Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Serious Man

The AMC channel recently had a marathon of sorts that it called "Mob Week."

What was on the menu?

"The Godfather." "The Godfather Part II." "The Godfather Part III," which, as an aside, is completely underrated. "Goodfellas." "Donnie Brasco." "Scarface." "Pulp Fiction."

If TigerBlog were to write down his 100 favorite movies of all time, all seven of those would be on the list. If he were to write down his 50 favorite movies, then five of the seven would be there. If he were to write down his 25 favorite, then four would still be there. Top 10? Three. Top five? Two.

In other words, TB is a big fan of all seven, which ran in wildly random combinations for a full week. Anytime TB turned on the TV, he found himself in the middle of one of his favorite movies.

As another aside, of those seven movies, TigerBlog saw only one in the movies when it first came out, and that was "Scarface," which he actually saw in an advanced screening with a bunch of college friends when one of them - David R. Meiselman - got passes for the group because he used to review movies for the student newspaper.

For some reason, TB never saw "Goodfellas" until it made it to the video store, which is what Netflix would be if you actually had to drive to the store and rent a VHS tape for your VCR. The same was true with "Pulp Fiction."

If you took all seven movies and asked 100 people to name their favorite lines, you'd get some that most would name and then others that are in all different directions.

For instance, everyone would say "Leave the gun; take the cannolis," which Clemenza says in "The Godfather," or "One," as it was known on the Sopranos, as opposed to "Two" or "Three."

Of course, TB loves that line as well. And some of the others that would stand out:

"Go home and get your shine box."
"Say hello to my little friend."
"I'm going to go medieval on your ---."
"Never takes sides against the family again."
"I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse."
"Luca Brazi sleeps with the fishes."
"And you will know My name is the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon thee."
"I'm not gonna shoot you, Frank."
"I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart."

Then there are the others that stand out to TB:

"If Paulie moved slowly, it's because Paulie didn't have to move for anyone."
"My name is Winston Wolfe. I solve problems."
"He's a rat because Sonny Black says he's a rat."
"You wanna waste my time? Okay. I call my lawyer. He's the best lawyer in Miami. He's such a good lawyer, that by tomorrow morning, you gonna be working in Alaska. So dress warm."
"You have to answer for Santino, Carlo."

The list goes on and one and on.

Mob movies - and The Sopranos - are obviously among TB's favorite.

He's also a big fan of somewhat dark comedies.

When Peter Farrell, the women's track and field and cross country coach, first mentioned the Coen Brothers movie "A Serious Man," TB had never heard of it.

Farrell came into the OAC 20 times in the last two months or so quoting from the movie, making references to it, talking about what a profound influence it had on him.

So, off TigerBlog went to get the movie and watch it.

It was, to say the least, interesting. If you haven't seen it, the main character is a physics professor who is trying to find reason and logic from his mathematical background and his Jewish faith to explain why his entire life is falling apart.

TigerBlog struggled a bit to understand the movie, and he's been kicking it around in his head since he saw it. Basically, Larry has no control over what's going on around him, and the more he tries to make sense of it, the less he can. He is getting no help from anyone around him in any area of his life, and nothing that he counted on is actually what it appeared to be.

His work is rooted in the idea that the math makes sense and therefore the rest must to, even if he can't fully grasp why. Ultimately, he learns - the very hard way - that his life is much like his physics.

TB also tried to figure out Farrell's connection to it.

After all, Farrell is a Catholic boy from Queens who ran at Notre Dame.

He is, though, himself a serious man, serious about whatever topic he wants to discuss at any particular moment. Serious, with a perfect blend of satire, sarcasm and laughter.

In many ways, he's his own dark comedy, and perhaps he would have been more suited to be a filmmaker like the Coen Brothers, maybe with his own deeply intense look at his own childhood.

Instead, he became a track and field coach.

A year ago, he contributed 20% of Princeton's 15 Ivy League titles when he coached the cross country, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field teams to Heptagonal championships, just as Fred Samara did on the men's side for his own 20%.

Of course, the 2010-11 year is over, and 2011-12 is about to start.

One of the highlights will be the presence on the Princeton campus of the Heps cross country championships in late October, when the cross country teams try to start an unlikely repeat of last year's six-for-six success.

Unlikely? Sure, since it's only been done by 10 schools in Division I history for a total of 19 times.

Another highlight will be the continued musings of the Jadwin balcony's own serious man, Peter Farrell.

What'll be next?

Another movie? Another old story? Another fable? Another analysis of events both local and far-reaching?

TigerBlog likes to leave his door open and allow anyone to stop in.

Peter Farrell is one of the few who usually does, and it's rarely dull when Farrell takes him up on it.

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