One Way to Kill a Laugh


Not one laugh in the west


We love Westerns, and we are horrified by something called A Million Ways to Die in the West. If writer/producer/director/star Seth McFarlane thinks he is any of the above, we beg to differ. This is not Orson Welles making a movie; it is not even Woody Allen doing a parody.

An alleged comedy/satire/burlesque/parody, this stinkeroo may be considered a misfire by a Gatling gun.

This film tries to juxtapose modern parlance of the main character Albert with everyone else in Western veneer. Filled with witless profanity and ugly sexual references, the humor must be knocking them dead if audiences are high on dope.

A big budget, high gloss film, the movie has elements of music that reminds one the big westerns of the 1950s. Scenery and plot holes are right out of the heyday of oaters. We almost wish this had been toned down to a reasonable bad movie. Instead, this film is a colossal misstep, working hard to do pratfalls.

Oh, a few performers always shine no matter how deep in sheep dip their movie paycheck can be found. Neil Patrick Harris and Liam Neeson actually rise above the material, though it would only take one step up on the step-ladder to achieve this height.

One heavy stepping dance sequence makes us yearn for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, but instead we have flatulence jokes that Blazing Saddles wore out forty years ago.

The concept of the picture seems to be that the West was a dangerous place filled with menace and sickness. Most of that is in the mind of Seth McFarlane who has seen enough Westerns to miss their point.

Taking most set-ups in western movies, this story goes from one gag to another, making foul language and brutality the stuff of humor.

We rate this movie: “Just Awful.”

Roger Goodell: Profile in Courage

DATELINE: Slapstick


If President John F. Kennedy were going to assemble more nominees for his sequel to Profiles in Courage, Roger Goodell has put his name up for consideration.

Actually in Boston, Caroline Kennedy still awards an annual Profile in Courage to someone in society who stands up to evil, against all odds, and fights for integrity.

Come to think of it: that describes the Equalizer, the former CIA agent who has gone rogue and vigilante.

It also self-describes Roger Goodell. He has decided to stand up to the Evil Empire of the NFL, the New England Patriots. As a pasty middle-aged hack, he now finds himself compared to the handsome middle-aged Tom Brady. Goodell is hoping he will win sympathy for going against the epitome of the All-American boy.

The Belichick juggernaut is hard to beat, even if his only weapon nowadays is a pin that he sticks in pigskin and effigies of Roger Goodell. The NFL commissioner is going against voodoo too. Wow, what a guy!

As he stated this week, Goodell (with emphasis on the good) stands up for integrity in football, which is no mean feat considering the hacks who referee the game and give advantages to the pick of the week.

Goodell has announced that Robert Kraft has no hold on him and that he works for all 32 teams, not just doing the bidding as Kraft’s ball boy.

It is courageous indeed for Roger Goodell to put his career, his reputation, and his enormous paycheck on the line, to stand up to Belichick, Brady, Gronk, and Kraft, the NFL’s version of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Roger Goodell wants his profile in courage awarded as soon as possible. Another week of incompetency may do him in forever.


State of Emergency, Chaos, Discord and the NFL

DATELINE: Goodell Had by All


Commissioner Roger Goodell gave a press conference to start Super Bowl weekend in which he played the role of Alfred E. Neumann. Yes, the famous Mad Magazine icon is a poor second fiddle next to the leader of the NFL.

In a speech that delineated the “State of the NFL”, Goodell seems to have struck a familiar theme: “What me worry?”

Goodell was not talking specifics or actually saying much of anything about anything, but no one would stop him from saying it.

He is not worried about his job. He already knows he is likely to be canned as much as tomorrow’s catch of tuna.

Goodell has not made any judgments about “Inflate-gate.”

He believes the leaks from his office are not giving away the store.

After dealing with child abusing players and wife beating players, Goodell has suddenly come to realize that this the year he must protect the integrity of the game.

He explained that “yours truly” has been doing a great deal of soul-searching. Apparently he has a Ouija Board in his office and listens for the Zen-Buddhist sound of one hand clapping. When he hears it, he knows NFL revenues are down.

Unfortunately, shutting the barn door after the horses have left is not a good strategy. Goodell feels his bosses (the owners) know how good he is at wearing a white hat and riding a white steed, even if the horse ran out of the barn.

Goodell went out on a limb and said he wanted to hire a medical chief to protect the health of players, coaches, and ball boys. Apparently this proposal rings of foreshadow of finding mental problems among those on the NFL payroll.



Sports Media Exaggerations


Rhino:Rondo & coach

Buffoons of sports, better known as media insiders of the NFL, have embarrassed themselves with imperfect metaphors.

For example, one maroon has compared Brady’s deflated footballs to the Black Sox Scandal of 1919.

Another imbecile compared Belichick to Whitey Bulger.

We await the call of Gronk, Brady, Wilfork, and Belichick as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

If you a sensation-seeker of the media, this kind of hyperbole may win you a pay raise if the ratings hold up. If you actually deal in humor, you may have stumbled into some of the funniest logic this side of Oscar Wilde.

If you present yourself as some kind of national objective journalist, you have been treed by the bloodhounds of fair play. Arf Arf and Bow Wow.

The Black Sox scandal was about fixing the World Series by winning by a smaller score for gamblers. It’s betting on your own games.

Whitey Bulger murdered people. Even at his spectacular worst, Bill Belichick has not performed mayhem, say on the order of Aaron Hernandez.

But, we suppose you could argue that when you run with dogs, you may wake up with fleas, Super Bowl writers.

However, we suspect the air pressure between your ears may have reached maximum nitrogen toxicity of the brain, Seahawk lovers.

We’d give a name to the nitwits whose theories of hatred for the Patriots leads them to go beyond the limits of their own comprehension, but we have taken pity on those who try to earn a paycheck by “shally”, known in the parlance of Julius Caesar as a knife in the back.

A horse’s ass by any other name is Kornheiser & Doyel.

ESPN Hates the New England Patriots

DATELINE: ESPN Sides with Fair Weather


History has a tendency to knock NFL games off the front pages.

Boston has been overwhelmed with snow and talk of snow for the week before the Big Game. When you contrast that with the pictures coming back from Phoenix of sports reporters in short sleeves and smiling in the sunshine, you start to unleash a monstrous backlash.

The Patriots might be beloved by local fans, but don’t rub their noses in the warm, pleasant weather of Arizona. Boston’s Patriot fans like to think their team is a foul weather squad, not prissy snowbirds.

When you top that off with endless talk about a scandal so unimportant that it won’t be resolved for weeks, or at least until after the Super Bowl, you have poked a finger in the eyes of Patriot fans.

There is resentment in New England.

How dare the media dun the Patriots with deflated footballs? If you want to take the air out of a happy time, more needed after a blizzard than ever, you risk the enmity of New England in full force.

ESPN may not care about the feelings of Bill Belichick, and the feeling may be mutual. However, ESPN may care about their ratings in a big market city and region. And, they are shooting the fans in New England by firing squad every day.

ESPN’s headquarters may be in Connecticut, but they are about as far from New England as Seattle. And, by the way, Tom Brady has a cold from the change of climate.



Daily News Melds Yellow Journalism with Deflategate

DATELINE: Mellow Yellow News

flaccid footballs

The New York Daily News performed a prick your balls test this week to determine if a New England Patriot ball boy with a needle could stick a dozen balls in a bathroom stall within 90 seconds.

He had time to spare, having pricked each ball for 2 or 3 seconds. He packed them back into the bag, did his business, and was on his way to a championship game.

At least this is according to the objective Daily News that has put itself in line for a Pulitzer Prize with this startling bit of investigative journalism.

Next week the Daily News will attempt to prove that the Patriot ball boy is also the same person on the grassy knoll in Dallas. After that, they plan to test the rare footage of film of Bigfoot in the California wilderness to find out if it was actually the Patriot ball boy in a gorilla suit.

The Daily News also has a theory that nearly all the crop circles in the United States have been frauds perpetrated by ball boys of the New England Patriots.

Word on the street is that the Daily News has a lead on an important story that links Area 51 whistleblower Robert Lazar to the training of Patriot ball boys at the secret base in Nevada.

If there is definitive proof that New England ball boys are this clever and inventive, the CIA expects to recruit them for important spy missions among ISIS and Yemen rebels.

As for the Patriots, Bill Belichick denies that the ball boys of New England must score perfectly on the Wonderlic test, used by the NFL to determine the IQ of players.

The Daily News expects to release more incisive reports before the Super Bowl deadline passes.

More Secrets about Moonbats on the Moon

DATELINE: Movie Mashup on the Moon

Klaatu & Gort

Another mockumentary gathers together dark side insider dope of the Moon. We love our crypto-history from NASA presented to us with a new SyFy movie called Aliens on the Moon: The Truth Exposed.

We cannot eat enough of these bogus computer chips.

Director Robert Kiviak assembles the usual crew of experts you see on fake science TV shows like Ancient Aliens or Hangar One every week to tell us that NASA and the government is covering up a large colony of spying aliens on the Moon. They’re protecting schmuck citizens from panic.

The film’s documentarians show us various colorized photos of the Moon featuring gun turrets, radio satellite dishes, and smoke stacks. Apparently the aliens are still using turbine technology and rudimentary satellite waves.

The most intriguing parts of the film feature Buzz Aldrin, brutally misused and set up to sit by quietly while the film duns him for not revealing that he and Neil Armstrong saw aliens parked over near a dune on the Moon, observing them during the 1969 Moon landing.

The highlight of the film is one expert billed as Amy Shira Teitel. It is actually the actress you see on all the AT&T commercials at the store, telling you about the virtues of their cell phones. This time she is billed as a “spaceflight historian” and seems a bit more starched than when she shills cell phones.

The structures found on the Moon are enormous, standing miles high or miles wide. These facilities might actually have convinced us—but the obligatory alien body is unearthed from a bootleg copy of Apollo 20’s mission. Oh, you didn’t know about Apollo 20 going to the dark side of the Moon?

Disinformation is the bread and butter of crypto-history when the dead alien video features a naked female, glistening in a cellophane shroud. We had to watch it a second time.

Media Day Proves Medium Not Well Done



The Super Bowl has never been about football.

And, another media day proved that point because the Boston media was not there. They were stuck in New England, waiting for the airport to open again.

So, media day was a bust for Boston. No one covered the stories under the cloud of a blizzard. Round the clock snowstorm coverage left little time to discuss the Patriots, except for the occasional reference to the air pressure on a meteorology map.

Boston fans missed Gronk reading erotic passages from an alleged fan-based groupie account of the influence of the man who loves his Polish sausage.

Marshawn Lynch indicated that he only attended Media Day to keep his money in tact. If he had skipped it, he would have been fined.

Lynch was defended by teammate Richard Sherman whose elbow may turn into macaroni during the Super Bowl when Patriot players cook his funny bone. In the meantime, Sherman took on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell again this week by insisting if players are required to meet with the media each week, so too should the Commissioner.

Owner Robert Kraft used the opportunity to school the alleged smarty-pants Robert Sherman in high finance and office politics. Kraft sent a message to the Seahawk loudmouth that the party he threw was to benefit players who receive over 50% of the revenues Kraft can raise from sponsors.

Bill Belichick seemed relaxed in a director’s chair, looking to all the world like Alfred Hitchcock on the set of The Birds.




No Blizzard and No Deflategate: Your Media at Work

DATELINE: Ironical Low Air Pressure


Snow Barely Reaches Paul Pierce’s Crotch

With the Patriots leaving Boston to go to Arizona for the Super Bowl, dire predictions of three feet of snow and one of the worst blizzards of all-time were rampant in the media and among the so-called experts.

However, within hours of Boston flakes, Robert Kraft was demanding an apology for questioning the integrity of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady by so many who had been quick to condemn them as cheaters and deflating frauds.

The only fraud here was the hysterical media—people who work at talk sports radio and ESPN who need material like a ravenous monster. They made it up. The worst evidence is a ballboy going to take a 90 second bathroom break and being held accountable for deflating a dozen balls (each taking at least 10 seconds).

And now we have evidence that the hysterical media and incompetent experts are also in the field of meteorology. The so-called blizzard was a bust. No one wanted to say so. Compared to 1978, this storm was a flake in the park.

Like Chicken Little, the weather people on television fought valiantly to convince the public to close schools, shut down airports, ban travel on the roads, and other extreme measures.

There were some flakes, but we strained to see more than a dusting of twelve inches on our front lawn.

Earlier this season Bill Belichick knocked the meteorologists for seldom being correct. He was a voodoo scientist, according to the National Weather Service.

He was a voodoo scientist according to the Science Guy Bill Nye, a media created expert high school teacher without degrees or objectivity. He’s a Seahawk fan.

There were no deliberately inflated footballs, and there was no New England blizzard. Boston’s 24 inches of snow was a mere bagatelle.

Wake up, America. The media has you in its grip.

P.S.,  Media Day in Arizona and Blizzard Day in Boston happen to coincide this year.

Is It a Wild Bunch or a Dirty Dozen?

 DATELINE: No Golden Pond

wild bunch

Sylvester Stallone’s gathering of elderly action stars in a return to form series called The Expendables was meant to be a satire, tongue-in-cheek fun. Somewhere along the way it became grim action routines in a vaudevillian roadshow. We’re now up to #3, and none of your favorite stars has kicked the bucket yet.

They are still kicking ass.

We used to enjoy films like the Wild Bunch or the Dirty Dozen. Now we have the Wild and Dirty Golden Agers.

These old stars were obviously and desperately sitting by the phone hoping to regain their star status, if not their youth and vitality.

Our Gang of old-timers refuses to play mentors, grandpas, or Gabby Hayes to younger stars. Perhaps they are remembered by boomers with a lost sense of time and place.

Yes, they used to make movies like this and called it On Golden Pond.

Now your golden agers are committing mayhem like adolescent thugs. We want to take a count on how many Depends were needed make these guys Expendable.

Some of the old stars we want to see made the annual gone to be Big Silver Screen in the Sky list recently played on New Year’s newscasts and likely in the montage of yesteryear at the Oscars.

Don’t worry: a who’s who of fading stars is left here: Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Arnold, Dolph, Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, and on and on. Stallone writes this stuff in his sleep and produces it with a kill-ratio of 100 to each star.

Your explosions and carrying-on no longer can be considered nostalgic. These guys are serious in holding off The Grim Reaper. There will be no cable TV series for them in their dotage. It’s big time Big Screen Big Mayhem.

Next time we suggest that Stallone gather all the old, former James Bond actors and have a real shoot off at the 007 Rest Home.

Belichick Heads for the OK Corral & Means Business


Man with No Name or TB12?

The old gunslinger came out with his pistols blazing.

Bill Belichick mowed down the press with all the aplomb of Clint Eastwood in a spaghetti Western. We have not seen such fire-breathing vengeance in a dozen seasons from Bill.

Usually Just Plain Bill talks like a man with a prolonged case of dyspepsia expecting more hot sauce in his diet. On this Saturday, a week before the Super Bowl, he came across as a man whose homemade chili just burned out his esophagus.

Up an octave, down a reporter, he took down those who raised cheatgate, Spygate, and deflategate with a flurry of piercing blue-eyed laser beams.

Among the hastily drawn media crowd, those who asked rude questions ought to know they only lived by the grace of Bill Belichick. But, their names, ranks, and serial numbers, were duly noted.

Belichick announced he had conducted his own investigation, and he dared anyone there to snicker.

If Randolph Scott told the assembled town meeting that he was going to restore law and order to the West, you knew he meant business in one of those 1950s hard-boiled Westerns he did as precursor to Clint.

Belichick has had to waste his precious time bringing law and order to the Super Bowl—and now he was ready for the big showdown. It wasn’t going to be at noon near Tombstone, Arizona. He was putting the world on notice that them varmints who disrespect the Patriots ought to get out of town by sunset, February 1st.

The OK Corral has just been moved to Glendale, Arizona, and Patriot detractors better head for the hills. Belichick is on the warpath.

Gremlins & Patriots Down to Paranormal Explanations

DATELINE: Truth is Out There!

flaccid footballs

Bill Belichick decided he needed to hold another press conference this week because of air inflation issues.

The football genius admitted he has been on a learning curve this week, taken up in a trial balloon. From his new vantage, he studied all about psi and csi and where the twain shall meet.

If the NFL won’t exonerate the New England Patriots, Belichick has done his own investigation—and he assures us that everyone in Foxboro is innocent as a babe in an incubator.

We still aren’t sure if the footballs used in the AFC championship game spent any time in a hyperbaric chamber to stay wrinkle free, sort of like Michael Jackson used to do. No, not Michael ‘Air’ Jordan, we mean the other one.

For 23 minutes more fans and hostile NFL haters were subject to the controlling force of Bill Belichick, assuring everyone that the deflation at Foxboro is a cosmic anomaly.

The Patriots seem to be facing the old World War II nemesis: foo-fighters.

These gremlins of invisible torment were last seen on an episode of Twilight Zone, bedeviling Bill Shatner. Now they have returned to clip the wings and deflate the balls of Bill Belichick.

Whether you call them gremlins, foo-fighters, leprechauns (oh, no, not the Celtics!), or plain poltergeist, we now have moved into the realm of paranormal.

The Patriots may need to call in TAPS, the Atlantic Paranormal Society, hosts of Ghost Hunters on SyFy. They can get to the bottom of this with spirit boxes and infrared goggles.

Last Shot for Justified

 DATELINE: Last Roundup for Raylan

 Walton goggins & Olyphant

Walton Goggins & Olyphant in the Beginning


As the final season for Timothy Olyphant’s Raylan, US Marshal, begins, we realize how much we enjoyed this Elmore Leonard short story’s extension to seven years.

Justified tickled us with its cerebral hillbilly villains that made the rest of them look like Jethro Bodine season after season. It is now embarking on its sixth season, and it is billed as Justified: The Final Season.

The regular characters may not be quite as lucky as the short series continues over the next half dozen weeks. We have enjoyed the cynical colleagues of Raylan, but we know some of them won’t make it to the big finish line.

Already in the first week, one of our favorite dumbbell villains met his not quite so untimely end. He has escaped endlessly over the past few years, but when you run with killers, you will likely be killed.

We saw much the same approach with True Blood in its last year. Every week another regular will bite the dust, apparently in the line of fire. This time the villain is the unmitigated Boyd Crowder, center stage.

We have been leading up to the confrontation of these nemeses and counterparts. The glove will likely come off now that there is no next season.

Timothy Olyphant was cute when the show began, but now his grizzle has silver threads. He looks more haggard. Who doesn’t after seven years of close shaves?

Nick Searcy, the head of the marshals, has already gone into retirement after taking a bullet—and we expect that Raylan may lose a few more friends before he retires to Florida on a good government pension.

Too many of our favorite shows have bitten the dust recently—and good replacements are hard to find.



Edward Albee’s Balancing Act


DATELINE: Stars on Stage in American Film Theatre

Certain plays will never make it to film because the demographics are not right. It takes an act of superstars to pull it off.

Cable networks do yeoman work in bringing rare works to the screen, but in 1973 before anyone thought of cable, movies were still the purview of audiences that loved their grand stars.

One of the era’s lost masterpieces included the prestigious absurdist drama A Delicate Balance by Edward Albee. With its ponderous and literary dialogue, it might win a Pulitzer Prize, but it would lose the wider audience of film fans unless you made it a star-studded spectacle.

And so, Katharine Hepburn and Paul Scofield signed on as the well-to-do, educated couple Agnes and Tobias. Their multi-divorcee daughter could be played by Lee Remick. Their best friends, equally educated and rich, were Joseph Cotten and Betsy Blair. Throw in Kate Reid as the alcoholic sister of Hepburn, and you had an intriguing cast. And a plot that never pays off.

Alas, only Reid seemed to know how to handle the surreal dialogue with a deft touch. The others were all doing soap opera on afternoon network TV.

Yet, you must not miss it, even if you have to hang on to your No-Doze. This play was written in an era when literate playgoers could follow densely packed metaphors.

It seems long-time friends Harry and Edna (Cotten & Blair) show up suddenly on the doorstep of Hepburn and Scofield in a state of panic, terror, and fear. Of what we might ask? Old age? Loneliness? Or some other devil? Perhaps it does not matter as the absurdist interplay involves consideration of the depth of friendship.

To have your oldest, old friends decide to move into your home may be a bit much even for those who can afford it.

Though there are red herrings to indicate violence is around the corner and under the surface (murdering cats, mass killing of one’s family, and a loose gun in the hands of a hysterical woman), there really is no payoff that way.

Today, we’d be expecting a bloodbath. But, this is 1973 when theatre was not quite dead and not quite physical. That’s the delicate balance apparently.