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Bonnie and Clyde Ambushed Again, No Badges or Bullets But Bad Manners at Academy Gala

17 Mar

If you think the 89th Academy Awards snafu, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway being handed Best Actress envelope by staffers to announce and present the Best Picture award at the recent gala, was an accident as purported, I’m gonna’ guess there’s a good chance you’re comfortable too with the following conjectures:

1) Lee Harvey Oswald, double-agent with “Maggies drawers” and friend of clandestines Clay Shaw, David Ferrie, bag-man Jack Ruby and the FBI, fired off five shots in 3.5 seconds with one of the worst bolt-action rifles in history, ordered in the mail, aimed through a live oak in November from the Texas School Book Depository to assassinate President Kennedy;

2) A man named Shakspeare (no ‘e’ after ‘k’ spelled 3 ways), son of a Stratford-on-Avon glove-maker, with no public library or apparent capers to fortify his inspiration with the relevant nomenclature (“slang”) filling the voluminous literary product, wrote what most consider to be the greatest compilation of works in this planet’s history and yet by will devised a mere bowl and a sword but made no mention of the manuscripts likely most dear to its author’s heart;

3) Scientists, farmers, fire-fighters, polar ice-cap watchers, coastal residents and other folks in weather-affected livelihoods from around the world are blowing smoke when they red-flag a global-warming they’ve seen first-hand for years;

So how’d you do? Still a believer?

Innocent mishaps do happen but not in the Academy presentation they don’t, not with the Big presentation. In Jackson Pollock speak, “I deny the accident.” Why Mr. Beatty, who later expressed an awareness upon opening the envelope that he’d been handed the wrong card but proceeded to hand it to Dunaway without whisper of explanation is a curious bumble on his part. Age (b. 3.30.37 (79))?

Recently deceased movie expert and much beloved Robert Osborne (TCM) could attest to the fact that there have been errors committed in the AA’s long history, as when Sammy Davis Jr. was handed a wrong card on a music awarding in 1964. But none so serious in this most climactic of moments when the Best Picture Oscar® is announced and the statuette handed to the winner. It’s the high-point of the celebration and the biggest trophy in the bunch.

It’s a well vetted process that for near ninety years going back to the silents has prided itself on a meticulous production to avoid just that dreaded appearance of ineptitude, confusion and takesie backsies we saw in February, not to mention a loss of trust. I will not believe that that standard is not, for most, still in place.

But what’s the motive for one or more, and it’d likely be more (Where’s the fun doing it alone (ugh)?), to recklessly or intentionally throw a monkey-wrench into the works? Jealousy, childish, simple-minded jealousy may‘ve been the culprit.

And what does one do with cold envy? If you’re a snake, you don’t bury it, you find expression for it in skullduggery (See; Hamlet) by making two titans of the industry in Faye and Warren look bad. That they’re old, comparatively speaking, would make the theoretical dirty deed all that more satisfying to the doer(s) who, post-play, would smirk like the Grinch after his Whoville haul-away. Tee-hee.

Today, resentment for anything that is well established, be it a person’s advanced age and concomitant accomplishments, or time-tested traditions, even those that work, especially those that work, is at its apex.

It’s an arrogant mindset that has corporate backing: Out with the old, in with the new, change, change, change, unless of course it’s a helpful myth (See; Above). Don’t eat your young, heavens no, eat your Grandparents, instead. And that, even as everyone’s parade is headed to seniorhood, whether they get there or not.

‘How could they have done it, set them up, it’s so cold, so…dishonest?’ Yup.

I’d imagine it could’ve been accomplished quite easily by any number of people in the Academy or PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) chain-of-custody, made easier by the fact that organizers, while always guarding against flaws in the production through miscommunication and lethargy, were oblivious to even the possibility of one or more of their people intentionally gumming up the works.

Organizers wouldn’t have seen it coming this time but they’ll be on alert now with stepped-up monitoring in preparation and handling of announcement-cards.

Dishonesty and devious minds, they’re as old as Neanderthal short-changing Cro-Magnon in the first trade, ‘club for clams (‘Don’t give him all those, look at his forehead for crying out loud!’).’ But when too many of our leaders and celebrities seem to care not in the least what example they set, corruption grows rampant.

It’s not hard to find a story on corruption or greed today, they’re everywhere: Politics (S.Korea), schools (cheating), business (Volkswagen), media (fake news), the Marines (nude photos).

Sport is my usual theme and there the bad news is almost a daily line:

Olympian Ryan Lochte fabricates a false robbery report to Brazilian police and receives less than a year (10m) suspension from competitive swimming;

Ongoing PED use spans across the sport spectacle. It’s buoyed by enablers and apologists like HOF-voters who, where former baseball star Iván Rodríguez is concerned, enshrined the 13-time gold glove winning catcher in 2017, his first year of eligibility, even as the Puerto Rico native was named in former Texas Rangers’ teammate Jose Canseco’s watershed book, Juiced (05), as a user of performance enhancers with Jose claiming to’ve personally injected Iván (See also PED debate; Olympic swimmers Milorad Cavic v. Michael Phelps);

Michael Sam using an announcement on his sexual orientation as a means to draw attention and maybe preference for the approaching NFL draft;

Notre Dame Heisman hopeful, LB Manti Te’o concocts a story of a non-existent girlfriend who is, of all things, dying from cancer and today rosters in the NFL;

Maybe not NBA players so much as the draft-dingy junior media who encourage the prospect of tanking, and receive monetary compensation to write as much;

— — —

We had streakers in my youth (♫ The Streak (‘74) ♫). Call is spontaneous, kooky, a bit shocking but all in good fun. Today, those nudists have grandkids who take part in flash mobs to try to intimidate and frighten.

Don’t expect more shenanigans at the Academy Awards in the near future. Nobody wants pandemonium. Strike that, MOST don’t want pandemonium.

But if I’m over fifty-five and work in the movies, I wouldn’t plan on ever attending the big ceremony ever again, not until someone come’s clean or gets called on that red carpet. And then I’m not forgetting how Maureen O’Hara was treated.

And dilly-dally on that issue shouldn’t forestall the decision to find another new host for the 2018 AA and let Jimmy Kimmel focus on his talk show, or better yet, get back to what he’s best at, Crank Yank(ing). At least “Special Ed,” “Birchum” and “Gladys” were all real, god love ‘em.

Steven Keys
Photo credit: Oscar® statuette, wc.cca, 1951, Kon-Tiki, V.Atanassova; W.Beatty, wc, A.Light, 3.26.90; Oscars®, I.Hayes, Enterprise, Shaft, 4.22.72, wc; Oscars®, Bjork-Swan, 2001, Marjan-Pejoski, C.D.Riccio, wc; Oscars®, T.Hanks, 1989, wc, Light; Oscars®, wc, Hopper-Bigelow, 2.28.11, AA83, C.Lazo, Army; D.Taylor, wc, 1967, Bonnie&Clyde, WB-7A
Posted: 3.17.17 @ 1:10pm, edit 11:17; Copyright © 2017

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NFL17 – SB51 Super Cherry Jam: Make Way Fred & Ginger, Swing Time Has a New Team in Foxborough

9 Feb

Top hoofers Astaire & Rogers were hip to it, now Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and rest of the reigning NFL champion New England Patriots are discovering swing time, an odd, devolutionary trend in football that comes by way of the rise in the colossal and inalterable shifts in game momentum.

The typical swinger plays out like this: First he orders a martini…wrong swinger (ba-dum tish!): In the first half, team #1, the eventual loser, charges out to a commanding and seemingly insurmountable lead, only to lose all of their traction and watch helplessly (?) as its once dormant opponent awakens from its doldrums and begins to play like gangbusters (See; SB51).

I first noticed the oddity back in the early part of NFL 2012-13.

Peyton Manning was in year one with Denver who was off to an inauspicious start at 2-3. In San Diego (MNF), however, Mustangs caught swing time, roaring back from a 24-0 halftime deficit to score 35 unanswered for a head-spinning win.

astairerogers-fdtr-1933-rko-l-brock-47kAnd that ’unanswered’ word is key. When used in a football context, it’s synonymous with the word, defense, both the good (NE) and the ugly (ATL). Every stop the Pats D made of the Falcons offense after their 28th point was like a B-12 booster shot to their own offense while at the same time demoralizing the A-Birds.

Back in the day when a team built an early lead, especially if aided by points off a turnover, you could pretty much put the result in-the-books by the middle of the 3rd quarter. The betting window is closed!

In Super Bowl One it was Cantonese safety Willie Wood who intercepted fellow Hall member Len Dawson’s 3Q pass to stave off any thoughts the KC Chiefs had of besting NFL juggernaut Green Bay in 1967.

Reliable outcomes were the standard in earlier Super Bowl play as sad sack clubs like Minnesota (4L), pre-Shanahan Denver (4L), then Buffalo (4L) would usually fall behind fast and never catch up. Bills almost broke the trend in 1991 when scapegoat Scott Norwood’s late field-goal try went slightly wide (20-19).

Hotly contested affairs like the terrific Steelers – Cowboys (76, 79) and 49ers – Bengals Bowls (82, 89) were the exceptions to the rule, i.e., game over early.

Come the 2000s, opening with Rams v. Titans (23-16) and then every Patriots Super Bowl since where the point differentials have averaged 3.7 per (7), the championship game began to see some serious competition throughout.

sb47-coin-1-28-13-a-kirk-4-2mThen came Super Bowl 47 (2.3.13), pitting the Ravens against the 49ers. A watershed event in football history for it’s the first time a swinger took center stage, and I don‘t mean the halftime pseudo porn-fest (ugh). It’s true, a massive power outage at half swung momentum San Fran’s way but then the same emotional ups & downs that define swing time were triggered, too.

Football teams have been losing leads since Melbournian turned Madisonian Pat O’Dea was kicking for glory (1898-99) and Walter Camp fueling the forward pass. But today’s player is clearly subject to mood swings like no generation before.

Why so? Why does one team go near catatonic in the 2nd half, collapsing like a house of cards while the other rises from the early ashes like a phoenix? It’s a real puzzler. “Monsters from the id (fear, etc.)?” Maybe not enough monsters (anger, greed, etc.). I’ll take a stab at another answer to explain this phenomenon.

Most males today under the age of 45 were weaned on rap, most lyrics of which dismiss rules (cheat), teach converts that might makes right, to act with impunity and then portray women are chattel. It’s a boyish arrogance that can’t cope with loss and learns nothing from mistake. And though it thrives in an era that’s seen advances (desegregation – AA), it’s also one where every participant gets a trophy and athletes get coddled from the minute they suit up in junior-high.

A little false bravado (machismo) won’t typically upset the apple cart and might even help with the digestion. But to saturate one’s mind with rap from age eight (8) onward can create a dysbiotic state that’s hard to change.

mathewson-wc-1904-c-conlen-160kIt would follow then that when a team starts to fall behind, especially after having been in firm control, that those players whose constitutions have been forged with a composite (cheap) mettle, would then be unable to muster the confidence, the resilience to bounce back when their opponent begins to make in-roads.

You never stop thinking you can win. Tom and Bill didn’t.

But what about the Patriots, you ask, it’s likely most of them grew up hip-hoppin’ too. Maybe more of them just outgrew their childhood mindsets. I don’t know. What I do know is that having Tom Brady at your offensive controls is like having an IV of confidence flowing through the veins of every man on his team, including and defense who may’ve been SB51’s real MVP, collectively speaking.

What I also know is that psychology, not just pep talks and sideline pad-smash, must now be a serious, integral part of team training and game strategy.

The New York Giants pitching great Christy Mathewson (1880-25) said it well: “You can learn little from victory, you can learn everything from defeat, i.e., “winning is (definitely not) the only thing.”

There’s a whole semester of learning just waiting for the Atlanta Falcons this off-season, and 30 other teams. And while they’re at it (Dan Quinn will get ‘em at it), they can ditch the ditties, or better yet, jump a new music train:

♫ Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
Till you find your dream (Rodgers & Hammerstein) ♫

Final record: 88 – 93 – 3 (8 – 3)

straight_shooter-thmbSteven Keys
Straight Shooter
Photo credit: NFL-symbol, wikiproject, Ixnay-Beao; Astaire-Rogers, RKO, FDTR, 1933, wc, L.Brock; SuperBowl.47-coin, wc, A.Kirk, 1.28.13; ChristyMathewson, wc.cca, C.Conlen, 1904; Straight-shooter produce label
Posted: 2.9.17 @ 11:55am, edit 3:29 EST; Copyright © 2017

NFL16: In Deferring to Dak, Tony Romo Fails the Grit-Test

17 Nov

He didn’t take many questions in Tuesday’s press conference. Instead, Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback for the past decade, Tony Romo, read a statement. He got goods reviews from the press corps and blogisphere bunch.

But place me about 800 yards west of the cheering section.

Grade given by this football fan for Romo’s blood-less abdication: D.

In his oration, Romo deferred to rookie back-up QB Dak Prescott on the starter question: “He’s earned the right to be our quarterback. As hard as that is for me to say he’s earned that right. He’s guided our team to an 8-1 record and that’s hard to do.” Very nice. Maybe too nice.

“Right” schmight. There are no “right(s)” in football, just ethical duties and contract obligations that some players will always meet, some will sometimes, some won’t but on their best day and a few don’t seem to give a damn at all.

romo-10-13-10-bigcatsliar-wc-343kOkay…you say you believe in rights. That should make you a Thomas Jefferson fan (BoR). For the sake of argument, let’s say rights do exist in football. Then I’d say, Tony Romo’s earned a BIGGER right to re-claim his starters job than has Prescott in retaining it, and with ten years of All-Pro play, sound character and seniority, shouldn‘t have to convince his owner of it, not if the Cufflink appreciates loyalty, anyway.

‘Seniority is lame,’ say some, but just wait until you start having to look over your shoulder at the young Turks coming to take your job. It won’t seem so silly then.

And I don’t want to read any hearsay from captured scribes or Cowboys’ brass (Steve Jones) on how Tony supposedly asked politely for his job back. Straight from the horses mouth (TR) or save it. Even if, this you don’t ask, you demand. If you lose the argument you take your lumps and stay a team-player, giving advice / support as needed. But you don’t ask.

And therein lay the wild-card in this hand of high-stakes football.

What would Jerry Jones have done if Tony had pushed hard to get back his starters spot, made an issue of it, would Jones have conceded, admiring the veteran’s moxie and taking it as good sign that maybe now Tony finally has the wherewithal to lead Dallas back to the Super show? Test of tenacity, as it were.

Apparently Romo never pressed the point, never handed in his exam.

Leaders, champions, they don’t defer to hot-streaks, popularity contests or young Tom Brady analogies. The greats will advocate, argue, fight tooth n’ nail for that starters spot and slot-to-glory, with both fists-a- flyin’ if necessary, Ty Cobb style when you had to fight for the right to play. And they did.

prescott-9-18-16-k-allison-187kIf I were Jerry Jones or Jason Garrett I’d likely tab Dak Prescott the starter myself. Stick with the hot hand and healthier frame than the oft-injured Romo.

I wrote, ‘likely.’ I’d need convincing that three good wins (DC, @GB, PHI), one pretty good win (@ PIT (Ben still bunged)), four walkover wins (CHI, SF, CIN, CLE) and one loss (NYG) gives a first-year guy the nod over a 4-time Pro Bowler.

But Tony Romo’s not an owner, he’s not a coach, he’s not Cowboys PR person, he’s not a GM implementing a youth movement or authoring a masters thesis on ‘Diversity and the NFL.’ He’s a man who dresses in shoulder-pads, cleats and rides point for America’s Team, or used to, anyway, the top job on the planet, a man with great passing stats in line for Cowboys’ Ring of Honor but posts a pedestrian playoff mark that raises doubts about his clutch-capability.

A man with that Dallas record and deep well of gridiron knowledge should NOT willingly hand over the starters spot. NEVER. And that’s Tony Romo all over.

From his first year as a starter when he bobbled that FG snap late in a playoff loss v. Seattle in Parcells final season (’06), you wondered about Mr. Romo. The bobble was a blip. Things like that happen. But with Romo it’s always something, something to derail the run. In fairness, Dez did (catch it (See; GB 2015)).

It doesn’t matter that Romo may be the only man in these United States who thinks he should start over an 8-1 rookie. Henry David Thoreau wrote, “any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one.” Some players, those imbued with spirit of competition and personal achievement, would understand and give their backing. Great quarterbacks have great big egos. They’d better.

jones-12-7-15-k-allison-wc-339kAnd if Romo had been given his job back and his ‘mates had tanked in protest, tanked on the team, tanked on the fans, that’s their problem. You go out with your head held high knowing you’ve done what a leader does: Take charge, give it your best, give it your all until that final gun goes off.

‘But what about the team,’ you say, ‘Dak’s got ’em believing?’ Sure he has, but Romo’s a master-craftsman in the pocket who’s won a playoff game or two, had Dallas believing in prior campaigns and could likely do it again. It’s theory but as sound as the Dak strategy.

I wish Mr. Prescott well. Youth must be served, elections excepted.

As for Tony Romo, I hope you like your Ring-of-Honor ceremony. When you get back to the fairways say ‘hey’ to President Obama and remember this link lesson: Drive for show, put for dough, Canton covets moxie that few come to know.

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: T.Romo, wc.cca, 12.7.15, DC, K.Allison; Romo, wc, bigcatsliar, 10.13.10; D.Prescott, wc, 9.18.16, K.Allison; J.Jones, wc, 12.7.15, DC, K.Allison; cherries-cloth, wc, picdrome, 6-2011; NFL-symbol, wikiproject
Posted: 11.17.16 @ 5:07pm EST; Copyright © 2016

Yore Movie Swells: The 25 Best Westerns in Filmdom

15 Aug

Vintage Varieties

The American movie Western: As genres go there’s never been one bigger. Not the rat-a-tat-tat of the gangster, surreal sci-fi, hairy horror, animated adorables, action packed drama, marvelous musicals, cockeyed-romance, screwball comedy nor mad-cap adventure. None has measured up to the Western wherewithal.

..........HighNoon.wc.1952,112k.UA(SB2)It had a great run spanning most of the 20th century, from the silent era (“Inceville”) lasting well into the 1980s, generating reliable revenue for all the studios from big dogs like MGM to pesky pups in Monogram (Allied Artists), not to mention the jobs created in the thousands in costumes, stunt-work, catering, cattle-care and the like.

Horse-opera was a celluloid staple, so big King Kong loaded the Swingline®.

From the days of the nickelodeons (How cool were they!) to Main Street cinema and well into TV time, Western heroes, darling damsels, dastardly villains, loyal sidekicks like Gabby Hayes, Pat Brady and Smiley Burnette and trusty steeds, together pulled in fans and ruled ratings from coast to coast, driving many to vacation destinations West in dude ranches and National Parks to capture a little of the sunshine & adventure seen on screen.

With a few exceptions (The Big Valley (Stanwyck) / Westward the Women / Calamity Jane (Day)), the quick-draw artist was a man and focus of the fable.

......Bonanza.Blocker.1960.nbc.wc.87k(SB3)He could be a sheriff (The Tall Man / Gunsmoke) or Federal man (The Wild Wild West), a rancher (Bonanza / The Rifleman / High Chaparral), scout (Hondo), card-shark (Maverick), gun-for-hire (Have Gun Will Travel / Wanted dead or Alive), cattle-driver (Cheyenne) or roaming Robin Hood (The Restless Gun / The Lone Ranger / The Cisco Kid) promoting pistol justice whenever the need arose.

You think today’s celebrity slurp is awesome? Practically peanuts compared to the star-power emitted by the sagebrush set. Oh my darling!

Even as the Babe topped Hoover in 20s salary rank, the chaps chaps, stars like Tom Mix, William S. Hart, Will Rogers, Harry Carey, Richard Dix, later marquee mojos Tim Holt, Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea, Bill “Hopalong Cassidy“ Boyd, Glenn Ford, Jim Stewart, Robert Taylor, Audie Murphy, balladeers Gene Autry, Roy Rogers & Dale Evans, Ken Maynard, Dick Foran, numbered so many they’d fill the ‘house Ruth built’ and needed a crane to haul their loot, all the while keeping kids debating merits of their favorites and Mom & Dad the value of merchandise in toys n‘ such branded with likeness of the heroes.

Which all helps explain why America’s most popular team in it’s most popular sport is named the Dallas Cowboys. Coincidence? I think not, Packer-backers and Pats-rats. Over 20 years since Dallas saw a Super and they still out-sell all. That should tell ya’ something about the motif because it sure ain’t the football.

......CowboysHat.wc.5.16.8.DukeHa.109k(SB4)I caught the tail-end of the trend on TV, back when it was as free as the air you breath. Really.

Nearly all of silver screen big-shots rode the range at least once. There were Bing Crosby & Francis Farmer (Rhythm on the Range), Charles Ruggles & Laughton (Ruggles of Red Gap), Shirley ‘I know I‘ve been here before’ MacLaine (Two Mules For Sister Sara), the “Maid” Olivia de Havilland (They Died With Their Boots On) and even The Public Enemy turned Yankee Doodle Dandy, James Cagney, starred in a Nicholas Ray horse drama, Run For Cover.

What made the Western so popular? They made people feel good. Course, The Simpsons and The Walking Dead do the same for some people.

Maybe it was the independence, bound to no one but a cowboy’s code, one that city dweller and farm folk alike could dream about in their workaday. A fictional world fraught with dangers & corruption but where brains, brave soul and trusty amigo could together find a bright-line solution to save the day in a simpler world than the complicated, ever-changing one of their own times. What’s new?

....Gulager.NBC.Hill.282k.wc.1960-62It was a standard most every Western espoused, not just for fans to admire but maybe one to emulate, aspire towards or one that might simply buck the spirits in a life where getting a fair shake is never automatic.

A cowboy ideal promoting virtues in courage, calm in crisis, sagebrush savvy, trust, comity (sidekick), though, non-conformist man alone was typical, confident but humble, apostle of due process (anti-mob, i.e., Fonda-Morgan The Ox-Bow Incident), reasonable risk and rangy romance but forgoing that if duty dictated (The Searchers). Aces, they were natural born leaders who took all in stride, could be contemplative (♫) and had the rare capacity for self-sacrifice (“Ask not what your country…(JFK)”), a trait you won’t hear touted this 2016 Presidential campaign on either trail.

With success will come the comical treatments. Joe E. Brown (The Tenderfoot), crooner Dick Powell (Cowboy From Brooklyn), Red Skelton (Texas Carnival), Dustin Hoffman (Little Big Man) and Mel Brooks (Blazing Saddles), all using the genre as a backdrop for laughs, romance & song. “♫ Yippee-yi-yo-kayah! ♫”

But the glory days of the saddle stars have long since passed.

......Duvall.wc.S.Quigley.AFPS.WRAMC.9.25.7.63k(SB6)As the public clamored for themes in realism, war drama, soap opera, sex, social change, sci-fi-fx, teen-topics in music (Elvis et al) and the anti-hero like The Wild One, Bonnie & Clyde and Billy Jack, all whose genesis could be traced to the cowboy chromosomes, the Western’s moral play proved incongruent with the Fast Times at Ridgemont High and there abouts.

Excepting that rare Western that appears on the movie plain like a stray steer separated from the herd (Lonesome Dove / Dances With Wolves / Brokeback Mountain / The Unforgiven), it has for the most part ridden off into the cinematic sunset.

And as long as the classics remain, the Western legends and the pros who gave them life will remain too as benchmarks n’ beacons for those spirited souls who seek to come in from the cold reality that blows from today’s typical fare.

Best Westerns*

Lonely Are the Brave (1962 – Universal)

Directed by David Miller, written by Ed Abbey & Dalton Trumbo and stars Kirk Douglas, Gina Rowlands, Michael Kane, Walter Matthau, Carroll O’Connor and George Kennedy. “Jack Burns” is a man with a horse (“pretty little fuzz tail”), an anachronism who won’t change to suit the time. He’s two friends in a jailed brother whose wife can’t understand either. Monte Walsh had he lived to see Mantle & Maris. Part of the realism wave, it’s tension-filled and a tear-jerker. The good guys are real good, including Sheriff Matthau, the bad oh so bad, i.e., George (deputy) and one-armed force of fierceness, Bill Raisch of TV The Fugitive fame who, had he met up with Tracy’s tenacious character in Bad Day at Black Rock, the outcome would’ve been anybody‘s guess. Ouch!

Shane (1953 – Paramount)

......Ladd-Arthur.wc.Shane.Paramount.1953.39k(SB7)Directed by George Stevens, written by A.B. Guthrie, Jack Sher & Jack Schaefer and stars Alan Ladd, Van Heflin, Jean Arthur in her finale, Ben Johnson, Jack Palance, Elisha Cook and Emile Meyer as “Ryker” the cattle king who’s a story to tell. Masterfully works a dichotomy of duel between good & greed (not evil), cowardice & courage. Panoramic back-drop highlights young Brandon de Wilde’s call to stranger turned family friend “Shane.” Heartfelt and haunting, Ladd’s film noir pedigree is well-suited to this genre crossover (See; Ending).

Red River (1948 – United Artists)

Directed by Howard Hawks, written by Borden Chase, Charles Schnee and stars John Wayne, Monty Clift, Walter Brennan, Noah Berry, Harry Carey (& Jr), John Ireland, STB wife, Joanne Dru, Paul Fix and cattle crew that put on one hellacious stampede. Better is pretty Coleen Gray’s early passion plea to corral the Duke: “Sun only shines half the day, Tom, the other half is night.” Zowie! Often talked about as Clift’s 1st flick (released after The Search), this Western’s most notable for its strong cast, memorable music (D.Tiomkin) and survey of cowboy life in the heyday (1820s – 90s), here, figuring on the famous Chisholm Trail that drove doggies north to Kansas cars, then to Chicago stockyards.

The Big Country (1958 – UA)

Directed by William Wyler, written by Rob Wilder and stars Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Carroll Baker, Charlton Heston, Chuck Connors, Burl Ives & Charles Bickford. Full flavor flick: Opening tune (J.Moross) will set your spurs a spinnin’ to a feature with strong-willed men, equally determined women, a moonlight fist-fight, good natured hazing, clever horse (“Old Thunder”) and insightful ranch-hand in veteran actor A.Bedoya (“A man like him (Peck) is very rare”) making his finale (d.1957)). Grudge and non-conformity are over-riding themes but water rights and intoxicating nature of the West are under-currents.

Dances With Wolves (1990 – Orion)

......Dances.wc.Juhijbljb.324k(SB8)Directed by Kevin Costner, written by Michael Blake and starring Costner, Mary McDonnell, Rodney Grant, Graham Greene, Wes Studi, Bob Pastorelli & Maury Chaykin in two brief but strong supportives. Next to Kev & Stone’s follow-up flick in JFK (91), Dances remains the great movie of our time, smoothly blending realism, romanticism and humor to depict culture clash that defines the inevitable human expansion into the Western Hemisphere. The Sioux bison hunt, the following feast & trade (Dunbar hat), another smart horse (“Cisco”), playful wolf (“Two Socks”), Pawnee angst (“He’s gonna’ get us killed”) all make indelible marks. The opening Civil War scene is as poignant as it is exhilarating while the river raid and goodbye at closing (“You are my friend”) tie this epic masterpiece up nicely.

The Last Picture Show (1971 – Columbia)

Directed by Peter Bogdanovich, written by Larry McMurtry & Peter and starring Tim Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Ben Johnson, Cloris Leachman, Cybill Sheperd, Clu Gulager & Ellen Burstyn. Peter knew what Billy knew and convinced Monroe of (Some Like It Hot), that some scripts must be shot in black & white for full desired effect. The effect was an armload of Academy nods, receipts and critical acclaim for both. Tale of a year in the lives of a small, fading Texas town centering on two school seniors and the knowing adults who shape their lives. Think of a dustier, relaxed, more interesting version of Peyton Place.

Lonesome Dove (1989 – CBS – Motown – Pangaea – Qintex)

Directed by Simon Wincer, written by Larry McMurtry & Bill Wittliff, stars Bob Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, Ricky Schroder, Danny Glover, Diane Lane, Angelica Huston, Bob Urich, Frederic Forest, D.B. Sweeney, Barry Corbin, Glenne Headly & Steve Buscemi. Four-episode TV mini-series recounting the tale of a troop of ex-Texas Rangers who embark on an ambitious cattle drive to Montana, battling assortment of foes on the way, notably an Indian bandit “Blue Duck.” Wildly popular and, excepting the awkward “Clara” sidetrack (Neb.), the story and characters are so engaging you’ll probably last the entire 6 hour trek.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966 – PEA – UA)

......Eastwood.wc.S.Leone.1965.428k.AFDM(SB9)Directed by Sergio Leone, written by Agenore Incrocci, Furio Scarpelli, Luciano Vincenzoni, SL, Sergio Donati & Mickey Knox, stars Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef & Eli Wallach. Third in Clint spaghetti trilogy (A Fistful of Dollars / A Few Dollars More), GBU had biggest budget and it paid off as best of the bunch. Trouble today is too much epic with DVD add-ins of three needless scenes (“Tuco” cave / “Angel Eyes” CSA camp / lead to monastery). Lesson: Editor cuts (theater) are to be respected (choisis). Best Civil War treatment ever done, and by an Italian, The Good is that rarity where the finale of a series is the tops, typically it’s reversed (Terminator 3, Aliens 3). Emerging Tuco – Blondie alliance pleases while the music (E.Morricone) camps on the lips for days.

Monte Walsh (1970 – National General)

Directed by William Fraker, written by David Zelag Goodman & Lukas Heller, stars Lee Marvin, Jeanne Moreau, Jack Palance, Jim Davis and Mitch Ryan. Like Lonely, this one flies under the radar. Not to be confused with fine TV remake (T.Selleck ‘03) that lacks depth of the original. The vehicle is a late 19th c. liquidation of the ranching business, demise of the cowboy life and the harm absentee ownership and “capital” consolidation can wreck on workers. Lee tries to hang on without “spitting on his life,” Jack makes adjustments and Jeanne concessions. The humor’s subtle but warm, the love stories moving and the message on change is potent. Marvin’s best movie.

True Grit (1969 – Paramount)

Directed by Henry Hathaway, written by Charles Portis & Marguerite Roberts and stars John Wayne, Glen Campbell, Kim Darby, Jeff Corey & Robert Duvall. Again, not to be confused with the remake (2010 (Aughta’ be a law)). Quirky dialogue delivery takes getting used to but like GBU dubbing becomes endearing. Also like GBU, friendships forged in the long journey satisfy. Stagecoach was good, The Searchers and Liberty Valance toppers but Grit is Duke’s best, where his full acting range flows free like a wise old owl on the prowl.

Winchester ‘73 (1950 – Universal International)

......Winchester73.wc.1950.52k.Winters(SB10)Directed by Anthony Mann, written by Borden Chase & Rob Richards and stars Mann regular Jimmy Stewart and Steve McNally, Millard Mitchell (“High-Spade”), Dan Duryea, Shelley Winters & Will Geer as “Wyatt Earp.” Classic: Big stars, top support (Jay Flippen, John McIntire, James Best, Steve Brodie, Charles Drake) and future top-bills in Rock Hudson & Tony Curtis. Family feud is focus between “Lin” vs estranged “Dutch Henry” and how the new Winchester repeat rifle, won in contest, then stolen, serves as connector, passing through sets of hands. Hate displayed by brothers is intense (Need more Oscars®). Another nice call on B&W, it’s the ricochet of bullets (Sound: Leslie Carey – Richard De Weese (Western Electric mono)) that authenticates this beauty and leaves its mark on your mind.

Little Big Man (1970 – National General)

Directed by Arthur Penn, written by Tom Berger & Calder Willingham and stars Dustin Hoffman, Chief Dan George, Faye Dunaway, Dick Mulligan, Martin Balsam, Cal Bellini & Carole Androsky. Big budget ($15M), no Oscars® for this tour de force. Dustin’s best. Tootsie was tops but it’s blue-ribbon apples to gold-medal oranges. Support in Faye (“Mrs. Pendrake (“Poor Jack”)), Martin (“Meriwether (“There’s element of risk in every profession”)), Carole (“Men!”), Dan (“Sometimes magic works, sometimes it doesn’t”) and Cal (“Next time I can kill you without becoming an evil person”)” is super. Noted for its comical yet harsh portrayal of Custer, the truth may fall in between Boots and LBM. Age make-up (“Jack”) could not be better today while creator’s refusal to sanctify the Sioux brilliantly brings out the “human“ in the “beings.”

Some of the Rest of the Best of the West

The Searchers (1956 – Ford – WB): Wayne’s doorway exit at end onto the panoramic plain is the greatest visual close in American moviedom, just edging out Pierce’s ‘can’t-get-away-from-that-crazy-brat-finally-behind-bars-fast-enough’ exit from L.A. Gothic City Hall in sun streaks of the Mildred closing.

Jeremiah Johnson (1972 – S. Pollack – WB): Sound of prying that Hawken rifle from the frozen, dead grasp of “Hatchet Jack” was special, as too was the “Swan (D.Bolton)” unveiling (“Dear Lord!”).

.....Grapes.Fonda.1940.Zanuck.wc.thm(WP.USA11)The Grapes of Wrath (1940 – John Ford – 20C-Fox): Evolution of the genre. Now the Westerner (“Tom”) has a family, forgoes the pistol, drives an old truck, picks fruit and still will never abide a bully.

Rio Bravo (1959 – Hawks – Warner Bros.): Story’s a bit thin but sure beat’s El Dorado (Caan: “Mississippi”). What was Bing Russell thinking anyway, hassling Claude Akins? But its likeability n’ lyrics (“♫ My Rifle, My Pony and Me ♫”) will hit your high notes and bring you back for more.

Blood on the Moon (1948 – Robert Wise – RKO Radio): No “Joey” nor off-limits married woman (“Marian”), but before Ladd cleared the Wyoming “valley” of guns, Bob Mitchum did the same in AZ. Cinematography by Nick Musuraca.

Hud (1963 – Martin Ritt – Paramount): A persona reprised by his Butch Cassidy & Sting partner in “Little Fauss & Big Halsy.” Filmed by J.W. Howe.

.....Misfits.1961.wc.MacfaddenPub.608k(SB12)The Misfits (1961 – John Huston – UA): Clark Gable is 100% cowboy in this tense, tearful drama marking his and co-star Marilyn Monroe‘s final films and arguably best showings on screen. Monty makes the grade as well, matching his Red River role in quality if not character traits. Marilyn gives her best line: “If I could be anyone, a child who could be brave from the beginning.” Amen.

High Noon (1952 – Fred Zinnemann – UA): Too tall to remake.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948 – Huston – WB): Down Mexico way. Tenacious ticket hawk little Robert “Bobby” Blake nearly steals the picture when early on he takes a bath in failing to heed Bogart’s warning (“I’ll throw this glass of water”) to the irritant, but hangs tough and melts “Dobbsie’s” heart.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962 – Ford – Paramount)

The Outlaw (1943 – Hawks – UA): Russell, who’d become a fine actress, was ill-suited and subject of an absurd ad-campaign at benefactor Hughes behest, but Tom, Walter and under-rated lead Jack Buetel were terrific, the later looking the quintessential Kid, skillfully selling a clever persona central to Billy legend.

.....Walsh.1.1.18.wc.thm(WP.USA13)The Big Trail (1930 – Raoul Walsh – Fox): Over-looked, under-loved but billed as “most important picture ever produced“ and that wasn’t far off.

City Slickers (1991 – Ron Underwood – Columbia): Comedy-drama, “Norman” scenes choke me up. But like Vince said, “If you’re gonna’ get in this business (NFL) you better bring your emotions.” Veteran cowboy (WW2) Jack Palance hoists an Oscar® and delivers best line: “I crap bigger’n you (BC).” The #2: “Colorado, it’s always the last place you look.” Not for Lombardis, it ain’t.

Author’s Addendum: This “Western” perspective is of course relative to my own land (USA) with exceptions in The Treasure, set in Mexico, and Italian-made TGBU.  Another, more informed version could go global to include greats like Seven Samurai (54) set in 1500s Japan but with a Western flavor in themes of tumult, weapon-play and community, where the relevant region in need of justice (or ♫ song ♫) might instead be known as Eastern, North or South.

....brass.thumbtack.J.Dalton.wc.thm(WP.SB.USA14)Steven Keys
Brass Tacks
Photo credit: L.VanCleef, wc.cca, PEC-UA; G.Cooper, wc, 1952-HighNoon, UA; D.Blocker, Bonanza, NBC, wc, 1960; Dallas-Cowboys-helmet, wc, DukeHa, 5.16.8; Clu Gulager-M.Hill, wc, TheTallMan, 1960-62; R.Duvall, wc, S.Quigley, AFPS-WRAMC, 9.25.7; Ladd-Arthur, Shane, Paramount, 1953, wc; K.Costner, DWW, wc, Juhijbljb; Clint-Eastwood, wc, 1965, S.Leone, AFDM; Winters-Stewart, Winchester73, 1950, wc; Henry.Fonda, The Grapes, wc, Zanuck, 1940; Monroe-Gable, TheMisfits, 1961, MacFaddenPub, wc; R.Walsh, wc, 1.1.18; brass.thumbtack, J.Dalton, wc.
Posted: 8.15.16 @ 6:15pm, edit 8.22, 6.28.17; Copyright © 2016
Asterisk (*): Random order
Sources of reference: Wikipedia and IMDb

NBA.F16: Awesome v. Epic As Cavs & Wars’ Worlds Collide

1 Jun

Mind v. Matter

Dandy dust-ups from the past century:

Ford v. Chevy: In a car culture these titans owned the road

Hamburger v. hot dog: Battle over barbecue taste buds never ends

Edison (DC) v. Tesla (AC): Geniuses wrestle for the right to light.

Crawford v. Davis: Golden age film greats fight for fans hearts & minds

Lakers v. Celtics: Early, often and coast-to-coast, their war made the NBA

Mantle v. Mays: In the hero-era, their images held sway over card collectors

The Beatles v. Elvis: British invaders, the mop-top lads moved Mr. Swivel out

Pepsi-Cola v. Coca Cola: Begins brand loyalty but this one can get out of hand;

Catsup v. ketchup: Speech style stirred debate until Hunts® bailed on the Cat.

Tastes great! v. Less filing!: Same vats (Miller) but campaign kept its head.

The Simpsons v. Family Guy: “Brian” alone makes this cartoon call easy as pie.

NBA.F16 features a collision in basketball styles and celebrity cults that is sure to rank among the best in entertainment annals.

........James.K.Allison.wc.thm.11.21.14With tip-off set for 9pm Thursday nite (6.2) at Oracle in Oakland, defending champ Golden State Warriors takes on a familiar foe from 2015 Finale, the Cleveland Cavaliers, as Warriors seek a cherry-on-top for a record 73 win season while the Cavaliers try again to deliver a first Larry O‘Brien title trophy to the Forest City.

Two faces decorate the marquee for this dollar donnybrook: Reigning MVP (2) Steve Curry v. 4-time winner LeBron James, both smooth customers and maybe the two hottest commercial commodities across these Consumer States of America (CSA).

Curry, coach Steve Kerr and the Warriors are darlings of the young set, their older siblings in journalism, Disney (ESPN) and not a small number of the ladies who may happen to drop in. Kerr’s Krew rely heavily upon the 3-pt shot, a tack heretofore unseen on Assc’n stage. When they’re turning the tres they set records and wow the crowd, but when they lay bricks the scaffolding can all come down.

Warriors best defense? The mind-game. Not the cruel kind, but in by-product.

It’s just one way in which 3-pt’er (’79) has gradually altered the game of b-ball: Inside action shifts to the high-post, less physicality even for mountain-sized men, 90s trend down in defense continues as tres-defenders opt-out in the risk-benefit balance and swings in momentum that can be seismic (GSW @ OKC G6).

To the last change, it’s not just an extra point the tres tacks on, it’s the psychological impact on the opposition that can demoralize and alter game plan. That’s not necessarily based on rational thought of the opposition but then in a sport where emotions run the gamut, who’s always rational? Coaches, captains try to fend off the heebie-jeebies but the current design of game can make it difficult, especially in final few.

.......Curry.3.2.11.wc.K.Allison.thmbCurry, Thompson, Draymond Green, Kerr and the rest of GSW must be commended for exploiting a shot that when made in bushels has, with a Freudian-like finesse, worked inside the heads of opponents. It can emotionally stifle a foes’ momentum, drain confidence while enunciating their own speech-in-swishery (Klay’s 3-pt mark), often running up the bill late in the session: Mind over matter.

In the other corner, the Cavs are, of course, led by Lego® LeBron, a team he, with owner Gilbert, built to their specs, though, 5th-year-point-guard-who-plays-like-shooting-guard Kyrie Irving does his best to pile points and tug the spotlight.

Earlier greats like Mikan, Russell, Cousy & Havlicek, Chamberlain & West, Big-O & Kareem, Magic, Bird, Jordan & Pippen, Shag, Kobe and Duncan, all sold the NBA product with lots o’ wins and titles galore, but no player has so completely embraced, mastered the role of corporate player as has Mr. James.

Still the favorite of most fans, young & old alike, LeBron guided his teams to enough Finals (6) and hoisted sufficient O’Briens (2) to legitimize his pitch to the public but carries himself with a dignity wrapped in a calm – cool -collected demeanor that should make him the envy of every marketing Cufflink in the land.

The crystal-ball reads pretty clear on this series.

Both squads are near full strength for this rematch of 2015 Final, Cleveland this time having services of their high paid, multi-skilled big-man-with-the-soft-shooting-touch in Love who exited early in 2015 playoffs. He, like his counterpart in Curry are both managing recent injuries that, if inflamed, could alter plans.

.......James.Love.Irving.wc.E.Drost.thm.10.1.14How to fend off the injury bug? Player regimen in nutrient supplementation at this point in the journey, including the Bs, ashwagandha, alpha lipoic acid, CoQ10, D3 and magnesium, all help with the blues, bruises, bones and boost. Then there are offerings to the Sporting Gods. Herbs & beer are tradition. Can’t be too careful.

On defense, you don’t get this far without knowing its value and how to employ it, at least most of the time, anyway, and then both benches are well stocked with capable talent but won’t make the starters too nervy.

Cleveland balances better on scoring, hold an edge on the boards and while Warriors are fleeter-of-feet they don’t utilize it to full advantage, often pulling up on the perimeter to launch the T-bombs (3-pt). Wars are slightly more proficient at the charity-stripe (.764 (.748)) and than can play big in close contests.

Warriors Keys

Prolific shooters in Curry & Thompson keep firing away, working through slumps that may befall. And having a back-up plan at the ready when the 3s start rattling the rim and ♫ clang clang clang ♫ like a San Fran trolley would be wise. Didn’t see one in the WC. Easier said than done but necessity’s the father of invention.

Cavaliers Keys

Avoid vesting heavily in 3-pt’er even as they’ve a panache (“25”), not let Golden showers of 3s (bad for sure but you gotta’ laugh) set their minds to worry, give ’em the Freudian slip, so to speak, utilize Kevin to his full potential (sure) to consistently impose their real strength: Power, in drive and rebound: Matter-a-fact-in-your-face, so to speak.

.......James.wc.4.27.8.K.Allison.thmThat’s where James mellow-mode, a corporate winner and fine with lesser foes, must give way to a controlled aggression in the Finals to put fear into hearts of men, not just those in blue & yellow but co-workers who need their minds set right too. Leadership, they call it.

Big shots (The Beatles) can afford big risks (♫ Getting Better ♫), Mr. James. Think of it in these terms, LeBron, “the (risk) you take is equal to the (market impact) you make.” Cha-ching!

Many in sportology will vacillate by keying on different players to rise to the occasion as the series evolves, hoping the roll comes up 7-11. I don’t play that game. The stars will perform and the support staff with shine depending on the circumstance (foes), their mood and level of moxie. That’s sport.

Who wins this NBA16 championship bout? Cavaliers most likely.

The interlude Cleveland’s enjoyed after dispatching Toronto with relative ease (4-2) can work a determent in dulling an edge, throwing a rhythm. That’s how it plays in football and rounders not infrequently. But in a sport like b-ball where the pace is grueling (soccer) and the post-season gauntlet runs long (NHL), more time off before a title round can heal wounds and re-charge draining batteries.

Rest gives an edge to the Forest City folk over a weary Warriors bunch who compiled 73 RS wins only to be pushed to 7G by a determined OKC bunch and escape by the “hair on their chinny chin chin(s).” Plus, the Ohioans should weather better those sure-to-come 3-point barrages than did the Thunder, possessing the men & methods to counter-punch on that point. At least that’s the arsenal it appears Cavs’ head coach Tyronn Lue n’ staff have at the ready.

.....straight_shooter.thmbSteven Keys
Straight-Shooter
Photo credits: S.Curry, wc.cca, 4.6.14, N.Salzman; L.James, wc, K.Allison, 11.21.14; Curry, wc, K.Allison, 3.2.11; Love-Irving-James, wc, 10.1.14, E.Drost; James, wc, 4.27.8, K.Allison; Straight-Shooter, produce-label.
Posted: 6.1.16 @ 11:56am; Copyright © 2016

McDonald’s: Sorry French Fries, Love’s Not Enough

21 May

Caesarian appetite

All roads lead to our gut, esophageal and metaphysical both.

Our stomach is the coliseum of calories, the place where sugar, fat, carbs and protein all do battle but ultimately succumb to those rippling, duty-bound digestive enzymes to give our body & mind all it needs and more, much more.

El Gastro Gestalt is capital city of our conscious and unconscious minds both.

It’s been that way ever since the Allies crushed the Axis and victors re-directed all that industrious, inventive spirit in armament assembly into the peacetime production of food stuffs on a mass scale the world had never before seen.

While opposite economic ideologies (capitalism v communism) became basis for continued conflict in bullets, A-bomb building & bivouacs (Korea, Indochina, Cuba), the war on hunger became the 2d theater of battle, fighting for the freedom to eat, eat more and then eat again.

.......McDonalds.Arch.thm.3.22.6.R.Sinn.wc.TorontoAfter 70 years of bridge building, base construction and salvos of savory & sweet treats fired off by McDonald’s, Nestlé, ADM, Anheuser-Busch, PepsiCo and Yum!, those who write the history of the Hunger War will record that hearts & minds were won over, completely, like the slurp sound found at the bottom of a small shake.

Mission accomplished: The world is addicted to eating.

(Regarding that Axis thing, a small cell was brought back to life in some demonic deed at, of all places, Disney (ESPN), in some joker’s idea to work a motif on, of all things, camera angle. Even the colors have a Third Reichian feel. Gadgetry goofs. Ugh. Walt’s gotta’ be spinning in his grave: ‘I just wanted to make a place for fun (and a little loot to boot)!’ We know, Walt, we know.)

From sun-up to sundown the gobble & guzzle direct much of our day.

A line in a Roger Corman flick, of all mediums, summed up well the power of the emerging super salivary state (X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes (‘63)):

Dr. Xavier (Ray Milland): “Is that what you think (that I’m a fraud)?”
Carnie Mom: “I don’t think, I just eat!”

Or these nuggets from the gold-mine that was The King of Queens:

Carrie: “Doug, you once told me you only play poker because it adds excitement to your eating!” Doug: “Well excuse me for embracing life!”

Carrie: “Look, there’s a special on mahi-mahi, you’d like it, tastes just like steak.” Doug (“Sir-Eats-Alot”): I’ll get excited when there’s fish that tastes like Doritos.”

.......McDonalds.QP.wc.9.19.6.F.Saalfeld.thmSometimes it’s the salty urge that draws us in (moi). Others it’s sweet. Nearly always it’s pre-packaged by something or someone else hundreds of miles away who add in only god or a chemist knows what.

Eating is of course a basic need for life, going back to Adam & Eve, the Leakey sloth or Ancient Aliens experiment #1, depending in which school-of-thought you matriculate.

After out-foxing toothier beasts, then fashioning shelter from the elements, eating has been our #1 worry for 99.99999% of our time on this “spinning world.” But while that effort consumed much of the day’s time, the haul was generally compatible and nurturing to our physical and emotional well-being.

Fibrous fruits & vegetables, nuts & seeds, formerly diet mainstays, grown or gathered near home or bought locally for soon-day consumption are still favorites but for only a comparative handful: 1000 to 1.

Seek and you shall find

‘We are what we eat (Brillat-Savarin).’ In 2016 we’re just a bunch of trans-fatties, filled-to-the-gills with triglycerides, traces of barnyard hormones & antibiotics, quarts of high fructose corn syrup, shakers of salt and enough genetically-modified organisms (GMO (corn)), hot (aldehydes) & hydrogenated oils and gluten (wheat) in a year’s consumption to fill a Honda Civic, sans a CD-player.

.......McDonalds.Tokyo.JPN.wc.9.21.4.thm.A.FucitoUnless a maker clearly states on their product it’s organic or gluten-free (See; USDA labeling standards), you can assume you’re getting the whole toxic treatment.

I’ve singled-out McDonald’s but could just as easily have listed Burger King, Kellogg’s, Olive Garden, Taco Bell, Appleby’s, Frito Lay, Cracker Barrel, Hillshire Brands, General Mills, Smithfield, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Mars or any other major player in production or delivery of processed / prepared food stuffs, confectionaries or beverages. Mickey D’s just happens to be the first, the biggest and most recognized of the drive-in joints, a cultural icon in eatery consumerism. The Oak Brook, Illinois-based restaurant also happens to be my favorite when indulging the desire for a fast fill-up.

Ray Kroc’s burger baby was my first family fast-food experience.

Choices were limited in the 60s but we didn’t complain. Returning from a trip or to give Mom a break, we’d pack the Ford station wagon, all eight of us, Dad took the orders, walked inside (no seating then) and returned with cardboard holders in drinks and eats. No Big Macs, Quarter-Pounders, salads, chicken things, McMuffins, just the basics: Single-patty burger, chocolate or vanilla shakes, Coke and fries in one size so small you could’ve fit it in your shirt pocket.

.....McDonalds.Bangkok.5.9.6.E.Molina.thm.wcAnd in that last fun fact (fries) lay Big Issue #2, after the uh-oh ingredients (See; Above), serving size. We eat too much in 2016 by portioning too big.

Morgan Spurlock’s 2004 documentary Super Size Me put the quantity issue right under our noses, tabbing McDonald’s as the fast-food format-doormat.

It’s not easy guarding the gate to our mouth. Our needs must do battle daily, and nightly, with desires that are shaped by marvelous marketing, tantalizing, permanently impressionable tastes and professional placement of product line in grocery aisle and on highway signage.

Insatiable appetite

Our bodies and brains have no natural inclination towards sugar and carbohydrates. But the palate-pleasers developed by food chemists post-World War 2, indoctrinating us from the time we exit the womb, make our mouths sing for “♫ more, more, mooooore (ATC (‘76)) ♫.” One taste and you’re hooked, or, in the nomenclature, it’s love at first bite.

......McDonalds.brd.wc.thm.Kici.2.4.7.JapanKey players in the fixation: Hydrogenated trans-fats that came onto market in the 1950s, followed by high fructose corn syrup (Clinton Corn Processing and Japan‘s AIST (Takasaki)), first in drinks (70s), now in pretty much in anything that’s processed & packaged.

If you don’t think food is addictive like cigarettes or alcohol, try going off the sweet, savory and wheat-based staples for a week and see how you fare. You’ll be climbing the walls and kicking the family pet if you’re not careful.

We’re not helpless creatures. Will power, lack thereof, plays a role in our oral fixations and face-stuffing routines. But science & psychology play their part.

Food stuffs are packaged with artful, eye-catching flair, labeled in accordance w/USDA but free to finesse (One of the FDA’s sorry-standards: If a food item has trans-fat < 0.4 gram it need not be listed on said label. “Tanks fur nuttin (“Maggie (Caddyshack (‘80)”)!’”). Once the goods hit the grocery or restaurant chain, the strategy-in-placement, whether on shelf & aisle or street location will take command and push a Pavlovian response if you’re hungry or just think so.

......McDonalds.Israel.wc.2.7.7.Ingsoc.thm.AshqelonWriting as one of those dutiful dogs in dining I can say it’s been alot of fun. Many a tasty, convenient and filling meals have passed these lips. I wouldn’t say inexpensive fun but then convenience does exact a price.

But now some of us are making discoveries about the food and beverages we consume, deciding to break the cycle of addiction. It’s not easy. Making a life change never is.

Spurlock & Co. did a public service, for profit, with their documentary, focusing on the most conspicuous health harm associated with a steady diet in processed – prepared food (weight gain), and a subject most easily solicitous of chuckles.

But there are many potential serious health risks associated with a daily diet in prepared-food that are not directly associated with the scale, i.e., obesity.

Ingesting a mere 1 gram of trans fat, easy to do with federal labeling loophole (< 0.4 gram), found in most pre-packaged, processed food items, can take days to process out of the body. That hidden harm can then potentially be the build-up and tipping point for the bad event: Myocardial infarction, i.e., heart attack.

......McDonalds.kiosk.10.28.5.Shizhao.Shanghai.thmAnd don’t expect government to push the food court to find healthier means to feed the world. Understanding that legislators and agency folk work on a quid pro quo basis and are generally captured in 2016 by those they’re entrusted to regulate, the task of getting lots o’ food to the masses, as laden with undesirables as it would seem, has become the only political mandate on the eat-issue.

And it is that same mentality that drove the message behind Soylent Green (Stan Greenberg & Harry Harrison (‘73)): When the sea is farmed-out, the people keep multiplying fruitfully, terra firma loses that precious top soil and pollutants take their toll, you find protein wherever you can. Eek.

♫ Breaking Up Is Hard to Do ♫

Here then are the interlopers in processed food stuffs, those unseemly sorts who were given a key to the place and drove a wedge between health-wise consumers and their former steady (McDonald‘s, etc.), leading the jilted to bid adieu.

......Coke.bubbles.Spiff.wc.thmSugar-based beverages (high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and sucrose (table sugar) – dextrose mixture)

Flavoring soda pop and other heavily sweetened drinks, sugars regular consumption can lead to insulin resistence, glucose intolerance and metabolic syndrome (diabetes). The neuro-degenerative disorder Alzheimer’s disease is now sometimes being referred to as diabetes of the brain.

Gluten-based bread and emulsifiers

Wheat-protein containing a difficult to digest amino acid is in the bread that houses those hamburgers, hot dogs and sandwiches. Like trans-fat, it will turn to add-on weight, i.e., love handles, and celiac disease in more serious cases.

Genetically-modified organisms (GMOs)

The research is ongoing about these engineered foods and the human health risks, short and long-term, are largely unknown which means the safety picture on such altered foods remains blurred. No labeling required in the USA.

Cured or adulterated meats

Taking the form of bacon, sausage, jerky and the like, they are believed to have a possible casual connection to heart disease and some cancers.

......McDonalds.fries.Kici.Japan.10.14.06.thmReheated cooking oils

Burgers are boss at McDonald’s but the fries are its calling card. Best in the biz. The cooking oil can be harmful beyond the unhealthy fats. If reheated enough it will create toxic chemicals called aldehydes that collect in the brain and are being linked to neurodegenerative disorders (dementia / Alzheimer’s) and advanced glycation end-products (free radicals) associated with diabetes. Crazy love.

Chemically treated salad greens, vegetables and wheat – corn products

Unless plant parts are identified as organically grown it’s a strong chance they’ve been prepared with any number of chemicals that rinsing will not entirely wash clean. These man-made molecules kill the pests but do no good inside the body.

Antibiotics and hormones in livestock and feed

The livestock that account for most of the processed meals will often receive growth-hormone and drug treatments to fight illness, some that can add considerable bulk to the beast. Humans don’t need animal pharmacology.

Trans-fats and hydrogenated oils

Safflower and cottonseed oil (omega-6) are some of the bad boys that find their way into most processed foods because they emulsify and make it taste good. But these bad fats (good fats include omega-3 (fish oil) and omega-9s (olive oils) are key contributors to heart disease.

We wouldn’t let “Joe Camel” sell cigarettes to kids, why would we let Kellogg’s, KFC, PepsiCo and Kraft sell them on a possible pathway to increased risk for diabetes, heart disease (inflammation & oxidation) and maybe even some cancers as well (immunity deficiency)? Ask your friendly neighborhood legislator, soon.

......McDonalds.Sydney.Sardaka.11.5.12.wc.thmWhen Russ Westbrook (Mt-Dew), LeBron James, Bryce Harper and Cam Newton (Gatorade) pitch for PepsiCo and their sugar-based drinks, whether HFCS or the sucrose – dextrose mix, is selling the sweet drinks much different than when John Wayne, Joe DiMaggio and dozens of other stars shilled for the tobacco companies throughout a good part of the prior century? Government’s “strange inconsistency” in regulation may be explained in that there is no 2d-hand heart disease and diabetes can sometimes be manageable (ugh). But cancer is cancer, folks, in all of its deadly forms.

The food conglomerates’ have a good defense: ‘We feed the world,’ a planet with its ever-growing population, no longer checked by world war or global plagues. And with a world-wide energy crisis looming as oil reserves continue to dwindle and alternatives not yet a reality, healthiest foods may become a moot point.

Truth be told, because organic and gluten-free choices are not always available in stores & restaurants, because old habits die hard and one must treat themselves to the emulsified flavors that please the palate so well, my wife and I do continue to purchase some processed foods & beverages for home consumption and travel especially, with digestive supplement (Tolerase®) and handy.

Ultimately, responsibility will rest on the shoulders of every person, parent – guardian where children and dependents are concerned (It‘s never too late to start a healthier lifestyle) and their medical professional to better educate themselves on choices in diet and related habits like exercise, cessations (big portions / excess drink / smoking), stress reduction and supplementation.

Go to http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed and read for yourself what experts are publishing about their findings on the food we eat and who we really are.

.....macroecono.lamcasinoroyal.2011.wcSteven Keys
MacroSport
Photo credits: BigMac, 2.4.7, Kici, Japan, wc.cca; McDonalds-Arch, 3.22.6, wc.cca, Toronto, R.Sinn; QuarterPounder, wc.cca, Saalfeld, 8.19.6; McDonald’s-Tokyo, wc.cca, JPN, 9.21.4, A.Fucito; McDonalds-Bangkok, wc.cca, 5.9.6, E.Molina; McDonalds-burger, Kici, 2.4.7, wc.cca, Japan; McDonald’s-Israel, wc.cca, Ingsoc, 2.7.7, Ashqelon; McDonalds-Kiosk, 10.28.5, Shanghai, Shizhao; Coke, bubbles, Spiff, wc; McDonalds-fries, Kici, 10.14.6, Japan; McDonalds-Sydney, Sardaka, wc.cca, 11.5.12; macroecono-lamcasinoroyal, 2011, wc.cca.
Posted: 5.21.16 @ 2:43pm, edit 11:59 EST; Copyright © 2016
The King of Queen quotes: Springfield!-Springfield!

NFL16: History of the Decline & Fall of the Cowboys’ Empire?

27 Apr

Some’ll read this title and say, ‘Au contraire, Steven, the Dallas Cowboys are far from decline (the rise part, that’s implied (See; Gibbon)), they’re NFL’s most valuable commodity.’ In other words, ‘you’re a certifiable loon, Mr. Keys.’

The ‘loon’ line would be way off-base most days but when talking strictly dollars & cents they’d be right on-point.

Forbes last year valued Jerry Jones’ football enterprise at approximately $4 billion, twice the League average (Google). That’s alot of loot and alot of rise.

But there’s more than one way to catalog a cow.

...........Cowboys.cheer.7.16.11.wc.D.Wertman.thmFrom this viewing vaquero’s vantage point the gridiron guys from Dallas are in steady, uninterrupted decline, looking ‘all hat and no cattle’ as the sun sets on one frustrating, unfulfilled season after another, their last NFC championship coming in 1996 (v GB) on way to their most recent NFL title in SB30 (v PIT).

And the Cowboys roundup still somehow manages to pull off the America’s Team thing. Like “Shane” said, “the brand sticks.” Pray tell, why?

Uniforms & logo are classic cool and Jones has shown good sense to steadfastly refuse any aspirations to change by kids at Nike who seem expert at messing up a good thing (See; Browns, TB, etc.). Plus, nobody really cares about the AT tag anymore. Belichick & Brady don‘t and Packers’ fans want it too much.

But the long-running futility that’s displayed on the Arlington, Texas field renamed AT&T Stadium (‘14) is a major drag and hardly befitting of a franchise that had became the standard of success in American sport ever since Mickey Mantle hung up his spikes (‘68) and Bill Russell called it a career (‘69).

..........Jones.12.7.15.K.Allison.wc.thmMurchisons & friends (Hawn, Wynne, Lee) gave it life (1960), firm of Schramm, Brandt & Landry gave Cowboys form, early-QB Eddie LeBaron made it fun, All-Pros Don Perkins, Mel Renfro and “Dandy” Don Meredith made it close (Ice Bowl) and Roger “The Dodger” Staubach, Bob Lilly, Ray Wright, Chuck Howley & Dan Reeves got the 1st brass ring (‘71). Then Drew Pearson, Tony Dorsett and Randy White helped hand Tom and Dallas their 2d NFL title (‘78) and Jerry Jones, Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer worked the mental maneuvers to resurrect the glory in the 90s with 3 rings in 4.

Since Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin hoisted their last Lombardi 20 years ago (1996) the Cowboys have made the post-season but eight times and have not been close to a Super Bowl without having played in nary one NFC championship contest.

Twenty years is a long drought for any team but for the Cowboys crowd it must feel like the well’s run dry for a thirst that’ll never be quenched. Gulp.

And the worst of it is that charismatic Jerry who bought the club in ’89 from the giving arms of the RTC who’d intervened as then owner “Bum” Bright was neck deep in the savings & loan scandal, doesn’t seem all too concerned with Cowboys plight, apparently content with the trophies on his mantel, AT&T rental fees and the resounding cash-register ring he savors with every quarterly report.

..........Romo.10.13.10.bigcatsliar.wc.thmbWhen the ’Boys looked to be turning the corner onto Contender Alley back in 2014-15, compiling a RS mark of 12-4 and only exiting playoffs after a gut-wrenching defeat to longtime nemesis Green Bay in the divisional (26-21) (THAT was a catch, and one heck-of-a-catch at that (D.Bryant)!), they lost their run game in the off-season bidding wars when 1500+ man DeMarco Murray chased the bigger bucks (PHI) only to flounder in Philly and then stat-star but oft-injured, long-time Dallas QB Tony Romo (‘06) went down with a clavicle break in W4 as the club limped to 4-12 in 2015.

Tony’s a topper in the pocket and his jersey number surely retired one day but has the luck of a may-fly and crunch-credentials that are somewhat questionable (2-4 PS). He just turned 36 (4.21) and is nearing the end of a long, notable trail.

Because there’s a dearth of pro-style, proven QBs in NFL ranks and Draft16 will have to, in Gomer Pyle speak, “surprise, surprise,” to help alleviate that sorry state, Romo still carries a premium and has full support of Jones, as he should.

But while Cowboys are beginning to re-establish their trademark defense with key team ranks ending upward in middle-of-the-pack in 2015 (#16 papg (23.4) / #17 yapg 9348)), All-Pros Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and Romo are no spring chickens and the ‘need-list’ in Big D is longer than a…chuckwagon chow-line at Chisholm Trail’s close.

.........RomanLegion.wc.StoriadItalia.1979.Mainz.tmDrafts are largely exercises in ephemeralia so don’t expect big reversal of last season’s 4-12 to a 2014 result. Boosting Dallas’ and every team’s chances is that the present state of (quality) competition in the NFL is probably at its lowest ebb in decades (See last season’s flops: ATL, NO, DET, MIA, SD, BAL, CHI, NYG, PHI, etc.) (See Also: NBA16) and anything is possible in NFL16-17.

Though Barbarians are massing at the borders there’s still time for Jerry Jones to put Dallas’ house in order and set ‘em again on that path to glory.

Unless he wants to go down in Texas football lore as the Romulus Augustulus of Cowboys’ empire, he serving as the last Western Roman emperor when the Vandals & Visigoths swarmed Rome (476 AD), he best turn his major attention away from the cha-ching ($) and back to turning this thing around but quick.

“Rome wudn’t burnt in a day (B.Hopkins, American Graffiti (‘75))” but when it was it wudn’t pretty and all the statues came tumbling down. Gasp!

.....macroecono.lamcasinoroyal.2011.wcSteven Keys
MacroSport
Photo credits: Cowboys.helmet, wc, 5.16.8, Dukeha; Cowboys.Cheer, wc, 7.16.11, D.Wertman; J.Jones, wc, 12.7.15, K.Allison; T.Romo, 10.13.10, bigcatsliar, wc; Barbarians.Rome, wc.cca, 19c, EV.Luminais, BAL; Roman.Legion, wc, Mainz, StoriadItalia, 1979; macroecono, lamcasinoroyal, wc.cca, 2011.
Posted: 4.27.16 @ 4:09pm; Copyright © 2016