Guilty Pleasures as Charged: Sharknado 2

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

 

Sharknado 2 proved to be a hilarious waste of time. As social events go on television and movies, this may be as close to a phenomenon as we have seen in many years.

These national amusement moments used to happen with more frequency, but probably were higher in quality. If you were expecting anything extra out of Sharknado 2, you may have been surprised by the tackiness.

It started with a bang. Borrowing heavily from the famous Twilight Zone episode with William Shatner facing a gremlin on the plane wing, we had Ian Ziering seeing sharks flying by. It didn’t help much that Robert Hays, formerly of Airplane!, was now piloting this catastrophe. You might also see Downtown Julie Brown, Andy Dick, Robert Klein, Billy Ray Cyrus, among others.

Other gems included finding Judd Hirsch driving a New York taxi. We almost expected Tony Danza to show up too, but instead were treated to Kelly and Michael and Today’s Matt Lauer and Al Roker.

The concept of a EF5 tornado/hurricane with sharks falling at two inches per hour may be hard to swallow. But, the Jaws wannabes do swallow plenty of New Yorkers.

Of course, the obligatory chainsaw to cut through the shark seems to be a crowd pleaser. Twitter tweeters were expected to explode the system. It was definitely a movie that requires friends to assist you with the shared moment.

Even if you wanted to turn away from the silliness, the film held you in a way that Snakes of a Plane could not.

Syfy has tried to recreate bad horror movies of the 1950s with bad horror movies of the 2000 teens. They have given us our basic yardstick for future reference. It was godawful.

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Paul Pierce Versus Jon Lester: Boston Send Off

 DATELINE: HUMOR

 lester&beckettLackey

Media insiders are having fits over the departure of Jon Lester after seven years and World Series glory.

For the goldfish memory world of attention deficit old timers, Lester is the worst that could happen in Boston sports.

Pardon us: Didn’t we have this same experience last year with Paul Pierce—and his kemo sabe, Kevin Garnett? Wasn’t that twice as worse? Or are we being half-bad?

PPnet

If you like Chinese water torture, the media has plenty of drops to fall on your head. Each day now for a month, the media supplies us with “So long, Lester,” stories. As we recall, this refrain lasted months with the Celtics. It could have been a year in the making.

Pierce was on the Boston scene for much longer than Lester, and the Celtics really didn’t insult him with one lousy, lowball contract offer.

The Red Sox took their vaunted cancer-survivor lefty starter and offered him a box of Crackerjack and the secret prize if he stayed in Boston. Talk about opening the door a crack and singing, “Hit the road, Jack.”

Paul Pierce and Jon Lester both have told media insiders how much they love Boston and may want to end their careers here—some day. Ain’t sentiment sweet?

Of course, such impassioned feelings may change by the time the final hammer is dropped on your noggin.

Let’s not hear how players will do anything for money when it comes to Pierce or Lester. It is the creepy media that creates tidal waves of destruction on their cat’s paws. When the online world and radio blabbers of sport say your time is up, you better believe it.

Smarmy Ben Cherington Destroys Red Sox

DATELINE: SPORTS WHIMSY

Hynkel's Dance Partner

You can place blame for the sell-off, send-off, let-down, set-down, down-the-drain Boston Red Sox season on one man: General Manager Ben Cherington.

Smiling Ben is about as much fun as the man who makes nooses to hang around town.

Cherington dismantled the band of bearded brothers almost immediately after they surprisingly won the World Series. He sent key players packing, unwilling to pay more than ten cents on the dollar for a contract.

Then, he set about destroying the clubhouse chemistry.

It was easy: bring in A.J. Pierzynski and let Ortiz be overpaid and overbearing.

Once the bad apples were in place, your barrel of fun was over.

Cherington is now orchestrating the fire sale of the century for the Red Sox. His August version of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre featured Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, and Carl Crawford, who were sent packing by machine gunners holding violin cases. Everyone loved that scenario. Now Ben is planning another massacre.

He intends to dismantle the Fenway Cathedral one brick at a time. Jake Peavy went sailing off on his duck boat, and now Jon Lester is taking the A-train.

Other future free agents may go with him. So long to Koji, Johnny, Carp, Dubront, and anyone else who smiled more than Ben. The list is long.

It does not matter much that the clubhouse now resembles a place where dead men tell no tales. Suppose you hold a resurrection party in a morgue, and none of the corpses came back to life? You have an idea of what it’s like to be on the Red Sox champagne voyage of 2014.

That’s the style of Ben Cherington.

The New Flipping Flipper: David Ortiz of the Red Sox

DATELINE: HUMOR

ortiz

Not since that aquatic Flipper have we seen someone quite so agile enough to be called the New Flipper, but David Ortiz of the Red Sox has now taken on the task of being the new bat-flipping flipper.

Once again he has put on his talents at a show in the heart of the SeaWorld show business in Tampa Bay. The Rays have not taken a liking to the post-home run bat flips of Mr. Ortiz.

It caused David Price to throw a ball at his back subsequently, and now another pitcher for the Rays has taken exception with Big Papi’s style of celebrating.

Rays pitcher Chris Archer took umbrage with the latest flipping behavior of the serial flipper. He called it showboating and a serious offense against the game, which he believes Ortiz disrespects.

In addition, he thinks Ortiz has an ego that makes him think he is bigger than the game of baseball. Imagine that! Someone else other than the Boston media has now discovered the secret vice of David Ortiz, revealing the hidden hitter.

Flipper Ortiz has fired back by saying that he really won’t take any comment by a young pitcher with an ounce of respect. Of course, he won’t take criticism by anyone with a grain of salt. He pours more salt on the wound than the girl with the umbrella on the saltbox.

To top it off, with the Red Sox collapsing with more alacrity than an imploding skyscraper, Ortiz has even turned on his manager Dudley Do-Right Farrell for not calling for replay on his home run the other night (caught by a fan and ruled a ground-rule double).

 

 

Red Sox Fire Sale Begins!

 DATELINE: HUMORESQUE

primordialsoup

Smarmy Ben Cherington will continue to dismantle his formerly winning 2013 team, transformed into misfits and losers in 2014.

Mike Carp, another super backup who gave a modicum of his best last season, now wants out. There is no honor sitting on the bench of a last place team.

Will the Sox trade him, as per his request? Carp may be another whose delusions of grandeur were enhanced by 2013’s fluke year. Now he believes he is the Lou Gehrig of pinch-hitters.

We could go down the list from Ellsbury to Saltalamacchia, from Peavy to Carp, from Lester to Gomes. We hardly knew ye.

Yes, Ben Cherington’s fire sale is driving fans south to escape the flames. Each day while Cherington fiddles, the fans show up for the best ticket in town: New England Patriots training camp.

It’s free, open to the public, and gives opportunity to watch Bill Belichick smile at reporters and dodge legal bullets.

Baseball seems over for this year. That July run from the cellar ended quickly than a Quabbin Reservoir squall.

David Ortiz will likely start squawking now that his importance is wasted on a last-place bunch of losers.

Dustin Pedroia, lifelong staple of the Sox, has heard the mutterings that premature age now bedevils him.

The Red Sox have become the new Boston Celtics, leading us all to believe that there would be summer fireworks (as promised by Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck). Instead, we have heard a few pops, but like this year’s Fourth of July festivities on the Boston Esplanade, the Pops were duds.

It has not been a good year in Boston sports—and the pessimism is exploding all around us.

Gone to a Far, Far Better Place: Jake Peavy

 DATELINE: HUMOR

Peavey's Island

The Red Sox are desperate, and no one wants to help them. So they are helping themselves by divesting themselves of former World Series stars. This week: Jake Peavy. Next week: Jon Lester.

Today, about a year after the winner of the Jeremy Renner lookalike contest arrived in Boston, he is about to depart.

The Departed 2 may soon become a movie like the original, but this time about the elimination of Boston athletes by Ben Cherington’s gang of mobsters.

Jake Peavy made a few waves during his brief tenure with the Red Sox. He made heads twirl when he started cussing on the mound, but he was cursing only himself for not firing strikes. He seemed to fit in with all the other crazies on the Red Sox pitching staff.

If we ever remember Peavy in the future, it will be for his movie star looks and his spontaneous buying habits.

After riding in a duck boat for the World Series parade of winners, Peavy was so enchanted with the experience that he wanted to own it forever. He bought a duck boat: the actual one he rode on the streets of Boston and sailed on the Charles River.

It now sits on a pond on his home estate where he can always call up former teammates during the off-season for rekindling those happy memories.

Of course, right now the winning of a World Series in 2013 seems to be about as far off as the next installment of Star Wars in a distant galaxy.

Good-bye to those movie star looks.

Waitresses Dump Noodles on WEEI’s Morning Show Fool

DATELINE:  HUMOR

 Dumb America

As the world turns on Kirk Minihane, his own station now has decided his apologies were perfunctory and insincere.

WEEI has now suspended the gadfly Minihane.

If you want to note that horse has already fled the barn now that the radio station is closing the door, you would be among a growing chorus.

The fallout never ended, and Minihane wrote self-aggrandizing blogs to say he “screwed up.” But, he also noted that those media critics had an “agenda.”

Apparently advertisers, other networks, and radio guests, all have agendas: they don’t want to work with a slug.

NESN (New England Sports Network) and Fox have been among the heavyweights to dun WEEI. Just a few days ago, one of the shills over there noted that Minihane had made a “triumphant return” after a few days of vacation time.

We suspect the indefensible comments may have been buried as misguided praise by the second-rate radio station. Its parent company Entercom seems to have heard the public hue and cry.

The Dennis & Callahan Morning Show where Minihane plied his dregs may also be heading for the last roundup. The two major stars may be hard-pressed to win an extension contract after September. All the parties may soon be unemployed.

All have nitwit Minihane to thank. What can we expect from a man who apologizes to Erin Andrews for his comments, and adds the caveat that if she were 15 pounds heavier, she’d be working as a waitress.

There goes the waitress fan base with the out-to-lunch Minihane. He may never eat in a restaurant again in this town.

 

NESN Kingpin Beheads WEEI

DATELINE: HUMOR

JUNKYARD pooch

A few days ago we called on WEEI, one of Boston’s all-sports talkfest stations, to rid itself of gadfly Kirk Minihane, a self-professed iconoclast.

He finds a rock to hide under on the Dennis & Callahan Morning Show at the radio station. Latest brouhaha with him was hardly a haha funny moment in which he called a fellow media reporter/analyst a “gutless bitch,” though the sobriquet might better fit him.

We did not think that host cable network NESN, owned by King John Henry VIII, would be the one to call for the removal of the head of Minihane. Yet, lo and behold, NESN has announced that they are severing all ties to Dennis, Callahan, WEEI, and Minihane.

What more do you need, Entercom Productions? Fox Network, no bastion of honor, has even told its talent to avoid your station and that show in particular.

Local liberals have hated D&C Morning Show for ages. The two sports-savvy hosts are too conservative for the area. They are also too intelligent and knowledgeable. They have however gone wrong in an attempt to appeal to ratings. Minihane is a step in the wrong direction.

Oddly enough, John Dennis and Jerry Callahan may find new jobs when their contract runs out in September as they have some abilities. Yet, it is Minihane who will inherit the show, as he is the last one under contract by WEEI.

We will miss the occasional peek at the simulcast show that often stole our best humor for their own edification.

Shameless PBS “Documentary” on Sherlock

 DATELINE: TV MASHUP

sherlocks

Though we basically enjoyed watching the two “episode” commercial for the PBS series Sherlock, the documentary by PBS called How Sherlock Changed the World is nothing more or less than an advertisement for the PBS series with Benedict Cumberbatch.

The so-called documentary used the theme from the recent series to discuss the Conan Doyle stories. Instead of relying on another PBS favorite, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett that more accurately made the point that Holmes was the first CSI.

The current state of documentaries has deteriorated another level with this hackneyed attempt to sell a series by presenting a film that explores the impact of Doyle’s work over 100 years ago.

The repetition of the message over two episodes may be a kind of cognitive device to make sure dumb PBS audiences understand the key point. Talk about misjudging your audience.

To watch some of the most successful criminologists of our time compliment Doyle and Sherlock is indeed heady stuff as they use modern cases to prove how advanced the Doyle stories were. It’s true that Holmes may have looked like sci-fi in his day with blood trace issues and chemical tests of evidence.

The best part of the shows included scenes of Doyle being interviewed and explaining his inspiration of a former professor at medical school (Dr. Joseph Bell) who even posed once in a deerstalker cap for a laugh.

We love Sherlock, and we love documentaries that are genuine. We don’t love being manipulated shamelessly.

How Sherlock Changed the World is pleasant, but obviously it is a commercial effort to publicize the Cumberbatch series–and that grates.

Birth Leaves a Mark

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

 Bacall & Bright

Bacall & Bright

We decided to revisit Jonathan Glazer’s Birth after being impressed with Under the Skin.

Has it been ten years since his previous movie disturbed audiences? We were reminded that adult movies have nothing to do with overt sexual encounters. That’s why pseudo-softcore porn (like the simulated sex scenes of True Blood) are not truly for mature audiences.

Few people might be emotionally equipped to handle Birth, the ostensible tale of reincarnation. A creepy kid (an amazing performance of maturity by 10-year old Cameron Bright) shows up to tell a woman (Nicole Kidman) that he is her first husband reborn. His name is Sean, and everyone thinks at first it is a practical joke.

The boy knows shockingly intimate details about Anna’s first marriage and friends. Anna’s mother (Lauren Bacall) and fiancé (Danny Huston) (like everyone else) start to disagree with her decisions to humor the child.

Anna destroys her potential relationship with her spouse-to-be and tries grasping at the straw that she has met her first husband not grown up yet.

Performances here are utterly mesmerizing. The director lingers on faces to a disquieting degree, giving actors opportunities they seldom experience.

Anna entertains child molesting in a way that is shocking, but the child is beyond incredible in his seductive ways as an adult molester.

Witchy Anne Heche as Clara, an old friend of the family, seems to hold the key—and something akin to an explanation of sorts.

Emotional rollercoasters provide entertainment, but we are seldom prepared for where they take us. We think Kidman never has shied away from roles, and this remains one of her best.

True horror does not require buckets of blood and violent special effects, and this film will horrify you. It is utterly brilliant and unexpected.

Fenway Park: Church of Holy Redemption Now in Service

Holy Mackerel

 

Heathens of summer have heard the clarion call. The Red Sox have found life wanting in Sin City.

The Red Sox were the American League team standing on the street corner, holding the sign that said: “End of World is Near.”

Now they are all gathered under Ben Cherington’s revival tent and singing, “Amazing Grace.” It certainly sounds better than the Titanic’s last ditty, “Nearer My God to Thee.”

Pardon us for wondering whether “Holy Cow,” or “Holy Mackerel” applies.

We just see David Ortiz calling out, “Hosannah in the Highest,” after he tied Carl Yastrzemski with 452 dingers.

It’s hotter in Jamaica than Hades for Big Papi, as he claimed he would heat up for the final two months of the planned swan song.

Jon Lester was never going to let a last place team keep him from St. Cy Young’s trophy and a contract worth $150million. Alms for the poor, indeed.

All this old-time religion has fans at Fenway passing the ammo and praising John Farrell.

If the Red Sox go from last to first in two months, this will be a bigger headline in the New York Post than when David slew Goliath—or when the Yankees signed Babe Ellsbury.

You thought miracles only happened on ice, but the Red Sox are on the road to Redemption City. Now let’s all pray they are not waylaid by the temptations of those apples of Sodom in September.

No Keel Hauling Needed for Red Sox & Cherington

DATELINE: SINK OR SWIM

Cap Phillips

If the Red Sox win twice as many games as they lose for the remainder of the season, you may consider the season better than a salvage job.

If they can right the ill-fated Costa Concordia and plan to tow it finally out of its fatal resting place, then the Red Sox can likely limp to the scrap yard of off-season.

At least that was the hope.

Now they are taking reservations for the post-season. The Good Ship Lollipop was half-submerged and rusting away as the All-Star break loomed. All its good memories of winning a World Series not a year ago were stuck in the mud.

If someone went to Ben Cherington and told him there was a cancer on his presidency, we’d think it callous. Whether Cherington is the New Nixon or not, only removing the Watergate from the Concordia will tell us if his ship will float and then sail to its destiny.

The Good Ship Lollipop is back on the bounty main. The one key difference between the mutiny on the ship and its present success is the wholesale hanging out to dry of A.J. Pierzynski.

Heavens, we hate to dump on one man and blame him for the catastrophe fans endured for half the season, but if the yardarm has a noose…

Once the barnacle of A.J. had been taken off the burning deck of the Sox Concordia, we had something akin to a whale watch cruise. We would sail around Boston Harbor, looking at the seals being devoured by Great White Sharks.

Now it appears the Red Sox are not in worse shape than True Blood, killing off its key players in grand finale fashion.

It now appears that the Red Sox have sucked it up and spat it out.  They have become the newly christened contenders of the AL East for rookies. And, that is never a point of pennant contention.

Red Sox Awaken, But Is It in a Nick of Time?

DATELINE: HUMOR

Brock

Apparently when the Boston Celtics put us to sleep for the off-season, the Boston Red Sox woke up.

Their season long somnambulist cakewalk to the cellar of the American League may be the stuff of bad dreams. Now they have suddenly begun winning close games with walk-off hits and one run.

Can it be possible? It looks like 2013 all over again—well, at least this week.

No team has ever gone to the playoffs, let alone been a contender after such an abysmal start.

Yes, the Red Sox have awakened when the evil prince Pierzynski was banished to the land of Nod. During our nap, someone must have kissed the sleeping dog because he is barking up a storm.

We only wish those promised Celtics fireworks had awakened us earlier. We might not have nodded off on the Red Sox.

For a moment it did seem like a bad vacation week. We put on a game—and Don Orsillo’s molasses tones were absent. Instead we were given a rude awakening as NESN sent Orsillo on an unwanted one-week vacation while they tested new voices.

Yes, something evil has come this way—and we blame those weird sisters who own the Red Sox and NESN for this turn of a bubbling cauldron.

In the meantime we think Brock Holt looks like the latest in a line of charming princes. When they look like a star from lead-off, you know you have another Boston legend in the making.

Perhaps this brief resurgence of World Series form will fade as the sun sets earlier in August, but for a few days we feel that our gentle sleep continues with delightful dreams.

Belichick & Hernandez: Text Buddies

DATELINE: HUMOR

hitch

Bill Belichick knows when to reveal information. It’s only when he has to. Right now, his lawyer can do the talking. When he is on the witness stand during the Super Bowl festivities, things may get dicey.

This week he was tarred with a court revelation that there were 34 pages of text messages with serial killer Aaron Hernandez.

True to his word, Belichick did not address this bad publicity that makes him look like a dupe or a co-conspirator. Instead, he had his own Ninja lawyer come out of the shadows to reveal that the press leaks were wrong.

Belichick merely texted Hernandez 33 times between those seasonal murder sprees. Oh, thank heavens for that!

That does not exactly edit down the wordage from War and Peace to a haiku, but Bill Belichick still sent about 1000 words to Hernandez about unknown subjects during their brief off-kilter season.

With shortcut abbreviations and emoticons, we suspect that Bill could have squeezed 2000 words and a picture into his texts.

Perhaps all this friendly banter was merely the stuff of a father figure giving advice to his wayward son.

Perhaps we will have to wait for the trial, now set for the New Year of 2015, to learn what the twosome had to say to each other.

When your lawyer must start to become your spokesperson in the NFL, you may start to look over your shoulder. Something is unraveling in the career of Bill Belichick.

Beauty Under the Skin Reveals Beast

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

Skin Job

Jonathan Glazer makes movies on rare occasions.

His latest, after nearly ten years, is called Under the Skin, and it is a creepy on the cusp of science fiction weirdo.

As always, Glazer attracts big stars to his small projects, this time Scarlett Johansson who is stunning in a black wig. She mesmerizes as the beguiling alien whose mission is to feed unsuspecting blokes from Glasgow to her species of oily slicks.

The main character seems to look at these humans as some kind of ant colony, lacking any reason for sympathy. She mimics sexual allure to reel in the little fish.

At first you may wonder if she is another vampire on the prowl, or even an android in the vein of the Terminator. However, this is not your teenage boy’s idea of science fiction. There is a dearth of action, and no superhero to save the day. All those nude scenes belie something evil coming your way.

We once saw an Outer Limits show from the old days in which space aliens came to Earth and became corrupted by cigarettes and coffee to lose sight of their mission. So it is for Johansson’s featured creature. Chocolate cake may lead to sex, and their satisfying qualities may be lost if you are from some far off galaxy.

Under the Skin is slow-moving, methodical, and hypnotic. The music of Mica Levi provides the right métier of off-putting.

Each episode illuminates the situation in which a catatonic monster becomes a victim of her own space-shot mission.

 

Be sure to check out the new movie review book, DOCUMENTARY VERSUS DOCUDRAMA. It’s now available at Amazon.com in softcover and in ebook for smart readers.

You can analyze this metaphoric tale every which way, but it is a wonder to behold.