Archive for June, 2014

Ok I may be the only person who watches these but as a service to the ignorant will provide synopsis and comments as work my way through. Their basketball docos are simply superb and you dont have to be a sports nut to enjoy them. I wont rate them as all invariably 5/5 trust me

The Two Escobars

The lives of soccer player Andrés Escobar and drug lord Pablo Escobar; the intertwining of crime and soccer in their native Colombia; and the connections between the murders of both men. (2 hours in length)

Colombia have just made it through to the last 16 in current World Cup. In the 1994 WC in USA they were the favorites after stunning lead up form based on a local structure built up over a few years supported by drug money. The fate of Pablo eventually impacted on Andres in a way that is difficult to accept but easy to understand in the prevailing society at the time. Thank me I live in Aussie land – we dont win soccer matches but I can walk down the street rather comfortably anytime of day

The Fab Five

The story of the 1991 Michigan men’s basketball recruiting class, called the Fab Five, one of whom (Chris Webber) was later involved in a notorious pay-for-play scandal. (95 mins)

The Freshman roster known as the Fab Five included Webber, King, Howard, Jackson and Rose. They were black and cocky , loved hip hop and wore baggy shorts – all before this was commonplace in NBA. Did not take long before they were the starting five – unheard of in College basketball. Went through to successive NCAA but there was no fairytale and of course the infamous Webber timeout. Then the payment scandal broke. Sadly Webber would not be interviewed but does not take away from an enthralling story. There is a great relationship running throughout the story between the white coach and these supreme black athletes.

The Real Rocky

A profile of Chuck Wepner, the original inspiration for Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa character, and how the glory of Rocky eluded Wepner as he took several strange turns in an effort to stay in the spotlight.

Could just be another story about a Joe Palooka who could bleed at the weigh in apart from a) interaction with Ali and b) continual tie ins with Stallone movies and characters. It portrays Ali in a rather poor light ( he actually appears in Fab Five doco as well!) as the influence of Don King pervades world boxing as well but Stallone comes out a lot worse. Eventually they settled out of court for undisclosed sum. Chuck actually speaks better now than either Ali or Stallone but his face still looks like Playdough experiment gone wrong

Kings Ransom

The 1988 trade of Wayne Gretzky from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings and the effect it had on Gretzky, the fans in Edmonton, and the popularity of hockey in Southern California.

Ice Hockey is also a popular topic for these docos and there was no bigger player than Gretzky. The story mostly revolves around the reality of economics of running a sporting franchise and the need to make trades much to the chagrin of the loyal fans. Interesting tie in much like Colombia soccer – Gretzky could not deliver a championship in the several years with them but the seed was planted and they are now 2014 Stanley Cup Champions

There are over 2 seasons of docos and a series of shorts and webispodes. Luckily I have no life

State against State, Mate against Mate. Cheats against Churchgoers. After 101 matches it is definitely a great rivalry played with real passion. Ever since Artie gave The Crow a clip around the year there has been no love lost – on the field. At this time of year we hate the Blues. But really only this time of year. Because in three months they may be playing for Australia. In NRL loyalty tends to follow club – state – country. Because Australia is clearly the best nation in the world at NRL then most focus centres on SOO as the true pinnacle of the sport. The only rider to that is we barrack for any team playing Manly on any given day. Despite a scoreline of 8-0 recently the series is always closer than that would indicate. But they have cleaned the game up too much. Yes no one wants cheap shots ala Big Man’s jawstopper but a couple of punches man to man is better than constant niggle. As Gallen said after match two it is embarrassing as everyone runs in for the brouhaha only to suddenly realise you cant throw a punch so you get the clown next to ya to “hold me back or Ill have him” hoping against hope they dont let go. So instead we get the niggle and spoiling tactics. Its a good rivalry certainly but has lost some sting

If you want an international sporting event to get in a lather about then look no further then the Ashes cricket tests. Poms are genetically programmed to be hated. Ok there is no real physical impact but you can do some damage with a little red rocket from 22 yds. Because you cant throw punches we have sledging. Some is humorous of course but most are cheap shots said to someone who is wrapped up like the Michelin Man but cant hit back. A win over the Poms does indeed make the weetbix taste better the next morning. There is however too much nonsense in between to truly nominate cricket as the ultimate contest.

Aussies have a good rivalry with the All Blacks in Union but it has been a long time since it has been an even contest. For a true rivalry to flourish you need hatred and you need even matching. There are likely good rivalries in AFL but who really cares and of course when it comes to soccer if you get paid 3 million a day to fall over on cue then the contest can lose some appeal. There are many classic rivalries in NBA and NFL I am sure but they are more akin to SOO I imagine and I know nothing about them and care even less. So leaving team sports to one side what about personal rivalries? Glad you asked.

Borg and McEnroe. Scrunchies at 20 paces ? Federer and Nadal – zzzzzzz. Palmer and Nicklaus. Woods and Mickelsen. As much as I love Golf its hard to get too wrapped up in multi-millionaires fighting over another million. Prost and Senna? Ok this one is interesting because these guys do scary shit. They are rich of course but maybe earn it more then getting up and down from the bunker. It was a genuine rivalry and more important one could impact directly on the other – as they often did. This of course brings us to the ultimate example for a great sporting rivalry

It involves proud men. It involves brutal interaction. It left both a shell of their former self and it enthralled us for years. In reality there was no clear winner. I was lucky enough to grow up with it. One cannot be mentioned without the other. It is of course Ali and Frazier. No handbags or gladrags here folks. It was cage fighting before they added the cage. It had everything. Two black men who were polar opposites. Ali was at times despised and then admired. Frazier was always quietly respected but never got the accolades initially he should have. He actually helped Ali early on in his boxing exile. Their styles were so opposite and of course this is the first ingredient of a great match. Heavyweight Boxing was the ultimate sporting event in the world. Think World Cup condensed down to 15 brutal rounds. The first match was simply and literally the “Fight of the Century”. Frazier won fair and square but of course in boxing if not knocked out then you can always claim foul. The second match was largely a dour affair but duly set the series up for the ultimate decider – The Thrilla in Manila. This was no dead rubber folks. Frazier was past his prime having been cleaned up by Gorgeous George but when the man opposite was Ali he did a Rolf Harris. No he didnt grope young girls, he grew an extra leg duh! It was brutal but fascinating. Both men were never the same even though Ali went on to record a significant win over Norton later. Frazier hated Ali simple as that. Ali had been cruel for years, often to pump up the box office but there was also deliberation there at times. The excellent “Thrilla in Manila” doco, a must watch for any Frazier fan, shows a bitter and twisted but ultimately decent man seemingly content in his quite existence but simply unable to forgive one man. Even revelling in his darker moments in Ali’s declining health. The playing of his phone call back message by his brother was a most poignant scene in the doco. He was proud of his role in damaging Ali. Ali was and is one of my sporting idols but he was no angel. A supreme athlete and sublime showman that ultimately fulfilled his true promise outside the ring.

So in future when someone starts blabbering on about the great sporting rivalry before your eyes do some reading, watch some footage. Understand what a real rivalry is and how it impacts totally on the participants. Then make sure you jot down the odds for your next bet and hope your latte isnt too frothy because that can really rile you up.

Friday Fallout

Posted: June 19, 2014 in Midlife Crisis in Maryhole

Some random thoughts will write down now as probably forget them later #nolightatendoftunnel

1. We had 3 days of Winter this year and it was very nice. Apparently now we have to wait for GOT Season 5 to start

2. 2.3 million watched Australia/Chile soccer (#weareAussie) match on SBS; 2.6 million watched SOO 2 on Nine. One cant help but think 4.9 million may have watched SOO 2 on SBS and 2.60001 million watch Soccer on Nine.

3. Channel Nine coverage. Right up there with I Want to Marry Harry pregame for scintillating dialogue. I like Rabs I really do. When he calls the football. He loses me when he starts trying to sell the appeal of the next episode of House Husbands . Which brings me to

4. Sportsbet. Simply sick of the ads. Ok you say at the end with a big smirk on your face that you should “gamble responsibly” and then rave on about the 400 k you dropped on your money back bet on S00 1. Ok if that much was won back on one betting option how much money was “gambled responsibly” on the whole match. Then we have the new iPad app designed for fat fools with fat fingers. No, its designed for drunk idiots who cant place a bet on the iPhone! Dont get me started on that twat Waterhouse either

5. Fargo ended well and was a rather stellar season. The test will come with Season 2 I imagine and fresh material but it is in good hands

6. I looked up my date this morning and I am old but do wish someone could explain to me the appeal (#keepgettingmade) of the CGI fests currently masquerading as movies. Ok Godzilla was not the worst example until near the end but there is a new Transformers movie on the horizon and we had Pacific Rim etc. I understand you need CGI if you are making a movie like Godzilla or Desolataion of Smaug etc because these creatures are not naturally occurring except maybe in NSW. Damn they make for dull movie though in general

7. Aussies continue to lead the world in piracy of TV shows like GOT. Yay we are winning at something. The boring farts in Cantberra will attack this with their usual wonderful insight and not address the actual issue as so well highlighted by people such as Louie CK or in Crikey recently

8. Like clockwork – 3 days after visit with Grandkiddies the sore throat and sniffles start. Like reading bacto plates in the morning and then sticking your head in the incubator to look for more without any PPE on! #okyagotmeIhavenoideawhatPPEis

God rested on the 7th day so got her covered by one . But lets end on a laugh (in case you didnt find the previous wordy brilliance humorous)

SOO 2 Wrap

Posted: June 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

NSW won the first game. Qld lost the second. Simple as that. The teams were always closer than an 8 yr run indicates but in the past Qld always got the job done when needed. Often the bounce of the ball went our way. More often though it was clinical execution under pressure. This has been lacking in both matches with no clear reason as all the guns were on the field. Blues defense certainly played a part in first game. So before what may appear like whining let me say that NSW deserved to win the series but more so Qld did not. Lets hope they take the win with the same grace they took all the losses which were in the bee’s dick category often. Mind you it was never the players that were the problem, it is the pro NSW “ARL” media.

It was a poor game if not necessarily dull. SOO can never be dull but this came close. It was full of niggle and slowing down tactics. There were especially a lot of late tackles on kickers – not all NSW of course but certainly the majority. NSW has a couple of clear grubs in their team – Bird and Reynolds are clearly at the front but Farrah not too far behind. Myles is our pin up boy in that regard. Gallen is simply a whinger and a whiner to referees and largely overrated although you cant deny his ticker. Woods is a prize clown. Hodgkinson looks the goods and slotted a good kick under pressure. Hayne was kept out of it mostly by the style of play but still pulled off the most significant event of the night – knocking the ball out of Thaiday’s hands when he was going to score. If he had it was all over red rover. They missed the Morris boys and changed their game plan accordingly

The gamble on DCE came off in one regard – he lasted the game. However he still appeared out of his depth. He made a poor read in defense when NSW scored and shortly after threw a shocking pass that coughed up ball in poor position. To be fair the right side defense on the line was screwed up a bit by loss of Tate. The loss of Tate was critical. McQueen is not a winger. Tate may not have scored the try but he probably would have at least caught the ball! Smith had a dominant first half but then largely went missing in second when calm heads needed. Thurston has lacked impact all series and then showed his ugly side at the end. Mind you rather convinced Reynolds started that nonsense with a missed cheap shot but at end of day you dont push your forearm into face of player on ground in full view if you expect to be a future Immortal! Scott has had a poor series and Taylor should never play Origin again. Gillett was the pick of the forwards along with Thaiday and Parker was sorely missed for his offloads

So many times Qld could have put this game away – as they have in previous years. Two crucial injuries – Cronk and Tate – in different matches killed their chances but then we have heard so often that that is when they are at their best – broken but not beaten. But no they are not supermen. They are highly skilled and highly paid athletes but still very human. NSW was gone and had no imagination in attack. They got 300 tackles in a row in our 25 and finally scored. We couldnt do that in first match. Then the cardinal sin – kicking out on the full . EVEN THOUGH WOODS CLEARLY TOUCHED IT!!! Another turning point – but once again we didnt deserve the win

So woke up this morning bleary eyed to see the highlights of a great Soccer match – yes it Soccer not Football, this is Australia deal with it. Talk about highly paid highly skilled players! But the glaring difference was EXECUTION UNDER PRESSURE by the Dutch superstars

So the sky isnt falling. Luckily we dont have to hear th “D” word for a while – as in dynasty. All good things come to an end and good luck to Lozza. Thank Me it wasnt Sticky, Bellyache or Gus that won! Its hard when your sporting “heroes” lose. When the Aussies lose cricket to the Poms it hurts – but you take solace in the fact that you are Australian at least and get to wash daily. So its not the end of the world. Things could be worse

I could have been born in NSW

Who shot JR? Or more to the point who didnt want to shoot JR but it is a classic example of the season finale cliffhanger and the next day water cooler moment. Of course this was the good old days when we all watched the episode at the same time and there were no downloads or internet spoilers. And we spoke to each other at Water Coolers. Season finales can fall into many categories

1. The well planned Series finale where all the loose ends are tied up like Six Feet Under or maybe the story ends but the wondering doesnt ala Sopranos. All the planning and notice in the world does not guarantee satisfaction of course as ably demonstrated by Dexter

2. The unexpected season finale that becomes the series finale ala the tragic Terriers. No satisfaction at all of course just a felling of loss and emptiness. Sometimes the writers cobble together a finish of kinds, but never the one they really wanted. Hostages was an example of a show left totally up in the air – not that it was a great show of course 🙂

3. The Mid-Final Season finale. Thanks Breaking Bad and Mad Men. Also known as the “Show Me the Money” option. Oddly shows us that in fact The Best Things in Life are Not Free but rather drawn out

4. The Pentulimate Season finale. Where we set up for the final season hopefully. Usually the end of a well planned story arc ala Sons of Anarchy

5. The current season finale which is often a cliff hanger to bring you back next year. Like number 4 works best when there is a clear story arc ala Hannibal rather than the year to year run of a show like Mentalist where no firm conclusion is necessarily known

6. The Book series. A slightly different situation altogether ala Games of Thrones which while it may well deviate from the book at times some big moments from the books are going to happen if all the characters are at a bloody wedding for example! Cant be helped. Why I dont read books

Dedicated followers would know that being an AAL sufferer (Advancing Alzheimers Likely) I like to take advantage where possible of saving up seasons to watch in one hit. This does not occur with a show like GOT where a) I need my weekly fix b) likely ruined by internet spoilers. So lets run the slide rule over some latest offerings

Anyone still reading and not singing Im a Lumberjack – this is where spoilers may kick in

Good Wife – solid recovery from a mid season death induced slump but not earth shattering. 7

Mentalist – a largely silly season but at least they actually resolved something at seasons end when it looked like the usual nonsense 7

Hannibal – gutsy ploy to preview the final showdown early in the season but it is a classy show with a clear plan – whether it happens or not. Lots of balls in the air and a few in a soup somewhere no doubt 8

Bates Motel – Surprisingly enjoyable show given its soapy plot but we all know the story so some backfill is interesting and the leads are great. Nothing too startling and no knives or showers seen 7

Person of Interest – silly show personified but somewhere in there is an actual interesting yarn and they progressed the story well this season 7

Mad Men – another must watch each week show even though the pace is measured. Simply great drama and while no cliff hangers (apart from Charles Manson knocking on Megans door) it has set up the final season perfectly as it has always been Dons journey 8

Americans – uniformly excellent show and the end of season 2 was a natural evolution of the story especially given the central theme of the season 8

SOA – yes its an old one but is the classic example of a well thought out arc (whether you like it or not) and a penultimate season finale with a shocking turn of events that will have significant impact on multiple characters 8

Still have to watch Vikings and Da Vinci Demons. Californication is ending. Lets hope they nail Fargo. When you have a brilliant show like Fargo then the pressure is really on to nail the landing or a lot of the good will built up seeps away with time