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Archive for July, 2007

I wish I were a genius or had some kind of incredible gift—not really a super-power, but more along the lines of Matt Damon’s character in Good Will Hunting; or Damon’s character in the Bourne series; or Jamal in Finding Forrester (which Damon also makes an appearance in…that guy likes being in movies with unusually gifted characters). It just seems like it would be so cool to be able to see things that no one else can see; understand everything in the blink of an eye; have a photographic memory; be able to mold and manipulate language into anything you wish it to be—and be extremely gifted athletically (like Jason Bourne or Jamal in Finding Forrester).

Before we go any further (not “farther”), here is one of my favorite scenes, taken from Finding Forrester: “You should’ve said, ‘Further.'”

And let’s continue….
I just recently re-watched Good Will Hunting so let’s use Good, little Will Hunting as an example. (I and, as we shall see later, the pompous jerk from the bar scene, enjoy the play on words that the title of the movie provides.) Will can not only memorize huge textbooks and works of literature as if they were a short grocery list, but he can thoroughly and completely understand it at the highest level. He can solve any mathematical proof or problem as if they were grade-school chalkboard problems. For him, it’s all as easy as breathing.

To be able to understand anything you can ever encounter as easily as it is for anyone to breathe…that would be awesome. Think of all the stuff you could do. You can do anything you want. If you have gaudy, insane, super-fantastical balling skills, what more can you do than make millions and millions playing ball and selling shoes? If you’re Will Hunting, you can unlock the secrets of time travel, find a cure for cancer, write a great American novel or two, and do whatever the hell else you want.

But one thing that no amount of genius can do is help one understand people. In fact, there’s a substantial amount of evidence that says genius makes it much harder. People can be more complex than the highest form of mathematics or the most difficult passage of text (which I’ve heard would be something like James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake). In fact, I think the genius of someone like Will Hunting would make understanding people more difficult in some ways. But I would still love to experience that struggle.
And if people are that difficult, think of the beautiful complexity that the struggle to find and know God (or whatever Truth or Reality is) would be like in a genius’ mind.
Man…I wish I were a genius.

The Bar Scene, Round 2:

“Applesauce, bitch.”


Song of the Day:

Elliott Smith – “Miss Misery”

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The rest of this entry is for only if you feel like you just haven’t had enough time-wasting and want to just keep on wasting it away.

Here are some other memorable scenes:
“You’re just a kid.”
“Mathematical Dick”
“I don’t know much but I know that.”— complete with subtitles for all my Chinese readers out there.
And one of my personal favorites, “club a baby seal”
Also, the original bar scene with the “apples” bit included at the end, with the audio/video out of sync (just skip to the 5 minute mark): “Do you like apples?”

And this is an excellent re-cut that uses all real clips from the movie to create the enticing trailer for…”Good Will HUNTED!”:
Good Will Hunted
What clinched it for me was poor little Will Hunting bawling for his life at the end.

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Sometimes it’s not about a clearly powerful or blow-you-away voice. This girl’s voice was just…purity, innocence, and genuine sincerity made audible. She messed up at the first “rainbow,” which I think annoyed Simon a bit. You can see it in the clip; at 2:52, I bet Simon is saying to himself, “Oh damn…I’m gonna have to reject this little girl and tell her she doesn’t quite have it.” As a judge of a huge talent show, I guess it’s better to be skeptical as opposed to being immediately taken by everyone. But she so earnestly musters her way up to every note after—and the way she says “blue” and sings “dreams really do come true” at the end is just pretty damn adorable—that I think she wins over Simon (and pretty much everyone else) in the end.

I still think Simon was going to say “No, come back when your talent is more developed,” and if I were to base on the performance alone, I would’ve had to agree. But it was about more than just the performance and hitting difficult notes with a powerful voice. The thing is, Conny sang with so much more sincerity and earnestness than most of the “professional” artists today and many times, that counts more than a fully developed talent. It begs the old question: What’s the use of talent if it’s wasted?

And at 1:35…that expression. How could even the acerbic Simon bear to see that linger for even a second more? He couldn’t. And I think this clip proves that Simon, contrary to self-created perception, cares at least a little about what people think of him. Being all serious and cutting this girl would paint him as the ultimate jerk; it was a line that he wasn’t willing to cross.

Man…this girl makes me want to have a daughter when it comes time for me to be a family man…

Oh and what’s up with the dude flippin’ off the judges at 1:06? Is that the poor quality of the clip or is he really flippin’ someone off? Is it a British thing? I guess he could be crossing his fingers…but it really looks like he’s flippin’ off the judges.

Connie also performed a full version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” for the Finals (yes, she made it to the finals; more on that later).

Connie – Final (full version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”

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With all that said, I don’t think Connie’s talent is anywhere near its potential and I think, based on talent alone, she is mightily over-rated. Don’t get me wrong, the clip above is pure magic and I would vote for her if that’s all I had to base my vote on, but this girl made it all the way to the FINAL and was runner-up. This was her other performance on the show (her final performance was the full-version of “Rainbow,” so that was sort of like cheating because it’s perfect, for reasons mentioned earlier):

Connie – Semifinal

She’s throughly adorable but I think the judges, and especially Simon, was too scared of the reaction that would be caused if they rejected her. So they had to keep her in. She was/is a sensation–and rightfully so. Her voice just isn’t developed yet and although the purity and innocence certainly is magic…for the same type of magic paired with a fully developed and unbelievable talent, you would have to look to the winner of the competition, Mr. Paul Potts. His name is just icing on the cake.

I didn’t know about this guy. I never followed the show and I wrote the stuff about Connie about a month ago, after watching the youtube clips. I found out about him tonight as I was re-watching Connie’s clips while embedding/linking them on here. And I was utterly and entirely moved by him. I didn’t cry (c’mon now, I’m a MAN!), but my eyes did water up a bit. (It was kind of late too and I was yawning a lot.)

Here are the videos. Just watch and cry (or water up, a lot of it because you’re tired…whichever gender you are. I am just kidding. I’m not THAT sexist.). I’d recommend you watch the first 1:10 of the semi-final clip for the little mini-bio, THEN watch his first audition. And if after following those instructions, your eyes have not watered even a little bit, you are not human. Okay, you’ll still be human, but I hope you’re at least moved by it an inch/centimeter (for all the non-U.S. people) or two.

Mini-Bio from Semi-final Performance:

Paul Potts’ Audition:

It is breath-taking. It is a glimpse of the stuff that makes life worth living. Sappy? Cliche? No doubt about it. But I’m leaving that sentence in here.

Look at the skeptical look on one of the judges’ face when Paul says he’s there “to sing opera.” Then look at their faces when Paul intros his performance with the recorded music. It’s like “Oh no…this better not be a disaster.” Even members of the audience were smiling like “you gotta be kidding me man” or “ah, that’s cute that he brought his own recording and everything.” THEN, look at everyone’s faces a minute into his performance and after that glorious last note. Then look at Paul…it’s awesome. (On a humorous note, some people have pointed out the “mild orgasm” that the lady-judge, who Wikipedia informs me is an Amanda Holden, reaches at the climax [pun most cornily intended] of Paul Potts’ performance. Others have referred to it as an “ear” or “mental” orgasm.)

Connie Talbot’s talent is a pure, untouched talent while Paul Potts’ is a talent that has been weathered, beaten, and bruised in his life but has made it through everything to shine oh-so -blindingly-bright. Ms. Holden described it as a “little lump of coal that is going to turn into a diamond,” “an undiscovered little gem,” “a frog that will turn into a prince,” a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, a seed turning into an oak tree, and maybe even Pinocchio turning into a “Real Boy.”

So yeah…just Connie Talbot and Paul Potts alone prove beyond any measurable and immeasurable doubt that Britain’s got talent and much more good stuff. Makes me want to develop a British accent and learn to be British.

Song of the Day:

Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – “Somewhere Over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World”

UPDATE:
I have since found out that Paul Potts’ story isn’t as “zero to hero” as people (including myself) was led to believe. Turns out he had some success in a previous talent competition, has had a handful of vocal lessons (albeit entirely paid for by Paul himself), performed in at least four amateur opera performances, and once even performed with the Royal Philharmonic (impressing the likes of Luciano Pavarotti himself in the process of all this). But he never got paid for any of these performances and he was indeed a true amateur.

It also turns out that his amateur career had taken a plunge due, at first, to surgery for removal of a benign tumor. And after he recovered from that, he broke his collarbone, which prevented him from singing even longer and pretty much threw him clearly off the track to success as an opera singer. So he became a mobile phone salesman for a couple of years to make ends meet and pay off the aforementioned private lessons that were paid out-of-pocket. Which brings us to his appearance on Britain’s Got Talent.

To tell you the truth, I kind of felt cheated that I was led to believe that Paul simply, merely, relied on his voice, his “best friend,” for the competition. I guess it helped to build up the hype a little bit but I think there would have been equal hype if the focus was put on his various struggles and near-surrender of his dream to sing opera. Oh well, he’s pretty open about all this I think, so I’m still a fan.

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I said my first post on here would be about the San Antonio Spurs, so here it is, even if it bores you (or annoys/angers you).

There has been much talk in the media about whether or not the Spurs are a dynasty.

On one side you have the people who say they should be considered a dynasty based on their 4 championships in 9 years, which is more than all but 3 franchises: the Celtics, Lakers, and MJ “the GOAT”-led Bulls. They also point out the Spurs successful run over the past decade (most successful in the past 10 years out of any team in the 4 major sports).
On the other side, you have those who say the Spurs are not a dynasty because they have failed to do what all the dynasties have done: win consecutive championships. The Spurs have made a habit of winning ‘chips in only odd-numbered years and have failed to defend their title every single time.

As with all things, context is of importance here. I think that in this case, context is VERY important. And after the context is taken into proper account, a decision can be made.

Even if they haven’t won consecutive championships, who says that is a prerequisite for being considered a “dynasty”? As a fan of a beloved sports franchise in ANY city, in ANY sport, if I had a choice between winning 3 straight and blowing up into oblivion, a la the Lakers of the 2000’s (whose dynasty-status is also debatable. I was referring to the Magic-led Lakers of the 80’s earlier), or winning, for the most part, every other year for 9 years while being legitimate championship contenders every year in between, save but one season….as a fan, I would choose the latter without hesitation! I love the fact that I am able to carry the hope year in and year out of the Spurs winning it all — and having that hope be concretely realistic and not delusional.

And yes…the ideal team wouldn’t force you to choose between the two (a brilliant burst of 3 short years or a sustained excellence of 10 years) and instead give their fans all they could dream of, like the Celtics and Showtime Lakers or the MJ Bulls of the 90’s. Although, it should be pointed out, those 80’s Lakers kind of did the alternating pattern like the Spurs…except…they made it to the finals those other “off” years

But, as mentioned by a few sportswriters and fans, in this era of free agency and salary caps? In this era where it’s so difficult to find players who would put the TEAM and winning before contracts and personal glory? In this era where it’s difficult to pay players enough and keep them while staying under the salary cap, even if the players have relatively good attitudes? To be able to be legitimate contenders for the championship, if not the champions, for an entire decade in this era of the NBA is truly incredible. There is no doubt in my mind that this Spurs team we have in front of us is a dynasty.

We Spurs fans really have it great. It is such a great decade to be a Spurs fan–and it looks like it will continue to be a great time for at least a handful more years, championship or no championship. What this Spurs team has done, what it will continue to do for at least a few more years, put in the context of the current era of the NBA, is deserving of a spot by the DYNASTIES of the 80’s Lakers or 90’s Bulls. (That Celtics run from ’57-’86, no matter what you say about the number of teams, era, whatever, seems pretty untouchable.)

But seriously, I don’t think people will realize or appreciate this fact until a decade or two down the road…and that’s a shame. I for one will choose to recognize and appreciate this fact RIGHT NOW!

I love these Spurs. Not to mention these guys are classy, intelligent, well-spoken, and talented. People who say otherwise need to spend some time in San Antonio (my former home) where these guys get much more exposure and are able to be seen for who they really are: DYNASTIC CHAMPIONS (ha!) as people, role models, as an organization, and as a superb basketball team.

Song of the Day:

Queen – “We Are the Champions”

2007 Champs

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