Sunday, March 14, 2010

Winning Time

The title of this post comes not only from the new 30 for 30 documentary Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. the New York Knicks, which premieres tonight at 9:00 PM on ESPN, but also because even on a rainy weekend we are approaching winning time.  The weather is getting warmer; we put the clocks ahead today and it is going to get lighter and lighter each days, which means that we won.

Also, this evening the brackets for the 2010 NCAA Tournament will be released.  This is a little bittersweet for me since UNC had an off year and will not be getting a chance to defend their title from last year - unfortunate.  However, everyone is a winner around this time of year with the abundance of basketball and excitement that will be on TV.  This Thursday and Friday are the two best basketball days of the entire year.  You can literally watch basketball from 11:55 AM to midnight on each of those days.  I have a meeting at Vogue magazine on Thursday, but after that you can rest assure that I will be pulling up a bar stool at some dark hole and watching basketball for the rest of the day. This week should yield at least one substantive post about this year's tournament - bound to be one of the weirdest of all time - and the NBA prospects/leading stars heading into the tournament - my love of Evan Turner has exponentially increased over the weekend - so look out for all that.

Some other items of business to address today:

- I got my hands on the new Joanna Newsom album Have One on Me, the new Gorrilaz album, Plastic Beach, and the Field Music album, Field Music (Measure). I'll be listening to all of these albums during this next week and may be giving a low down of at least one of  them. I am not a Joanna Newsom fan, but I am hoping to get into her from this album.  I have heard really good things about the Gorillaz album and I am overall very excited to listen to the Field Music album. Field Music is basically the brain child of David and Peter Brewis, two brothers who write excellent pop songs in the vein of a band like XTC.  Peter released an album with his side project The Week that Was in 2008 and it was one of my favorite albums of that year.

- I was just browsing through some of my bookmarks and I wanted to mention the blog of a friend of mine, Dan Shapiro. Dan went to Skidmore as well and here is his blog.  Very entertaining and mesmerizing site.

- My friend Janelle turned me on to the artwork of yet another Brown alumni over the weekend.  This alumni's name is Lauren Gidwitz and she has a fine website with her work.  You can visit it here. She definitely has a vision and aesthetic that I can relate to.

- Also stumbled upon this link as well, which was perfect for me.

As far Winning Time tonight, you can listen to Bill Simmons interview the director Dan Klores at his podcast website on ESPN.

Speaking of podcasts, I will be soon adding that element to this website as well.  I am just looking into the simplest and most direct route of recording and will then proceed with interviews and bull shit sessions with my friends and other local celebrities.  I basically just want to talk to people who are trying to create something and maintain an aesthetic belief while being faced with the harsh reality of possibly just being a loser - you know, people like myself.  I will of course be forcing the discussions towards basketball and the music I enjoy so there will bound to be plenty of arguments and empty beer cans. If you have any insights on podcast recording, please feel free to let me know.

The comedy shorts have not gone out the window.  We are re-recording one of the simpler sketches before the documentary tonight and will be conducting the more difficult sketches once we can catch some sunny weather.  Stay tuned for it all.

Always new content.

Now, From Here to the Last Mound of Dirt.  This is the last installment from the first section of Part II of the novel.  This concludes the "wake" portion of the funeral ceremony.  The next section picks up in the limo on the way to the cemetary and is told completely from the perspective of the limo driver:

The procession of the family continued solemnly.  The O’Donnells carried the casket through the lobby.  Douglas Bryant admired the family as they moved.  He was surprised how nicely the shape had fallen into place.  He liked the boy-girl-boy order that was reflected on each side of the casket.  It was a shame that Connor was not a part of the nuclear family, but the healing that might occur between the two brothers over this moment and ceremony was far more dramatic.  Douglas Bryant looked up at the portrait of his father.  This was why his father had gotten into the funeral home business: to help families reunite over a ritual.  That was the power the home had; families and individuals could connect with each other, could connect with something greater, something they always felt within themselves but could never really understand.  That was why there were death rituals, so that one could hope to make that greater universe understandable.  It wasn’t the most appealing profession, but it helped soothe people in its repetition and reliability.  Douglas watched Connor and Ben O’Donnell as they walked at the rear of the casket.  He had to admit that they did look very similar.  It was something in their faces, a childish quality, playful, yes, but also something adventurous, especially with their hair wispy and somewhat unkempt around the ears.  Funeral Director Bryant felt his heart skip.  If he could bring these two brothers together, then this job would have been a true success.

Douglas took a deep breath.  He looked at Eve.  This was the first he had ever seen of James O’Donnell’s wife in person.  He had seen her in the Herald in the “People” section towards the back of the paper.  There was a picture of the two of them with a  notice that they had gotten married, the ceremony was in Georgetown.  He found her to be quite beautiful and he wondered how old she was, how old they both were.  She looked to be about thirty.  Douglas thought they would probably have children soon.  Although, looking at her trim frame, he couldn’t imagine her gaining the creamy glow that a woman’s skin and overall appearance took when she was pregnant.  He remembered when Eileen, his wife, was pregnant with Frank.  He was never more attracted to her.  To Douglas, it was the greatest pleasure of his life that he loved a woman and was able to have a child with her, that simplicity made everything else bearable.

The main doors of the funeral home were open and Douglas could see the hearse parked outside.  Everything had been set up correctly and was going according to his vision.  The family would pass the casket into the hearse and it would be driven to the place of rest.  Once the casket was in the hearse, his job was over.  Douglas stood behind the O’Donnell family as they carried the hearse out of the funeral home and down the concrete steps.  He heard the constant whoosh of the car passing on Old Town Road.  The extended family and other well wishers were gathered along the steps as the family passed through with the casket to the back of the hearse.  Douglas remained on the top step.  He saw the fine polished wood pass partly, then fully, past the opened black back door of the hearse, the spare tire with its silver hubcap looking directly at him.

Funeral Director Bryant sighed and continued to listen to the cars.  He heard the back door of the hearse slam and felt the eyes of the mourners fall on him.

“Our service here is concluded.  The hearse will guide you all past the last residence and then out to the place of rest.  Kindly follow the procession and know that my heart and the hearts of all those at Bryant & Sons Funeral Home are heavy with your loss as well.”

The O’Donnell family remained near the hearse.  However, Ben O’Donnell shuffled up the stairs, Thomas followed him.

“Ben?” Douglas Bryant said.

“You did a good job.”

“Thank you, Ben.”

“For a real son of a bitch, I think I can understand you,” Ben said, smiling.

“I appreciate that, Ben.”

Ben turned and looked at Thomas for a moment. He turned back. “You and I aren’t so different.”

Douglas Bryant shuffled his black shoes on the cement step. “No.”

Ben held out his hand.  Douglas shook it.

“Thanks again.  You did a good job,” Ben said and walked away.

Thomas remained for a moment.  He held out his hand.  Douglas Bryant shook it.

“Thanks, Mr. Bryant.”

Douglas released his hand and looked up at Tom’s sharp face.  There was a kindness in it, but also something around the eyes that disturbed him.  Douglas felt himself lose his control.

“You’re OK, aren’t you?” he blurted.

Tom smiled and looked out to the cars. “I’d say so.”

“You know,” Douglas said, “people always had great things to say about you.  They just never understand why you were.  Well, why you did it.”

Tom continued to smile. “Thanks, Mr. Bryant.”

Douglas watched Tom turn away.  As he did, he paused for a moment.  Douglas followed Tom’s vision and saw a girl standing on the front lawn of the home.  Tom and the girl both stood frozen for a moment before Tom moved toward her on the far side of the hearse.  Douglas wanted to watch, but something from Tom’s tone made him turn away.  He listened to the sound of the cars in the road and turned his head back to the high school.  Douglas Bryant frowned and bowed his head.  He hoped his son would never come to the crossroads Tom O’Donnell had come to when he jumped in the frozen creek.  He hoped his son would forgive him for being hard on him.  Douglas breathed in the fresh air.  Frank would come to understand him someday, he hoped at least. However, Douglas Bryant thought, as he dug his hand into his pocket, all of the order he surrounded himself with and took pride in for years with his own father and the job he had been given seemed to fall by the wayside when he had to face his own son.  When Douglas thought of Frank, he felt a great swell of love within himself, but could never translate it into something real.  His hugs were false and his kisses non-existant.  The warm air blew the thin front strands of Douglas Bryant’s hair.  He grabbed onto the iron hand rail that split the front steps of the home and eased himself to a sit on the top step.

Douglas Bryant watched Tom O’Donnell talk to the girl on the grass.

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