Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Just a few observations...

...about the Stanley Cup Finals, my beloved Boston Bruins and Hockey in general.
I was mad at Hockey this year. I was ready to sign the divorce papers and actually watch a basketball game unbidden. The lockout still lingers in the back of my mind as a reason to resent the league, the owners, the players and the sport in general. It is far in the back of my mind now, shoved to the back of the bus by the most exciting Cup Finals I have ever witnessed.

Heroism has been redefined by one man skating his shift on one leg. Look in the dictionary tomorrow and the new picture next to that word will be a Bruin with a broken leg. I saw sacrifice elevated. It has risen from whatever petty and pathetic value we assigned to it yesterday to something so indescribably sublime I can't even grasp it yet. I have seen in just the Cup Finals the athletic equivalent of a man jumping onto a grenade to save his buddy. We attribute war cliches like that to sports so often it has watered them down but in this point, I feel it entirely applicable. Honor was on display that would make any father proud.

It's so easy to say it was just a game. To force any kind of lofty meaning to this would cheapen it on any other day, but not this time. I find myself at odds with my own vocabulary when processing what I have just witnessed. There was no manufactured moment here. There was no instigated drama. There were no paper heroes on that ice.

We saw men.

The entire world got a front row seat to a lesson in Manhood. Respect your craft, honor your companions, commit all you have to your task and never give up. To any young man growing up today, I would be comfortable showing games 1 through 6 in lieu of 'The Talk' because I think Campbell showed sacrifice with one leg better than anyone I have ever known. Shaw showed an adamant refusal to quit when he returned to the game after being knocked unconscious, stitches still leaking his blood onto the ice.
The Honor these men showed after having victory denied them without warning when they shook their opponent's hands and congratulated them AND MEANT IT is a lesson I think every person can benefit from.

I know this may come across as heavy-handed. I don't care. I have been moved by what I have seen. From the victory of Chicago to the defeat of Boston, something transcendent happened on the ice. My boys may have lost the victory, but the have gained immortality.

It will take a lot to top this.

They will probably have to suit up a T-Rex and light the ice on fire for another series to come close to surpassing this one. I throw this one last thing out there to my Beloved Boston Bruins, and this goes out to everyone involved from players to coaches to management, vendors and even the fans at the Gahden who stayed and cheered the cup even though it was not to be theirs.

Thank You.

You have given me something I will forever cherish. Thank you for showing us what it looks like, that un-nameable thing. You have given everyone who struggles for the words they want to use to convey these things, “Do Better” “Try Harder” “Be Great” something that transcends words. You have given them the equivalent of the picture in the dictionary. Something that will explain to any and all who wish to know just exactly what Team looks like.

That's it. Right there on the ice. Be that, and you can call your life well lived.”


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

So You Have A Problem With The Ending of Superman *

*Obviously contains spoiler number one for anyone not yet able to say "I hate the ending of Superman! I want that writer to effing DIE!!!" so if you haven't seen it, read someone else's spoiler laden critique rather than burden me with your nonsense.

So Superman kills Zod.  Snaps his neck like he was opening up a commemorative Man of Steel Mountain Dew bottle.  This angers you because Superman doesn't kill.  He's better than that.

Here's why I like the fact that he killed Zod. 

In the cannon, Supes just always has the high moral ground, but he never earns it. He never made a mistake. 
He was born into the world, raised by surrogate saints Johnathan and Martha Kent to be a wholesome, all-around-good kid and he has always made the right decision ever since holding that car up in the air while Pa Kent changed a tire.  I always had a problem with that portrayal.  It seemed hollow.  Here, by committing this one act just after all that spooky "This is who you are, Kal." drama necessary to explain his alien origins...we get to see him do the deed on his one regret.  
We are privy real-time to his "If I had it to do over again..." moment and NO ONE, I mean NO ONE saw it coming. 

This is as raw as it gets in my opinion.  Here, we have the path laid out for the Hero to become the savior (forget all the Christ referencing...that's another blog and another writer) and we see him bandying about on that path.  He destroys the earth killing machine and saves the day.  Only he's not done.  There's that one bit of unfinished business. Zod is still rambling about smashing and zapping anything that moves.  This bit of business has one solution and one solution only, 

Sadly, Kal/Clark for all his world travels fishing and bussing tables has not dealt with that choice before.  The closest he came was allowing his father to die by innaction to save his secret identity (another point I loved) but that one stung.  He hasn't forgotten that one and you feel it burned into his soul from the moment we see Kevin Costner gesture "No, boy.  Leave me."
(Damn that one hit me hard)
But there we are, BIG problem that refuses to go away and is costing dearly every second it is allowed to remain. 

SNAP.  Problem solved.

I was pissed when I left the movie.  Superman doesn't kill.  I said that a dozen tomes to myself as I limped back down an eerilly deserted Jefferson Blvd at midnight (smashed toe the night prior) His moral compass points maybe not due North but damn sure to "Right" and as far opposite of "Wrong" as can be.

Then I played the chain back for the weekend. 
  • First encounter with death is through innaction.  Innocent Dies
  • Faced with another choice, chooses Action. Innocents saved, Guilty perish.
  • Sees both decisions end in death.  Realizes the illusion of choice.
NOW We're talking. 

The most powerful being on the planet now knows that death is a single breath away from him and nothing he does or doesn't do will ever change that.  He has his moral delimma countered.  He knows that innaction would have doomed innocents, as his innaction doomed his father, but he shoulders the burden "This one time." to change that course.  This time...action = bad guy done and innocents saved.

He'll not make a habit of killing, I can tell from the anguish so brilliantly conveyed by Henry onscreen, but he knows the cost it involves and you better damn well bet that if you put him in that position, he's going to make certain the innocent puppy stays out of harm if it means toasting your ass.

I have come around on this one though I doubt that was the writer's grand design.  As so often happens to me in my own writing sometimes I just fling shot out there and then spend the rest of the time painting myself out of a corner only to realize that I just wrote something so accidentally profound it moves me.  I would like to think the writer here intended to show us "His One Regret" in such a manner as we would NEVER forget it.  I would like to think that but the odds are against it. 
Still, that doesn't diminsh the freaking TINGLE I get thinking about how I would paint myself out of that particular corner.