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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sox, Docs & A Few Smoking Assholes...

Seldom does a picture perfectly capture an era.
Sadly, this one hits the nail right on the Ted...
I know I've beaten this dead horse to the point where it's officially become a jar of Eight Belles souvenir glue. But the last time I checked, you can't win a race without beating your horse. So I'm gonna whip this sucker as if we're coming down a never ending backstretch...

The resurgence in popularity of hockey and basketball in Boston over this past 5+ years has really thrown a wrench into something that I used to hold very near and dear to my heart. My local sports talk radio. A treasured entity I never thought would fall upon such hard times. Especially when it comes to the city of Boston. What was once a hardened fan base, that rooted most loudly for it's least successful team (the Red Sox), has now become just another soft sports city, where winning not only reigns supreme. But has officially become the ONLY thing that matters...

BING!
For me, it's like I wake up everyday, from around the start of March to the end of June, in a bizarro world. Where all of a sudden, the WNBA and curling are Boston's most popular sports. What? Weren't they, too, punchlines in this town? Right along with the NBA and the NHL? Yeah. That's the world I live in. Where, apparently, I'm the only one who remembers those facts. Where, everyday, men hired, and rightly so, for their expertise in talking about baseball and football, are discussing the finer points of curling and whether or not Rebecca Lobo is worthy of the Hall of Fame. It's like my own personal Groundhog Day. With every sports talk jock and bandwagon riding PinkHat serving as my very own little needle nosed Ned "the Head" Ryersons. Yeah, so forgive me if I punch you out without giving it much thought if you happen to ask me if I caught the Bruins game last night. I'm the guy who thought we, as Boston sports fans, didn't like hockey because of the team's owner and the league's overall incompetence. Not that guy who jumped ship because the team fell upon some hard times. And if that sounds high and mighty? Then so be it. You people are RUININ' MY SPORTS TAHHHK! And if I don't let that out every now and again, then I'm liable to go insane. You know, even more insane than we all know I already am...

But, hey. This is my Hell. And just because I'm a bitter man with a pessimistic view of pretty much everything that affords me the opportunity, there's no need for me to drag you Teds down with me into this puck filled hole of depravity. Instead, I'll just use my limited power of narrative here, to help steer the conversation in a different direction. You know. A direction that doesn't require a duck boat parade in order to be labeled the least bit interesting...

BING!

I'm on the record as saying that if the Red Sox can pitch, then they can contend for a Wild Card spot in the American League. Despite their recent struggles, I'm still very much of that belief. What I don't believe, and what I've never believed, is that this is a team that can withstand anything even resembling a rash of injuries. You know, like the one that's currently tearing apart their once dominant bullpen...

And while baseball casual baseball fans or merely rat bastards from New York would point out that the Yankees are still thriving despite suffering many injuries. I'd argue that while Jeter, Teixeira, et al are "better players" than Hanrahan and Bailey. The Yankees knew they would be forced to play without their stars, and losing the back end of your bullpen (or any pitcher, for that matter), tends to loom larger than the loss of even a few everyday position players...

That being said. I still believe this team has enough talent to compete for a playoff spot. They're not as good as they were in April, and they're not as bad as they've been so far in May. A stretch of games, I might add, that's seen them play well enough to actually be in possession of that elusive 2nd Wild Card spot...

Expect them to be inconsistent. Scoring runs in bunches one week, then struggling to get them the next. But as long as Buchholz and Lester can continue to lead the charge at the front of that rotation, they should be there in the end. Not necessarily the "there" we've become accustomed to, and I've been beating this like a dead horse, too. But "there" enough that this should be an entertaining, and ultimately successful Summer...


Next, we've got Sergio's epic/standard collapse at this past weekend's Player's Championship. And if you didn't see it coming when he stepped to the tee at the iconic 17th hole. Then that makes 1 of you...

That's the thing, with Sergio. And Phil before him. Until they prove they won't choke, you just assume they will. And when they do, you just shake your head. Maybe give a little chuckle, if that's your thing (Lord knows it's mine). And then just go back to sippin' your beer...

It's a shame, too. Because had Tiger Woods been nowhere near the top of that leader board (as is normally the case at Sawgrass), my money says Sergio finds that green, and ends up not only with his 2nd Player's, but a renewed energy for that run towards that ever elusive first Major. But, instead he just continued to show that he'll be forever on that "second level". Where you're good, but never great. And while that's nothing to sneeze at, this was a guy that was "supposed" to be great. And while Sergio's play the last 12-18 months actually prompted many like yours truly to claim that the Spaniard may finally be on the cusp. His latest failure has all slammed the door shut. At least on any chance that I'll mistakenly think he's ready for prime time, again...

Priorities...
And as long as we're talking about he Player's Championship, I've got what I think is a rather hilarious observation to pass along in regards to how the event was covered. No, I'm going to rip Johnny Miller again. He was actually rather tolerable. At least for him. Nope, I just thought it was rather hilarious that ESPN, the self proclaimed world wide leader in sports, had at least a 15-20 minute lag time in terms of updating their scores. I know, the fact I even noticed that makes me a nerd. But still. I can't help but think that wouldn't have been the case had Tiger Woods been making his run on their network instead of on NBC...

Yeah, they're the world wide leader in somethin', all right. Yet another fact that makes this world just a little less pleasant a place to call home...

Seriously, someone should check to see if this
guy has had a series of minor strokes....
Oh, and as long as I'm ripping ESPN, have you read the latest piece of verbal diarrhea from once respeTed Sposrts IllustraTed columnist, Rick Reilly? No, of course you haven't. And please don't even though I just linked to it. Much like the Boston sports talk radio scene, ripping Reilly was something I would have thought impossible just 5-8 years ago. Now? Well, now I simply find it hard to believe that this guy was ever credible and creative. Even when I know for a fact that he was once one of the most original and thoughttful writers to ever take to the page...

I'm tellin' ya, man. it's bizarre times we live in. The Bruins are the toast of the town and Rick Reilly is a laughing stock? Wow. You'd have had an easier time 6-7 years ago convincing me that Ryan Seacrest were President and Osama bin Laden had started a terror cell on Mars. But, here we are...

Finishing up, just a few thoughts on the entertainment front...made much longer thanks to the work of someone else:

Dapper Don has definitely regained the title of "Smoking Asshole #1".
(Don't waste your time looking for #2. It's all a rouse just so I could use that title.)
Mad Men stumbled out of the gates a bit, in their long awaited 6th season. But the last few episodes have shown why Matt Weiner's creation continues to be one of the greatest TV shows of all time. Don Draper is back in "total Dick" mode (puns everywhere), after a brief jaunt into respectable family life. And that's just where we as viewers like to have him. After all, the more conflicted he is, the better the show is. And though his affair with Mrs. Dr. Freaks & Geeks-stein appears to be over, I'm sure his womanizing, alcoholism and desire for the inter-office upper hand, should keep things interesting enough so that I remain distracted from the fact that AMC will never have the ability to have Christina Hendricks do a scene that includes gratuitous full frontal nudity. I mean, if they didn't do it when she whored herself out, I'm pretty sure that busty ship has sailed...

Oh, and consider me in the group that thinks the assassination of Robert Kennedy at the end of this last episode could really bring the show to a whole other level. Mad Men has always thrived with the blending of actual historic events and the lives of it's characters, and in doing so I think they've set themselves up beautifully to capitalize on those extremely emotional and turbulent times that are still to come...

AKA: Abe's probably going to join the Black Panthers. And it's going to be awesome...

I just hope all the grief doesn't cause Rizzo to shave his beard. That's a top 5 TV beard, right there. And there's no politician worth shaving a glorious beard for. OK, maybe Ron Paul. But he'd never ask me to shave my beard. That's just not American. Then again, the Commies always seemed to have thick, full beards. Hmmm. Guess that'll have to be a topic for another day. OR not. Either way, I'm finished with it for right now...


The other entertainment note involves The Great Gatsby, and how terrible it looks. Yep. Thought it was going to be the jump off, between Leo and the historical nature of the piece. But ever since the first trailers have come out, I've figured it was too "ambitious" for me to ever realistically consider seeing it in the theater (something I should have realized immediately when Baz Luhrmann was tagged to direct). And seeing as I try to avoid paying money for films that have too much "bust" potential, I've thus relegated Gatsby to a film I'll gladly wait to see when it hits HBO...

And speaking of the vaunted, Home Box Office. If you're lucky enough to have subscribed, then their summer lineup should provide you with plenty of reasons to steer clear of the theaters. I'm particularly looking forward to their documentary series, which will air an original documentary each Monday for 10 weeks starting on June 10th. Sara Bibel, of TVBytheNumbers.com, profiled them here. So take a look. There really is something for everyone, as cliche as that may sound. But if you're only going to watch 1,  make it Gasland Part II. Pro natural gas, anti natural gas. It doesn't really matter. Just get informed. And hey, have fun doing it! Yeah, sorry about that. I get exciTed when it comes to good documentaries...
PUSSY RIOT: A PUNK PRAYER (debuting June 10), an official selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, where it received the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Punk Spirit, tells the story of Nadia, Masha and Katia of the feminist art collective Pussy Riot. In Feb. 2012, they performed a 40-second “punk prayer” inside Russia’s main cathedral, which led to their arrest on charges of religious hatred, followed by a trial that reverberated around the world and transformed the face of Russian society. With unparalleled access and exclusive footage, this timely film looks at the real people behind the colorful balaclavas. Directed and produced by Mike Lerner & Maxim Pozdorovkin.
LOVE, MARILYN (June 17), coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death, presents remarkable footage and audiotapes along with her recently discovered handwritten letters, diaries, notes, poems, journals and notebooks, which set the icon’s private life against the backdrop of her very public life and loves. The film includes readings and appearances by an all-star cast, including F. Murray Abraham, Elizabeth Banks, Adrien Brody, Ellen Burstyn, Glenn Close, Hope Davis, Viola Davis, Jennifer Ehle, Ben Foster, Paul Giamatti, Jack Huston, Stephen Lang, Lindsey Lohan, Janet McTeer, Jeremy Piven, Oliver Platt, David Strathairn, Lili Taylor, Uma Thurman, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood. Interviews and rare archival footage feature Arthur Miller, Joe DiMaggio, Amy Greene,Molly Haskell, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer and Elia Kazan, among others. Directed by Oscar® nominee Liz Garbus.
MISS YOU CAN DO IT (June 24) spotlights Abbey Curran, Miss Iowa USA 2008, the first woman with a disability to compete at the Miss USA Pageant, as well as eight girls and young women from around the country living with special needs, who participate in the Miss You Can Do It Pageant. Created in 2004 by Curran, the pageant offers them and their families a chance to bond and participate in a special event where inner beauty and abilities reign. Directed by Ron Davis.
GIDEON’S ARMY (July 1), an official selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, where it received an editing award, follows idealistic young public Defenders in the deep south who face particularly difficult challenges due to high bonds, mandatory minimum sentencing and a culture that is traditionally “tough on crime.” Despite low pay, long hours and staggering caseloads, these young professionals, with the help of the Southern Public Defender Training Center (SPDTC), take on The Job in the name of public service. Directed by Dawn Porter.
GASLAND PART II (July 8) is the provocative follow-up to Josh Fox’s 2011 Academy Award®-nominated “Gasland,” about the controversial method of extracting natural gas and oil known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Employing his trademark dark humor, Fox's new effort shows how the stakes have been raised on all sides of one of today’s most hotly debated environmental issues.
THE CRASH REEL (July 15), directed by two-time Academy Award® nominee Lucy Walker, is an exhilarating ride through the life of Kevin Pearce, the American snowboarding champion who suffered a traumatic brain injury while preparing for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. In addition to interviews with Pearce’s close-knit family and friends, the powerful documentary includes footage from hundreds of sources, recorded over two decades, that captures the soul of the sport, and questions the price people pay for their passions. An official selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
THE CHESHIRE MURDERS (July 22) explores the triple rape-arson-homicide that rocked the quiet town of Cheshire, Ct. in July 2007, culminating in a politically charged death-penalty trial. Debuting in conjunction with the sixth anniversary of the murders, the documentary draws on exclusive interviews spanning half a decade, uncovering the shocking, previously untold drama behind the story and revealing a family and COMMUNITY changed forever. Directed by Emmy® winner Kate Davis and David Heilbronner.
FIRST COMES LOVE (July 29) follows director Nina Davenport’s quest to have a baby on her own, ranging from hormone injections to post-natal chaos while highlighting her conventional family’s reaction to her unconventional decision. Unsparingly honest, occasionally hilarious and ultimately moving, the documentary offers a fresh take on parenthood.
If Kate Upton was at the "Casting By" premier,
needless to say that's good enough for me...
CASTING BY (Aug. 5) spotlights one of filmmaking’s unsung heroes – the casting director – viewing the last half-century of Hollywood history from a different perspective. Iconoclastic casting pioneers like Marion Dougherty and Lynn Stalmaster used their exquisite taste and gut instincts to reject traditional Hollywood typecasting and bring new kinds of leading men and women to the screen, such as Dustin Hoffman, Bette Midler, Robert Duvall and Gene Hackman. In the process, they helped change the old studio system and usher in a new Hollywood through movies like “Midnight Cowboy,” “The Graduate,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “Bonnie and Clyde.” Directed by Tom Donahue.
AMERICANS IN BED (Aug. 12) features candid interviews with ten American couples – captured in the comfort of their own beds – as they openly discuss sex, infidelity and love. From young New Yorkers who have split up 26 times, to spouses in their 90s who have been married 71 years, this touching, funny and often surprising film offers intimate insights into what makes or breaks a relationship. Directed by Phillipa Robinson.

I'm also pumped for Behind the Candelabra, a Liberace biopic directed by Steven Soderbergh, and starring Matt Damon and Michael Douglass, that hits the air next weekend. Throw in already well reviewed supporting turns from Rob Lowe and Dan Akroyd, and I think we're all safe in assuming it would take a minor miracle for this not to end up being very watchable...

Yep. Whether it's sexed up fantastical midgets, bootlegging gangsters, sexed up vampires, or the search for truth. HBO hits near center more often than not. Therefore I highly suggest you set your DVR to capture their genius over the next couple of months. IF for no other reason than so I have someone to talk to about these things at the Summer's various weddings, cookouts and late night fires. Lord knows I won't want to be talking about hockey...

Dead horses, maybe. Which reminds me. I still need to find a proxy to help me light my Preakness loot on fire. Any takers?..

OK, well enjoy the rest of your week, friends. And I'll catch you next time...


Teddy Williams...
100...

#$>

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