Sunday, November 29, 2020
Sunday, September 13, 2020
Dominic Thiem of Austria wins the 2020 US OPEN singles men's title becoming the first in 71 years to come-from-behind to Win. Also the first to do so in the Open Era. He beat Germany's Alexander Zverev 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(6) to win his first Grand Slam Singles title.
Wine of the Week: Juan Gil Monastrell Honoro Vera Organic Red Wine 2018-$10
By Dwight Casimere
What wine goes best with BBQ, Pizza or a good, juicy hamburger (made with organic grass feed beef, of course). The answer is simple- Juan Gil Monastrell Honoro Vera Organic Red Wine 2018. At just $10 a bottle, it is a surprisingly rich and satisfying wine.
Juan Gil is one of the premiere Spanish producers, and this beauty, made from indigenous Monastrell grapes, otherwise known as Mourvedre, is from the southern region of Jumilla, Spain, where the grape has been grown for centuries.
Grown in the mountains high above the Mediterranean Sea, in sandy, stony limestone soils, the grapes must struggle to find moisture. They receive very little rainfall, in spite of their proximity to marine influence.
Harvested by hand, the grapes are then vinified in stainless steel tanks for two weeks at very low temperature. Then Honoro Vera Organic 2018 is kept refrigerated until bottling. This process gives the wine a very fresh, fruity taste that makes it a great companion with hearty dishes.
This young wine is unoaked. That means that only the vibrant fresh fruit flavors of the Monastrell grape shine through. The Gil family has another winery, Bodega Ateca, which produces some really pleasant wines in the DO Calatayud bearing the same name, Honoro Vera. For more on Juan Gil wines visit bodegasjuangil.com/en/.
Thursday, September 10, 2020
2020 US OPEN SHOCKER PITS NAOMI OSAKA AGAINST VICTORIA AZARENKA SATURDAY, 3PM CT ON ESPN, USOPEN.ORG
Shocker throws Serena out as Osaka cruises into 2020 US OPEN finals
By Dwight Casimere
An ankle-impaired Serena Williams lost out on a possible rematch with Naomi Osaka in the 2020 US OPEN final. Victoria Azarenka bludgeoned the tiring superstar 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 to face Osaka in the women’s singles final Saturday at 3pm CT. Catch the match live on ESPN, ESPN.com or on the official site at usopen.org. Just click on ‘Watch Live’ in the upper right hand corner of the site to catch all the action.
Williams used her signature power serve and mighty cross-court backhand to surge past Azarenka in the first game. The tide began to turn in the second set, with Azerenaka beginning to write her own story with some significant shots deep into enemy territory. The denouement came midway in the second set, when Serena injured her Achilles tendon (how symbolic!), requiring a three-minute medical break for some significant mummy’s tomb wrapping. It proved to be prophetic. In spite of some brief flashes of the aces that powered her into the semis and a few confounding shots, Azarenka managed to pull off a win that was dazzling to behold.
“She won Cincinnati, so that’s good. She’s just the kind of person that always lifts herself to an unseen level. She’s someone you always want to root for, unless you’re playing against her, of course.” The two had paired off at least a dozen times over the years, with Azarenka winning their previous meeting.
Naomi Osaka previously knocked out a plucky Jennifer Brady in the afternoon tea set. She gave a Master Class to the rising American star in a match that showed that Osaka has the staying power to be the next reigning Queen of Tennis. Seeming to shed her shyness, she told a reporter in the post-match news conference that “I don’t live in the past,” when asked if she was losing any sleep over a possible rematch with Serena in the US Open final. Fortune had other things in mind and Osaka will meet Azarenka at 3pm CT Saturday at Flushing Meadows. Ironically, Osaka would have faced Azarenka in the combined Western and Southern that she declined to play in due to her protest over Black Lives Matter, so it will be an interesting match to watch. Catch all the action on ESPN cable or online or at usopen.org.
Saturday, September 5, 2020
MOVIE REVIEW: #UNFIT: The Psychology of Donald Trump-Video on Demand and in Virtual Theaters Everywhere
Movie Review: #UNFIT: The Psychology of Donald Trump ON DEMAND EVERYWHERE NOW
By Dwight Casimere
“Is Donald Trump fit to serve as President and Commander In Chief? I can answer that with one word—No!” So says psychiatrist and former Georgetown University professor Justin Frank at the outset of director Dan Partland’s startling documentary #UNFIT: The Psychology of Donald Trump, now streaming on all major platforms.
“Trump is a sociopath, a sadist, a con artist, a racist, a misogynist, a sexist in general, and I think it is a problem,” Frank expounds, and that’s just within the first 10 minutes of the film.
#UNFIT begins with Day One of the Trump presidency when then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer gives an impromptu news conference in which he inflates the size of the Inauguration Day crowd. Citing “false reporting” by the media, Spicer declares, “This was the largest audience to witness an Inauguration, PERIOD!” When pressed by NBC’s Meet The Press host Chuck Todd on the matter, the President’s personal advisor, Kellyanne Conway profers, “Sean Spicer, our press secretary, offered ‘alternative facts,’” to which Todd, retorted; “’Alternative Facts’ are not Facts. They’re Falsehoods!”
Her husband, George Conway, is an attorney and co-founder of the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump group that has been running negative TV ads during the current presidential campaign. He also was one of the attorneys who represented Paula Jones in her lawsuit against U.S. president Bill Clinton. Conway says he first started suspecting that something was wrong with the President’s state of mind when he spotted an April, 2017 article by Alex Morris in Rolling Stone magazine entitled “Trump’s Mental Health: Is Pathological Narcissism the Key to Trump’s Behavior?”
Conway says a light bulb went off in his head. “That’s it. He’s a malignant narcissist.”
In an emotional moment later in the film, Conway is nearly in tears. In discussing whether or not Donald Trump is a racist, as many have charged, he reveals that he is half Filipino. “My mother came to the United States from the Philippines in the late 1950s. So I’m half Filipino, the other half of me is part Irish, part Scottish, a classic American ’mutt.’ I’ve always assumed that people aren’t racist but (after Trump’s ‘Good People on Both Sides’ comment following the Tiki Torch parade in Charlottesville), I guess some people are.”
#UNFIT continues along in that vein, with corroboration from the aforementioned Dr. Frank, former professor at Georgetown University and author of the book “Trump on the Couch,” John Gartner, psychologist and professor at Johns Hopkins University and author of the book “Duty to Warn,” Lance Dodes, Psychiatrist and author of “Breaking Addiction,” Malcolm Nance, author of “The Plot to Betray America,” Anthony Scarmamucci, former White House Communications Director and author, “Trump: The Blue Collar President, and Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Historian and Author, “Strongmen,” among others.
Most notable is Tony Schwartz, author, with Trump, of “The Art of the Deal” which catapulted Trump into the national spotlight and an eventual groundbreaking Reality TV show, The Apprentice, which engraved his persona into the national psyche with his signature phrase ‘You’re Fired!”
Schwartz faces the camera and says emphatically to MSNBCs disgraced ‘Hardball’ host Chris Matthews, “One of the problems here is that Donald Trump doesn’t have empathy. He does not feel emotions like care and…’He’s a sociopath?” Matthews interjects in his classic, annoying fashion. “Yes, there is no question that he is a sociopath. Which means that he has neither a conscience nor a heart.”
From the moment Donald Trump descends the elevator at his eponymous Trump Tower, announcing his run for the presidency, to the recent day in July when the United States records its 100,000th death due to the Corona Virus, #UNFIT presents a searing portrait of a mental and political crisis unfolding in real time. The film asserts that Donald Trump represents a clear and present danger.
#UNFIT also explores in depth the relationship between Donald Trump and his father, Fred Trump, the legendary real estate developer who is largely responsible for reshaping the real estate landscape of Queens and The Bronx. Known for his ruthlessness and racial bias, he was sued by the federal government for racial discrimination. Trump proudly admits that he learned everything that he knows, literally, at his father’s knee.
The apple did not fall far from the tree. In a 1996 interview with the BBC show Hard Talk, a young Donald Trump tells an interviewer, “I believe in an eye for an eye. If someone goes out of their way to hurt you, I think that, if you have the opportunity, you should go out of your way to do a number on them.” The look in his eyes as he makes that admission is chilling.
#UNFIT: The Psychology of Donald Trump is the new documentary now playing on all On Demand platforms that slices and dices the precarious mental state of the current sitting president. You must watch this film before you vote.
Multi-Emmy winning director Dan Partland (A and E’s Intervention, CNN’s The Sixties, and American Race and Charles Barkley for TNT) gives a jaw-dropping analysis of the dangerous behavior of the self-proclaimed ‘stable genius.’ Further drawing on analogies and gripping file film charting the rise of Benito Mussolini in Italy in the 1920s, and Adolf Hitler in the 1930s, the film paints a grim portrait.
In an article entitled “Tsunami of Untruths,” The Washington Post estimates that the president has hit a milestone by making more than 20,000 false or misleading claims while in office.
“Pursuing Truth is to the mind like food is to the body,” Dr. Frank declares at the conclusion of the film. “Without pursuing Truth, the psyche starves. And Trump’s psyche has been starving for a long time.”
#UNFIT is On Demand everywhere. Visit unfitfilm.com for more information.
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Entertainment” “Morgana”, a female Icarus soars to erotic sun
By Dwight Casimere
Morgana is a quixotic but riveting documentary focused on the inexplicable rise of an overweight, abused housewife on the outer fringes of 50, to stardom in the world of erotic films. From a tiny burg on the outskirts of Victoria, Australia, Morgana resurrects from the ashes of a broken marriage and suicidal depression to reinvent herself as an influential independent filmmaker.
A first-time feature by directors and writers Isabel Peppard and Josie Hess, Morgana dazzles in its revelatory bliss, even as it pushes the limits of common wisdom and propriety. The film, which premiered at the 2019 Melbourne Film Festival, has won awards at festivals from Sydney to San Francisco.
Morgana Muses (yes, that is her real name) spent 20 years in a loveless, sexless marriage. Divorcing after years of misery, she made the desperate decision to hire a male escort to have one last fling before committing suicide. Rather than reinforcing her sense of hopelessness, the encounter instead led her to believe that there was something better in store. She felt liberated, and began exploring a part of herself that had been buried beneath layers of self-loathing and emotional repression.
After hearing about a competition for first time erotic film makers, Morgana decided to turn her male escort into the co-star of her first film, a self portrait entitled Duty Bound, which ‘SURPRISE!” captured the Petra Joy Award for first time film makers in 2012. Since then, her films have screened all over the world and captured awards in leading erotic festivals, such as Cinekink New York, the Berlin Porn Film Festival in 2015 and three awards at the 2017 Toronto Porn Film Festival.
Inspired by her late father’s wanderlust (“My father had a choice; move to Argentina or Australia. He flipped a coin and went to Australia.”) So, she struck out for Berlin, the historic epicenter of free sexual expression. “Why go to therapy,” she mused (pardon the pun), when I can go to Berlin and be weird.”
The move paid off with dividends. Using money from her divorce settlement, Morgana began producing and starring in her own films, working with award-winning filmmaker Josie Hess. When Morgana got the idea to do a wildly imaginative film, documenting her 50th birthday, Josie enlisted the aid of fellow punk rock and erotic filmmaker Isabel Peppard. The rest, as they say, is erotic film history.
Morgana’s vivid concept of having herself suspended naked in an elaborate bondage installation as a birthday gift to herself blossomed into a full-scale feature-length bio doc, tracing her miserable roots in rural Victoria to the BDSM clubs of Berlin and beyond. What followed were a flurry of titles from the newly spawned team; its My Birthday and I’ll Fly If I Want To-2014, I Am Whole 2015, Having My Cake 2015, Breathtaking 2016, Labia of Love 2017.
In Morgana, the Cinematography by Hess and Peppard is arresting. A series of Miniature set pieces designed and built by Peppard and filmed by Gerald Thompson are a stroke of genius. The punk-influenced score by Jordan Gilmour accentuates the high wire daring of Morgana’s imaginings.
Morgana found herself the darling of the erotic film world. Instead of fueling elation, it plunged her deeper into depression. “The last 3 years have been a whirlwind. I had come full circle. So many highs, but I knew it was just a matter of time before I would fall. (Bi-polar and depressed) I felt that sometimes it’s better to feel worthless, then you don’t have so far to fall.”
Morgana faces her demons head on and wrestles them, literally, to the ground with her artful films. There are dazzling images that strokes of pure cinematic genius throughout the film. Her images probe deep beneath layers of emotional suppression and erupt a subterranean volcano of sensuality.
Morgana is an empowering film that shatters all preconceptions of what erotic films are all about. More than anything, Morgana is a film about empowerment and the willingness to risk everything to rise to meet the horizon of your wildest dreams. Morgana premiered at the Fantasia Film Festival 2020 and will soon be available VOD. It will screen digitally at the festival through Sept. 2. For further details, visit morganadocumentary.com.
Wednesday, August 19, 2020
ENTERTAINMENT: US OPEN SWINGS ON Aug. 31 DESPITE TOP PLAYER DROPOUTS
Nadal, Halep skip on corona fears, Serena eyes 24th Grand Slam title
By Dwight Casimere
Serena Williams has been undertaking a rigorous training regimen
The US Open is set to begin August 31 at the Billy Jean King Tennis Center in New York, in spite of the withdrawal of some of the top players in the game.
USTA CEO and Executive Director Mike Dowse told a national Media Conference Call on Health and Safety Protocols that many of the competitors have already started arriving at the tournament’s bio-secure compound at the Marriott on Long Island.
This will be the first non-spectator US Open ever, with the stands devoid of fans and the players on lockdown due to rigorous multi-tiered health and safety protocols for them and their entourage. The same will apply to the phalanx of service personnel, drivers, caterers and the army corps of support staff that makes such a massive undertaking possible.
A weakened field of top tier female players could mean that Serena William’s chance of gaining that elusive 24th Grand Slam Singles Title has just been ratcheted up a notch. Her flight to Grand Slam-Heaven has just gotten a First Class ticket with the withdrawals of World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty of Australia and No. 2 Simona Halep of Romania. Irina Khromacheva of Russia replaces Halep in the main draw.
16-year-old tennis sensation Coco Gauff is signed up to compete. She has her eye keenly on upsetting the 38-year-old Serena’s chances.
Naomi Osaka, No. 3, who defeated Serena in a tear-and-tantrum drama for the 2018 US Open title has announced through her management team that she will compete in this year’s tournament. Her coach has already telegraphed a bid for sympathy with the ploy that her “expectation would be low.” That remains to be seen.
There’s plenty of star-power to go around in spite of the many withdrawals. Besides Serena, No.1 seeded Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, No. 2 Sofia Kenin, are joined by Petra Kvitova and the powerful Spaniard Garbine Muguruza.
On the men’s side, Rafael Nadal will not return to defend his US Open title for what would have been a possible fifth win for fear of his safety because he did not feel that the pandemic is under control. Aussie Nick Kyrgios says he won’t show up for the same reason, to the disappointment of no one. Stan Wawrinka, the 2016 US Open Champion, is also out as is somersault sensation Gael Monfils of France.
There is some good news. Novak Djokovic, the World No. 1, and the hardest working man in tennis and three-time US Open champion, leads the entry list that includes seven of the world’s Top Ten men. The list is an impressive one; No. 3 Dominic Thiem was expressing second thoughts, but so far remains in. No. 5 Danill Medvedev, who dropped to Nadal in an exhaustive 2019 US Open final, is back seeking a better outcome. No. 4 Roger Federer had previously withdrawn due to aright knee injury, that just leaves the speedway wide open for the rest of the men’s field, which includes No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas, No. 7 Alexander Zverev, No. 8 Matteo Berrettini, No. 10 David Goffin and 2014 US Open champion, No. 37 Marin Cilic.
The good new is that with the withdrawals of some of tennis’ top cash and crowd draws dropping out, a host of hopefuls have moved into the Main Draw.
There’s a sizeable purse for the winners, in spite of the drain on revenues due to no ticket sales and reduced sponsorship opportunities. Nearly 95% of the cash prize money is guaranteed, with the total prize money pool at $53.4 million, down a mere 6.7% from last year. The men’s and women’s singles champions will each receive $3 million to fill the silver chalice replica they’ll take home, down 22% from last year. First-round prize money gets a 5% boost from $58 grand for 2019 to $61,000. Second and third round money remains unchanged. In addition to holding reasonably steady on the prize money, all of the players stand to get a boost from a total of $7.6 million the USTA has set aside for monetary assistance for players who have had their earnings reduced this year by the nearly five month suspension of the tour.
The 13 Americans who received direct entry into this year’s tournament are: No. 21 John Isner, of Greensboro, N.C.; No. 24 Taylor Fritz, of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.; No. 39 Reilly Opelka, of Delray Beach, Fla.; No. 45 Sam Querrey, of Las Vegas; No. 55 Tennys Sandgren, of Gallatin, Tenn.; No. 57 Tommy Paul, of Delray Beach; No. 63 Steve Johnson, of Redondo Beach, Calif.; No. 81 Frances Tiafoe, of Hyattsville, Md.; No. 83 Mackenzie McDonald, of Orlando, Fla.; No. 102 Marcos Giron, of Thousand Oaks, Calif.; No. 111 Denis Kudla, of Arlington, Va.; No. 119 Jack Sock, of Kansas City, Mo.; and No. 126 Bradley Klahn, of Los Angeles.
There’s plenty of opportunity to watch the 2020 US Open. ESPN is presenting first-to-last-ball coverage of the tournament for its 12th consecutive year with nearly 140 hours on TV via ESPN and ESPN2. Tennis fans will also have the opportunity for a digital grounds pass with more than 1,000 hours of coverage from all courts streaming live across ESPN3, ESPN+ and the ESPN app. Tennis Channel will also deliver daily US Open preview shows and extensive match encore programming. The 2020 US Open is from August 31 to September 13 live from Flushing Meadows, New York. Visit usopen.org for complete information.