David Milch


The new girls of HBO, Jermima Kirke (L.), Lena Horvath, Zosia Mamet, and Allison Williams (R.).

Don’t mind us lately.  Obviously we had the tennis dead wrong last weekend, with Kvitova losing to Sharapova, and then with Sharapova beating Azarenka.  Oops.  You know what?  We’d pick it like that again.  We love Kvitova, and we love her on clay.  We love Azarenka just a little bit less than that on clay, and we don’t like Sharapova at all.  But we’ll say this: Sharapova’s serve was popping last week, and probably hasn’t looked as good in a few years.  The girls and their weak moments coupled with our weak prognosticating moments have made calling the outset of the European clay season tough.

But we are here to talk about some different girls right now.  HBO’s new series, “Girls”, written, produced, directed, and starring Lena Dunham, as extremely stupid Brooklyn woman Hannah Horvath, is perhaps the funniest, raunchiest, and real show on television right now.  The show, which captures the misadventures of Hannah and her circle of girlfriends, as they navigate their young careers and sex lives, is hysterical, giving HBO what seems like a much needed hit for their Sunday lineup.

Then again, we could be wrong.  We were wrong, or “obvi wrong” about “Luck”, as Shoshanna would say, which stopped production and was cancelled recently.  While there was apparently some issues with PETA over the treatment of the horses, we don’t believe that the show was abruptly cancelled because of dead or injured animals.  The fact was that Luck was the most expensive show ever made, and that it was losing money hand over fist.  Creator David Milch, who also discontinued Deadwood, has a reputation for leaving expensive shows for cheap ones.  With his next few HBO kiche cop shows assured, Milch abandoned Luck in the face of a little adversity, thereby scuttling a very good show with a slow building plotline, which never even got close to a boil.

And so Ace Bernstein, who we had anointed the next great HBO character, is no longer.  So let’s anoint another, the hilarious Hannah Horvath from the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, who in a few short weeks has been cut off from her parents, has been sexually degraded repeatedly by the guy she is hooking up with, has learned she has a sexually transmitted disease, has learned her college boyfriend was gay, and who lost out on a precious opportunity for employment when she joked with her prospective new boss that he was an accomplished date rapist.

When the second episode begins, Hannah is in bed with Adam, who begins telling her how scared she was when he found her on the street.  When she was 11.  Walking alone with her Cabbage Patch lunch box.  Hannah goes with the flow, which eventually um, ends up on her arm, since Adam asks her where she wants him to come, then states “I’m gonna make the continent of Africa on your fucking arm.”  The next morning, Hannah tells Adam, when asked where she’s going, that she is meeting her friends at her friend’s abortion, after a job interview.

When she gets to the job interview, she establishes immediate rapport with her interviewer, and has the job in the bag.  But then, out of the blue, she declares, that Syracuse University, this man’s alma mater, ironically had the highest incidence of date rape of any college, which coincidentally dropped the year he graduated.  With the dude stammering over the inappropriateness, Hannah further explains that date rape had gone down when he left, “because they figured out who was doing it and it was you.”

Hannah is also obsessed with STD’s, as one can conclude by her Google searches.  Like “diseases you can get from not wearing a condom for one second” and “stuff that gets up around the side of condoms”.  It’s true that Adam (Adam Driver) has given her a scare by telling her he doesn’t regularly use condoms and that he doesn’t remember if they use condoms, but then she schedules an HIV test to coincide with Jessa’s (Jermima Kirke) abortion, at which she discusses her fear of AIDS with the doctor.  When the doctor asks her if she ever knew someone with AIDS, Hannah tells her it’s more of a “Forest Gump based fear” because that was what Robin Wright Penn’s character died of.

In the waiting room, Shoshanna and Marnie get to discussing things, and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet, Mad Men) reveals to her sex obsessed friend that she is a virgin, though a minute earlier, when Hannah tells them her theory on the spread of STD’s, saying that she has been diagramming in her head all day the “mayhem” when men lose their erections after sex and leave their penises inside women, as “they are want to do”, Shoshanna quickly echoes that sentiment, that men are “want” to do that with her, she has found.

In episode 3, Shoshanna reveals that her littlest baggage, playing the Jerry Springer game, is that she has “IBS” and that her biggest baggage is that she is still a virgin.  In episode 3, Hannah meets her ex because Shoshanna convinces her that it’s the courteous thing to do in the “STD world.”  When he gets to the bar, Hannah sees that he is flaming.  She asks him if he thought about men when they were together, and if he also thought about men while they were together.

“Yes and yes.” he says.

When she asks him how he was able to sleep with her if he was attracted to men, the guy goes, “well, you have a certain handsomeness…”

Damn.  And it’s true.  Hannah is fuck bucking ugly.  And to add insult, he also suggests that Hannah has dated a lot of gay dudes, that she is ignorant to reality, and that her father is gay.  He mentions her dad’s earring which he got, as Hannah describes, while “on vacation with his male friends.”

The guy then goes, “are we hearing ourselves?  I don’t think we’re hearing ourselves.”

So we love this show, and unfortunately for us, we missed the pilot, but we are very excited to be able to watch it on HBO GO, which we will do in a bit.  HBO, which had done nothing for us lately with the cancellation of Luck and our favorite Brooklyn based pot head show, “Bored to Death”, has redeemed itself somewhat in our eyes, giving us another Brooklyn based show, though with less pot heads (Jessa holler!).  They have given us a modern, funnier and more perverse SATC, for a younger generation, with no menopausal bitches or perfect endings.  They just stick to what’s funny, and not what’s sappy or stylish, and so we applaud them.

So that’s us clapping for Girls and for you.  Once again we thank you all for your patronage in hitting our page well over 100,000 times in two days.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

The grounds of beautiful Santa Anita Park (above), which has given HBO’s new series “Luck” unprecedented access.

We can imagine some of the criticisms of what we feel is a budding hit series, HBO’s new drama “Luck”.  The first few episodes seemed incredibly veiled, cloaked in terseness, as though the show was afraid to give away too much, too soon.  On top of that, anyone not acquainted with race track vernacular and etiquette, as I am not, had another layer of code to wade through.  But from early in episode one when the four amigos put together a complex pick six parlay, led by Jerry, a degenerate gambler genius, who reasoned out the long shot selection of Mon Gateau, a horse they now own, a person like me who fancies a good gamble–especially a good parlay, which is where the real money is–could feel that Luck was cultivating a certain electricity and excitement at Santa Anita.  And when Mon Gateau went out and won its race,  which was captured brilliantly in it’s full glory, as one would expect from a David Milch production, and the four amigos had won the 2.6M pick six, we felt that gambler’s high that only comes when a good wager goes green.

Jerry (Jason Gedrick), who tempts fate by playing in high stakes poker games he usually loses, has already lost a good portion of those massive pick 6 winnings, but the flawed nature of this character has hit home, making his storyline all the more interesting to us.  The four amigos made him the point man for the acquisition of Mon Gateau, and his street smarts both sealed the acquisition and secured that ace trainer Escalante (John Ortiz) would continue working with the horse, who, it seems very few people have the patience or nature to get along with.

While Jerry, to us, has stolen a portion of the show, there can be no doubt that this endeavor belongs to the legendary Dustin Hoffman, whose Ace Bernstein character has just been paroled from prison, taking a Cocaine possession charge for his grandson, that landed him 3 years in the fed.  While the first few episodes were exceedingly murky especially in regard to the Bernstein character, the plot has done enough to direct us toward a Bernstein revenge plan against those who have wronged him and his family.

In our minds, Bernstein is the next great HBO character, and will fall in line with the likes of Al Swearengen and Tony Soprano.  And to see Hoffman on HBO in his first ever television gig has been an immense gift for acting buffs and an all time coup for the network, with the credit going to Hoffman and David Milch.  To see Hoffman in scenes with his driver/confidante/right hand man, Dennis Farina (who could forget Farina as crime boss Jimmy Serrano in the all time DeNiro classic “Midnight Run”?) has been a real treat, and they are brilliant together.  And what about Hoffman’s first scene with our guy, Michael Gambon, who played Eddie Temple in Layer Cake, and who delivered on one of our all time favorite film monologues that ended with him telling Daniel Craig, “Welcome to the layer cake, son.”?  Gambon, most well known to youngsters for his work in the Harry Potter films, plays an ex and again business associate of Bernstein’s named Mike, dubious of character at best, and who was probably behind Ace’s set up and 3 year jail term.

Mike:  ‘How’s your grandson, Ace?’

Ace:  ‘He’s good.  Don’t talk about my grandson again.’

Mike:  ‘He’s very lucky to have someone do what you did for him.  Really, he’s good?’

Ace:  ‘You better fucking pray to fucking God every day he stays that way.’

There could be no doubting that Hoffman would bring his trademark electricity to the role, also establishing instant rapport with Patrick Adams (Mike Ross, Suits), who Ace has chosen to be his go between with the villainous Mike.  When Adams, playing young lawyer Nathan Israel, is first enlisted by Bernstein, the uptight young man is mock chided for “answering a question with a question.” When Israel is a bit more comfortable with Bernstein, in a subsequent meeting, he asks, “so what will I be doing to earn my keep?” Bernstein replies, “so what do you think you’d be good at?” Israel retorts, “answers a question with a question.” After Israel reports back to Ace the details of his first meeting with Mike, he tells him he’s not sure he can continue because of his conscience.  Bernstein replies, “that’s because you’re an honest man.  So far.”

With all of the obvious big money on the line, and with Bernstein already spending a fortune to buy a 5.1% stake in the race track, while leading others to believe he will bring lucrative casino and parlor gaming to Santa Anita, the stage seems set for the sting, and we expect it will bring out the duplicitous nature of some.  In the first episode, Ace tells Gus that he doesn’t trust anyone, but that in Gus’s case, he gets a pass.

In light of the congratulatory cake that Gus and Ace received in episode 6, a message to Gus emblazoned upon it that read not “Way to go Greek” but rather “Wait To Go Greek”, which was presumed as having something to do with Gus’s horse winning a race, from Mike and his crew, until Gus says out of earshot of Ace, “No icing error, this.”

Gus is obviously receiving a signal from the other side, but is he really one of them?  Or are they possibly threatening him?  All still part of the unrevealed plot.

While Ace has shown a forthright business nature in meetings with his board of directors, with the head of the casino, and with Escalante, whom he confronts over the training of the horse Ace secretly owns, Pint of Plain, he has also shown a tremendous soft side for the animal, spending one night in a chair in the barn outside the horse’s stall to see him through the night, and beaming in conversations about the animal.  Bernstein is truly at peace when the horse is at peace, and is livid when he feels Escalante is misusing the horse as a means of manipulating the odds.  Escalante, a major player in Luck, is a gruff trainer and a difficult guy, and Bernstein calls him to the carpet right away, because he wants to know if Escalante is a trainer or a gambler.  Escalante replies, ‘who says if you’re one it means you can’t also be the other?’

To his credit, the hardened Escalante does obviously love the animals he trains, and seems to respect both Jerry and Ace for their smarts, and for the way in which they care for their animals.    Also, Escalante doesn’t seem to know that it was Bernstein who got Escalante his break in the business, by suggesting that the stables hire him when he was only a kid who seemed to always be hanging around the horses.  We feel this is a resting plot line right now that will be revealing itself in good time, which Luck most certainly is, a veritable cornucopia for TV fans, replete with two forms of lightning in a bottle.  They have captured the tension, intensity, and magic of the races themselves, a tall order when filming with the animals, and also, the magical chemistry between fantastic castmates performing edgy, well written scenes.

We even get to see more of Kerry Condon practically naked (Octavia from Rome), who jockeys Walter Smith’s (Nick Nolte) star horse, Gettn’up Morning.

We like everything about Luck, including the song.  If you’re behind on your Luck, you have some great television to look forward to, and for those caught up, while only 3 episodes remain, Luck has already been renewed by HBO for a ten episode run beginning next January.

Lucky for us.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

Convicted pedophile Jeffrey Jones (above).

Buffalo native and actor Jeffrey Jones, whose best claims to fame have been his big screen portrayal of principal Ed Rooney in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and his small screen portrayal of A.W. Merrick, Deadwood’s resident newspaper publisher, pled guilty on Tuesday in a Los Angeles court room for failing to update his residential status, which is required by law for sex offenders.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Actor Jeffrey Jones, best known for playing the hapless principal in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, was ordered to perform 250 hours community service after pleading guilty on Tuesday to failing to update his registration as a sex offender.

Jones, 64, was also given three years probation by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, the Los Angles District Attorney’s office said.

The actor had pleaded no contest in 2003 to a charge of employing a teenage boy to pose for sexually explicit photos. Part of his sentence required him to register as a sex offender and update his information every year.

http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory?id=11749752

What could be more disturbing is that star creative mind and Deadwood, John From Cincinnati, and NYPD Blue creator and/or executive producer David Milch hired Jones to play in Deadwood’s ensemble cast in 2004, 2 years after Jones was popped for possessing child pornography and for hiring a 14 year old boy to pose for him in X-rated photos.

In November 2002, after having been accused of hiring a 14-year-old boy to pose for sexually explicit photographs, Jones was charged with one felony count of employing a minor for purposes of taking sexually explicit photos and a misdemeanour count of possessing child pornography and released on $20,000 bail. In July 2003, after pleading no contest to the felony charge, he was placed on a sex offender register, given five years probation and ordered to undergo counselling. The misdemeanour charge of possession or control of child pornography was dropped.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000470/bio

Is Milch that desperate for actors?  Is the court of Los Angeles really that lenient on pedophiles?  What kind of judge is stupid enough to sentence a pedophile to counselling?  An LA judge I guess.  Outrageous.  Lala Land indeed.

  My mother is a tough critic.  And we don’t always agree on taste.  Like the other day, when I sent her a picture of a contortionist, twisted up like a pretzel, and giving himself a taste test, she called me and said “You can’t text people those types of pictures.  You’ll get arrested!”  So far, the lady likes my blog.  She especially liked how in entry 1, I discussed the fact that I actually listened to the priest at the wake.  Speaking of priests, that guy was nothing like Tim’s priest, who has a girlfriend, likes to go clubbing, drives a motorcycle, and lives in a loft he describes as “the tits.”

  Of course I am talking about “The Priest,” or even more simply, “Priest” from the HBO cartoon, “The Life and Times of Tim.”  I’m sure my moms would not approve of Tim, but it’s a much more reasonable cartoon than the Aqua Teens, with a lower ceiling as well.  One possible gauge is that my wife approves of Tim and his misadventures.  Tim’s boss is played by veteran character actor of soap, drama, and movie fame, Peter Giles, who plays a snappy, rich executive who ends all his conversations with “Bang!”

  Tim’s new roommate is Stu, played by the very rye witted Nick Kroll, best known to me from VH-1’s Best Week Ever.  Tim and Stu are friends through work and Stu takes Tim in after his girlfriend kicks him out.  They are forced to share a bed, and on their first night sleeping together, Stu goes through a list of things that give him night terrors, including “the ’86 Mets.”  More on that later.  You have to love Stu’s only pick up line with the ladies, which is “do you wanna get Stued?”

  Back to my mother as the tough critic.  She only casually liked The Sopranos and thought 6′ Under was tolerable in “small doses.”  Take that, Alan Ball.  And another thing: Dr. J can not fathom how I could possibly like Ball’s current HBO show, TrueBlood, because he is a man of science and vampires are “stupid.”  What can I tell you?  I’d watch almost anything compelling to me and well written.  After all, as you know, I am a big fan of a show about a piece of raw chopped meat.

  There’s Tim and soon there will be Treme, an HBO original series coming soon about an artsy section of New Orleans called Treme, mostly populated by musicians, and the show will explore the massive corruption in the nation’s poorest city, and how their art and music has been affected by Hurricane Katrina.

  Most impressive about Treme is its producer, David Simon, a true renaissance man responsible for bringing many fine shows to television and books to print, most notably HBO’s The Corner and The Wire, the official all time favorite of yours truly.

  Moms stopped paying for HBO long ago, and recently, that probably was a wise move.  Though HBO has five staples in their original program lineup (Curb Your Enthusiasm, TrueBlood, Entourage, Big Love, and now Hung), it was disgraceful that they had no original programming to follow Larry David this fall.  And many fans, including myself are less than thrilled that the cult hit Flight of the Conchords and the critically acclaimed In Treatment have appeared to have been discontinued.  Gabriel Byrne turned in some phenomenal work on In Treatment, and every episode was loaded with intensity.  While Flight was perhaps the most original and funniest show brought to television by HBO since Da Ali G Show.

  With a new season of Tim, the highly anticipated Treme, a new Band of Brothers, and an original period piece on prohibition Atlantic City, executive produced by Steven Spielberg, things are looking up for HBO, the king of finely made original television.  And then this week, they broke news of a new drama, created and produced by David Milch (Deadwood, John from Cincinnati, etc.),  starring The Dustin Hoffman, who will portray a career degenerate gambler–bringing Hoffman to the small screen for the first time in some 40 years.  There is much excitement around HBO these days.

  Speaking of Dustin Hoffman, not too long ago I heard him on Howard Stern’s Sirius Radio Show, as he called in as a guest for a friend, so that his friend may win a contest in which the person who got the biggest celebrity to call in would win $5,000.  A star of the magnitude of Dustin Hoffman could have many reasons to shy away from Howard Stern, but he provided a fascinating interview.  For me, the highlight was when Hoffman discussed how his life changed due to the success of The Graduate.  After getting some advanced word, Hoffman explained that his agent urged him to move from his apartment in the village, that he shared with Gene Hackman and Robert Duvall.  Hoffman, a 26 year old at the time, thought it was crazy advice, and didn’t heed it.  A few days later he returned home to a throng of young women, mostly Jewish, who had baked goods in hand, and had mobbed the steps of his building and the hall corridors leading to his flat.  For a fuller account of this interview one may try youtube.com or marksfriggin.com for a transcript. 

  Howard is another of whom moms doesn’t approve, but I couldn’t resist in pulling a page from Howard’s book and speaking about my mother publicly.  I only hope she takes it as well as Howard’s mom. 

  While on the topic of radio shows, and while I am not the biggest fan of Mike Francessa, to put it kindly, I heard a fantastic interview today with Gary Matthews Sr., who was an excellent player when I was growing up.  Baseball is the major sport that holds the least interest for me, as I find it slow moving, and dominated by artificial numbers due to the steroid age, which is a fiasco and has made a complete mockery of baseball’s hallowed record book.  Nontheless, Matthews told a great story about Bobby Bonds, who was one of the most talented players in the 70’s, and his teammate on the San Francisco Giants.  Bonds was a leadoff hitter with incredible speed and power, like his son before his hat size and his numbers grew out of proportion, by taking a steady diet of HGH.  Matthews spoke of a game against the Mets in which Bonds tested the waters early against Tom Seaver, and came back to the dugout excited, telling everyone that Seaver was off and they were going to have their way with him.  It would turn out that Seaver pitched a 2 hitter that day with 14 K’s, and he struck out Bonds 4 times.  Interestingly enough, Matthews and Bonds were just good old fashioned hard ball players, while their progeny have both disgraced the game via the needle.  Much more on steroids to come. 

  With ’86 Mets and dominant Tom Terrific mentions, one might get the wrong impression.  I am not a Mets fan.  One of the only things I agree with Francessa on is his characterization of the Mets that I find hilarious, that they are New York’s “junior varsity squad.”  BTW, I’d be remiss to not mention, since New Orleans is also a topic of this entry, that Mike Francessa picked the Colts to win the Superbowl by 14-17 points, proving his expertise as a pompous know little.

  And in other sports news, though this is by no means to be a sports blog, Rafael Nadal’s knee still hurts today.

  Trying to do this body building thing all naturally for about 19 years now, I am proud to say.  The results are still coming, after all these years, though in my experience, diet is by far the most important component of the equation.  Dr. J would also agree.  If you guys are good to me, and I like the number of people who come back and read tomorrow, I will divulge the ingredients of my latest recovery shake.  I’d call it a protein shake, but that characterization, for some reason, has always conjured up male semen-y type images for me!

  So moms likes the blog so far.  But what’s she gonna say, right?  I am her only son.  Hoping you guys like it too.  Gonna take my leave now.  See you tomorrow.  Bang!

Best,

Crack

P.S.  My blog is newly formed…just a little baby right now.  If you enjoyed this page please check out the entries under the category “Formula 411” where many of my entries will be appearing.  Thanks again.