Boston Strong, even when it's weak

I went out to watch a friend run the Boston Marathon for the first time.  This year for obvious reasons there was more hype, more coverage, and more fear than in any year that I can remember, but that wasn't the feeling at all on the sidelines.  As I watched that shifting, sweating, straining "sea of humanity" pass in front of me, what I saw and heard instead was the diversity and the forward thrust of it all.  It was the push to the finish line, sure, but it was more than that:  it was a body of people saying that we will not let a few very bad apples spoil the harvest.  Of course Ghandi said it much better: ''You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.''  Now, the fact that ocean is in fact getting dirty, thanks to said humanity, is a post for another day, but today, what I saw was perseverance and determination and hope.  It was somehow appropriate as well that an American won the race for the first time in twenty years.  Run on, Boston, run on.



Coming of Age movie bonanza

I've had a good run of movies lately, something that rarely happens to me; my usual pattern is something like pretty good, dud, dud, liked it, dud, ah! this is why I watch movies, dud.  So to get three goodies in a row is a lot of sunshine and rainbows for me, a double bonus after the winter we've had.  Here's what I watched, thank you, Netflix.

What Maisie Knew.  First of all, she knew everything, and she shouldn't have had to.  They took Henry James and ran with it, all the way to fantastic, and I wanted to scratch Julianne Moore's eyes out (Steve Coogan deserved much, much worse).

The Spectacular Now.  Spectacular indeed, and I'm doubly glad I saw it before Shailene Woodley exploded onto big screens everywhere.  But it was Miles Teller who really took off with the prize, one drink at a time, and did the novel proud, some say prouder.

Ruby Sparks.  You could feel the love between these two from several states away, but the best part was Paul Dano's writer acting like a real writer and wanting love so badly that he created it.

All "small" movies, two based on books, so those should be lessons to me, right?  Not so easy, friend, since I've seen so many duds in both those categories (The World's End, alienation from you hometown NOT, or The Golden Compass, couldn't be more shallow, could go on here all day, but that's another post). 

What did I like about these?  They were real people, people who grew and changed and learned and shone out from their hearts to reach mine.  And I do like "big" movies, too, with Ironman and Fast & Furious coming to mind, and I dare you to tell me that those don't have real characters.  Not coming of age, I realize, but maybe Robert Downey, Jr. and Paul Walker never will, RIP.

Yes, I know they aren't really real, but to a reader and a writer, characters are sometimes more real than the people I know in "real" life.  We could go down the what is real path, but perhaps we'll save that for another day.  Today I'm happy with the sunshine and rainbows.



Is Dead the New Sexy?

Is it my imagination that the body count of main characters in books has gone way up, and we like it?  Take a gander at this list of recent bestsellers, all of which I've read and many of which are excellent, and see if you agree.  I do wonder, like the song says, if we do like to "watch the world burn," then is it also true that "we are the arson?"  Check out the whole song, by Trivium, "Watch the World Burn" here and the lyrics here.  Back to books.  Caution, possible spoilers.

13 Reasons Why Hannah Baker killed herself and then explained.

Divergent Despite the excellent Four in her back pocket, Tris sacrifices herself, martyr that she always was.

The Hunger Games The whole idea here is to kill as many other characters as possible, with Team Peeta or Team Gale as just a sideshow.

Before I Fall Sam Kingston died seven times before she got it right.

Atonement As if the little sister didn't do enough damage, then the war had to go and kill Robbie before Cecilia got there.

The Sandman Morpheus is done, leaving little sister Death behind.

The Road A man and his son seem to be the only two people left.  Maybe the Earth is actually happy about this.

A Song of Ice and Fire  EVERYONE dies, as we all do, of course.

Twilight Isabella Swan chooses death of a different color in Edward Cullen, life as undead.  Is this an improvement?

The Fault in Our Stars Hazel Grace and Augustus find love for a minute before the big C reinserts reality.

Sure, Romeo and Juliet, Anna Karenina, and And Then There Were None are all classics, so the death of main characters isn't new, but it doesn't seem to be that tragic anymore either.  Are there just too many of us?  Are we inured to it by constant overexposure?  Or have we tried everything else at least once, so death it is?



How I Killed Off Your Mother?

The online outrage over the How I Met Your Mother finale got me thinking about whose characters are they anyway, when a story is much beloved.  In this case it seems that fans certainly feel that they own the characters, Barney and Ted and Robin and the rest, because the "right" endings are all over YouTube—Ted and The Mother should have lived happily ever after.  But they didn't.  And that sucks.

So who's done it best?  I'm not the world's biggest TV watcher, mostly because I hate the ads and because there is so much dreck—hello, reality TV? just a scam to pay nothing to develop programming and get millions of viewers anyway—but here are my top picks as they occurred to me.

Friends.  Ross and Rachel are together.  Forever.  Finally.

M*A*S*H.  We're going home.  We will always love each other, but we are going home.  Tell me you didn't cry when you saw those stones.

ER.  Emergency! Stat! Noah Wyle is back, so we can all save a life together, and we got a photo of George Clooney to take home.

Frasier.  Analyze this.  And that.  And then call it a day, with Miles and Daphne married in a vet's office, since Eddie was the star of the show anyway.

The Sopranos.  It just ended.  Bam.  As all things do.

Breaking Bad.  Yeah, he broke bad, all bad, all the time bad, as promised.

Newhart.  The original and best "it was all a dream" ending, stolen so pitifully by Roseanne, but done perfectly here.

Cheers.  Sam was never leaving the bar.  Never.  And he didn't.  Not even for Diane.

Seinfeld.  I hated this show, such a downer about nothing, but I loved the end—jailed and on trial for being horrible!  Perfect!

24.  It didn't end well for Jack, as you knew it couldn't, but the best news here is that it didn't end!  Jack's back.