Life is full of disappointments

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Waiting in line at Braum’s for a late-night dinner after a long day’s work, I witness a white-trash woman undertaking an arduous order of ice cream.  One of her feet is wrapped in an oversized protective boot as though she had fractured it falling out of her above-ground pool (or possibly trampoline) and the other foot taps incessantly as she stares at the overhead menu.  Quite a line-up forms behind her while she’s hemming and hawing at the myriad of ice cream choices available to her, and after several minutes of mouth breathing she finally speaks:

Woman:  “Now… with the pecan caramel fudge sundae… are those pecans… toasted?

Fast Food Worker:  [brief pause as he’s processing her question]

Woman:  “I mean, are they… raw?

Fast Food Worker:  “Um…

Woman:  “Or are they toasted?

Fast Food Worker:  “I don’t think they’re toasted…” [proceeds to hold up a cup of crushed nuts, apparently not toasted]

Woman:  “Ooooh… nope, that’s not gonna’ do.  Hmmm…

Apparently unaware that she is in a fucking fast food restaurant and not the Four Seasons, the lady goes back to studying the overhead menu, her epiglottis making an unappealing noise as she continues to mouth breathe with her head tilted back.  Her facial expression is one of deep consternation while she carefully weighs her confectionery options, and all I want to do is tell her, “Life is full of disappointments, lady.”  But before I get the chance, my order number is called, so I grab my to-go cheeseburger value meal, the grease from the fries already permeating the paper bag, and get the hell out of there.

“It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” (R.I.P. Yogi Berra)

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I’ve never really liked the Yankees (I grew up a Kansas City Royals fan, which should explain things), so it’s a bit odd that some of my favorite baseball players of all time played for that organization.  Of course, Babe Ruth has always been the bomb.  And Lou Gehrig was one of the primary heroes of my childhood despite the fact that he’d been dead for fifty years (I loved the “Iron Horse” for his spirit of determination and perseverance while battling ALS, the crippling condition now known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”).  I’d also always admired Roger Maris for the shit he took for breaking Babe Ruth’s record, and I respected Joe Dimaggio for his unconditional love of his ex-wife, Marilyn Monroe (plenty of folks loved her, but nobody loved her like he did).  And then there’s Yogi Berra– the master of the malapropism.  The dimwitted Yankees catcher/philosopher who has waxed poetic on numerous topics and is best known for his one-liners (affectionately known as “Yogisims”):

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

“It’s like deja vu all over again.”

“You can observe a lot by just watching.”

“We have deep depth.”

“It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.”

“A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”

“I knew the record would stand until it was broken.”

“Pair up in threes.”

“We made too many wrong mistakes.”

“Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.”

“Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.”

“No one goes there nowadays– it’s too crowded.”

“It gets late early out here.”

“I didn’t really say everything I said.”

“Even Napoleon had his Watergate.”

“The future ain’t what it used to be.”

“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”

“If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.”

“It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

Well, it’s officially over now for Yogi Berra, as he died yesterday at the age of 90.  The baseball world (and the rest of the world, for that matter) lost a true character in Yogi– he was one of a kind, and he’ll most definitely be missed.

Movie Night: Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

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I watched Forgetting Sarah Marshall for the umpteenth time tonight, and I swear, it just might be the most underrated comedy of all time.  The film follows the story of sad sack Peter Bretter (Jason Segel) as he desperately tries to get over Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell), his longtime girlfriend who has recently left him for an English rock star.  In a last-ditch effort to get her out of his heart, he takes a vacation to beautiful Hawaii, only to discover that she and her rock star boyfriend are also vacationing there. Hijinks ensue.

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On the surface, one might easily dismiss the film as a formulaic Hollywood rom-com replete with just enough sophomoric humor to satiate the masses, but the truth of the matter is that this movie is so much more than that.  First of all, everyone (and I mean everyone) is brilliant in this movie–even Russell Brand. The casting is (surprisingly) perfect. But even more surprising is that this is a smart film. Sure, there’s some crude and vulgar humor in the movie, but guess what?  Life itself is both crude and vulgar.  And even the basest elements of the film still manage to be at once both clever and hilarious, as is the trademark of most Judd Apatow films.  But what separates this script from any of Apatow’s other productions is the fact that it was written by Jason Segel himself, and Segel wrote one gem of a screenplay.  It seems clear to me that Segel wrote this movie from the heart without any consideration of or concern for what the box office might think, in very much the same way as his character writes his Dracula musical in the film.  It’s easy to tell when something is created out of love or passion rather than commercial interests. This film was a labor of love for Segel, and it shows.

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At its core, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is not just a funny film–it is an unabashedly moving motion picture that touches on the frailty of the human heart and the indescribable pain of getting over a lost love.  In my mind, the best comedies are those which make us think and feel as well as laugh–something deeper than slapstick–and beneath all the clever jokes and funny moments, Forgetting Sarah Marshall manages to successfully address the human condition in a way that few comedies have been able to:  uncontrived and honest.  And I swear, I pick up something new every time I see it.  Tonight it was the moment where a very large Hawaiian dude gives Peter (Jason Segel) advice about moving on:

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“You’ve got to stop talking about her.  It’s like The Sopranos–it’s over!  Find a new show!”  [pause]  “You need a hug.  C’mere.”

 

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite scenes from the movie. There are so many scenes in this film worth sharing, but if I had to choose just one, it would be this one: