Thursday, June 28, 2012

Playing it Cool

Kids are more resilient than you’d think. Let me give you an example.

There’s a boy who once played baseball on Clark’s team. He’s a fine baseball player and one of the nicest kids you’d ever meet. So nice, in fact, that he’d actually apologize if he accidentally bean-balled someone. He’s the kind of kid that you like to see succeed. That’s why I’ve kept an eye on his progress since he played on Clark’s team.
A snow cone soothes the soul

He recently approached me after one of Clark’s games with a dramatic declaration. He said, “This is the last time you’re going to see me.” When I asked him why, he said his family was moving away. Sensing his trepidation, I gave him a hug and told him he’d make friends fast and be on a new team in no time. 

I was really proud of myself. I felt my words had soothed his troubled soul at a critical crossroads. 

His response to such a great act of compassion: “Buy me a snow-cone?” 

While I thought he was craving reassurance, he was actually thirsting for shaved ice. How could I resist? Of course, I bought him a snow-cone. 

Then I wondered how it would be if us adults were so resilient. Lost your job? Grab an ice cream cone. Did the bank foreclose on your house? Have a brownie.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Driving Me Mad

WARNING: If you’ve been catching up on past episodes of Mad Men on your DVR like me, then this column many contain spoilers.

Pryce is wrong
At times, it seems to me like AMC’s Mad Men is moving much too slowly. I grow impatient waiting for something significant to happen. Then my patience is rewarded with a seminal moment that makes it all worthwhile. Finally, when I see the puzzle instead of the pieces, I appreciate the mastery of it all. The facts I viewed as insignificant were actually momentous.

Such is the case with the recent episode featuring the shocking death of Lane Pryce.

We’ve witnessed Lane’s demise picking up speed for weeks. It began innocently enough when we learned he owed back taxes back in Britain. To stave off the taxman, the normally conscientious Lane makes an out-of-character and ill-advised decision. He forges a check from the firm to cover his debt, figuring he’ll pay it back in week or two when he gets his Christmas bonus. Unfortunately, the partners unexpectedly cancel their bonus.

Still, you figure Lane will somehow get out of the jam. After all, the firm has landed a big new account in Jaguar. With everyone celebrating, Lane lobbies for reinstating the bonuses. However, his plea falls on deaf ears and everything unravels with a flourish.

First, partner Bert Cooper discovers the check, but not its significance. He passes it along to fellow partner Don Draper who confronts Lane. After briefly protesting, Lane confesses his sin. Don fires him on the spot, saying he can’t trust him anymore. Oh, the irony! Don Draper, the man with the double secret identity, declares he can’t trust someone.

Lane returns home from a long afternoon of drinking (this is Mad Men after all) to find that his unsuspecting wife has just bought him a new car … a Jaguar, of course. Fast forward to the next day and Lane sits in his new car with the windows up contemplating suicide. But the guy just can’t catch a break. The Jag won’t start, recalling an earlier theme about how the agency has landed a third-rate car. (The PR guy in me can’t help but wonder how modern-day Jaguar executives are receiving this storyline, given the company’s reputation for quality.)

Lane later returns to the office afterhours where he is eventually found hanging from his office door. Although I would’ve appreciated the irony of the Jaguar death, this was easily the most realistic suicide I’ve ever seen on television. I don’t know how they did it, but Lane actually looked rigid and lifeless. My theory is that the actor who plays him was so distraught by losing a lead role on a hit show that it was easy for him to appear moribund.

That’s the beauty of Mad Men though. Lead characters come, go and come again. (But not Lane, unless it’s on AMC’s The Walking Dead). The show was once almost exclusively about Don Draper’s misdeeds, but now he’s the well-coiffed poster boy of goodness. Mad Men is constantly reinventing itself that way. And the show’s creators know where they’re going, even when we don’t. So take it easy, don’t rush them and enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Painfully Honest Voice

They say legendary writers come from a place of great honesty. If that’s the case, then my 8-year-old son is on the verge of literary glory.

One of Clark’s last school assignments before summer recess was to write a poem about his deepest wishes. He came up with the following heartfelt gem: 

I Wish
I wish that I had the most expensive car in the world
I wish I didn’t sit at this table
I wish school was one day a week
I wish I didn’t have to read fables. 

With a voice this true, Clark is clearly on his way to becoming one of the great masters of his time or possibly expulsion, whichever comes first. 

I, of course, wish for the former.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Hell Hath No Fury

Apparently few things inspire a woman songstress more than a bad breakup.

There are not one, not two, but three such songs currently on my iPod, including Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know,” Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” and Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger.”

Here are a few snippets from each.

·  From You Ought Know: “Does she know how you told me you’d hold me until you died? Til you died. But you’re still alive.”

·   From Rolling in the Deep: “Go ’head and sell me out and I'll lay your sh— bare. See how I leave with every piece of you. Don’t underestimate the things that I will do.”

·   From Stronger: “Thanks to you I got a new thing started. Thanks to you I’m not the broken hearted. Thanks to you I’m finally thinking ’bout me.”

That’s a whole lot of anger for the fairer sex.

Of course, men have been rapping not so kindly about the ladies for years now. Take Eminem and his demented rants about ex-wife, Kim, as one example. Now the women are taking their turn, spewing vitriol toward the fellas. I’m all for equal opportunity. I’m just thankful none of my exes were particularly musical.