A non-sports post

I decided to partake in a guilty pleasure this evening, specifically, watching a couple of James Bond movies.  As someone that grew up a fan of the series I have been fortunate to see every incarnation of the character, from Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Peirce Brosnan, and now Daniel Craig, I feel I have the unique perspective to rank the Bonds and provide my thoughts on the best to ever play the part. 

There have been 24 “official” bond films and I believe two, non-official.  I will not dwell on the non-official as the original “Casino Royale” with Peter Sellers (Never saw it) and “Never Say Never Again” were not part of Bond “Canon” were not only bad movies they barely rate a mention.  I will rank the official Bond players and I expect a lot of backlash and feedback from my readers on this subject, so comments are welcome.

Let’s see the Bonds in order of appearance..  Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Connery again (Diamonds are Forever), Roger Moore (RIP), Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and finally Daniel Craig.  Each brought their own version of the character to the screen and each have their own positives and negatives in performing as the greatest spy ever (No Offense to you Jason Bourne fans). 

So without further fanfare, here are my rankings:

6. George Lazenby – having only one film in the series to his credit, it is only fitting that he be placed last on this list.  I found his portrayal to be forgettable, lackluster and benign.  To have placed this actor in the movie where Bond actually falls for and marries the female protagonist is an insult to the series.  Connery should have been in this movie and he is the one that should have had to go through it.  Telly Savalas as Blofeld was horrible and the film overall was uninspired and forgettable.

5. Pierce Brosnan – The rumor is that Brosnan had always wanted to play bond, and he was supposedly the heir apparent to Roger Moore, but that never happened.  The Brosnan films were all over the top and unbelievable, deciding to use technology and special effects to thrill audiences and bring Bond into the 21st century.  The ONLY films I even remotely enjoyed during this time were Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies, otherwise the films focused too much on special effects and far too little on reality.

4. Roger Moore – While Sir Roger Moore will live on as the “second” James Bond his portrayal was more campy, and aloof than Sean Connery’s original take on the character.  The best Moore films in my opinion are Live an Let Die, The Man With the Golden Gun, and The Spy Who Loved Me.  After those films., the Bond character became soft and the films were terrible, entering into a time where Bond seemed more like a cartoon character than a superspy.

3. Timothy Dalton – I’m going to get a lot of grief for putting Dalton #3 but I don’t care.  Dalton was the victim of bad screenwriting, bad filmmaking and bad co-stars.  He tried to bring the character back to the days of Connery, the tough, womanizing, smart, and charismatic Bond we all loved.  His two films were terrible, but it wasn’t his fault.  He was unable to carry his weak so-stars and  if he had good writing and better partners he could have been a great Bond and quite possibly mad more than two movies in the series.  License to Kill was the best of the two, and Dalton showed how ruthless and cold Bond actually was and could have brought the series back to greatness.

2. Daniel Craig – I am Thoroughly enjoying Craig as Bond, he has brought the character back to what was originally intended.  Physical, intelligent and ruthless.  Bond 25 is scheduled for an April 2020 release and it will be his last portrayal of the character.  I can honestly say I have enjoyed each and every film in the Craig series and I am grateful that Barbara Broccoli has decided to bring Bond back to his roots, relying more on the acting and action, as opposed to technology and special effects.  Craig has taken the mantle and ran with it.  The movies have relied more on the live-action stunts and physicality than the movies during Brosnan’s time and I am appreciative of it.  I will be sad to see Craig relinquish the title, but I also know that at 51, the physical demands of the character are just too much.

1. Sean Connery – The original, the man, the myth, and the legend.  Connery set the standard by which all other Bonds are measured.  From Dr. No to Diamonds are forever, he showed what Bond is supposed to be, and what Ian Fleming imagined him to be.  I have to admit, his later movies, including Diamonds, and You Only Live Twice were the worst of the bunch, but the previous four were masterpieces of the genre.  Connery is now 88 years old, but he will go down as perhaps one of the greatest actors of our time, which started with his portrayal of James Bond, through his performances in The Untouchables, and The Hunt for Red October, along with his countless stage performances, will label him as one of the greatest actors of all time.

Well, that’s my list…  Tell me what you think…

Many Machado and more…

So, all the posturing and rumormongering is over.  Manny is a Padre…  with a 10-year 300 million dollar contract, the largest contract in free-agent history.  He can opt out after 5 years, but for 300 mil who would  do that?  Its a good deal, as the Padres  have quite possibly the best farm system in baseball and they now have all of their starting lineup under long-term contracts.  The downer… is pitching. They don’t have the greatest rotation and that will be the biggest question mark going into the season.  I’m just glad he didn’t sign with the Yankees…lol

Antonio Brown met with Art Rooney today to go over his possible future with the Steelers.  It was decided that he has no future and the Steelers are going to honor his request and try and find a trade partner for him.  My thoughts are…good riddance.. he has been killing the Browns for years, and to see him move on is good for the division.  With his departure that makes Ju Ju the #1 receiver, L’eveon will be out as well, which also tells me the power in the division is shifting and the Browns are getting better at exactly the right time.

The Lightning have won six in a row and as I write this are up 3-0 against the Flyers with 9 minutes to pay in the first period.  Kucherov had a 5-point night against the Blue Jackets last night and the Bolts are maintaining the momentum they have had leading up to the All Star break.  The NHL has been put on notice (by me) the #Bolts are going to win the Stanley Cup.. the second in franchise history and first since 2003-4 season.  #GoBolts

Tamp Bay is Hockey Town!!

Happy Monday everyone!!  The title of this post in not a Typo, far from it, because don’t look now, but the Tampa Bay Lightning have the best record in the NHL, including record and points.  With a record of 44-11-4 and 92 points going into tonight’s game against Columbus, the Bolts are the leagues best team.  Most of you may not think of Tampa when you look at the sport of Hockey, I mean after all, we don’t ever see a flurry of snow in Florida , the last time it snowed down here was 1977, I was 10 years old.  The temperature hardly ever reaches 30 degrees, and we don’t know how to work a snow blower or snow shovel, let along a widow scraper for the windshields when ice forms.  On the occasionally rare event that we do get frost on the windshield, we take out our credit card and scrape it off. 

Now that I am done bragging about the climate in FL, let me make an important fact-based announcement.  The Tampa Bay Lightning have a more dedicated fan-base than the Tampa Bay Bucs and the Tampa Bay rays COMBINED.  Amalie Arena seats 20,000+ and it is filled to capacity each and every home game during the season.  even when they aren’t sitting at the top of the standing in their division, the fans flock and root them on.  The lightning provide a great fan experience, there isn’t a bad seat in the house and it always helps when the team is doing well.  This area is hockey crazy and they are a welcome alternative to the otherwise underperforming Bucs and Rays.  I love this team and it is one of the few things I love in  the sports world once the NFL season is over.  So… GO BOLTS!!

Second and final subject this fine Monday, is the Daytona 500.  Congrats to Denny Hamlin on winning his second 500 in four years.  he avoided a late race 17+ car pileup with9laps to go and then several other minor crashes in the final laps to seal the win.  Joe Gibbs Racing went 1-2-3 in the Race and that was poignant as not a month ago, Joe Gibbs’ eldest son J.D. Gibbs passed away from a neurological disorder.  J.D. was the co-founder of Gibbs Racing and ran the company when Papa Joe went back to Football for a time.  So congrats to JGR and the #11 Denny Hamlin.  This will be the last post about NASCAR until next February when Daytona runs again. 

I’m planning my viewing schedule over the course of the next 6 months and will be focused on March Madness, PGA golf with TPC Sawgrass in March, The Masters in April (Along with the NFL Draft), PGA Championship in May, The US Open in June, The Open Championship in July, followed by the FED Ex playoffs in August, all of which leads into the 2019 NFL and NCAA football season.  I plan to post about all of it along the way, as well as some MLB and whatever else may come to mind, so buckle up, here we go…

Life Has a Way of Smacking You Right in the Face

Folks…  Let me tell you something.  I am one of the most optimistic people you will ever meet.  I try not to allow the evils of the world get to me, I strive to be positive and above all, try and keep the people around me positive as well.  A little over 16 years ago, I went into a deep depression that I never thought I would emerge from, yet I overcame it after several years of more difficulty.  I went through hell, including a bought with poverty, making bad decisions, losing the respect and love of my own child, divorcing the ONE woman that gets me, and of course being laid off from three jobs in less than two years.  I had finally come out of the darkness about 4 years ago and was in a good place.  I was happy, I was stable, and for the first time in a long time I did not worry about money.  Recent events have occurred that have tested my psyche, my mental stability, my emotional well being, and above all, threatened to break the positivity that I have worked hard at for four years . 

First, the week of Thanksgiving I experienced what I thought was symptoms of a stroke, which may turn into a pinched nerve (Jury is still out).  I spent two days in the hospital, one of which was half of Thanksgiving Day, not knowing what was wrong with me.  I had a relatively good Christmas, despite my family lecturing me on my health, my eating habits, and the lack of exercise in my life.  I was experiencing some back pain and could not sit in the “designated” chair that was provided for me so I would not break any of the other furniture in the home sue to my girth.  So as you can probably imagine, I came home with GREAT self esteem, and hopes for a long, healthy life. 

January was pretty uneventful, I immersed myself in work, the NFL, NCAA, and planned my day for Super Bowl Sunday.  I had bought a large pack of wings and was going to prepare and cook them for the game, but I received a text from my ex, stating that she needed to go to the ER.  She was experiencing pain in her gut, and thought that she was battling a case of diverticulitis.  I dropped everything and took her to the ER.  There, I stayed with her all day, not because I had to, but because I wanted to.   You see, despite not being together anymore, she is still the only woman in the world that still understands me, that loves me for who I am, and despite the fact we could never be together again, was there for me when I was in the hospital not two months earlier.  The game didn’t matter, the wings didn’t matter, all that mattered was her, and there wasn’t a place in the world I would rather be than by her side offering support and care as best I could.  We ended up being there until after 10pm, we had a late dinner, finished watching the game, and I took her home.  It was a good day, despite the health issues, and I was glad to have been there for her.

This past week was when the straw that has the potential to break me finally came.  My family is who I lean on when times get rough.  I know that if I need advice on life, on direction, or on basically anything, I can pick up the phone and call the family for support and strength, tough love and simple advice.  One of those people was my cousin Bryan.  He is a retired Marine, a pillar of strength, and can provide a dose of reality that would smack you right across the face, if necessary.  He is the most level headed, stubborn, and in your face realist that I have ever known.  He is an avid dart player, a pool shark and caregiver to his 80+ year-old father, who had to bury his wife, my mothers sister, just 14 months ago.  Super Bowl Sunday, while I was standing by the side of the love of my life, he was taken to the hospital with severe back pain, and while he was there, had a stroke, debilitating him, and causing the doctors and nurses to scramble to figure out what had gone wrong.  it was then they discovered he had several blood clots in his brain, and quite possibly his kidneys.

The last update I received was from my mother on Monday, and up until Friday night had not heard anything.  I assumed he was ok, and that he would come out of it and would see him again. 
I went to bed before 9pm on Friday night (Don’t @ me, I’m old) and unbeknownst to me, my phone was in Airplane Mode.  Saturday morning I awoke to Facebook IM’s from the ex, stating that my mother had called her because she was unable to get hold of me.  I grabbed my phone, realizing that it was in airplane mode and discovered several messages form my mom, my father and Bryan’s brother stating that Bryan has passed away Friday night at 8:10 pm.  Without going into too much detail, let me just say this was a punch in the gut.  I have been through the death of family members before, but most, if not all, have been due to old age.  My mother’s family has a legacy of long life, with most living well into their 80’s or 90’s.  Bryan was 59, still young and with so much more to do in life, so this one hurts and could very well be a wake up call for me and my lifestyle.  Bryan wasn’t overweight, in fact he weighed more than 100 pounds less than I am right now, he was active, he was strong, and he was in control of his life and focused on the important things. 

I miss him dearly.  I can’t imagine the pain his father, his brother and his sister are experiencing right now, but all I have to compare it to is how I am feeling right now.  I am empty, I am heartbroken, and I don’t know how long it will take for me to get over this.  He was a mentor, he was a brother, and he was a friend, and I loved him very deeply.  His passing has hit me harder than the loss of my grandmother, uncle, aunt (his mother) and even my father.  I will get through this, but for now, I am sad and hurting….. feelings I don’t imagine will leave me anytime in the near future.  Thanks for reading…  and please keep me and my family in your prayers at this difficult time.

Kareem Hunt and the hypocrisy of the NFL

Kareem Hunt was released by the Kansas City Chiefs for a video that surfaced last week showing him shoving and eventually kicking a woman at his home in Cleveland last February.  The team has known about this incident since shortly after it happened and yet it took TMZ releasing the video for them to release the star RB last week.  Ever since the Ray Rice incident a couple of years ago, the NFL has been under the proverbial microscope regarding domestic violence, and on the outside, they have promised to be more vigilant in its stance against it, but this most recent issue has proven to me, that the really don’t give TWO SHITS about domestic violence unless it is brought to light and broadcast by the media.  

Not only did the NFL not reach out to Cleveland authorities to see if there was a video tape, they also did not talk to any witnesses or ask authorities to provide a report of the incident so that they could review what took place and find out if there was any wrongdoing by one of its players.  Now, replace that last statement, inserting the Kansas City Chiefs in the place of the NFL and you can see exactly how serious the league and the teams under the NFL logo are taking the issue seriously.  The more incidents like this come to light, the more I realize that the NFL doesn’t care, they are only concerned with their bottom line and when their stars get into a situation they should not be in, they keep it hidden until some hack media outlet like TMZ finds a video and broadcasts it to the world, and it is only then that they take action.  This festered for for NINE months before the video was finally released and the response from the league was that although they had known about it they did not know there was a video. 

I call Bullshit!!  They knew, they have always known, but they decided Kareem Hunt was too big of a star (he was the NFL rushing leader in 2017) to allow this incident to detract from the money they could make off his name.  That is, until the media backlash was so strong they had to take action.  First the Chiefs by releasing him, then the NFL by putting him on the exempt list.  Don’t fool yourselves folks, the league is very good at protecting its star players until some rouge entity throws a wrench in the works and decides that right is right and they call the NFL on their hypocrisy.  Until the NFL practices what it preaches, it can never be trusted to honor its “public” commitment to focusing on combating domestic violence amongst its employees.

There is a track record and a history on this issue that the NFL has failed time and time again, and until Roger Goodell steps up to the mic to say that the NFL will have a “no exceptions” clause on the subject of domestic violence, there will continue to be other star players who will get a pass for their actions and face no repercussions until the tape becomes public of what they did.  I firmly believe this is true, and to prove my point, what do you think would happen to Tom Brady if a tape was released of him beating up Giselle, or if Aaron Rogers was shown to have beat up Danika Patrick (personally I think Danika would beat his ass).  What then would happen if the biggest stars in the league had their actions exposed for the world to see? 

I am going to end this on a positive note.  The great Amy Trask, former Chief executive of the Oakland Raiders from 1997 – 2013, who is currently a co-host of the CBS Sunday pregame show on CBS Sports Network, That Other Pregame Show (TOPS) Sunday’s at 8am eastern, stated that despite all of the ugliness we have seen there are still tremendous men in the NFL.  Men who stand up against domestic violence, do positive things in their communities, whether it be with the sick, the poor or just being a strong influence on kids, they provide the example of how men should behave in life and I would be remiss in not mentioning them.  I have great respect for those players that choose to be an example to others and fortunately for the NFL the number of players that set this example greatly outweigh those that don’t.  Kudos to them and Kudos to Mrs. Trask for pointing them out.  If Amy ever wanted to be Commissioner of the NFL, I would be first in line to give her my vote. 

Finally, my heart goes out to the victims who don’t have a voice.  I urge any and all that have experienced domestic violence from any NFL player, or for that matter, from ANY professional athlete and has been silenced by a professional sports team or league, speak up, find the nearest camera, and tell your story.  I’m listening…

Have a good night…