Jose Iglesias: Spectre de la Pickle

 

 DATELINE: HUMOR!

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Premiere danseur of the Boston Red Sox Jose Iglesias hit a hot shot off the Green Monster, and he must have thought the ball had gone to Kenmore Square. He went to Detroit not too long after hitting it.

He began chugging around first base like there was a firecracker tied to his tail. He was choreographing on the run.

However, a funny thing happened on the way to second base: the ball was there waiting for him. Later in the night, so was a trade to another team. Never has a base running path ended up so costly.

Making like Nijinsky doing his dance from Spectre de la Rose at the Mariinsky Theatre for the Ballets Russes, Iggy jumped to the wall side of second base with his semi-slide, avoiding the tag.

He made a reach in to find the bag, but the shortstop blocked him as if he were protecting Tom Brady who was playing without a tutu.

In a sudden change of heart, Iglesias jumped up and started back toward first base, clearly of the mind he should recover his originally intended spot on the field.

Surprised that he had pirouetted out of several tags, the Mariner infield tried to pickle him in a run-down, but he avoided the first baseman’s tag and headed back to the base of choice.

Alas, with the crowd now going out of their minds, he met a tag without a sale price. He was out and had to race back to the dugout faster than he ran to second. The afternoon of the faun was over.

An unsmiling manager, John Dudley-Do-Right Farrell was not a happy camper, but the other players in the dugout clearly had fun with the scampering third baseman who made a gaffe that would be unacceptable as one of the rites of spring training.

Jose himself was morose to the jibes of his teammates and the bonhomie he won from the fans. Within an hour he was dog meat in a tutu himself. We will miss Iggy’s personal pop.

http://williamrusso.us

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Making the Right Call in MLB

DATELINE: HUMOR!

For the second time in a week Red Sox player Daniel Nava had brainlock on the base paths. It cost a second game while the Sox fight for first place.

Since the Sox were never expected to contend with this crew, we can say, “Oh, well,” and shrug it off as expecting too much from too little.

Others may complain the umpires have made bad calls and seem more than willing to put the Red Sox back into the pack.

Replay showed Nava was safe at home, though the umpire was the only person who didn’t see it that way. We almost feel like there is a conspiracy to put another team into first place.

When umpires admit their mistakes, it seems they just continue on the road. Umpires who are egregious may not call a game with the offended team again for the rest of the season. That appears to be the cockamamie policy of MLB.

The sport does not feel they need to find better umpires.

With a coveted job to be a major league umpire, the best the sport can do is find arrogant and dumb umps who fulfill only the promise of seeing, hearing, and speaking no evil.

In generations past, there seemed to be much better, more professional umpires who called games with steadiness and never injected their own foibles into the pennant race.

We have an uncomfortable memory of the NFL replacement referees. Is it possible that MLB has given these stiffs new jobs in a new sport?

We almost want to propose that MLB give these thankless jobs to the suspended PED users like Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez. Now that would be a suitable cruel punishment.

Broken City Needs Little Fixing

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP!

 BROKEN

‘If it ain’t broke,’….as the old saying goes.

 

Broken City is a throwback to the film noir detective films of the 1940s and 1950s, only the corrupt cities like that in Kansas City Confidential is even more broken than ever. Sleaze is the new normal.

 

Russell Crowe is the bully mayor of the Big Apple in a desperate race to save his job from being voted out of office by a young preppie hotshot (Barry Pepper) who wants to out corruption.

 

Crowe’s wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones in another strong supporting role) is no help. The twosome are stunning in their parts, bringing star power and acting chops that belong to the grand studio age of a half-century past.

 

Mark Wahlberg is the blue-collar cop, sent into private detective life after a scandalous shooting where the man with the gun beats the rap of shooting an unarmed punk. If it seems ripped from the headlines, it is only slightly less offensive than the reference to Emile Griffith as ‘a fag.’ It seems to be a ‘gay’ leitmotif in the loafers department in this plot.

 

Wahlberg looks worn out, but he is no Robert Mitchum. He is in over his head when the bully Mayor asks him to find the dirt of his cheating wife. Jeffrey Wright as the police commissioner is one of the top-notch costars.

 

After New York’s Rep. Weiner and his sexting habits, we are not much surprised by the scandals Wahlberg’s character uncovers in the rest of the characters.

 

Movies like this one usually follow a pattern. They either go off the deep end in ridiculous layers upon layers, or they throw a curve and become more intriguing and harder to figure out.

 

This film happily becomes one of the latter, twisting bedmates and groping at a  ‘who sleeps with whom’ issue to a gossipy murder mystery.

 

We feel fortunate to have uncovered another character-based drama, clearly disliked by the special effects and noisy soundtrack crowd. If you are an intelligent viewer, do yourself a favor and watch this movie.

 

Produced by Wahlberg and directed by Allen Hughes.

Recently released, MOVIE MASHUP: Streaming Views & Demanding Reviews is now available in softcover and e-book, featuring over 100 collected reviews of today’s hits and yesteryear’s classics on Amazon.com.

 

 

 

Ortiz Nearly Cracks Open Pedroia’s Cranium

DATELINE: HUMOR!

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Hold the phone!  David Ortiz looks like Godzilla smashing Tokoyo! See Video!

After enjoying a season of unprecedented good press, David Ortiz was feeling more beloved than ever before in his career. The only exceptions are his ex-wife and the umpires.

Though his private life remains private, his public life went ballistic in Baltimore.

After a bad strike one call, Ortiz was incensed. It gave us a true sense of the bad temper of Big Papi. He then managed to swing and miss on strike three. This is a normal range strike-out unless you are a man of the stature of David Ortiz.

Perhaps his hemorrhoids were bothering him. Perhaps room service did not send up the right snack the night before at the hotel, but something set him off.

He decided to take a bat to the dugout phone to the bullpen in an abrupt explosion of inconsideration to the manager’s right to call on a closer.

Worse yet, Ortiz swung the long bat and nearly decapitated the impish Dustin Pedroia who had the misfortune of sitting in the wrong place at the wrong time. Pieces of telephone rained down on the latest $100 million dollar man in baseball.

This display likely did not please Ben Cherington. You don’t want to see the future face of the franchise done in by the aging slugger.

Ortiz was ejected by the umpires, but perhaps the Red Sox need to suspend their hothead from a dugout seat. Make him go immediately into the clubhouse after each at-bat.

On a night that Stephen Drew hit two home runs (not Big Papi) and the Sox seemingly broke out of a slump (no thanks to Ortiz), the big story is the designated hitter on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Read RED SOX 2012: BOBBY VALENTINE’S SEASON IN HELL to find out more about David Ortiz. Available on Amazon.com in e-book format.

Quartet Sounds Like a Rap on Old Age

 

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP!

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Maggie Smith with Pauline Collins

Can we really be on a roll of great character driven dramas?

Quartet is a surprise, not because the cast features all the old stars of British series like Upstairs/Downstairs and Downton Abbey, but because the director is not one of those BBC high-brow types. It is American actor Dustin Hoffman.

To gather together a bunch of aged in the wood actors, you need a rather special setting; in this case it is Beecham Home for Musicians, a retirement community of former opera people, from singers to instrumentalists.

Into the fray comes a diva of particular reputation that throws the happy life of comfortable people out of whack as they wait for their onset of Alzheimer’s to send them round the bend.

Maggie Smith’s hoity toity dame comes in with an aura of elite disdain and a tad of self-pity for having come to this last stop: living in a communal setting. Old creative people may have survived because of their talents and abilities, but that doesn’t make waiting for that good night any easier.

A long-standing difference between Maggie Smith’s character and Tom Courtney’s character sends the light drama into deeper tragedy. Does old age ameliorate old feuds?

The movie is bittersweet, casting the standbys of a generation ago in what could be one of their final bows.

It is reminiscent of when Lillian Gish, Bette Davis, and Vincent Price did Whales of August so many years ago as their swan song.

Dustin Hoffman does a lovely, sensitive job with directing the film and surrounding us with beautiful music.

You can find William Russo’s latest collection of movie reviews on Amazon.com under the title MOVIE MASHUP: STREAMING VIEWS & DEMANDING REVIEWS.

http://williamrusso.us

Red Sox Meet a Slump, a Speed Bump, & a Pothole

DATELINE: HUMOR!

Mother of Mercy, can this be the end of the Red Sox in 2013? The road to glory seems to have run out of pavement.

After a glorious 100-game run, spending most of the time in first place in the hearts of Red Sox Nation, the home town team seems to have hit a bump in the road. At least there are no sinkholes ahead.

Yes, the Red Sox are no longer in sole possession of the top spot to the playoffs. They are in their first slump of the season. When your first slump comes as the dog days of August are about to dawn, you may either celebrate or worry.

The last time a Red Sox team came into a late season slump, they went into the poop shute faster than you can say Carl Crawford.

We are less inclined to worry this time. There is no way they can equal the sinking of the titanic team of 2011, which stands as a benchmark of hubris.

This time their bats have gone soft. We have not exactly seen a team with endless home run power, but their ability to make timely hits has won more games than expected.

Now the bats, like the guns over Flanders Field, have gone silent. Scarce heard below are the dead Sox of previous seasons hoping the present underdogs have caught the torch and will hold it high.

Short days ago the Sox won, Iglesias batted .400, and John Lackey looked like an ace, but now the Sox are starting to look like the embalmed teams of the past.

Cheer up, fans! This may be only an aberration on the road to the World Series. A team with character knows their fate is in the hands of the hot batter.

 

For those wanting to relive history, you could do it with panache while reading RED SOX 2011: A WHIMSICAL AUTOPSY, which is on Amazon.com in ebook and softcover formats.

Paul Pierce Wishes He Were Dustin Pedroia

DATELINE: HUMOR!

Dustin Pedroia signed an eight-year lifetime contract with the Red Sox this week.

If you thought the Red Sox would be gunshy for a long-term multi-million dollar contract after Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and Josh Beckett, you may have found the signing of Dustin Pedroia a return to past addictions.

After divesting themselves of bad contracts, the Red Sox insisted that signing Pedroia through 2021 was good business sense. They noted that Dustin would be a lifer for the Sox.

In an age when lifers like Paul Pierce are sent packing, this seems a bit arrogant. By the time 2020 rolls around, there will be a groundswell of nasty-minded fans who will claim that Pedroia’s best years were behind him, that he had lost a step in his game, and that his glory days were over.

You can count on it. Paul Pierce never thought it would happen, but it’s a business. Dustin Pedroia will have a gaggle of Sox fans demanding that they trade him while he still has value.

History often repeats itself. Indeed, we see the writing on the contract. Pedroia was smarter than Pierce. According to reports, Dustin insisted on a no-trade contact. Pierce wishes now that he had made the same proviso.

Millions of dollars is small consolation when you want to grow old in your familiar haunt. Note how unhappy Paul Pierce seemed when he gave his Brooklyn Net press conference. The money was not as important as the loyalty to one place.

Yet, there were many who wanted Pierce shipped out of town. Pedroia may have more self-determination, but when the fans call for his head, he may acquiesce to the mounting cacophony.

Lifetime contracts are not what they used to be.

Lincoln & Belichick Compared and Contrasted

 DATELINE: HUMOR!

We have been resoundingly chastised for our comparison of Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” to the “Hernandez Address,” given by Bill Belichick.

You’d think people would little note, nor long remember what a blogger says.

We tried to do some homework when comparing the 150-year anniversary of the 1863 Lincoln speech with the Belichick moment in 2013.

Let’s face it: Lincoln beat the master of brevity on this one.  When Belichick speaks for more than three minutes, it is a momentous occasion.

Lincoln spoke for only three minutes. Belichick’s opening comments went over eight minutes. The contrast here stunned audiences in both cases who expected more and less.

Lincoln wrote his speech on the back of an envelope. Belichick carried a small index card to the podium. That speech in Pennsylvania was less than 300 words whereas that speech in Foxboro went on for over 800 words.

At Gettysburg people thought they could be fashionably late to Lincoln’s speech and still hear plenty. How wrong they were. Anyone figuring the Belichick speech would give them a chance to run to the bathroom in a few minutes had to hold their water.

There were over 20 live shot cameras at the Belichick speech, giving us HD images of the coach’s pores. There was only one distant camera at Gettysburg giving us a grainy photo of Lincoln in the pouring rain.

Lincoln’s address put the nation into context and spotlight of importance. Belichick noted that this is ‘real life’ to people who usually see football in fantasy terms.

Most critics at the time disdained Lincoln’s speech as not showing enough respect to the honored dead who lost their lives in a tragic battle of titantic proportions. Belichick’s speech has been lauded for showing respect for one dead murder victim.

Yet, both men showed humility and melancholy over the situations they faced.

Maybe the comparison is not so laughable after all.

 

 

The Bill Belichick Address on Aaron Hernandez

DATELINE: HUMILITY!

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A visibly nervous Bill Belichick gave perhaps the longest, most thorough explanation of process and feelings of his football coaching in his career.

The New England Patriots coach may have shocked critics by making any number of pronouncements. He tried to answer questions, mindful of the legal issues. He expressed his sorrow, his hurt, and his shock.

Following a ten-minute speech that rivaled the length of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, the NFL coach gave an accounting that likely pleased the NFL, his ownership, his players, and the fans.

The media remained respectful in their questions—and Bill Belichick gave sober and human answers.

“This is real life,” he stated about the seriousness of the case. Someone has been murdered. A family has lost a young man.

If there was any moment to stagger the mind, it was the split screen of Aaron Hernandez standing in the dock, listening to his probable cause hearing. He may as well have been hearing the words of Belichick reverberate.

Hernandez toned down his laser vision and seemed now a bit more under his counsel’s advice. He wore a sport coat and remained attentive as the words of his former coach in his press conference dominated the screen. He looked grizzled and mean as usual.

The irony of the proceedings is the fact that more murder charges are in the wings. How much this affected Belichick’s contrite and mournful address may not be important yet.

Suffice it to say, Bill Belichick likely changed more minds than he has ever in a hundreds of press addresses.

He had a wider stage, and he took his important big scene to play it like James Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  He took on his role with all the aplomb of Lee Strasberg playing Hyman Roth in The Godfather.

However you rated his showmanship, Bill Belichick was compelling and gave the performance of his life.

Red Sox Mystery Day Off for Ellsbury

DATELINE: HUMOR! 

Jacoby Ellsbury needed a day off against the team breathing down their necks in the pennant race.

If you needed any explanation as to why Dustin Pedroia has been given a seven-year contract (and Ellsbury will move on), you have the symbolic game of the season.

We still think the 2012 proposal to package Jon Lester and Jacoby Ellsbury in a deal makes the most sense.

Alas, it also takes the most courage to pull the trigger.

We believe the Red Sox will stand pat until the season is over, and the chips will decide to fall wherever they want.

Chemistry determines the Sox logic, as they do not want to rock the boat, nor sink the Bismark in the middle of the season, or even before the trade deadline.

Friends of Lester and Ellsbury may whisper they are injured to explain their lapses in quality play and need for a day off. Yet, that too smacks of excuses. You will not find Patrice Bergeron on the Sox roster. Playing with a separated shoulder, broken leg, punctured lung, and a hangnail, is not the style of Jacoby Ellsbury.

Clay Buchholz now insists he is doing everything possible to pitch again. Thank heavens for that. We wonder what it would look like if he were a malingerer.

It’s hard to fault a team in the thick of the race to win the American League championship, yet those little rivets popping out may be the sign that the ship is about to take on water.

 

You could see the tea leaves and read them too when you take a look at RED SOX 2012: BOBBY VALENTINE’S SEASON IN HELL, available on Amazon.com.

http://williamrusso.us

Jimmy Butler Coordinates Idiocy and Insensitivity

 DATELINE: HUMOR!

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Latest moron of the month!

Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler is another rich athlete with a paltry wardrobe. He wore out to a club last year a non-descript gray T-shirt.

Alas, the shirt was highly descript in its message: “Pussy Money & Weed.”  The message incensed our sense of grammar. There were no commas evident.

Running all three items is about as serious a mistake you can make in terms of a message. We all remember that Robert Frost omitted a comma in his classic poem, “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.”

A comma means the woods are lovely (with two qualities dominating—darkness and deepness). If he had employed commas, the woods would have three equal descriptive qualities in a hierarchy of order.

For basketball star Butler, we can only surmise he did the ungrammatical all by himself.

This has all the earmarks of a homemade T-shirt, perhaps a gift to express Butler’s sincerest values. He runs together into one package his lifestyle of sex, cash, and drugs.

Butler has recently joined the twit tweet club by insisting the offensive shirt was not selected for its message, but for its haute couture. You guessed it: he needed a gray shirt to coordinate with his gray sneakers.

Apparently the sneakers had recently stepped in dog do-do, and the shirt was the only item of clothing to meet the coordination test.

Jimmy Butler offered his explanation on Twitter recently. It was so convoluted in its tortured logic that we immediately elevated him to the Moron of the Month Club.

Clay Buchholz Requires More Second Opinions

DATELINE: HUMOR!Image

Clay Buchholz may ask for another “second” opinion.

When at first you don’t hear what you want, you need to grow bigger ears.

After consulting with the foremost authority on sports injuries and orthopedic surgery at the drop of a rotator cuff, Clay received the bad news:  he is a certifiable hypochondriac.

If there is an esoteric injury, Clay will find it.  The notorious Bard Disease may need to be christened as part of the Clay Syndrome.

Yes, the man who had esophageal problems last year, and back problems going a weak back now discovers his baby holding techniques are undocumented causes of disability.

In Massachusetts Buchholz is entitled to food stamps and Section 8 Housing.

How crazy is Buchholz? Well, he has collected a salary while not working for nearly two months. David Ortiz must admire such a work ethic after his own style of last season.

No one among the Red Sox ownership has claimed yet that Clay Buchholz has duped them, but by the time playoffs roll around, we may have a better sense of Clay’s feats of clay.

Manager of the Red Sox Dudley Do-Right John Farrell had a hard time not laughing out loud at his daily press conference.  He announced Clay would not be throwing off the mound again soon. If Farrell had tweeted this news, he would have ended the tweet with LOL.

Perhaps Ryan Braun can Fed-Ex some of that testosterone stuff to Clay. The Sox pitcher needs a fix of something to enhance his skinny impotent frame.

In the meantime, suggestions have come forth that Buchholz next should consult with Sigmund Freud or Carl Jung. Clay loves to be in the examining room.

If you want to know more about Red Sox shenanigans, you ought to read RED SOX 2011: A WHIMSICAL AUTOPSY, or the ever-nasty RED SOX 2012: BOBBY VALENTINE’S SEASON IN HELL. Both books are available on Amazon.com.

Red Sox and Yankees: Pretenders Take the Field

DATELINE: HUMOR!

It simply does not feel like the Yankees and Red Sox are actually playing. There are imposters on the field and in the stands.

The carnival crowd at Fenway Park may have been unduly lulled into catalepsy by the heat wave of late July. Yet, we are left with a feel that the Yankees have not been to Fenway at all this season so far.

And this motley crew does not look remotely like the Yankees. Joe Girardi is there, but he looks shell-shocked.

Then again, the Red Sox seem to play without an edge. They are too full of character and team spirit to have personal animosities with those nobodies playing on the Yankees.

Pregame interviews had new Red Sox like Gomes and Napoli talking about the excitement of playing for the Sox against the Yankees at Fenway. We hate to disabuse them, but this is not what a classic Sox-Yankee rivalry looks like.

Felix Doubront is the Sox Yankee slayer. Who?

There is no A-Rod, no Jeter, and heaven knows, there is no Youkilis. Oh, they have a robotic automaton that is now being called Mariano Rivera, but we all know that is genetic engineering creating some kind of replicant.

We know the Red Sox are out of character when the big hitter leading the team in average is Jose Iglesias, and Will Middlebrooks is languishing in limbo with Daniel Bard.

Who can complain about a team in first place? Yet, there should be fireworks with the Yankees breathing down their necks. Alas, say it ain’t so, Joe Girardi.

To reminisce about the old days, try reading RED SOX 2011: A WHIMSICAL AUTOPSY. It’s available for nostalgic readers on Amazon.com.

http://williamrusso.us

Would Hitchcock Have Side Effects from this Movie?

 DATELINE: MOVIES in the Stream

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Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum:  the new Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant?

When we took a look at one of the few suspense character dramas of recent years, it was a crime meller that would have appealed to the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock.

Side Effects gives us a mysterious tale of prescription drugs as the MacGuffin. Hitch was no stranger to odd women like Marnie that might have ulterior motives.

This modern version had Rooney Mara as a disturbed woman, Jude Law as her latest psychiatrist, Channing Tatum as her ex-con husband, and Catherine Zeta-Jones as the mysterious ex-psychiatrist returning to the picture.

In the old days, these roles would have respectively gone to Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant, Richard Todd, and Marlene Dietrich. It’s possible Hitch could have cast Jane Wyman, Joseph Cotten, Farley Granger, and Joan Fontaine in the same roles. It would have worked for him.

The tale unfolds with the usual themes Hitch would have approved. An apparently nice girl with a heavy foot on the gas pedal seems intent on crashing her car while her ne’er do well husband talks big about making money. The kindly doctor may be done in with his good intentions. The previous psychiatrist (Zeta-Jones) seems overly helpful.

Our personal suspicions were raised in the opening minutes when Rooney Mara’s depressed heroine is a limp dishrag while her hot husband Channing Tatum boinks her on his first night out of prison. That is enough to raise every red flag on the horizon.

Director Stephen Soderbergh once again manages to whet our appetites without wetting himself in self-parody.

Call us cynical and suspicious of mind, but we didn’t trust anyone in this movie.

If you like tart movie reviews, read MOVIE MASHUP, now available on Amazon.com in ebook and softcover.

Paul Pierce in On the Waterfront as The Man Without a Country

DATELINE: HUMOR!

Image Pierce in black shirt to mourn for his life as a Celtic?

Paul Pierce stood between Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry, dapper and wistful, holding up a Brooklyn Nets jersey.

His former Celtic teammates looked like men who are happy to take the money and play another season.

Paul looked forlorn.

Indeed, the tinge of bitterness was not so sweet when the man who deserved to be a Celtic forever spoke.

Perhaps he should have pulled a Philip Nolan and cursed Danny Ainge, “Damn Ainge, I wish I had never heard of the Celtics Nation.”

That would have made Pierce a new man without a country. The original Man Without a Country probably deserved his fate, having asked for it. He had also acted in a way that could be considered being a traitor to the new young nation of the United States.

Paul Pierce did not turn against the Celtics Nation. It was quite the other way around. He took upon himself the mantle of accepting a sacrifice to help his lifelong team.

Ainge and others speak warmly of Pierce returning to Boston upon his retirement to be recognized in posthaste.

Alas, that fate is not the one that befell Larry Bird or Bob Cousy. In those days, you were a Celtics star for life. Today you are chopped liver.

Nowadays your loyalty, blood, sweat, and tears, are like used toilet tissue, ready to be flushed away.

So, Paul Pierce expressed some bittersweet joy at playing for a contender. Like Terry Malloy’s brother in On the Waterfront, Ainge has told Pierce it’s not his night. Pierce has countered like Marlon Brando: “You were my brother Celtic. You shoulda watched out for me.”

For those fans of the Celtics, the final season of Paul Pierce is detailed in RAJON RONDO & THE GREEN NEBULA, now in softcover and ebook on Amazon.com.

http://williamrusso.us