Sunday, February 28, 2016

Man-up the Oscars



Ordinary PeopleDances with WolvesForrest Gump-we've all sat with disappointment on Oscar night as the wrong picture ends up with the Best Picture piece of gold. It's not something that would easily be fixed by shaking up those who cast the votes for the Academy. The industry needs an overhaul that would man-up the dysfunctional Hollywood culture and treat us more consistently to the entertainment value our $12.50 ticket is supposed to buy.
In such a climate, the Oscar hardware would rightfully land in the hands of the hands of the deserved recipient and the past would have treated us to finales with just the right amount of bite to make us feel whole. Here are ten that came up short with their Oscar-winning new endings...
1. Jaws (1975)
With the Orca sinking and "Jaws" in hot pursuit, Quint throws chief Brody overboard as he whines into the radio for the Coast Guard. The effeminate shrill short circuits the shark's radar and he crashes through the bow-eyes rolled over white. Quint then beats the great white over the head with an empty bottle of gin until Hooper can stick 'em in the eye with that needle. After the man-eater comes to, he switches to a strict diet of seals and turtles.
2. ET (1982)
In the Oscar-winning version, when ET "phones home" he mistakenly summons the Klingon Empire to Earth. Infuriated by the long distance charges, they lock photon torpedoes and blow ET from the sky. Fortunately, the Klingons turn tail and run when they chose Newark, NJ as their base of operations to conquer the Earth.
The Fugitive (1993)
At the shareholder's meeting, instead of taking the fight to the roof, Dr. Kimball force feeds a month's supply of the pharmaceutical-plastic pill bottle and all-down his colleague's throat. When the evil doctor passes the container intact before his execution, the bottle manufacturer's stock goes up three points, which results in a seat on the board for Dr. Kimball.
4. Moonstruck (1987)
No-brainer: Nicholas Cage smartens up and goes out with a much younger girl with fewer tattoos on her ass and a lot less baggage.
5. Field of Dreams (1989)
Same ending but the Academy needed to see what was in that cornfield to give up the Oscar. James Earl Jones finds that the players have bought out the owners, who now run the concession stands. Ticket prices allow everyone to make a reasonably nice living and results in stadiums composed entirely of bleacher seats and bleacher creatures. At the ballpark, they only sell all-beef hot dogs, there's competitive balance (but not parity), and when necessary, everyone "plays hurt."
6. Ghost (1990)
"It's wonderful, Molly. The love you feel, you take with you." Well apparently, according to God, played by Milton Berle, Sam's going to be taking a lot more love with him than Molly thought, this due to years of late night "insider exchanges" and the repeal of the Sixth Commandment. Aghast, Molly abandon's her belief in God and goes to Hell after her death.
A Few Good Men (1992)
We all remember that "you can't handle the truth." The Oscar-winning change: Tom Cruise bites his lip, turns to Demi Moore in confusion, and then drops to his knees sobbing like Sally Struthers. "Hoping he might restore a man's dignity by shaming a coward," Colonel Jessup leaves the stand, slaps the counselor once, and gives him a one-way ticket to Australia. Nonetheless, Jessup immediately resigns his commission, stops shaving, and prepares to infiltrate a radical terrorist organization in Afghanistan.
8. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Red and Andy still hug at the end, but as Morgan Freeman approaches the boat, he finds four "interns" from the Presidential Palace sanding down the flagpole. They direct him below deck where Andy is sipping tequila and soundly drubbing Raquel Welch in strip chess.
9. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Rather than burying "the Ark" like the Hebrews, the U.S. government allows "Indy" to break it open and establish "a direct line to God." He then moves to England and becomes the Prime Minister. At Munich, while his secretary of state, Neville Chamberlain, is negotiating for "peace in our time," Dr. Jones leads an invasion of France to piss off Hitler. Not bogged down by fleeing Frenchmen, England  easily routes Germany's unprepared army in the Ardennes and Hitler goes on to patent "painting by numbers" in the Tower of London after the war. The French, always courteous to any invading force, are eternally grateful for being conquered by an American and open the first EuroDisney in 1952.
10. Jerry Maguire (1996)
"Oscar" likes how Jerry is moved by his client's scene with his family at the end, but would have been much happier if Jerry Maguire accepted that he is simply not a clone of Cuba Gooding, family man. So instead, he mails Renee Zellweger her COBRA application, then goes out with a much younger girl with a tattoo on her ass and a lot less baggage.

Professional Cheerleaders are Nice to look at but at What Cost


Professional Cheerleaders : I like to look at them.  I’d like to accidently brush up against one in the subway too – if subterranean mass transit is a mode of transport they use. But I’m glad the Giants don’t have them, and I was annoyed when the Knicks rolled out the City Dancers a few years ago. Here are my issues with them.

The lesser of the problem has to do with purity and frustration.  A true fan puts the travails and triumphs of the Knicks, Rangers, Giants and Yankees above all else. You’re locked in, and you’re not there for distraction.  So the very presence of a cheerleader is antithesis of everything you are about as you sink or swim with your team.

In addition, your passion wouldn’t be so dialed up if anything resembling a cheerleader was among your endeavors. So do I really need to be reminded of my inadequacy? I’m so invested because I want to forget, dammit.

I make the more important point around Janet Jackson’s 2004, “Wardrobe Malfunction.” How could we ever forget the nine-sixteenths of a second of Jackson’s sun obscured breast. FCC Chairman Michael Powell voiced our misdirected outrage. "Like millions of Americans, my family and I gathered around the television for a celebration," he said. "Instead that celebration was tainted by a classless, crass and deplorable stunt. Our nation's children, parents and citizens deserve better."

I wonder what he had to say as some of those very children served and died in Iraq of his father’s misdirection before the UN. That’s clearly another story.

But somehow he and the rest of the country blatantly miss a far more damaging display. On Super Sunday, we celebrate the extraordinary talent that brings a hundred men to the pinnacle of American life, and if we can overlook all the rap sheets, role models of hard work and perseverance for every boy in America.

But for the girls, in the cheerleaders: The realization that a really hot body provides a preeminent opportunity to give middle aged men a moment to believe that the world hasn’t passed them by – until it quickly does. Plus $25 a day, and now after several cheerleading teams have brought suit, substandard health insurance.

Wow.  Where’s the outrage and we obviously don’t contain the hypocrisy to the Superbowl. But we were ready with punishment.

Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson have both claimed the expose was not a part of the act.  To me, it’s hard to believe otherwise.

No matter, a double standard doled out the consequences. “I probably got 10% of the blame, and that says something about society,” Timberlake told MTV. “I think that America’s harsher on women. And I think that America is, you know, unfairly harsh on ethnic people.”

The proof was almost immediate.  Timberlake appeared on the Grammy’s the following week to apologize for the unintended occurrence, while Jackson was uninvited as a presenter. CBS was unwilling to risk another “Boob Tube incident.”

In the aftermath, his talents enabled his career to go on flourishing and the initial success of her eighth album fell prey to the gender gap. Jackson’s singles received minimal play by CBS as retribution, according to Rolling Stone. “CBS and MTV’s parent company Viacom, angered that an unannounced addition to the Super Bowl performance has now cost them all future halftime shows, [hit] back at Jackson by essentially blacklisting her, keeping her music videos off their properties MTV, VH1, and radio stations under their umbrella.”

As a result, Damita Jo ended up being Jackson’s lowest-selling album since 1984. Her next two albums did no better, and for the next seven years, she became a nonperson in the pop-music scene, wrote Austin Martin of Sports Illustrated.

On the other hand, her career has again resurfaced so redemption is as active an aspect of our America as the Pilgrim values that still hinder our adolescent development. That said, how does this medievalism allow a glimpse to blind us from a far more glaring and devastating immorality. Maybe because the sexual repression that disembarked from that boat blinds our conscious outrage and requires a titillation deemed wholesome to compensate.  Mental Illness will do that sort of thing to you.


Rah Rah.

Rye Girls win Section One Title




































Suburban Brawl Brings Roller Derby to Yonkers

Suburbia Roller Derby does not need a Jimmy Dugan to dissertate on the incompatibility of skating and crying. But when it's more than hurt feelings at stake, a salty discharge is certainly tolerated in the "league" Yonkers calls its "own." One need only look to Chappaqua Mom and Suburban Brawl Jammer, Jane "Lesley E. Visserate" McManus, for the answer .
"Cry," she said of breaking her tailbone in 2008, "I got back up and continued to jam because I didn't want to be a baby about it."
The bravado is more a function of competitiveness than the theatrics of the past. The WWE component is gone, says the ESPNNY columnist, and bouts now consist of skill, strategy and endurance.
The objective is for each teams' two jammers to pass the opposition's four blockers, getting one point per pass. Otherwise, blockers play offense and defense simultaneously. "You're trying to assist your jammers, and at the same time, block the other jammers," she says.
Likening it to controlling the football line of scrimmage, it's about positioning, as legal contact is limited between the shoulders and thighs. An elbow to the head is a major penalty that you want to avoid, she says.
Her introduction came doing a story for The Journal News in 2006 on a Connecticut Roller Derby league. As a lifelong athlete, it appealed, but she had reservations about the contact - until considering her past playing pickup basketball with men. "I figured it would be about the same," she says.
Signing on when this skater owned league came to the rink on Tuckahoe Road in 2007, she regained the outlet lost to pregnancy and parenthood. An outlet she recommends to any woman who wants to escape the fitness paradigm at the gym. "It's an awful experience where you listen to loud music and will yourself into losing a pound," she says.
That's replaced with a competitive determination in which athletes practice two to four times a week for two hours each. Bouts consist of two 30-minute halves, which have skaters on for fifteen, two-minute shifts.
Either way, the centrifugal forces expended do not put as big a dent in the effort as it might seem. "It's exhausting," she says, and having puke buckets handy is a comfort (even though she's never needed one).
Although, she doesn't want to scare off women with less miles on their sports' resume. There are women who have never played any sport, and after training for a while, they become incredible skaters, she says.
Additionally, there's room to learn on the "B" team with the Backyard Bullies. It's a way for us to get our younger players competition, she says.
Of course, the difference separating the A-team, which will be competing in the Eastern Regional Tournament in September at The County Center, is vast. If you're an "A" player, you have a keener awareness of pack movement and a better understanding of how the action will unfold, she says.
The same goes for contact. Hitting isn't as effective if you take yourself out of the play and get passed. "It's contact but with more purpose," she says
Regardless, skill level doesn't mean less competitiveness. "Why would you be doing this, if you don't want to be as good as you can be," she asks.
So an injured "A" player can create a welcome opening. Someone's noticed you, she says, "and that's the moment to shine."
But the dark side of black and blues is lightened by the support found on the rink and a camaraderie that's not at a loss afterwards at the pub. "It's just completely wonderful," she says.
It's a also a venue in which moms can model themselves in a role exhibiting strength. "Kids love watching their mothers do something powerful," she says.
Nonetheless, kids know all about the constraints on crying in case mommy is knocked off her bearings. "They know it's part of the game," she says.
As for her husband, he plays tennis and her belief is that inter-murals make for stronger relationshipswhen both partners have them. Otherwise, new fishnets (which are worn so the skin does not get stuck to the surface in falls) can add a little something to the intramurals, she jokes.

How's that sit with fans attracted to the sexy power of Roller Derby. Not sure, she concludes, you have to ask them.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Horace Greeley Swim Team in Chappaqua - Nothing Short of a Dynasty

We take our sports seriously and the professional baseball, basketball and football fanaticism that returns such passion from above certainly filters down on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons in high school athletics.  So it's only natural that a sport like swimming sometimes only qualifies for second class citizenry in terms of the attention it receives among the student body, in the community and the local media.  Nonetheless, with a long string of unparalleled success in Chappaqua, the Horace Greeley Swimming and Diving team prefers to defer on the so-called green card, as they simply go on about the business of winning.   

I think they let their actions speak for them, says Meg Kaplan, long time coach of the team.  They are 62-17 in Ms. Kaplan’s nine seasons, having lost only four meets since 2004 and currently boast a 13 match winning streak that dates back to last year.  Post season wise, they are two time divisional and league champs and have finished in the top five in sectional one for the past six seasons, including a second place finish last year. Of course, they are looking to one up themselves in the section before the final hundredths of seconds click off the season's end in February.

The margins separating victory and defeat, though, are not really measured in time increments that a blink of the eye can easily miss at poolside.  Year round, "I'm in the pool seven days a week," says Captain Josh Saccurato.  Specifically, that means two hours of daily practice at SUNY Purchase for Horace Greeley, and if they swim for a club team like Josh, that's another two hours of practice, ending at about 8:45.  

Making their parents paltry commutes into New York City seems pleasant, he says, “It's 9 o 'clock at night and I haven't been home since six in the morning. I'm dead tired, I just want to go to sleep, and I still have homework to do.” In the end, it's the thirst for competition and the idea of having commitments beyond video games or accumulating Facebook friends that keeps him going. 

Demonstrating a self-motivation that pervades the program, the swim team's dedication certainly reduces that end of the coaching duties for Coach Kaplan - leaving the pseudo-psychology to head coaches elsewhere.  So, for instance, if a team member feels they deserve a center lane along side the first tier competition, she comes across clearly without trying to push buttons that lie somewhere in their subconscious. 

"My answer is good, then show me," she says.  In turn, results create the opportunity next time to swim away from the walls of the pool, where the water more readily bounces back into the face of the swimmer – thus slowing their pace.   

Unfairly, it could be said, that results don't always correspond to the heats or styles that suits a swimmer's strength or preference.  Manipulating the lineup across the board is a key element to maximizing scoring.  "You might not be able to swim your best event in order for the team to win," says Captain Braden Clarke, but that willingness to put the team first defines a cohesive unit in a sport that should not be considered individual.

Showing just that characteristic, Braden credits the success of Horace Greeley to what would be described in other sports as having a deep bench.  Each team has their star state qualifiers, but it's the second tier swimmers that make the difference by racking up third, fourth and fifth place points. "It's been our most important asset over the past three years, says the senior swimmer of Greeley’s unsung contributors.

The accolades and effort aside, successfully navigating the life of a swimmer implies quite a bit more, according to Deb Rosen, who’s seeing her second son through the program.  “To commit to this kind of swimming at this level, you have to really have your act together in other areas,” she says, and time must be managed as efficiently outside the pool as in it if scholastic requirements are going to be fulfilled.

Complicating the time constraints is the daily 30 minute bus run to SUNY Purchase for practice, but the boys definitely make the best of it and build camaraderie as the wheels on the bus go round and round.   Exactly, they actually sing on the bus to the great dismay of their coach.  “They are horrible,” says Ms. Kaplan, and she  certainly would welcome a pool even if a bit of team chemistry is sacrificed.

Aside from facilitating the swim team’s efforts and making meets more accessible to the student body, she believes a pool can only be a community asset, which ultimately pays for itself.  For any community with a pool, “Those pools are packed from five in the morning until nine at night,” she says, and the initial investment should payoff within five years. 

Regardless, she’ll yell and scream about this as much as she does with her swimmers.  Without ever delivering pep talks or making pre-game speeches, she says, “I don’t get in anybodies face.  My answer to them is, you have been trained to know what you need to do and you need to do it.”

Beyond the hours and hours of research she puts into preparing lineups for each meet, coaching mostly mean teaching.  “When you want to fix your turns or fix your starts or fix your strokes, you come to me and I will take the time to work with you,” she says.

The rest is left to the parents, according to Braden. A coach himself in the summer, he says he tells the parents of grade schoolers, “Your kids will do it, that won’t be a problem.”  It’s driving them every morning to practice, getting them to meets and going long distance on excursions to BuffaloLong Island or Florida.

Close by, though, the team accepts the partial vacuum in which they live, but it’s greatly appreciated when they do get recognition from their peers.  “It’s a comforting factor when people ask how the swim team is doing,” he says.  It’s even nicer that they can boast another successful season and that the ending is looking pretty good again, he concludes

Friday, February 26, 2016

Third Grader Wins Somers Elementary School Writing Contest – What I Like About Somers, New York

This past June, Primrose Elementary School in Somers had every child in the third grade spend the school day putting together an essay on "What I like about Somers, New York.” Blue suburban skies, ample fields of play and a close knit community of kids, the literary types among the class of 2022 must have reveled in a day to show off their aptitude to put prose to paper. "I was not that excited," says Viktoria Barbarakis. "It was the end of the year so I didn't want to do it." But she didn't let the natural inclination to reach for summer get in the way of her inspiration and beat out 200 other students for first prize.

A good day’s work definitely had its just reward. “She won a $30 cash prize,” said her mom.

Of course, with no guarantees in the face of swimming pools, camp and kicking back, the effort demonstrates her ongoing maturity, according to her dad. “She’s getting more and more independent,” said Minas Barbarakis.

Either way, her lead in was exactly where most of would start. "I like Somers the way it is as a cute and small town," she penned in her paper.

Soccer and baseball fields galore at Reis and Fireman’s Parks, Somers meets Victoria’s approval in its ability to let all in on the action. “Everybody can play sports in Somers,” she wrote.

The big town get-togethers are not to be missed either, according to her piece, and the Halloween parade of kids this past October was memorable – even if the costume she wore was not readily available to her recollection.  “I forgot, it was last year,” she pleaded.

Her composition had a better handle on the annual April carnival where rides, friends and food dominate the day but still doesn’t amount to the most important part. “I like going there because I really get to bond with my family,” it says on page two.

That’s what Sundays are for too, and the Angle Fly Preserve suits her just fine over kick off time. “One time it was so beautiful outside that we decided that we should have a picnic outside and in the stream. So we packed the cooler, brought some beach chairs, and we were on our way,” she scribed.

Outdoors aside, good eats are just as important to kids as the chamber of commerce and the “delicious burgers” at the Burger Barn certainly suffice. It’s also easy to understand her high rankings for its ambiance. “Because it’s like a barn” she asserted.

Old Bet – elephant of Somers circus pioneer Hachaliah Bailey – maybe knowing that feeling, Victoria is sure where the town stands in terms of its rich past. “Somers has a lot, and I mean a lot, of history,” she wrote.

And even though Richard Somers wasn’t an Indian chief like the one to the south in Mt. Kisco, she says, “He was an honorable man who died on a ship that blew up.”

Sort of missing the part where Somers’ ship exploded prematurely in its effort to take out a British ship off Tripoli, Victoria admitted her own struggles during social studies. “I’m not good at history,” she clarified.

Or maybe she actually did miss that day and doesn’t give herself enough credit – a possibility that was proven when she completed her essay. “I thought it was ok but not the winning piece,” she said.

Still, winning was not as easy as it sounds. Having to get up and read her story in front of 200 classmates, left the answer obvious on how she felt about winning. “What do you think, I was really nervous,” she joked.

But Dad had no doubts – especially when a representative from the Somers Women’s Club showed up at the house and presented the prize. “We were very proud and pleasantly surprised,” he said.

Looking forward, Dad doesn’t see any problem maintaining the new bar that his daughter has now set for herself.


She just has to make sure she doesn’t wear the same Halloween outfit from last year. 

Based on the BIS and its History in WWII, Behemoth Banks will never Be too Big to Fail or Jail


“We will hang the capitalists with the rope that they sell us,” once said Lenin. As it turned out, it’s Hitler who really should have said it, as I was cruised past the Full Movies Documentary, “Hitler’s Bankers ” and looked into the matter online.
Yes, quite a number of Swiss Banks collaborated with the Nazis and cleaned their money but the biggest offense come from an institution that still exists – The Bank of International Settlements.
Following the Munich Agreement and Czechoslovakia’s annexation, the first thing the Nazi’s did upon entering Prague was fill out a rather large withdrawal slip at the national bank – armed guards providing the necessary identification. As such, the directors of the bank were ordered to send a request for 23.1 metric tons of gold that was held in an account for Czechoslovakia at the BIS in London.
Of course, the Czech officials were certain that the requests would not be honored of the obvious duress they were under. The officials were sadly mistaken. “This exhibits a window into a world of fearful deference to authority, the primacy of procedure over morality, a world where, for the bankers, the most important thing is to keep the channels of international finance open, no matter what the human cost,” according to The Telegraph’s Adam Lebor and his article, “Never Mind the Czech Gold the Nazis stole.”
Nonetheless, the state of war that soon followed put no holds on BIS standard procedure. “The BIS was so entwined with the Nazi economy that it helped keep the Third Reich in business. It carried out foreign exchange deals for the Reichsbank; it accepted looted Nazi gold; it recognized the puppet regimes installed in occupied countries, which, together with the Third Reich, soon controlled the majority of the bank’s shares,” writes Lebor.
Not to be outdone, the Nazis continued to pay interest on BIS loans. “Thus, through the BIS, the Reichsbank was funding the British war economy,” says Lebor.
Banking without borders also extended to our shores. Thomas McKittrick was an American Banker and President of the BIS when the US entered the war and danced the blurred lines to keep the BIS in business. While he did pass information back to the OSS from Nazi bank officials, there was definitely cooperation between allied and German business interest through BIS.
Known as the “Harvard Plan,” reports Lebor, “as allied soldiers were fighting through Europe, McKittrick was cutting deals to keep the Germany economy strong.”
Conveniently framed under the necessity of planning for the post war economy, the argument held more than enough water against the efforts of those like Henry Morgenthau who tried to close down the bank. Making them pay wasn’t in the cards either, as five BIS directors were tried for war crimes.
“They don’t hang bankers,” said Hjalmar Schacht, the onetime president of the Reichsbank. He was right.
None the BIS officials convicted, the behemoth would over the decades pave the way euro, has only about 140 secret customers and made a tax-free profit of about £900 million last year. Additionally, every other month it hosts the Global Economy Meetings, where 60 of the most powerful central bankers meet, while making itself a central pillar of the global financial system, according to Lebor.

And you wanted a few American bankers – or even one - to go to jail for the mere global economic crisis they caused in 2008. Yeah, good luck with that.

Bronxdale Avenue