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Spiritual Darkness: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen in 1988 by Gorupdebesanez CC BY-SA 3.0

Leonard Cohen in 1988
by Gorupdebesanez
CC BY-SA 3.0

Leonard Cohen 1934-2016

This week, I’ve felt despondent and inconsolable about the state of our country and the world. That the artist whose music best captured those moods died this week only adds to my desolation. In this mood, I would, in the past, turn to Leonard Cohen’s music to make sense of the sadness, for Cohen is the poet of pessimism. His music is not filled with false platitudes of inspiration but with the endless quest to find meaning in the darkness of existence.

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Tonight We Are All Cubs Fans

I confess to being uninterested in most sports. Actually, “contemptuous” would be a more accurate word. I crave narrative, not competition, when it comes to entertainment.

My mother is the true sports fan in the family, and she’s always supported the White Sox. So, due to her influence, I am nominally a White Sox fan (even though I find baseball deadly dull), and I celebrated along with my mom when the White Sox won the World Series in 2005. In Chicago, you can be a White Sox fan or a Cubs fan, but not both. Those who claim to be both are looked on with suspicion—they might be outsiders, aliens, or replicants, but they are not normal Chicagoans, that’s for sure.

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Thus, I’ve remained largely indifferent to the hullabaloo that’s been going on around me this fall. Everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve seen the “W” flag flying and people dressed in Cubs’ blue. My Facebook news feed has been filled with anxious, hopeful, and celebratory posts for weeks. But I’ve scrolled past it all…

…With a few notable exceptions. While my mother’s family is firmly in the Sox camp, my uncle on my dad’s side was the greatest Cubs fan ever. I’m sure many people try to assert that title, but my uncle has a legitimate claim on it. See, my uncle was Steve Goodman, the Chicago singer-songwriter who wrote “Go, Cubs, Go.” He died in 1984, shortly after the release of his anthem for his favorite team and just days before the Cubs clinched the National League Eastern Division title and earned the Cubs their first postseason appearance since 1945, three years before Steve was born. Since the Cubs entered the postseason this year, a few articles have paid tribute to Steve including a remembrance featuring interviews with his two surviving daughters in Sports Illustrated and this profile posted after the Cubs won Game 5 of the series. Although I didn’t know him well (I was young when he died), I was glad that my Uncle Steve was getting some attention, but I didn’t really care about the Cubs themselves.

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But as the Cubs came closer to achieving something that had eluded them for more than a century—108 years to be precise, a number that will be ubiquitous for the next few days—I noticed something touching. On social media, people started posting remembrances of their own. My Facebook news feed became filled not just with posts of support for baseball’s perpetual underdog team, but with comments like “My dad would have loved to see this” or “My grandparents are smiling down on the Cubs.” It wasn’t just a couple of comments. It seemed that, for every Cub fan, there was a legacy of forbearers in the afterlife cheering along with them. Even I, sports derider that I am, began to get a little misty.

The Cubs winning the World Series is something special. It’s more than just the outcome of a game. It’s more than just the underdog finally coming out on top. It is the culmination of 108 years of history, of fans waiting and hoping, faithfully following their lovable losing team, and passing on an inheritance of that hopeless, hapless, but doggedly loyal fandom down through generations. This championship highlights the significant role sports fandom plays in uniting people to their past and the memory of family and place. Along with my friends in Chicagoland, every Chicago expatriate is rejoicing tonight. And fans near and far and even non-fans like me are thinking back to those friends and family who trudged on through the dry years but who aren’t here to witness the celebration.

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So, tonight, I’ll put on a Cubs hat and share the joy of the Cubs fans all around, and I’ll raise my glass and sing a chorus of “Go, Cubs, Go” for Uncle Steve.

 

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The Hail-to-the-Chief Blogathon Is Finally Here

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Thank you to all the participants in this blogathon!

THE SUBMISSIONS (will be updated as they come in):

Thoughts All Sorts: Olympus Has Fallen

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies: PT-109

Moon in Gemini: 1776

Movierob: Secret Honor; The Day Reagan Was Shot; The Reagans

Finding Franchot: Advise & Consent

Crítica Retrô: Wilson

Realweegiemidget Reviews: Dave

The Midnite Drive-In: POTUS vs. The Martians

STILL MORE TO COME!!!!!

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Plain Clothes; Review by Robin Franson Pruter

plain clothesOriginally released 15 April 1988
Written by A. Scott Frank (screenplay) and A. Scott Frank & Dan Vining (story)
Directed by Martha Coolidge

Starring Arliss Howard, Suzy Amis, & Seymour Cassel

My rating: ★★★ stars

Police officer Nick Dunbar is going back to school.

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The Back-to-School Blogathon Is Finally Here!

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Thank you to all the participants in this blogathon!

THE SUBMISSIONS (will be updated as they come in):

Love Letters to Old Hollywood: Teacher’s Pet (1958)

Thoughts All Sorts: Grease (1978)

Sometimes They Go To Eleven: The House on Sorority Row (1983)

Movie Movie Blog Blog: A Chump at Oxford (1940)

The Midnite Drive-InDazed and Confused (1993)

Twenty Four Frames: Blackboard Jungle (1955)

Realweegiemidget: Grease 2 (1982)

I Found It at the Movies: Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (1979)

The Wonderful World of Cinema: The Browning Version (1951)

The Moon in Gemini: Legally Blonde (2001)

BlogferatuMassacre at Central High (1976)

Old Hollywood Films: Good News (1947)

Anna, Look!: Au Revoir, Les Enfants (1987)

The Late-Night Picture Show: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969)

Cinematic Scribblings: An Education (2009)

Pop Culture Reverie: Plain Clothes (1988)

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Clash of the Titans (1981); Review by Robin Franson Pruter

clash of the titansOriginally released 12 Jun 1981
Written by Beverley Cross
Directed by Desmond Davis

Starring Harry Hamlin, Maggie Smith, Laurence Olivier, Judi Bowker, and Burgess Meredith

My rating: ★★★1/2 stars

Strong narrative elevates special effects-driven film.

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To Each His Own; Review by Robin Franson Pruter

to each his own posterOriginally released 12 Mar 1946
Screenplay by Charles Brackett and Jacques Thery from a story by Charles Brackett
Directed by Mitchell Leisen

Starring Olivia de Havilland, John Lund, and Mary Anderson

My rating: ★★★★ stars

Outstanding romantic drama of a woman’s struggles through two world wars.

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