Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dinner For Schmucks

"I'm the schmuck," I thought
When I realized I'd paid to
Watch this waste of time

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Fighter

First, I gotta get something off my chest:

Those of us who live in West Virginia are, typically, pretty thin-skinned when it comes to our image. Our culture, and the fatalistic and deterministic perspectives so much a part of that culture, cause us to look critically at the lifestyles of others in different parts of the country. When we recognize similarities, we feel better about ourselves. And we feel connected to the world outside the Appalachians.

It was so nice to meet the Ward-Eukland family. I know them; they're family.

And it was nice (again) to see that behavior and beliefs attributed primarily to hillbillies and rubes occur in what's considered more sophisticated parts of the country.

People are just people, ain't we?

That's the message of The Fighter. People are just people. We're all trying to make a living, care for our families, meet our obligations and feel good about ourselves. Sometimes along that path we get stuck: our needs stop being met, we become selfish, we live our lives for other people, and let others manipulate us. We get stuck in the the ruts of a life we didn't envision.

We need a jolt to knock us into a new path, to help us find redemption. That jolt can come from a right cross to the chin, or from watching the bad choices we make affect those we love.

Too bad we have to be so stubborn.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Due Date

I deliberately chose Due Date to watch after a long day at work. I dig Robert Downey, Jr's irritable angst, and find Zack Galifianakis hi-freakin'-larious. The flick started to stream, and I laughed out loud at Galifianakis' strange-looking perm.

"His perm's funny," I snorted to Mrs. Film Geek. She giggled, then said: "Remember when you got that home perm, back in '90?"

I shut the hell up.

It was the only laugh I'd laugh for the next 90 minutes. I watched Due Date thinking of all the other movies I really liked from the road film genre:
Planes, Trains And Automobiles; Midnight Run; Rain Man; Beavis And Butthead Do America.

Due Date
is a poor re-tread of them all.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

David E. Kelley's Wonder Woman

David E. Kelley, who's written and directed some of the most innovative TV of the last 20 years, is developing a Wonder Woman series for NBC.

Of course,
the early comments focus on the most important aspect: star Adrianne Palicki's costume.

I'm hoping she loses the Lasso of Truth, and that there's no invisible plane. And that James Spader isn't cast as Steve Trevor.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The Apple & The Tree

One of my oddest childhood memories involves my family being refused the purchase of an ice cream sundae because we were ordering it on a Sunday.

It's true.

I recall my Dad walking up to the roadside ice cream stand (which wasn't around more than one summer season) ordering hot fudge sundaes, then shaking his head and walking empty handed back toward the car. "They aren't selling sundaes," said my Dad.

Someone in the car asked: "Are they out of ice cream?" To which my Dad replied: "No, she said they don't sell sundaes on Sunday."

I think we settled for milkshakes. Everyone knows you don't go to hell for mixing up a chocolate shake on Sunday. We drank them while sitting in our car in the parking lot.

That part of the experience wasn't unusual. There weren't many drive-through fast-food options available in Nicholas County, WV circa 1976-1983, but my family had a regular routine on those days we found one. Dad and Mom would cobble together an order, drive through, then park the car and eat in the parking lot beside the restaurant.

My family almost never ate inside a restaurant. I think it was due mainly to my Dad's social anxiety, but the vast majority of the burgers, fries, and ice cream cones I ate were consumed in the back seat on our green-colored sedan.

I couldn't help be reminded of that as I ate my Value Meal #4 in the parking lot at Wendy's.

The apple doesn't fall far.

Monday, March 07, 2011

And One

Zela Elementary -- that's The Little Bears to me and you, Russ -- didn't play for basketball championships every year. In fact, I can't recall a time before the 1977 season, when Zela went head-to-head with Fleger Ridge, that my tiny elementary school played for a county title.

A kid named Rich was the flashiest player on our team. Rich was more mature, more confident than any of the players on our team. This made him the go-to guy in the clutch. The overall best player was Susan, the only female team member. Susan's basketball IQ was incredibly high, which meant she usually made everyone around her better with her play.

I was a role player.

Role players don't typically draw a lot of attention. We play hard and contribute to the team, but at the end of the game few remember the player who has good rebounding technique, or the guy who made the pass that lead to the flashy assist.

Fans remember Rich, and they remember Susan.

I don't recall a lot about the championship game. Most of it was a whirlwind, and I was a confused 11 year old trying to look as though I wasn't. By the end of the game I had scored 1 point -- the back-end of two free throws -- and committed one really hard foul. I'm told I had several rebounds, but I don't remember any.

Rebounds just ain't very sexy.

After Zela lost, the players lined up for trophies. Suddenly I heard the announcer say the phrases "All-Tournament" and "Marc" together. In the same sentence. Confused and unsure, I watched what the guy before me did after his name was called, and did that. I collected my trophy, let them put a ribbon around my neck, then jumped back in line with my team-members.

My identity changed in that moment. I was no longer the insecure kid pretending to be an athlete. In that moment I became a basketball player; a leader, a person who appreciated strategy, and someone who valued team work. Even in middle age with a bum knee, being a basketball player is a significant part of who I am. I'm a husband, a father, a professional, a lover of movies, a basketball player . . .

I still have the trophy to prove it!

It's odd how the smallest of moments can play so large in our lives. And this seems especially true for the lives of children. The sum of those small moments ultimately equal who we become as people.
We can't all be stars, and we can't all be flashy. But each of us can become who we want to be, or who we need to be.

If we pay attention when opportunity knocks.