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Friday, March 24, 2006

ted turner is trying to kill me

Ted Turner is trying to kill me.

I am an old movie buff and always have been. A major disappointment over they years has been the movie line up on American Movie Classics the alleged old movie channel. Rarely is there anything on that would constitute a classic. It tends to run to all the truly bad b movies of the 70s with lots of Charles Bronson. The real powerhouse is Turner Classic movies. The cable system on the island was falcon cable, a fierce competitor of Mr. Turners back in the good bad old days of cable television. Hence no Turner classic movie channel for. Last year falcon sold the system. Two months ago Turner classic was added. I discovered this happy fact by accident one Friday night, sipping a scotch and checking the sports news. Having been sipping said scotch for some time I punched in ESPN news, channel 221.Or so I thought. I actually punched in 212, the new home of Turner Classic movies. Instead of basketball highlights, free agent signings and spring training reports I was staring at Bogart and Hepburn in the African queen. This was followed by Casablanca. Mind you it was already eleven at night. I stayed awake through those two and fell asleep halfway through High Sierra. The next morning I awoke to She wore a yellow ribbon.

Normally in my house, the television of for two things sports and news. Now however I got in the habit of checking channel 212 each night along with espn news, cnbc and cnn. It started harmlessly enough, an old classic here, a western there. Soon my Saturday morning lineup of the comedians on the fox morning money shows was replaced by musicals and westerns. I couldn’t help myself. Each night something new to watch. The Cincinnati kid one night with Steve McQueen dueling Edward g Robinson to be the greatest poker play of the day one night, Kirk Douglass and john wayne battling the Japanese and their inner demons in the classic wwii movie In harms way.Our town, Brigadoon, come blow your horn,12 angry men,42 nd street, no name on the bullet. Its constant, there’s almost always something great and classic on the damn channel. Soon I was hooked, watching all the time. William Holden,John Wayne, Ava Gardner, Frank Sinatra, Jamese Cagny,Spencer Tracey, Audrey Hepburn,Audie Murphy…good god man this stuff is worse than crack!

So I have found myself watching John Wayne and Lee Marvin conspire to aid their old friend on the Doc in hiding his mixed race children in the post wwii south pacific while having raucous barroom brawls with the Australian navy, falling in love with the oh-so proper Bostonian and learning that in live and family there can be no shame. I watched him again in the Quiet Man portraying Trooper Thornton a man running from his demons and towards his memories learning that for life to go on demons must be tackled..or in this case beaten senseless through the streets of Innisfree with a stop for a proper mid fight porter..Before life and love can blossom. Interestingly in both of them Wayne finally wins over the girl and breaks down her reluctance by throwing her over his shoulder and carrying her off to marital bliss. A technique that would be frowned upon today but one that cause on to sigh nostalgically for the good old days of male female relationships.

I have seen both versions of The Philadelphia Story, both incomparable original with Katherine hepburn at the top of her form and pinnacle of her beauty and Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart delivering an over the top performance as a serious writer turned scandal sheet journalist. It is a story of love lost and regained with many twists and turns along the way. Canceled weddings, late night drunken almost affairs (hey-I can relate), pre-teen matchmakers and happy endings. This amazing film, which was nominated for six Oscars and won two, is even more amazing when you consider that it was shot in six weeks with not a single retake. Having watched that one blustery Saturday afternoon I had to stay up the next night for the remake of the movie as a musical with an equally incredible cast of Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby. Louis Armstrong shows up to jam at one point in the movie. I particularly am fond of this movie as grace Kelly gets off a line at one point that describes the vast majority of my persona relationships when she says Yes, isn't she? Ah, but we're afraid she has a homicidal streak." This was Kelly last film before she retired to marry the Prince of Monaco and was the first film the incomparable Cole Porter had scored in seven years. Both classics and among the greats of all time.

Naturally this comes just as life has gotten very busy. After a January and February where free time was primarily devoted to trips to Chicago and new york, running with da boys here on Kent Island, doing the usual reading and card playing with a few side journeys to see if I could possibly find another incantation of the one true love of my life (for those of you playing along at home note on the scorecard that yup I m without again. Too bad I cant just John Wayne some beauty back to the cave). Now of course just as the addiction of old movies sings through my veins turning me into a back and white Technicolor junkie I have two major projects starting in addition to all the regular market and family stuff that has to be attended to. I find my self having to force my sweaty hands to abandon the remote and step away from the couch each evening until the day’s work is done later in the evening..But about 10 or so most nights its click and watch at least one of these gems before bedtime.

I thought perhaps I had begun to break this addiction as the last two nights I haven watched at all. Now of course I did stay up Sunday night to watch Sean Connery in one his best ever films, Robin and Marion. The film was Audrey Hepburns return to the screen and featured both Richard Harris and Robert Shaw in supporting roles. It is a classic love and adventure tale with the older robin Hood unable to face the facts of aging and trying to continue the fight until Marion, having forsworn her vows as a nun to return to his side poisons them both o that his legend and memory remain beloved. Great file. But I digress. The last two nights I had managed to escape the clutches of my fast growing addiction. Truthfully much of it has been nelson eddy and Jeanette McDonald and they are not one of my favorites. Then I looked a tonight’s schedule. The out of towners at 8. Plaza suite at 10. And what sadistic bastard scheduled James garners wheeler-dealer for midnight? I mean any movie that has stock promotion, oil scams and the uneven course of true love must be watched, right?

There has been much discussion of films and their lessons for speculators on the list in recent weeks. I find that the older movies have many of the things speculators treasure, much more so than todays blood spattered, animatronics films. Individual heroism, the fall grace and regain of glory, personal belief and honor, breaking into song while the world falls around your ears, all are themes I find running throughout the older films. There is romance and seduction rather than semi pornographic scenes representing the concept of love. The violence is not so gore spattered that sam peckinpah would retch. They capture so much more of the glad to be alive, all is possible nature of life that is a key ingredient in living well. If you have the channel on your cable network I suggest you try it. But beware-If you have the slightest trace of romance in left in you, you might be better off with a needle full of smack or a bottle of rebel yell bourbon. Far less addicting.

Turner owns the largest library of classic films. The liberal namby –pamby bastard is trying to kill me

Monday, March 13, 2006

almost perfect

The first almost perfect weekend of the spring has come and gone. The weather in the mid-atlantic was spectacular. One saw the first sign of life in the marinas that had been moribund and empty since late October. As I made my traditional stop by Castle marina on saturday morning, there was the sound of activity, rigging being checked, motors flushed, shrink wrapping being removed in anticipation of the Chesapeake bay summer that was tasted on the spring like breezes that floated across the island. Golf courses were jammed as the fair weather players once again joined their heartier brethren who played on through the winter any time the temperature was above 30. The whole island began to climb out from under the heavy weight of winter. Although I am sure that there will be some of those nasty cold blustery days in the weeks ahead, Spring has been foretold and we are all feeling the tinglings of anticipation for unfurled sails, growling engines, dock bars, bikini clad beauties, swimming in hidden coves along the Wye river, Red Eye Sunday afternoons Jellyfish Joels, The Crab Claw and all the pleasures of summer along the Chesapeake bay.

It was incredible to be out again at the dock bars in shirt sleeves, drinking cold beer with hot shrimp, catching up with people we haven’t seen since the first frost.The Jetty was like a magnet for kent islanders on Friday evening. To stand out in the sun with friends watching the sunlight dance across the narrows and feel the breeze off the bay, no longer hawkish and bitter, but carrying instead salt laced aroma that foretells of good weather, grand adventures and great friends ahead was semi-spectacular. It would have been criminal not to be there for that Friday Happy Hour.

Combine the weather with the other events of the weekend and it was just a great weekend. Watching the ACC tournament outside it is an unusual occurrence and one all local fans seem to have taken advantage. All the outside joints were jammed by tip off all weekend. As usual the tournament did not disappoint. Maryland was, as predicted out early, Wake Forest almost cinderellaed, Boston College showed that they are in fact, more than ready to be a full fledged member of the toughest conference in college hoops, knocking off the tarheels on their way to a final against the $%^&*&^% dukies. I would love to be able to disparage Duke basketball but it is in fact, not possible. They are well coached, they are talented and they play smart-every year.The faces change as players graduate..and by the way their graduation rate is one of the best in college basketball..or leave for the NBA but every year Duke is right there, a constant threat to win the ACC as wel as the NCAA championship. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that this year JJ Reddick has come inot his own in a spectacular fashion. He makes shots that he just should not be able to make. He sinks 40 foot 3 pointers like they were lay ups,.Every time Duke was pressed this weekend, here came JJ sinking a series of bombs, finding Williams or McRoberts wide open underneath, making plays and shots the crushed Miami, Wake and then BC for Dukes record setting 16th ACC championship.Reddick is the Niederhoffer of college hoops, routinely doing things that are thought to be improbable, if not impossible. Warm Weather, cold beer, and ACC championship basketball.A great way spend a weekend in March.

I would be remiss if I did not mention here the Colonial Players of Annnapolis production of Enter the Guardsman, a rendition of Fernec Monlars play The guardsman. Like many small theatre companies, Colonial Players production can be hit or miss. This one is a solid hit. The comedic tale of love, fidelity and the lack therof is well done, the musical adaptation sparkles and the cast hits the right notes of comedy and drama. Renowned sailing instructor Duncan Hood is spectacular in the machiavellian roll of the playwright who so carefully orchestrates the birth and death and rebirth of the actress, actors and guardsmans love triangle. He plays the role right on the verge of over the top as it should be played. The production runs through April 8th and if you are in the area, you could do worse for an evenings entertainment.

So with thoughts of warm days, great nights and exciting college hoops, I return to the office and the land of no volatility markets. Although I am sure the footstep of winter is not completly off the land, it weight has lessened. And I am also aware the market can continue to drift like this for long periods of time, I take heart in the there are still a few decent liquidations and option selling opportunities available to keep food on the table and the bar fully stocked. I am certain that summer will return to the Chesapeake Bay and we will have a string of weekends like the one past, and eventually the stock market will give the type of trading opportunities we have had in months and years past. Until then, we savor the anticipation created by this past weekend.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


One often sits and wonders, in silent accompanied of course by a perfect glass of scotlands finest by the side to lubricate the thought process and make sure it flows in an orderly fashion, as to the meaning of life. I mean surely there is one…10 million..or ten thousand whether one is listening to a scientist or a cleric..of creation and evolution had to be for something? There is enough catholic left in me..the celtic catholic of course, still clinging tightly to the odd mix of mysticism and sensuality that the pre roman Irish were known for…to still believe that something or someone created us for some purpose other than mere existence upon the planet…After all if we are just a slightly higher form of base animal life..explain poetry to me..or Beethoven, degal,Picasso, brahams,shakespeare,..can such beauty be created by a creation of random chance..I think not.
So what then, is the meaning of it all? The views espoused by the church, that this a foreshadowing of eternal life meant to be lived in a mean form of subservience to a greedy angry god?..hmm..I doubt that. Somehow I suspect the she ( God just seems more female than male to me..perhaps just a matter of perspective) did not intend the blind humility and total unapprecaition of the beauty of life that protestant and even now catholic alike preach every Sunday from cherry wood pulpits in glass palaces built by the dimes of the faithful. The humanistic viewpoint…don’t thin so. To believe there is no purpose what so ever is to be dead inside I think. The socialist?..Again no, otherwise why would we all have the innate spark and desire to create and achieve, to better the lives of not only ourselves but those we love?
Indeed a very curious question. I have no answers that can be written in script from on high and perhaps the answers) that I have found are the wrong ones. I have watched many live life’s of relatively safe obscurity, going from birth to death without collecting the scars and hurts of a more adventurous life..but they also have no memories of mountains climbed, stolen moments of pure passion, faraway beaches, love won and lost, victories celebrated, defeats endured. It seems to be an entire unsatisfactory way to live.
So what then, is the meaning of it all. I think perhaps the meaning is to live it and live it well. To experience all the incredible capacity for romance and wonder that the benevolent being has thrown before us.To develop the mind that has been given us, to use it to explore, to dream, to risk, to venture,to create. To enjoy the cornucopia of beauty, in nature, in words, in music, to watch sunsets,, stare at the crashing surf in amazed and amused wonderment. To win victories, to suffer defeats, bind the wounds and enjoy the wonder of achievement.
And most of all, I think to celebrate the in born sensuality we were born with and given as what I thin is perhaps a prelude to any sort of heaven that may exist. The sex drive and appreciation of each other that we were given is I think a misunderstood and misused by most..either denied and turned into some inset part a into slot b procreation rite, or a sweaty twisted pile with someone whose name we won’t recall in the morning. Both I think are equally wrong. But when it’s a melding of minds and bodies, both there for the same reasons, the same pleasures. Searching, exploring, enjoying..then perhaps we have some idea of why we were given these bodies and these mind in the first damn place.Why is there wine if not to drink it, music if not to play it?
The only answer I have to it all is that life is to live, to experience to enjoy. The defeats with the passing of time are almost as sweet as the victories. The music and the poetry recalled long after the sweat and the blood have dried and faded..the memory of lovers joined through body and mind, eyes locking souls together tighter than the bodies ever could be remain long after the ending… is to live, to celebrate, to risk, to dance, to make love, to not just listen to the music but be a part of it
But that’s just me

march madness and a touch of sadness

So here we are again, one of the greatest three or four weeks of sports fan is fast upon us. Most of the smaller NCAA league tournaments have been played and we await the Thursday start of the big guys. The big east, the big 10,the big 12,pac-10 and the granddaddy of them all, the ACC tournament all begin in earnest tomorrow and Thursday. There are some potential monster college hoops battles coming up as we come to the wire in determining the selections and seedings for next weeks 64 strong NCAA battle royale. Some of the conferences are just powerhouses with great teams battling for the regional crown. The Big East is a monster with 5 teams having over 20 wins including the number 1 and no 2 teams overall (Connecticut and Villanova). The Big 10, the ACC and the big 12 al have at least 4 20 game winners and 3 national top 25 rankings going into the weekend. The southeastern conference is perhaps a little weaker than usual this year but would anyone really be willing to bet against tubby smith and the UK wildcats going on a tear to get back into the dance after on off year? Can the year’s big surprise George Washington continue its romp through the Atlantic 10? Gonzaga and the shaggy haired wonder boy are in having won their tourney last night with a come from behind win over Loyola Mary mount? But next week all eyes will be on the tiny school with the big time program. Is this the year they finally break through and go deep into the dance? How cool would a JJ-Adam final four game be?

The granddaddy for the mid Atlantic begins Thursday. Every thing in the entire state of North Carolina virtually freezes and even lesser state such as Maryland and Virginia slow a bit come Thursday noon. This year we have Miami, Boston college and Virginia tech in the toughest tourney (and toughest ticket) in college basketball. Everyone knows how good duke is, but they have lost to two Acc teams, UNC and Florida State this year. Speaking of the despicable tar heels, didn’t they see the preseason reports that said that after losing their top 6 scorers to the NBA last year, they really weren’t supposed to be very good? Yup, second in the ACC, 10th in the nation. Terrible year for the Carolina Blue. The wolfpack of NC State, although they finished poorly have proven they can play with anybody in the league. My much-maligned twerps are always capable under Gary Williams of riding sheer tenacity deep into the rounds. Of course, they are also capable of stinking up the joint and blowing out in the first round. Their only hope for overcoming a lackluster, inconsistent year is to run deep into the ACC finals.

Tip it up. Let em play.

This is the time of year when college hoops take on meaning. For most of the teams its one and done. One loss, go home. There are only 32 at large spots and most of them are spoken for. In the big tintack and Big East alone you have at least twelve teams that will not win their league tournament but will make the dance on an at large bid. Win or go home. It often reminds me of training, this two-week stretch of the year.

Bring you’re a-game and A-effort or you re out.
Prepare and practice or the tide will roll over you before the first half is over.
Get down too far too early and the clock will kill you no matter how strong you come back late in the second half.
The opponent you thought would be a walkover is the one most likely to put your back to the wall. Take nothing for granted.
If you re offense is shut down early, you better be able to adjust on the fly.
No defense, you lose.
Your game plan better be tied to the team you re playing and the situation you win.
Offensive Rebounding, or correcting your mistakes, is crucial.
Defensive rebounding, or taking advantage of opportunities is also critical.
To win it all, you will have to play great on consecutive days. The regular season is over. Win, or go home

The other big on-going event of the next several weeks is major league baseball spring training and World baseball classic. So far the classic has not generated a lot of buzz, but this perhaps is because the US team has not played yet. That situation is changing as we speak, as team USA is about to play Mexico in the opening round. Interest will pick up I suspect, as we get closer to the final rounds.

Around the camps the usual intrigue develops. Barry and the roids(what a great name for a rock band!) are back in the headlines, The Nats finally have a stadium deal, rookie sensations are popping up all over the place and opening day is firmly in sight. Fantasy players are scrambling to arrange their draft picks, cleaning crews are sprucing up the yard while mets fan pray to their respective gods and goddesses that this is the year all that money actually translates into victories. It’s just about here. Opening Day. Full of hope, every team has a shot, and glory is a split fingered fastball away.

A sad note from the diamond is the passing away at a shockingly young age of Kirby Puckett the hall of fame outfielder for the Minnesota twins. Puckett was one of those throwbacks who played the game with obvious joy and desire leading the unlikely Minnesota Twins to two world championships. His career cut short in 1995 by an errant Dennis Martinez fastball. After his eventual retirement and enshrinement in Cooperstown it came to light that Puckett had personal and health problems that have worsened steadily leading to his death from a stroke yesterday. Whatever his difficulties off the field, on it he was a career .310 hitter with six golden gloves and 10 all start selections to his credit. He strove to be his best every game and drove his teammates to achieve the same level. I can recall many times groaning as Kirby would step up to the plate late in a game with the Orioles leading by a slim margin as Puckett was an absolute oriole Killer during in tenure in the show. He played with greatness, he played with heart and he made the team and the game itself better. Would that we could all play with the same effort, desire and dedication. Good-bye Kirby.