28 May 2010

The Best Sports Movie Ever

Everybody loves an inspirational sports movie. Remember the Titans.  Rudy.  Radio.  The Blind Side.  Glory Road.  We Are Marshall.  You get the point.  They move you to tears in the end, but even if you're a man that's okay because you're crying about sports.  Once you've seen a few, however, you start to notice a pattern.  If you're interested in becoming a director/screenwriter/producer someday, you'd do well to adhere to the award-winning sports movie formula.

1. True story.  Otherwise it's less inspirational and you just look silly if you're crying over it.

2. Situation of adversity that must be overcome.  Desegregation and civil rights in Remember the Titans.  A small town trapped by a dead-end industry (coal mining, factory, etc).  Rudy dreams of impressing his dad by playing for Notre Dame, but he's too small and not smart enough.  Radio is mentally challenged and poor.  Michael Oher is homeless in The Blind Side.  The plane crash in We Are Marshall.

3. Inspirational character overcoming the odds.  We must sympathize with this character, root for him, feel his pain.  Radio, Rudy, Michael Oher, Herman Boone (Denzel in Titans).

4. Tough but kind-hearted coach.  This coach mercilessly whips the team into shape while mentoring them to be young men of integrity.  Denzel in Titans, Ed Harris in Radio.  Sandra Bullock's character fills this role unconventionally in The Blind Side.

5. Working hard/Things are looking up montage.  The team trains and bonds.  They become really good and start winning games.  Cue cheerleaders, roaring crowds, lots of team colors flying around, and games set to music.

6. Unforeseen tragedy/setback.  It seems like there's no chance of triumph now.  Back to the dead-end future, back to the loser's circle.  The car crash in Titans.  The accusations against the Touhys in the Blind Side.  Radio's mother dies.  Rudy is going to graduate and he won't get to dress for the final game.  

7. Personal victory.  The team might win the championship, and they might not.  What matters is the adversity that has been overcome, the fact that they continued despite tragedy, the odds that they defeated.  The characters are forever changed and have changed the opinions of those around them, achieving a victory for humankind.  Cue the tears.

You know I'm right.  All of our favorite sports movies follow this formula, more or less.  But that doesn't mean we can't love them, can't cheer for the underdog or cry at the bittersweet triumph.  After all, it's real life, with better-looking people and dramatic background music.  Go team!

24 May 2010

I can read!

I'm relearning how to read.  After months of cramming hardcore philosophy and historical dissertations during the week and suffering from serious brain drain on the weekends, I'm slowly rediscovering the delight of tasting the words on the page and not checking the page number to see how much farther to the finish.  Last week, I finished The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan, part of his Wheel of Time series.  I read half of it the weekend before this past semester started, read about 5 pages during the semester, and finished it in a night last week.  Now I'm finishing A History of the World in 6 Glasses, an easy read that I've only had time to chip away at since last summer.  If you're at all a fan of drinking beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, or coke, you would enjoy it, although I'm fairly convinced that any good historian with a readable persuasive voice and decent research can "prove" that history was definitively shaped by their pet interest; for example, see Salt: A World History or Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey or one of the drier dissertations I read recently, The Revolution of the Saints: A Study in the Origins of Radical Politics, which argues that the Puritans created liberal politics and that all subsequent revolutions are descended from their radicalism.
Unfortunately, my recent flurry of pleasure reading and all of the reading and writing I've done in school lately have made me realize that I furrow my brow intensely when reading, which inevitably leads to a headache.  When I unfurrow my brow, I somehow have more difficulty focusing on the words.  Since I don't think that the placement of my eyebrows on my face has much to do with my cognitive ability, I'm going to the eye doctor tomorrow.  It may be that my reign as the Eyesight Wonder Kid of the family (everybody else wears glasses) is finally coming to an end.
This is a minor setback, however, and I will be victorious in tackling my stack of summer books.  (I almost re-wrote the previous sentence, placing the "however" at the front, as one of my professors hates it when the "however" is in the middle of the sentence.  I once told him that one of my teachers had taught me to put it in the middle and not the front, and he said "Who was it??  What's his name?  Was it somebody in the English department?  They don't know how to write over there."  I'm having a hard time adjusting to writing by my own preferences.)  If the problem isn't my eyesight, I'm not sure what I'll do to prevent the furrowing.  Maybe duct tape my forehead smooth?  This could prove difficult.  That's okay - I can fix it.  I can also fix dinner, which is what I'm going to go do now.

"I am not a speed reader.  I am a speed understander."
- Isaac Asimov

11 May 2010

T Minus 24 hours and counting!

If I could make time pass by the sheer force of wishing - it would be tomorrow afternoon, yesterday.  I can taste freedom.  I am somewhere around 70% packed and 100% ready to go.  When I was a freshman, people told me that 2nd semester junior year was the hardest.  They were right.  But it's ALMOST OVER!  In the spirit of  impending senior year and graduation, I've been exploring post-grad opportunities.  I'm possessed by a desire to plan my future.  Where will I live?  What will I do?  How will I make money?  I want to know!

Sometimes, it's very hard to let go and let God, as my mom would say.