Archive | February, 2015

75 Great Films You’ll Never Watch

23 Feb

Ever wonder if the mere act of appreciating a thing, might give you a stake in it?

Could simply admiring, say, a song, a book, a good meal, a crafted table, sports team or a movie, vest the connoisseur with something beyond taste or a shown preference, maybe a smidgen of stake, or, at very least, let them share in the creator’s vision and product?

............ThisSportingLife.fair.use.tb

I’ve been pondering this fanciful notion for a time, but decided to put it to prose when I began compiling my great movies list in honor of the upcoming 87th Academy Awards to be held on February 22nd at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

Solitary admiration just didn’t seem to cut it, not for these babies.

Appreciation of someone else’s work won’t vest you with an ownership interest (IP), of course, no profit nor name in the credits, but something along the lines of spiritual stock, greater than your run-a-the-mill, self-satisfaction one takes from recognizing quality.

Kinda’ kooky, huh? Not entirely.

Take sport. Without fan investment, the games & players are just so much extra-curricular activity, just like an unadorned “Mona Lisa” is nothing more than an odd looking female in frame hanging in a French chateau somewhere.

Appreciators turn baseball into America’s national pastime (until Manfred is done with it, and what it will be then, god only knows) and make Klimt’s “The Kiss” a modern classic.

...........BringingUp.wc.DC.Geist.thmb.38

Everything’s connected: creator, the work, the audience and valuation.

This spiritual stake is not unlike the equity some Packers’ fans hold in their Green Bay football club by way of limited stock shares. An ownership interest vesting the holder collectively with certain powers & rights (select votes, etc.), but more importantly, a valuable connection in mind & purpose.

And so it is with the fine flicks listed below, where I take micro-stock in declaring their value to the world, maybe the universe, in posting by wireless transmission.

Most of these movies are either too old, or never did get the big studio sell. That doesn’t make them any less memorable, timeless and well worth viewing, as much as all of this season’s Best Picture nominees.

A Cry in the Dark (88)
A Family Thing (96)
Alfie (66)
American Graffiti (73): Soundtrack medley stars
Amores Perros (00)
Atlantic City (80): Lancaster & Sarandon are a treat
Barfly (87): Rourke & Dunaway are unforgettable
...........Sarandon.5.3.08.wc.thmb.D.ShankbeneBody and Soul (47)
Bound for Glory (76)
Bringing Up Baby (38)
Crime in the Streets (56)
Cross of Iron (77): WWII from Axis side
Das Boot (81): Submarine movie un-matched
Drugstore Cowboy (89): Good as Midnight Cowboy
Fat City (72): Keach portrays the anti-Rocky
Harold and Maude (71)
Hell Is For Heroes (62)
Hobson’s Choice (54)
I’m No Angel (33)
Ironweed (87): Nicholson & Streep
Knife in the Water (62)
King Rat (65)
...........Leigh.WaterlooB.40.wc.cca.thmbLa Strada (54)
Lonely Are the Brave (62)
Los Lunes al Sol (02)
Matewan (87)
Midnight Run (88)
Miller’s Crossing (90): Tops Good Fellas
Monte Walsh (70): A real cowboy classic
Murder My Sweet (44): Equals The Maltese Falcon
Murphy’s War (71)
My Brilliant Career (79)
Paisan (46)
Paper Moon (73)
Papillon (73)
Ruggles of Red Gap (35): Laughton’s Gettysburg recital
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (60)
Sidewalks of London (38)
The Bicycle Thief (48)
The Breaking Point (50): Hemingway’s favorite Hemingway
...........MurderMy.D.Powell.44.wc.thmbThe Clock (45)
The Corn is Green (45)
The Day of the Jackal (73)
The Hidden (87)
The Hitch-Hiker (53): Ida Lupino directs
The Incredible Shrinking Man (57)
The L-Shaped Room (62)
The Last Detail (73): Nicholson’s hidden gem
The Last Picture Show (71): An American masterpiece
The Last Round: Chuvalo vs Ali (03)
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (62)
...........McQueen.DIL.ryangrigg.wc.thmbThe Magnificent Ambersons (42)
The Man Who Would Be King (75)
The Mark (61)
The Naked Prey (66)
The Night of the Iguana (64)
The Party (68): Sellers was a genius
The Pope of Greenwich Village (84)
The Red Shoes (48): So good it could be a faith
The Search (48)
The Set-Up (49): Ryan (boxer) & Totter (wife) are superb
...........Taylor.WaterlooB.40.name.thmbThe Station Agent (03)
The Sundowners (60)
The Third Man (49): It’s own genre
The Verdict (82)
The Year of Living Dangerously (82)
They Made Me a Fugitive (47): British film noir beauty
This Sporting Life (63): Sporting cinema visceralia
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (74)
Trouble Along the Way (53): Shirley Jackson knows “winning”
Twelve O’Clock High (49): Battle speech (Peck) Patton-esque
Viva Zapata! (52)
Washington Merry-Go-Round (32)
Waterloo Bridge (40): Taylor & Leigh will break your heart
Winchester ‘73 (50): Rifle-ricochet resonates

Steven Keys
Brass Tacks
Photo credits: Waterloo.Bridge, 40.Japan, 49, wc; This.Sporting.Life, 63, R.Harris, fair-use; Bringing.Up.Baby, 38, DC.Geist, wc; S.Sarandon, 5.3.8, wc, Shankbene; Waterloo.Bridge, 40, V.Leigh, wc; Murder.My.Sweet, 44, D.Powell, wc; S.McQueen, DIL, ryan.grigg, wc; Waterloo.Bridge, 40, R.Taylor, wc.cca.
Posted: 2.22.15 @ 9:59pm; edit 2.23 @ 2:16am EST

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MLB15 Chin Music: Robby Red Flag

13 Feb

They are the cornerstones in the foundation upon which modern baseball was built and its legitimacy rests: the prohibitions on gambling, performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) and a valuable stewardship over its historical record book of achievements.

..........Rose.K.Junstorm,08.thmb.wc

And in just a little over a month at the helm of America’s national pastime, MLB’s brand, spanking new Commissioner, Rob Manfred, has taken chisel & hammer to hands and appears ready and eager to begin breaking said cornerstones, filling the breach with mixture of one part appeasement, one part pandering and one part indifference.

Last week in appearing on ESPN radio’s Mike & Mike (2/6), Rob took to micro-phone to answer queries on the role he envisions in his new job (a promotion in-house) and various topics of curiosity, including Pete Rose case and PED’s effect on Hall of Fame voting.

Bloom Coming Back?

“I have heard from [Rose’s] lawyer, and I do anticipate having a conversation about that (Rose’s reinstatement to baseball)…it’s a conversation I’m willing to have (“Pete” / WCPO / Noble / 2-7-15).”

While a Rose reinstatement doesn’t assure his induction into Cooperstown by Veterans (“Expansion Era”) Committee vote, just by ending the ban, forgiving his misdeeds, would send a squishy message on gambling at the worst possible time, when sports betting is getting the big push (See; NJ & NBA’s Silver).

........Manfred.7.15.14.wc.fanfest.A.Pardavila.thmb

Rose’s lifetime ban was never punitive at its crux. It’s over-riding purpose has always been a standard of deterrent to those who’d contemplate the dangerous co-mingle of sport and gambling. On this point there can be no half-measures.

Is it possible the Commissioner is just working PR to give impression his office has a heart, though, not sure what’s hearty about it, and always “willing” to listen, not seriously contemplating a reinstatement? If yes, even flirting with possibility of Rose’s return to MLB-sanctioned events is a bad play, and no good for Pete.

An 8th-grader can recognize importance of finality in a rendered verdict. Legally, some rulings are made without prejudice, remaining open to review when certain criteria are met, while other rulings are with prejudice, forever final.

And that would be the clear message intended and widely supported when Cmsr. Bart Giamatti (d. ’89) negotiated a lifetime ban of Pete Rose in 1989.

Preserving the game’s integrity in keeping it free from illicit drugs and connections that lead to disastrous results like game-fixing (Black Sox), setting a standard for kids and players both, is far cry from the mawkish moralizing Rose campers would claim.

No one person, not Ruth, Jackie, Roberto, Sandy, not Ripken nor Rose is above the game, no matter their popularity or symbolism.

..........Landis.wc.underwood.Milw.Journal.11.15.20.Chicago.thmb

Celebrity sells, but it is the good name of the game itself, not the individuals, that give life to their fame. And I fear that Mr. Manfred, with the game in his hands, skates on thin ice in expressing “willing(ness)” to engage Rose for possible return to baseball.

What’s kept baseball free of the fix since 1919, so it appears, is the bright-line ban (life) which anyone connected to the pastime caught dirty on gambling, will receive.

If that line gets blurred with a Rose return, heaven help us, for if the corrupt co-mingle begins again (fix), we won’t hear about it this time around. Too costly.

And if you think Rose the manager never bet on his Reds team to lose (’84-89), you’re either not a baseball fan or pining for your Pete collectibles to regain that “rosy glow.”

That this betting “maroon,” who put his legacy, family, club, fan trust, MLB, all in peril by his self-obsessed, reckless behavior, would deviate from his gambling gorge to set a standard at which he’d not go below, is fairy-tale Brothers Grimm would’ve scoffed.

PED Clear

When holding court with ESPN reporters that same Thursday, the Hall of Fame topic again tested Manfred, this time concerning candidates denied election because they’re believed to’ve used PEDs, whether on “credible evidence,“ reasonably discerning use by observable facts & logic or “literally nothing (“Commish” / Stark / ESPN / 2-6).”

Rob believes it wrong to exclude an otherwise stat-savvy, typically Percheron-necked, Hall of Fame aspirant, on what the voter may “surmise” is a drug-enhanced record of performance.

Problem #1 with Manfred Mode: What to do with men like McGwire and Canseco who had wherewithal, for whatever reason(s), to admit they used PEDs?

That’s the “proof” of enhancement (confession) Rob requires, yet now they’ve failed his test, even though they’ve shown, if not good character, something closer to it than the plethora of former players still too selfish or shy or scared to come clean. But the Mum-Men keep ‘taking the 5th,’ so to speak, and come out heroes in Robby’s world.

.........Bonds.wc.cca.11.15.07.USMS.thmb

Problem #2: There’s good chance, when urine testing, you’d “never (have) failed PED tests,” considering HGH blood draws and BPP (biological passport program), WADA’s anti-doping stratagem, random form, anyway, didn’t begin in MLB until 2012, years after most the rejected-suspected candies had exited, i.e., Bagwell, Piazza, Bonds, Clemens.

Luck of the (no) draw, no doubt.

Having “evidence” before rendering a verdict on someone is a good thing, to state the obvious, in whatever venue of inquiry, be it legal, social or abstract. It’s fundamental to fairness: due process, Magna Carta and all that jazz.

Everyone’s been smeared, wrongly accused, one time or another, and it hurts.

But it’s an unbalanced scale of justice Manfred applies that demands customary proof to deny election (failed test), yet disregards two facts: 1) there was no reasonable means to acquire said “evidence” to ascertain player physical states w/ any degree of accuracy, pre 2012, discounting out-moded, random urine tests (‘03); and 2) It was players themselves, by their union (MLBPA), who stymied serious testing for over a decade, maybe longer.

That second point vitiates any argument that requires positive test “proof” to deny election on PED grounds, making reasonably discernable conclusions, not only permissibe, but the responsible manner by which Hall voters aught cast.

...........Clemens.wc.mx5tx.2005.thmb

If the players wanted clarity they could’ve gotten it by voting approval for blood draws in the 90s. They chose doubt & suspect and the pro-test, clean players were muscled out.

The chickens have come home to roost for all players, dirty and clean. It’s the bed they made and they can sleep in it. Manfred, for some reason ($$?), wants to make-up that bed, give ‘em new Spider-Man sheets with hospital corners, to boot. Bully for him.

That gets to problem #3 with Manfred’s “Bart Simpson” take.

Hall of Fame votes or record book lines, for that matter, are not Constitutionally protected rights, Congressionally mandated entitlements or issues of fact & law judged in common law jurisprudence where “innocent until someone proves you guilty” is courtroom motif.

A plaque in Cooperstown is like an MVP, it’s an honor, a gift, whose award or denial can be based upon a standard permitting reasonable deduction and not bridled by shifting mores, profit motive, genuflect to the number-god nor over-narrow definition of “proof.”

Baseball will always turn a tidy profit. That’s in stone.

No matter the inroads NFL makes into consumer hearts, rounders is so engrained in our culture, so presenced worldwide and, like its gridiron kin, a legally-sanctioned monopoly, it will never be wanting. The money spigot always gushes. At winter meetings it’s just a question of how much growth is acceptable. That’s where the greed comes into play.

...........Rose.2005.cleverswine.wc.thnb

What that means for the Commissioner is that he (maybe a she someday, especially if there’s a baseball version of Condoleezza Rice with dogged supporters, keen on the post) need only be concerned with one, simple task: securing the game’s integrity.

Maintain and amplify with crystal clarity the dead-serious prohibition on gambling and PEDs and the dire consequences that await any who arrogantly skirt the bolded rules.

Rather than change course, Manfred could take page out of Little League’s book.

On Monday (2/9), Stephen Keener, CEO of Little League International, a body overseeing sporting and business interests of over “7000” affiliates world-wide, announced that 2014 US champ Jackie Robinson West (Chicago), would vacate their title, giving runner-up Mt. Ridge (Las Vegas) the crown (S. Korea 2014 world champs), because of rule violations involving an active rostering of players outside acceptable boundary lines.

It was a hard decision, said Keener (ESPN 2.10), due largely to the kids, although, one must suspect some of the youngsters, on the cusp of manhood, had an idea of what was afoot and should not be entirely insulated from blame-attachment. We have seen similar before (age deflation, soap-box rigging, etc.).

Keener explained in simple terms why it had to be done: “To protect the integrity and uphold the standard.” Simple, strong, clear and brave.

But lonely are the brave and R. Manfred is today, in some circles, a popular man.

Steven Keys
Can o’ Corn
Photo credit: P.Rose, K.Junstorm, wc.cca, 1.11.08, Las Vegas; Rose, K.Junstorm, wc.cca, 1.11.08, Las Vegas, thmb; Manfred, A.Pardavila, wc.cca, fanfest, 7.14.15; KM.Landis, wc.cca, Underwood, 11.15.20, Chicago, Milw-Journal; Ba.Bonds, wc.cca, 11.15.07, USMS; R.Clemens, wc.cca, mx5tx, 2005; P.Rose, wc.cca, cleverswine, 2005.
Posted: 2.13.15 @ 2:22pm; edit 5:49, 2.14 @ 12:24am EST

Homer or Hater, History Will Love These Patriots

4 Feb

Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser.” Gen. George S. Patton (’43), as portrayed by George C. Scott (“Patton (’70)”).

Things were alot clearer back in 1943, not always better, just more clear.

..............Brady.10.11.09.wc.J.Beall.thmb

What’s clear today is that America “love(s)” the New England Patriots, winners of Super Bowl 49 over the defending champion Seattle Seahawks (28-24). They just don’t know it yet. Too many in too high (& low) places too busy tearing ’em down (Deflategate).

But this is just what the doctor ordered for what ails the Patriots and the NFL.

And you can also chalk one up for passer-QB who looked to be on his last legs.

Patriots’ five-star field-general Tom Brady threw for four TDs, set a Super record for completions (37 / 50) and joined 49ers QB Joe Montana as only players to take the MVP trophy three times. Had Seattle not gone from “boom“ to bust, linebacker Bobby Wagner (10t / 2a / INT) might’ve been only the 4th middle-man defender to claim the award and follow teammate Malcolm Smith, the ’14 recipient.

A Seahawks victory would’ve heralded a new era in the NFL, one where manager-QB, i.e., Russ Wilson, Joe Flacco, displaces the 5000-yd passer as top dog.

It didn’t happen, but it’s coming.

..............Brady.11.8.09.P.Keleher.thmb.pocketpasser

It’s just a matter of time before pass-machines like Brady, Peyton & Eli, Rodgers, Romo, Brees, Ryan, Rivers, Cutler, Stafford and their ilk ride off into the sunset with not many of their set waiting in the wings.

We saw the writing on the wall last year in SB48 when Hawks demolished Denver (43-8) in what seemed to’ve been the final, major chapter in the great Peyton Manning story.

And with run-QB dominating the college scene so certainly that a third-stringer can come off the bench and run his team to a title (OSU’s Jones), the patent pro-passer is soon to become, if not a dying, a very rare breed, indeed.

But rather than “ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive” and bask in the glow of an NFL standard-bearer‘s success, the cherry topic has been hijacked once again by those who would scandalize & deconstruct a great game, choosing instead to pile-on Seattle’s proven head coach Pete Carroll as a means to second-guess & scapegoat the pain away.

...........P.Carroll.wc.cca.12.29.13.M.Morris.thumb

Apart from a minor melee in the game’s waning moments as Seattle saw it slip away, Super Bowl 49 was a truly splendid showcase, a back n’ forth barnburner, decided only in the final minute when Seahawks QB Russ Wilson, 2nd & goal w/seconds left, tossed an errant pass through hands of Ricardo Lockette to be intercepted by johnny-on-the-spot safety Malcolm “blessed” Butler to clinch it for New England.

If you buy the blowhard line, Carroll blew the game in play-call.

And if that sounds familiar, it should.

It was just a few weeks back when Packers’ Super coach Mike McCarthy had his reputation drug through mud by similarly thin-skinned malcontents (See; NFCT15 ‘Cheese-Melt’).

The complaint: ‘Hawks should’ve run Marshawn Lynch (24 / 102y) for go-ahead TD rather than a pass play. This skewed thinking, even as Lynch got stymied at the 1 on prior play and the grapevine holds that ML had been less-than reliable in his five, 1-yd goal-line run attempts in ‘14 (1-5).

..........R.Wilson.wc.cca.11.11.12.L.Maurer.thumb

Most football folk know all too well that one-yard away from pay-dirt can play like one-mile through hell against a determined defense. It helps explain why the pass play, even with a capable run-threat, has been preferred goal-line call since Don Coryell (STL) brought Sid Gilman’s (SD / AFL) wide-open pass-attack to the NFL in early 70s.

NBC announcers Al Michaels and Chris Collingsworth must shoulder most the blame for igniting the flame of discontent on the play call, and then fanning it.

Like two compulsive school-boys, these two veterans of TV broadcast put Pete Carroll & staff right, smack dab in the cross-hairs of pointed & petulant criticism.

Al: “Amaaaazing.”
Chris: “I’m sorry, but I can’t believe the call.”
Al: “Me, neither.”
Chris: “I can’t believe the call…I cannot believe the call…a guy (Lynch) that’s been border-line unstoppable this part of the field (wrong)…I can‘t believe the call.”

Run vs pass debate is as trivial as it gets in post-game analysis. Paper vs plastic but not near as practical. ‘Bag it and move on’ is the preferred choice of most.

......NFL.wikiproject.6kb

What‘s most curious in all the mealy-mouthed, Monday morning criticism of the Hawks’ brain-trust was how Seattle supporters, bandwagon-variety, no doubt, are cannibalizing their mastermind in Carroll, architect of the Seahawks championship rise to power.

Wilson is championship-caliber, that’s in the book, but he’s clearly still learning the finer points of his trade, like finding his target’s bread-basket or calling post-snap audibles.

As for Lockette, had he brought his gripper hands we might’ve had “Simultaneous Catch-gate,” Part II (See; GB-SEA ’12).” That would’ve been a hoot.

But there’s been a slight shift in mood by Tuesday.

..............Patriots.wordmark.60-92.wc.cca.thmb

Fans and reasonable (media) minds are starting to tire of the finger-pointing and Seattle whine, reminiscent of the Wisconsin vintage in 2012 (“Simultaneous Catch”) a particularly bitter blend. Ugh.

In the investigative state, Deflategate has already worked to add more unwashable tarnish (Spygate) onto Patriots legacy trophy, regardless of the League‘s final finding.

But even if the NFL finds a failure-in-standard (psi low) constituted a violative act with intent to gain an unfair advantage, a string of determinations hard to fathom at this point, such a wrong, given SB49’s result and likelihood that every player has, on occasion, converted a shenanigan into gamesmanship, will not place very high on most folks’ totem pole of misdeeds, the outraged Mark Brunell sect, notwithstanding.

..............Pats.SBtrophies.10.05.wc.cca.thmb.pkeleher

On the tsk-tsk templar, with top spot constituting highest degree of culpability (violent crimes, game fixing & PEDs), lowest eliciting a stern finger-wag (taunting), deflation of game balls rides below cheap shots and just above faux crowd noise (ATL).

When historians compile & catalog events of time to rank NFL’s greatest teams, most are guided by comparative viewpoints informed in logic & fact, weeding out extremes, those mindsets captured by contemporaneous bias / prejudice, i.e., haters & hangers-on.

..............P.Brown.wc.Bowman.52.thmb

The Lombardi (60s) & Lambeau (20-40s) Packers, Walsh-Seifert 49ers (80-90s), Brown’s Clevelanders (40-50s), Noll’s Steelers (70s), Halas’ Bears (40s) and whomever Chamberlin coached (Canton / Frankford), are indisputably top-tier. These are the teams that birthed the dynasty tag. No doubts.

The 2nd-tier might include Steve Owen’s Giants (30s-40s), Landry’s (70s) and Johnson-Switzer Cowboys (90s).

Third-tier: Shula Dolphins (72-74), Parker-Wilson Lions (50s), J.L. Howell’s Giants (50s), Ewbank Colts (50s), Neale Eagles (40s) and Shanahan Broncos (98-99), with some subjectivity in play.

And where will the Belichick-Brady Patriots end up in the pantheon of greats?

...............Belichick.8.28.09.wc.cca.K.Allison.thumb

Even with some tarnish, they’re clearly well-positioned to join the elite, given the titles (4), SB showings and, like their b-ball peers, San Antonio Spurs, their unprecedented longevity in success. They could find themselves in with the cream of the crop (top tier) once Tom hangs up his cleats and Bill turns in his head-set, which could be years away.

But this week, the Patriots are big winners and the whiners merely bottom-feeders in need of a good, firm (figurative) slap.

The General would’ve agreed.

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credits: T.Brady, wc.cca, A.Campbell, 9.14.14; T.Brady, wc.cca, 10.11.09, J.Beall; Patriots pocket, wc.cca, P.Keleher, 11.8.09; P.Carroll, 12.29.13, wc.cca, M.Morris; R.Wilson, 11.11.12, L.Maurer, wc.cca; NFL wikiproject; Patriots wordmark, wc.cca, 60-92; NE Patriots SB trophies, 10.05, P.Keleher, wc.cca; P.Brown, wc.cca, Bowman, 1952; B.Belichick, wc.cca, 8.28.09, K.Allison.
Posted: 2.4.15 @ 12:45pm; edit 5:11; 2.5 @ 1:07am; 2.6 @ 12:29pm EST