Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Gene Wilder - Comic Actor

I'll always cherish some of the hardest, side-splitting laughter I've ever experienced thanks to Mr. Gene Wilder.  He's the cool white-black guy above!

June 11, 1933 - August 29, 2016

Monday, August 29, 2016

LLWS 2016 - Best Story in Summer Baseball

The United States Little League Champions defeated the International Champion South Korean team 2-1 yesterday to win the LLWS title.  

The U.S. hadn't won a LLWS title since 2011, and a team from New York hadn't won since 1964. Good to see my home state get one for the country. The boys from Endwell, NY have completed an undefeated 24-0 season.

Congratulations Boys from Endwell, New York!

Mr. Fuji Now Salt of the Earth

Harry Fujiwara (May 4, 1937 – August 28, 2016)

Wow, Mr. Fuji has passed away at 82 years old.  The villainous professional wrestler who when losing, was known for reaching into his waistband then throwing salt into an opponent's eyes, was one of the great entertainers of the sport.  At least that's how I remember him back in the 1970's. 

Mr. Fuji was a tag team partner with that other bad boy from the East you loved to hate,  the late Professor Tanaka. Together they made up one of the best acts in professional wrestling. For us who knew and cheered the entertainment value of the sport, a bout featuring Mr. Fuji and Professor Tanaka was a treat you didn't wanna miss.  You knew coming in that they'd pull any and every cheating trick in the book to gain an advantage. Mr. Fuji's salt throwing act was as legendary as Chief Jay Strongbow's war party revival dance.  

I can still picture the Chief on one knee, being pummeled on the back by some beast and looking like he's ready to go down and out. Then, with that bobbing head, slowly regaining his strength and rising with every strike to eventually war dance while slapping and flipping his opponent into submission. I think he was chanting something also while doing that choppy strut of his. The Chief was one of the good guys and we loved him for it, God rest his soul.

Mr. Fuji on the other hand, was a bad guy who we loved to hate.  If there was someone who could yell a Scarface style "say hello to the bad guy" line, it was Mr. Fuji.  The problem with that though is that I don't remember him or Professor Tanaka ever talking much, if at all. Their act included not understanding the referee's English, which allowed them to get away with more cheating. Fuji and the Professor would probably be considered racial stereotypes by many politically correct persons in today's age.  Their strong Asiatic looks along with their sly, sneaky gestures were easily misinterpreted by us western viewers as cheating traits that all Asians might employ. 

My guess is that Mr. Fuji, due to his Japanese culture background (Sumo Wrestling), might of had as much, if not more respect for the art of wrestling, than many of the wrestlers from the West. But then again, wikipedia has Mr. Fuji as Japanese-American being born in Hawaii.  So maybe he was really just another marketing opportunist taking advantage of the preexisting racial stereotypes of the West. Ever since the WWII attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese had been depicted as cruel, sneaky and distrustful. 

Funny I just watched an old Twilight Zone episode where a young Japanese-American and white American WWII veteran have an encounter. The episode was broadcast once in 1964 then withheld from syndication in the United States due to it's racial overtones. Finally, on January 3, 2016, the episode was rebroadcast in the U.S. The name of the episode: "The Encounter"

As for Mr. Fuji and who he represented to us fans of early professional wrestling lore; it wasn't his race or looks, but the character he so convincingly played on that wonderful stage of Pro Wrestling, who we loved to hate so. 

Mr. Harry Fujiwara, you will live on in the hearts and souls of those you entertained.  I'll throw a bit of salt out the window today in honor of your brave audacity to break the rules to your advantage.

"If you ain't cheating you ain't trying"

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Are Raiders Just Paper Tigers?

Carr & Cooper celebrate touchdown throw and catch

Oh Well, it was only a preseason game.  Seeing the Raiders lose to the Tennessee Titans yesterday was not the 2016 coming out party I expected at the Oakland Coliseum. Where was that upgraded defense I've been reading about? Were they allowed to tackle in training camp, because they sure weren't tackling like professionals yesterday. Is Titans second year first round number two pick, quarterback Marcus Mariota, that good or has the Raiders defense taken a huge step backwards with the retirement of veteran leader Charles Woodson?

I know I'm being hard on the defense but what I saw yesterday made me more cautious than optimistic about the Raiders defense, the silver & black unit most heavily invested in during the off season. The starting unit had a few good stops, but it's those broken plays, out of position misses and beaten d'backs that sit fresh in my mind. CB David Amerson seemed to be the only reliable defensive back on the field for the Raiders. All others were suspect to allowing completed passes on a regular basis. 

#29 David Amerson breaking up a pass

I saw the Raiders defensive line pressure early, with a nice knockdown of Mariota on a completed pass, but the QB always seemed to have oogles of time to pick and choose receivers to throw to. Maybe that's why the Raiders defensive backs had such a bad day, due to the little if any pressure up front. And did Khalil Mack even play? I don't remember seeing the so-called future MVP. How about rookie safety Karl Joseph, didn't see that future monster out their either.

The starting offense showed that they have more than just one weapon and are just itching to let it all out in the regular season. Second year sensation WR Amari Cooper had a dazzling back of the end zone catch for a 29 yd touchdown. Michael Crabtree's lone 41 yd reception confirms he still has the best hands in the business.

There were some coughs & hiccups though by QB Derek Carr and company, but I do believe they were trying out a few new plays and personnel, like rookie RB DeAndre Washington.  Washington proved that he can make plays both running and catching the ball. He scored his first NFL touchdown on a six yard catch and run. Also, later in the game, he showed he could take a hit as a Titans linebacker laid a "welcome to the NFL" smackdown on him, causing a fumbled scoop and score for Tennessee. 

Backup QB Matt McGloin probably should of read the defense better and never thrown the ball on that play, but you gotta hold onto the pigskin rook. Both backup QB's McGloin and Connor Cook threw interceptions in the second half.

Undrafted rookie receiver Johnny Holton continues to make a case for being on the 53 man roster come the regular season (begins September 11th).  Holton showed good hands catching 3 passes for 54 yards, one of them a one-handed behind the defender back catch. K.J. Brent, another aspiring rookie WR, matched Holton's receiving stats, but Holton flashed that electric sprinter type speed on a reverse that gained the Raiders 14 yds and a first down. The kid can hoof it!

Raiders special teams looks improved. Pro Bowl Kicker Sea Bass Janikowski is back for year 17. RB Jalen Richard, wearing #46 and leaving fans asking "who was that guy?" looks to be a force running back kickoffs as well as lining up in the backfield on offense. 

If this, the third preseason game, is any indication of what to expect of the 2016 Raiders season, then I must warn silver & black fans to "fasten your seatbelts. It's gonna be a bumpy ride." I'm ready for some football; win lose or tie!

Final Score
Titans 27
Raiders 14

Saturday, July 30, 2016

An Ethiopian Blockbuster

5.0 out of 5 stars Tradition, Tragedy & TrialJuly 13, 2016
This review is from: Difret [DVD] [2015] (DVD)
I found the movie "Difret" to be a triumph for women's rights while at the same time a sad indictment of a male dominated society married to a cultural tradition as hurtful and scarring as slavery. To hear grown men justify the abduction, beating and rape of a 14 year old girl under the premise of love & tradition made me as a loving father wanna take up arms against these men; and I'm a God-fearing believer in nonviolence.

The movie is so touching and real that any human being with just a smidgen of love in their heart will be moved by the story and performance of the actors. Us men must stand up against violence toward women especially if its an accepted tradition. If a 14 year old girl, scared for her life can find the courage to stand and fight back against the odds, then all men must find courage to do right by women and defend their right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. We as men are no better than the worst of men among us. And we're as guilty as the man perpetrating the crime, if we stay silent, stand down or withhold our support of a woman's right to exist as equals among men.

We're not gods fellas, we're men. Hopefully, family men. Time to bury the many myths and traditions that once upon a time made us feel godly, and start being the family men our women can love and cherish without fear of us sacrificing them to our macho egos and ancient ideas of what a man should be. And that is what this movie made me feel. Anger, compassion, hope.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Giants Stop Yankees and Losing Streak

The San Francisco Giants are back playing winning baseball again as they snap a six game losing streak. The Giants didn't make it look easy as they went toe-to-toe against the Yankees in New York. Giants starter Johnny Cueto gave up six hits in six innings for only one New York run. Giants outfielder Mac Williamson hit a one run homer in the 5th to tie the game 1-1. Then big Mac squeezed a base hit up the middle to score the final run of the game in the top of the 12th inning.

Giants 2
Yankees 1

It was torturous to watch the game as the Giants just seemed to squander opportunity after opportunity.  It's so scary to watch them play because it feels as if there's a schleprock type curse hanging over them.  They're racking up errors and leaving runners on base like someone giving away Halloween candy to kids.  For the first season in years I'm questioning many of the decisions manager Bruce Bochy makes. And what the heck is going on with our defense, one of the strengths of our team?  Do you blame injuries or what?

Well, hang in there Giants fans, we're back to playing torture baseball in a season that seems so promising.  We still lead the Dodgers by 4.5 games in the NL West and have only dropped one game down from having the best record in the Majors.  God bless those schleprock Chi-Town Cubbies for taking over the lead spot. How can you hate on the Cubs.

We're surviving the dog days of summer and being on the road. There's time enough to right the ship and get some winning streaks going.  But here's the thing; baseball is a funny sport. The season is long and teams get thrown curve-ball challenges like injuries, suspensions and trades that nobody could of seen coming. It's what makes following your team so dramatic and rewarding when they win.

As Giants fans we must remember that all important talisman we've carried these past six seasons; it's an even numbered year. We won it all in 2010, 2012 and 2014.  And I'm as superstitious as the next baseball fan. I like our odds in 2016!

Let's Go Giants


Giants History:
In the early 1920's the Giants (playing in New York), led by manager John McGraw, went to Four consecutive World Series. They won the first two in 1921 & 1922, but lost in 1923 & 1924.

Game three of the 1922 World Series between the Giants and Yankees, ended in a controversial 10th inning 3-3 tie. The game was called due to darkness. Bob Meusel, born in San Jose, Ca., and Babe Ruth both doubled in the 8th to tie the game for the Yankees. Officially, it took five games for the Giants to sweep the Yankees in a seven game series. All five games were played in New York's Polo Grounds, home to both clubs.

Giants left fielder Irish Meusel, a native of Oakland, Ca. who came over from the Philadelphia Phillies in 1921, drove in seven runs in the series. Irish batted .331 for the 1922 season. He'd batted 329 the previous season for the Giants. Both seasons the Giants were Champions.  Emil Frederick Meusel stats

1922: Giants 4, Yankees 0

Irish Meusel drove in seven runs and Heine Groh had nine hits in the Giants' sweep of the Yankees. The Giants scored three times in the eighth inning of Game 1 to overcome a 2-0 deficit and win 3-2. Game 2 was called after 10 innings on account of darkness with the score tied at 3-3. Jack Scott threw a four-hit shutout for the Giants in Game 3. Hugh McQuillan won a 4-3 decision in Game 4. George Kelly's two-run single in the bottom of the eighth gave the Giants a 5-3 victory in Game 5. Babe Ruth went 2-for-17 with two singles and only one RBI for the Yankees.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

And The Winner Is!

Of the five Chinese Movies I was lucky enough to find at a used library book sale at bargain prices, one stood out as a true masterpiece of cinematography. 

Bodyguards and Assassins 2009, is a must see for any movie lover who takes in sight, sound, action, drama and overall entertainment value of a film.  The history and time period is what pulled me in. 

Imagine 1906 Hong Kong, where a meeting of rebel leaders is about to go down and the corrupt government has hired Assassins to take out the guest speaker, Sun Yat-sen. Picture a rebel force made up of young students, martial artists and everyday working citizens coming together to protect Sun against the would be assassins.  The future of the country of China is at stake.

There's plenty here, more than just a martial arts movie.  As a matter of fact, martial arts takes a back seat to the backstory of many of the characters, as well as the drive to see Sun-Yat-sen arrive, speak and depart Hong Kong safely.

It's a race against time and killers as the producers give us a plot that quickens its pace unto its climatic conclusion.

I call this style of film-making a Masterpiece!

TheMovieBlogger breaks down Bodyguards and Assassins masterfully.

Honorable mention goes to Wu xia (Dragon)

Monday, July 11, 2016

Black Trauma Surgeon Treats Dallas Cops


Serena Williams. My Girl! Not only does she dominate on tennis courts the world over, but her athletic presence simply exudes a Champion aroma. The sweet smell of success!

This weekend at Wimbledon 2016, Serena claimed her 22nd grand slam title, tying Steffi Graf for most Major wins in the modern era. In a week that saw our nation's racial divide suffer another gaping blow, Serena's representation of America on foreign soil couldn't have come at a better time.  I always say that if you wanna see a diversified, united front of peoples, go to a Raiders game, or any sporting event for that matter.  Sports has a way of uniting the most unlikely of neighbors.

This weekend saw the return of former UFC champion Brock Lesnar, saw the crowning of a new UFC female champion Amanda Nunes, saw SF Giants all-star pitcher Madison Bumgarner striking out 14 in a one-hitter shutout, saw Portugal upsetting France in soccer's Euro Championship. And yet, in my mind nothing tops the magic and championship caliber of Serena Williams defeating Angelique Kerber at Wimbledon 7-5 6-3. Oh, maybe a distant second was Serena teaming with sister Venus Williams later in the day to claim her sixth Wimbledon Doubles championship. In my book the weekend honor of being a uniting force for fans of America goes to Serena Williams; a colorful champion. 

Of course Serena in her post-game interview was asked her feelings about the recent incidents of American police killing black men as well as the ambush killing of police in Dallas, Texas. Serena answered the question with deep concern and a heavy heart for the loss of life in all three incidents. She voiced her concerns about having male family members being pulled over by police officers in America and at risk of being unjustly harassed, harmed or killed. 

The foreign interviewer smoothly transitioned questions back to tennis and Serena gracefully shifted gears, returning the serve.  So not only does Serena garner praise for her competitive on-court maneuvers, she's most capable and convicted to voicing her views, and not that of sponsors or league representatives, when it comes to current events that effect her and/or her family. Serena not only has a tennis racquet that won't be silenced, she has character and a Voice!

Here's a link to an article in The Atlantic by Van R. Newkirk II titled: 

With the passing recently of the great one, Muhammad Ali, sadly it's almost nostalgic to hear an athlete today speak so freely about race and police violence in America. Unfortunately, it's a sign that we haven't come as far as those 1960's American freedom fighters for racial equality and justice dreamed we would in 50 years. 

Hopefully, with the courage and character that Serena displayed internationally, America can renew it's march toward equality for all and begin accepting and protecting a diverse nation of equals.

I Have A Dream