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Category Archive: Movies

Oct 19

A look back at my columns about the Kansas City Royals: Part 12 — Royals fans, time for movie therapy — first published May 3, 2012 in The Examiner, an Eastern Jackson County, Mo., daily newspaper.

Royals fans, time for movie therapy

“You love the Red Sox, but have they ever loved you back?”
–from the 2005 movie ‘Fever Pitch’

I read several sports stories the other day devoted entirely to how Royals fans are dealing with the fact that the Kansas City Royals are bottom dwellers in the Big Leagues early in the 2012 season.

The Royals’ arguably ill-timed slogan, ‘Our Time’, doesn’t help.

Is it a jinx? Do we fans need therapy?

I think I do and will have to rely on my tried and true method—movie therapy. Suffice to say, I use it when life throws me a right hook, i.e. Royals. I will explain more later about how watching movies helps me cope.

I love the Royals; don’t get me wrong.

If any of you dear readers recall, I waxed poetic back in March about the Royals after attending spring training in Surprise, Arizona. The Royals looked good, promising, exciting, and clicking on all cylinders, as the saying goes.

I believed that it absolutely would be our time, finally.

That bubble burst for diehard fans like me on opening day when the Royals dropped an embarrassing game, leaving fans like me with an undeniable, worried oppressive feeling of impending doom.

Sorry to say, we were right. The Royals went on to lose 12 out of their first 15 games, and not since 1994 has there been one winning season. They could be baseball’s answer to the NFL draft’s ‘Mr. Irrelevant’.

Sometimes I don’t want to watch the Royals games on television anymore; it is too painful. My powder blue Royals jersey hangs unworn in the closet on most game days.

I feel guilty because I love these guys—Hosmer, Butler, Gordon, Francoeur, Moustakas, Pena, Duffy, Chen and all.

And I cannot begin to fathom what JP (on Twitter @LilFrenchie21) must think about all these losses. Incidentally, if you do not tweet, you may not know that J. P., a 7-year-old Kansas City Royals true-blue fan, has become something of a sensation in Twitter world. Is JP sad? I guess not because he recently tweeted this: “I still wear my Royals shirts to school almost every day! I don’t care if people tell me they are losing. At least I GO TO GAME!”

Now, I feel even guiltier, especially if a 7-year-old is this loyal. I should be, too.

But back to my movie therapy I promised to explain.

I started by watching Major League, a comedy aired in 1989 starring Bob Uecker and Charlie Sheen. In this film, the Cleveland Indians are in last place in the Majors, and inexplicably turn their miserable season into a winning one. Sidesplitting humor. I felt better.

Over the course of the next week, I watched ‘Money Ball’ three times. Yes, three times, mostly, because it was based on a true story. It ranks right up there with ‘Miracle’ and ‘Secretariat’ for me, and gets me out of the doldrums fast.

Remember Billy Beane, general manger of the Oakland Athletics who took that team out of the cellar to victory and into the history books by changing the way the game is managed. Now, I was feeling hopeful.

Since Money Ball is based on the Athletics’ true story, it could be possible, in my way of thinking, for the Royals to find success, too.

Finally, I watched “Fever Pitch,” the 2005 comedy about a diehard Boston Red Sox fan Ben Wrightman who never gave up on his team. He never lost faith despite the fact that the Red Sox could not overcome the 86-year-old “Curse of the Bambino” that legend says blocked them from ever winning the World Series because they sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees.

Ben’s friend Ryan asked him in frustration one day, “Why do we inflict this on ourselves?”

Ben’s answer: “Because they haven’t won a World Series in a century or so? So what? They’re here. Every April, they’re here. At 1:05 or at 7:05, there is a game. And if it gets rained out, guess what? They make it up to you. Does anyone else in your life do that? The Red Sox don’t get divorced. This is a real family. This is the family that’s here for you.”

Ah yes, movie therapy. I’m all better now and wearing my blue again, but I might have to watch Money Ball one more time.

It’s still bad at the bottom folks.

Feb 17

The Top 25 Law Novels Ever Written – How many have you read?

Have you read any of the top 25 greatest law novels ever written? Sure you have, but you may not know it or consider some of these novels as ‘law novels’. I know I didn’t.

After reading a magazine story about the supposedly greatest law novels ever written, I immediately began to wonder ‘who says they are the best’. Who decided, what are the criteria, and why was “In Cold Blood” not on the list?

You may have guessed by now that, yes indeed, lawyers decided. I don’t mean that with any malice you understand, because of course, lawyers might view ‘law novels’ with a more critical legal eye than you or me. However, literature, English, and journalism majors might disagree with their choices. Some of the classics they chose surprised me, yet I can understand why they were chosen.

The ABA Journal published its list of the top 25 law novels of all time last year (August, 2013). They convened a panel of experts, well-read lawyers and scholars, (names listed on their website) and asked for nominations. Next, they complied a ballot of 100 novels with storylines that revolved around lawyers or legal cases. The panel then selected the list of 25, which turned out to be 26 in the end (two books tied for the Number 25 spot).

They describe their final choices this way: “These are stories that have endured for years or decades, or even generations. Many of them are familiar; some of them, less so. Among them are stories of life and death, courage and betrayal, loyalty and honor, revenge and redemption—in other words, human existence.”

NOTES:
• “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote was not included in the ‘best ever’ list because: “In Cold Blood was a seminal contribution to the true-crime genre, but it wasn’t a novel. It was written with all the narrative conventions of a work of fiction…but was too deeply identified as journalism to be considered for our list.”

• Three authors have two works on the list.

• My score: 12 out of 26. What’s yours?

25. A Tie.
Old Filth by Jane Gardam (2004)
The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark (1940)

24. The Fountainhead by Ann Rand (1943)

23. Anatomy of a Murder by Robert Traver (1958)

22. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)

21. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas (1844)

20. The Firm by John Grisham (1991)

19. QBVII by Leon Uris (1970)

18. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston (1937)

17. The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk (1951)

16. A Time to Kill by John Grisham (1989)

15. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (1859)

14. The Stranger by Albert Camus (1942)

13. Native Son by Richard Wright (1940)

12. Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street by Herman Melville (1853)

11. The Paper Chase by John Jay Osborn Jr. (1971)

10. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser (1925)

9. The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe (1987)

8. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850)

7. Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow (1987)

6. Billy Budd by Herman Melville (1924)

5. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (1862)

4. The Trial by Franz Kafka (1925)

3. Bleak House by Charles Dickens (1852)

2. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1866)

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)

May 02

Royals fans, time for movie therapy

“You love the Red Sox, but have they ever loved you back?”
–from the 2005 movie ‘Fever Pitch

I read several sports stories the other day devoted entirely to how Royals fans are dealing with the fact that the Kansas City Royals are bottom dwellers in the Big Leagues early in the 2012 season.

The Royals’ arguably ill-timed slogan, ‘Our Time’, doesn’t help.

Is it a jinx? Do we fans need therapy?

I think I do and will have to rely on my tried and true method—movie therapy. Suffice to say, I use it when life throws me a right hook, i.e. Royals. I will explain more later about how watching movies helps me cope.

I love the Royals; don’t get me wrong.

If any of you dear readers recall, I waxed poetic back in March about the Royals after attending spring training in Surprise, Arizona. The Royals looked good, promising, exciting, and clicking on all cylinders, as the saying goes.

I believed that it absolutely would be our time, finally.

That bubble burst for diehard fans like me on opening day when the Royals dropped an embarrassing game, leaving fans like me with an undeniable, worried oppressive feeling of impending doom.

Sorry to say, we were right. The Royals went on to lose 12 out of their first 15 games, and not since 1994 has there been one winning season. They could be baseball’s answer to the NFL draft’s ‘Mr. Irrelevant’.

Sometimes I don’t want to watch the Royals games on television anymore; it is too painful. My powder blue Royals jersey hangs unworn in the closet on most game days.

I feel guilty because I love these guys—Hosmer, Butler, Gordon, Francoeur, Moustakas, Pena, Duffy, Chen and all.

And I cannot begin to fathom what JP (on Twitter @LilFrenchie21) must think about all these losses. Incidentally, if you do not tweet, you may not know that J. P., a 7-year-old Kansas City Royals true-blue fan, has become something of a sensation in Twitter world. Is JP sad? I guess not because he recently tweeted this: “I still wear my Royals shirts to school almost every day! I don’t care if people tell me they are losing. At least I GO TO GAME!”

Now, I feel even guiltier, especially if a 7-year-old is this loyal. I should be, too.

But back to my movie therapy I promised to explain.

I started by watching Major League, a comedy aired in 1989 starring Bob Uecker and Charlie Sheen. In this film, the Cleveland Indians are in last place in the Majors, and inexplicably turn their miserable season into a winning one. Sidesplitting humor. I felt better.

Over the course of the next week, I watched ‘Money Ball’ three times. Yes, three times, mostly, because it was based on a true story. It ranks right up there with ‘Miracle’ and ‘Secretariat’ for me, and gets me out of the doldrums fast.

Remember Billy Beane, general manger of the Oakland Athletics who took that team out of the cellar to victory and into the history books by changing the way the game is managed. Now, I was feeling hopeful.

Since Money Ball is based on the Athletics’ true story, it could be possible, in my way of thinking, for the Royals to find success, too.

Finally, I watched “Fever Pitch,” the 2005 comedy about a diehard Boston Red Sox fan Ben Wrightman who never gave up on his team. He never lost faith despite the fact that the Red Sox could not overcome the 86-year-old “Curse of the Bambino” that legend says blocked them from ever winning the World Series because they sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees.

Ben’s friend Ryan asked him in frustration one day, “Why do we inflict this on ourselves?”

Ben’s answer: “Because they haven’t won a World Series in a century or so? So what? They’re here. Every April, they’re here. At 1:05 or at 7:05, there is a game. And if it gets rained out, guess what? They make it up to you. Does anyone else in your life do that? The Red Sox don’t get divorced. This is a real family. This is the family that’s here for you.”

Ah yes, movie therapy. I’m all better now and wearing my blue again, but I might have to watch Money Ball one more time.

It’s still bad at the bottom folks.

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