Sandlot Baseball Game Logs – 05.2024 – Part II

May 16th, 2024

What is Sandlot?

The Drag took the Tulsa trip in stride and returned to Govalle’s friendly confines this past weekend against the North Austin Space Cowboys.

5.11.2024 – North Austin Space Cowboys vs. Austin Drag @ Govalle – 7pm

Instagram post.

Even though jokes may have been said about sandlotters ripping names from professional baseball organizations, I’m not going to hold it against these fellas that they share a name with a AAA team. Maybe they just really, really like Steve Miller Band? Who’s to say?

What can be said is that the NASC are a solid bunch of guys.

Both starting pitchers– NASC’s Ben Kwiatkowski and Drag’s Steven Carrizales had both lineups tied up and off balance. After three innings, the score was knotted at 1s.
Notable defensive plays included David Rhodes making a quality play at first base to snare a liner and Ash tracking down a flyball in left.
Offensively, Keith flew around the basepaths all game long manufacturing a few runs along the way. RJ hit one to the wall but just couldn’t get his legs to produce more than a single (that happens). Simon had an RBI rip to the right side. Steven caught a barrel or two. Stillman and Rickner also got themselves a barrel.

Judging by all these barrels, you’d think we put up a ton of runs. Nope. Not really. The Space Cowboys’ pitching and defense stepped up when they needed and the Drag continued our long-standing tradition of stranding runners.

We love and value a spacious dugout. It’s pretty important. That in mind, we strategically keep our runners on the basepaths as to not cluster up and crowd the dugout. It gives us a little more breathing (and drinking) room on the bench.

Our pitchers stayed sharp. In a rare and brief relief appearance, Keith pitched the 4th and 5th. Marc Segal handled the 6th and Jeff Waterman the 7th. The Drag pitchers did an exceptional job of avoiding walks and barreled balls.

The score was 4-2 heading into the 8th. I (Rickner) pitched a clean top frame. The Drag scored three much-needed runs in the bottom half of the 8th.
The top of the 9th went a little goofy. There was a walk, a K, a towering popfly that found grass between left and center, then a well-hit liner over SS by their lefty leadoff man that scored two, a K, a swinging bunt that goes in the book just the same as a rifled single, and a final K.

That may read as boring, but I assure you, it wasn’t.

All in all, it was a sharp game played by both teams that was concluded in an expeditious fashion.

The final tally –
Space Cowboys – 4 gangsters of love
Drag – 7 Maurices

The last few leftover pics from Tulsa that were recently developed:

We get to bookend Memorial Day Weekend with two games against the Jardineros (Friday night and Monday morning).
Looking forward to it.

Sandlot Baseball Game Logs – 05.2024 – Part I

May 9th, 2024

What is Sandlot?

The Austin Drag hit the road and made it up to Tulsa.
Thankfully, The Rumblers put a tarp over the infield as most of the region had been fighting rain, thunder, and tornadoes for most of the week leading up to the game.

Derek from The Rumblers had a welcome party at his incredible home Friday night. Most of The Drag had some drinks there. We all shot the proverbial breeze (not the Tulsa Breeze) with The Rumblers and simply had a great time. As always, outstanding hosts.

I swung by The Mercury then Whataburger after hanging at Derek’s because– of course I did.

5.4.2024 – Austin Drag vs. Tulsa Rumblers @ Historic Lacy Park (Tulsa) – 11am

Instagram post.

First things first– I will recognize that I’ve been critical of other hosts/teams/communities in the past. I am guilty of this. But these are weekends we’re talking about. Whether it’s 50 miles or 500, it’s still travel. And there are costs. So, why not make the experience as mutually beneficial as possible?

This need not be explained to Tulsa. These guys get it and, in my experience, they have yet to be surpassed in making goofy sandlot baseball entirely worthwhile (Lockhart easily comes in second).
Back to Saturday Sandlot Baseball.

Know what’s better than ending 5+ hours of drinking with a Whataburger?
Starting your morning after with a Whataburger taquito.
It had been a good, long while since I’ve bookended six hours of sleep with Whataburger meals, but that’s exactly what kind of trip this was shaping up to be.

All The Rumblers’ hard work paid off. The tarp kept as much water as it could off the infield, and we’re grateful for the time + effort. All things considered, save for a few troublesome puddles between the infield and outfield, the conditions were pretty darn good. Game on.

Considering that our games with The Rumblers always seem to go down to the wire as well as the fact that it was RJ’s birthday, we all felt like a damn-good time was sitting right in front of us.
We collectively took advantage.

The Rumblers’ tall starting pitcher carved up our entire lineup for the first three innings. Keith (Drag Captain + Starting Pitcher) answered with some strong innings of his own overcoming some infield throwing errors.

Thanks to Steven Carrizales’s big RBI double to right center, The Drag and Rumblers were knotted up at two runs a piece after four innings. From there, both teams clustered runs here and there intermittently.

Defensively, Ash and Steven both made good grabs in the outfield.
Braden put a few innings in at second and gave us this highlight– with a Rumbler runner on first, a lil flare made its way into right field. Braden hustled it down and made a turnaround throw that was a dead-eye strike to third nabbing the runner attempting to motor from first-to-third. It was pretty darn impressive.

Steven and RJ provided most of our offense going a combined 6-8 and accounting for at least half of our RBIs.

The Rumblers’ biggest rally came in the 7th.
Keith pitched exceptionally for the first six innings, but then ran into a slight bit of trouble in the 7th. He gave the ball to Rickner (the author of this write up) and I gave up a flare that dropped into shallow right center that proved to be a big hit. Rumblers ended up plating four that inning.
Drag responded with two runs in the 8th, including Diana Driver running very aggressively on the basepaths. She ran through so many stop signs and forced her way home on a play at the plate that miraculously ended in our favor. This gal slid home in her leopard-print shorts and created a highlight that is pretty hard to beat (incredible pic featured on the ig post).

In the top of the 9th, down 8-9, we were able to load up the bases, but their closer executed down the stretch to hold it down and shut the door.

The final tally –
Drag – 8 casino buffets
Rumblers – 9 ballpark dogs

I’ve updated my Sandlot google photo album to include the Tulsa pics.
Below are some of the recent highlights.

With everyone full well anticipating heavy storms that evening (late Saturday/early Sunday), the decision was to get in as much baseball as we could– right then and there. We had every indication to believe Sunday was going to be a wash, it was determined to “get while the gettin’ was good.”

We divided all the players in attendance and put together a very loose, goofy, laid back scrimmage. It was perfect. The beer, bourbon, and mezcal consumption went from leisurely to John Daly.

Steven pitched some innings. A handful of Rumblers took their turn on the hill. It was a great way to kill the last few remaining dry hours we had left in Tulsa.
Even though it was only a goofy pickup game, Mike Hobson, putting in some time at second, made a fully horizontal, backhanded layout to snare a hard-hit liner by Dan McClintock. One of the cooler plays I’ve seen this year.

After the ballpark, it was all casino buffets and bad beats. Everyone seemed a lil burnt out by the 6+ hours at the ballpark followed by the 6+ trips to the prime rib table followed by the 6+ trips to the craps tables.

To reiterate: The Tulsa Sandlot community is incredible. Hands down, the best group to host and take ownership of whatever this goofy, burgeoning culture is. I’ve been lucky enough to make the trip twice now, and each time I’ve been so very grateful and happy to put in those highway miles because this community truly makes it worth it. Great people. Great attitudes. Outstanding baseball experiences.
Thanks Rumblers!
Can’t wait to catch yall for a Sandlot Sunday down at Lacy Park!

Sandlot Baseball Game Logs – 04.2024 – Part III

May 2nd, 2024

What is Sandlot?

Chili from The Ramblers posted some great film photography awhile back and it got me motivated to dig up my old Canon AV-1 (that I regrettably haven’t used since 2011) and get back to shooting film.
The first two rolls I shot weren’t any good. Definitely needed to knock off the rust and had to revisit a tutorial or two.
Anyhow, here’s a link to the photo album consisting of mostly Sandlot photos.

They will be improving with each roll.
Below are some highlights.

4.27.2024 – East Austin Ramblers vs. Town Lake Nightcrawlers (Austin) @ Govalle – 3pm

I finished last week’s post with: “Ramblers get to get back on the good foot at home vs. the Town Lake Nightcrawlers next Saturday.

We got the privilege of providing a walk-off winner for those worms.

I’m certain it’s difficult trying to find the most appropriate amount of PT for each player when more than 16 show up for a game. 18 Ramblers were in attendance. Whoever’s job it is to facilitate a roster of that size definitely has a tall task.

There are varying schools of thought. One way that seems to work is let your starters get their three innings in the field + lineup, second stringers take on the middle three innings, and, depending on how the game is going will determine how you finish the final 2-3 innings.

It might not play out exactly as cut and dry as that, but that’s not a bad framework to build from.

I arrived at the ballpark expecting The Ramblers to implement an 18-person lineup as has been the custom. We didn’t. We saw the lineup and the “Coach for the Day” (Ramblers have a rotating cast of foundational players that make the lineup) declared that, to paraphrase– We’re going to bat a tight lineup because this was a game we’re gonna go for.

To the lineup’s credit– Rambly scored runs. The Worms’ starting pitcher, Ches Foster, seemed to have pretty good command except for one inning that produced a handful of walks and a great drive to the left field wall by Grady helped The Ramblers put up a 5-spot. Foster did go deep into the game though (all the way to the 7th I believe) and kept the Worms within striking distance.

For our part, The Ramblers put Sikes, Ticky, Stevie, and Hope on the hill. They all pitched well, never surrendering a 5-spot. The Worms did seem to nibble and nibble though– plating a run or two here and there, but not producing a huge rally early on.

Entering the bottom of the 8th, The Ramblers had a seven-run advantage. The worms cut that deficit in half in the 8th. In the 9th, the worms made some contact and got a rally cooking that ended in a walkoff (same video link as above).

The final tally ended up being (approximately)≈
Ramblers – 11 possumdogs
Nightcrawlers – 12 dirtyworms

Unwritten Rules + Etiquette

With full awareness that this league is chock full of folks who aren’t gonna care about things such as “rules” or “etiquette,” there are a few things I’d like to bring attention to.

I’ve previously brought up baserunners interfering with a defender trying to make a play (purposefully stutter-stepping in between a defender and a groundball, clapping hands/yelling at a defender, etc). If a refresher is needed– this is to be called at the umpire’s discretion. If an umpire perceives whatever action as interference, then it’s interference. With our often volunteer umps or our less-than-motivated/older/often out-of-position umps, these types of calls are rarely made. These old guys (the umps) aren’t going to get in the middle of Little League-playing adults who might be bristling with one another because of inadvertent or purposeful displays of poor sportsmanship. Understandably so.

Some of these instances may be inadvertent because they’re performed by folks who didn’t play baseball growing up. It’s likely they never learned that certain behavior will get you and your team in trouble (i.e. the opposition will throw a fastball at your earhole and/or an umpire will intervene and rule the offender out).

Saturday’s minor, very forgettable issue was about a deke.

Which dekes are deemed acceptable or not? There is nuance to this. The simplest way to negotiate this– as a defender, don’t fool a runner into making unnecessary moves to miss your ball-less phantom/fake tags. You can fool the runner into second-guessing where they (the runner) might assume the ball to be as long as you’re not faking as though it’s in your glove as you throw a fake tag. That’s it.

Ballplayers don’t like the fake tag type of deking. They clear benches for fake tags. They administer their own justice for it, and it’s basically regarded as a dickhead move. But, as they say, the way you do anything is the way you do everything.

We’ve seen the deke from a catcher who acted like a ball wasn’t being thrown to him and then at the last moment he catches it and applies the tag (cool deke), Baylor SS dekes the runners into thinking a fly to centerfield is only an infield fly (10 years ago– cool deke), and more recently we’ve seen the outfielder fake an early catch of a sac fly to fool the runner into leaving third early (cool deke).

Sorry to get Old Man/Old School here, but faking a late tag that could induce an awkward slide or even a collision isn’t regarded as an anti-“Let the Kids Play”– it’s simple courtesy for your opponent. Maybe the Savanah Bananas will popularize fake tags and anytime any runner is running the bases on anything other than a homerun, each infielder will act like they’ve got the ball causing mass confusion, and this is what is to become of baseball so I should just get with it already, but I doubt it.
It’s also fielder’s interference to touch the runner without the ball (or when not in the act of fielding the ball) so… a good ump would rule the play dead and advance all the runners anyways.

Last final nagging note (apologies for all the nagging)– a minor and irrational question of etiquette. Because our fields are rarely, if ever, squared away, this makes little sense, but, ballplayers don’t warm up pregame on the infield dirt (tossing, stretching, etc). It likely stems from the Dads and grounds crews who put in the pregame work to square away the diamond– all that labor and care shouldn’t immediately be undone by a few players who can’t be bothered to walk the additional 60-90′ required to get to the outfield grass.

Every team sport has their do’s and don’ts. That’s a baseball don’t. I checked with a former collegiate softball player– it’s a softball don’t as well.

I know it’s silly when our diamonds are rarely manicured and squared away, but it’s still engrained in ballplayers to keep off the infield until game time.
Caveat*– teams taking infield/fielding grounders is permitted, but simply tossing, stretching, etc. on the infield dirt is a no. I looked up some various baseball league rules to see if it’s still a thing and it’s still a thing. What makes this edict even more tenuous is when you play at a park that doesn’t have a bullpen. The starting pitchers have to throw somewhere. I get it. The more lousy a facility is, the less this flimsy tradition makes sense, but it’s still tradition.

That’s all I got.
We’ll see if the weather let’s anyone get in any sandlot this weekend.

Sandlot Baseball Game Logs – 04.2024 – Part II

April 23rd, 2024

What is Sandlot?

Doubleheader this past Saturday.
G1 – 4.20.2024 – South Austin Parakeets vs. Austin Drag @ Govalle – 11am
G2 – 4.20.2024 – East Austin Ramblers vs. Arsenal Abejas (San Antonio) @ Pittman-Sullivan (SA) – 3pm

Game 1

Instagram post.

It was a day of contrasts.
First up was the Keets vs. Drag. The Keets were missing a few impact players. Easton is unfortunately hurt (labrum– bummer) and a few of their top pitchers and hitters weren’t able to attend. They’re on the tail-end of a consecutive baseball weekend streak. That can make it a little difficult for some teams to continue fielding a full roster for three or four weekends straight.

That said, the Keets are a deep organization that have plenty of talent to go around and the dozen or so that showed up played hard and played well.

Drag Captain Keith reported that the 9-inning game flew by in less than 2.5 hours. That’s a testament to how sharp the pitching and defense was for both sides. After checking out the box score, one can tell just how few walks and errors occurred. That’s refreshing considering most Sandlot games end with one of these sentiments:

  • “It wasn’t pretty, but we somehow got the W”
  • “If we just avoided a sloppy inning or two, we get that W”

The game concluded with both teams completing a top-to-bottom solid ballgame that was pretty darn close the whole way through.
Keith started on the bump and went six strong innings only giving up 3 runs. If he walked anybody, I don’t remember it happening. The outfield made some good plays with Ash snagging a high flyball in right, Marc making a sliding grab in left, and Steven tracking down a shot in center. Mike Limongelli, Braden, and Rickner completed a 5-4-3 double play.

In the 3rd inning, The Drag put up a good crooked number on the board. That was our most significant rally where we hit up-and-down the order with pretty much everyone contributing.

After Keith’s six innings on the hill, Steven came back for his first outing following a minor knee operation. He threw two quality innings allowing one run and one successful pickoff that froze the runner cold.

I followed that up with a potential save opportunity. I threw strikes and the Keets found some barrels to get something cooking for them. A strikeout and two groundouts later though secured the game and that was that.

There was a postgame hang that I couldn’t make because I had to book it to San Antonio for Game 2.
Heard the 4/20 hang out was a gas though.

Final score ≈
South Austin Parakeets – 6(ish)
Austin Drag – 10(ish)

Great time. We’ll have our rubber match in the fall. Looking forward to it.

Game 2

Instagram post.

Following Game 1, I hustled home, threw some food in me, changed, and headed down to San Antonio for the 3pm game. I did this while fully expecting to receive a team update notifying me of a cancellation due to rain. I figured, “Hey, if it rains, I’ll have some grub with the team and then stop by my cousin’s to chew the fat.”

I drove through scattered showers in South Austin, Buda, Kyle, San Marcos, New Braunfels, but the weather improbably cleared up the closer I got to SA. The Baseball Gods seemed to really want us to play baseball. Problem is, none of the players in attendance seemed to share that sentiment.

These things happen. Be it team sports, work functions, hell– sometimes even a live music experience or an entire bar (staff and patrons included) all sometimes seem to have a low energy and an overall lethargic and unmotivated tenor.
I’m guessing these were some of the factors that led to this outcome–

  • I think everyone expected a rainout. Nobody on that field resonated a “what a great day to play baseball?!” mentality. It was overcast with steady winds coming and going. Our game was part of a trio hosted to, in some form or fashion, celebrate San Antonio’s Fiesta. I was told that the first game (12pm) felt like one helluva party. We all got to see how big of a party the third game (7pm) was, and, unfortunately for us, this middle game (3pm) felt more like a begrudging scrimmage that was thrust on us.
  • Here’s yet another way this cliche about Sandlot being “Adult Little League” rings true.
    Though rare, these kinds of games do happen at the youth level. Sometimes even when people have the best intentions, those intentions can’t overcome the collective will.
  • I arrived at the end of the 2nd inning and, all the way from the parking lot, the game just felt strange. The team hosting the Ramblers had a total of six players. Six. Three players from the earlier 12 o’clock game (San Antonio Los Monos vs. Alamo City Warhawks) thankfully agreed to double up their baseball for the day to make our game happen. So there’s that.
  • For our part, we had 14 Ramblers in attendance, and because most of the team’s post-game Saturday night plans hinged on whether or not the rain was going to fall, nobody really cut loose during the game (understandably so).

I could get into the gameplay, but it… was tough going.
Nobody’s fault, that’s just sometimes how things go.

Ramblers get to get back on the good foot at home vs. the Town Lake Nightcrawlers next Saturday (4/27).

Sandlot Baseball Game Logs – 04.2024 – Part I

April 15th, 2024

What is Sandlot?

Pseudo-doubleheader this past Saturday.
G1 – 4.13.2024 – East Austin Ramblers vs. South Austin Lovejoys @ Govalle – 11am
G2 – 4.13.2024 – Austin Drag vs. Austin Drag (not a typo) @ Govalle – 3pm

What a day?
We had rain earlier in the week (more on that later), but this day provided clear skies, 80-degree temps, anniversaries, birthdays, and baseball.

Game 1
Instagram post.

I arrived with my string trimmer and began knocking down the weeds on the left-side of the infield from shin-height to ankle-height. Fortunately, Austin Parks + Rec arrived just before game time to give the infield a proper mowing and throw some chalk down the foul lines.

After weed-whacking the fence line, I got word that I’d be on the bump to open the game.
I cleated up, stretched, and took the hill. The Lovejoys can put the bat on the ball. Their lefty leadoff hitter, Grady Fishplate, opened with an opposite-field bloop down the leftfield line. He managed to work his way around the bases for the LJs’ lone 1st inning run. The Ramblers answered with two of their own in the bottom half.

The top of the second provided a few balls that found some holes and a big mistake by the pitcher (ahem, this author)– with two outs, runners on 2nd and 3rd, and a full count on the hitter, I offered a changeup. Their hitter was a little in front of it, but he put a decent charge into a two-hopper to our shortstop’s right. The well-hit ball made its way into left center and plated two runs.

My arm felt a little tight and my injured knee still isn’t able to do much of anything that requires athleticism. Pitching pushes it, but baseball is better than not baseball– and I’m friggin’ dying not being able to legitimately play the field and run the bases (plus my swing feels like dogshit).


Sometimes even I forget that “There’s no crying in baseball.”
Moving on.

Once my pitching is done for the day, there’s a fair chance that tops will be popped.
Since I rarely start games on the hill, I got goin on the oat sodas a lil earlier than usual. Hope relieved me and she pitched really well. The Ramblers defense did make some pretty good plays, we turned three (THREE!) sharp-looking doubleplays, but also had some untimely errors that fueled the LJ rallies.

Ramblers rallied for runs and rallied for beers, but couldn’t overcome the deficit.

The final tally ended up being≈
Ramblers – one dozen ‘Ra-Ra’s
Lovejoys – two dozen champagne toasts

Game 2

To reprise my fictitious, scripted schtick– the following is how I imagine Drag Captain Keith coordinating with the Temple Freighthoppers:

Temple Freighthoppers Captain:
Hiya Keith, I’ve got some bad news.

Drag Captain Keith:
What’s that?

Well Sir, we got some rain. A lot of rain. Gonna have to cancel Saturday’s game.

Bummer. Well, we didn’t get near as much rain as yall did. We also happen to have some field space reserved for Saturday. Any chance you Freighthoppers might be able to ride them rails down south and play some ball?

Oh yeah? In Austin you say? Where exactly might that be?

Whether by rail, automobile, or as the crow flies, Austin’s Govalle Park is a mere 70 miles south of Temple’s Baker Field.

Huh? Well, how about that? You don’t say. But, ummmm, the thing with that there is, that, uhhh, we have another issue…

Shoot. I’m all ears.

Well, you see, I’m just not sure we can make that happen.

Playing baseball? The thing both teams already have scheduled to do at that time on that day?

Yeppers. You see, I am not entirely sure my team feels like playing baseball on an 80-degree, blue-skied, beautiful Central Texas day.

You lost me.

I mean, I’m down. I simply can’t get enough baseball. You say the word and I’m there. I am friggin there man…

Cool. C’mon out. Bring some friends. If yall can’t, as a group, make the game happen, we’ll go ahead and try to get the most out of the weather and field space. Please join us. Bring some friends and teammates. We’ll have ourselves a time.

Yeah, well, the issue there is– no. I just kinda, sorta, just uhh, don’t really feel like doing it, ya know?

Huh? Well, how about that?
Welp, seeya later.

For sure. Hit us up next time. We’ll be down.

For sure.
Without hesitation or rumination.


What a total fucking misnomer.

I’ll put down the snark.
I’m sure there was a perfectly good explanation for why they were geared up to play up at Temple, but couldn’t find a way to make a game happen in Austin.
Even if an explanation wasn’t thrown our way, we still had a helluva time celebrating one of the founders of this organization’s 40th birthday.

All 18 Dragsters + pals split into three squads of six (two teams responsible for fielding, one group of six got to hit). To keep the birthday scrimmage moving, every AB started with a 1-1 count. Depending on the scenario, some walks reset the count (others didn’t).

Hotdogs was grilled. Birthday gifts were gifted. Drinks were shared. It couldn’t have been a better day as we all got to enjoy this game, this team, all while giving Braden his much-deserved day.

Final Score
Drag (Keith’s team) –
Drag (Braden’s team)-
Drag (Jeff’s team)- cares.

Sidenote: Braden Williams invited me out to Sandlot in 2018. I am forever grateful that he reached out and built this group. Happy birthday bud! It’s been an incredible six years.

Sandlot Baseball Game Logs – 03.2024 – Part III

April 2nd, 2024

What is Sandlot?

03.28.2024 – Spencer Thibodeaux Birthday Pick-Up Game @ Govalle – 7pm

Link to instagram post.

What a group? What a community?
What an outstanding celebration?
The pickup gameplay was solid. Everyone had themselves a time.
Just a ton of people who love being at the ballpark.
Happy birthday Thibs!

03.29.2024 – East Austin Ramblers vs. Austin Yardbirds @ Govalle – 7pm

Link to instagram post.

I wrote about these fellas to close out last season. Those Yardbirds can all swing the lumber. Barrels, long balls, wallbangers… name it. Prior to the first pitch, I let the Rambly know that we were going to see a lineup that consistently drives the ball. That’s exactly what they did. We got our outs where we could and plated runs whenever we could, but few Sandlot teams can keep those Ybird bats quiet.
Defensively, I hobbled around first base and got to see what it’s like on that side of the diamond.

All in all, a pretty great night full of high-fives, liners, chatter, cheddar, and goodtimes.

The final tally ended up being:
Ramblers – 8 possum balls
Yardbirds – 18 gopher balls

03.30.2024 – Austin Drag vs. South Austin Lovejoys @ Govalle – 7pm

Link to instagram post.

With our lefty Pitcher/OF Steven Carrizales out (knee scope in late Feb/early March), our starting Shortstop/Relief Pitcher Nick Stillman out (broken thumb in mid-March), and myself (3B/Relief Pitcher) all on the IL or “very hobbled” list, Keith’s already heavy pitching workload has resembled our organization’s very first season (from a lot of innings to nearly all innings).

With that in mind, Jeff Waterman got the start on the bump and did a pretty damn good job throwing strikes. The LJs (and pals) hit the ball fairly well, but thanks to some great plays in the field– Harrison Davis made the only Sandlot grab against the outfield wall I’ve seen and Rhodes knocked down a well-hit ball at second and was able to get the force out, The Drag were able to keep it close.

With The Drag on top 6-4 after four innings, our bullpen got a little wild and our defense let a few balls get by. What has been a recurring theme this spring, happened again– a rough inning takes place (no 5-run cap this time), then both teams settle into cruise control and everyone kind of gets their reps in until it’s time to leave the ballpark.

The LJs + pals had a great crew. They ended the game with a pitcher throwing some legit knucklers (I hadn’t seen those in awhile). Even though Keith has been trying to give his wing some rest, he eventually had to get on the hill and pitch a few innings (of course he did).

Due to a work conflict, Bullpen Catcher RJ Kirk, was unable to make the game, but he’d be damned if he was gonna miss out on the post-game hang at Kinda Tropical.
We took the L, but we had a great damn evening and we’re hopeful to put a few wins together once a few of our pitchers heal up and are able to give Keith’s rubber arm some relief.

Final Score
Drag – 8
Lovejoys – ∞
(or thereabouts)

Good game. Great hang.

Sandlot Baseball Game Logs – 03.2024 – Part II

April 1st, 2024

What is Sandlot?

03.08.2024 – Austin Drag vs. South Austin Parakeets @ Govalle – 7pm

Link to Instagram post.

The Keets are friggin’ good. In the previous post, I wrote that nobody “wins them all,” and of course that’s exactly what the Keets did last season. Or they came very close. I’ve heard their 2023 season record was 20-0, 19-1, 20-2…
…who’s to say? If there’s not a silly write up about it, an instagram post to document it, and a group of folks rehashing it while drinking beers in a caliche parking lot, did it even really happen?

Jokes aside, in The Drag’s earlier years, I remember trading wins and losses with these guys, but it feels like all we’ve gotten post-Covid is rainouts and losses. But, you know, they aren’t ill-tempered losses. The Keets just played well and we’ve historically ran into one dreadful inning that sealed our fate.

If you follow MLB, you’re aware of Rally Squirrels, Rally Cats, Rally Monkeys, and Bad Luck Cats.
Animals are often regarded as omens in this game of ours. Hyperbole aside, it’s more of a wonder if a cat, squirrel, or racoon makes its way onto a major league diamond. At the parks we play– it’s basically par for the course. But still, with as many Cubs fans as there are on The Drag… let’s just say damn-near everything could be interpreted as an “omen.”

To their point though, the game was clean. Error free for three innings.
And then, in between innings, a very athletic and playful dog ran onto the field. Your humble narrator tried corralling the pooch, to no avail.

And just like in many of the hyperlinked examples, that’s all that was needed for those Keets to start barelling balls and The Drag to start making errors. On one such barreled ball down the third baseline, the third baseman (the guy writing this thing) maneuvered to his right and felt his surgically-repaired knee lockup. Damn.
Playing is more fun than watching.
Baseball is better than not baseball.
I tried to game it, but the knee had no game left.

Our defense did what we could to keep those Keets off the board, but they found ways to put up runs after the 3rd and utilized a deep and talented pitching staff that collectively threw lights out until we managed a much too little and much too late rally.

Final Score
Drag – 7
Keets – ∞
(or thereabouts)

03.09.2024 – East Austin Ramblers vs. Cap City Cobras @ Govalle – 3pm

Link to Instagram post.

I hobbled to this game using a fungo as a walking cane. I felt old. Real old.
But that doesn’t matter because The Ramblers got a 3pm start time against the Cobras, the weather couldn’t have been better, and all involved knew it was going to be an outstanding time.

To keep this short and sweet–
The Cobras controlled both sides of the the game, but both teams kept it a party.
Memorable highlights included The Ramblers’ birthday gal, Katie Coyne, completing an impressive double play at shortstop and The Cobras’ Tucker hitting a no-doubter long ball to right center.

The final tally ended up being:
Ramblers – 37 Original Coors
Cobras – 52 hot dogs

03.23.2024 – Austin Drag vs. ATX Roadrunners @ Govalle – 11am

Link to Instagram post.

This matchup has been dominated by rainfall + rainouts. On this particular Saturday however, we actually got to get this game in.
Now I’m not included in these pre-game, high-level negotiations, but it’s my belief that the first two-thirds (six innings) of a sandlot game should be capped with a 5-run limit.
This is for a few reasons– pitchers’ arms, catchers’ knees, whatever spectators’ entertainment, and our collective sanity.

Is this how “real” hardball is played?
No, but “real” or “consequential” baseball passed most of us long ago. The five-run cap keeps the game moving and preserves the potential of an actual close game in the later innings. Who gets excited about an 18-6 ballgame?

It was reported that The Drag brought up utilizing a cap (that was declined), then The Drag had themselves a substantial rally in the bottom of the first. Before that though, the top of the first provided just about the oddest play at the plate I’ve ever seen. And the poor umpire must’ve seen… something entirely different than what occurred on the field.
The runner didn’t do anything in poor form (they were just playing the game), but there was some significant contact with Catcher Simon “Big Cat” Hilsman before the runner arrived at the plate, and part of the contact was Big Cat’s glove with possession of the ball and… there really wasn’t a quality ruling or explanation of what The Man in Blue saw. Runner was “safe” and the game moved on.

Oh well. So it goes. We, more or less, laughed it off (everyone except Keith).

The bottom of the first provided our biggest rally… since… ever? We often play with a cap, so it’s not often that rallies seem to stretch out before a team like the first day of a sixth grader’s summer break.

After the big first inning, both teams sort of settled into cruise control and just allowed the innings to melt away. The entire Drag lineup hit for the whole game. The defense turned two nifty doubleplays. The pitching was steady.

The Keets and Cobras had the 3pm Govalle timeslot. They wisely decided to host a crawfish boil during their game. At some point during Drag vs. Roadrunners, I began thinking more about mudbugs and less about baseball. For this injured player, crawfish was far more tangible than using a healthy knee for rewarding activities. Crawfish and beer it is.

The Drag and Roadrunners game cruised to the conclusion most had following the first inning.
The Keets and Cobras provided an exceptional Sandlot experience of quality ball and outstanding times.

The final tally ended up being:
Roadrunners – 9 bags of seeds
Drag – 19 pounds of crawfish

Post-game notes: Didn’t we have ourselves a day? A solid Drag contingent celebrated the incredible day by taking in libations at the bleachers while enjoying Austin Sandlot at its finest, The Keets + Cobras, as our anticipation for crawfish mounted.
RJ was holding court. One Georgia Peach got her Saturday afternoon goin… we were all cuttin’ up. It was great. No other way to spend a perfect Govalle Saturday.

***I shot three rolls of 35mm film that I’m excited to post as soon as they’re available.***

Sandlot Baseball Game Logs – 03.2024 – Part I

March 26th, 2024

What is Sandlot?

G1 – 03.03.2024 – East Austin Ramblers vs. Yall’s Texas Tallboys @ Govalle – Noon
G2 – 3.03.2024 – Austin Drag vs. Town Lake Nightcrawlers @ Govalle – 3pm

I’m grateful to be able to spend a considerable amount of time away from work playing very recreational and social baseball. On this day, I got to play a doubleheader.

Some time (perhaps too much time) has passed since these games took place and these thoughts are finally making their way to the page. Though I’m slow to the draw here, I hope to keep the streak alive of writing/covering these games that I participate in.

Game 1
Instagram post for first game.

Tallboys put an early 5-spot on the Ramblers in the bottom of the 1st. Understandably, they collectively took their foot off the gas. The Ramblers, however, put together a few small rallies plating a some runs here and there, but never really running away with a giant offensive explosion.

After 5 innings, the score was 5-7 (or thereabouts) in favor of The Tallboys and the demeanor of the game was as friendly as could be. Gaston came up to bat for the Ramblers with two runners on in the top of the 6th and hit a go-ahead 3-run bomb that shifted the tenor of the game quite a bit.

Obviously, nobody wants to lose, but some recreational ballplayers seem to be more affected by competition than others. Personally, I’m happy if I’m able to make a play or two in the field as well as barrel a ball or two at the plate all while seeing my teammates, friends, and opponents enjoying this incredible and entirely meaningless game. Apologies if that seems sanctimonious, but I believe that’s more or less what this unofficial “league” is about.

That said, after Gaston’s 3-run go-ahead dinger, the feel of the game shifted and many of the “happy to just be playing ball” attitudes shifted to “we gotta fucking win.” And that’s cool… and somewhat expected, but it also turned into chatter about which pitchers are balking, people began putting unnecessary pressure on volunteer umps, and… so on and so on.

No matter. No worries.
To elaborate for clarity, late in the game, there was a bang-bang play at third base. A Tallboy was picked off second as they broke towards third and slid hard into the third. There was contact, there was a tag, the volunteer ump had a less-than-good perspective on the play… and people didn’t seem particularly pleased on either side. Shotgun concessions were lobbied, balk accusations were repeated, a call was made, and the game played on.

You know, baseball resonates with us for so many reasons. One such reason is because it’s a game where, at the college level, small schools can beat big schools, and, even at the major league level, the team with the lowest payroll can steal a game (or even the World Series) from the team with the highest payroll (and presumably most talent).
The phrase “you can’t win them all” arguably applies more appropriately to baseball than any other game. Nobody runs the table (feel free to compare win percentages across sports and leagues).

On this particular day, The Ramblers were able to steal a game they trailed the first six innings of, but that’s baseball. Never try to tell Yogi Berra he was wrong.

Game 2
Instagram post for second game.

This league is definitely one of the most inclusive communities I’ve ever been a part of. That acknowledged, I understand that folks should be able to cut loose whatever way they wanna.
My caveat to this kiddie-gloved preamble is– whenever I’m in a mostly Caucasian (and somewhat dorky) space and someone puts on tunes by Slim Thug (or other similar performers), I nearly instantly feel like I’m inside Weird Al’s “White and Nerdy” music video.

That’s definitely a me problem. Maybe that’s something I’ll get over?
This is coming from a guy who could never understand why “Get Low” was so damned popular during the bulk of his twenties (obligatory link). Anyhow, this league is partially responsible for helping an old man understand that folks should get crunk whatever way they most authentically feel like getting krunk/crunk/qrunk. Only one life to qrunk.

Do we play baseball?
Oh yeah. We do. Not to omit facts, the game’s music also featured a Miles Davis track, some reggae, some metal, and sort of ran a goofball gamut. Us oldsters can go with the flow and try to not make such a damned stink even if James Brown, Lighting Hopkins, John Prine, and the like are my preferred baseball tunes.

The theme for The Drag during this game was the ladies truly coming through big time. Every lady recorded a hit and played very well in the field. Not only that, but the “bottom [of the lineup] fed the top.

This write-up can’t go any further without describing The Town Lake Nightcrawlers’ lefty slugger hitting an opposite-field dinger. I’ve been playing sandlot for awhile now, and that was the first opposite-field no doubter I’ve seen. Pretty darn impressive.

Other than that, The Drag’s pitching was consistent, our defense didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot, and the lineup (other than the #4 hitter) produced all the way up and down.
The Drag got out to an early lead that was never relinquished and I believe it was an overall damn good time.

Also, check out these outstanding photos that Annie McArdle took during these games!

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Austin Photography (@anniemcardlephotography)

Film Log #14 – 2.2024

February 17th, 2024

Went to Austin Film Society a few times recently.

Eyes Wide Shut
Screened 12.29.23

Mostly due to it being nearly impossible to produce original critiques about any Kubrick film, I generally don’t jump at the chance to write about them. That said, after making it a point to see his pictures in theaters, thoughts do come to mind.

This isn’t a revelation, but Kubrick makes BIG pictures. There are no small characters, small lines, small shots, small ideas–  everything is BIG. They are are philosophically big, laced with meanings, and definitely up for interpretation.

Awhile back, I saw Lost Highway (David Lynch, 1997) at AFS and thought it was a little on the disappointing side because it seemed as though an old man (Lynch) who had a hand in tilting pop culture towards something darker in the 80s and early 90s, was now reveling in the fact that the 1997 “mainstream” was overtly reaching towards depravity. It felt, at best, like a victory lap for Lynch, or at worst, a reminder to everyone that Lynch was the bellwether of the dark provocateurs that had captured so much of the late 90s mainstream (Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, etc).

Similar criticisms about Kubrick and EWS don’t ring true to me. This isn’t just an old man making his most sexually explicit film. This is more about making a film that floats around themes of (in)fidelity, (in)security, hierarchical rumors, possible conspiracies / cultish elite groupings (more on that) and shouldn’t be thought of as a desperate yawp from a dirty old man.

Having first seen it in the early 2000s, then once or twice in the two subsequent decades, this was my first time to see it in seven years (or so). Watching it with a 2024 perspective makes one draw some conclusions that might require a tinfoil hat and a penchant for conspiracies.

Important to note–  I’m not prone to connecting dots that aren’t there. But I find it hard to watch EWS and not draw parallels to so many of the things making headlines today (most obviously– powerful elites involved in sexual acts that have grave consequences).

Anyways, perhaps EWS is only a reimagined adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler’s 1926 Freudian novella Traumnovelle (Dream Story in English) as the director claimed? Perhaps Kubrick heard some whispers about powerful people and decided to make a film about it? Hell, there’s even a storyline involving a father selling/pimping his young, very-underage daughter to foreign businessmen. Make of that what you will.

To remove the tinfoil hats and brush the conspiracies and cult behavior aside, we’ll return to the movie. Since Kubrick is regarded as a perfectionist, it’s strange that he allowed his actors to repeat the questions asked of them on four separate occasions. It’s the kind of weak improvisation or even weaker writing to have characters repeat one another like a child caught with their hand in the cookie jar kind of way.
When Tom Cruise is said to be a terrible actor, I have previously attempted to offer roles where, at one time or another, I felt like he did something more than bring his forced gregariousness and transparent charisma to the screen. Roles like he had in Collateral, Jerry Maguire, Magnolia, and EWS previously came to mind, but I’m guessing that Kubrick wanted an actor with this type of specific, aggressively flaccid charm to counterbalance the dark and sinister film’s ecosystem.

In retrospect, this film can hardly be offered up as a defense to the acting talents of Tom Cruise because his performance is quite honestly the film’s low point. That’s saying something considering the film is about a whole mess of terrible things (pedophilia, an HIV+ diagnosis, drug overdoses, rampant destructive orgies, etc) circling around the two main characters (Kidman + Cruise).

It’s not an easy watch. I don’t feel the need to watch it again. The main thing that changed for me after watching this film across three different decades is how it has an entirely new meaning after 2019’s headlines.

Speculation and conjecture to tether the subject matter to current events, sure. But, if you give it another go, I’m guessing you’d see it from a new perspective (or at least a perspective only a limited few had upon its release).

Zone of Interest
Screened 1.25.2024

*If you’d prefer to skip past as disapproving of a review as I can write and move onto a glowing review, here’s your chance. Skip now to Wings of Desire.*

I’m rarely blown away by cinema. My experiences usually ebb and flow from “bad” to “not-so-bad” and “pretty good.”
When a film does hit incredible notes and I’m enjoying each scene, character, cut, musical accompaniment, and I am totally fulfilled by a cinematic experience, I take note and try to examine how exactly that happened.

In 2019, I experienced this with Jonathan Glazer’s Sexy Best (released in 2000). Based on that, I have given Glazer’s subsequent films (Birth, Under the Skin) an enthusiastic watch and have been disappointed each time.

To describe Zone of Interest succinctly–  ZoI is a study on the banality of evil. A depiction of the home life belonging to Rudolf Hoss, the commandant of Auschwitz.

To elaborate, we’ve all seen WWII/Nazi pictures before, but this film’s denouement is the most dissatisfying I’ve ever seen. Perhaps that’s the point?
This film is without a protagonist.
There is not a single character or motivation to root for.

We’re provided depictions of various levels of villainy– from Hoss’s wife trying on a fur coat whose rightful owner is, presumably, a recently murdered/gassed/incinerated Jewish lady to the Hoss’s conducting familial affairs while thousands of innocent people are systematically scorched per day (nearly 10,000 per day) a few hundred feet from where the principle characters conduct their lives and fight to remain in what they refer to as their “dream home”– it’s a despairing cavalcade of evil.

It’s hard to see a film with this subject matter and not unfavorably compare it to something like Schindler’s List, but where SL showcases exceptional care for story, characters, meaning, and payoff– ZoI replaces those with a sterile technique to further beat into the audience just how disinterested Glazer is in crafting narrative. Much like Glazer’s past two films following Sexy Beast, Glazer isn’t interested in character/story, he just wants to flesh out ideas on screen. Which is fine. It’s fine. They just feel more like video exercises than narratives. 

I’m only looking for something to provide me with an explanation of what contemporary art/award-seeking cinema is trying to be. I’ll be writing more about this soon (I saw Poor Things recently), but I find contemporary art pictures have become, pardon the updated vernacular here, the equivalent of doom scrolling for the entirety of a feature-length film.

Are we trying to make our films feel similar to scrolling social media? This cannot be the goal, but it often feels like that’s exactly the film’s goal.

I’m not asking for rose-colored pictures where everything is perfectly peachy and hunky dory. Hell, my favorite films don’t have happy endings, but they’ll at least feature a journey that I mostly support. I’m only asking for the screen to provide me with a reason to vest my interest and have hopeful concerns.

However, when it comes to Rudolf Hoss and ZoI, I enter the film already believing him to be an evil Nazi, and though I’m provided a glimpse of the squabbles he had with his wife and the corporate maneuvering of the Nazi party before many of the top officials met their neck-breaking noosed ends, I’m not at one point drawn to care about this picture.

There is zero dimensionality to anybody on screen.
There isn’t a meaningful conflict (the presumed conflict is “how does this family function when there are rigidly scheduled horrors occurring 50 feet from their home?”).
Unless you are creepily into what Nazi families’ lives were like as they were profiting from and contributing to a heinous genocide, I do not understand how this film could captivate anyone.

Prior to the screening, I thought the motivation behind making this picture would be to put the audience in an uncomfortable position of “this is a family drama with heartfelt moments except… they’re Nazis so any of the ‘Golden Rule’ lessons that parents teach their children is entirely hypocritical because… they’re Nazis so, audience, how about you go ahead and chew on that discomfort for a while?”

Admittedly, neither my prior expectations or the actual film proved to be any good.

My recommendation is to skip this one.
Watch Europa, Europa; Schindler’s List, The Pianist, or any other WWII picture if you’re feeling like a WWII picture.

If you’re looking for a video exercise and dramatization of the banality of evil, perhaps ZoI is the one for you.

Wings of Desire
Screened 2.9.2024

For all the times I discuss the importance of a properly-weighted Three-Act Structure, this film is an exception. It wonderfully plays out in two halves.

The first half shows us the reverence two angels, Damiel and Cassiel, have for the life they’ve observed since time immemorial. Most importantly, what they’re witnessing presently.

Set in Berlin in the mid-1980s, 40-ish years after WWII, Berlin is indeed a sad place. Aside from a Holocaust survivor’s thoughts that the angels listen in on, the film doesn’t directly focus on a nation that’s attempting to turn the page on the atrocities staining their previous generation(s), but there’s an overarching feeling of sadness and isolation to the picture (plenty of scenes include the Berlin Wall).

This film reminded me so much of Robert Altman’s Nashville. I wrote about how that film did a remarkable job of capturing the 1970s Middle American zeitgeist. Though I didn’t personally experience USA’s 1970s or Germany’s 1980s, these two films seem to capture a collective consciousness of these times and places.
That alone is a success. Many artists and journalists aim for that and miss.

The first half reminds us that even when lives are tough, or we feel beatdown, downtrodden, that life is worthwhile. These aches, pains, failures, and emotional let downs are a part of life and that life itself is far better than the alternative. Apparently it’s even better than being an angel whose only function is to observe.

And that brings us to the second half where Damiel decides to trade in his wings and finally get to experience life instead of devoutly manning his lifeless post.

After Wenders perfectly exhibits how difficult human existence can be, he exceptionally flips the narrative to show just how fortunate we are to have these burdensome lives.

I know this sounds hokey, but this dichotomy of “aren’t we lucky to be able to experience the complications and sorrow of humanity?” isn’t an easy story to tell, but Wenders does it without pretension and without being corny.

For as many films as I’ve been watching lately that depict a never-ending stream of two-dimensional hate-worthy characters, it was so refreshing to revisit a film where compassion is felt for nearly every character. It’s been too long since I actually wanted to learn more about a narrative world. At 127 minutes, that’s certainly enough movie, but I still feel like I wanted to spend even more time with these people. Like the angels, I wish to personally be able to wish them well. I’m motivated to have hope for these fictitious characters. For as difficult as it is for me to catch myself actually being inspired by “stories of humanity,” this film is inspiring; it’s an unmitigated success.

There aren’t many films that I can give this recommendation, but– if you’re ever at a very low place, give Wings of Desire a shot.
It’ll provide some perspective and hope.

Admittedly, this review is hokier than the film.

Film Log #13 – Brando.

December 22nd, 2023

I was asked about “top” or “resonant” films. It struck me that I really haven’t written about Brando’s work. Most notably:
On the Waterfront (1954)
Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Last Tango in Paris (1972)
Apocalypse Now (1979)

The friend who made the inquiry, Jo Munto, and I agreed to omit obvious choices like Godfather because they’ve been churned into critical mulch by now, and not that the above films are “deep cuts” by any measure, but I’d say most people under the age of 50 have missed them. Which is to say, with the exception of Godfather, most people under 50 have likely missed Brando (crazy).

I’ve recently revisited all of the above films listed (within the past two years or so). An omission I’m unable to write about are the forever-linked films The Wild One (1953) and Rebel Without a Cause (1955). Brando isn’t in the latter, but it’s hard to speak about one without the other and watching both is on my to-do list.

Back to Brando. There are plenty of texts, videos, essays, video essays, about Brando and “method acting.” Most people interpret it as though an actor becomes so comfortable/intimate with their character assignment that the performance becomes paramount. Performance becomes more important than cameras, script, or anything that’s been predetermined.

That’s a very simplistic version of the technique, but with Brando being one of the innovators, it becomes clear that he values being totally comfortable within his assignment that he eventually blends himself into his biggest roles. I would never say that Brando, Nicholson, Daniel Day-Lewis, or anyone who has been labeled as “method” actors, believe their vision is more important than any writer or director, but more that they believe the project is a collaboration and that they should be allowed the opportunity to positively contribute, even slightly alter.

Take for instance Matt Damon recounting this Nicholson story during The Departed.
This isn’t to say that any performance where an actor feels comfortable enough to take pretty big liberties with the scripted character qualifies that performance or technique as “method,” but it is a touchstone indicator where actors began to feel that these characters belonged to them as much as any writer or director.

I’d like to imagine that an understanding writer/producer/director/casting director/etc believes they select talented people who work collaboratively to make the absolute best work of art (I know that’s a simplistic + optimistic viewpoint). And for the times a fan reads that Brando, DD-L, or whoever may have been a “pain” to work with was only experiencing the pains of collaboration. Admittedly, that could totally be white-washing many of these actors’ on-set behavior (primadona or otherwise).

All of this said, On the Waterfront is exceptional. There is the interesting wrinkle that OtW is a response to 1952’s High Noon where Gary Cooper portrays a sherriff who’s compelled by their own sense of duty to face down a gang that is returning to town for retribution. In short, the film is about standing up for “what’s right,” even in times of crisis or danger. Many felt it was an analogy for standing up to the HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) and not naming names.

Conversely, OtW is about Terry Malloy (Brando) who was more or less set up by his brother to do a terrible thing for a crooked syndicate. When the entirety of the situation is made clear to Malloy, he proceeds to cooperate with authorities and reveal what he knows about a predatory, rigged system.

In production, execution, editing, acting, every aspect– both are all-timers; more than worth your time. It’s another example of how masterfully art can present both sides to what one might think is a zero-sum issue, and come away understanding how both perspectives have truth to them. Screening those in succession might lead someone to believe that most issues aren’t boiled down to something as simplistic as “100% right or 100% wrong,” but, depending on any individual’s value spectrums, just to what extent is something more right or more wrong.

I find it difficult to talk about Brando without bringing up On the Waterfront and it’s nearly impossible to bring up OtW without mentioning High Noon.

I’d honestly post links to specific Brando scenes from OtW if I didn’t think it’d somehow ruin the experience of watching the film in its entirety. If you wanna spoil it for yourself, you can find the scenes where Brando flirts with Eva Marie Saint, gives his “I coulda been a contender” speech to his brother, or when he goes toe-to-toe with mob boss Johnny Friendly (played by Lee J. Cobb); or you could screen the movie and enjoy a film that changed acting forever.

I shouldn’t have to spend much time on Streetcar Named Desire. It’s a thing where you either appreciate Tennessee Williams or you don’t. If you haven’t exposed yourself to anything Tennessee Williams, well… you should. Williams’s fiction does tell a particularly monochromatic story, but that doesn’t mean it’s without truth, complexity, or drama.

And what actor brings truth, complexity, and drama to the screen better than Brando?

Brando makes scripted performances feel very much unscripted. It’s not simply little tricks such as talking over another character or being bombastic– he transforms. Like Miles with his trumpet or Hendrix with his Stratocaster, he plays himself into these characters in ways that most successful actors are incapable of doing.

Onto Brando’s Stanley Kowalski–
You know, many act like the concept of “anti-hero” is somewhat new. Nope. It didn’t begin with Walter White or Don Draper or Tony Soprano or any 90210 cast member or Don Corleone or any representation of Scarface or Kerouac’s Dean Moriarty or any of James Cagney’s characters or Twain’s Huckleberry Finn or any American character for that matter.
I know there are centuries between these artists, but we can look to Homer, Cervantes, and Shakespeare and find many antiheroes.
That said, it’s near impossible to be as simultaneously magnetic and repellent as Brando is as Kowalski.

He’s selfish, brooding, cocksure, stubborn, and doesn’t have time for all the bullshit that his wife’s sister, Blanche (played by Vivien Leigh), injects into his home. As mentioned by his repellent nature, Kowalski handles Blanche’s extended visit despicably, but, pardon the cliche, it’s a car crash we can’t look away from.

SND is perfectly crafted storytelling by Tennessee Williams that’s masterfully executed by Brando and cast. If that doesn’t compel one to watch the movie, I’m not sure what will.

Brando, who had fought to be anti-authority in the 1950s had seemed to lose that battle much to his own personal troubles and succumbed to regarding acting/Hollywood as just a job to pay the bills and he subsequently became a working stiff unable to inspire the public.
So strange for a man who had such a hand in building a counterculture in one generation to be regarded as a lousy, two-bit, over-the-hill companyman by the next.

Luckily, Francis Ford Coppola came calling and offered Brando the Godfather role provided he didn’t thwart production as he unfortunately had done during a few projects in the 1960s. Brando’s Godfather experience, more or less, reignited something in him where he felt motivated to work on an experimental project with Bernardo Bertolucci– Last Tango in Paris.

The film isn’t without bad press, was scandalizing at the time, and has only aged poorly. The main reason people find it distasteful is that both the lead actor and director manipulated the young, impressionable lead actress, Maria Schneider, into participating in simulated acts that weren’t scripted. Most notably, a rape scene.

These aren’t the scenes that I’m thrilled by. What does intrigue me are the scenes where Brando injects his personal childhood experiences into the Paul character, a monologue beside a corpse, and a scene between Brando’s character (Paul) and Paul’s wife’s extramarital boyfriend.

The film is also a lesson in desire and how sometimes passion wanes once advances are not just accepted, but wholly embraced. The immature, but all too common belief that the “chase is more thrilling than the actual prize.” Clearly, it’s a complicated film, but interesting nonetheless.

I understand the film’s criticisms range from outrage to advanced concern, and those criticisms may outweigh some incredible scenes, but those incredible scenes do still exist.

For as sprawling and spiraling as Apocalypse Now‘s narrative is, the film anchors on Brando’s performance as Colonel Kurtz. It’s a long film that winds its way for 90 minutes as Martin Sheen tells us about this mysterious Kurtz. Then Brando shows up and surpasses everything we could’ve presumed.
It’s incredible.
Again, I would link clips to specific scenes, but they’d either spoil the plot or would take the air out of your experience if you haven’t seen it.
YouTube some scenes if you like, but I believe you’d be much better off giving this film 150 minutes of your time.