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SHADOWLANDS, Debra Winger, Anthony Hopkins, 1993, (c) Savoy Pictures

Super Bowl LI Postscript: Joy and Pain, That’s the Deal

Fact. Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback ever. Fact. Super Bowl 51: to rehash it would be to diminish it.  To explain how exceptional Tom Brady and the Pats were at the end (if we are talking human beings, celebrities, biggest stage) would be to diminish them. Hear this out: The arguably greatest QB in history, before Sunday, just orchestrated the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.  That’s not hyperbole. That’s what happened.

Cut to my very-much-in-Atlanta family room with all of our offspring fully present in full Falcon regalia. Third quarter: Falcons up 28-3. What? No really, seriously? We were…

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Denzel Washington plays Troy Maxson and Viola Davis plays Rose Maxson in Fences from Paramount Pictures. Directed by Denzel Washington from a screenplay by August Wilson.

Fathers, Sons, Law, and Grace in August Wilson’s Fences

My mother and father always attempted to instill into me and my brothers an appreciation for culture. Mom was and remains extremely well-read in classic literature, hailing Steinbeck as her favorite; she enjoyed foreign cinema and took me (while in the womb) to an Ingmar Bergman film festival; she could reference renowned plays and decided to middle-name me after Neil Simon; and her record collection lined the living room perimeter containing everything from Funkadelic to Simon & Garfunkel, Temptations, Barbara Streisand, The Police, Rick James, etc…

But I think the most significant (though at the time not fully appreciated) exposure came…

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Super Bowl Preview #1: The Atlanta Falcons Reject “The Disease of Me” by Embracing “Brothership”

Super Bowl Preview #1: The Atlanta Falcons Reject “The Disease of Me” by Embracing “Brothership”

Here is the first of two Super Bowl Previews (one highlighting each team) and why one can be justified in pulling for either team in Super Bowl LI. Legendary NBA executive and coach, Pat Riley wrote a book in 2013 called The Disease of Me, a treatise on how self-centeredness (being curved in on one’s self) can and does sabotage even the best of teams (be it a team in sports, business, family units, etc.). Riley speaks from a place of experience, having had both underachieving and overachieving teams as a coach and GM in the NBA.  Here are Riley’s key…

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The Mother I Was Going To Be

The Mother I Was Going To Be

Parenting is full of “I never thought I’d have to do/say/clean that” moments.

“Don’t touch your brother’s pee.”

“Please don’t put that necklace on the dog.”

“How did these fingerprints get there?”

I was not going to be the mom that made a separate meal for her kids. I cook delicious food! And it’s kid-friendly! They can eat what we eat, or go to bed hungry!

And then I had a kid who would not, could not eat, and woke us up all night long because he was hungry. And so, with torture like that, I surrendered, and my white flag was in the shape of…

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Passengers and the One Thing We Can’t Live Without…

Passengers and the One Thing We Can’t Live Without…

This week I finally caught the movie Passengers.  I know, I know, the critics panned it, audiences largely hated it, but I loved it!  I think the interpretive problem for most viewers was a matter of viewpoint.  If one views Passengers from the standpoint of sci-fi or romance, I agree that it falls short, but that’s not the genius of the film, which is its social commentary.  The underlying theme of the film is that the one thing humankind cannot survive without, beyond the obvious necessities of food, water, or medicine, is our deep-seated, vital need for relationship, for companionship, for interaction with…

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Trying to Curb Your Own Series of Unfortunate Events

Trying to Curb Your Own Series of Unfortunate Events

I’m on the tail end of a nasty cold that has as one of its side effects existential nihilism. To add insult to injury, this particular bug coincided with an anniversary date of the loss of a parent. Reflecting over the 15 years since that event, a lot more bad stuff has happened. In other words, I’m getting ready to channel Richard Lewis, Curb Your Enthusiasm-style:

Richard Lewis: First of all, I’m getting old, I have that irregular heart thing and this is not a good thing, I’m a recovering alcoholic, this is all very bad for me.
Larry David: What, we’re…

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My Best New Years Eve(r)

My Best New Years Eve(r)

In downtown Milwaukee, there’s a Starbucks attached to an ice rink where every winter, you can drive past and see families, singles, couples, and kids of all ages gliding in graceful rotation over an artificial frozen pond. The sight evokes the kind of Americana sentimentality one might feel upon seeing a Norman Rockwell painting or a 1980’s Speilberg film. It just looks like the thing to do – the thing you ‘ought’ (read Law) to do in the winter, in the Midwest, with your wife and kids…especially during the holidays. It seems so inviting to sit with a cup of hot coco or…

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Rogue One: Moral Licensing and a Father’s Love

Rogue One: Moral Licensing and a Father’s Love

Bust out your bagel-hair earmuffs and blast the John Williams! The latest installment of the Star Wars Universe, Rogue One, blasted its way into theaters this weekend. On the podcast last year, I noted my disappointment with Ep. VII, particularly derivative plot and narrative callbacks. Rogue One was the droid I was looking for. A standalone entry to the Star Wars Universe, the movie tells the story of how Princess Leia got those super-important Death Star plans back in 1977. It needed about three more minutes of character development, and a few of the CGI characters were a bit off, but…

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Whatever You Do, Don’t… Empathize?

Whatever You Do, Don’t… Empathize?

I guess it’s unavoidable: once something becomes a buzzword it’s doomed. Perhaps that’s the whole point of calling something a “buzzword”. Like a celebrity with a rabid following, the quality or concept being described reaches a level of public esteem where there is more to be gained from tearing it down than embracing further. More attention, revenue, fame, credibility, etc.

Truth or falsity may not be completely beside the point, but it matters only so much when a bunch of pundits are roaming the interwebs hunting a sacred cow to mount on their wall. As if the first among us to…

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The Sad Optimism of La La Land

The Sad Optimism of La La Land

In the end of Damien Chazelle’s La La Land, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone get what they’ve always wanted. Once it’s theirs, though, they realize it’s not what they were expecting. Stone’s imagination steers us through the final scene, a montage of what could have been. It’s funny and heartbreaking, in turns. Her quirky, unsuccessful play premiers to a sold out auditorium, and Gosling’s depressing gig playing mood music at a lousy restaurant wins impossible acclaim. It’s not what actually happened, and it’s not the way things ever happen.

Happy endings are the stuff of fairytales. And though it feels like…

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On Christmas Cards and Reconciliation

On Christmas Cards and Reconciliation

I love holiday cards. I love giving them, I love receiving them, I love holiday stamps, and I don’t even care if you write Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or a Festive Festivus, I’m happy to get a card in the mail from you. I hang them up in our dining room, commenting on how children have grown, or so-and-so has moved to another state. I love Christmas letters, even though I don’t write them very often. I know not everyone feels the same. But I love cheap drugstore cards and heavy, fine paper. I am the stationery industry’s dream….

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The Triumph of Hope Over Self-Knowledge

A quick paragraph from Alain de Botton’s marvelous first book, On Love (1993):

41m6kn3sf-l-_sx326_bo1204203200_What is so frightening is the extent to which we may idealize others when we have such trouble tolerating ourselves–because we have such trouble… I must have realized that Chloe was only human, with all the implications carried by the word, but could I not be forgiven for my desire to suspend such a thought? Every fall into love involves the triumph of hope over self-knowledge. We fall in love hoping we won’t find in another what we know is in ourselves, all the cowardice, weakness, laziness, dishonesty, compromise, and stupidity. We throw a cordon of love around the chosen one and decide that everything within it will somehow be free of our faults. We locate inside another a perfection that eludes us within ourselves, and through our union with the beloved hope to maintain (against the evidence of all self-knowledge) a precarious faith in our species.