Thursday, January 30, 2014

An Offer He Can't Refuse

Every now and then, TigerBlog is happy to take requests.

Today's came from Milena Flores, assistant coach for the women's basketball team. In case you missed it, "The Godfather" and "The Godfather Part II" were on AMC back-to-back over the weekend. Shortly after TB noticed, he received this text from Milena:

"Was that punch by McCluskey once in a lifetime - or do you think he was in the jaw breaking business?"

Interesting question. McCluskey was the corrupt police captain who backed the wrong horse, in this case Virgil Sollozzo, and it ended up coming back to bite him a bit. On the other hand, he did break Michael Corleone's jaw, and TB would guess it wasn't his first broken jaw, as he responded to Milena.

Anyway, Milena's suggestion to TB was that he write one of those pieces that employs quotes from a movie or show or something and relates it all to a different topic, something that has been done a billion times before.

TB, though, will endeavor to do this for the first time in his career. To wit, "The Godfather" meets Princeton women's basketball:

"No Sicilian can ever refuse a request on his daughter's wedding day."

Despite how many times he's watched "The Godfather" or "The Sopranos" or "Goodfellas," TB will never be Sicilian. And hopefully his daughter's wedding day will be a wonderful occasion, though since she's not quite in high school yet, perhaps it can wait for awhile. Still, the request from Flores is one TB couldn't refuse.

"Nice college boy, didn't want to get mixed up in the family business. Now you want to gun down a police captain. Why? Because he slapped you in the face a little? What do you think this like the Army where you can shoot 'em from a mile away? No you gotta get up like this and, badda-bing, you blow their brains all over your nice Ivy League suit."

Sonny is a bit taken back by Michael, who wants to go from civilian to the top of the Corleone family in one sit-down dinner/ambush of Sollozzo, who tried and failed to take out Don Corleone, with the additional bonus of McCluskey at the same time. Michael apparently is a Dartmouth grad, though TB doesn't remember any references to Dartmouth itself, only to the Ivy League, in the movie. As for Ivy League women's basketball, there are currently three undefeated teams: Harvard and Yale are both 2-0 (which makes Dartmouth and Brown 0-2) and Princeton is 1-0. Cornell and Columbia split their two games.

"How long will it be until I can come back? I'm not sure Mikey. A year. Maybe more."

After Michael takes out Sollozzo and McCluskey, he is sent away to Italy until the heat dies down. Of course, the heat follows him there, and of course, since he's Michael Corleone, it actually comes close to him without actually touchhing him. As for the Princeton women, it hasn't exactly been a year since they've played, but it seems like it. Princeton is 1-0 in the Ivy League after a 31-point win over Penn back in the league opener on Jan. 11 at the Palestra. Since then, it's been first semester exams, and so the Tigers return to action this weekend against Harvard and Dartmouth having not played for three weeks. Princeton is 10-5 overall and was playing its best prior to the break.

"It's not personal Sonny. It's strictly business."

Michael very unemotionally explains to his brother that he isn't going after Sollozzo out of anger or revenge. It's just business. Princeton and Harvard meet tomorrow night at Jadwin, and while Harvard is probably Princeton's biggest women's basketball rival, this game is business, not personal. Harvard is 12-4 overall and has to have been pointing to this game at Princeton all season.

"I don't know what to do, Godfather. My voice is weak, it's weak. Anyway, if I had this part in the picture, it puts me right back on top, you know."

Johnny Fontane was modeled after Frank Sinatra, a crooner who made it big in the movies. Only he was backed by the Godfather, which made getting the part a little easier, especially after Fontane's role in making Woltz, the head of the studio, look "ridiculous." And as we know, a man in his position cannot afford to look ridiculous. Anyway, the Godfather gets it to all work out for Fontane if not Woltz' prize horse. As for Princeton's women, they've been on top of the Ivy League for four years straight now. Harvard has finished second each of those four years. There is no chance that Harvard won't be chomping at the bit to get a crack at Princeton this year.

"They shot Sonny on the causeway. He's dead."

His father never thought Sonny would make a good Don, and he turned out to be right. Michael was much more suited all along to run the family, even when Sonny was involved in the business and Michael was a civilian. And then it came to a head, when Sonny took Barzini's bait and ended up a bloody mess on the causeway. As for shots, well, Princeton and Harvard make more of them than any other Ivy women's basketball teams. Princeton ranks first in the league in scoring offense at 74.5, while Harvard averages 72.6, second-best. No other Ivy team scores more than 67 points per game. Princeton and Harvard are tied for fourth in scoring defense at 66.0 points per game, which means that this one could end up being, no offense to Sonny, a shootout.

"You got everything you need? The chef cooked for you special, the dancers will kick your tongue out and your credit is good. Draw chips for everyone in the room so they can play on the house."

Moe Green was put into a difficult position, to say the least, by the Corleone family. And Fredo didn't really help the situation much. Anyway, Moe ran the hotel in Las Vegas that Michael wanted to buy, and well, you know, Michael is used to getting his way. And when he didn't? Well, let's just say Moe would have needed a new pair of glasses had he made it. And here he was, just trying to be a good host. Princeton? No interest in being a good host. Princeton has the first game between the teams at home, which TB has always thought wasn't the way you wanted it. Win at home and you've held serve. Win on the road and you have the hammer of knowing that the rematch is on your court.

"Well, when Johnny was first starting out, he was signed to a personal services contract with this big-band leader. And as his career got better and better, he wanted to get out of it. But the band leader wouldn't let him. Now, Johnny is my father's godson. So my father went to see this bandleader and offered him $10,000 to let Johnny go, but the bandleader said no. So the next day, my father went back, only this time with Luca Brasi. Within an hour, he had a signed release for a certified check of $1,000"

Michael is telling Kay the story of how Johnny ended up becoming a big star, with the help from the Don. When Kay is bewildered, as any normal-thinking person would be, Michael explains how the bandleader ended up seeing it the Don's way: Luca Brasi held a gun to his head, and my father assured him that either his brains or his signature would be on the contract. Princeton hasn't quite had to go to those extremes in the last four years, but the Tigers have been serious about dominating Ivy women's basketball. Princeton is 54-2 in the league in the last four years, but both of those losses have come to Harvard.

"Fredo, you're my older brother, and I love you. But don't ever take sides with anyone against the Family again. Ever."

Thc character of Michael's older brother Fredo is pure genius. Sonny, the hothead brother. Michael, the cool one. That would have worked. But adding Fredo and making him what he was, basically a naive buffoon, adds so much to the story. As for Princeton women's basketball, this weekend is Harvard tomorrow and Dartmouth Saturday. Dartmouth brings with it assistant coach Addie Micir, the Ivy League Player of the Year four years ago, when Princeton won its first of the four straight titles.

And finally:
"I knew Santino was going to have to go through all this and Fredo... well, Fredo was... But I, I never wanted this for you. I work my whole life, I don't apologize, to take care of my family. And I refused to be a fool dancing on the strings held by all of those big shots. That's my life, I don't apologize for that. But I always thought that when it was your time, that you would be the one to hold the strings. Senator Corleone, Governor Corleone, something."

For no reason at all. Just because TB loves that part.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a TB classic!