NESN Kingpin Beheads WEEI

DATELINE: HUMOR

JUNKYARD pooch

A few days ago we called on WEEI, one of Boston’s all-sports talkfest stations, to rid itself of gadfly Kirk Minihane, a self-professed iconoclast.

He finds a rock to hide under on the Dennis & Callahan Morning Show at the radio station. Latest brouhaha with him was hardly a haha funny moment in which he called a fellow media reporter/analyst a “gutless bitch,” though the sobriquet might better fit him.

We did not think that host cable network NESN, owned by King John Henry VIII, would be the one to call for the removal of the head of Minihane. Yet, lo and behold, NESN has announced that they are severing all ties to Dennis, Callahan, WEEI, and Minihane.

What more do you need, Entercom Productions? Fox Network, no bastion of honor, has even told its talent to avoid your station and that show in particular.

Local liberals have hated D&C Morning Show for ages. The two sports-savvy hosts are too conservative for the area. They are also too intelligent and knowledgeable. They have however gone wrong in an attempt to appeal to ratings. Minihane is a step in the wrong direction.

Oddly enough, John Dennis and Jerry Callahan may find new jobs when their contract runs out in September as they have some abilities. Yet, it is Minihane who will inherit the show, as he is the last one under contract by WEEI.

We will miss the occasional peek at the simulcast show that often stole our best humor for their own edification.

Shameless PBS “Documentary” on Sherlock

 DATELINE: TV MASHUP

sherlocks

Though we basically enjoyed watching the two “episode” commercial for the PBS series Sherlock, the documentary by PBS called How Sherlock Changed the World is nothing more or less than an advertisement for the PBS series with Benedict Cumberbatch.

The so-called documentary used the theme from the recent series to discuss the Conan Doyle stories. Instead of relying on another PBS favorite, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett that more accurately made the point that Holmes was the first CSI.

The current state of documentaries has deteriorated another level with this hackneyed attempt to sell a series by presenting a film that explores the impact of Doyle’s work over 100 years ago.

The repetition of the message over two episodes may be a kind of cognitive device to make sure dumb PBS audiences understand the key point. Talk about misjudging your audience.

To watch some of the most successful criminologists of our time compliment Doyle and Sherlock is indeed heady stuff as they use modern cases to prove how advanced the Doyle stories were. It’s true that Holmes may have looked like sci-fi in his day with blood trace issues and chemical tests of evidence.

The best part of the shows included scenes of Doyle being interviewed and explaining his inspiration of a former professor at medical school (Dr. Joseph Bell) who even posed once in a deerstalker cap for a laugh.

We love Sherlock, and we love documentaries that are genuine. We don’t love being manipulated shamelessly.

How Sherlock Changed the World is pleasant, but obviously it is a commercial effort to publicize the Cumberbatch series.

Seldom Heard Discouraging Words for Red Sox

DATELINE: HUMOR

lester&beckett

When Frank Sinatra sang, it was: “Flying high in April, and shot down in May.” If you’re the Red Sox, it is flying high in July, and shot down in July.

They had a second-ten game streak that made them look like world series beaters, but then the reality set in upon them like the hounds of the Baskerville.

Each time the Sox seem to pull together a moderate winning streak, the ever-optimistic media starts yodeling a happy tune, but it is just the right pitch to start the avalanche.

The more things change, the more they remain the same. Once in the A.L. East cellar, you are doomed to remain there.

Like Sidney Carton, the Sox have only one chance to escape their self-imposed Bastille—and alas, that is only to see the blood-thirsty crowd waiting for his head in a basket. So it is for Ben Cherington’s assortment of candied yams.

You will never see the crowds crowing for the lions to eat the unfortunate Christians, as they used to in the days of Ancient Rome.

In polite Boston, the crowds will continue to plop their fannie hearts into the seats to soak up the ambiance of Fenway, even as Jon Lester begins to pitch for the Pinstripes.

High-priced players will soon go the way of all bargain basement garments. The Red Sox hose will be filled with the cheapest young players, sort of like the Boston Celtics.

The Patriots will soon be the only game in town.

Birth Leaves a Mark

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

 Bacall & Bright

Bacall & Bright

We decided to revisit Jonathan Glazer’s Birth after being impressed with Under the Skin.

Has it been ten years since his previous movie disturbed audiences? We were reminded that adult movies have nothing to do with overt sexual encounters. That’s why pseudo-softcore porn (like the simulated sex scenes of True Blood) are not truly for mature audiences.

Few people might be emotionally equipped to handle Birth, the ostensible tale of reincarnation. A creepy kid (an amazing performance of maturity by 10-year old Cameron Bright) shows up to tell a woman (Nicole Kidman) that he is her first husband reborn. His name is Sean, and everyone thinks at first it is a practical joke.

The boy knows shockingly intimate details about Anna’s first marriage and friends. Anna’s mother (Lauren Bacall) and fiancé (Danny Huston) (like everyone else) start to disagree with her decisions to humor the child.

Anna destroys her potential relationship with her spouse-to-be and tries grasping at the straw that she has met her first husband not grown up yet.

Performances here are utterly mesmerizing. The director lingers on faces to a disquieting degree, giving actors opportunities they seldom experience.

Anna entertains child molesting in a way that is shocking, but the child is beyond incredible in his seductive ways as an adult molester.

Witchy Anne Heche as Clara, an old friend of the family, seems to hold the key—and something akin to an explanation of sorts.

Emotional rollercoasters provide entertainment, but we are seldom prepared for where they take us. We think Kidman never has shied away from roles, and this remains one of her best.

True horror does not require buckets of blood and violent special effects, and this film will horrify you. It is utterly brilliant and unexpected.

Fenway Park: Church of Holy Redemption Now in Service

Holy Mackerel

 

Heathens of summer have heard the clarion call. The Red Sox have found life wanting in Sin City.

The Red Sox were the American League team standing on the street corner, holding the sign that said: “End of World is Near.”

Now they are all gathered under Ben Cherington’s revival tent and singing, “Amazing Grace.” It certainly sounds better than the Titanic’s last ditty, “Nearer My God to Thee.”

Pardon us for wondering whether “Holy Cow,” or “Holy Mackerel” applies.

We just see David Ortiz calling out, “Hosannah in the Highest,” after he tied Carl Yastrzemski with 452 dingers.

It’s hotter in Jamaica than Hades for Big Papi, as he claimed he would heat up for the final two months of the planned swan song.

Jon Lester was never going to let a last place team keep him from St. Cy Young’s trophy and a contract worth $150million. Alms for the poor, indeed.

All this old-time religion has fans at Fenway passing the ammo and praising John Farrell.

If the Red Sox go from last to first in two months, this will be a bigger headline in the New York Post than when David slew Goliath—or when the Yankees signed Babe Ellsbury.

You thought miracles only happened on ice, but the Red Sox are on the road to Redemption City. Now let’s all pray they are not waylaid by the temptations of those apples of Sodom in September.

No Keel Hauling Needed for Red Sox & Cherington

DATELINE: SINK OR SWIM

Cap Phillips

If the Red Sox win twice as many games as they lose for the remainder of the season, you may consider the season better than a salvage job.

If they can right the ill-fated Costa Concordia and plan to tow it finally out of its fatal resting place, then the Red Sox can likely limp to the scrap yard of off-season.

At least that was the hope.

Now they are taking reservations for the post-season. The Good Ship Lollipop was half-submerged and rusting away as the All-Star break loomed. All its good memories of winning a World Series not a year ago were stuck in the mud.

If someone went to Ben Cherington and told him there was a cancer on his presidency, we’d think it callous. Whether Cherington is the New Nixon or not, only removing the Watergate from the Concordia will tell us if his ship will float and then sail to its destiny.

The Good Ship Lollipop is back on the bounty main. The one key difference between the mutiny on the ship and its present success is the wholesale hanging out to dry of A.J. Pierzynski.

Heavens, we hate to dump on one man and blame him for the catastrophe fans endured for half the season, but if the yardarm has a noose…

Once the barnacle of A.J. had been taken off the burning deck of the Sox Concordia, we had something akin to a whale watch cruise. We would sail around Boston Harbor, looking at the seals being devoured by Great White Sharks.

Now it appears the Red Sox are not in worse shape than True Blood, killing off its key players in grand finale fashion.

It now appears that the Red Sox have sucked it up and become the newly christened contenders of the AL East.

Red Sox Awaken, But Is It in a Nick of Time?

DATELINE: HUMOR

Brock

Apparently when the Boston Celtics put us to sleep for the off-season, the Boston Red Sox woke up.

Their season long somnambulist cakewalk to the cellar of the American League may be the stuff of bad dreams. Now they have suddenly begun winning close games with walk-off hits and one run.

Can it be possible? It looks like 2013 all over again—well, at least this week.

No team has ever gone to the playoffs, let alone been a contender after such an abysmal start.

Yes, the Red Sox have awakened when the evil prince Pierzynski was banished to the land of Nod. During our nap, someone must have kissed the sleeping dog because he is barking up a storm.

We only wish those promised Celtics fireworks had awakened us earlier. We might not have nodded off on the Red Sox.

For a moment it did seem like a bad vacation week. We put on a game—and Don Orsillo’s molasses tones were absent. Instead we were given a rude awakening as NESN sent Orsillo on an unwanted one-week vacation while they tested new voices.

Yes, something evil has come this way—and we blame those weird sisters who own the Red Sox and NESN for this turn of a bubbling cauldron.

In the meantime we think Brock Holt looks like the latest in a line of charming princes. When they look like a star from lead-off, you know you have another Boston legend in the making.

Perhaps this brief resurgence of World Series form will fade as the sun sets earlier in August, but for a few days we feel that our gentle sleep continues with delightful dreams.

Belichick & Hernandez: Text Buddies

DATELINE: HUMOR

hitch

Bill Belichick knows when to reveal information. It’s only when he has to. Right now, his lawyer can do the talking. When he is on the witness stand during the Super Bowl festivities, things may get dicey.

This week he was tarred with a court revelation that there were 34 pages of text messages with serial killer Aaron Hernandez.

True to his word, Belichick did not address this bad publicity that makes him look like a dupe or a co-conspirator. Instead, he had his own Ninja lawyer come out of the shadows to reveal that the press leaks were wrong.

Belichick merely texted Hernandez 33 times between those seasonal murder sprees. Oh, thank heavens for that!

That does not exactly edit down the wordage from War and Peace to a haiku, but Bill Belichick still sent about 1000 words to Hernandez about unknown subjects during their brief off-kilter season.

With shortcut abbreviations and emoticons, we suspect that Bill could have squeezed 2000 words and a picture into his texts.

Perhaps all this friendly banter was merely the stuff of a father figure giving advice to his wayward son.

Perhaps we will have to wait for the trial, now set for the New Year of 2015, to learn what the twosome had to say to each other.

When your lawyer must start to become your spokesperson in the NFL, you may start to look over your shoulder. Something is unraveling in the career of Bill Belichick.

Beauty Under the Skin Reveals Beast

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

Skin Job

Jonathan Glazer makes movies on rare occasions.

His latest, after nearly ten years, is called Under the Skin, and it is a creepy on the cusp of science fiction weirdo.

As always, Glazer attracts big stars to his small projects, this time Scarlett Johansson who is stunning in a black wig. She mesmerizes as the beguiling alien whose mission is to feed unsuspecting blokes from Glasgow to her species of oily slicks.

The main character seems to look at these humans as some kind of ant colony, lacking any reason for sympathy. She mimics sexual allure to reel in the little fish.

At first you may wonder if she is another vampire on the prowl, or even an android in the vein of the Terminator. However, this is not your teenage boy’s idea of science fiction. There is a dearth of action, and no superhero to save the day. All those nude scenes belie something evil coming your way.

We once saw an Outer Limits show from the old days in which space aliens came to Earth and became corrupted by cigarettes and coffee to lose sight of their mission. So it is for Johansson’s featured creature. Chocolate cake may lead to sex, and their satisfying qualities may be lost if you are from some far off galaxy.

Under the Skin is slow-moving, methodical, and hypnotic. The music of Mica Levi provides the right métier of off-putting.

Each episode illuminates the situation in which a catatonic monster becomes a victim of her own space-shot mission.

 

Be sure to check out the new movie review book, DOCUMENTARY VERSUS DOCUDRAMA. It’s now available at Amazon.com in softcover and in ebook for smart readers.

You can analyze this metaphoric tale every which way, but it is a wonder to behold.

Another Grandiose Hotel Gives Multi-Star Treatment

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

Tony Revolori Lobby Boy

TONY REVOLORI READY FOR HIS CLOSEUP

 

Watching Grand Budapest Hotel is like peeling an onion.

Within each layer are many stars doing their part in a quirky movie. The tale seems to start out in the 1980s with an author telling why and how he came to write about a bizarre hotel and its denizens.

In a flashback, the older author becomes a young author when he meets an old man, purported to be the hotel owner, but he tells his story and flashes back to when Zero was the Lobby Boy under the tutelage of his mentor M. Gustav.

Somewhere in this ménage, you will find Jude Law, F. Murray Abraham, Tom Wilkerson, and a remarkable young actor Tony Revolori.

Amid the splendor of colors, every scene is overdressed with superfluous details. The set designer seems to have gone off his meds, and distractions to the eye abound. In some circles this is considered an artful movie. In other circles, it starts a dizzy migraine.

Pretentious and compelling, it is a grandiose hotel, either mocking or giving homage to the first Grand Hotel.

Ralph Fiennes plays M. Gustav, the concierge of the hotel who provides its older lady patrons (and oldest patrons) with service with a smile while serving them. He seems to be gay with an hot streak for his Lobby Boy to the rest of the world.

Some of the movie becomes a game like in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World where you wait for the next star to pop up and do his cameo in some kind of Bavarian mustache and cute demeanor.

Critics fawned all over this movie because Wes Anderson directed with his usual overstatement. We couldn’t stop watching, but binge eating and binge drinking are never a good habit to develop.