Monday, September 22, 2008

Charlie Hustle

Tony Romo dropped back to pass. A long one to the End Zone. Two Cowboys converged near the Goalpost, Nos. 81 and 82. But coming between them, a Green Bay Packer caught the ball and started back up the field. No. 81 tried to reverse his momentum but was knocked to the ground.

The TV camera followed the Packer interceptor on his long run, slipping and shedding would-be Cowboy tacklers with impunity as he reached mid-field. The Cowboy offensive platoon seemed helpless against this brilliant runback. But a white Cowboy jersey flashed into the picture and No 81 wrapped his arms around the ball carrier and dragged him to the ground.

The TV cameras and announcers replayed the great interception and runback several times. It made all the weekend highlight reels. But no camera caught the best part of the play in my mind's eye. No camera caught Terrell Owens jump up from the end zone turf, turn and take an angle across the field and run about 80 yards to catch up with the ball carrier and bring him down.

Most athletes accept it when they've been knocked out of the play. Then it's the other guys' job. Terrell Owens brings a lot of baggage with him to the football field, including a committment to the team and a lot of speed, desire and that quality so much identified with Pete Rose, hustle.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Scams and Con Games

Everyone's a scammer. Point your finger where you may, but don't forget the mirror. And definitely don't neglect to get your share.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Why didn't anybody tell me that V For Vendetta was a good movie? I had to stumble across it on FX tonight. I don't remember reading any reviews when it came out so I must have off-handedly relegated it to the same same trash bin as all recent movies trended from overheated and murky graphic novels. But more than the usual juvenality, V is also an unapologetic political satire and strident attack on the facistic grasping of govermental power and authority so prevalent around our world.

As the title informs, this is a revenge story. And I love revenge stories that dish out the serious punishment. But V is also a love story, violent and tender and more complex and sophisticated than anything I can think of for recent comparison. There is, for instance, one long punishing sequence inflicting pain and cruelty on the beautiful and vulnerable Evey that is, at the same time, both a metaphor and practice of the art of seduction.

But ultimately, it is in the art of destruction that V most entertains. The explosive finale over the 1812 Overture was a lovely and satisfying crescendo of sight and sound. Where is IMAX when I need it?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Death knell

Can you hear it? The Closing Bell of the NYSE. Is it tolling the death of Capitalism in America? Has the Republican Party and its Captains of Capital, finally destroyed their own de-humanized system? They did it once before in the 1920s, but a wealthy Democratic president instituted such business and banking controls and regulations as to save America from the impending threat of Communism from within.

With the help of a few wars and munitions deals at home and abroad, Americans, in the ensuing years, came to enjoy a renewed, and even greater level of prosperity. But this degree of comfort and ease was too much for the current Republican administration to resist. It had to have more--for itself. Its operatives knew how to manipulate the lax regulatory environment for their own enrichment. But with the crash and collapse of its most venerable financial institutions they have pushed Capitalism to the brink of its own destruction. 

Not that any of the financial and political bigwigs will suffer. They all have their stashed away wealth and golden parachutes to sustain them in the style to which they are accustomed. If all the doors of Wall Street close and the Closing Bell rings its last, you will know for whom it tolls. Woody Guthrie could have been thinking of the dust bowl of Capitalism when he sang, "So long, it's been good to know you".

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A Keeper Flick

Sometimes cinema quality holds up over time. Over 75 years is a very long time. I have been viewing ONE WAY PASSAGE for about 55 of those years. How many times, including in theaters and on TV, I wouldn’t want to try to guess. But as well as I knew the story, the performances and the scenes, each time I watched it there was one thing always fresh; the emotions I felt. This is a truly lovely movie. The faces are photographed to compelling perfection and the voices are transcribed with warmth and nuance by the Warner Bros. early Vitaphone process.

One Way Passage screens on TCM on Thursday, Sept.4. It is not available on DVD or VHS so setting your DVR or VCR tuner is essential, as this is a genuine keeper and something you will want to watch again. The opening shot, in fact, is something that cine buffs will want to re-view very quickly.

The TCM log line states: One Way Passage
NR Movie. William Powell, Kay Francis,
Frank McHugh. (1932) A condemned man
and dying woman fall in love on a ship from
Hong Kong to San Francisco.

Much more can be said about One Way Passage, but I’ll leave that for Robert Osborne.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Peter contemplates his future as a new father.

it's private
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