Will the Ghost of Donald Sterling Haunt the NBA?

DATELINE: Spooky Time

Sterling

Oklahoma should take a cue from the NBA.

When the basketball league wants to perform an execution, there is no failure. The elixir goes right to the heart of the matter. Donald Sterling is dead as a doornail (for now).

Unfortunately one Oklahoma inmate has died, but not quite the way intended by the state executioners.

Of course, like Marley’s ghost, Donald Sterling may come back to haunt the NBA commissioner and his applauding players.

Sterling has a bad habit of being suit-crazy. We are not referring to Brooks Brothers, but to the legal system. He files countersuits and spends whatever it takes to restore what passes for honor in the life of a toad.

Dumb America

Whether the Billionaire Acres country club of peer owners in the NBA will vote to defrock Thurston Howell Sterling of his black boy-toys will be a battle for another day.

We cringed at the story of Sterling bringing guests into the locker room after a game and pointing to the naked athletes as fine specimens. Yikes, we haven’t seen such behavior since watching Mandingo (or at least On Any Sunday).

Head Executioner/Commissioner Silver has given Sterling the potion in the form a needle under his skin. The owner cannot attend his own games, nor any associated events. He can no longer enter the shower room to admire his business handiwork.

Maybe at some point the Ghost of Sterling will recognize that humanity was his business, but by then he will be powerless to intervene for good in any living endeavor.

 

 

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Tote That Barge, Lift That Bale, Doc Rivers

rivers

DATELINE: Demean the One You Love

Former Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers chose to leave his rebuilding job with the decimated Celtics to go to work for a racist. He may now be wondering whether he took the wrong fork in the road.

Robert Frost could have told him that choosing one path over another would make all the difference.

Right now Doc Rivers is dealing with a road with potholes, pitfalls, and sinkholes. He may be guiding a team in the playoffs, but he didn’t need this grief.

Rivers has gone from a storied franchise in which pride was the main component—even on a bad tea—to a team where pride is merely hubris. Now he coaches a team that wears its jersey inside out to hide the shame of the team brand.

Woe unto Doc.

Perhaps Rivers knew that his cross would be more than Big Baby Davis this season. Donald Sterling was the worst open secret since rodents were discovered to be part of the Black Death.

The NFL has serial killers like Aaron Hernandez, but that kind of poison can be isolated and removed quickly. The cancer in the NBA may be worse than what John Dean warned Richard Nixon about.

MLB has had a problem with drug-enhanced players, but that was a crime of competitive young men trying to win games. The NBA has built itself on giving minorities a chance to enjoy the American Dream.

Now we learn that Dream House has a termite eating the foundation for thirty years. It may be too late for pest control.

Doc Rivers is now lifting that bale and toting that barge for a man who’d buy him 200 years ago—and demean him just as badly as now.

Nothing Sterling About Profit-Mad Basketball

DATELINE: NO LAUGHS IN NBA THIS WEEK

 Sterling

There’s nothing sterling about the Los Angeles Clippers’ owner. In fact, he seems to be cheap tinplate. But, Sterling brass may have a veneer that defines the NBA overall.

That Donald Sterling has let the controversy swirl around him without actually facing it indicates where this is headed. There has been no apology and will be no apology because money talks.

And, the Big Money of Donald Sterling has given him a free pass his entire life as an owner of an NBA team. Despite many cases and charges against him, the clique known as billionaire acres has never so much as raised a whisper against him.

Now, some of the richest and most powerful of all black basketball players, past and present, are speaking out. It is a justified anger that could gut the league if not handled properly. And, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is nothing less than the handpicked lackey of former Commissioner David Stern—who sat in silence over Sterling for thirty years.

Don’t expect much from Silver, except a possible sop to the paid employees (even if many of them have made millions off the game). They don’t own the NBA, but the NBA better realize where the butter has been placed on its fancy bread.

If the NBA mishandles this crisis, their bread will turn to toasted crumbs.

Money talks—and the final word will come from the everyday fans who pay the salaries and puff up the profit of all those who’ve become rich off basketball.

 

Half a Marathon is Better Than None, Bill Belichick

 DATELINE: HUMOR!

 Belichick

Bill Belichick did in his off-season what he never could do in Boston in any season. He ran a half-marathon on the cusp of retirement age. He had to go to a place where no one seems to know his name to avoid the Cheers crowd.

Yes, the Old Hoodie did not need a hoodie to hide his face as he ran half the distance to the NFL Draft while he was in Nashville, Tennessee, for the Music City Half-Marathon.

The Boston Marathon is twice as long as the old coach cares to run, and if he chose to run in Boston, they’d need armed guards and mammoth security to protect him. Come to think of it: the Boston Marathon could have offered him more protection than he needed this year.

With a brigade of detractors of the fit as a fiddle head coach of the New England Patriots, Belichick managed to run the Nashville race in a little more than two and a half hours. In full marathon regalia, he’d have crossed the Boylston Street Finish Line shortly before dusk.

Belichick ran like a man running away from the hordes of media that gum up his running track at Gillette Stadium every week of the season, or maybe he used Wes Welker as inspiration.

What makes Bill run? You’d need Budd Schulberg to figure it out, but he has certainly proven that he can outlast Tom Brady when it comes to longevity.

A couple of years ago former Patriot Steve DeOssie ran the Boston Marathon in conjunction with a PBS documentary about the difficulty of performing such a competition.

This year one of Bill Belichick’s darlings, Tedy Bruschi, decided to run the Marathon. We are sure that Bill would not have been alone if he had chosen to run part of the course in Boston.

 What Makes Bill Run?

Another Sterling-Silver Moment for the NBA

DATELINE: DUMB RACISTS AT IT AGAIN

Sterling A Face Only a Rapper Could Love to Rap

NBA owner of the Clippers Donald Sterling has a less than sterling reputation. Indeed, bad karma surrounds him–and he usually hits the Tri-fecta of racism, sexism, and ageism, among the accusations against him over the years.

Yes, his reputation precedes him. No one seems to be giving him the benefit of the doubt. A recorded tape in which his voice speaks vile comments about specific people and a group of people may have done him in.

He will need the FBI to certify it’s a fake. He will need sworn affidavits from the perpetrators to convince anyone of his innocence. His best defense is that he is the victim of a doctored and trumped up scam.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver may be looking at a meltdown of his value. Silver has been tarnished in his first year as NBA honcho by a series of dumb activities.

From the President of the United States on down, Sterling faces criticism. He is about to be tarred and feathered metaphorically—and shipped out of town on a rail. Isn’t that what racists used to do?

If you dislike people of color, owning an NBA team would seem to be a peculiar business choice. Since black American culture and NBA are hand-in hand, Sterling must be following the money made off young black athletes.

We presume plantation owners in pre-Civil War America did not like black people either—but money is always a social bond.

Donald Sterling is caught between a rock and a hard place, between Scylla and Charybdis, and between his own reputation and the enmity of society.

This case follows on the heels of a popular TV cooking hostess, parboiled in his own juices, and her racist descent into oblivion. As for Donald Sterling, he is now in free fall—and he forgot to pack a parachute.

Vatican & Fenway: More in Common Than You’d Guess

affluenza suffererDATELINE: Lining Up the Cannons

 

If the Red Sox have a problem this year, it is the same one that the Roman Catholic Church has: they start to canonize their stars all too soon.

In short, canonizing is not the same as making them cannon fodder, which also happens. It’s a Curia case in the Vatican, and it’s a curious case of media frenzy with the Fenway set.

In the Vatican two numbers are now about to be permanently retired: 23 for John and 2 for John Paul. In a few years the Sox will be retiring 5 for David and 15 for Dustin.

In Boston sports they always canonize one at a time, whereas the Vatican City is going in for doubles. They will even have two living popes there too.

A few diehard fans are even wondering whether the Sox ought to retire the 21 of Pope Clemens who actually had dubious affrontery to hold his papacy at Yankee Stadium. Another contingent would simply like to put Clemens in front of the cannon.

You need to have two miracles at the Vatican to be sent to the Hall of Saintly Fame, though bureaucratic exceptions have been made this year. John the 23rd had one miracle forgiven, like a bad debt.

If Clemens or Ortiz were put to the miraculous standard of sainthood, they’d pass with flying colors. Miracles are an everyday condition of being a mythic superstar.

One fact is certain about canonization. The Vatican is well known for its ostentation and pomp. When they turn you into a saint, they spare no circumstance.

Of course, the Vatican can’t compete with the Yawkey Way crowd as everyone who saw the Boston Marathon tributes at Fenway can attest. Everyone knows the Red Sox have more money than God.

Orson Welles and His Confidential Report

ArkadianDATELINE: MOVIE MASHED POTATOES


Orson Welles loved to make movies—even if he had no money or production assistance. He scrambled to film piecemeal and put it together later. Sometimes this worked because of his prodigious talent. Other times he left the work looking like a half-eaten sandwich.

Mr. Arkadin (sometimes called Confidential Report) was made during the 1950s—edited by various hands in various locations. It is pure Welles and even though it is half-baked and contains elements of sheer lunacy, it is a pastry to be devoured in small bites off the a la carte menu.

Welles wrote, directed, and starred as the mysterious reclusive billionaire with a daughter fixation. In a glorious beard and wig, Welles can be frightening as only all-powerful billionaires like Howard Hughes or Aristotle Onassis could. He also wrote a novel version of the movie, showing how much the byzantine tale meant to him.

Alas, Welles could not play the young detective too—and he went with stalwart leading man Robert Arden, one of the most cornball actors (duly noted in the script). Arkadin hires Arden’s ne’er-do-well to investigate his own self, Arkadin’s early years. He has allegedly amnesia and wants to know who he was before he made his billions.

A few of Welles’s friends show up in hilarious bits—like Michael Redgrave playing a femmy gay refugee (an in-joke as Redgrave was gay in real life) with endless references to “weenies, my dear.”

Misha Auer, Akim Tamiroff, and Patricia Medina, also show up, though we never know which ones Arkadin murders, wants to murder, or will murder.

Welles probably never took the film too seriously. It was the making of it that gave him fun and satisfaction. His set-ups and locations are brilliant, but the final product is liable to give viewers indigestion.

April Showers Turn into Deluge for Red Sox

DATELINE: HUMOR

Tweetie Ellsbury

For those wondering if the Sox can repeat their amazing season, the answer is resoundingly yes.

We refer to the amazing season under Bobby Valentine in the year prior to winning the World Series. As we recall, it was the worst season in 50 years. And, now the Sox are reverting to form. Soon they will be breaking Valentine’s day records.

2014 is shaping up to be John Farrell’s Bobby Valentine impersonation. The Ghost of Christmas Past has arrived—and he is wearing Bobby Valentine’s uniform.

The Mayan calendar was wrong. This year is the end of the Red Sox world.

You know things are upside down when Jacoby Ellsbury is living in a Manhattan penthouse and Daniel Nava is living in a Pawtucket motel room.

When your team is bombed by the Bronx Bombers, when your team makes five errors against the Yankees, and the reliever allows five walks in the ninth inning, you know it’s going to be a long season. Some of these horrors have not happened since Casey Stengel showed up Pinky Herman.

Welcome to the doormat, Sox fans.

The Red Sox were up so long last year that down starts to look like another singular experience. Worst to First to Worst may be the new Tinkering Chance to Evers double-play now revised by MLB as the transfer possession rule.

Last year we quoted T.S. Elliot to describe the Red Sox. This year we have returned to Ogden Nash.

To wit, Sox fans: “Consider the auk;
Becoming extinct because he forgot how to fly, and could only walk.

Consider man, who may well become extinct
Because he forgot how to walk and learned how to fly before he thinked.”

Not Another Sinking Documentary on Titanic?

DATELINE: TV DOCUMENTARIES

In 2012 came the 100th anniversary of the tragic maritime tale of the White Star Liner named Titanic.

Whenever we see a new documentary on the topic, we feel like running for the lifeboats and wearing an extra sweater. Having read a half-dozen books on the subject and seen many “specials” and movies about the fateful journey in April of 1912, we feel like we are fairly expert on the details.

Titanic’s Final Mystery with investigator and self-proclaimed Titanic Detective Tim Maltin is yet another British documentary that promises a fresh eye on the tale. Maltin paints a picture of a freakish killing zone of Nature as the real culprit.

Forgive us for being skeptical. Does anyone have the temerity to think they have found new information?

We are loath to watch the new approach to these shows where actors reenact the parts in costume and flamboyance. And, again, we must apologize for being smug.

This little film actually did hold our attention and provided some new scientific and historical confirmation of old theories.

Costumed re-enactors held firmly to reading the original testimony of survivors, and the investigator looked only at eyewitness statements to discover that meteorological conditions at the time and place of the ship’s sinking may hold a few clues.

Indeed, good research means looking where most expert have feared to tread. Maltin looks at old logs from ships in the same area as Titanic on the fateful weekend in April. He discovers some peculiar weather conditions fit the Titanic survivors’ nearly mystical sense of transcending death. The key may be nighttime cold water mirages, which are the opposite of desert daytime optical illusions.

If you want a last word on Titanic special film presentations, this modest film with nerdy Tim Maltin with his beat-up briefcase chugging to libraries and museums, you can’t go wrong with this one.

Holding a Grudge Against Bad Taste

 DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

Grudges aside

NOT THE WAY WE WANT TO REMEMBER THEM

We forced ourselves to sit through Grudge Match, despite our desire to shut it off at various points.

Two highly professional actors seem hellbent on turning the clock back. Robert DeNiro and Sylvester Stallone were the epitome of boxers in their prime.

Greed forces them with the assistance of Kevin Hart and Alan Arkin to do a geriatric version of Rocky Vs. Raging Bull. Here they are shadow boxers named Razor and Kid.

The cutesy stuff starts early—with both men sharing an interest in Kim Basinger, their old flame. The film is at its best when it is parody, and at its worst when it takes itself to ridiculous ends.

We did like the montage of LaMotta and Balboa in their boxing glory films, and we found the photo-shopping of them fighting each other in youth to be a good place to stop the movie.

Alas, it goes on to the requisite major bout where two aging actors box for nine rounds to a sold out crowd, and with points to be made on all sides of the script. We almost guess that each star has exactly the same amount of screen time, down to the nanosecond.

If the film had stayed the course as a light satire of their early film images, we’d probably have enjoyed it much more. Training time is a take-off on the earlier bits by Rocky in every one of his movies. Yet, Stallone already did this in Rocky Balboa (VI).

We were reminded of aging Brando playing a godfather in a weak comedy toward the end of his career and life.

These may not be the lasting images we want of Stallone or DeNiro. Worse yet, they seem to take their images all too seriously at the climax.

We stayed the course till the bitter end, and are much sorrier for the experience.

Michael Pinetar: Out, Out, Damned Spot!

Out Damn SpotDATELINE: HUMOR!

 

New York Yankee Michael Pineda became baseball’s unceremonious ‎Piñatas on a damp Wednesday in Boston. He was ejected by MLB from the game for conduct unbecoming a role model.

After having a fistful of pine tar on his palm for a game two-weeks ago against the Sox caught on camera, baseball and its police force looked a tad silly. Was it cheating or not?

Tbis embarrassing contretemps seemed quaint in a game that counts “steals” as a legitimate statistic.

Michael Pineda may change his name to Michael Pinetar. Would anyone notice?

This time the Red Sox did not go quietly into the good night. They gawked with righteous indignation that Pinetar Yankee pitcher was wearing a choker of pinetar around his neck.

It was like the noose on Clint Eastwood in Hang’Em High.

If you stand on a mound with a noose around your neck, someone is bound to kick the rubber out from under you.

In the first inning Michael Pinetar Pinata Pinenut Pineda did not pitch so well. The nape of his neck had only a couple of hickeys on it. By the second inning, he had brushed a coating of goop around his chafed neckline. From there he rubbed one on.

Only a night or two before Red Sox Vaseline pinup boy Clay Buchholz was bombed despite dousing his head in a foreign substance.

All this goes to the slippery slope of doctoring the ball or thinking that an enhancing substance will help you win. We await next year’s urine test to detect if pinetar has entered baseball’s bloodstream.

Ellsbury Returns to Accolades

Tweetie Ellsbury

DATELINE: HUMOR

 

The Red Sox turned over a new leaf on Tuesday against the dreaded Yankees.

With the return of one-sleeve base-stealer Jacoby Ellsbury, the Sox decided to take the high road. Stealing the thunder from indignant and old-fashioned fans, the Sox brass showed what is called “class” in the parlance.

The Boston organization offered a video tribute to the departed Ellsbury, and they almost called him one of the dearly departed.

This new trend of honoring turncoats may be turning a few stomachs. The Boston Celtics also did this with Ray Allen, though the underlying sickening feeling did not really disappear. It was masked in a veneer of hypocrisy.

Ellsbury never intended to remain with the Sox, and Allen never intended to stay with his Big teammates. They smelled the money—and left an odor in their wake.

Ellsbury was all smiles and tipped his cap. It was not like the old days when Johnny Damon was treated like the proverbial old trick when he returned with the Yankees.

A few diehard Yankee haters have called the velvet glove treatment of Ellsbury a thing of “Pink Hats,” and no better sobriquet can be put on King John Henry VIII, a man who hates messy situations.

The goodwill surprised Ellsbury. His coffers are now filled with greenbacks and his back is now patted with Red Sox charms. He returned the era of good feeling by helping the Yankees beat the Sox.

Whatever happened to the good old days?

 

More Interesting Persons: Season 2

DATELINE: TV MASHUP

 POI Dog of Interest Bear & Caviezel

We rushed to view Season Two on DVD from Person of Interest because the Jim Caviezel show with Michael Emerson has simply hacked itself among our all-time favorites and programmed our heart.

Perhaps it is the idea of recurring story lines and intriguing characters like the husband and wife who are left by Agent Reese to their own murderous impulses on their yacht named ‘Justice.’

The second season increased the humorous byplay between Mr. Reese and his friend Harold. As Reese becomes more attached to Mr. Finch, the ex-CIA agent notes that not every ex-soldier is lucky enough to find an endearing reclusive billionaire.

Episodes often recall Hitchcock—from scenes mimicking Rear Window and Strangers on a Train (that carousel ride). Effects are subtle—and Finch and Reese with their Belgian Malinois named Bear are bound to garner one guffaw per episode.

Wonderful character actresses like Paige Turco will show up as ‘fixer’ Zoe Morgan to beat Reese at poker as they play act domestic bliss in the suburbs in another amusing episode. Top-notch episode called “Proteus” seemed to be a takeoff on the murder mystery habits of Agatha Christie.

The CIA, Control, mobster Elias, and psychopathic Root, are at the root of most troubles, but former MI6 agents (like Julian Sand) and Decima (John Hurt lookalike John Nolan), the rival private agency is also trying to pry into the lives of innocent Americans.

That brings us to the not-so-fictional Machine—The Deus Ex Machine/god that has power over all. Like the Forbin Project movie of so many years ago, the giant computer seems to have a loving shine for Harold, its inventor.

Harold is in the enviable position of having the protection of a deadly black ops rogue and an omniscient computer. Oh, to be so loved!

Sarah Shahi is deadly Shaw in the second season, a sociopathic agent that finds killing the bad guys like a gastric reflex. She clearly is making room for her eventual power force on the show’s third season.

No one is ever dead on this show. The complex flashbacks keep them in guest-starring roles, amplifying their appearances several times over.

This series gives us so much more than we expected.

Philomena’s Hard Lessons

 DATELINE: Movie Mashup

PhilomenaJudy Dench, Steve Coogan

Stephen Frears has directed a heart-wrenching movie that criss-crosses two diametric reactions: righteous indignation and blind faith.

Philomena tells the true story of a mother whose search for her lost child seems like something out of medieval times. The Roman Catholic Church, as late as the 1950s, and as recently as the 21st century, prevents the reunion of a mother and son by preventing prior to adoption information.

There emerge a half-dozen startling moments of discovery in this fully realized human drama. Journalist Martin Sixsmith (played by Steve Coogan who also doubled on the screenplay) is a prig and elitist who only deigns to a human interest story about Philomena Lee (Judy Dench) when he has no other options. His journey of discovery grows more poignant as the film proceeds on its path.

Small victories make for compelling story-telling. The anxiety of Philomena about what happened to her son when given to the Sisters of Mercy (or Less Mercy, as Sixsmith dubs them) may become an inkblot test for each viewer. Some will react like Philomena, and others like the journalist.

Dench always plays tough (whether as James Bond’s M, or as a queen). Here she seems vulnerable, but you can’t keep a good woman down for long. Fans of Bond films may wonder what happened to Barbara Jefford, but she shows up here in a scene-stealing performance that will make you want to kick in the screen.

This extraordinary film flies in the face of modern audiences who may find its mental cruelty and anguish belonging to another era.

 

Meb May Be a Mebbe

 DATELINE: Marathon Victor

 Meb

Now we have often been accused of being a party pooper and throwing cold water on anything within our reach.

So, it is not a stretch of the imagination for us to question the victory of Meb Keflezighi at the Boston Marathon.

He is the first American male (well, naturalized) to win the race since 1983.

Just call us cynical for wondering how this amazing feat was accomplished in the first race after the infamous bombing of 2013.

Whatever happened to those Kenyans who have dominated the race for a dozen years? Well, those nice guys made a bunch of appearances before the race to honor the bombing victims. They were amazingly supportive of the race and the city of Boston in their public appearances.

Have they become supportive enough to hold back and let an American win the race for the first time in a generation?

Well, we are jaded enough to be pleasantly pleased by such a gesture, if it were the case.

The victory of Meb as an American (via Eritrea and San Diego) since the age of twelve is another in a series of American victories the transplant has provided the American people. If you want a case for legalizing any immigrant who wants to live in the U.S., Meb is a good example.

Meb has also been an Olympic hero for his adopted nation. It still leaves us wondering if other native Africans may have a soft spot for him in their hearts.

We won’t look a gift horse in the mouth, nor count his teeth. Instead, we offer simple congratulations to the victor and his deserved laurel wreath.