IMI PARE RAU











As pitchers & catchers prepare their luggage… AL East, Blue Jays, barely (think a low win total, on the order of 90, a la the 87 win Yankees of 2000, & a tight finish, Sawkx & Yanks within three games or fewer)… This finish, at least at the top, has been a considered opinion for a few years, now, most notably in King Kaufman’s season previews at Salon. Why I am only seeing this happening, in ’07, is the advancing age of the top of the Yankee rotation (Pettitte, Mussina) & the likely regression of minor league products of recent vintage (cough, Melky, cough) — there was a reason he was on nobody’s radar to trade for, when the Yankees went into mid-season re-arming mode — coupled with a similar aging in Boston (Schilling, Lowell, Varitek) & the inconsistency of the youth (Beckett, (sad as it is for me to admit) Wily Mo). So, largely, the two-heads monster of the past decade has gotten soft, allowing a plugging Blue Jays side to skip to the front. Halladay & Burnett (healthy, so far, knock on wood) on which the rotation will turn, plus the offense of Overbay, Glaus, Wells… & the Zauner will propel that move;

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{Wed, 24 January, 2007}   My contempt for convention duly noted…

My Academy picks… I saw that the Motion Picture Artists & Scientists did not find much in my projections for the approaching Oscar night. I cannot say I am surprised, but I also will defer to their judgment, enlightened as it is by years in the industry & conceiving nuance better than I. (How to pick best, otherwise? Wet tee-shirt contest for the ladies, best package contest for the males?)

That said, my Oscar picks, from among the nominees, below the fold.

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Best albums… Had you asked me twelve years ago what would be crowned the 90s top album, I would have said, “Vitalogy“. Two years later, my thoughts would have shifted to Pinkerton. Two more years, & I would have offered The Soft Bulletin or Aquamosh (I’m serious). But, looking back, thru the lens of what has come since the turn of the willenium, I can say, with all clarity (but not Jimmy Eat World’s) in mind, that the best, & definitive, album of the period 1990-9 is Wax Ecstatic.

 Yes, the sophomore effort from Detroit’s “grunge*a*be” quintet. Yes, the album of only ten tracks & one single (the eponymous third cut). Yes, the one with Vinny Dombrowski’s gold tooth front & center on the cover.

By what rationale do I reach this verdict?

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{Wed, 24 January, 2007}   Blackenheimer becomes Black Vermeil?

One foe vanquished… With the Colts’s stunning victory over their Masshole nemesis from Foxboro, not only has Peyton Manning taken a step toward equalization of his position in the NFL pecking order in comparison to “The Matinee Idol”, but Tony Dungy is sixty-minutes short of elevating his coaching resume from merely regular-season great (see Mora, Jim, previous coach of Indianapolis) to champion (see Holmgren, Mike). It was neither of those “ghosts”, from retirement or Seattle, that Dungy was chasing, though. Rather, it was a face he knows well, from being on the opposite sideline in the NFC Championship before the last great Super Bowl: St. Louis-Tennessee.

That is correct: Tony Dungy is chasing Dick Vermeil.

 When Vermeil emerged from self-imposed exile as ABC colour-man for West Coast NCAA matches in ’97 & with a contract from that non pareil seductress Georgia Frontiere, he had a reputation as a good coach, a disciplinarian, & the last man to do anything of note with Philadelphia’s NFL entrant. (It’s a pity how little Buddy Ryan actually got out of his defensive monster (Jerome Brown, Reggie, Clyde Simmons, Seth Joyner) & the should-have-been-as-great-as-Montana-to-Rice tandem of Cunningham & Fred Barnett. But that’s neither here, nor there.) What Vermeil lacked, though, was a championship. He had a Rose Bowl crown, sure, & an NFC championship, but not the ring that counts.

Thus, the return. But even older & more grounded, the players’s coach that he would not, could not deign to be twenty years prior, he could not get the Rams over the hump that had persisted since Dickerson had been traded to Indianapolis (& even those teams weren’t exceptional). ’99, the third year of Coach Vermeil v2.0, proved magic, though. Already armed with Faulk, Isaac Bruce, & Torry Holt, new hire coordinator Mike Martz implemented his pass-first offense under the command of Spaceman Warner. The rest of the story, we know.

Now, look across that TWA Dome field, at the ’99 NFC Championship. Across from Vermeil, stood Dungy. He was in his fourth season in Tampa, after being hired in ’96 from the Minnesota Vikings staff (where he was defensive coordinator) to replace the inimitable Sam Wyche, & there he was, Tampa at its highest since season three under John McKay, one game from the Super Bowl.

They didn’t make it. & two years later, Dungy was out, only to resurface in Indiana within the month.

Sure enough, too, another conference championship beckoned, ’04 against the Patriots, & again, the Dungy-helmed side lost.

0-2. Entering Schottenheimertowne.

With Sunday’s epic victory at the RCA Dome over those same Patriots, of course, that road into Marty’s ignominy has rerouted onto an I-95 bypass. At the end of that, too, Dolphins Stadium, & the potential for history. More importantly, to re-write his own story. With victory, Dungy will have leapfrogged not only Mora the Elder & Schottenheimer, but Dan Reeves as well. He will join Holmgren & Ditka as Super Bowl WINNING coaches, & of course Vermeil, his adversary from seven years ago, who was only there for his own redemption.

To think: another even-tempered players’s coach winning a title with a “pass-wacky” scheme & marginal defense. Sometimes, the soft shades display better on the canvas than the crimsons & hunters. (As in green, that.) Sometimes, Jon Gruden is good for that final push, but to perpetuate the success one’ll need to find something else.

Indianapolis has, presumptively, in moving from Mora to Dungy. Kudos, to Bill Polian, to Peyton Manning, & largest of all, to Tony Dungy.

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{Mon, 22 January, 2007}   Stea Romana

Academy nominations… Considering the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences shall release the five nominees for most categories, tomorrow; further, that I am become a bit of the film buff — I offer my endorsement, in the category of Best Supporting Actress.

 Oana Pellea.

 Hers is a name not even I had heard, before Children of Men, but after seeing her as “Marica” (don’t believe the credits & the spelling of her name therein), the guide in Bexhill for Theo & surrogate mother for Key & Dylan, I realized that Pellea exemplified supportive acting this year. Hers was a crucial role, even moreso than the other “Mary of Galilee” figure in the film, the maternity nurse, as Marica was the woman who saw the mother & her escort to the buoy at which the Tomorrow would pluck them from the sea.

From Marica’s aid in dispatching with Sid, striking him about the trunk with a club, to housing Key & Theo in the Romanian Quarter in the refugee camp, to staying close when Theo had to go to the abandoned hospital to regain Key & child from the Fishes, she was the beacon that we saw manifest when K & T met her.

For these reasons, then, Oana Pellea should be 2007’s Best Supporting Actress.

Other endorsements:

Best Picture: Children of Men.

Best Director: Marc Foster (Stranger than Fiction).

Best Actress: Emma Thompson (Stranger than Fiction)

Best Actor: Forrest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland)

Best Supporting Actor: Dustin Hoffman (Stranger than Fiction)



{Fri, 19 January, 2007}   Destroyer, Oh Boy!

Take two… Having completed the assignment with which I was tasked, but being among the select company that actually did make good, I have been drafted for a second disc: Destroyer’s Rubies. This, though, I don’t mind. Bejar’s latest non-pron entry is another disc that I actually bought this year. It is also one of the few that I have heard. & between Bejar & Nelly Furtado, I am up to my neck in the asymmetric recordings of Ibero-Canadians. (Portuguese people are hotter, though. Or so that cut-out of a Lusitania Air stewardess would have us believe.)

Onward! To the review.

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{Thu, 18 January, 2007}   Chan-teuse too cloying?

Let’s get Shmoopid… & I kill myself with the pun (the lowest form of composition, according to college dropout third-shifters with whom I used to run; how’s it goin’, Jer?) That aside, though, I have been tasked with offering a capsule review of Cat Power’s The Greatest. I shall commence that task, now, but with the knowledge I began composing the piece in my head, as I read “Sports Illustrated” & ate sea-salted Lays-brand chips, & listened to the album, yesterday eve. So…

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{Wed, 17 January, 2007}   Nobody knows I’m a lesbian.

For a moment… I thought, for a second — what do I know?

 & even in my indecision — possibly, due my indecision — I have started a second blog, with one at Blogger, & this at WordPress. The latter shall be for larger pieces, more voluminous (perchance, deeper… nah) thought. But, we shall see.

 Expect more, as the week develops.



et cetera