Month: March 2016

Frank Grillo Interview: Avenging Purge Artist of Kingdom

Frank Grillo doesn’t waste a second of your time on screen. What you see is what you get. Every time. Pure rapid authenticity and dedication to a role. He may be avenging a few heroes, purging some bad guys or trying to get inside the head of a fighter he is training. Every film and every set, Grillo is simply hustling. Trying to get it all right and give the fans a show. Something they will remember.

People will gloss over the Oscar nominations this month, but I’ll tell you there is a fine list of actors who left a dent in my mind and did something unforgettable who don’t own Oscars. They hold your attention and that is good enough for them. For the third time, Grillo and I got on the phone and talked about a number of things ranging from Crossbones to Leo Barnes to Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor. It wasn’t a standard interview. It was a conversation. Enjoy.


My endorsement for Twitter’s “Bruno”

I know what you are thinking. What the fuck am I writing about the St. Louis Cardinals account known as @StlCardsCards, aka the account with Tom Brunansky as his profile pic?

He goes by Bruno now and his podcast is tentatively called the Jon Hamm podcast. He has been going back and forth with me on the validity of spring training for 24 hours now, including 87 tweets, two podcasts and one long extended pissing contest about who is right, wrong and how certain groups on Twitter are just dumb.

Let me explain.

When the Roo Court started up Cards Madness, I secretly wanted Bruno to win. I voted for him over @CardinalTales aka Bob the Barbecue Great. I even voted for Bruno over my writing idol, Bernie Miklasz. It was a Twitter account contest. Not a “best writer” contest. Bruno and I don’t belong anywhere near the latter event.

Why did I vote for Bruno? He brings something different and unique to the Twitterverse. You won’t find too many accounts on the social networking giant(started by a STL local named Jack) that can combine Joe Strauss worthy snark, a real knowledge of the game, and a willingness to be the heel in many conversations. Bruno likes to the the bastard and embraces it. He breaks down other accounts because they either can’t handle his level of attack or they just don’t understand what he brings. It’s not to be taken seriously. Then again, it’s not a joke either.

If Bruno tries to tell you it’s nothing personal, he is lying. It’s always personal and he means what he says. How is it not personal if it sincere? However, he isn’t getting on Twitter to combat you and drive you insane. He wants you to think and laugh. I remember early last season, Bruno and I didn’t follow each other but he led the “Account I Don’t Follow Yet See Retweeted A Shitload” standings. I liked what he brought to the table, even though we disagreed on many things. Disagreeing is okay people. It starts up conversations that scan many tweets, smacks, chats and long lasting feelings. It’s how you connect with other sports fans on Twitter. You can either handle it or you take it VERY personally and go away.

I liked what he brought and followed. You won’t find many Bruno’s on the net. I don’t think you will ever see another account with Tom Brunansky as their profile pic. Soon, he followed back, even though he constantly reminds how all his 101(or so) follow backs that he really shouldn’t follow them and they are nuts, dumb or something weird and harsh. We discussed Matt Adams(back when I defended the now low value pile of Buffalo Wild Wings junk). We came together on the tragedy of Oscar Taveras and shared our articles. We disagree on Mike Matheny’s baseball IQ. We disagree on how much stock should be given to spring training games. Do they matter? How much? Do player stats matter? Trends? Streaks?

While I disagreed with him these past 24 hours over and over again(I’ve never talked so long about exhibition games), I never lost respect for Bruno. Not at all. It may not seem that way when we zing each other and quote tweet the fuck out of each other’s accounts. As I told Bruno’s podcast partner John Rabe, that is what happens when passion, stubbornness, and a need to impose your will clash together on a social media network.

After all, like many of my favorite Cards follows, I have never met Bruno in person nor do I know his name. He’s basically Lucas Hood from Banshee. A man with no true identity. He may be called Gary, Connor, Calvin, Charlie, Devin, Brock, Scott, Steve, Dave, Fletcher, Barry or Ralph for all I know. I have a feeling I will never know his name and I am cool with that. Unlike several Twitter accounts without a real name, Bruno has never changed his profile pic(well there was that idiotic Cards Cyborg shit last year for a day or so) or his handle. Like my other favorite follows such as Art Lippo and Cardinals Farm, he has stuck to his nickname. I can respect that.

On the start of another Cardinals season, it’s always a good time to follow a few new accounts. Now, for all the follow back sweethearts, Bruno may not follow you back. He won’t until he hears you out, sees your tweeting style, and decides if he wants to drop a few 140 character hand grenades on your day. Don’t be discouraged.

There are some accounts I follow on Twitter that don’t follow back. Ten to be exact and if Bruno unfollowed me, I’d still follow him. Why? He brings something unique, doesn’t back down from a fight and keeps me honest. While I still disagree with him overall on the validity of spring training stats, he got me thinking and made me dig in deeper into my stance on the subject. He wasn’t mean, overly harsh, or an asshole. Well, maybe a little of the last one, but sometimes it is required to get a point across. Again, I can respect that.

Follow @StlCardsCards. If you aren’t on Twitter, get on Twitter and follow him. Follow him, Art, Rabe, Farm, and a few others. He is a funny man with a knowledge for the game.

He can even make spring training games seem interesting with his tweets.

I endorse Bruno for Twitter, even though he compared me to Donald Trump today.

We Are Live and Carolla: Good Radio Meets Hard Work

Hard work leads to good things, right?

The old adage is that if you stick your feet in the ground and take a true shot at something, goals can be attained. Or so people said as I was growing up, reading and writing whatever sports and film commentary I could get my hands on. When I started this thing five years ago, I wanted to get my voice out to the masses or the 10-15 people who actually read this blog. A way to calm the noise in the head or the need to impose my will. So when I see a couple hard driving scrappers like Chris Denman and Travis Terrell take an evening radio show and turn it into a date on a stage with Adam Carolla, I salute them.

Denman and Terrell are the epitome of hard work and passion. A little while ago, they wanted to start a podcast and much to their luck and timing, Tim McKernan at Inside STL threw them the evening slot on CBS 920 AM. They didn’t waste their chance and turned it into a show that touches on a number of topics. They can go from Donald Trump blasting to Gas Pump Confessions to MMA to Movies and then take a U-Turn to sports. It’s a truly unique show where nothing is out of bounds. Listeners get a variety and it’s not called 106.5. (more…)

Dana White: UFC 196’s real winner

Why is the UFC so popular?

That is the question on everybody’s mind the past few years. What makes this combat sport so thrilling, intoxicating and something even casual observers are talking about at the water cooler on Monday morning? For starters, the creator and big boss-Dana White-cares about his fans as much as his fighters and sponsors.

Saturday night, UFC 196 elicited two major upsets. Two champions lost their belt and left the night looking up at another opponent celebrating instead of their own jubilation. This may lead some to believe that White would be truly upset.

Would he be upset that Holly Holm, The Preacher’s Daughter sensation and kickboxing virtuoso, lost to Miesha Tate, taking some of the sizzle off her reported rematch with Ronda Rousey later this year?

Would he be upset that his undefeated golden Irish war child, Conor McGregor, was upset by recent injured opponent replacement Nate Diaz? (more…)

Shades of Blues: Routine cop drama elevated by Ray Liotta

Seeing Ray Liotta slumber through a graveyard drinking whiskey in a police officer’s uniform can be crossed off my need to see list. NBC’s Shades of Blues is your normal run of the mill cop show with a great assist from Liotta but occasionally it can produce a moment that makes you wonder if it belonged in another show. The past few weeks of this series have produced more of those moments.

The effect of Detective Saperstein’s demise is sitting like a heavy stone on the hearts of the entire crew as episode 109 opened up at his funeral. Detective Harlee Santos(Jennifer Lopez, getting better every week) knowing that Liotta’s Wozniak was the one who not only killed Sap once but finished the job after faking a bomb threat in the hospital.

The show produced one of those moments at the end of episode 8, where Drea de Matteo’s Tess Nazario read the departed detective’s letter, which talked about “things happening because things happen and not for any particular reason”. Seeing Santos look over his casket and promise Sap that she would “make this right” pointed the show in a whole other direction.

It’s clearly Santos against Wozniak with the FBI(led by pervy Warren Nole’s Agent Stahl) watching over every move. The juice of Shades of Blues has hung on the live wire act that Santos has to pull off every week. She has to obey the Feds so she stays out of prison and doesn’t abandon her daughter. She has to turn her back on a group that she thinks of as family the past decade of her life. Lopez also has the rock PERFECT MAKEUP every single second of the way. Nobody on network television ever looks bad. Even Matteo’s skin doesn’t look too bad. I can’t handle the perfection.

Don’t look around these parts for Emmy Award coatings. All network cop shows have some good and lots of bad. The days where David Mamet and Michael Mann patrolled these streets are long gone and showrunners like Adi Hasak(screenwriter of 3 Days to Kill and From Paris with Love) try to do their best imitation of true grit for a season or two before it starts to stink.

The best path to enjoying a show like Shades of Blue is to embrace the imperfections and soak up the tiny moments of greatness. It’s a fast food restaurant with an occasional great order. It has its moments.  One where true pathos mixes with a well written scene and a great acting talent like Liotta. He is the reason to watch this show.

From the very start, Liotta(a true authentic face of cinema) has been the plug. Without him, the show dies faster than a romantic subplot.  Liotta automatically commands your attention with his intensity, approach to a character, and complete buy in. When you look at J. Lo and wonder if she went from the set straight to her concert show in Las Vegas, just look back at Ray and smile with satisfaction. He’s a real old school actor. He elevates this show. Hasik knows this and puts him in nearly as many scenes as Lopez.

The actress isn’t bad. She’s always been a better actress than singer but a better performer than both. She is great at emoting, holding a weapon with authority(remember Out of Sight!), and doing a good enough job in a role to avoid embarrassment.

Shades of Blues has gotten better each week, keeping fans on their heels and ratcheting up the tension. Will Harlee bring down her boss and father figure in Wozniak, a guy who helped put her abuser in jail many years ago? Will she try to work both sides until her soul is completely empty? Her actions cost Saperstein his life and wrecked the crew while leaving trust sliding around the room like a drunk foam cup.

There’s four episodes left and a second season arrives this fall. NBC knows it can leverage a corruption story mixed between NYC cops and the FBI for at least one more season. With star power like Lopez and a talent like Liotta, this show can run for a while. Law and Order: SVU may run until I am in a nursing home, so Shades of Blue has a little pasture to gallop across and the writing doesn’t have to improve much. This is network people. They killed Jack Bauer twice, gave LL Cool J a starring role and gave Chicago a fire, police and hospital series. Anything can happen.

When it took over for The Player in January, I didn’t know what to think of this series. Why did NBC hold onto a Lopez show for a summer release and not run that out of the gauntlet ahead of a poorly conceived Wesley Snipes series? Whatever confusion and misfortune hung with the beginning, the end may be better.

Just don’t expect too much out of Shades of Blues. It’s a guilty pleasure “been there seen that” cop show with enough “moments” and Liotta four wheel drive to run for a little while. It doesn’t ask you to think, beg for your attention or deny you the occasional thrill. It’s satisfying in the same way that Five Guys double cheeseburger with extra onion was.

Talking Points: An old fashioned rant

How the fuck are you this morning?

Welcome to an old fashioned, ladies and gents. Sit down, because this will take a while. Get that scrolling index finger ready. It’s time to kick it old school and just unleash a rant. I spend so much time writing “columns” aka organized assholes. No guarded and proper stories that are spaced out perfectly around ads or rejected because they are too bruising to egos or reputations. When I started the Dose five years ago, I wanted the trigger code to read, “Write Whatever The Fuck I Please”. There will lots of fucks in this blog by the way so brace yourself. You know, that word we use a ton but don’t want to write digitally or in print because our professional tag may get stained. Fuck it, let’s say whatever we want. There will be long winded uncut paragraphs that would make an English professor spit out his whiskey soaked cup of hot tea. I don’t care. I flunked out of college. This blog won’t be proofread either, so spare me the corrections or keyboard gangster feel good segments. Forward your punctuation police tickets to my four year son, who will promptly tell you, “Put on Netflix and leave my dad alone.” Let’s talk.

Thank you UFC. MMA. Whatever. Give it a name and I’ll buy a tri-blend t-shirt with it on the chest. Dana White’s entourage of brutal asskickers is growing for one simple reason. He makes fight cards that contain unknowns. Thrillers. His fights have upset written all over them. Unlike boxing promoters, who design fights like their dick is holding a pair of tweezers over a microscope and burning candle, White shows zero fear in matching different styles in a ring. He put Ronda Rousey, the cover of GIRL POWER Nation, in a ring with a kickboxer for christs sakes! He put Conor McGregor in the ring with a ground and pound specialist. He embraces the “You Never Know” every single card. That is why local bars and pubs are showing UFC fights and NOT boxing fights. The hype is matched by the fights and humans love carnage. While you may resemble a whistle blowing bitch on the NFL and other violence, nothing gets more retweets on twitter than a single punch knockout or violent vine. Since our birth, violence is like CRACK. If we can’t be the ones fighting in that ring, we MUST SEE it. Over and over. Who watches the replay of a knockout or submission one time? Nobody. Mother Teresa would have said damn when Holly Holm aka the Preacher’s Daughter went to sleep with a minute left in the fight. Thank you Dana White for having BALLS.

Respect to Conor McGregor for having class after a huge loss. Instead of leaving the ring like a petulant bitch(Hey Ronda), Conor stayed and took the heat. He did the postfight Q&A and the presser. The guy moved up two weight classes(25 pounds people) to accept the replacement challenge of Nate Diaz. He threw everything but the chairs at ringside at Diaz in their nearly two round fight. He tried. The Irish Tazmanian Devil has lightning quick hands and opened holes all over Diaz’s face but the challenger just kept coming. When it was all over, and the lights were going out, The Notorious One made a last second lunge for Diaz and fell into a trap. He tapped. He is no longer invincible in the UFC, and added his 3rd loss to his overall MMA record. He’ll be back. He is still the 145 pound champ and main shit disturber. He can pick his next opponent. Fighters still fear him and should. He’s got some blood dripping from his shoulder now. He’s wounded. Pissed off. I like Conor because he backs up his big talk with big time efforts and he is fucking fearless. You tell him the brick wall in front of him won’t break and he’ll spend a few hours punching and kicking it trying to defy logic. He takes challenges and fights his ass off. It’s not all smoke and mirrors. I’ll be watching.

Spring Training sucks. Really. Look, there’s nothing wrong with sitting down and watching these fake games. Everybody does. Just don’t slam people for not caring or having the strong opinion that getting worked up over Jupiter battles is futile. March exists for one reason. Repetition and recovery. Pitchers and hitters getting back what was rusty. It’s not about their batting average or strikeout total. The only thrill of watching spring training is seeing young players like Harrison Bader get a little tunnel of opportunity. Other than that, stay healthy, stay off motorcycles, and come to the regular season ready. There’s 162 games in a season folks. These games don’t count and matter little. Watch them but don’t lose sleep or breath. It’s not worth it. Look at Matt Holliday. When he saw his name on the lineup card playing first base, his back tightened up.

Will the Blues choke? I’ve already been asked this question and not for bad reasons. In a little over a month, the Blues will most likely start their first round playoff series. It’s getting close. That time of the year where a Blues fan gets really hopeful before their heart is ripped out of their chest and basketball is played with it. Will this team choke? I’ve written so many pieces on them for St. Louis Game Time this season, and a lot of it has been complaining. The Rogues in Blue have a way of frustrating their fanbase while compiling a great regular season record.

The Blues are like Peyton Manning before 2006. A great regular season contender who becomes less in the playoffs. Now, Peyton just retired and I will get to him later but the comparison is fitting. The Blues have made the playoffs over 35 times since their inception. A lot. They haven’t won much this past decade. A few series and a lot of blue balls and unsatisfied desires. Is 2015-16 different? I’d like to say yes but I just don’t think so. They have 85 points but still don’t score enough. Their team hasn’t been completely healthy that much this season, but few teams are. It’s all about executing when the spotlight gets wide and hot. Not about excuses or how much effort was shown. I see guys who weren’t here last year like Colton Parayko and Robby Fabbri. They are the real deal and may give the team something extra. Then I see the team going seven games and scoring 2 goals or less in five of those contests and get worried. This team is too hard to read. Will they choke? Don’t ask me that question yet. Where’s that red haired lady from Game of Thrones? Ask her.

Carlos Martinez is a better pitcher than Michael Wacha. It’s not even close. If you need reasons, check out my piece later this week at Redbird Rants(shameless plug!).

Peyton Manning will officially retire today and it’s a perfect ending to a great career. The man had a helluva run. Instead of bucking and going to the Los Angeles Go Fuck Yourself Rams, he will hang up his cleats. He screamed “OMAHA” for the last time in the Super Bowl he won with the help of a great defense. Manning has two rings, every single worthy QB regular season record and he has tons of class. Read a few stories on what his guy has done throughout his career for people in his community. Calling victims of violence or their loved ones in a time of need. He called the parents of Jessica Redfield, the woman killed in the Aurora movie theater shootings, days after her death. Forget the hack claims that he sexually assaulted a woman in college. Those claims ran into a brick wall. I love hearing about something that happened 18 years ago being used as a weapon today. Fuck those butthurt fools!

Manning goes out on top. Riding off into the sunset while flipping Kroenke the bird. He did what he needed to do. Won the elusive 2nd Super Bowl ring and can now enter the top 5 quarterbacks of all time. Unlike Tom Brady, controversy or a stupid Pete Carroll play call never brought down Manning’s achievements. He did it all clean and the hard way. The man was left for dead in 2011 after a neck surgery severed his ties with the Indianapolis Colts. He had four neck surgeries and still came all the way back to lead his team to two Super Bowls. How many players took two different teams from mediocrity or shit to the promise land a pair of times? He took the Colts and Broncos to the big game twice,and gave each town a title. How many quarterbacks did that? How many did it at such a late age? Peyton’s boss, John Elway, did and that’s kind of cool.  Manning could have went to LA, Houston, or some other shithole and took more abuse and probably finished with a 9-7 or 8-8 record. Fuck that. Leave with your mind and body intact. So many players leave on a stretcher. They leave on a mental slab of metal, unable to convince their mind that the body has taken enough damage. It’s not just the sacks or quarterback rushes. It’s the late hits these days. That shit hurts. Remember Troy Aikman and Kurt Warner getting slammed and smashed during their final days. Do they regret it? Their mouth will say no but their cartilage and muscles will say yes. Manning avoids all of that. Good for him. Get on that horse and go host Saturday Night Live some more(because it SUCKS) and do some commercials.

With Peyton’s exit and the Rams move, I am without a team and favorite player. I won’t be acquiring a new team or favorite player. Not now. I won’t be watching much NFL action next year. The league took a BIG dump on my hometown and frankly, I’ve been slowly losing interest in its play. A bunch of dumb bastards hitting other dumb bastards. Lots of inactivity. Lots of commercials. A Super Bowl driven by commercials. A league driven purely by greed with little care for its fans. Since my team and my player are gone, so am I. I am not saying I won’t watch. That would be a flat out lie. I just won’t care as much as I did before, and that’s a stance I won’t waver on. The NFL isn’t family or a friend. They are a stranger on the street who used to be good looking and worthy of my attention.

Canelo Alvarez is going to smoke Amir Khan in May. It may be an interesting fight for a few rounds, but once Saul sizes up his foe, the fists will unleash a tormenting pain that the glass jar of Khan won’t be able to withstand. Later this year, Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin will come together for the biggest fight in boxing since….Pacquiao and Mayweather Jr. last year. This fight will be worth every single penny because these guys will fill out their medical forms completely, not let off site politics get in the way and they will stand and trade shots until one of them drops. That may be the last worthy PPV contest for a few years. Or ten.

Fuck Manny Pacquiao. In case you thought my dose last week was quiet fumes, my stance holds up. When he compared homosexuals to animals, he lost my support. If your religion doesn’t allow you to support something, that’s fine. Choice is what REALLY drives this world and life anyway. Believe in what you want. Comparing a gay man or lesbian woman to an animal is disrespectful, stupid, and simply uncalled for. I hope Timothy Bradley takes the real Mickey(Teddy Atlas) and kicks Manny’s ass six ways from Saturday. True thought: Manny stopped being an electric fighter when Juan Manual Marquez stopped his clock back in 2013.

What do I miss most about St. Louis? Family, the streets, Busch Stadium and other regulatory shit but I miss the FOOD the most. Good food. Easy to find good food. Mom’s Deli. Dewey’s Pizza. Zia’s on the Hill. La Cosecha Coffee and Shaw’s Coffee. Tucker’s Steak House. Johnnies in Soulard. Uncle Bills. I even miss Quik Trip. I envy the folks who get Tim Horton’s 24/7 coffee service off Olive downtown. Arkansas food sucks monkey balls.

The election is going to be a fucking gong show folks. Who are you voting for? The answer is you are fucking crazy. All these candidates suck. Republican, Democrat, Independent, Dependent on Stupid, Co-Dependent on French Fries, or whatever. If Donald Trump is elected, we are doomed. If Ted Cruz is elected, he won’t produce any real change. What happened to all the truly good Presidents? When did it become a need to vote for the candidate least likely to do serious damage to our country? This is terrible. Like cold coffee cold Chinese food cold gravy dry turkey bad terrible. I’m not voting for anybody. I’m writing in Henry Rollins. He won’t win but I’ll sleep at night knowing I scribbled down a name that would reestablish the order. An agent of chaos maybe! Washington stinks. Like Twain said, change the diaper.

How the hell do guys grow a beard past 10 weeks? I hit the NINE week mark on Sunday. Nine. I have hair covering my lips. There’s a bush on my face and it creates odd weird stenches that I don’t want to describe. I love my beard. I am not comfortable without hair on my face. Not on my head. On my face. I started growing a beard about a year ago and will have one until I leave this rock. There’s something sophisticated about having a bald head and beard. People look at me like I shouldn’t be taken for granted and also wonder if they could grow something like that. I just wonder how guys grow a beard past 10 weeks without any trimming. I’m getting a trim on Wednesday. I’ve met my match. 9 and a half weeks. Here’s to you Mickey.

Watch Paul Sparks on Boardwalk Empire and then watch him in House of Cards. Now that is an actor. Two completely different characters yet a little similarity. Riveting. Yes, you have no idea who Paul Sparks is so let me help.

Suicide Squad will be better than Batman vs Superman. Why? Better director, story, and a more assured idea of what it wants to be. Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne will be the highlight of BvS. If you don’t care, save me the “I don’t watch Comic Book films.” Or be more original.

Can I talk to you about Frank Grillo? You know him well here. He leads “non Cardinal” story searches on the Dose. If you don’t know who he is, that’s a shame. He’s my favorite actor. An authentic 52 year old badass who is riding the height of a cannon blast that started eight years ago with a film called Pride and Glory. You never heard of it. Gavin O’ Connor directed this underrated gem about corrupt cops tied together through the hard string of family and gang violence. Edward Norton, Colin Farrell and Jon Voight all killed in it. One guy, Grillo, popped up in a scene that I won’t soon forget. A dirty cop terrorizing a clerk at a drug store for money and free shit, Grillo’s evil grin painted a couch in your memory. One scene is all he needed.

After that, there’s another O’Connor gem, Warrior. Grillo’s Frank Campana is a character he took off the page as a paper thin cardboard character and made him three dimensional. The Grey, End of Watch, and Captain America: Winter Soldier. All films that he was listed a few spots down on the depth chart but when you left the theater, all you wanted to know was “Who was that guy?” Grillo built his career like a hustler taking the extra base on a ball hit into the gap. He takes a role that looks familiar or invisible and turns it into something rich and memorable. Now, people are taking notice. He headlined The Purge: Anarchy(Purge 2) and will headline a third Purge film this summer. He stars in the critically acclaimed and audience underappreciated Direct TV series Kingdom, about a family of MMA fighters. A series that focuses more on what these guys and gals can’t hit outside the ring than the people they face in the octagon. A show that deserves your attention. Grillo will appear as a master shit disturber in Captain America: Civil War this spring. Truth be told, he is all over the place and the world of entertainment couldn’t be better for it. A lot of people in this business are handed shit. They are given a date to Prom. Grillo had to hustle against some big castmates. He wrestled away scenes from stars. Grillo isn’t the movie star. He’s the one the director brings in to kick the movie star’s ass.

I’ve gotten to know Frank over a few interview sessions and Twitter conversations and he’s true class. The man owes a guy like me nothing and he gives more of himself than a fan/writer could dream of. I’ll never stop being an advocate for whatever Grillo is doing. He earned it the hard way, is very good at what he does, and gives back.

What else? 10 bit Rapid fire round commencing….

The Chicago Blackhawks are going to be fierce in the playoffs again. The bastards added depth at the deadline, muscled up and won’t go away.

The Chicago Cubs won’t win a damn thing in 2016. Overrated team.

The Cards pitching staff is better than the Cubs. That will matter late in the season after Jake Arrieta blows his elbow off.

Do I write specifically for page clicks? No. I write stories that I find interesting, want answers to or my readers demand. Do I like page reads and clicks? YES. Any serious writer who says otherwise is a liar. LIAR!

Anybody that tweets a link more than once telling you to read “this latest piece on how flour helps make break” or whatever WANTS clicks.

I HATE writing solely to write. Write this so we hit this mark. The material should have some punch.

Nothing is more draining or useless than writing a game/TV show recap. Telling people what happened. They have TV replays for that. Make it fun or inventive. There’s too much content on the net to be ordinary.

Thanks for not giving me a real winter, Little Rock. Reason Arkansas sucks #4,420.

College sports are a bore so count me out for March Madness. Bring a pair of gloves over and head gear and we can spar. Now that will be madness.

Sam Bradford is NOT worth 18 million per season. Brock Osweiler is not worth 12 million per season. These NFL contracts are utterly hilarious.

Thanks for reading if you made it to the end. Your prize is a free subscription.

Sorry, not sorry, for saying FUCK so much. My blog. My rules. Deal with it.

Triple 9: Easy to digest entertainment

Triple 9 looks familiar. Good cops. Dirty cops. Robbers. Crime bosses. Innocence, brutality and a merciless urge to be the last one standing. All of it. Hundreds of crime films have covered this territory, with good and not so great results. Director John Hillcoat knew this so he acquired a truly unique and top flight cast.

Casey Affleck as the young and noble cop who partners up with Anthony Mackie’s maybe shady officer to police the streets. Bank robbing crew led by Chiwetel Ejiofor’s murderous yet not evil boss. Aaron Paul(Breaking Bad) and Norman Reedus(Walking Dead) are a part of that crew. Hey, there’s Kate Winslet as a Russian crime boss rocking some Goodfellas hair that would make Lorraine Bracco sweat. Woody Harrelson is a police sergeant who drinks too much and happens to sniff some of the evidence. Clifton Collins Jr. is a detective that can’t be trusted. Gal Gadot as the pretty faced temptation.

Throw all these parts into a stew pot, stir them, add some seasoning(great action choreography), a fast pace and what do you have? An entertaining and diverting action film.

Triple 9 doesn’t try to be anything other than what the poster tells you. Entertainment. It may get you thinking about black/white crime, the length cops will go to in order to make a dollar or how dire the world looks. That’s something you already knew going into the theater. It takes the familiar and makes it look better than what it really is. The sum of the parts outweighs any individual piece here in value.

A lesser cast, video game/commercial resume laden director and less exotic features would put this movie on the direct to DVD route chart along with the latest Steven Seagal or Wesley Snipes delivery. The cast and their buy in with the material along with Hillcoat’s dedication to not deliver over the top Malick like monologues keeps the film light and easy to digest. A perfect February treat. This is a film David Ayer writes and directs in his sleep.

When I left the theater, I wasn’t mad about where my money went. I was satisfied. I didn’t have to convince everyone on my way home they should see it but I got what I felt the film deserved to give me. A good time.

Avoid the awful poster tag line, the familiar setup and you may enjoy it too.

Cardinals: The Cubs haven’t won anything yet

The last time I checked, baseball games weren’t won in December, January or February. They aren’t won in spring training or by preseason polls or predictions. For the St. Louis Cardinals, a challenge from a divisional rival is not only expected but necessary.

When you are the Cardinals, things don’t go according to plan but you deal with it because the General Manager plans on disruption, chaos and misfortune. No matter what was thrown at the Cardinals in 2015, they endured and won 100 games and the division. Their luck ran out but a message was preserved. Trouble may find them, but their shape moving forward won’t bend too much or break. The Cardinals are resilient.

Let’s go over some facts before I break into some subjective prose.

Since 2000, the Cardinals have made the playoffs 12 times. That’s 12 times in 15 tries.

They have made the playoffs five straight seasons, including three straight division titles. I can’t tell you the last time the Cubs, Pirates, Brewers or Cubs did that. That is because they never did. The Cardinals are the team to chase. Nothing has changed. (more…)

The Eternal Echo: Uncomfortable yet thought provoking

What if a child was raised on nothing but technology? Instead of books, he was shown fighting videos and pornography. Instead of nurturing and a comfy bedroom, he was kept in a dark basement? Instead of parents, he was given three doctors to track his rise(or descent) into madness. That is the basis of Jeff Musillo’s new novel, The Eternal Echo.

If you are tired of cliche riddled crime stories or burnt out romance novels for your lunch hour or evening reading, give this book a shot. This is one of those books that will make you extremely uncomfortable because of the questions it asks the reader every page and the quality of hammer it swings at the plot as it is thrust into the reader’s attention spans.

You won’t find this kind of story anywhere else. Imagine if Dr. Frankenstein got a hold of the internet back in the day when he was creating his monster. Technology lies at the center of this story. Dr. Ravensdale adopts a baby and along with a pair of doctors, raises the kid in an abandoned house that he calls “the laboratory”. They call him “The Subject”. Ravensdale isn’t looking to be a good father or start a family. He wants to get to the bottom of the human psyche. What makes people tick? Why do they need certain things like love, communication or connection? Can they live without those things?

The story is told in flashback as the Good Doctor recounts his story(from his psychiatrist’s diary of questions and observations) about how he went about his plan from a jail cell. There were three phases. Job, Date, Bullying and Sweating it Out. It’s not that simple folks. Ravensdale doesn’t just torture his lab rat pet. He puts him through the ringer. Inter-cut with questions from the shrink, it’s clear early on that the Good Doctor is mad as hell.

When asked about the lengths he went to and if he regretted it, Ravensdale says that it’s okay if you are trying to achieve something amazing. What follows is heart wrenching, shocking and gruesome. There’s science fiction, horror, action, drama and tons of thrills in this book. The Subject is put through several tests, involving getting a job at a library(doesn’t go well), dating(doesn’t go well) and other various tests and it becomes less about the Subject than it does about the upbringing of the Good Doctor.

This book has no real good guy. Nobody comes to the rescue of this wicked plan until its too late. That’s the part that makes it so real and interesting. Musillo avoids any normal pratfalls or plot twists. He doesn’t soften the blow at all. When the Subject loses his mind as his laptop is taken away or he can’t watch anymore videos, he goes crazy. When the Library Manager tells him to get to work, the reaction is something so chilling you may want to stop reading but you won’t be able to.

Musillo asks the most uncomfortable questions with a piece of fiction. If an experiment is important to human psychology, what line can’t be crossed? If you pass that threshold, what does that make you? A mad man or a mad scientist? The Good Doctor, Subject, assistant doctors and other unfortunate bystanders may be the stars of this show but the real star of this story is the brain. Something scientists, doctors and mere mortals are still trying to do this very day. That is the basis of Musillo’s thought provoking and horrifying new novel.

If you rewired a few circuits in the brain and isolated the person, what would happen? Would you create a monster or just fail? Dr. Ravensdale sees it through. So should you.

I appreciate writers who try something new and tackle a new avenue instead of following in others footsteps. Musillo does that with The Eternal Echo, asking the uncomfortable questions and letting the reader answer them.

The Eternal Echo is available on Kindle now and will hit paperback in April.