Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My Son Wears 42

My last post was about the movies, so I wasn't expecting to make this one about them as well. However, it couldn't be helped.

I recently went with my dad and my sons to see 42 in the theater. For my dad, it was a look back at his childhood. He’s old enough to remember when Jackie Robinson broke into the league. For my kids, it was a chance to watch a baseball movie. Both of them love baseball and play in rec leagues. My younger son even wears 42 on his jersey and has me read to him from *Branch Rickey’s Little Blue Book.  
I was nervous about taking my kids to see the movie. I knew my teenager could handle the language, but worried it would shock my 11-y.o. A few years ago, I declined to take my kids to another sports movie, Glory Road (the story of Texas Western's NCAA Championship, with a primarily African American team.) One of the harshest scenes in the movie is when the Dodgers play in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia manager lets loose every racial epithet possible, trying to goad Robinson into losing his temper. Robinson holds it, finally letting loose in the player's tunnel underneath the stadium, where no one can see him.
However, I was unprepared for the scene my 11 y.o. eventually questioned me about after we returned home. In the scene where the Dodgers makes their first trip to Cincinnati, there was a kid in the stands that wanted to see Dodger shortstop Pee Wee Reese, a major leaguer that grew up in a town near Cincinnati. When the Dodgers take the field, the kid's father starts hurling racial insults at Robinson, and then the young boy copies them. My son couldn’t fathom why the kid was saying what he did. I explained to my son that racism is learned. The attitude of treating someone differently due to the color of their skin is something you're not born with. The Cincinnati scene in the movie ends with Reese putting his arm around Robinson in front of everyone in the sold out stadium. In real life, this is a scene that no one can confirm but, like Babe's fabled "called shot," lives on in baseball lore.
There will never be another Jackie Robinson.
Hopefully, we've passed the day where one is needed.

* Branch Rickey was the General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the person who brought Jackie Robinson to the major leagues.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Connery Conspiracy

My sons recently acquired a copy of the movie, “Skyfall.” I took them to see it when it came out. I’ve always been a fan of James Bond, but had taken to watching them on TV since about the time I got married. When I saw the previews for Skyfall, though, I knew I had to see it on the screen.
The enjoyed the video just as much. After viewing it three times in one weekend, my 11-year old began affecting a British accent and calling his mother “M.” They looked forward to the Oscars, as they knew there would be a James Bond tribute. During the tribute, Shirley Bassey sang “Goldfinger.”

My sons were like, “What’s Goldfinger?”


At that point, I realized I’d neglected an aspect of their cinematic education.


I own copies of all of the Connery Bond films, so I pulled out the tape (yes, that old technology is still around) and showed my kids Goldfinger.

They loved it. They were totally enthralled. I was glad they enjoyed it. I was also glad they didn’t ask me about any of the names of the characters. I followed up a week later with Dr.  No. We’ve also now seen You Only Live Twice and From Russia With Love.

The Bond watching, though, has led to debate. My favorite Bond is Sean Connery, followed by Timothy Dalton. For my 11-year old, the best Bond ever is Pierce Brosnan, followed by Daniel Craig. My teenager is enjoying the Bond girls and has not voiced an opinion on which Bond is best as well as asking why George Lazenby was Bond only once.

They want to see Thunderball and Diamonds are Forever, the remaining two Connery Bonds in my collection. (I don’t have Never Say Never Again.) I’m certain we will soon. I’m happy to enjoy it with them as my wife has no interest in any of these movies. This Christmas, we may need to pick up a few. The movies should be available as this is the 50th anniversary of the franchise.

I look forward to it.

Bond. Father-son bond.