photo-14The statue (above) that The Goat Man brings Daniel to see in last week’s Rectify.

In the info line of S1, E5 of the new Sundance original series Rectify, there is a short description that reads “Daniel loses his grip on reality.”  Fitting that the show opens in a sort of dream like sequence, in which Daniel arises at 3:14 AM, leaves his house, and ends up at the home of the victim’s family–that victim–peeping into their window, as the victim’s mom, who has railed about the injustice of Daniel’s release on the local news, appears to be sleepwalking.  Okay, so we are terrified right here, about 2 minutes in, because obviously if Daniel is caught there, it is going to be almost impossible to convince anyone that he is not some criminally bent perv.

Then Daniel gets into this car with our old friend W. Earl Brown (Swearingen’s right hand man Dan Dority from Deadwood), as Daniel is apparently hitchhiking and, W. Earl Brown is apparently looking for a rider.  The first thing Brown says to Daniel of consequence is, after Daniel says to the driver he’s lost, is “Not all wanderers are lost.”  Okay, weird enough, but then Daniel falls asleep in the front seat and dreams of prison, of some fight in which 2 or 3 death row inmates are restrained or taken away, their blood flowing.  Perhaps we should also mention the image which initially woke Daniel, which initiated this odd excursion.  Daniel is in his cell and looks across to another where this other inmate is beating his head repeatedly against the glass, each time with the thud of a smashed pumpkin.  Daniel had alluded to the way his senses had more or less shut down in jail, how he’d forgotten about rain and such, with no windows, because he was totally shut off to it.  So that other inmate, we get that he is inducing pain so that he might feel something, the way a cutter would.  We also understood it as the first important imagery for that episode.  Now if there are those who are out there thinking the pace of this show has been unreasonably slow, we don’t see how they could have held that same opinion during this episode’s first 5 minutes.

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Now back to Brown, who Daniel referred to as “The Goat Man.”  There is heavy symbolism with goats and the devil obviously.  For us, an interested student of belief systems, we have always been rankled by the connection that Christianity and Judaism have made between Satan’s appearance and that of a goat, the horns and hoofs and all, as the goat was formerly tied up in the imagery connected to polytheism and a supreme god, god of gods, whatever, who was a female who embodied the earth and nature, and was thus represented by an animal.  But of course the Judeo-Christians were eager to bust that up and switch the focus of religion and society from a matriarchal structure to a patriarchal one, and so the feminine, goat-like supreme god was replaced by a vengeful, do not take my name in vain, masculine monotheistic god, and what better way to destroy the positive connotations to the goat imagery then by attaching to it devil imagery?    In fact, legendary novelist Tom Robbins embarks on quite a tangent on this very subject in “Skinny Legs and All.”  (Shout out to “Turn Around Norman”!)   Then there’s that bit in the bible about the devil being accompanied by a herald, who appeared in the form of a goat.

The Goat Man takes Daniel to a desolate barn and begins to herd the goats into his red trailer, and when Daniel asks if he wants him to ride in the back with the goats, The Goat Man tells him no, that he’s the one who needs company.  Hold that thought.  Daniel, again asleep in the car, is awakened by The Goat Man, at what seems like dawn, and asks him if he wants to see something.  At that point, they go out into a field where the statue of the woman, with the goat girl on her left and the little goat on her right is.  As they look upon the statue, Brown tells Daniel, “it’s the beauty that hurts you most son, not the ugly.”  It strikes us that Daniel is disturbed by the statue, and that The Goat Man seemed to us to read his mind, that he was hurt by it, moreso even than the ugly dreams he was having, which we felt The Goat Man knew about. (When Daniel gets in the car, The Goat Man tells him he knows him, which we think there is great subcontext in, and later, as Daniel sleeps, The Goat Man says, “where’d you go off to, boy?”, as we got the feeling that they were both privy to the dream.)

Then the two men wrestle which was very odd, and what may have represented to some something homoerotic.  The Goat Man has Daniel pinned and then let’s him up and they walk off together, and soon, they are by Daniel’s deceased father’s tire shop, now run by his stepfather and evil stepbrother, Ted Jr.  So The Goat Man’s trailer is red and then there’s the giant red man, “the dancing man”, whatever, which is a Sky Dancer, which Daniel explains, sort of, to Tawny later at the re-baptism, as having led him back to the “father and the son.”  Before Daniel goes to sit with Ted Sr., The Goat Man hands Daniel a wad of money, rubber banded, and more or less insists he takes it. At the store, Daniel tells Ted Sr. he does not intend to work there, clothes shabby and clay stained and with a fresh welt on his head, over coffee, and that prompts Ted Sr. to ask Daniel if “has somebody been talking to you?”  At that point, Daniel could obviously sell out Ted Jr., who so crassly took Daniel to golf and explained to him the economic politics of the tire and rim business and why Daniel would be bad for it and how it would affect the family.  Instead, Daniel moves on, taking with him the figurine (seen below) on the counter, which was his father’s, something that would incense Ted Jr. unnaturally when we he learns of it later, when Ted Jr. comes in to the shop after a particularly unsettling conversation about Daniel that he has with his wife. photo-15At the same time, Ted Jr. gets home from a trip on which he and some other low life were carousing, hears from his wife that a miracle has happened in Paulie, and then throws a conniption when he finds out the miracle of which Tawny speaks is that Daniel is ready to accept the lord.  When Ted Jr. asks her why she cares about him so much, she tells him, “because he’s one of god’s children.  Why do you hate him so much?”  Then Ted claims he doesn’t hate him, that he doesn’t know him, and it is a lie.  Ted then heads over to Daniel’s mom’s and tells her and Amantha that Daniel will be baptized that evening, which they are not aware of, and which is obviously strange news, and bravo to Amantha for calling him out on being the punk he is.  But then Daniel comes home, breezes straight past them and into his room, where he begins the pacing we liked so much in the Sundance montage.  Ted leaves, because he is a total punk and has come to start trouble only, which, if he was truly concerned about Daniel, he might have tried to talk to him there with Amantha and their mom, in a safe setting.  You know, if it’s me, I might have wanted to talk rationally to Daniel about how my wife is a tad naive and maybe he should rethink the whole ceremony thing, as it seems rash, the way the women were about to do.  Thing is though, Ted Jr. is not exactly wrong, in his position, which would be born out after the ceremony, when Daniel asks Tawney if he can kiss her.

Amantha and mom then go to Daniel’s room to speak to him, ask to speak to him, and say, “We’re worried about you.”

Daniel replies, “Why?”

“Well, because we love you.”

Daniel: “Love is patient and kind.  Love is not jealous or boastful or proud.”  Here is where Daniel begins to seem to really unravel, mumbling, “could happen at any time.”  When they ask him what could happen at any time, Daniel says “Anything.  Anything could happen at any time.”  He’s not wrong.  When they see the money, they comment that it seemed like a large sum.  Daniel says, “you think it was ill gotten?”  His mom says, “I don’t know.”  Then they have a confrontation about the re-baptism and Daniel, in a striking moment for the show, says angrily to Amantha, “I never asked you to live your life for me.”  That had to be a very difficult moment for Amantha, who has essentially made her life around Daniel’s incarceration and the fight for justice, which is obvious, and moreso in light of the story she tells to the lawyer about the best friend she stopped speaking to after she had told her about a frightening prank all the kids were playing that involved Daniel down by the lake.

Later, at Daniel’s ceremony, Amantha shows up to support him, as her love is indeed patient and kind, but there she is confronted with Daniel’s seeming infatuation with Tawney, as well as the fact that Ted Jr. isn’t wrong about Daniel’s possible reasons for finding Christ.

Though Daniel did not tell his mother and sister about the ceremony, he isn’t secretive.  We feel like that particular confrontation was inevitable and was the only reason he didn’t tell them.  But Daniel is a very honest person.  He could’ve hidden the money from his family but he doesn’t.  And in the end, he could’ve pretended to Ted Jr., when he returns to the tire shop, that Christianity had really taken him, but instead, he tells the truth.

Things are too complicated for Daniel to just accept some savior and feel saved.  Ted Jr., showing some of the same naivete as Tawney, spouts at him that ‘it is that simple.  You’re sins are either forgiven or they’re not.’  What was really malicious on his part and lacking better judgment was when he goaded Daniel about being raped.  As the episode fades out, Daniel has pounced on Ted Jr. from behind and has him in air tight sleeper hold.  Here, we see that all of the violence of the first few moments, the bloody flashbacks and dreams, and the wrestling, has foreshadowed a violent end.

As for The Goat Man?  He’s not real for us, but we’re pretty sure he is very real to Daniel and will be back.  But Daniel had been somewhere, he had that welt on his head and the muddy clothes, and he had ended up at the tire shop where he sat with Ted Sr.  Perhaps the most interesting question the show raised for us, when considering that The Goat Man is not real, is where Daniel got the money from.  We immediately thought back on that particular conversation with Ted Jr. about rape, and could not help but wonder whether Daniel was perhaps earning the money at a rest stop as a prostitute (“it’s me who needs company” — The Goat Man), and if the in and out of dreams, was some subconscious way of not being in the moment.

An interesting question to ponder, just one of many, as the show debuts its season finale tomorrow at 10 PM EST on Sundance.

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

nathan-fielder-drug-prank-text-550x330Above is Comedy Central’s new dynamo Nathan Fielder, and the results of his interesting Twitter experiment from a few weeks back which some enjoyed less than others, shall we say.  LOFL.

Nathan Fielder, a friend to small businesses during these trying economic times, has been responsible for several irresponsible promotions on S1 of what is already a cult classic, Comedy Central’s “Nathan For You.”  Such as: impossible to claim rebates, nonsensical refunds, an ad campaign for a restaurant based on its bathroom policy, and allowing hot chicks to shoplift from a California clothing boutique.

To get over his fear of socializing with women, Nathan set up a fake bachelor-esque show in which he’d spend time with 10 different women.  On that “show” though, he was insecure around the handsome host, so he banished him from the room, and later, revealed to the women that the host had admitted he’d once had a threesome, proceeding to tell the ladies it was a threesome with 2 men.  To help a similarly afflicted co-worker get over his own shyness toward the female sex, Nathan set the guy up with one of his former “contestants”.  Because of sponsorship issues, that date occurred at a Quizno’s.  And Nathan radio-ed that co-worker dialogue from the back of the Quizno’s via a remote ear piece, because that’s the kind of guy he is.  And a lot of that dialogue happened to be plugs for Quizno’s, because that is also the kind of guy he is–downright annoying as fuck.

We think Nathan’s buttoned down, clean cut look–the classic Blockbuster video get up–and low key approach make these stunts all the more outrageous, and increase his ability to get away with such shenanigans.  Like when he tries to help out a struggling funeral parlor by staging a fake wake, which he has both written and cast himself, in the span of a couple of hours.  First, Nathan chooses his actors, casting all comers, including a woman claiming to specialize in accents, who we felt Nathan would definitely cut, after asking her to do a Canadian accent, which she fails at miserably, instead doing a bad brogue.  Nathan looks set to bounce her, we think, as he explains to her that he is from Canada.  Instead a large “HIRED” sign is stamped across the screen.  Cut to a Filipino looking dude who is sitting across from Nathan, and when Nathan asks him to show him what he has, this dude says, in broken English, “I am Sean Connery!  I want massage!  Rah!”

HIRED!

Each actor, worse than the next, hired, to then act out this script, awful at best, and yet hilarious, which we know from the get, as a eulogist comes forward and says, “I am so so sad right now.  I am so so sad.  Steve was a great guy.  Steve once gave me a thousand dollars for no reason.”

But that is not all.  Because when Nathan’s revitalization play is over, he asks the funeral director lady for his gift, explaining that usually when he revitalizes a funeral home, he is presented a gift afterward.  When she has no gift, Nathan, appearing pained, asks if she would not mind giving him a gift he had pre-wrapped in case she didn’t have something for him, on camera.  When the woman agrees to do so, Nathan shocks us all when he actually opens that gift, revealing a pair of scissors, at which he incredulously begins to criticize the gift that he himself essentially gave to himself, chiding the woman for giving him such a “strange” gift.

We appreciate very much this style of comedy, as Nathan has definitely capitalized on his lack of notoriety, and the comedic misdirection and unpredictability with which he operates is a godsend.  In another episode, Nathan is tasked to hulk up a private investigation business, which he plans to help by writing a positive review on Yelp, if the P.I. can find one missing person: Nathan Fielder.

Fielder then hires 20 actors who look like him to impersonate him in order to confuse and irritate the P.I., then he allows himself to be found, re-ditches the guy, and then has an Asian Fielder stand in jump in the car with the P.I. who takes a look at him and says, “Who the fuck are you?!!!”

To which the fake Nathan replies in a very bad English accent, “I am Nathan.  I just spoke you 2 minute ago.”

This is fucking comedy genius, trust us. Like Sacha Baron Cohen, who Nathan really reminds us of, Nathan has maximized his obscurity for optimum comedic effect.  And also like Cohen on Da Ali G Show, Fielder is dealing in reality type situations, where he is mining the vast potential of comedic gold that is the average American moron.

Kudos.  We are thrilled that Comedy Central bought this pitch and was quick to renew Nathan for what we know will be a crazy season 2 come next winter.  So if you don’t know Nathan Fielder yet,  in the immortal words of Ali G, “you better listen and you better learn about him.  For real.”

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

1363363851-rectifyAden Young (above) as Daniel Holden, a Paulie, Georgia man released from death row after nearly 20 years incarcerated.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/rectify-gets-second-season-order-450176

After 4 episodes of The Sundance Channel’s Rectify, we feel like we know enough about the show to know this much: after the finale of S1, which will air on May 20th, we will be pining for the new original drama’s 10 episode return in the Spring of 2014, and its subsequent renewals, we hope, into 2015 and beyond.  As long as series creator Ray McKinnon (the creepy reverend from Deadwood & the very odd lawman from S4 of Sons of Anarchy, Lincoln Potter), and Breaking Bad EP’s, Melissa Bernstein and Mark Johnson are at it with this show, there will be no rectifying what ails Paulie, Georgia, where this show is set, and its pervasive, institutional ignorance.  Paulie is a dry town, for that matter, where the attitude prevails, even in Daniel Holden’s “family”, that if a jury convicted him, he must be guilty.

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And that a judge has set aside his conviction due to new DNA evidence does not quite seem to matter all that much.  Not when prosecutors, politicians, and even kin are loaded with ulterior motives that range from the obvious Machiavellian ones like Senator/former DA Foulkes (Michael O’Neill), whose career has been riding on this case for years, and who now does not particularly care “where the jizz landed.”  What he does care a whole hell of a lot about though is extra biscuits, as does the new prosecutor, who, when meeting with Daniel’s lawyer about a retrial, has her secretary interrupt the meeting to bring her biscuits with her dinner, which she claims, is the only interruption she permits.  Now we know how an AMC style drama works, which Rectify most certainly is, as AMC is the parent network for Sundance, and we must say, we are very pleased at how AMC dramas play out, with the patience that most of their dramas have been allowed to exercise in developing plot.  Only Rubicon has met an early end (which was probably a good decision), and much to our surprise and happiness, even The Killing and Hell on Wheels, which are not exactly run away hits, are coming back for 3rd seasons.  We anxiously await The Killing’s premiere in early in June.

Now if you spoke to us early last June, you’d have caught us positively incensed at the slow pace of The Killing, and all of the plot misdirection, which had many in the audience miffed at how the murder of Rosie Larsen was being dragged out.  And sure, in real time, the investigation probably did not take that long, but it is indeed frustrating when every single character, basically, except Linden, was a suspect at one time or another, as it is, in a sense, dishonest production, especially when we all know that the Danish version of the show and the Larsen murder wrapped up in one season.  But given time, we have come to really love Linden and Holder, and we understand that more than the case, it is they who make the show.  So forget the other characters here for a moment, and what you might consider trite or predictable dialogue (like Hal Holbrook’s soliloquy to Daniel’s new/competent lawyer Jon Stern, played by Luke Kirby).  Daniel Holden’s character makes this series go and we see it going far because of him, and the strong ensemble cast around him and quality production team.  Do we feel the show is a bit rough and clipped in its intros and breaks and whatnot?  We do.

We also feel that they have already set up some really interesting plot points, as a story like this one requires constant setup, and that Johnson and Bernstein, if they have learned one thing from Vince Gilligan, and they have obviously learned more than that, it is the use of Deus Ex Machina, which we don’t necessarily consider to be such a contrived and ill fitting device that lazy writers use for the sake of convenience, unless they are indeed lazy writers who are using the device for the mere sake of convenience.  While the Holbrook soliloquy was just so cliche that it had us shuddering, it is no doubt the way of the world in Paulie, Georgia, which, as Daniel’s mother suggests at Daniel’s homecoming barbecue, is caught in a most onerous time warp, sadly, like a lot of places in this country, where the progression of people is markedly less evolved than even those in Maycomb, Alabama in 1930’s “To Kill A Mockingbird.”  Atticus Finch knew he had to fight for Tom Robinson.  In Rectify, Rutherford Gaines (Hal Holbrook) was hoping to get Daniel Holden life in prison.

Life imitates art, and art imitates life, and in real life, let us not act as though there is no foreshadowing as to what is to come.  Obviously there has been some overt foreshadowing here, like with Amantha (Abigail Spencer, Suits) and Jon seeing the creepy brother of the murder victim in that bar a town or two over, and abruptly hightailing it out of there.  Of course we see where this is probably going, that the creep has a twisted crush on the way hot younger sister of Daniel, and could mean her harm in a revenge sort of way for what he perceives her older brother did to his younger sister.  And then there’s Senator Foulkes and his careless affair with the trollop from the diner, which will probably get him at least emotionally extorted at some point by Daniel’s lawyer, who will most definitely need to pull out every last bit of artillery he has in order to keep Daniel on the outside.

What drew us to the show before we even knew of it was not McKinnon or the “other” producers of BrBa, but a quick preview flashed in a Sundance montage for their network, in which Daniel is pacing in his prison cell, some tiny concrete box, juxtaposed with him pacing a tiny rectangular avenue on the carpet of his bedroom, that he has returned to, and that still has the feel and decor of a kid’s room, one who went off to college and returned to it as an adult.  Daniel has certainly gotten an education, you could say, as he reveals to callous moron step brother Ted Jr (Clayne Crawford), on the golf course, telling him of the regularity with which he was sexually abused when he first got to prison.  While Daniel was somewhat at ease with the revelation, we wouldn’t call him casual.  Daniel’s reacclimation–the subject of the snippet we saw–may never happen, which makes Ted’s petty concerns about Daniel wanting his shit job at the tire shop, or even his wife, so inconsequential that you want to reach into the television and slap the motherfucker and say “grow the fuck up!”  Especially since, when Ted’s wife Tawney (Adelaide Clemens) hugs Daniel, he gets a hard on which scares the fuck out of her, considering that he was on death row for rape/murder going on 20 years and they were, at that moment, alone together in a field by some remote woods.  And Tawney is this ultra naive, chaste, bible banging moron, who basically describes how the lord fills her up, causing us to recall Eric Cartman describing how he couldn’t get enough of Jesus’s juices all over his face.

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Newsflash to Ted: Daniel is inheriting the tire shop one way or another, and will probably bag the Jesus freak as well, probably right before he gets sent back to death row, as fate will likely have it.  In a certain way, this show reminds us very much of Enlightened (unfortunately cancelled by HBO), in that nothing is easy, few things work out, and the only real constant is hardship.  At the end of the day, Daniel has some very caring and upstanding blood relatives, and a whole hell of a lot of problems, and may be safer on the inside, with his one friend, a fellow death row inmate convicted of killing and raping a young girl, than on the outside.  As Daniel explained it, he made peace with death.  We count on him, however, having more trouble making peace with life.

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

Vasek-Pospisil-and-Milos-Raonic-of-Canada-pose-for-photographers-with-Novak-Djokovic-and-Rafa-Nadal-rafael-nadal-14620911-1024-768An old shot of the main man, Novak Djokovic (still in Tacchini), with Canadians Vasek Pospisil (l.) and Milos Raonic (still with Lacoste)–future main man–and former King of Clay Rafael Nadal.

Anybody catch the beat down Rafael Nadal caught at the hands of the real king, Novak Djokovic in Monte Carlo on Sunday?  Good of Nole to give Rafa a sorry little game in that first set, wethinks, prior to taking the 2nd set breaker with ease, on his way to his first ever Rolex MMC shield, and doling out Rafa’s first loss there since Guillermo Coria got him in 2003.  Now we had our concerns about Djokovic.  Not about his tennis, and not about dirt, but rather, about the ankle, which he seemed to roll very badly against Sam Q in DC, but of course, not badly enough.  For Querrey.  Or Nadal.

Such a treat to see a guy mature mentally from quitter to hitter, which is what Djokovic has done.  Bravo.  And like a smart athlete, this week he rests.  Then there’s Nadal.  Couldn’t play for so so long, and now, he’s back to playing more meaningless 500’s, and one sandwiched between the MMC and the Italian Championships.  Can’t teach a dumb dog…um, old dog, sorry, new tricks.  Since Nadal jumped back to the scene, it would seem he has played more matches than anyone else in the game, and almost leads the game in match play, despite missing the Aussie swing.  Interesting indeed.  But not curious.

Anyways, that he plays this week has given us a matchup to salivate over, which is as much must see TV as you get at the 500 level on red clay.  Versus Canadian ball crusher and serve machine Milos Raonic.  Odds here:

BARCELONA OPEN BANC SABADELL (Barcelona, Spain) — 2nd Semi-Final

Milos Raonic:  + 800

Rafael Nadal:  – 1500

…..

Nadal leads the h2h 2 love and Raonic has yet to take a set.  But but but.  I think a lot of people (or maybe it’s just Patrick Edwards, LOL, can’t say as too many people other than our good friend PE actually care) may confuse our picks for who we think is going to win, when what we are doing is discussing good bets.  Like in Miami, we told you that Murray was a bad bet against Ferrer, and if you had plunked down 400 units to win 100 on Murray, you must have been dying at match point Ferrer, no?

Murray is a pick em over Ferrer, even on hards where Murray makes his home base.  This isn’t football.  Murray is not good enough to give a touchdown, or rather, in football terms, 8.5 points to Ferrer.  Nadal is a bad bet today by those terms.  And he’ll probably win, but would you like to lay 100 units to win 6.67 units?  That is just insane.  Then there’s the matter of Raonic being a lot better on clay than people think, the bit about him having Spaniard clay court specialist Galo Blanco as his coach, and that his home base is also the dirt yards of Spain.  Raonic is 6’6.  He can dunk basketballs like JR Smith at TD Gardens!!!  High bounces do not bother him, which are Nadal’s bread and butter.

We’d take a flyer on Raonic here, laying 100 units to recoup 900 should the wunderkind come through.  Now if only the rain stops so we can see the show.

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

federer_nadal_indian_wells_sferturi_finalaThe 2 fair haired boys (above) are back at each other in Indian Wells.

BNP PARIBAS @ Indian Wells — Men’s Quarter-final (Approx. 10 PM EST)

Roger Federer:  – 140

Rafael Nadal:  + 110

…….
The h2h is still grizzly (Nadal, 18-10), which won’t be helped by Nadal’s precarious nature, because we don’t really see him making it too deep at the events where Federer can make headway in the h2h.  Just like when Roger was king, and he’d lose to Nadal at 2 Masters Finals and the RG Final every year–his reward for constantly going so deep–while Nadal hid from Roger at the events where Roger has a surface edge, like Cincinnati (where they’ve never met), the USO (where they’ve never met), and indoors (where they’ve only met 4 times and only at the YEC).

Tonight’s match, should Nadal keep his appointments, will be the 1st in the matchup since Key Biscayne in 2004 when the players have met before the semi-finals, and only the 2nd time ever.  Frankly, after watching Nadal handle Federer in Melbourne last year on Plexcushion (a 2nd terrible defeat against Nadal at Oz), we were shocked to see Federer have such an easy time with Nadal, when he beat Nadal 6-3, 6-4 here at Indian Wells.  Especially surprising also considering that in 2011 on a similar court with similar if not the same weather conditions–cool and windy–Nadal gave Federer what was probably the worst hard court loss he has ever suffered (6-3, 6-2 with a 62-39 edge on points).

But really, that was Rafa at his all time best, not too far removed from completing the career slam, and this is not.  Obviously Nadal is not himself, and any time when that’s the case, we’d favor Federer in the matchup.  Though Federer didn’t look all that hot himself in fending off Stan the Man last night.  Federer said that he and Nadal both “have issues” at the presser today.  Federer seems to have a lingering back issue that a lot of guys are speculating about.  We heard some good conjecture from we think Mark Knowles, who claimed that Roger is hampered, from what he can tell, on overheads and stretches.  But like the great Johnny Mac likes to say, the Fed back is an injury that hurts way more when he is losing.  We recall the whispers about Fed’s back within 48 hrs of the great man laying absolute waste to Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray at Wimbledon, 2012.  Federer, a picture of health usually, has shown a tremendous ability to shake off back problems, which while they do nag, they have not proven degenerative.  And then you kind of say ‘well Roger doesn’t seem too bothered’ when he goes out and plays well, because unlike some, Roger has not spent his career whining about injuries.  Then Roger will lose to a Berdy or Soderling or Tsonga and suggest that he wouldn’t have lost if the back were not a factor.

For us, we see it as pride before the fall.  We don’t think Roger played hungry tennis against Soderling (RG, 2010) or Tsonga at SW-19 in 012, and against power players like that, the great man hasn’t looked good.  Sure, eventually a guy like Berdych is going to win a night match on Ashe and eventually Federer is going to lose one.  But the power is a problem, and seems to be Roger’s worst one, especially when really taking apart the recent losses and all the trouble he’s had with guys like Berdych and Del Potro, who serve big and who can control the baseline.  We don’t see it as as great a problem on quicker surfaces, then again, we didn’t think Dubai was that slow.  We didn’t think London was that slow at the YEC or any of the back end spots where DP got him at the end of 2012.

So we don’t actually see Nadal as the great threat to Federer he’s always been, and we won’t either, until or unless Nadal finds a way to make his legs his biggest weapon again.  Especially on a clay like surface as bad as this one.  Until that day, Federer has a more comfortable matchup here, back willing.

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

Rafael-Nadal-vs-Nicolas-Almagro-Quarter-Final-Preview-French-Open-2012-160222Spaniards, friends and countrymen, Rafa and talented one hander Nicolas Almagro (above).

Abierto Mexicano (Acapulco, Mexico) — Men’s Semi-Final

To air @ approximately 11 PM EST — TTC

__ __ __ __

Nicolas Almagro:  + 325

Rafael Nadal: -450

……

Nadal leads this matchup 8-0, and frankly, this has been one of the least competitive matchups that we can remember.  Almagro, who we feel is very talented, despite being a clay court specialist, like Roger Federer, has a great deal of trouble with Nadal’s forehand in the forehand to backhand rally that Nadal lives off, and in this case, has feasted off.  But this line is off.  If Vegas was taking Nadal as seriously as they normally do on clay, Nadal would have came off around (-1200).  Like at the Dubai Duty Free, where there is a similar lopsided matchup, with Berdych taking on Djokovic, whom he really can not beat (Djoker leads the h2h 12-1), the odds are as follows:

Dubai Duty Free (U.A.E) — Final

Saturday, March 2nd — 10 AM EST

__ __ __ __

Tomas Berdych:  + 550

Novak Djokovic:  + 900

…….

Frankly, we love the dogs.  Berdych is in fine form, beating Federer today and fighting off 3 MP’s.  Sure there is the business about Djokovic deciding to overhaul his training regimen and commitment level to the sport after his loss to Berdych at Wimbledon in 2010.  Losing to Berdych on grass is no shame at all either.  But since then, Djokovic has been on a different planet, which really started to kick in after he lost the 2010 US Open Final to Nadal.  Djokovic is undefeated this year, and is looking for his 11th straight win to start the season, and an over all win streak of at least 16, all on hard courts.

We don’t really expect either dog to win, but despite the record, Berdych is a very formidable opponent for Djokovic, and not a great deal separates them.  As for Rafa, he is a shell of himself right now.  If that is to continue, we shall see, but this may just be the best opportunity that Almagro gets in this matchup, in which he has only taken two sets for his career.  We think it would be an excellent sign if Almagro were able to compete hard, which we don’t always believe to be the case, especially against Rafa, who seems to psyche him out.

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/gimelstob-skirts-truth-in-nadals-curious-comeback-tour/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/nadal-comeback-ill-timed-and-poorly-planned/

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

641747850

Down Under, the Bryan brothers won their 6th Aussie doubles crown, with a straight sets win, 6-3, 6-4 over Robin Haase and Igor Sjisling.  On their illustrious careers, they now have 13 major titles, 4 more than the magical American team of John McEnroe and Peter Fleming, who had 9 major titles with one another.  While we don’t always have the same respect for the Aussie titlist in singles, because of the surface usually, and because we are old school, and we just don’t weight as heavily the Australian Open as we do the majors, as far as the ranks within the majors go.  But doubles is different entirely.  In team tennis, what doubles is, you are not going to have a great chance if you are not synched up and in tune with your partner, and even then, there are no guarantees.  What makes doubles so interesting, among other things, is that it is still very much bang bang tennis–short rallies, true attack tennis, net play–and as synched as you are, the opponents may just be better that day, you lose, even if your name is Serena and that’s it.

Or, you might throw 2 guys together and they might even be baseliners or less bold players, like Bellucci/Paire and they me playing Rojer/Qureshi, 6th seeds who are heavily favored, and for most of the match you are shaking your head at how Bellucci is killing his team, like at the AO 3rd round men’s, and then Bellucci pulls it together for a few games late, and Quereshi and Rojer, a major calibre team, is going home.  Doubles is interesting for so many reasons, and therefore, we must cherish how much doubles we get on those mix channels at major time.  When else is it even televised?  All these tour stops now between the AO and RG, we will be lucky to catch a handful of doubles finals on TTC in all those months, and yet I have just seen TTC air 6 Destination Tennis episodes since last night, all previously aired heavily.  You’d think The Tennis Channel could throw a doubles match in once in a while, but since they aren’t even willing to send a broadcast team to road Davis Cup ties, these reasons come up when one inevitably call TTC a second rate network.

The Bryans have always been good players.  They were both top 100 singles players, if not actually then certainly potentially, but they choose doubles and focused on it, and obviously America is lucky they did.  I thought both played singles very offensively, and with improved conditioning, could have played that way well enough to see some singles success.  For the Bryans to be this good, this in step, well, obviously it has been a labor of love, but yes, a labor.  Nothing gets this good without planning and coordination, and work.  Winning 6 AO’s, more or less the first real high stakes tennis of the year, when it might be even harder to be at your best because of a lot of poor conditions, from heat to surface/injury problems, and because most teams have yet to get in step, and find that groove ultimately necessary for big things to happen.  Even the Williams sisters slipped up Down Under, giving the very good team of Errani/Vinci (one handers holla) life, enough for them to get in step and hand the Williams’ a very rare defeat.  Rarers so is the Bryans losing in doubles in DC, where they are 20-2 in their careers, essentially losing twice now over 2 decades, and providing the true linch pin that America owes at least a healthy amount of whatever success they have in Davis Cup to.

Both the Bryans play one handed tennis, they are expert at net, and really, magicians.  They are the most unheralded athletes perhaps anywhere.  And today they play a very good team of Melo/Soares for Brazil, on a fast American court, in a Davis Cup tie, which is really the truest form of doubles left today, where you must win 3 sets.  Only the French Open and US Open are left as majors where teams need to even win 2 sets out of 3, as now we are seeing, even at majors, these 10 point mini deciding sets.  Puke.  At least Wimbledon is still pure, best of 5 set tennis.

Do yourself a favor and tivo the Bryans today at 2 PM.  There’s no excuse for not doing so if you really love tennis.

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