Friday, October 19, 2007

Gridiron Gang

I knew there was something I liked about Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Even when I saw him a few times as a wrestler, there's just something about him that's charismatic as hell. Last weekend The Wife and I had a date and went to the movies, where we took in "The Game Plan", Johnson's latest offering. It was GREAT.

But tonight I'm home alone (ever notice how I usually blog when I'm home alone?) and I had a chance to take in "Gridiron Gang", which I never caught before now. I wouldn't have caught it now, except that Starz is having a free preview weekend and I'm taking full advantage, since I'm not too cheap to get satellite TV but am too cheap to buy a premium package. I guess my tolerance for throwing money away lies somewhere between those two points.

Anyway, Johnson's character is a sort of hard core version of me in the movie. He's in charge of a bunch of gang bangers that are in a sort of reformatory, and he's trying to teach them how to be, you know, actual people...given the ever-present limited resources and for sure ever-present bad attitudes on the part of the kids he's trying to reach.

Of course, the ending is the typical formulaic football ending with the game in the balance on the last play and the clock down to zero, yadda yadda yadda. I just really liked the way Johnson played the character. He's dealing with a few of his own issues, which are miniature versions of the issues the kids are dealing with. Sounds familiar. He gets frustrated and sometimes pushes the kids farther than they're ready to be pushed. Sounds familiar. He often comes close to giving up or losing his ability to help them. Sounds familiar.

Sometimes even us hopeless cases need a little inspiration. Thanks, Dwayne.

Anyway, in other news, last Friday a man in our church was killed in a car accident. He was the keyboardist for our church's band and one of the founding members. I heard about it late Friday night. I didn't know him well personally, but I knew him to say hello to and we have many mutual friends as well.

I sent a letter to the editor of the local paper, which ended up getting printed as a guest opinion column. Wow. I'd link to it here, but I suspect that would blow my "cover" even more than I've blown it in some of my various posts. For the same reason I'm hesitant to quote any of it, since that invites any yahoo with a search engine to find out my town, and probably more.

But readers here who have never lived in the country or in a small town most likely don't understand what sort of honor this is. I've had letters printed in the Minneapolis Star/Tribune, and once I had a commentary piece printed there. It's a different sort of honor there...there are probably a thousand people who submit commentary-length pieces every day. To get one printed is pretty cool. Somebody who does this stuff for a living decided I had something to say that people should read! Yay me!

This is a different--but no less spectacular--honor. This man was one of the local sons. Everybody knew him and had good things to say about him. The editor of the local paper is that most specialized of creatures. He's the pulse-taker for a small corner of the world. He's looking for a piece to comemmorate this that will speak to people who knew the man and will be a lasting piece that will find its home in scrapbooks and photo albums of those who knew him best. That my words would live on in such places is an honor I'm not sure I deserve, but one I'll gladly accept. That's the sort of thing that drives goons like me to write the things we write, after all.

It also seems to have made me a minor local celebrity-for-a-week. Suddenly it seems that many more people around here know who I am, even if it's just "that guy that wrote the article in the paper". The funeral was quite a spectacle, absolutely filling the high school gym. I showed up about 25 minutes early, and from the time I got there until the service started it seemed I thanked about 50 or 60 people who expressed how they liked it. A couple of people seemed speechless, and could only hug me. That's okay. I work for hugs. Heck, I do this just to get it outside of myself, where it can do less damage to my psyche than if it's bottled up inside for too long and turns rancid, you know?

What else...I've had laryngitis for about 3 weeks or more now, and I finally broke down and went to the doctor. She pronounced my throat to be a reasonable facsimile of "raw hamburger". Apparently it's simple tonsilitis, but "at your age, your body has a tougher time fighting off some infections." AT MY AGE! Is it time to apply for my AARP card yet? Sheesh. Anyway, she prescribed some stuff that has me feeling a bit tired, but I'll take it.

Also..."Celeste" is actually progressing pretty nicely. We're ever-so-slowly gaining her confidence, and last week she let the mask slip a bit and referred to The Wife as "Mom". Heh. Wish I could have been there to see her blush. Remember, we're talking about an ultra-tough super-goth bitch grrrrllll here. Plus, she's developed a delightful habit of sometimes walking up behind me while I'm sitting in my chair watching TV and, without saying a word, just leaning on the top of my head with her arms and watching with me for a few minutes.

Finally, related to the sore throat, I can already feel the medicine working and it was slowly starting to improve anyway. What this means--if past history is any guide--is that there is a short window of time coming up, possibly this weekend yet, when my voice will go through what I think of as the Def Leppard/Bon Jovi stage. For as little as a day and as long as two, my voice will retain that rough edge while my vocal cords are twisted into healing knots and I'll be able to sing the entire contents of Def Leppard's "Pyromania" album and Bon Jovi's "Slippery When Wet" and "New Jersey" albums hitting all the notes except the high ones in "Livin' on a prayer", which nobody but Jon himself can sing properly without ripping their vocal cords a new one.

But all in all, it's all good. I still love my life.

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