What An Opportunity

The Good Guys

In Life on May 7, 2015 at 12:09 am

Disclaimer 1: The reader must be willing to entertain the notion that art imitates life. If not, this post may not be your cup of tea. Just FYI

Disclaimer 2: There may be spoilers below for Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and the CW’s Supernatural. Not trying to ruin anything for anyone. Proceed at own risk

 

So I have to say this upfront, I’m a DC guy. For those of you who don’t know (or really care), in comic book vernacular, I like DC Comics. DC Comics has characters like Superman, Batman, Flash, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, etc. I use “etc.” because with each reboot, reincarnation, “death”, and so on, I could name characters for a long, long, time. The other immensely popular comic book enterprise is Marvel Comics. Marvel is home to Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Thor, X-Men, Spiderman, etc. (same rule applies here) You could say DC vs. Marvel is a friendly rivalry. Something akin to Playstation vs. Xbox, Red Sox vs. Yankees, or Bunchers vs. Folders. Your decision doesn’t matter either way but I promise, you will lose the respect of strangers if they find out one way or another.

So I’m a DC guy. I love Superman and the idea that fictional characters can be tangible conduits of certain morals and tenets. I love that in many ways, art imitates life. However, I was beyond excited (you can ask my friends) about Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. I saw the movie the day it came out and I loved it. I loved the heroes back together, the depth and fleshing out of individual characters (including the big baddie), the meta-references throughout, and the very subtle rebooting of the cinematic universe. Still, I couldn’t shake this nagging feeling.

See, the Avengers are ostensibly the good guys. They want to save the world and protect it from threats that may arise throughout the planet and the galaxy. Even if they can’t save the world, in the words of Tony Stark, they will avenge it. When is life ever that simple? When are the lines ever that clear? If art truly imitates life, the answers to the previous questions are the same: an unequivocal “No”.

Tony Stark truly believes that one day, the Avengers will not be necessary. There would be a program that could stop conflicts, and save lives, before the conflicts arise. It is this thought process that leads Stark to create Ultron. In a bit of foreseen irony, Ultron decides the best way to protect Earth is to remove those who enjoy living on it. The Ghosts of Summer Blockbuster Big Bad Past are seen in Ultron’s arrogance and desire for world domination but there is a disheartening twist: Ultron quotes Tony Stark. No, not out of context. No grammar semantics here. Ultron takes Tony Stark’s actual words and behaviors and shapes its identity and pursuit after its creator’s demeanor. Is the real villain of ‘Age of Ultron’, an Avenger?

This is not the first time that good intentions have had disastrous results. None of us are perfect but we try to do good. It only makes sense that we would mess up from time to time. As I said before, art imitates life. For example, I loved the TV show, ‘Scrubs’. It is #3 on my favorite TV shows of all-time (so far). Yet, I am not sure if there is one character that is a true hero. Heck, even the main character J.D. goes out of his way to find a mature, nurturing, and caring hero who he can emulate and has no luck. Instead, he finds his mentor in a narcissistic, alcoholic, and immature rage monster whose combination of self-loathing and arrogance is barely palatable in fiction. (By the by, Dr. Cox is my favorite character on Scrubs. Don’t judge me) Still, Dr. Cox is a phenomenal doctor, a wonderful husband, a loving father, and a surrogate father/mentor/therapist to J.D. throughout the show. Simultaneously, Dr. Cox is the best and the worst person for J.D. to look up to at Sacred Heart Hospital. Putting that another way, Dr. Cox is human.

This all brings up the whole reason I am writing this post. I was watching Supernatural tonight and a character died in the show. For a show like Supernatural, people die all the time. I am pretty sure every opening scene of the show has shown someone dying for some reason that will drive that episode. However, this death was a little more sad because I had grown to enjoy the presence of this character. Just like every season of Supernatural so far, this character was fiercely loyal to the Winchester boys and lost her (sorry) life trying to help them.

She was trying to help the Winchesters because they are good guys. Sam and Dean are the good guys. “Saving people, hunting things, the family business.” Yet, I am sure that they have hurt almost as many people as they have saved in their time. Close friends, family, angels, demons, monsters, etc. have lost their lives protecting Sam and Dean. All of them have lost their lives because Sam and Dean are the good guys. Sam and Dean placed them in harm’s way and they paid the ultimate price because Sam and Dean are the good guys.

The Supernatural episode left me thinking: Who are the good guys anymore? Then again, does it even matter?

The heart of the human condition lies in the foremost knowledge, and abject denial, that we are mortal. With each passing breath, we are drawn towards the inevitable. Therefore, we are continuously striving to reject our fate through feelings, moments, and other devices that capture time even for a second; in order for us to taunt eternity with our disregard for its strength.

Art accomplishes this goal. We empty our vision for existence into various mediums and draw conclusions and morals from stories we created based on our experiences and ideas. Perfectly circular logic at its best. Art cheats the most basic rule of life because we all know the ending.

The disclaimer at the top asked the reader to entertain the notion that art imitates life. However, a crucial detail has been forgotten in the message. See, we created art as an expression of the multitude of nuanced activities that surround the human experience. Further, art challenges the will of mortality. Therefore, art accomplishes what we never can. Art flatters life but truly, life wishes to imitate art. No matter the unclear lines, we all want forever.

 

The boy who knew too much

In Sports on February 6, 2015 at 12:14 am

There’s something about being from Buffalo, New York. There’s something about being obsessed with a football team that has not made the playoffs since 1999. There’s something about knowing chicken wings only come from one…er, two places. There’s something about a bar with a wall of televisions that refers to more than just our area code. I think our city has a passion, that can border on obnoxious, but comes from unconditional love. I think our city is proud of our roots and what we can give to others. I think our city is coming back from an economic downturn and striving to be a draw again. There’s something else I know about being from Buffalo, New York: I’m pretty sure we all hate the New England Patriots.

See, the Buffalo Bills have not made the playoffs since 1999 and that streak has shared a majority of its time with the emergence of a certain 6th-round pick turned first-ballot Hall of Famer. The Bills have only beat the Patriots twice since 2005 including once this past season. On the other hand, the Patriots have won 4 Super Bowls in 14 seasons including one last Sunday. Also in the last 14 years, the Patriots have appeared in the Super Bowl 6 times, completed a regular season undefeated, and made the playoffs every season but one year. I can understand why we don’t like the Patriots, they kick our butt. Every year. But for the life of me, I can’t figure out why we hate the players.

I will not repeat the terms and jokes I have heard about Tom Brady and his sexuality, fashion, and night-time regimens. I’m pretty sure every Patriots player takes food from poor, hungry children in soup kitchens. Should I even mention where Bill Belichick can go?

But why do we hate these players? They are paid to play a sport for a franchise. They are men from a variety of backgrounds and stories. There is something…pure about not like players because they play for a certain franchise. It speaks to fanhood, support for your hometown, and camaraderie in disliking other people. For me, it took a certain amount of naivete to just assume people are bad because I don’t like how their football-related decisions affect my football team. But isn’t it harder to hate players nowadays? I mean, I don’t why you would throw the ball, but is there a cooler story than Malcolm Butler right now?

Malcolm Butler is a nickel corner from the Patriots who made the game-winning play in the Super Bowl this past weekend. He played at a small university and his chances of making the NFL were bleak at best. Heck, on the last pass play before his interception, he was the victim of a catch that would make Newton reconsider the tenets of physics. His rags-to-riches story cuts through the tribal B.S. that can sometimes constitute fandom. He isn’t just some player on those awful Patriots. He is Malcolm Butler. We know too much.

Even the most faithful Patriots fan can’t be too happy about this playoff run. The Patriots have been accused of cheating in the AFC Championship; a game they won handily 38-7. This is not the first time the Patriots have been accused of cheating and the NFL has opened an investigation. Some fans will inevitably bunker down and hold up the Lombardi trophy as a testament to “Us Against The World”. However, I think some fans have to consider how many of their wins can be attributed to cheating. We know too much.

This whole “knowing too much” isn’t just with football. Adam Silver, the commissioner of the NBA, recently did a piece for ESPN the Magazine touching on the NBA’s openness to legalizing sports betting in the entire United States. As a naive fan, it blew my mind that a top-tier professional sports league would actually concede to legalizing sports betting. I put this topic to my GoS brethren and Aaron provided a question to my question that was spectacular: Would you rather have $500,000 in cash of $10 million in crack?

The analogy is on point. The amount of money bet on the NBA is double the annual profit of the NBA. If the NBA could tax betting organizations for official NBA Stats & Information, they could make enough money to buy a country.  Further, regulation of sports betting could make betting safer for consumers with more transparency throughout the process. This sports betting story is not even considering the new TV contract set to come to fruition in the upcoming years that will push NBA profits to unprecedented heights. So much for naivete.

Does the little boy in me know too much? Probably. Have I lost that sense of wonder with sports? I don’t know. But I know I lost my voice last Sunday. See for some reason, as I watched the Patriots win another Super Bowl, I couldn’t stop myself from yelling, WHO THROWS THE BALL?!

 

The times

In Life on February 5, 2015 at 8:04 pm

Could have sworn I would do anything to see you smile again

(Still do I suppose, considering I think you smiled at that)

Wandering through the city with eyes of wonder

Hope you haven’t lost that wonder in your eyes

Thought that finding a path would make me whole

Turns out it’s just a part of what makes us fulfilled

Filling our lives with the dreams of our 9 yr. old selves

And we wonder why we aren’t getting any sleep

 

Somebody somewhere said something about being born as an elderly person and living life backwards (chronologically) so we would have the energy to compensate for mistakes we made and chances we missed earlier in life. Makes sense. Life is funny that way.

 

Never know what people are going through though. Nobody has it figured out. We’re all just…living. Somebody somewhere said something about live-laugh-love. Makes sense. I like love-laugh-repeat.

 

I don’t know much outside of that. love. laugh. repeat. love. laugh. repeat.

 

The times…they are a changin…

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