Red Sox Score: Love All

BrockDATELINE: HUMOR

Boston media has finally jumped on our sarcastic bandwagon.

Last season the Boston bum-kissing media were having more orgasms than a happy hooker. This season, dressed as austere Puritans, media have returned with stocks for the Boston Common.

Fans who want to throw rotten tomatoes at the key non-players are encouraged to do so.

Not since the championship year of Koufax and Drysdale has a team had so little offense to support its pitchers. Only this is not a champion team, and the starting pitchers are starting to look more like the 1964 Mets rotation.

The Red Sox have become Seward’s Folly. Around Fenway the chill is palpable for Cherington’s Folly.

Stephen Drew has pulled his Brink’s truck up to the Sox box office and cleaned the place out. Last time we looked he went 0 for 4 (again) and was batting .125. That is not only below the Mendoza Line, it is a kick below the belt. He took the Cherington family jewels too.

Media members are now concluding that Dustin Pedroia’s career is in the downswing and David Ortiz is, at long last, reaching blowhard status.

In the on-deck circle is John Farrell waiting to morph into Bobby Valentine.

For those who deal in human misery, this team is a godsend.

For those who expected a repeat World Series, this team is your worst nightmare.

They can’t score a run. They can’t do the fundamentals to eke out a victory. They mostly eeek like they see a mouse.

Boston’s all-sports networks on radio and television are now actually watching soccer and the World Cup with fake enthusiasm. When the Red Sox tank, ‘u got 2 do what u got 2 do’—to borrow a phrase from the Twitter generation.

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Want to be Alone? Then Call This Movie Overrated

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

 nose to nose star profiles

With Grand Budapest Hotel around the corner, we decided to go back to the hoary Grand Hotel of 1933.

In case you forgot, this old chestnut starred Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, and Wallace Beery. We had not since this one in decades, and we were prepared for classic profiles at every other camera setup.

The great profiles go head-to-head in nearly every scene they play together. It is heady stuff indeed. Hollywood history has its noggin in the right place.

What we did not recall was that Garbo’s acting is from Mars and Barrymore’s is from Venus. She is a Russian diva ballet star, right out of Diaghilev’s disbanded troupe. Whether it is her Russian demeanor or her reliance on working alone, she is seldom in the same movie as everyone else.

Barrymore is supposed to be a dissipated young German baron, but he seems more appropriate to play the washed out maitr’d at Studio 54. Indeed, the German bar scene looks like Hoboken on a bad night. There are so many American accents among the Teutonic that you begin to wonder if the Nazis are staging a putsch over on the next movie set.

Only Wallace Beery actually tries a German accent. Everyone else seems to be reading the menu at the Brown Derby—from Lionel Barrymore’s take on Alec Guinness in Last Holiday to Lewis Stone in his Phantom of the Opera face.

Joan Crawford is actually playing a steno with a heart of gold here, and we have to give her acting the best marks.

Garbo professed she wants to be alone in this film, which became her calling card. If you want to experience moments, not a movie, then Grand Hotel should be seen one room at a time.

You may want to be alone during viewing (only to fast forward through the dull parts).

Celtics Look Smart and Go Young

DATELINE: HUMOR

RondoLaughs

Rondo Under Cone of Silence

When the Boston Celtics draft Maxwell Smart, you know he must have gone higher than 86.

We wait for the day that Smart tells Danny Ainge, “Sorry about that, Chief!”

Did anyone pull the Cone of Silence down upon the Boston Celtics before the media went wild? Yes, the media had predicted Embiid and Exum as the Boston best choices. No one had the Smarts to know how Young the Celtics would go.

Whether Marcus turns out to be a Smart-aleck or another dumbbell, only the first season will tell. In the meantime, the Celtics may be looking to see if Love will be exchanged for Smart Young players.

Marcus Smart is from Oklahoma where the corn grows as high as an elephant’s eye. Of course, someone with Smarts will point out that corn does not grow in Oklahoma, despite what Rogers and Hammerstein told us.

You don’t have to be a Smarty-pants to wonder what jersey Max will wear next season. Will the Smart money be enough to sign this outstanding young agent of change?

Smart earlier this year looked more like Metta World Peace than Cedric Maxwell. He went into the stands to go after a fan he deemed overly critical, making us wonder whether the Cone of Silence will fall on anyone in Smart’s circle if free speech is an issue.

The Smart money is on Avery Bradley having lost his job this night. A few think it means Rajon Rondo may be heading to any club where Carmelo Anthony plays next season.

If anyone thought the fireworks were over, they aren’t Smart enough to know the Fourth of July is next week.

The Next Boston Celtics Banner is Hanging at the Ready

 DATELINE: HUMOR

 surf city

                                           Kevin Garnett’s Empty Home

Go, Northeast, young men.

Horace Greeley had it backwards. Horace Greedy wants all the money he can get.

LeBron James (about to have another turnabout turncoat summer) and Carmelo Anthony (of the rolling contract like a stone) could be looking for new homes.

Did anyone tell them that Kevin Garnett’s home on Golden Pond, a stone’s throw from Walden Pond is on the market?

Did anyone tell them that Kevin Love may be here? and that the only player to give Carmelo wet dreams is Rondo the corner?

We speak of that great metropolis where Leonardo di Caprio and Jack Nicholson have made movies. We speak of the Hub of the Universe—and no, it does not mean you have to play on Mars.

Boston has a plethora of money and draft picks to spread around the NBA. So, what keeps Lebron, Love, and Carmelo, from making Boston their new hometown?

With Rondo having nightly orgasms passing his balls around, the Celtics would surely have another banner tout suite.

Already the naysayers have said nay.

How many fingers can LeBron hold up to count Boston banners for NBA championships? Does he have as many fingers as Bill Russell?

Oh, Paul Pierce is thinking about another year or two, and he too has not yet sold his palatial Boston digs. There are enough bedrooms and bathrooms to let the James and Anthony families share the accommodations.

And, Paul could live there too as a landlord who is no longer absent.

Monuments Men: Loot of the World Revisited

 DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

all-star monuments

At the end of Citizen Kane is a lasting image of art being burned in furnaces. The same fate befell much of the great art of the world under Hitler’s orders, mostly Picasso and Klee paintings.

The Monuments Men tells the story, more or less, of the art experts who were giving the task to find and to save the great works of art stolen by Nazis from the Jewish private collectors they murdered.

With a marvelous cast of veteran stars (John Goodman, Bill Murray, Matt Damon, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville), director and writer George Clooney has put together one of his template historical tales.

This one has more panache and likely more bravado, but it may not be quite as high level of some of his other movies re-telling history.

Don’t get us wrong. This is a wonderful piece of entertainment, all the more delightful because it does have a satisfying ending with the success of these unlikely soldiers and their dogged perseverance.

If the tone seems a bit sentimental, the intentions are to be lauded.

Of course, international film stars never fare well in these kinds of American endeavors—and Lord Grantham (Bonneville) of Downton Abbey and French star of The Artist (Dujardin) are no exceptions.

Goodman and Murray bring a deft light touch to the proceedings, and Clooney and Damon are, as always, like Clooney and Damon—stalwart and personable.

The story of The Monuments Men deserves to be celebrated, and with this film, you have a de rigueur depiction of their heroism. The film itself seemed, however, to lack something—dare we say it: an artful style.

 

Maleficent Before She Was Good

 DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

then&now

Then & Now

With Angelina Jolie’s over-the-top performance in a live action Disney fairy tale, we chose to go back to the roots of Maleficent in the original Sleeping Beauty.

Back then it was called a cartoon—an epic of 75 minutes.

Walt Disney oversaw the old productions that set the template that all the later animations (as we now call them).

The cutesy woodland animals are all present, like they had been called out of central casting from Peter Pan, Bambi and Cinderella, or 101 Dalmatians. The young prince’s smart-aleck horse is also standard, but most of all we were struck by the magnificent colors of the animation.

Of course, back then they wouldn’t think of making it live action. They simply did not have the computer graphics to pull it off. Computers were relegated to being matchmakers like Univac on television in the 1950s.

Maleficent is, however, the scene-stealing monster to celebrate. She even calls the three chubby little fairies “rabble” and tosses around her “forces of evil” like dishrags. However, Maleficent more or less became typecast as Cruella de Ville—sort of Gloria Swanson in cel format. Her delicious voice belonged to character actress Eleanor Audley (a regular on TV classic Green Acres).

The plot is overly cloying in sweetness, but that was not the problem. Nor really could we complain about the music—except when they sang. We kept thinking of Bob Hope telling the audience that Bing was about to sing—a chance to go out and get the popcorn.

We did feel seeing Aurora and Maleficent again readied us for the Jolie version, though we really are left with a preference to see a slasher movie to pull us out of the syrupy molasses bath we have just experienced.

 

David Ortiz Returns to Cement Head Form

OBAMA & ORTIZ DATELINE: HUMOR

 

After bullying a lowly paid official scorer of baseball, David Ortiz may be shocked to hear that a bigger bully is now after him. Yes, Joe Torre let it be known that MLB is unhappy that Ortiz is biting the hand that feeds him.

By calling into question the objectivity of official scorers, Ortiz seems to have missed the point that he expects his game to be pre-ordained in favor of hometown teams.

This may be regular in the NBA, as everyone may point out, but baseball is supposed to be a game of gentlemen.

We expect that MLB has fined Ortiz for his flagrant flopping, though no one wants to talk about it now. Big Papi is not too bright.

We are not sure that Joe Torre’s comments reached the cement head of Ortiz. In a career of indulgence and spoiled brat antics, Ortiz now seems immune to anything outside his own little world.

Knowing the noblesse oblige attitude of Red Sox ownership, you can count on the likelihood that they paid any fine levied on Big Dopey.

Whether it’s dropping an F-bomb on live television at a family event to honor Boston Strong, or sticking his dumb head into a manager’s press conference, Big David epitomizes obtuse.

Last season he nearly decapitated Dustin Pedroia with one of his patented Godzilla temper tantrums. And, now his General Manager, Smarmy Ben Cherington has excused Ortiz because he is “emotional.”

Emotionally disturbed may be closer to accurate.

His legion of fans may be equally double-digit IQ material.

Hernandez Demands Transfer to Country Club Jail

DATELINE: HUMOR!

Celebrity DNA

Aaron Hernandez has had enough of Bristol County Jail.

There his safety is in jeopardy. Just ask the inmate he beat up several months ago.

Just ask the flies who have been wantonly murdered to garnish Hernandez’s meals. He tried the old ploy to tell the sheriff that there was a fly in his soup to get another meal.

Just ask the fellow inmates at Bristol County to whom Hernandez sold his fan letters to give them a target to steal hearts and wallets when they get out.

Just ask the sheriff who has had to give media interviews weekly on how much weight Hernandez has lost since coming to jail.

Just ask the murder victim Odin Lloyd family that must travel several hours to attend every session in which Hernandez makes an appearance.

Just ask Hernandez who must pay for his lawyers to drive down to Fall River on a constant basis—and these guys don’t carpool, but come in separate limos.

Just ask Hernandez how hard it is to have his ninja friends visit for private conversations when the sheriff is eavesdropping.

Just ask Hernandez how revolting it is to have to deal with Judge Susan Garsh making goo-goo eyes at him. A courtroom insider tells us that she does not make eyes at him. It’s how she always looks at young muscular defendants.

Now that he is being tried in several jurisdictions, his high priced lawyers are finding the gas mileage on their limo is now exceeding the amount they want to charge Aaron for defense.

Hernandez has no preference. Any county country club jail will suffice, but if there is no room at the inn, he will gladly accept incarceration at the Sleep EZ motel with round-the-clock guards.

He would even take home arrest with his ankle bracelet—anyplace he can find a good meal and the chance to escape.

You can also ask to send in the clowns. Oh, never mind, they’re already here.

 

Home Court Disadvantage: Kevin Garnett

DATELINE: HUMOR

surf city

Kevin Garnett may have taken his last bath in Boston.

He sold his $4.6 million home for $3.6 million, which certainly qualifies as a bath. Of course, if he makes his expected $12m next season, he may need that loss as a tax deduction. We should not feel too much sadness for KG whose bankroll of Gs still could choke the proverbial horse.

Garnett’s palace was located on a pond not a stone’s throw from where Henry David Thoreau preached a Spartan lifestyle in Concord. With a gym, a wine cellar, and media room, we suspect this is not the kind of sparse living that Thoreau meant for Walden Pond types.

The house looks somewhat like a California Malibu playground somehow misplaced in a tiny New England hamlet.

Of course, the house is a spacious as a run on the beach near the Big Sur. With 11,000 square feet, it gives the standard Wal-Mart a run for shelf space.

mediaroom

You can almost hear the Pacific waves when you stand outside the magnificence of the rather-non-New England style. If you want a little cottage on Cape Cod, don’t ask the people who designed the Getty House in California to put together your seasonal home.

Yes, KG only lived here when the lemmings were running, or the Celtics were winning. It has the look of a house that has not been lived in much. You can almost hear the Shot Heard Round the World over at the Lexington-Concord Green, not to be confused with Celtic Green.

No one would say how many toilets KG flushed while lord of his domain. We guess five baths, but that is a rough estimate. No self-respecting NBA star can live with fewer than six full-baths.

Alas, the real estate bubble has given KG his last bath.

Lost Appetite After Ravenous

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

Ravenous

Back in 1999 a little appreciated film came out with two of the most chameleon actors in the business: Guy Pearce and Robert Carlyle in Ravenous.

The ersatz Western took place in a remote outpost of the Sierra Nevada after the Mexican War in 1850. A captain suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome is sent there where he meets a ragtag, but dedicated little band at Fort Spencer.

He is no sooner there than a stranger shows up with a hideous tale of cannibalism and survival in the desolate winter mountains. Jeffrey Jones, always an underrated character actor, leads his troop over hill and dale with the survivor in tow looking into the unsettling mystery.

Some familiar faces make one play the game of “where did I see him last?” You may be hard pressed to name where Jeremy Davies or Neal McDonough starred, but you will know them instantly.

Of course, there are dietary complications on the rescue mission to save the party that has been devoured by a deranged super-human cannibal.

Since historical cases center on this region at this time in the Old West, we know the echo of horror is real enough. Yet, the notion that one can develop super senses from becoming a cannibal (and enhanced virility) makes the unpleasantness even more revolting than chocolate covered ants.

Antonia Bird directs the film, one of a handful under her guidance, but her untimely death in 2013 will rob us of any others.

If you find your taste runs toward gruesome thrillers in a Western setting, you cannot find much better potluck than Ravenous. You will not look at stew again quite the same way.

Return of Godzilla David Ortiz

DATELINE: HUMOR

cryin'jag

OOPS! Our error! Not David Ortiz!

Only the placable David Ortiz could bring us back to the bad Red Sox team this season with another controversy of his own making.

This guy sews together more media coverage than Dr. Frankenstein with body parts. The result is always the same: a monster starts to rampage the countryside.

Now Big Papi is furious that a lowly paid official baseball scorer dared to give the first baseman Twins Joe Mauer—and not give Ortiz a hit. And Ortiz actually ran hard down to first base. Oh, the ignominity!

Ortiz held a post-game press conference who said official scorers are supposed to be like homer broadcasters—to give the hometown a benefit.

Where does Ortiz think he plays? In the NBA?

If Jon Lester is ready to give the Red Sox a hometown discount of a million bucks, then the official scorer should not be stingy with those hits.

So, that’s how logic works in the mind of a multi-million dollar part time pinch hitter. Oh, pardon us: we erred by not putting a bunch of hyphens into the previous sentence. But we know the readers from Boston will give us a hometown discount on hyphens.

If it’s a language problem for Ortiz, we may forgive him. After all, if you hit the ball, it should be a hit, not an error.

If our years of watching baseball indicate any truism, it is that 75% of hit balls are usually outs, and dropped balls are errors.

When you are winding down your career and counting the pennies on those last paychecks, this becomes exacerbated for sure. We agree with David. At this point in his life, if he hits the ball, they should award him the base and help his paltry batting average.

Sizemore Does Matter, but Doesn’t Fit All

 DATELINE: HUMOR

Brock

The man with the porn star name did not last half a season. Grady Sizemore wanted to make a comeback. He would have had better luck taking nude selfies of himself again and posting them online.

The Red Sox have not shown much loyalty or patience in recent years. Just ask Jon Lester who has told them he wants to stay and will take a discount in pay. They are now shopping him around. So long, World Series winner. We thought he’d go in a package with Sizemore and Gomes.

In case you missed this baseball season for the Sox, they are having more troubles than in 2012, their worst season in decades.

Maybe Grady will do well on a better team. Heaven knows that nearly every team in baseball is in better shape than the Red Sox. If Sizemore is picked up by another team, his fortunes can only be brighter.

There may be a dozen other players that wish they could be sent out for assignment—to anywhere but the Red Sox.

Batting .216 may seem awful, but the Red Sox certainly have a fair share of worse hitters. Of course, the Red Sox have a rookie now named Brock Holt who plays every position except catcher and pitcher. As a result, everyone else on the team is expendable.

We know the season is turning for the worse when our main reason to follow the Red Sox is to see the long flowing golden locks of Brock Holt.

Now if Holt takes a nude selfie, we will have a season to remember.

This Airplane is Non-Stop

 DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

 Non-Stopper

 

Liam Neeson has abandoned single word titles like Taken and Unknown for the hyphenated world of airline travel Non-Stop.

The apparent story centers on an air marshal facing a diabolical killer who is cleverly bumping off passengers every twenty minutes until our superhero agent Neeson can rectify everything. In the meantime, our hero looks like a looney who has hijacked the plane.

We kept waiting for Leslie Nielsen to stand up while his nose grows to tell us everything will be fine, but Neeson’s nose does not grow when he stands up and tells his fellow passengers the same story. Just about everything else reminded us of Airplane, except for the absence of laughs.

When the pilot gets food poison, the film was headed for the land of incredulity. We half expected Michelle Dockery (of Downton Abbey) would fly the jet the rest of the way.

Neeson is no Nielsen, though he does manage to turn the entire passenger manifest against him in under an hour.

When the writers had to bring this dog to heel, they ran out of clever ideas. The final twenty minutes is haywire with every special effect ever used in every other air disaster movie we’ve ever seen. We still don’t know what happened at the end. So, we don’t have to worry about spoiling it.

Lupita Nyong’o didn’t win an Oscar for this film, and neither did Julianne Moore, but they certainly were taken to unknown parts as well as given a ride. At least there were no wolves at their heels.

Once again, we have a movie that you won’t see on the cross-country flights by the major airlines. We were unable to see it non-stop, hitting the pause many times for a mental breather, and our destination of bedtime couldn’t come fast enough.

Vermeer Undergoes a Test of His Art’s Heart

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

tim's vermeer

Teller, Tim Jenison (standing) David Hockney, Penn Jillette (seated)

Penn and Teller are magicians with an edge. So, it is not surprising that Teller would direct and Penn Jillette would produce a documentary that knocks the art world on its keester. It’s called Tim’s Vermeer.

They have filmed engineer and inventor Tim Jenison’s theory into practice. He believes that Johannes Vermeer painted his fascinating masterpieces with the help of a mirror/camera obscura machine. No evidence exists how else he could have worked his magic with photographic principles not discovered when Vermeer originally painted.

Tim never painted in his life, but he can copy what’s before him with patience and mostly maddening ease. This film shows how the idle rich can spend their time in worthwhile pursuits, like art forgery.

Building an exact model of the setting for “The Music Lesson,” at great expense and over 200 days of labor, they are ready to attempt the matching paint on a canvas to the image illuminated on the mirror edging.

Penn narrates, and both Penn and Teller participate in minimal fashion with the experiment, even going to London to see the original painting. The Queen does grant permission for Tim Jenison to examine the original for thirty minutes, without cameras. They interview and seek the advice of David Hockney about the theory and the technique.

 

The entire task is daunting, and even if the film seems to suggest that Vermeer was a proto-type technocrat, his will and sense of art still prove his work is an artistic achievement of singular proportion—no matter what methods or technology he used. It was hardly cheating, but the duplicate or fake Vermeer is impressive. The film even shows the flaw in Vermeer that had to come only from his image projection technique.

You can expect no less irreverence from Penn and Teller than they show to the art world. Their famous series attacking fakes in all walks of life had easier targets than one of the immortal painters.

Hard as they try, they cannot find any bull-crap on Vermeer.

 

 

 

 

Grand Mal Piano

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

Grand piano

We must confess that any film featuring a classical pianist in a tux who receives a death threat before he plays his comeback concert has to be a delicious treat.

Put Elijah Wood in the tux with a paranoid personality and worries about a critic who promises to assassinate him at the Grand Piano if he plays one wrong note, and you have the toughest audience we have seen in years.

Billed as an old-fashioned thriller, the movie seems like a throwback to glorious black and white, Hitchcockian treats when Paul Henried or John Garfield took to the stage under immense pressure and delivered a keynote performance.

Tom Selznick (Woods) hasn’t had a concert in five years, and he has a pushy, Grace Kelly-style movie star wife (Kerry Bishe) who is insisting he go on with the show, using the temperamental grand piano of his late mentor Patrick Godureaux (described as a Charles Foster Kane type).

The film is peppered with familiar faces, including Alex Winter (formerly Keanu’s Ted and Bill partner) and Allen Leech (Branson the Chauffeur from Downton Abbey). They stand out among the myriad suspects—with John Cusack as the big-name, highly suspicious costar.

Selznick intends to play one of the most difficult pieces in all music (La Cinquette composed by Victor Reyes who is thought of as the new Bernard Herrmann) as his return to concertizing debut. Of course, a nutcase has promised to shoot him between the eyes on stage if he plays a single note incorrectly.

As the conductor (Don McManus) notes, the audience will never know if there is an off-note, owing to the music’s unplayable complexity.

Here the entire film score is part of the plot. What a clever idea.

Ah, there’s nothing more entertaining than highbrow hogwash, done with panache. Directed with old Hollywood in mind by Eugenio Mira.