This is a new one, but hey, give the Canaries credit. They’re not afraid to try new ideas to get people excited about their ballclub.
They’ve already changed the name, now the Birds are inviting fans to the Birdcage for an Opening Day…breakfast?
The Canaries are offering fans free breakfast from 7-9 a.m. Friday at the Birdcage. Players and coaches will be there, and the first 50 fans receive a free ‘The Birds are Back’ T-shirt. Fans will also have a chance to step in the batters box and take some hacks on the field, and can register to win a luxury suite for a game this weekend.
The Birds open the season tonight in Sioux City, then finish the series with Friday’s home opener at 7 p.m.. There’ll be postgame fireworks. The three-game series winds down Sunday afternoon, and it’s worth noting that they’ve finally moved Sunday start times up an hour to 1 p.m.
Today is media day for the Sioux Falls
Canaries Fighting Pheasants Canaries. I’ll be there gathering everything I need for my usual season preview, stuff, which will include a column with me complaining about the second name change. At around 1 p.m. Stu and I will host a special Sports Web Live with Steve Shirley and Ben Moore our guests.
That means no live chat this week. The season opener is Thursday at Sioux City, the home opener is Friday night. There is a chance of rain, but the temp is supposed to be in the 70s. Considering we’ve had a few home openers over the years in the 40s, I’ll take it.
I was in desperate need of a day off Sunday, so you’re not getting the typical weekly recap from me. I took a day to enjoy myself with the person who’s most important to me.
But instead of reading my drivel, read this story about my good friend Scott Nelsen. Scott spent several years as the SID at Minnesota State in Mankato, and we became fast friends because, well, he’s about the nicest guy you could ever hope to meet, besides being a devoted champion of MSU athletics.
He was also a big fat guy when I met him, but now he’s not.
Scotty has dropped well over 100 pounds and he isn’t done. The Mankato Free Press caught up with Scott to tell his inspiring story this Sunday, and it’s a worthwhile read.
Congrats, my friend.
After a year away, I’m back playing amateur baseball again this year, for the 15-time state champions of the state, the Renner Monarchs.
While I’m sure I’ll spend most of my time coaching first base, warming up the pitcher between innings and hoping for our hitters to build a big enough lead that I can be trusted to pitch an inning or two of mopup duty, I’m still happy I’ll get to put a uniform on again. I missed it last year, especially during the state tournament, where Brandon Valley (now the Sioux Falls Brewers) defeated the Monarchs for the state title. It was weird covering a game in which I was friends with most of the guys on both teams.
A couple weeks ago, I got a text message from Brian McGuire, a longtime friend dating back to high school and the Monarchs shortstop for the last decade or so. Apparently B-Mac (baseball nicknames are so badass, I know) had been put in charge of ordering the uniforms, and he wanted to know what number I wanted.
This wasn’t something I’d given much thought to, but now Brian had kind of put me on the spot. I’ve never been a guy who obsesses over his jersey number, but it’s not like I don’t care, either. Two numbers I’ve always been vehemently opposed to are 5 and 6. I don’t know why, but both are just completely lacking in personality to me. There aren’t a lot of superstars that wore the number that spring to mind (when I think of 5 I think of, um, I suppose Joe Dimaggio, who I’ve always disliked immensely, and when I think of 6 I think of Tony Oliva - meh), and both numbers just have a shape to them that doesn’t look cool on the back of a jersey.
But other than those two numbers? Whatever.
I can’t recall every number I’ve ever worn in my sports playing days, but I know at one time or another in either baseball, football or basketball I’ve worn 1,4,8,10,11,12,13,16,19,24,25, 34 (in my one-day stint with the Canaries — I tried to sneak out with the jersey, but they were way ahead of me) and 50. I chose 50 for 7th grade basketball and I felt totally stupid the second I took the court wearing it. I was 4-foot-9 and terrible but apparently I thought I was David Robinson.
Through all of my youth I never really had a number that I felt attached to. My senior year for Post 15 East I was No. 1. I didn’t like it, but whatever. In football I wore 19 as a freshman and 16 as a sophomore. I had hoped to stick with 16 (Joe Montana), but when I got to varsity they didn’t have 16. I asked for 20, because I thought it would be cool to be a quarterback that wore No. 20 (kinda like Doug Flutie wearing 22 for Boston College), but no-fun coach Kim Nelson refused. So I took 13 and wore it for my two years on varsity.
That was the first time in my life I’d ever worn the same number for consecutive seasons, so that was enough for me to decide 13 would be my number. When I started playing amateur ball I wore 13 pretty much every year, all the way up through the last season I played, in 2011 with the Renner Roadrunners.
Now, for as long as I’d played amateur ball against the Monarchs, No. 13 had belonged to unintimidating soft-tosser Derek Ohme, one of the most decorated pitchers in amateur baseball history and also an area football referee who doesn’t know how to blow his whistle.
Ohme has kind of been in and out of retirement the last few years, but I didn’t ask if the number was available. Out of respect, I wouldn’t want to wear it even if it was.
McGuire had asked for a few numbers. I gave him 33, 10 and 20.
‘All three of those are taken,’ he said.
Crap. OK, maybe this year is the year to do the Kirby Puckett tribute (even though I’m totally unworthy).
‘How ‘bout 34’
‘How many (expletive) guys are on this team’ I texted back incredulously.
McGuire suggested 69, and while the Jared Allen tribute was tempting, I didn’t want to be ‘that guy’.
So now I actually took some time to think about it.
I tried to think of some of the players I’d watched in recent years that I really liked and respected, who were the kinds of players I tried to mold myself after.
‘How about 22’ I asked.
‘22 it is’.
22. In tribute to former Twins righty Brad Radke. Always one of my favorites. Radke had been a pitcher I tried to mold myself after in high school. Like me, he didn’t throw really hard or possess some freaky, unhittable breaking pitch. Like me, he was a control specialist and like me, his best pitch was a changeup. Like me, he gave up a lot of home runs. (Click that link, seriously)
But he overcame those shortcomings to have an outstanding career. I also loved the way he approached the game. He was maybe the most unemotional pitcher I’ve ever seen. Complete game shutout or seven earned in two and a third, he had the same emotionless expression at all times.
I got to meet him at Twins Fest in 2002, when I snuck behind a rope while he waited to do a radio interview. I asked him a couple questions about pitching and fishing (because I knew he was a big fishing enthusiast), and asked him to show me how he threw his ‘sinker’ on a baseball I’d brought with to potentially get autographs. He took the ball and patiently told me that his sinker was really just his two-seam fastball, and showed me how he held it and slightly rotated his wrist just as the ball left his hand. I was amazed that he was so nonchalantly nice to me.
Four years later I was in the Twins locker room after Game 2 of the ALDS, when the Twins had lost to fall behind in the series 0-2. Radke had been pitching through a fairly serious shoulder injury down the stretch (there was a crack in his arm socket), and he was going to attempt to pitch through it in Game 3. It would end up being his final start in the big leagues, and most of us knew it that night.
I remember, while me and most of the reporters in the clubhouse surrounded Game 2 starter Boof Bonser to get reaction from the young rookie (who had actually pitched quite well in his playoff debut), some dude who appeared to be a small-town radio guy (very) nervously approached Radke for an interview, and proceeded to ask the dumbest questions I’ve ever heard a major league player subjected to (‘So what’s the deal with your shoulder, anyway?). I could tell Radke was like, ‘Oh, my God this guy is a moron’, but he patiently stood there while getting dressed and gave this guy an interview.
Three days later, his career was over, and I was sad.
But this summer, I’ll be wearing 22 for him. I’m sure he’d be thrilled to find out.
I covered the Augie and USF spring football games over the last two weekends. USF’s defense handled its offense pretty good, while Augie didn’t even really play a game, just holding a public practice session.
With USF having graduated 25 seniors and Augustana transitioning to a new coaching staff, it’s obviously a new era for both teams. That meant there was plenty to be curious about heading into the spring games, and plenty to try to keep tabs on.
Neither coaching staff has been very helpful in helping to identify potential starters (which is understandable), so this is my attempt to give you a rough idea of who appears — and I stress the word appears — to be in the No. 1 slot on the depth chart on offense and defense for both teams.
I basically just tried to eyeball it — so in no way should this be considered official or anything. I can’t guarantee its accuracy.
But hopefully it at least gives football-hungry fans something to chew on.
QB - Justin Heinrich (Jr.)/Trey Heid (RFr.)
RB - Dajon Newell (Jr.)
FB - CJ Ham (So.)
WR - Grant Gebhardt (Jr.)
WR - Darren Niklason (Sr.)/Matt Gerry (Jr.)
TE - Nick Lee (Jr.)
OL - Sam Lee (So.)
OL - Brian Long (So.)
OL - Chris Mathieu (RFr.)
OL - Bruce Manz (Sr.)
OL - Nick Pappas (Jr.)
* Justin and Jason Greenway took carries at RB during the spring game with Newell and Ham both injured.
DL - Joel Slinden (Sr.)
DL - Jake Lee (Jr.)
DL - Paul Ingram (Sr.)
DL - Zach Sirek (Sr.)
LB - Nate Kirby (Jr.)
LB - Ross Peterson (Sr.)
LB - Ben Skelly (Jr.)
DB - Thomas Vanasek (Sr.)
DB - Anthony Tucker (Sr.)
DB - Devon Alber (Sr.)
DB - Garrett Earl (So.)
QB - Calvin Jacobson (So.)
RB - Brady Rose (RFr.)/Nephi Garcia (Jr.)
WR - Carrington Hanna (Sr.)
WR - Garrett Shutt (Jr.)
WR - Josh Angulo (RFr.)/Kyle Athmann (RFr.)
TE - Austin Van Hove (Sr.)
OL - Terry Huber (RFr.)
OL - Max Koehn (RFr.)
OL - Antonio Oliver (Jr.)
OL - Trevor Westcott (RFr.)
OL - Sam Dooyema (Sr.)
* OL JT Surgant (Jr.) did not play in the spring game. He’s a starter. Derek Delaney (Jr.) also did not play, and is a candidate to start.
DL - Devin Flesher (Sr.)
DL - Jarrett Grabbe (Jr.)
DL - Grant Schindler (So.)
LB - Michael Tolkamp (Jr.)
LB - Clint Wilson (So.)
LB - Jonathan Talbot (Sr.)
LB - Raymond Batista (Jr.)
DB - Jeremy Hudson (RFr.)
DB - Solomon St. Pierre (So.)
DB - Jordan Johnson (Sr.)
DB - John Tidwell (So.)
Unstable patio furniture?
Middle-aged men falling in lakes?
Runaway trolling motors?
Labradors shot out of cannons?
It’s all here.
Over the last couple years, Chris Kluwe became my favorite player in the NFL.
That isn’t as significant as it may sound — while a lot of thought goes into picking a favorite player as a kid, when you grow up, you find yourself rooting ever more for the laundry. It feels kind of silly to have a ‘favorite player’ when you’re an adult, because they’re an adult and you’re an adult, too. In some respects, they’re just another working stiff like you. They just have cooler jobs.
There are exceptions, of course, but you pick those favorite players for different reasons. Justin Morneau is my favorite Twin — maybe ever — because I like his style. He’s a hockey guy in cleats, subtly funny in interviews, friendly with fans and media, etc.
Ricky Rubio is my favorite basketball player because he’s ridiculously fun to watch.
Kluwe became my favorite player because he’s a bright, interesting, articulate, individual in a league of robots, in a league that discourages true characters.
And on Monday, my favorite team cut him. I’m sad about that.
Kluwe made plenty of headlines and became the most famous punter in the world due to his activism on gay rights, and while I applaud his efforts on this issue because they are aligned with my own views, that actually had little to do with my becoming such a fan of his.
I admire Kluwe more for his refusal to let himself be defined by his job. For his courage to be himself. For his willingness to take on sacred cows, mix it up with fans and media, and for his understanding that there are more important things in life than football, and that it’s OK, even for football players themselves, to admit that.
Kluwe’s letter to a Maryland senator that tried to silence Ravens linebacker Brendan Ayanbadejo for his support of gay marriage was an epic and fairly courageous piece of work, but it was hardly the first time Kluwe showed off his intellect and humor in writing.
It started (for me, anyway) with these comics he crudely drew up to explain (correctly) why the owners were the bad guys in the NFL lockout.
He called out Peyton Manning and other NFL stars for holding up a lockout agreement, and when a former practice squad tight end-turned writer named Nate Jackson wrote that Kluwe had no business weighing in because he’s a punter, Kluwe responded with one of the greatest rebuttals of all time.
Later there was the piece about gay marriage, his rant about Ray Guy being continually left out of the Hall of Fame, and an eye-opening letter detailing just how bad the replacement refs were.
He even made one of those Hitler video parodies about the lockout, which I’d link to, but I’d get in trouble (look it up on youtube, it’s worth it).
Kluwe plays in a band, he’s an avid video gamer, he even did a Gangam style dance after a punt back when nobody knew what it was (normally I might hold that against him, but it was kinda funny).
None of these things make him extraordinary, really, except for the fact that he’s also a pretty good NFL punter.
What surprised me, though, is how many people think Kluwe’s off-field interests were somehow a bad thing, or that they detracted from his work.
Kluwe is a punter, not a quarterback. If you’ve ever been to a football practice, you know that punters aren’t asked to do a whole lot, and besides, the idea that athletes must always be living, breathing, thinking, studying football, or baseball, or basketball, is stupid anyway.
Yet tons of Vikings fans seem to think that’s how it should be, as Star Tribune stories this week were inundated with comments from fans applauding the Vikings for getting rid of a punter who ‘wasn’t focused on football’.
Even Kluwe’s own position coach last year made it clear he was tired of Kluwe’s off-field interests, which included wearing a patch on his shirt supporting Ray Guy for the Hall of Fame.
Geez, what a punk.
If you’re a banker, would you be OK with someone telling you to quit wasting your time training for marathons on weekends and focus on banking?
If you’re a construction worker, are you OK with someone saying, ‘Instead of spending all day Sunday watching football and all of your weeknights reading about football maybe you could’ve got that road finished sooner’?
Why is it any different for Kluwe?
The idea that writing humor columns for deadspin or sitting for interviews with Stephen Colbert or spending his nights playing World of Warcraft or his guitar were interfering with his punting is stupid.
Kluwe has been a consistently good-but-not-quite-great punter for his entire Vikings career. At no point should his off-field interests be held against him.
A lot has been said and written in recent days suggesting that the Vikings replaced Kluwe because he was becoming a distraction. The idea that Kluwe supporting gay marriage or playing in a band could somehow affect the way Christian Ponder throws the ball or Phil Loadholt blocks or Leslie Frazier coaches is about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, but that doesn’t mean the Vikings might not be playing that card.
But I don’t think they are. From a pure football standpoint, replacing Kluwe with fifth-round draft pick Jeff Locke is a solid risk that will save money and probably won’t hurt the team that bad even if it fails.
Maybe I’m naive in thinking Kluwe’s personality had nothing to do with the move. But when you consider how well replacing Ryan Longwell with Blair Walsh worked out, and the fact that Kluwe was due to make $1.45 million this year and was one of only four players on the roster over the age of 30, I think Rick Spielman deserves the benefit of the doubt (special teams coach Mike Priefer, on the other hand, does not).
I assume Kluwe will find work elsewhere. If he doesn’t, it would make all of this ‘would a team accept a gay player’ talk a little more interesting.
Yes, we’ll accept a gay player, but not a straight player who campaigns for gay rights.
I’ll still be a Vikings fan, and I’ll still be a Kluwe fan. He’s one of the rare athletes who refused to keep his head down and color inside the lines as another worker drone on the assembly line.
He’s a reminder to all of us that what we do for a living is not what we are.
(Live Chat today at 2 p.m.)
Last Monday, NBA veteran Jason Collins announced his intent to continue playing pro basketball as an openly gay man.
I spent much of the week reading about it, seeing a level of ignorance and hatred (in comment sections and social media postings) that was almost impossible to comprehend, but also plenty of support; clear evidence that the tide has turned, and that Collins is more than likely going to be accepted, and others will follow him.
Still, writing about what Collins has done is not easy. I do so knowing I’m wading into shark-infested waters.
I could easily identify myself as being ‘pro-Gay’, but I think that’s actually kind of stupid. I’m not ‘pro-Gay’, I’m ‘pro-People’. I don’t think gays deserve special treatment, I think they should just have the same rights we all do. I still struggle to figure out why I’m supposed to respect someone’s desire to deny someone else basic constitutional rights as a valid opinion to which they’re entitled. If someone told you they thought blacks shouldn’t be allowed to vote, you wouldn’t say, ‘Well, that’s your opinion and I respect it.’ You’d think they were a retrograde jerk.
You can be ‘opposed to that lifestyle’ all you want. But in the realm of sports, understand that Collins is likely the tip of the iceberg. And if he’s not, if his coming out backfires and keeps others in the closet (which I highly doubt will happen), it won’t change the fact that gays permeate every sport at every adult level. Even here in South Dakota. There are gay players, gay coaches, gay refs and umps, gay administrators, gay commissioners, gay journalists and broadcasters and lots and lots of gay fans.
To pretend that sports is a hetero-only club that needs to be roped off and kept safe from homosexuals is incredibly silly and ignorant. To any player that says, ‘I could never play with a gay teammate’ — guess what, you already have. Amazing that they didn’t try to rape you in the shower, I know (sarcasm font).
A lot of people I know or engage with in social media took the ‘I don’t care one way or another about an athlete’s sexual orientation’ angle when the Collins story broke. Which is great, but if you really ‘don’t care’, then you shouldn’t care that he came out. That’s exactly what ‘not caring’ means.
Some people are saying he should keep it to himself, but how far does that go? What does it even mean? OK, he doesn’t make a public announcement, but is he allowed to go out in public with his significant other? Bring another man to the team Christmas party? Share photos on his facebook page? Or would that be ‘shoving it down our throats’ to quote one of several ignorant talking points.
I get the feeling a lot of folks that say ‘I don’t want to hear about it’ are really saying ‘I don’t like to be reminded of the fact that I’m prejudiced towards these people’.
But you know what? Jason Collins didn’t make this announcement for you, the straight white person who has extreme difficulty seeing anything from any viewpoint other than the straight white person viewpoint.
He made it for the people out there who are gay and feel like they can’t tell anyone. Sure, the potential influence on athletes in team sports is the one getting talked about the most, but there are people out there afraid to tell their parents, their siblings, their lifelong friends. If you’re one of the people out there flinging homophobic slurs or ranting and raving about what the Bible says about homosexuality, stop for one second and consider there may be someone very close to you who is gay and feels trapped, helpless and unloved because of your words and views. People kill themselves over this. Someday it could be someone close to you.
I agree that calling Collins ‘a hero’ or comparing him to Jackie Robinson is a stretch — but to downplay what his announcement means to others is to merely make it obvious how tone deaf you are to the fact that other people may experience the world differently than you do.
And spare me the Jason Collins/Tim Tebow comparisons. No one ever killed themselves because they were afraid to come out as a Christian. No one in today’s America is denied rights because they like Jesus. That’s why Collins is getting headlines and Tebow isn’t. You hear an athlete praise God in an interview every day. Tebow is not unique in that regard. There is no double standard.
And Tebow, for all the scorn he has admittedly taken from certain circles, has been celebrated in the media every bit as much as Collins has. But I guess people with a persecution complex conveniently forget that this guy became one of the most famous players in the NFL largely because of his faith. It sure wasn’t his play on the field.
The real reason I hate talking about this kind of stuff and dreaded writing about it is because it inevitably devolves into a religious argument. Which is silly, because for one, this is a secular country (no really, it is), and two, well, I know the 10 commandments by heart and they don’t say anything about homosexuality.
Well, unless you count the one about adultery, and I don’t see the internet blowing up with Christians condemning Tiger Woods or Kobe Bryant to a fiery eternity.
The Bible is also against shellfish, mixed fabrics, divorce, and well, a bunch of other weird and irrelevant stuff.
And remember, to have any sex (even hetero sex) before marriage is a no-no. If everyone who had premarital sex is going to hell there’s going to be an awful lot of prime real estate in heaven.
And again, none of this should even matter, since no religious doctrines have any authority in this country, anyway. Separation of church and state is supposed to be a real thing.
The sad part of writing this, I’ve realized, is that the people in my life who I most wish would read it probably won’t. The overtly religious, the staunch republicans who blame the president for everything from the BCS standings to the weather — they probably stopped reading this as soon it made them feel even the slightest bit defensive.
They’ll dismiss this as the propaganda of a liberal, never stopping to ask how they think Jesus Christ himself would treat Jason Collins.
But the thing is, this isn’t about right vs left, conservative vs liberal, republican vs democrat. I personally wouldn’t dream of self-applying any of those labels. Ever.
It’s about human decency. Homophobia is antiquated and obsolete. Those who cling to it only make themselves look cruel, cowardly and anti-intellectual, like those who believed in slavery or wanted to deny women the right to vote.
You can hold on to those beliefs until your death if you wish, but when you die, they’ll die with you.
Jason Collins has opened a very heavy door, and only those with hate or fear in their hearts will try to block the way through.
I’m not sure exactly how far back the trend of bringing old movies back to theaters goes — I seem to remember a high school girlfriend trying (and failing) to drag me to a showing of ‘Grease’ in the late 90s — but I’ve never participated. Star Wars, ET, Jaws — I’ve never felt compelled to pay $8 to see a movie I’ve already seen.
That changed when Jurassic Park was recently re-released in 3D as part of its 20th anniversary.
I was a dinosaur geek as a kid, and although I’d largely grown out of it by the time my age reached double digits, I bought a copy of Michael Crichton’s novel when I was in 6th grade after seeing a friend reading it in class (it was, I have to admit, the cover that piqued my curiosity).
Certainly it wasn’t a book intended for 12-year old audiences, but I remember it surprisingly well even today. The scene where Dennis Nedry (Newman from Seinfeld in the movie) is killed by a Dilophosaurus remains one of the more terrifying pages of literature I’ve ever read. I still remember much of it word-for-word:
He suddenly knew he was holding his own intestines in his hands.
The horror of that realization was followed by a final wish that it would all be over soon.
I remember that John Hammond (the Richard Attenborough character) was much more sinister in the book (and died in the book), and for some reason I pictured Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) as a black guy while reading it. His character died at the end of the book, too, and I’ve never understood how he was somehow ‘revived’ for the sequel, ‘The Lost World’. I never read that book, but I assume there’s some (weak) explanation.
Anyway, when the movie Jurassic Park was released in 1993, it was, of course, hugely anticipated. We were going to see dinosaurs and they were going to look and sound very real. This was perhaps the most can’t-miss movie (from a box-office standpoint) ever released.
I went to a matinee with three friends, but it was kind of weird because they were all just there to see the dinosaurs. I wanted to see the dinosaurs, too, but this was also a visual representation of a book I’d read and loved.
Either way, we all loved it. That maybe didn’t mean a whole lot then — what 13-year-old wouldn’t love a movie with ‘real’ dinosaurs — but of course, Jurassic Park is still on TV all the time, and I almost always watch it when it is. It’s still a great flick.
And when it was re-released into theaters, I couldn’t resist the chance to see the dinos on the big screen again, even though I own it on DVD.
I’d never been to a 3D movie, because I’m not generally interested in the kinds of movies that lend themselves to 3D. This seemed like a good time to finally pay the extra $4 for the dorky glasses.
And, well, it was the same movie. The notorious T-Rex scene didn’t actually strike me as any more impressive in 3D, but the part where they find a sick Triceratops on the trail did, as well as the scene near the end where the kids are hunted by a pair of Velociraptors.
But 3D or not, Jurassic Park just holds up really well. Amazingly, the special effects seem just about fully up to par with what we see today, 20 years later. By contrast, when it was released in ‘93, movies that were 20 years old at that time typically looked ancient.
Sam Neill and Laura Dern aren’t exactly your typical stars for a Hollywood blockbuster, but that was actually intelligent casting. The dinosaurs were the stars. Having someone like Tom Hanks play Dr. Alan Grant might’ve been, I don’t know, disruptive.
And while Jeff Goldblum is an easily parodied actor, I loved his portrayal of Ian Malcolm even more than I liked the Malcolm in the book. Twenty years later, Goldblum is still by far the best (human) character in the movie.
So if you liked Jurassic Park 20 years ago, by all means, go see it again. It’s a near flawless blend of adventure, horror, suspense, comedy and awe-inspiring visuals.
Fast forward a couple weeks (to yesterday).
The lady friend sent me a text in the afternoon asking if I could be done with work by seven. I said I could if I hurried, why?
Because there was a one-time showing of ‘The Graduate’ at the Century East theater (not in 3D, of course, but come to think of it, I don’t know who wouldn’t be interested in seeing a thirtysomething Anne Bancroft in three dimensional glory). This is one of the lady friend’s favorite movies, and she desperately wanted to go. I could tell it was important to her, so I raced to get my work done in time.
I had never seen ‘The Graduate’. I was well aware of the fact that it’s regarded as a classic, and that it helped popularize a bunch of horrible Simon & Garfunkel songs. And I knew the basic premise was that a hot older lady messed around with a young Dustin Hoffman.
But I’d just never gotten around to seeing it. I fully expected to like it, so we went.
I guess it might not be quite fair for me to say a movie hasn’t ‘aged well’ when I never saw it in the first place, but how or why this is considered one of the all-time greats is beyond me.
Yes, it was funny at several moments. Yes, there were some neat camera tricks that were probably revolutionary in 1967. Yes, I liked the ending (which I had no idea was the inspiration for the much-funnier Wayne’s World 2 ending).
Yes, Anne Bancroft was hot (she was also the only character in the movie that wouldn’t make you want to stab yourself in the eyes after five minutes of conversation).
The kid has a lengthy affair with the neighbor lady, then goes on a date with her daughter. In that date, he is impossibly rude and cruel to the young girl, intentionally humiliating her by taking her to a seedy strip club, which he later apologizes for by kissing her rather uninvitedly.
They plan a second date, but before they can go, Mrs. Robinson steps in, forcing the kid to tell his new date that, yes, I’ve been sleeping with your mom.
Daughter runs off to college, and the kid decides to go after her to ask her to marry him. Remember, they’ve had one (very bad) date. Also, he did her mom. A lot.
He moves into her town and stalks her, finally confronting her on a bus. She tries to brush him off, he persists in a manner worthy of a restraining order.
Later, she comes to his place to tell him to stop stalking her and mentions that, oh, by the way, my mom said you raped her. He tries to tell her the real story, but she starts screaming and eventually leaves. Later that night, she returns and asks him to kiss her. He does, and asks her to marry him. She says, ‘Maybe’.
Did you get all that? On the same day that she accused him of raping her mother (which turned out to be “only” an affair), she is now considering marrying a guy who took her on one date (during which he treated her like an animal) and stalked her afterward.
What the hell? Serious? As it was happening I thought it was a dream sequence, but no, I guess we’re expected to believe that’s a plausible path to romance and marriage.
If you don’t know how it ends, well, watch the Wayne’s World clip.
Walking to the car after the movie I knew I should probably keep my mouth shut, but I couldn’t. I had to ask the lady friend to explain how anything in the second half of the movie made any sense at all.
She tried to defend it by saying that’s the point of the movie, that they get to the end and realize, ‘Hey, maybe this is kind of stupid’, that the whole theme of the movie (based on a book, which can’t possibly be as lazily written as the film) is young people’s urge to rebel against the conventional expectations and desires of their parents.
OK, fine. But that probably could’ve been done without making Dustin Hoffman’s character into a dim-witted, socially-stunted stalker-creep; or making the girlfriend into a character that’s insulting to brain-owning women the world over.
Also, five separate uses of ‘Scarborough Fair’ is probably four too many.
Maybe 45 years ago it was OK for movies to pretend that women are really that stupid. Maybe young filmmakers thought there was something heroic in a guy stalking and then proposing to a woman he’s been on one date with. Maybe they thought that songs containing lyrics about cambric shirts were profound.
That would perhaps partly explain why ‘The Graduate’ was ranked 7th — seventh! — on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 greatest movies back in 1998.
It’s easy to see how and why ‘The Graduate’ was hugely influential on hundred of movies that came after it, and like I said, it was funny and the ending is entertaining if completely ridiculous.
Jurassic Park > The Graduate. It’s not close.
Since it was nice out again Monday but probably won’t be again for a while, I took the opportunity to give my dogs a bath.
I do this by holding their leash in one hand and dousing them with ice cold water fired from a hose-gun at close range. Tiger, the springer spaniel (and the one who more often needs a bath), actually kinda likes it, especially when it’s hot out.
For the last couple weeks I’ve noticed both my dogs barking at the rockpile that makes up the landscaping in my backyard. I figured they were barking at the frogs that often hide out in the rocks, but yesterday while hosing down Tiger I saw a flash of brown out of the corner of my eye. I instinctively pointed the hose-gun at it, and saw the tiny brown spot flop awkwardly into the rocks and spill end-over-end to the side of the house. I got up close and realized I was looking at a mouse.
I expected it to scamper away, but it didn’t. I assumed I’d killed it. I didn’t want to kill it, even though I felt kind of like I should (my dad has programmed me to treat every brand of rodent alive as a threat to personal property that must be rubbed out immediately). I looked closer and saw it was breathing. A faint chattering sound was coming from its mouth.
I didn’t know what to do. I did not have it in me to kill it, even if I wanted to, which I didn’t.
I poked it gently and it barely moved. Now I wondered if it was dying and if maybe killing it was the more humane thing to do. But what was I going to do? Step on it? Throw it against the wall? No way.
I gingerly picked it up by the hairs on its back, and it hung from my fingertips like a wet noodle. I carried it to the side of the house where it was out of the reach of my dogs and in the sunlight and laid it on a patch of warm concrete. It laid there, barely moving. Like this.
I inspected it close, checking to see if maybe the force of the water had broken one of its legs or something. But it was lightly moving all four legs in a pedaling fashion, like a sleeping dog dreaming of chasing rabbits.
I got down on all fours and got closer. It was shaking, almost violently, and again, that chattering sound. That’s when I realized it was freezing to death. The ‘shaking’ was actually shivering, and the chattering, I think, was its teeth.
So what did I do? Went into the garage and got a towel and laid it over the little guy to help him dry off and warm up, of course. I went back to the dogs, dried them off, put them back in the house, made dinner, and after a half hour or so, couldn’t resist going back out to check on the pest that I was nursing back to health.
When I first moved into my house after it was built, I killed dozens of mice with mouse traps in my garage, so it’s not like I have a soft spot for mice. But for some reason, I didn’t want this stupid mouse to die from water pressure injuries or hypothermia that I had inflicted while washing my dogs.
I peeled back the towel, and it was still wet, but at least lifted its head up off the cement when it saw daylight.
Another half-hour later I went back again, and this time he was next to the concrete, rolling around in dirt. But it didn’t run away when I pulled back the towel. It still didn’t seem to have the strength to walk/run/whatever.
Eventually, the lady friend and I decided to go to the gym for a late workout. Before we left, I said, ‘Come here, I have to show you something.’
I walked her to the side of the house, and when she saw a towel lying on the ground and realized there was something underneath it, well, I kinda wonder what she thought she was going to see. I pulled the towel back, and this time the mouse was pretty much fully dry, and its fur was big and poofy from the bath. It was alert, its eyes wide open and its nose sniffing around the dirt in front of it.
‘What is it?’
‘A mouse’, I said, and explained the story. She reached out to touch it, but I said, no, don’t touch it. I tossed the towel aside, and after a brief pause, almost as if he was waiting for permission, it scampered away, down the hill and directly back to the hole he’d dug right next to the rock pile in my backyard.
In other words, this whole process will probably take place again next month.
If only the mouse could talk. We would’ve had the plot for an Adam Sandler movie. Only not quite as dumb.
When I got back from saving the mouse, this was the look I got from Tiger. He wasn’t happy.
Live chat is today at 2. We can talk spring football, NFL draft, Twins, Stampede, Jason Collins, etc.