Escape Plans Foiled

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

 escapees

Escapees

We realize that teaming independent legends is an old movie concept. John Huston originally wanted Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable to star in his The Man Who Would Be King. It never panned out.

So, with some interest we looked forward to graybeards Sylvester Stallone and the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger going head-to-head in a prison drama, acting like middle-aged whelps half their ages.

You cannot convince us that anything would top Oz, the satirical HBO prison series where every liberal concept about incarceration was raked over the coals and dumped into solitary.

Escape Plan actually caught our interest because Stallone plays a technical wizard who designs escape proof prisons by serving as an inmate and flying over the prison walls.

However, double-crossing and embarrassed prison officials turn the tables on him, putting him involuntarily into the most modern medieval torture chamber you could devise.

His fellow inmate is Arnold. Better yet, Warden Hobbes is played by Jim Caviezel on hiatus from Person of Interest.

You couldn’t find a better foil for the two geriatric stars that seem a bit long in the tooth for fights and cruel treatment.

Isn’t elder abuse a crime?

Caviezel is delicious in this movie, stealing every scene.

You know when your warden likes classical music, collects butterflies and mounts them on pins, and feyly dresses in a three-piece suit, he has to be totally out of place with Arnold and Stallone. As the man in the Brooks Brothers suit, Caviezel is a joy forever here.

If you have no plans for the weekend, Escape Plan may be worth a bag of popcorn and a few laughs.

Be sure to read Ossurworld’s latest movie review collection, MOVIES IN THE STREAM, now available at Amazon.com in ebook and softcover for smart readers everywhere.

 

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Red Sox Managers Stuck in Revolving Door

DATELINE: HUMOR!

Dumb America

Forget those tired and trite “Moron” jokes. The dunces have nothing on the Triple Crown of ejections at Fenway Park.

How many Red Sox managers does it take to finish a game?

If you are at Fenway Park on a rainy Friday night, you may not want to be anywhere else. All those management types on the Red Sox roster, however, all want to be somewhere else.

How many managers were tossed out of the game against the Tampa Bay Rays (those little devils)?

We lost count after the fifth inning.

Dudley Do-Right John Farrell has never done anything less than stalwart, and when his iron horse, David Ortiz, suffered a plunk by the ever-pricey David Price, Farrell offered a protest worthy of the Ban-the-Bomb movement. For his efforts, he was summarily sentenced to the showers. Price was priceless and stayed on the mound.

In short order, the Sox assistant managers went postal.

Tory Lovullo offered the most hilarious argument and tossed his hat into the ring, offering to go ten rounds with the home plate umpire. Alas, he did not last an inning.

Other nameless bench coaches had their ten minutes of fame, but were tossed before we hardly knew them.

We always thought Dustin Pedroia deserved a chance as a player/manager—and with dustups galore and managers-in-waiting falling into the dustbin, we think Dustin is a shoo-in by the ninth inning.

Agreed

How many managers for the Red Sox bit the dust in the game? Four: John Farrell, Tory Lovullo, Brian Butterfield, and Greg Colbrunn.

 

Roots of AIDS & History Lesson Brought to Life

 DATELINE:  MESSAGE MOVIE

 Ruffalo

If there is anything remotely like a “normal heart,” we have yet to discover it. The new HBO movie The Normal Heart tackles the horrifying years of the early 1980s when AIDS first reared its ugly curse on gay men.

At the onset of the disease, bon vivant social butterflies of Fire Island and early liberation types had become the New Hedonists and were hardly likely to listen to self-righteous Paul Revere riders warning of impending doom.

Julia Roberts (about as unglamorous as we have seen her) plays one of the front-line doctors who may have been spitting into the wind when she addressed gay groups in those days.

Mark Ruffalo (whom we always confuse with Paul Rudd) plays a slightly effeminate protagonist and is the stand-in for Larry Kramer. He is Ned Weeks in this roman a clef and sounds a clarion warning to his far more promiscuous friends.

Though you might disparage the early victims of gay cancer for ignoring the warnings, they paid the ultimate and hideous price for turning a deaf ear to the unbelievable rumors of a “gay cancer.”

Today’s young gay men who were not alive when so many lost their lives may actually identify with the hedonists of baths, Fire Island parties, and gay abandon. They are living it again, feeling the AIDS crisis is long past and now can be cured (not so on both counts).

Like all cautionary tales, this film depiction of a disease running rampant is not for the faint-hearted, let alone normal hearts.

As we recall, the growing numbers of dead and the sudden wasting disease and cancerous purple blotches had a sobering impact on gay life. It was not any one action that seemed to awaken the gay community—though Rock Hudson’s gaunt appearance and death may have been monumental in shaking up gay men.

The Normal Heart is a well-done movie, though sitting through it is sort of like taking large dollops of castor oil. You know it will help, but the lingering taste is quite unpleasant.

When Being a Diva Meant Something

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

WilhelminiaBack in 1981 came a movie that seemed to signal some major talents were on the way. Over 30 years later, we wanted to revisit what first excited us. Of course, none of the talents seemed to pan out.

Diva was a term back then reserved for opera stars with some temperament. Nowadays the word is overused for anyone with too much of anything on display. What a shame because by today’s terms opera star Wilhelminia Wiggins Fernandez would be the Garbo of classical singing.

Singing “La Wally” to start the film, she sets its tone and easily fills the role as an opera star that refuses to record her voice for pop consumption. That makes her the victim of a 19-year old delivery boy stalker (Frederic Andrei). This is another perfect pitch performance.

Neither of the two stayed on the radar after Jean-Jaques Beineix’s remarkable movie. The director too showed promise unfulfilled decades later.

Jules is brought to tears by Cynthia Hawkins on stage, steals her dress when he goes backstage and illegally records her voice.

How he becomes the victim of mistaken identity by art thieves with a murderous bent is the raison d’etre for an elaborate chase movie. It is also one of the few genuine romantic thrillers you may ever encounter.

With its cognitive overload style, you may be exhausted after the first hour by the visual feasts and jarring misdirection of attention.

You may love this movie in dollops, but not in one sitting. If you want to experience attention deficit disorder, the film will seem like a swirl of life racing past on a moped.

The lasting image is of American star Wilhelminia Wiggins Fernandez in her first and really only film performance. It boggles the mind to think she walked away from movies. We are grateful she did this one.

A Day to Reap, to Sow, and to Honor Manny Ramirez

Godzilla Mr. Fatstuff

DATELINE: Return of the Native

 

Manny Ramirez has returned to the Red Sox with a bushel of apologies to all parties. He has found God and loves the game of baseball. He is humbled and he is attempting to be gracious.

MacArthur returned. Good heavens, Godzilla has returned. So Manny is starring in a new version of It’s a Wonderful Life, playing James Stewart, not acting out the Lionel Barrymore bad guy role.

So why shouldn’t Manny Ramirez be back in the dugout at Fenway?

Fans have always been fickle, or at least filled with the milk of human kindness. The overall reaction to the “feel good” story is that people feel good.

Whether it is a crock of crocodile refuse, we cannot say. A reptile only changes colors when he is a chameleon.

Manny did the obligatory round of bum kissing on the day that the Red Sox chose to honor the 2004 World Series champ team. How amusing that the present Red Sox ended their losing streak in time for this event.

With the weather in Boston in late May like a cold Opening Day, we found it odder still that this is the date to have a tenth anniversary party. Perhaps it was the only date available when the guests could attend.

In any respect, Manny returned, taking time off from his new job with Theo Epstein’s Cubs as a minor league player/coach. As we like the recycle old axioms, we found it endearing that the more things change, the more likely the Red Sox will have a day for it.

Friday the Thirteenth had upteen sequels, but never Saturday the Fourteenth.

There have been a bunch of Nightmares on Elm Street, and Jason has donned the hockey mask more times than Aaron Hernandez.

So, how could we expect anything less from Manny Being Manny?

Red Sox Pitchers Rotate Counter-Clockwise

DATELINE: HUMOR

EINSTEIN'S PICK

Once again we ask the pointed question: why is that the Red Sox have “mentally damaged” pitchers?

The latest victim of the contagious Daniel Bard disease is the bizarre Clay Buchholz. Once a man who dunked his head in Gatorade to pitch better, he is now simply all wet. The way the Red Sox starters toss the ball is re-defining Einstein’s Theory on Relativity.

When Mr. Buchholz goes out to pitch nowadays, the wet job is the infanticide of another Red Sox victory.

With the disappearance of his fellow wet head, Jared Saltalamacchia, Clay is stuck in the mud.

Daniel Bard simply went bonkers on the mound. He wanted to start and then lost his way in the jungle of a five pitcher rotation. Perhaps we’d understand more if Buchholz expressed a desire to be the next Jonathan Papelbon.

The Red Sox pitching counselor of the past decade has been the present manager. John Farrell used to be the Sigmund Freud of the pitching staff. Now he is the Sigmoid Fraud of the franchise.

In case you are wondering what other Red Sox pitchers are looney-toons, we offer Felix Dubront and John Lackey as Exhibit A and B.

All this follows on the heels of whack-job Josh Beckett throwing a no-hitter. It’s not bad for a non-starter. They had to unload Beckett because he was a malcontent, but worse yet, he was the tip of the iceberg. His mania knew no bounds, and it still resonates in the locker room with the present pitching staff.

Can the Red Sox fire the entire pitching staff? Or should they fire the entire front office that brought in this pitching staff? We won’t even bring up Jake Peavy’s weird talk-to-himself on the mound habits.

The only sane pitcher the Sox had, Ryan Dempster retired suddenly in spring training to great acclaim. You begin to see there is a problem here. You begin to realize there is no solution evident.

Red Sox are now thinking about signing rapper 50Cents Curtis Jackson after watching his debut throwing out the first ball for the New York Mets.

 

 

Vampires, Voodoo, and the Red Sox

DATELINE: HUMOR

Unusual Suspicions

Josh Beckett received a blood transfusion when he heard the Red Sox had lost ten games in a row.

The Old Vampire rose from his grave, went to the mound, and promptly threw a no-hitter. You’d think he’d been transformed into Sandy Koufax for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Sox pulled the plug on his life support almost two years ago, and Beckett has been plagued for nearly the entire time with hangnails on his thumb.

Now he is hanging the Red Sox on the same pitching hand.

In a world constantly under attack from biting irony, this was the bite of a toothless vampire. But when you’re a vampire, a daytime game victory is sweet indeed.

The Red Sox devolved into brawling and bawling and bailing instead of balling and batting.

For the want of a nail in the old horseshoe, the battle was lost. In this case, the Red Sox have become horsemeat.

If you can find old Red Sox castoffs around the league, they are smiling. From Adrian Gonzalez to Jacoby Ellsbury, the rejects of Ben Cherington have been rejuvenated by the blood of sacrificial lambs.

Only Stephen Drew is not smiling. He just decided to re-sign with the Red Sox when he could have been sitting home, knitting like Madame DeFarge. Now he will be dropping pearls on the field with the losing champions.

The Invisible Man, Daniel Nava, has returned, but no one has seen fit to notice him.

Before another game is lost, a voodoo shaman named Ben Cherington will be called up from Pawtucket. As expected, his curses ended the losing streak.

Science Fiction, Steampunk Fiction, and the Red Sox

 DATELINE: HUMOR

Klaatu & Gort

Teams that lose 10 games in a row do not win the World Series that year.

Only a handful of team ever recovered from a long losing streak to be playoff contenders.

The Red Sox are now mathematically eliminated (in terms of precedence) from not only becoming the World Series victor, but likely even making the playoffs.

It is also rare for a team to have won the previous year and become so hideous the next.

Only in Boston can the universe conspire to create an anomaly. When things like this happen, you know that a tsunami and an asteroid cannot be far behind.

A time warp may be opening up, shades of the Philadelphia Experiment when a World War II ship was impaled on a time spike. Who can forget that delicious little sci-fi movie?

We believe Betty and Barney Hill of New Hampshire were abducted by aliens, and when they returned, they told police they learned that the Red Sox never recover from ten game losing streaks. It was documented in Interrupted Journey, their story.

Few people recall that at the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Clay Buchholz was among the people who walk off the space ship.

In the sequel to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, now in development in Hollywood by the Massachusetts Film Bureau, the Red Sox are replaced by Pod People and proceed to rake in huge profits at Fenway Park while being impersonated by losers.

GSScover.

Klaatu and Gort are planning to return to Earth and make sure that a message is sent to the Red Sox. They will make the Earth stand still for thirty minutes. That will be one minute for every loss in a row during the 2014 season.

Doomsday Scenario Hits Red Sox

hitchDEADLINE: 9 Losses & Counting

The sun is setting on the Red Sox. Day is done, and so is the starting rotation.

Ben Cherington couldn’t pull a blockbuster trade with this team because the pickings are only slightly less attractive than the Boston Celtics roster.

The unofficial start to summer is about to begin, but the Red Sox fittingly enough will be dead and buried by Memorial Day. The winds of change have blown through Fenway Park.

We are sad because it means this year’s edition of Red Sox monologues will not sell. The World Series year was a boon year for our book RED SOX 2013: NAKED CAME THE LINEUP.

We almost feel too discouraged to continue covering the Sox. There is nearly as little humor to this team as the ill-fated 2011 team—but they had arrogance and talent, making them a wonderful target for barbs.

This group is mediocre and well-intentioned. They overplayed their hands last season, and no one had any right to expect more than an average year from the best of them.MUSHROOM OPTION

It has bottomed out already as a good enough sample size to tell us not to bother to pinch the other chocolates in the box. Life tells us there are no good ones in this sampler.

With four more months of games, there is always a chance that something could turn in their favor. Those statistical nerds who have sabermetrics on call will likely agree that the end is near. Losing in 15 innings is the tip of the iceberg that has cut a gash into the Good Ship Lollipop.

We hate to be the one holding the sign on the sidewalk at Yawkey Way, but someone must do the dirty job. “Repent, Sinners!”Fenway Stage 1

Cue the asteroid.

The Manxman is a Minx Woman

DATELINE: No Rippers

hitch

Alfred Hitchcock’s last silent movie may leave a 21st century audience howling for relief.

Based on Hall Caine’s hoary moral tale about two close friends and the woman they both love will leave you wondering when the requisite murder might occur. However, this movie isn’t The Lodger.

The Manxman is a callow fisherman on the Isle of Man. Hence, he is a manx. The girl is the minx.

We can’t possibly spoil the film by telling you that there is no murder when the script keeps telling you it’s coming.

Instead the viewer is subjected to deceit in marriage, duplicity and hypocrisy between friends, suicidal impulses, and a baby too.

Hall Caine was gay, but wrote like Somerset Maugham about straight men that seem like they love each other more than the woman between them, in this case a cool blonde who drives them both to the brink.

Hitchcock had issues with author Caine, and the movie version never satisfied the novelist.

If anything came out of this movie, it was likely that Hall Caine told Hitch that he had a gay affair with a purported Jack the Ripper suspect. It was a theme that seemed to crop up in Hitchcock years later in movies like Strangers on a Train and Rope. His earlier film was about the Ripper. We don’t know if Caine revealed this secret to Hitch, but he may have.

That may be the most noteworthy trivia about The Manxman. Hitch does throw in some brilliant moments, but his signature cameo is not among them. He knew when to stay out of the frame.

The black and white print is gloriously textured, and the acting is gloriously outdated. The actors had faces back then—and they used them to great effect.

Carl Brisson’s naïve and cuckolded sailor has eyes seemingly like limpid pools. We would swear he made more tempestuous glances at his best pal (Matthew Keen) instead of Kate (Anny Ondra).

If a director’s development is more important to you than disappointment in his movie, you have permission to view this motion picture. Otherwise, you should stick with The Birds.

 

 Fans of Hitchcock may want to read ALFRED HITCHCOCK FRESHLY SHOWERED for more insights into his films. Available at Amazon.com in both softcover and e-book formats.

 

Auction Winner Shells Out Big Bucks for Red Sox Rockwell

Sox RookieDATELINE: HUMOR


The Red Sox aren’t worth a plug nickel this season, but don’t tell that to the art connoisseur who paid over $22million for a Norman Rockwell painting of the Red Sox locker room in 1957. It is called “The Rookie.”

As was his bent in the 1950s, Rockwell put this painting on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. An old copy of the magazine may cost you a pretty penny, but it will still retail slightly less than the original oil.

The painting depicts Ted Williams (not as model) and others greeting a gawky rookie in street clothes at the Spring Training facility (was it Scottsdale in those days?).

Rockwell was the painter version of poet Ogden Nash back in the 1950s. No one will mistake this art and say, “Hello, Dali.”

The picture was quaint when it was new. The scene of a country bumpkin baseball rookie seems out of the 19th century, way before Field of Dreams.

There are no black Sox players in the painting because the Red Sox didn’t sign their first black player until 1961. (Yes, it was Pumpsie Green).

Every time the Sox won the World Series in recent years, the painting had a showing at Fenway Park and at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Unless the anonymous new owner is Sox owner King John Henry VIII, the painting may not again be seen at Fenway.

The Sox teams of the late 1950s were always second best to the Yankees, but Rockwell lived in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and may have harbored secret Fenway Fever. The area out in the Berkshires has always been a Yankee No Man’s Land.

A Rockwell picture is now worth a thousand words and a few more dollars.

Another Billionaire Breaks the Bank of idiocy

DATELINE: HUMOR

Mark Cuban is one of the morons he so disdains. Sometimes it does not take one to know one.

Those notorious bum-kissers in the NBA will say that the Maverick owner is honest to a fault. That means he has no faults, but he is—by his own definition—a man of foibles.

If you have a couple of billion bucks, it may be that you are excused from normal and conventional thinking. Yet, we also wonder how such people manage to make money—or even keep it. Clearly a fool and his money are not soon parted.

Cuban had to apologize to the Trayvor Martin family for his ill-advised tweet about black people wearing hoodies. We suspect that intelligent people will cross the street if they see Cuban coming toward them.

All this seems to go to the point that Mark Cuban feels his fellow billionaire Donald Sterling is of sterling character. It’s a club with a limited membership, and you can’t find too many equals when you are so steeped in dollars. You may want to forgive Cuban for not wanting to blackball his colleague (pardon the expression, all you racists).

For some time Cuban has been a walking, talking joke, but yes men know when to laugh. It’s the rest of us who are likely to be broken by the billionaire types.

So, we know now that Mark Cuban harbors racist feelings and owns an NBA team. His black players want their checks every month, and they won’t be spreading any critiques his way. The NBA can’t ban everyone with money and pea-brains, and so you know that Cuban will be around a long time to come.

We can say with some certainly, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Fortunes Lost: Red Sox 2014

DATELINE: IRONICAL SOX

OBAMA & ORTIZ

How bad are the Red Sox this year? Let us count the ways.

But, we are not feeling masochistic enough to count this day.

You’d need to be a season ticket holder or into self-mutilation to be fond of this team. The Sox are playing the worst list in every which way possible: pitching, hitting, home field, streaks, attitude, and on and on.

If a World Series winner requires middling players to have career years, this season has seen the middle fall into the bottom. They are now having their worst career seasons. It’s the old story of the pendulum swinging.

We feel sorry for John Farrell who looks like a man who is secretly humming “Oh, Canada.” His former Toronto team certainly has some good karma.

If the issue last year was to turn the team away from the bad apples of 2012, we have found that the Sox brass went back to the barrel to add a few apples with worms at the core.

When you replace Jarred Saltalamacchia with another equally impossible last name, you may be risking more than misspelling. The new guy has an attitude that makes Josh Beckett look like Mother Teresa.

We expect that Lackey, Buchholz, and Lester will revert to Beckett year form under the tutelage of their new catcher. Surely he calls a mean game, meaning fair to middling.

Ben Cherington recently signed Stephen Drew, but never admitted he made a few smug mistakes this off-season. The other mistakes (Ellsbury and Saltalamacchia) cannot be fixed.

Cherington seems to be the Scrooge version of Theo Epstein.

Somewhere out there, Bobby Valentine is smiling.

Captain Queeg Meets the Maltese Falcon

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

Bogie&BlackBird

For the uninitiated landlubber, it’s a yacht. When you own a boat that is over 55 feet in length with a couple of masts, you probably have enough money to hire Billy Budd to do your foretopping, if you like that sort of thing.

Humphrey Bogart spent his hard earned money from films like The Maltese Falcon to buy his yacht, which he kept until his death in 1957. He and Lauren Bacall spent many weekends away from the Hollywood set on their schooner.

It fell into disrepair in recent years, but is now over at a boatyard in Little Rhodie being restored to its former glory at the Portsmouth port.

Bogart called his little ship “Santana,” and seemed to find it “the stuff dreams are made of” far more than that disgusting black bird that Sydney Greenstreet (ergo, The Fat Man) chased all over San Francisco.

Now dubbed “Bogie’s Boat,” the little clipper may yet race at Newport with a new life and new owners.

Of course, our favorite story about Bogart’s boat had to do with his great film The Caine Mutiny. If you don’t recall, you deserve to give yourself a treat and see Humphrey Bogart at his most enthralling.

In that film he played the notorious Captain Queeg, a World War II captain with mental problems (like so many in literature). Herman Wouk’s character was brought to life in ways no one could have predicted by Bogie.

Queeg was more than a little strange. He used to roll ball bearings between his fingers when stress got to him. When he went on the witness stand after his crew declared him a nutcase and took the ship, he broke out those little ball bearings to prove the case.

After the movie was a big hit, Bogart was furious because his old friend Frank Sinatra played a prank of major proportions. He loaded up the ship with silver ball bearings that rolled all over the place with the tide.

No word has emerged yet if the ghost of Bogie and the ghost of Sinatra will be shipping out on the restored yacht.

 

 

 

Move Over, Thurber!

Dumb America 

Cheap Jokes for Sale!

Our whimsical tone has reached its nadir.

Humor may be the nectar of the gods, but there are no jokes in the Nazcar Lines in Peru.

Too often we confuse drollery with foppery.

Readers are becoming lost in our malapropisms. And we have bitten off too much biting irony.

We have buried the Celtics in a shroud of parody in the cellar of the NBA. We know where the bodies are buried, and good taste has never stopped us from two-bit satire.

We have dubbed the Red Sox the Good Ship Lollipop and sucked a lemon.

We have been scrooged by the New England Patriots and Bill Belichick.

Sports fans have never met a burlesque they didn’t attribute to rival teams.

We admire the athletes who hold press conferences after games they lose and do stand up monologues with monosyllabic answers in monotones.

Our best lines are always self-deprecating.

There is nothing funny about sports to real fans, and they let us know it with blue jokes abounding.

We have found more screwball humor in baseball than any other sport. We have painted the Celtics green around the gills, and our Patriots have seen too many lanterns in the church steeple.

We reserve our slapstick jokes for slapshot hockey players.

When you want the very best in humor, give Ossurworld a shout.

Want cheap jokes? Inquire within where you will find dumb puns, off-kilter literary references, and dizzying gallows humor.

We average twelve one-liners per blog and have the most dense, cram-packed, joke-to-joke ratio this side of TMZ.

Yet, we are the most understood of all writers: we are the epitome of whimsy.