorated when the Rams left town and the true ugly of Roger Goodell and the NFL showed their colors.

The NFL stabbed St. Louis in the back. How? Before you toss dome guidelines at me, let me tell you the NFL didn’t have to drag this out. They could have simply saw the money potential in LA and agreed to move the team to LA. Forget rules. The NFL makes up rules as they go along. Who cares about the thousands of fans in St. Louis who saw a good stadium plan come to fruition and some hope restored. Dave Peacock got it all in place, and even got the funding from the city and state. Forget how late Francis Slay or Jay Nixon was to the party. It got approved. Instead of giving St. Louis an extra 100 million, Goodell offered 100 million EACH to Oakland and San Diego to stay put. That’s a knife into the back. The NFL didn’t just tell us no. They showed us a secret pathway to the promised land, led us there for months and in the end all we saw was a brick wall of denial.

The NFL will never get my money again. It barely got much of it. I’ve slowly moved away from the league, covering it and watching it over the past 2-3 years. It goes deeper than the Rams moving. I moved to Arkansas in December of 2014 and didn’t even seek out the NFL Network package. I didn’t do it in 2015 either. While I followed the Rams from afar and wrote about them a little, I started to detach. That could have been from being distanced, knowing Stan would get his way or maybe a slow disinterest in a league that ONLY cares about money and promotes greed. It all just started to stink. Why should I lend passion to a league that doesn’t give back? If I do that, my son may think it’s a good idea. No way. I am done.

Super Bowl 50 may be the last one I really watch with intent. Thank Manning for that. That’s loyalty that may be flawed but it’s real. It’s my last ride too. Next year, I may watch. I may not. One thing is for certain. Passion will be less if not remote. I won’t watch with that burning desire to get a certain outcome. That’s gone.

For all of you who jump to the Kansas City Chiefs or Arizona Cardinals or another team this summer, I won’t judge or mock you. I may laugh a bit. Question your reasoning and newfound loyalty. Some people need the NFL for financial(fantasy football) or personal reasons. Some of you just need it.

I don’t need it. I can’t do it. I won’t do it. I can’t just pick up another team and act like the Rams never existed to me. Where’s the special in that?

Dave Matthews Band: Proven live performers


It doesn’t matter if Dave Matthews has a new album cooking(he does but it’s not close to completion) or not, he just wants to play. It’s in his blood. I imagine Matthews sitting in his Seattle home and fidgeting through several cups of coffee after driving his girls to school and taking care of his other son, and getting dancing nancies running through his mind. Sooner or later, he picks up a notepad and scribbles down a playlist. It’s good, but not as good as it could be, so he starts over. Another pot of coffee is made and he is at it again. This time, the playlist is perfect and there is only one thing to do. Get the band together and play.

On May 11th, Matthews and his band will kick off their 25th anniversary tour in Wichita, Kansas and plow through a schedule that takes them from the Midwest to the East coast and back to the West Coast, finishing at The Gorge in late September. All summer long. That’s the only way DMB knows how to do it.

When you go see Dave Matthews Band live, it’s an experience. I’ve seen DMB perform live six times, and that includes two different baseball stadiums. Unlike some live bands who simply show up and fulfill a contractual agreement, DMB gets on stage and plays like they don’t want to leave. Originating from Charlottesville, Virginia, Matthews and company have been at this for over 20 years and don’t want to stop anytime soon. This summer, they will embark on tour and it will stop in St. Louis at Hollywood Casino Amphitheater in May.

Your favorite bands aren’t exactly ones you listen to every day. They are the ones you trust that when needed, they can lift you up no matter what with their voice and ability to play. For me, it’s the Dave Matthews Band. Like any well known band, they have their lovers and their haters. The happy crowd easily outpaces the negative group, because if not the stadiums, arenas and outdoor pavilions wouldn’t be packed. Every time they go on tour, the crowds are enormous and when you are inside this crowd, it’s not like a bored table reading or orchestra snooze fest. This isn’t Yanni or Michael Bolton. When I saw DMB at Busch Stadium, people were dancing in the middle of the aisles in front of you. If you looked up to the loge, they were shaking up there as well. All over. This band gets you moving. For 25 years, that’s been their promise. A good time.

Great bands transcend studio album work into a live experience. The true test of any band is how they sound live. Anybody can sit up in a studio and a producer can find a good sound and make their music shiny and whole. Live, there is no safety net. The band is thrown into the abyss of public review and if they aren’t good, crickets will be heard. Trust me, I’ve heard a band get something worse than boos. Utter silence.

For DMB, it’s always been an experience live. In a new digital driven age of Justin Biebers and Miley Cyrus’, Matthews and his crew’s authenticity is welcome. It could be Boyd Tinsley on the violin, rocking with Matthews on “Two Step”. It could be Carter Beauford cranking the drums on “#41”. Local STL guitar wizard Tim Reynolds teasing the crowd that he may have 15 fingers when he spins the finale of “Lie in Our Graves”. Jeff Coffin, who replaced LeRoi Moore on the sax eight years ago, gets involved with bassist Stefan Lassard on a tune. Rashawn Ross adds his own element of surprise on the trumpet.

For Matthews, his motto is simple. When Rolling Stone asked him what the idea was this summer, if anything is different, Matthews was quick to answer. “We’re trying not to suck.”

That’s fine by me. Dave Matthews Band comes to St. Louis on May 29th. Go see them. Take a friend. You won’t be disappointed.


“13 Hours” will stir something inside you

When they are done right, films about war and terrorism cut right through me. Every time. Upon leaving the theater, I think about a world where my son Vinny wakes up and I am not around due to some conflict hundreds of thousands of miles away that has nothing to do with him or I. Michael Bay’s latest film, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, is visceral, powerful and throws one of the most embarrassing moments for the U.S. Government in your face. The result is a film that kicks you in the gut.

September 11th, 2012. Benghazi, Libya. Hell on Earth. The farthest leap from a vacation spot or landing spot for someone not trained to kill. A U.S. compound holding a 36 Americans was overrun by Islamic militants, hellbent on killing everyone inside, including a U.S. Ambassador. Six ex-military mercenaries, stationed nearby at another secret U.S. base, were suddenly tasked with saving as many lives as they could. Some died. Some lived. The foolhardy move was the government not sending support of any kind, neither through the air or on the ground until it was nearly too late.

13 Hours will make you mad and get you fired up, but that’s only because Bay, screenwriter Chuck Hogan and a superb cast do their jobs very well in depicting a tragic day in our nations history. The Bay critics, and I am one of them, may brush his attempt at dramatic artistry, because of how badly he fumbled Pearl Harbor nearly two decades ago. I decided to give him a fair shot. Bay enlisted a few of the real American soldiers who stood and fought when they didn’t have to, same as Peter Berg did when making Lone Survivor, the story of Operation Red Wing and Marcus Luttrell. That authenticity and total buy in helps the film transcend off the screen and into the heads of its audience.

A good cast helps. These guys are game. My view and general opinion of John Krasinski pulled a 180 degree turn here, as the actor most known for his comedic role on The Office gets down and dirty to play ex-Navy Seal Jack Silva. Equipped with a beard, a six pack, and a charismatic yet tactical personality, Krasinski inhabits Silva quite seamlessly. You never think it’s a hard pull for the actor, as he deftly slides into this world. He is the central base of the cast, and the one you will get to know the most.

James Badge Dale, one of Hollywood’s best Everyman and Anything performers, is Tyrone “Rone” Woods and is a box of matches lit up and thrown in the air. Dale is a natural chameleon and perfectly plays Rone without overdoing the machismo connective tissue of the team leader. Pablo Schneider(Orange is the New Black) provides the comic relief as Kris “Tonto” Paranto, one of the team members who mixes the light and dark of the situation. Calm under pressure and easy to drop a one liner, Schneider(another face of cinema) really fares well here. Dominic Fumusa, David Denman and Max Martini aren’t given dual layered characters but still provide fine work to round out a cast that also includes Toby Stephens(Black Sails) and Demetrius Grosse(Banshee).

This movie will stir you up and not let you down so easy. American lives were lost and they could have been saved. When I watched this film, I thought of Lone Survivor and the scene where Mark Wahlberg’s Luttrell calmly tells a fellow soldier, “It’s just Afghanistan, that’s all.” That’s what I get when I watched this flick. Wrong place. Wrong time. However, these six men didn’t have to stand and fight or go rescue others. They could have simply stood their ground and waited. For these guys, that wasn’t in the makeup. The actors and director place you down in the fight.

Few directors(outside of Christopher Nolan and Michael Mann) do action better than Bay. He doesn’t just blow stuff up here. He creates many sounds with his bullets, explosives and shrapnel. When a mortar is launched out of the cannon and towards the Americans, you ride with it from the base launch until the landing spot. 50 caliber machine guns and grenades are like supporting actors, tearing scenes and people apart. Bay spares nothing and doesn’t pull a punch. The gloves come completely off here and it’s great.

The movie does a great job of slowing down and allowing some character development, especially between Krasinski and Dale. Since the real guys consulted on the film and helped Hogan put the events together(along with Mitchell Zuckoff’s novel), the quiet scenes don’t feel added. Just something to show that it wasn’t all shooting and fire that night. The fair dose of humor also helps keep things smooth and sailing.

Nothing hits harder than a well done action flick that happens to be based on a true story. Upon leaving 13 Hours, you’ll feel anger, rage, sadness, and a powerful urge to talk to your husband, wife, girlfriend, dad, sibling or friend about what you just saw. It will spur discussion and not just from the political friendly crowd. 13 Hours will light many up inside.

Well done, Mr. Bay. I didn’t think you had it in you.

Suicide Squad > Batman VS. Superman

Prediction: Suicide Squad will be better than Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice(BvS) and for a couple simple reasons. Tighter focus and David Ayer.

I trust Ayer as a filmmaker more than I do Zach Snyder. Each guy is dealing with the DC comics crew but one’s vision is shining a lot brighter than the other. Snyder has hit close to the bullseye with big bombastic cinema such as 300 and Man of Steel, but he’s never dealt fans an emotional thrill ride like Ayer’s End of Watch and Fury. Each have dished fans a turd or close to it(Snyder with Sucker Punch and Ayer with Sabotage), but what I trust and appreciate Ayer’s writing more than Snyder’s. At his worst, Ayer reverts back to his gritty LA corrupt cop landscape with Dark Blue, Harsh Times and Training Day. At his worst, Snyder is Michael Bay’s slightly more talented brother yet erratic.

Ayer, writer and director of Suicide Squad, has a better idea of what he is trying to do with this big summer release. Snyder, working with David S. Goyer’s script, is still chasing down Christopher Nolan while tracking down his own identity. SS feels like Ayer’s baby, while BvS feels arbitrary and adopted. One is authentic and the other could be Spider Man 3.

A lack of focus is seriously affecting BvS, because Snyder and Goyer are packing every single comic book character into the film and overstuffing it. Man of Steel 2 has turned into a DC broken heroes and villains gala. Suicide Squad has an identity and deftly mixes in a little Batman and Joker future setup while producing tons of spinoff possibilities. At first, BvS was two super popular heroes squaring off. Then, Lex Luthor was thrown into the middle. Then, Wonder Woman is also showing up. Aquaman is there too. Doomsday is going to show up and eventually be the big bad, and he came from General Zod’s DNA, manufactured by Luthor. Somebody else may show up.

Why do I know all this? The trailers told me. The seemingly endless supply of trailers. Ones that play during television shows, sporting events and theater showings. You can’t avoid them or look away. It’s too hard. It’s like walking into a Victoria’s Secret photo shoot and not peeking. With a movie sporting so many heads, less is more but that is impossible with Snyder. He goes big or he goes home.

He’s doing this team up film because Man of Steel had a mixed reaction. Everybody didn’t love it like they did other comic relaunch films. I sincerely believe this. Warner Brothers thought about this pairing and went with it over another solo Sups film. They are trying to keep up with Marvel and can’t afford another slumping effort. While I really like what I’ve seen of Ben Affleck’s Batman/Bruce Wayne, I doubt the rest of the film.

On the other end, Suicide Squad looks like a punk rock concert in the 1970’s. Wicked cool, assured, and delivered with a succinct unknown flavor. The two trailers have dished out the plot, some action scenes but haven’t spilled the entire canister of juicy details. How Batman and Joker connect. How this story ties to the bigger picture. How the pack of villains will turn on each other but how? Where will the film leave Jared Leto’s Joker? So much is left to the imagination. I always trust a graphic novel over a comic book pairing. One film seems forced and the other feels easy going.

Will Smith’s Deadshot. Maggie Robbie’s Harley Quinn. Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang. Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flagg. Scott Eastwood, Adam Beach and others are playing these hypnotic interesting characters that non hardcore fans know little about. The less we know the more interesting it sets up the film to be.

The plot is also killer. A bunch of bad guys being dispatched on a suicide mission to save the world, or basically apocalyptic Chicago. Doesn’t that sound more interesting than a mortal Dark Knight fighting an alien before they join forces and maybe form the Justice League. I have hope for BvS but I don’t feel like I need to worry about Suicide Squad.

Both films tie into the DC comics plan. One seems to have a handle on what it’s doing. One is showing all the cards way too early. One is making Queen’s greatest hit sound relevant again. One is pounding us with Hans Zimmer’s score.

Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice arrives in March. Suicide Squad arrives in August. I am anxious for one. I can’t wait to see the other.

Which one do you want to see more? Which one has been marketed better?

Pretty Little Empire’s William Godfred breaks out


W Godfred

They say America is the land of opportunity and one must take control of every possible chance dealt their way. That saying carries the most weight in the world of music, where faces come and go as the years pass by. St. Louis native Will Godfred got together with fellow STL music disciple Justin Johnson and helped form the popular Pretty Little Empire and they made great music together. Recently, Godfred had a chance to hitch a ride on Jessica Mayfield, one of the music world’s biggest indie darlings, and her tour.

Strong arming that opportunity has given Godfred a chance to open for Mayfield on January 22nd at Off Broadway. He will be playing song from his brand new solo record. While Johnson may join him on stage for a few, it will be Godfred’s first big night in front of a home crowd playing music that has been rattling around his head for years. This past week, I grasped the opportunity to speak with Godfred about PLE, the time in between, and his new solo album.

KSDK-According to your Facebook page, December marked seven years since your first rehearsal with Pretty Little Empire. Do you ever take a moment, step back and think about how far you have come with your music? 

Godfred-I definitely do. I’m so grateful when I think about all the great opportunities we’ve had as a band. I definitely think we’ve come a long way when I think of all the great people and killer shows we’ve been a part of over the years.

KSDK-When did it all begin? You, music and the need to play…? 

Godfred-I started playing when I was 20 or 21. I played bass casually with a few friends that also played instruments. We ended up buying a digital recorder and I started recording everyone’s songs, including my own. A year or two later I met Justin and we decided to record an album in my apartment and that pretty much became how Pretty Little Empire started.

KSDK-While you, Justin Johnson, and Wade Durbin formed Pretty Little Empire, all of you have your side projects. Johnson recently collaborated with Jim Peters on Fog Lights and Wade has We Bite. This solo album for you. Do you find differences in playing inside a band formed years ago as opposed to putting together your own record? Or is it all just music?

Godfred-When it comes to recording music, I feel as though it’s one of my strong suits. I had a heavy hand in putting together the Pretty Little Empire records, so it wasn’t a foreign place for me. Plus, I made this record at Native Sound with David Beeman who put the last Pretty Little Empire album together. It was a very familiar, open environment to work in.

KSDK-How did you get the opportunity to share a show with Jessica Mayfield?

Godfred-I started working at Native Sound studios and David was tour managing for Jessica. I had the opportunity to go on tour with them and do some stage hand work and see what tour managing was all about. Tour managing has become a part of what Native Sound Studios can provide – David and Ben (our head engineers at the studio) both tour manage and run sound on long US and European tours. It is a great experience to be a part of.    

KSDK-Is there a better feeling playing in front of your hometown? 

Godfred-There’s nothing better than playing in front of an enthusiastic hometown crowd!

KSDK-What would you say the theme of this album is? 

Godfred-I don’t know that the album has a single theme. Some of these songs are several years old. I would say the songs are a calibration of my own and my friends’ experiences in life.

KSDK-Pretty Little Empire’s music was recently played on a movie on Netflix. Being movie fanatics, it’s got to be a quiet kick hearing your music in a movie? 

Godfred-It’s a surreal feeing hearing your music on the big screen. We’ve definitely made a few fans from the movie. Me and Justin went to the premier of Last Time We Had Fun at the Oxford Film Festival. Seeing how well the movie played in front of a sold out crowd was a once in a lifetime experience. Me and Justin have also drove head first into film soundtracking and scoring, so it was a great stepping stone for us. 

KSDK-Where can fans buy your solo album if they don’t make it out on Friday, the 22nd? 

Godfred-That’s a good question. I plan to get it in all the local record shops. You can always message me at William Godfred on Facebook.

KSDK-Any plans for more shows around the area or a possible short tour? Where can fans find more Godfred at? 

Godfred-There are no plans for any upcoming shows or tours, but there’s always a chance something may come down the pipe line. I’m sure I will play more shows with this lineup.

KSDK-Can fans expect a few PLE covers when Justin joins you on stage? 

Godfred-Not this time but maybe in the future. 

KSDK-In closing, all these years later, what keeps you on the stage? Many people find something stimulating for a short period of time and give it up. You’ve stayed in the ring, found some success and had some fun. What keeps you in it? 

Godfred-It’s really great working with all the great friends I’ve made over the years. Playing with Justin Johnson and all the members of Pretty Little Empire and working David Beeman and Ben Majchrzakat Native Sound has been what keeps me going. Being around such great friends and so much talent, there’s always something exciting and new happening. I owe everything to these folks.  

KSDK-Finally, thoughts on the latest Star Wars film? 

Godfred-I enjoyed it a lot, but it is nothing compared to Empire Strikes Back! 

Some things are born with us. A gift, a need or a will to do something that if you do not partake in, life won’t seem as grand. For Godfred, it’s music. Making it, playing it and creating it for people to enjoy and consume. He doesn’t get to do it as much as he wants but he doesn’t waste opportunities.

When you hear him play live, a comfort and electricity enter your system. Bob Marley once said, “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” When Godfred unleashes his arsenal of singer/songwriter ferocity on you on January 22nd, you won’t just feel good. You will feel fulfilled. Go to the show. Be there for something special.

STL to Little Rock: Lost and Found

A year ago, I was terrified.

In December of 2014, my family and I moved from my hometown of St. Louis to Little Rock, basically going from familiar and safe to the middle of fucking nowhere. Little Rock was too quiet, desolate and full of different people I didn’t know or recognize. This was crazy and it wasn’t a drill.

We settled into a new apartment complex that seemed like the set for Walking Dead or Breaking Bad(the desert scenes). Nothing was around. The closest thing to get a bite to eat was McDonalds, IHOP or Firehouse Subs(just shoot me). Change is a motherfucker because it upends everything you are close to and replaces it with other shit. Friends and family will tell you to stay busy and adapt, but it’s not that easy. It’s not a Matrix like upload or an easy progression. It takes time and usually involves panic.

We moved down here for my wife’s new job. A huge promotion. She was getting her own store and would truly boost the economic income of our household and also provide me with a chance to write for a living. It was a win-win professionally but personally it was a hardship. I freaked out. Big time. I questioned everything I thought was figured out in my life. Imagine your life is a large puzzle and then three kids go over to it and smash it apart and the pieces don’t fit they way they used to. It’s insane and threw me a curveball and truly hurt those around me. After 2-3 months of soul searching and mental ass kicking, I dug both feet in and stayed. I got used to my surroundings.

I found a gym, a coffee shop that didn’t produce slop, and a movie theater. The three needs a man like myself craves in order to truly fit into a hole. I’m sorry, Arkansas folks, but this place isn’t as good as St. Louis. Not even close. Missouri has this place beat in every area, including the area of “don’t ask me a 100 fucking questions at an auto shop while we wait for our cars to be worked on”. STL is still the center of my universe and a place I call home. I think of this Little Rock experiment as being stationed oversears for a couple years and simply a trial I must push through. No offense Little Rock. I am sure you would say the same thing of St. Louis if you were shipped there suddenly.

That was the reason it hurt so bad. No matter how I was prepared for it or ready to make the switch, a move out of state never feels normal. It feels like you are being taken, and there is no Liam Neeson coming to save you. It’s like being dumped somewhere where people talk differently, there’s several Mexican restaurants and basically no clear way out. You make do. It’s not like it has been easy folks.

*First, the in your face idea the people down here have is fucked up. I can be standing outside at a gas station or somewhere else in public and people feel like it’s time to get to know me and my whole life story. Before I can finish pumping gas, they are telling me good schools to go to and how this is good. The entire time, I have zero fucks to give. You find out how private you are when people invade your personal space every day. I don’t need to tell everyone my life story. Get in line.

*The food is mostly shit. Especially in a place called Maumelle. You know what your surrounding food is. David’s Burgers(Five Guys evil twin). Zaxby’s(KFC’s fucked up brother), McDonalds, IHop, Firehouse Subs(Subway’s demented cousin) and 2-3 Mexican places and shitty pizza joints. Your one truly good restaurant, Cheers, doesn’t know your fucking name and is crazy expensive. There are a few other places to eat that you won’t feel like some personal space with a toilet is out of the question later, but overall, it sucks.

*There is no hockey. People don’t even know what hockey is. They need to work on that.

*They don’t treat the roads during snow storms or freezing rain servings. Seriously, they shut the city down and call it. Like a rain shower dropping on a baseball field and the umps don’t even treat the field or anything. I am from St. Louis, where snow and ice are frequent and the roads are treated with salt and plowed. Down here, they do nothing. Sorry for all the people that actually have to drive to work. Get some ice skates or a sled.

*That no hockey thing….yeah..Fox Sports Midwest Blues hockey is blacked out down here.

Every place has its drawbacks, but the good thing is the more I look around the better things get. ARK can produce a fine sunset and has several good parks to run through. The people are nice. Too nice. Waffle House has grown on me so that is nice. There is good food. You just have to drive to it. So there isn’t all misery down here. It’s not as good as the Lou.

The important thing is I am fine. A year ago I wasn’t. My wife and I are happier than ever even though we bicker like Italians. My son and I get to spend a lot of time together. My writing is reaching new areas that are bringing me notoriety. Thing are good and they have gotten that way due to hard work and introspection.

For future re-locators, I have this advice. Keep it and store it or toss it into the infinite abyss of unneeded knowledge. It’s recycled through my experience but that doesn’t make it any less real or poignant. If you have to move or relocate to someplace completely different, give it time before you lose your shit completely. It’s okay to panic, as long as your feet are touching the ground and insanity doesn’t enter your mind. Know that every place has something for you, no matter how gray it seems at first. Trust me. It gets better.

Or you can always adopt Winston Churchill’s advice.

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”


Little Rock isn’t hell to me yet, but it’s not St. Louis. Not even close. However, these days, I am just fine.

5 Reactions to The Oscar Nominations

Hollywood has spoken. The Academy Award nominations are out. Here are five instant reactions to the decisions.

*Best Supporting Actor category is rightly packed and has so many contenders. Glad Academy saw Ruffalo’s brilliant work in Spotlight yet I am still pulling for Stallone’s career best work in Creed. Mark Rylance and Tom Hardy are also very deserving.

**Side Note: Can Hardy have his own category? For the second straight year, he has rocked three completely different roles. Mad Max: Fury Road, Legend and The Revenant. Magnificent talent.

*Hat tip to George Miller. Fury Road is one of the top nominated films and scored Best Picture and Director nods. 71 years old. Went back to the desert. Made an original film and did so his way. He won’t win for Best Picture but deserves a fair look.

*Sicario‘s cinematography is brilliant. Benicio Del Toro gave the best performance in 2015 that wasn’t going to be nominated. However, the way that film was shot is almost as good as Mad Max.

*Best Actor was packed and Will Smith/Johnny Depp did get snubbed. However, Damon’s ability to blend comedy/drama was superb. Leo was a must. So immersive. Fassbender was underrated as Jobs. Redmayne can’t be denied. 2015 was a great year for film and it showed in the snubs.

*Quietly hoping Thomas Newman gets the award for his brilliant and poignant Bridge of Spies score. He won’t. Morricone will win for Hateful 8. Still, Newman is great.

Extra thought: Cate Blanchett has the best actress award in her handbag already but it would be nice to see out of nowhere Brie Larson steal it for her phenomenal work in Room.

Yes, Quentin Tarantino did get snubbed and Spotlight deserves best picture.

Rest and peace and salute to Alan Rickman, who died Thursday morning at the tender age of 69 years young. He was most memorable as his work in Die Hard and the Harry Potter series, but he was also very good in Michael Collins, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Truly Madly Deeply, Sense and Sensibility and Love Actually(poor cheating Harry!). He may be remembered for shouting “Where are the detonators?” and sporting the best tailored suit and beard ever known to man, but he put in 37 years of work that spanned 70 different roles. He will be missed and marks the second 69 year old performer who was taken by cancer this week along with David Bowie. Cancer truly sucks.

Come back for more entertainment news this weekend. Thanks for reading.

Top Five Movie Villains

Alan Rickman turned Hans Gruber into a legendary villain back in 1988. It was his first movie role after a series of TV work. Playing a terrorist hellbent on robbing rich executives in a high tower in Los Angeles, Rickman helped create an iconic movie character. A true villain. The best villains stay in a film addict’s mind decades later. Rickman played a few different unique villains and got me thinking about other great bad guys of cinema. Here are five that come to mind.

Heath Ledger’s Joker(The Dark Knight)

Ledger took over a role that Jack Nicholson made iconic and didn’t just paint a better shade of evil on it, he won an Oscar and created a role that help transcend what comic book bad guys are supposed to be on the big screen. His work led to many interpretations and impersonations. It consumed him and may have led to his early departure. Ledger didn’t just take a script and memorize lines. He did his own makeup, kept a diary as the Joker and locked himself in a hotel room for six weeks becoming this guy. Mastering the walk and the voice. Full immersion. In the end, Ledger made Joker the good guy and made you feel for his character and crave more. It is easily my favorite movie performance of all time and something all movie fans could respect.

Daniel Day Lewis’s Bill The Butcher(Gangs of New York)

Playing the epic bad guy in the old streets of New York facing off against Leonardo DiCaprio’s Amsterdam Vallon, Day Lewis created a nasty, cynical yet charmingly bashful bad guy. Ruthless, tough and all the necessary evil involved. However, Bill had a cause that he deemed noble. He wasn’t a villain or evil in his eyes. He was simply chasing a belief that suited his morals. Like any great bad guy, they aren’t really evil in their eyes. Just chasing a different thing. Worse than the good guy.

Joe Pesci’s Tommy DeVito(Goodfellas)

I’ll strike down upon thee with furious anger…

The smallest guy in the room who happened to be the toughest. You didn’t want to cross Tommy DeVito because he’d kill you and had help. Sure, Pesci threw a B-side album twist on this character in Scorsese’s Casino, but his most ruthless role will always be Tommy. A guy who beat a man to death with a gun, go to his moms house for dinner and a knife, and then shoot and carve that bloodied man and bury him. He’d oversee the killing of women if they got in the way and even killed a poor bus boy who crossed him. Pesci taught the world that size and muscle doesn’t mean much unless you are fearless.

Denzel Washington’s Alonzo Harris(Training Day)

Oscar winning performance for a reason. Denzel went full bad here and stepped into evil, playing a corrupt cop in need of a big score on the same day he is training a new detective(Ethan Hawke, the soft innocent foil to Washington’s rage fueled Kong). At first, he was merely corrupt. Then, he turned into a cold blooded murderer. Afterwards, he was willing to hand over his young partner to a drug kingpin in exchange for an escape plan. At the end of the film, you hated to see him go but loved watching him catch a thousand bullets in the chest. After a career of playing bad guys, Denzel went rogue in the most brutal way possible.

Rickman’s Hans Gruber(Die Hard)

The perfect suit. The perfect beard. The perfect silver plated handgun. Ruthless, cunning, and with an accent that even Alfred would be envious of, Rickman burst onto the scene with Gruber. The mastermind terrorist who has a simple plan thwarted by a relentless cop from New York.  He was 44 when Die Hard came out, getting a late start in the movies after being content on the stage and on the smaller screen. As much as Willis commanded the screen as the action hero, Rickman held your attention as the action villain. You wanted them to get another movie perhaps and go at it again in a different high rise. Every Die Hard that followed the original wasn’t as good because they couldn’t find a bad guy as good as Rickman. He was a cinematic virgin and after Die Hard, couldn’t stop finding work over the next 25 years.

Rickman was five weeks shy of his 70th birthday when he lost a long battle with cancer this morning. He will be remembered for Harry Potter by most people in their teens and 20’s but for the film addicted souls of the 1970’s and 1980’s he will be Hans. Forever. Rest in peace. Hopefully they buried him in a suit half as good as Hans’.

Jim Edmonds: A Hall of Famer in my book

Jim Edmonds won’t get another shot at the Hall of Fame. After receiving a terribly low amount of votes(2.5 percent, needed 5 to stay on another year) in his first year of eligibility, Edmonds won’t get next year or the year after that. It’s a shame. Edmonds deserves a discussion or at least another chance to be considered.

I’ll admit I am bias. I watched all of Edmonds’ golden years at Busch Stadium from behind the Manual Scoreboard at old Busch. He was a unique and game changing player. He didn’t have the lofty 3,000 hits, 500 home runs or multiple World Series wins that voters covet or look for. Edmonds did plenty in his 17 year career.

He slugged .527 and compiled an average WAR(wins above replacement) of 3.5 over his career, which included six teams, mostly spent with the Angels and Cardinals. He won eight gold gloves and made four All Star game appearances. He changed the way center field could be played, hovering in shallow center and being able to cover a ton of ground by the time he dove into the grass making an unbelievable catch.

Edmonds was elite for an extended period of time with the Cardinals from 2000-2005, compiling an average WAR of 6.1 and winning six straight gold gloves while slugging 30 or more home runs in four of those seasons. With St. Louis, his OPS was .947 over 8 seasons and .856 over 7 seasons with Anaheim.

He wasn’t a playoff slouch. Edmonds hit 13 home runs and drove in 42 runs with 16 doubles while slugging .551 in 64 playoff games. He made the miraculous diving catch off a Brad Ausmus line drive and hit the game winning home run in Game 6 against Houston in the 2004 World Series. Edmonds had several historic moments and a swing that wasn’t as pretty as Ken Griffey Jr.’s but still effective and compact.

Edmonds is far from a Hall of Fame lock. He always has been a long shot. His 393 home runs won’t woo many. His 1199 RBI’s won’t gather a crowd. His 1,949 hits won’t make anybody’s jaw drop. He did deserve another couple of years of discussion and debate.

He made people stop and think. What makes a career Hall of Fame worthy? Is it a prolonged excellence? An overall solid piece of work, perhaps? Or, do you take a player who was excellent for two different periods of time with two different clubs in two different leagues? Edmonds was great from 1995-98 with the Angels but stellar from 2000-2005 with the Cardinals. Doesn’t that deserve more than a year of consideration?

Edmonds signed a minor league contract with the Cardinals after the 2010 season, but retired in February before spring training unfolded. He was 40 and his body was done. He wanted to give it one last go and try to reach 400 home runs, 2000 hits and add more polish to his career. While it may have added a few more long balls to his career, it could have showed an Edmonds that wasn’t as useful or fun to watch. It does make you think. If healthy, could Edmonds have done better than Colby Rasmus and Jon Jay in 2011? We will never know.

Know this. Edmonds had a HOF caliber career. Far from a lock but nearly as distant from a one and done, he was a signature player who left his mark. Years from now. Decades from now. Fathers and mothers will tell their kids about that lefty who cranked meaningful home runs, stole others from over the wall and created dazzling moments. Edmonds is a better ballplayer than at least 2 or 3 of the centerfielders currently in the Hall of Fame, right?

Edmonds deserved better from the voters. Better than 2.5 percent. He was a Hall of Famer in my book.

(In case you missed it on KSDK)

David Bowie: An Artist for All Ages

David Bowie is dead, gone from the world at 69 years young after an 18 month battle with cancer. What he leaves behind is a legacy that few can touch and a musical influence that will last for decades. Bowie wasn’t just a musician or artist. He was an island of memories, events and love swirls. I didn’t grow up on Bowie or listen to every single song he produced but I knew of him.

If you were a fan of music in general, you knew David Bowie. He lurked around everybody’s music interests, tempting them to take the fall for his distinct brand of music.

Bowie told millions of people to dance. He told you to be a hero. He made you wonder who Major Tom was. “Space Oddity” got inside your head, it wasn’t leaving for days, You’d spend the next week whispering it or humming to it. The best musicians, true artists, carve out a spot in someone’s cerebellum and buy up real estate there, slowly hooking them into your persuasive vices.

There was John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Joan Jett, and Kurt Cobain. Musicians who didn’t follow an influence. They created one themselves and demanded others to follow. Bowie did that and didn’t let it consume him. He enjoyed the game, match making and soul defying contest that the world of a rock star provided.

He seemed to warn us that one day he would gone.

“Nothing will keep us together. We can beat them. Forever and ever. Or we can be heroes for just one day.” 

The “Heroes” video says it all. A man wearing a leather one piece outfit unzipped with a tan tank top underneath, waving his body around and standing in a black box singing about being heroes and living in the now. Bowie didn’t look like everyone else. He had several colors of hair and his personality seemed to stretch farther with each decade. He looked bendable, like he would easily disappear at any moment. He was one of those people who could wear any outfit and get away with it.

For over 40 years, Bowie worked in several different genres, like a cure waving through nightclubs on a hot Saturday night. Glam rock, soul, hard rock, punk, and electronica. He blasted onto the scene with Ziggy Stardust in 1972. Bowie had fun with the media and toyed with his sexuality every time he released another he sported a new look. Instead of just being a singer, he became the characters and stories inside his albums.

On January 8th, he turned 69 and released his 25th album, Blackstar. One more hat tip to the world before he called it a night and departed this rock. When someone dies, people wonder what happens to their legacy or how they will sit in people’s minds. It’s like a house with no owner. With Bowie, people can rest easy knowing he lived a full life and did it his way, with style and grace.

Most people just try to keep living and move to the beat of the drum. For several musicians, Bowie was the drum. Just search “Heroes” and listen to the endless covers of a classic song.

“I can remember. Standing by the wall. The stars shot up over our heads. And we kissed so nothing could fall.”

“Heroes” was released on an album of the same name, in 1977. Five years before I was born. Once I heard it, there was no forgetting it. Nearly 40 years later, it’s potency hasn’t wavered. In another 40, it will still mean something to a new generation of kids. That’s the true work of an icon.

(In case you missed it on KSDK)