The Nine Lives of Alfredo Aceves



ELFEGO BACA                             ALFREDO ACEVES

Like the proverbial bad penny, the badass Alfredo Aceves has turned up in the starting rotation again. Not since the New Mexican lawman of legend and Disney fame named Elfego Baca has there been a cat with more lives.

The Red Sox are nothing if not persistent. They won’t give up on a player until the lynch mob storms Gate D. There will always be a contingent of supporters of the most heinous of all types. Heaven knows, there are fan club social media followers for one of the Marathon bombers.

So, Aceves surely deserves much more support than that lowlife. His biggest crime is being a bonehead. If he wins the Memorial Day game, he will enjoy a herald not seen since Josh Beckett treated the team to fried chicken.

If John Lackey can reform his character and rebuild his body, then Alfredo can conjure up a second act in his Boston career.

Old Western hero Elfego Baca could take on a lineup of tough cowpokes and live to become a lifetime sheriff and civil servant who managed to fire up his own myth. Maybe Aceves can inspire a Walt Disney movie.

If Alfredo Aceves can mow down a tough lineup and live to start again, he could become a new Mexican legend.

Elfego could hold off an army of bad guys all by himself for thirty hours. We simply want Alfredo to hold off a barrage of hitters for three hours.

In lieu of sleepyhead Clay Buchholz, we have called in the reserves, led by Aceves, who must stay awake and stave off his own demotion back to Pawtucket.




Be sure to read William Russo’s two season coverage of the Red Sox in RED SOX 2011: A WHIMSICAL AUTOPSY and the followup RED SOX 2012: BOBBY VALENTINE’S SEASON IN HELL. Both can be found on in softcover or e-book format.

Showdown Between Genuine Star and Young Whelp











Fracture in 2007 pitted grand actor Anthony Hopkins in a battle of wits with young up-and-comer Ryan Gosling.  If you were expecting the torch of acting generations to be passed, you’d be torched in a different way.




The plot revolves around how a mysterious billionaire (Hopkins) on trial for shooting his wife makes mincemeat of a supercilious and arrogant assistant prosecutor (Gosling). We didn’t expect to see Frederic March and Spencer Tracy battling in Inherit the Wind, nor see Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole matching wits in Becket. We didn’t even see Gloria Swanson trump William Holden with a couple of bullets.




It’s no contest in the movie plot, and there is a lesser contest in the acting chops. The Hopkins character out-bests the Gosling character at every turn. It is even more pitiful in the thespian arena. The young star would have given Lee Strasberg a Method headache.




It would be unfair to call Gosling an empty suit. He fills his pants with amplitude. Yet, there is about him something of a blank page in personality. Whatever he plays on screen rings false. He’s a movie star, not a character actor.




Hopkins even in his youthful days opposite Peter O’Toole in Lion in Winter was a requisite character actor as Richard the Lion-Hearted. Here in his later career, Hopkins has to play off the script, which seems to take pleasure in making a laughingstock of the Hollywood leading men of today.




Too bad no one let Ryan Gosling in on the joke. He plays the role with everything in his arsenal and still seems outgunned. Alas, there are too many scenes with Gosling, and not enough with Hopkins.




The movie production plays the movie plot, and therein comes the insider pleasure. Fracture satisfies the audience in ways they may never have expected, but they used to do it better every week on the old Columbo shows.





You may sample other movie insights and reviews in MOVIES TO SEE –OR NOT TO SEE by William Russo. The book is available in both e-book and softcover on

Red Sox Player Injured While Sleeping



Red Sox star pitcher Clay Buchholz is having the year of his life, winning every game so far, up to seven.

Alas, he will not make a stab at number eight on Memorial Day, owing to his mattress.

This is disconcerting for Pedro Martinez and the furniture company that bills itself as the “official”  company of the Boston Red Sox. You may recall seeing Pedro sleeping on a bed in the locker room. He insists he needs his “Beauty Rest.”

Buchholz will miss a start because he slept the “wrong way.”

Yes, now it appears that the Sox pitchers need a training program on the correct way to sleep. Since Buchholz looks like he just rolled out of bed whenever we see him, we are a bit surprised that baseball players have trouble with their sleep habits.

Starting pitchers only wake up once every five or six days to throw the ball. Now we discover that their days off are fraught with danger.

Most people sleep only in a few different positions, we cannot figure out whether the fetal position has done in the Sox starter from Texas.

We worry that memory foam bedding may be too hard for Red Sox players. Not since the Goldilocks scandal of legend have we heard that a pea under the mattress could prevent a good night’s sleep.

Standard equipment for the Red Sox from now on will have to include sheets and pillowcases. Sox pitching staffers are now being told not to fall asleep with the trap door to their union suits wide open.

In the meantime, Sox players will sleep with one eye open.


To wake up on the shenanigans of past Red Sox teams, we recommend you read RED SOX 2011: A WHIMSICAL AUTOPSY. It is available on in softcover and ebook.

Behinds & the Candelabra




Wiggy 2


After maligning Alfred Hitchcock in an earlier HBO Film this year, the cable network is swinging again for the fences.


If you were hoping for Mommie Dearest (never mind Sunset Boulevard), you may be disappointed with shameless shenanigans of Behind the Candelabra.


If you’re awaiting sharp and memorable dialogue, or something we never see in actual theatrical movies nowadays, you would be justified to have your hopes tinkling by the ivories. The sex scenes between the stars should have stayed between the sheets.


Michael Douglas and Matt Damon are genuine movie stars—and their participation in a biographical movie on Liberace must be taken as more than a TV movie of the week.


Steven Spielberg started out making TV movies, and Stephen Soderbergh has ended up making them.


The salacious and juicy themes include May-December romance, palimony, plastic surgery for youthful looks and mind control, drug usage, gay relationships, fame and its corrosive effects, and onward to every excess of Las Vegas showtime. It’s a powerful set-up with opera bouffe chords.


What ultimately becomes a horror is the plastic surgery and physical changes to the actors who make amazing transformations.


With Debbie Reynolds, Dan Ackroyd and Rob Lowe unrecognizable, you may be agog at the special effects as much as the acting.  Liberace never sings his trademark, “I’ll be seeing you,” in this sad saga. And, after this movie, we may never want to see Lee in the moonlight again.


Between the sex scenes with Damon and Douglas and their astounding wigs, we felt like we were on a bad acid trip. Ultimately, the story becomes wiggy laundry of thoroughly unpleasant people.  


Pardon us if we are shocked that what we have here is a player piano with one roll and a pocket full of quarters. We can name that tune in two-bits.





Blogger Eats His Words Over Red Sox



If we cut our teeth by chewing broken glass, you can understand how hard it is to eat our own words.

And distasteful too.

The Red Sox have catapulted back into first place as June is ready to bust out after a washout Memorial Day weekend.

With two walk-off wins against Terry Francona’s Cleveland Indians, the owners in their box may have pause to be smug. Smarmy Ben Cherington may find his smarm is sharper than a serpent’s tooth.

How is that the Red Sox are able to pull off their amazing season so far? Injuries have plagued them more than the Pharoah’s army chasing Moses.

Perhaps the reason is that the Red Sox are more likely to be the minions of Moses than the Red Sea Sox of the Pharaoh known as John Henry.

That man with a mission turns out to be John Farrell, clearly the right man to lead his team out of the desert where Bobby Valentine left them for dead.

Jacoby Ellsbury is the latest hero after a floundering two months of the season. Whether this marks his turnaround or merely marks a fire hydrant in May only these entries will show.

Despite all our foul ball calling during April and May, we must doff our Red Sox cap and note duly that these are not last year’s dirty Sox.

After two seasons of nasty zingers aimed at the ineptitude of the front office, medical staff, players, and managers, we are now faced with the opportunity to turn on our heels and offer a salute to a team that disdains superstars for winning smiles.

Perhaps grit and elbow grease are the true marks of a champion. It must be because at the Sunday game, sitting in the Monster Seats, as a fan, was Trot Nixon who once upon a time was the epitome of Red Sox grit.



Be sure to read William Russo’s Red Sox books, available on  RED SOX 2011: A WHIMSICAL AUTOPSY and RED SOX 2012: BOBBY VALENTINE’S SEASON IN HELL will give you the heebie-jeebies.

Carl Panzram is the Real Thing



ImageCarl Panzram: the Spirit of Hatred and Vengeance is one of the most chilling documentaries about a serial killer and vile human being. It is worth every uncomfortable and squeamish moment to study.


Panzram wrote 40,000 words at the behest of a guard named Henry Lesser who encouraged him in 1928 to tell his twisted and horrifying life story. The guard smuggled the pencil script out of the prison (against regulations) and unsuccessfully tried to publish it for 40 years. No one wanted to read it or to believe it.


Now on DVD and streaming video comes a documentary film, reenacting the scenes related by Lesser as an elderly man in an interview from the 1970s.


Panzram will haunt you for his timeless sense of life and death. He was self-educated, brutal and brutalized, and admitted to sodomizing thousands of men in his life, most by rape. He is the epitome of 21st century violence and hatred, caught in a time warp that defied credibility in the early years of the 20th century.


If man’s inhumanity to man ever needed confirmation, the life of Panzram provides definitive evidence.


John DiMaggio reads the words of Panzram during the re-enactments with chilling effect. Henry Lesser, the man who encouraged the autobiography and smuggled it out of the prison, is seen in archival interview footage. Their unlikely ‘friendship’ bespeaks of someone seeing an unusual quality in the killer—which we would never call redeeming. Lesser made the right decision to document this bizarre case of human psychology.


A battery of psychologists and criminologists weigh in, but their words are hollow next to the sharp, clear, incisive prose of Panzram.


The story is so disturbing that no traditional movie version with a big name star has appeared, though we would never rule it out as time marches on.


In the meantime, real horror is far beyond the manufactured stuff of moviemakers. This is not for the squeamish.

You may sample William Russo’s movie reviews in MOVIES TO SEE–OR NOT TO SEE, now available in softcover and e-book formats on

Under The Red Tent and Soviet Big Top







The Red Tent, largely ignored and forgotten, turns out to be one of those lost treasures. Its anonymity came mostly because of the Cold War mentality in 1969—and it may have been viewed as Soviet propaganda. The Russians are the good guys.




Whether it may have been accurate or not, the tale was a true one about humanity in face of Nature’s cruelty. Heroes come in all stripes; we are the ones who denigrate or honor the worthy.




The movie’s conceit is brilliant. Aged General Nobile (Peter Finch), survivor of an unmitigated disaster, in his dotage has the ghosts of the dead visit him to hold a court martial.




Through that device we learn the true story of an ill-fated and ill-conceived trek to the North Pole on a dirigible by the Italians in 1928.




Why anyone would fly to the North Pole in a balloon is the stuff of hot air, but it happened.  Disaster was written all over this tale—the subplot remains the hubris of Nobile to begin with. And he knows it.




Eight crewmen and Nobile’s small dog crash land in the fallen gondola of the ship—and the rest are taken into oblivion, flying away on a wayward kite into the annals of history. From the debris the remaining men must make a camp and pray for rescue.




Dr. Roald Amundsen, the only other man who made it to the Pole at the time, must come to the rescue in the person of Sean Connery. He looks like he fell through a time machine. He looks just like he would in the 21st century, proving the makeup effects were prescient.




Though Amundsen thinks the dirigible crew cannot survive for long on an ice floe, we know that if Sean Connery is in the movie, they will be rescued by him. Won’t they?




However, it is a Russian youth on his amateur radio who hears a transmission, which sends the icebreaker Krassin from the Soviets to the Pole in a mission that may have more positive publicity than actual goodwill at its heart.




The rescue turns out to be a tragedy of errors and ineptitude.




Claudia Cardinale shows up as one of the most beautiful women of the 1960s, and she joins Hardy Kruger, one of the most beautiful men of the decade. They are along for the ride.




You may be forgiven if you confused this epic with the other snow-bound 1960s tale Ice Station Zebra. This one is the movie of a different stripe, and much better for it.




 William Russo’s collection of movie reviews and recommendations is called MOVIES TO SEE–OR NOT TO SEE. You will find it on in both e-book and softcover editions.




Boston Red Sox: the New Glass Managerie


Pardon us if we begin to call the 2013 Red Sox by another sobriquet: The Glass Menagerie.


We tip our hat to Tennessee Williams as we steal another of his ideas. The plot of this update centers on a timid fan that is afraid to criticize Red Sox ownership.


This fan collects delicate cut-glass animals and makes her captive zoo. If you begin to see the parallel to the Red Sox, you know this animal habitat features some of the most delicate of all baseball animals.


The unicorn must fall and break off his horn for the magic to wear off.


So far, every unicorn on the Red Sox seems to be ready to shatter. The latest unicorns are Will Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino. They already have exhibited cracks in the mainframe this season, but are out again. If you want to see them, go to the zoo of the disabled animals.


That’s the place where you find Andrew Bailey off and on, Joel Hanrahan, the Davids Ortiz and Ross, Stephen Drew, and the Hall of Fame members of the Glass Menagerie: Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Napoli. We know they’ll be put out to pasture sooner or later.


Unicorn horns are not the problem. On the Red Sox menagerie, you will find assorted players with sore backs, twisted arms, concussed brains, and foot problems.


Whether bad physical training, bad medical prognosis, or just bad management by the front office is responsible, we cannot tell. But, smarmy Ben Cherington seems to have the biggest collection of blown glass in the entire zoo league.


You may want to sample more of the humor of William Russo such as RED SOX 2011: A WHIMSICAL AUTOPSY. It is available at in both e-book and softcover.


Red Sox Love Song: J. Alfred Prufrock & J. Alfred Ellsbury




T.S. Eliot may have actually had the answer when it came to the conundrum known as Red Sox centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.

Let us go then when the evening game is spread out against the sky like a base stealer etherized in his slide to second base—and lately sliding to oblivion.

If you ask fans what happened to Jacoby, you will hear the sound of muttering retreats, of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels.

The women may indeed talk of Michelangelo and Jacoby when they come and go. Ellsbury remains in a yellow fog while Scott Boras insists there will be time; yes, there will be time for his star to emerge as a superstud.

In the meantime, Jacoby wonders, “Do I dare?” and “Do I dare?” But Ellsbury has measured out his life in broken ribs and the fear that another injury will shatter him like glass.

Right now the media has him pinned, wriggling against that monster big wall. How shall he begin a career as a superstar at age 30? In another venue?

Jacoby has seen the Red Sox batboy hold his jockstrap and snicker. In short, he has been afraid of the crashing catch and the desperate slide. He has already come back like Lazarus from the dead, but he bit the matter off with a smile.

Poor Jacoby. He is not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be. He is a serviceable center, one that will do to start a game or two. He is deferential, glad to be of use, politic, cautious, and meticulous.

Will Ellsbury dare to eat a peach? He heard the mermaids singing for one season, but now he is wrapped in seaweed.


You might consider reading SHAKESPEARE IN SPORTS & OTHER LITERARY HORRORS for the metaphoric truth on sports.  Now available in softcover and e-book on

Celtics Sign Pope Francis as New Point Guard




In a shameless move to win a papal dispensation, the Boston Celtics signed Pope Francis as a replacement for Kevin Garnett.


The Celtics don’t expect the Pope, who will wear Number One, to walk on water, but they do expect him to perform at least one miracle to bring the team another banner.


Of course, Garnett may resurrect for another season and make the pontiff merely another benchwarmer for Doc Rivers.


One of the Celtics limited minority owners met the Pope and gave him a jersey, looking for any prayer. A minority owner in Boston is never a Catholic, but James Pallotta needs to apply.


Since Celtics prayers have been unanswered for the past few seasons, ownership may be looking to petition the Lord with prayer.


Pope Francis reportedly is a Heat fan, but showed good sportsmanship when faced with one of many empty Celtics jerseys that fans have seen lately.


Observers of the Celtics note that Rajon Rondo may not take lightly the notion that another holy man will rival his own Messiah-ship of the team.


Rondo expects to have his resurrection in the upcoming season after giving the team a sermon on Beacon Hill.


Worse, Rondo has learned that the Pope will wear the Shoes of the Fisherman on the court. Only Rondo can wear the specially designated fluorescent slippers of a pontiff.


Pope Rondo IX may mean there shall be three popes (Francis, Benedict, and Rajon) during the Celtics season.


You can never have too many unanswered prayers.




 Read the new book by William Russo, his sequel to the first Rondo book:  RAJON RONDO & THE GREEN NEBULA is available in softcover and in e-book formats.


Jim Kirkwood told me much about the story behind his first autobiographical novel THERE MUST BE A PONY, and many years after his passing, I gathered together my notes and wrote what he told me. The result was a book called RIDING JAMES KIRKWOOD’S PONY.

I may not tell all the secrets of James Kirkwood, but I reveal all he wanted me to tell. When the television movie came out, he referred to the stars as Robert Wagon and Elizabeth Trailer. Suffice it to say, he was unhappy with the movie.

Overpaid Boston Sports Coaches, or Boston’s Robber Barons



ImageForbes Magazine once again has released its Top Ten Overpaid Coaches’ list. And, Boston’s empty trophy case for 2012-13 makes their coaches look like Robber Barons.

Coaches across the boards were lumped into one big financial Ponzi scheme. Comparing professional sports coaches from football, basketball, baseball, and hockey, likely means one thing: we can see that baseball and hockey are not major league pay-checkers.

We won’t conclude that bag boys at the local supermarket make more than the likes of Terry Francona of the Cleveland Indians or John Farrell of the Red Sox, but these guys will need a part-time job in the post-season to compete with the magnates of NFL and NBA.

You guessed it: the cost of living in Boston requires that coaches receive large salaries. Expense accounts are optimal.

Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers hit the heights at Number 4, despite not winning Banner 18. Making more than any other NBA coach makes him a champion in any league.

John Farrell and Claude Julien, of the Red Sox and Bruins, ended up on the short end of the pay stub. They aren’t even on the laundry list.

New England Patriots Head Bill Belichick has run the table of paystubs for two years running, but must try harder next year. Like Avis car rentals, he has fallen behind his number one rival:  Sean Payton now leads the national market at Numero Uno.

This rank is not bad when you consider Payton was suspended last year by his league for cheating.

Actually giving coaches the “gate” has a new meaning. Belichick had Spygate and Payton had Bountygate. Neither gate left the coaches on the outside. Their gates are swinging in profit.

Who said crime doesn’t pay?


You may want to read William Russo’s stories about the New England Patriots team in his book NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS UNDRESSSED! available in softcover and e-book on

Wherefore Art Thou, Jacoby Ellsbury?



So far this season, speedy centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury has not broken ribs colliding with a teammate. He has not separated his shoulder sliding into second base. He has not hit a lick either.

In what his super-agent Scott Boras felt would be a breakout year leading to a super contract, Ellsbury has exhibited a broken bat and a breakdown in spirit.

Once vaunted as the face of the Red Sox for the future, Ellsbury has coveted privacy more than Greta Garbo at the height of her movie star career. It has not played in Boston.

No one knows the trouble Jacoby has seen. No one knows Jacoby. He is as quiet as a church mouse during the big Sunday service.

This is not exactly the stuff of mega-million dollar playing and paying contracts.

In the Massachusetts Bay state where Myles Standish needed a stand-in to propose to the woman of his dreams, Ellsbury seems to be sending a pale shadow to the batter’s box.

We might ask Jacoby to speak for himself, or just to speak. He is so vanilla in his style that he makes wallpaper jump off the wall.

There will be no MVP talk this season for Jacoby. There will be no Comeback of the Year.  He is providing a body in the lineup, not much else.

With the big 3-0 looming on his birthday calendar, Ellsbury may leave Boston with all the fanfare of Roger Williams being tossed out of Boston 300 years ago. Williams went south and founded Rhode Island. Ellsbury will be likely to be found by a hopeful but dubious pennant winner.

Ellsbury may go west before trade deadline, but he is not a young man any longer. And, the Scott Boras Gold Rush may be bring him back to his home in Seattle with little more than a few stolen bases on his scorecard.


You may read more about Jacoby Ellsbury and all the Red Sox in the books RED SOX 2011: A WHIMSICAL AUTOPSY and RED SOX 2012: BOBBY VALENTINE’S SEASON IN HELL, available on in e-book and softcover.

Red Sox Part the American League



A pack of .250 hitters may be the answer.

If you thought mediocrity was mediocre, you haven’t looked at the Red Sox of 2013. They seem to be less than high caliber, but they are not shooting blanks. The team has spit in the eye of most experts; most experts picked the Bosox for the cellar mat.

The miracle of 2013 is they are capable of parting the Red Sox Sea. Let’s hope they don’t end up wandering in the desert for 40 years.

red sox sea

Yet, there seems to be something intangible at work in the “so-called” chemistry. After two years of our pontificating complaints that the most humorless teams were playing baseball in Boston, someone listened. We have a change of socks at last. The stink is gone.

This team may not be funny—but it is attuned to the world around them, which is a giant leap for mankind over the Beckett Chicken Bucket Era.

The present group has “character” as the ownership group likes to say. And, wisely, the owners have stayed about as low profile as egomaniacal owners can. King John Henry VIII has kept such a low image that we almost think he has abdicated as the kingpin.

Don’t misunderstand us. We love the new Red Sox with warts, flaws, and second-rate underdog mentality.

Somebody down in Texas seems to have turned on the Bunsen burner and put Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz into the hot seat. They have pitched this season like Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. With a couple of rainouts as befits Spahn and Sain, you have a pennant in the making.

A few players have not been as advertised, and others have been exactly as advertised. It makes the prognosticators a humble batch with no breakout star carrying the team, though we would nod and blink to the horses like David Ortiz and Daniel Nava.

Dustin Pedroia is a staple in the centerfold picture, but it’s what holds the magazine clip together.

With Mother’s Day crossed off the calendar and Memorial Day signifying the sound and fury of summer to come, we want to believe the season will continue till fall for the boys.



If you believe in the Red Sox, you need to read RED SOX 2011: A WHIMSICAL AUTOPSY and/or RED SOX 2012: BOBBY VALENTINE’S SEASON IN HELL. Both are available on in e-book or softcover.

Red Sox Pitcher Plays with His Head


Andrew Miller has been a mop up reliever for the Red Sox for his second season.

So far, his major claim to fame is that he could guard Kevin Garnett, owing to his height of 6’8”.  Alas, he plays baseball and has to pitch middle innings and hold the opposition from scoring.

On a typical cold spring night in Minnesota, Miller was ready to pitch in the eighth inning, but his team had to bat. As he was turned away from the play on the field, his catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a foul shot into the dugout that ricocheted off a wall and into the forehead of Miller.

The lanky and downright scruffy pitcher heard only the whistle of a referee. Unfortunately there are no referees in baseball, and he heard the speed of a batted ball as it told him to duck.

The ball conked Miller on the noggin. A hit to his forehead did not phase him.

As far as could be determined, the ball was taken out of play for having a dent. Miller was unhurt. We are not sure if talking to Andrew Miller is like talking to cement, but he better pay attention when his battery mate is at the plate.

No charges of battery would be filed against Saltalamacchia, despite his painted fingernails that are surely a provocation to any pitcher.

Miller went to the mound for the ninth inning still wondering what hit him. In an age of concussed teammates, Miller seems to have beaten the rap.

Check out the sports books of William Russo (and more) at