Previous month:
February 2012
Next month:
April 2012

vampire by vampire

(Several years ago, I gave a keynote speech at a conference for advisors in the UC system. I summarized it on this blog, and at least one person asked to see the whole thing. But I didn’t have any copies. Well, a few days ago, the day, in fact, that Bruce Springsteen gave the keynote speech at SXSW, my speech turned up. Here it is at last, anachronistic in places, edited to remove a few personal notes lauding specific advisors who were in attendance. I think it’s worth posting, even after all this time. I started by showing a clip from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.)

Xander: Since when do we go through all this trouble for one lousy vampire? Excuse me, one lousy potential vampire.

Buffy: Vampire by vampire. It’s the only way I know how.

Dawn: You’ll be fine. You’ll be a great counselor.

Buffy: It’s my first week actually talking to the kids. What if their problems are all weird and tricky?

Xander: I think you underestimate your familiarity with the world of weird and tricky. This job’s perfect for you.

Dead woman: I am not peaceful.

Buffy: That, I can help with. (puts stake through the vampire’s heart)

This clip demonstrates three different kinds of reactions we have when dealing with students. There’s the philosophical theory under which we operate. In Buffy’s case, it’s “vampire by vampire.” There’s the feelings of inadequacy: “what if it’s all weird and tricky?” And there’s the times when you just want to put a stake in their hearts.

I said “we” because I’ve done a little advising in the past. I helped direct senior theses in American Studies for several years, and spent one year in Mass Communications where advising was part of my job description. But I confess, as I stand before you here, I’m in that second frame of mind: feelings of inadequacy. I’m not too worried about the weird and tricky. I’m just very aware of great contributions advisors make towards education, and I know that I’m a rookie when it comes to those kinds of contributions.

I am perhaps the poster child for the infamous “Master Plan for Higher Education”. I attended three different community colleges, going back far enough that they were still called “junior colleges”. I entered UC Berkeley as a J.C. transfer student, and graduated two years later. From there, I went on to grad school, also at Berkeley, and even finished that, although it took a lot longer than two years. Since that time, I’ve also taught in the English, American Studies, and Mass Communications programs at Berkeley, in the Humanities department at San Francisco State, and am currently teaching in the English department at American River College. Seeing that on the page, it appears I’m going full circle: JC to UC, UC to State, State to JC!

My first reaction on being contacted to speak at this conference was simple: “why me?” It’s true that I stumbled around the UC system for close to 20 years, but only one of those years was spent actually advising students, and I’ve been away from UC for a couple of years now. I have no special training for this. “What if their problems are weird and tricky” is a question I often ask myself. I feel inadequate on a regular basis. But I find it helps if I treat everyone I come across as a human being. It’s too easy, working in a huge institution like UC, to forget that these aren’t just stereotypical kids, they’re human beings.

When discussing what topics I might address here today, one that came up was that I might “help understand this generation of students.” “Echo Boomers,” they were called, although I always thought of them as “Generation Y”. I thought this was kind of funny. I’m 51 years old, and my kids are long since grown up and out of the house (one of them runs a mentoring program in the Sacramento school district, in fact). What do I know about this generation of students? But the fact is, I do know a few things about them. And so do you.

They’re human beings, for one thing. Most of them are young … not all, I was in my 30s by the time I got to Cal … but they’re human beings, and although they might not believe it, we were all young once, too. That cliché pays off, I think. Not because we know what 50 Cent is saying on his new album, that’s not what I mean, although I suppose it helps if you do know 50 Cent, but because all of us experienced similar situations, and they might have been long enough ago that it’s work to recall them. But recall them we must. Because we’ll remember when we were scared, or cocky, or scared and cocky at the same time, and we’ll appreciate what our students are going through.

Student Affairs Officers … how many of you have that title? I think you are the greatest people in the entire UC system. I’m serious. A few years back, I attended the graduation ceremony for Women’s Studies, and there was this woman doing everything: keeping everyone on schedule, patting the hands of the nervous graduates, calming the family and friends, telling jokes. She was the perfect hostess. And I said to myself, “she’s a Student Affairs Officer”, because she knew everything that needed to be done, and she did it, and she was accessible to all. And it turned out I was right. I don’t know what it is about the job, but as someone who has worked in the UC system as undergrad, grad student, and teacher, I thank you from the bottom of my unorganized heart.

In all of this, one thing keeps coming up: treating students like human beings. I know the subject of this conference is “Radical Advising Directions in California”, and I would like to apologize for not being radical enough. All I’m saying is, treat students like human beings, how radical is that? Sadly, it remains a radical stance at alienating institutions such as those in the UC system. My wife has a standard response when I tell her what a good person she is. “I’m just me”, she says, meaning that she can’t take credit for just doing whatever everyone else would do. She doesn’t realize that not everyone is as good as she is, not everyone does the right thing or does their best, so what she sees as ordinary is in fact radical. A similar thing happens in big institutions. It doesn’t seem very radical to treat people like human beings, but sadly, it’s unusual, if not radical, in the UC system. I don’t think this is because the UC system is filled with assholes; the people working for UC are like everyone else. They don’t come to work each day thinking, “how can I screw somebody over?” But the institution makes even the best of us into assholes without our even realizing it. It takes a great, yes, a radical effort to overcome the institutional alienation that affects everyone who comes into contact with UC. I wish I could say I’d always risen to the occasion. I know I did not. I don’t suppose any of us are perfect. Maybe my wife.

But when I think about the people I worked with in my years in the UC system, professors, payroll clerks, custodians, fellow students, big-shots and small-shots, and yes, advisors … when I think about all those people, I can state with assurance that the best chance I had to be treated like a human being was with an advisor.

It is pretty scary for a student when they first come to the university. No one holds your hand, no one takes your life experiences into account, you’re just dropped by your parents on the front steps and told to get good grades. It is imperative that those students have someone, anyone, who can make them feel less alienated, make them understand that while the institution might be oppressive, the people working there might be OK. It isn’t going to happen with the famous professors; the famous professors aren’t often teaching first-years, anyway. It probably won’t happen from the graduate student instructors. Grad school adds neurotic anxiety to the general malaise, making grad students the last people you’d ask for help. It won’t happen from your fellow undergrads, not at first. They’re in the same boat as you, although once you’ve become acclimated to UC, your fellow students are your best resource. No, the place where students see the humanity that does indeed exist behind the institution is with their advisors.

When I was an undergrad, I worked for a semester as a peer tutor. One of my students was a freshman who thought she needed help with her writing. Once a week we would get together, and I’d read over drafts of her various papers, and I’m here to say, she was as good at writing as I was. She needed no help in that area. We got to talking one afternoon, and she told me her story: top-ranked student at her small-town high school, editor of the school newspaper, been writing all her life. But then she got accepted to Cal, her parents dropped her off and wished her good luck, and she felt so out-of-place she came to distrust everything she’d ever done before coming to UC. I told her she was a fine writer, that she didn’t need to worry about that. Further discussion led to the realization that she didn’t know how to deal with Sproul Hall, which is the most bureaucratic building on the Berkeley campus. The long lines, the blank faces, the endless hallways, even the high ceilings were just plain scary. So I told her some of the tricks I’d learned, how to deal with the bureaucracy. It wasn’t much, but combined with my praising of her writing, it might have been the best advising I ever did, and I was still an undergraduate myself.

If we can remember how scared those students are, we’re that much closer to seeing them as human beings. And that’s radical enough for me.

Can I explain this generation of students? Hell no. But I can tell you a few things about them. They have their own culture, and they appreciate it when you appreciate their culture, but they don’t want you to take it over from them, because then it will no longer be theirs.

And what about these “Echo Boomers” about whom I am supposed to have insights? Like every generation for at least the last 60 years, they have a culture that is distinct from their predecessors, and Baby Boomers ignore this fact at their peril. Baby Boomer culture is no longer the center of the pop universe. It hasn’t been since Hip-Hop. So what I would say about this generation of students is simply that they are not us.

And one warning: while you might think being an “out of touch grown up” is the worst possible persona to take on, it is far worse to pretend to an understanding that doesn’t exist. Students don’t hold it against you if you don’t know much about their culture, but they rightly DO hold it against you if you profess to know, to be cool or whatever, when you don’t know at all. And so I taught a course on Buffy, because I knew and loved Buffy, but I didn’t teach the O.C. because I don’t know or love that.

But neither do I want to suggest that there is no common ground on which we can meet. This generation of students wants information. And what students want from advisors is information the students don’t already possess. My experience over a wide spectrum of environments in the UC system is, those students are going to the right people. Advisors know how the system works, know when it is prudent to circumvent it, know which professors can be trusted and which should be avoided. Advisors know how to help students get through college. Professors know about literature, or physics, or foreign languages, and that’s good, you need someone passing along that knowledge from one generation to the next. But you can’t do it without a road map, and advisors are the tour guides. When students find university life weird and tricky, they look to advisors to work around the tricks.

I know in all of this I seem to be avoiding the need to be radical. But I feel like this is radical: to impart to students the inner workings of the institution, to the purpose of removing as much alienation as possible. That, to me, is a radical move, one that is most often taken in the advisors’ offices.

In his novel The Plague, Albert Camus includes two crucial dialogues between men trying to stop the spread of plague in their town. One, a doctor named Rieux, says during the first of these conversations with his friend Tarrou, “I have no idea what’s awaiting me, or what will happen when this all ends. For the moment, I know this; there are sick people and they need curing. Later on, perhaps, they’ll think things over; and so shall I. But what’s wanted now is to make them well. I defend them as best I can, that’s all.”

In their later conversation, it is Tarrou’s turn to speak. He explains why he works so hard against the plague. “All I maintain is that on this earth there are pestilences and there are victims, and it’s up to us, so far as possible, not to join forces with the pestilences.” Every time you advise a student, every time you help them maneuver their way through the endless bureaucracy, every time you shine a small light of humanity into the institution, you are refusing to join forces with the pestilences. We can only hope that one day, such a stance will no longer be seen as radical, but will instead be the norm. For now, we go through all this trouble, vampire by vampire.

what i watched last week

There’s not going to be much point to these weekly posts, if I don’t watch anything other than “requests”. Once again, that’s all I watched, which means I’ve already written about them. If you missed them, here they are:

Fahrenheit 451

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings

To the list of possible “By Request” movies for upcoming weeks (The Parallax View, Semi-Pro, and This Is England), I can add Alphaville. If you have any requests, drop me an email or leave a comment here.

portlandia: season two

It says something about the second season of Portlandia that the final episode came about a week and a half ago, and I’m only now writing this, because I only now have seen it. Sometime over the course of Season Two, Portlandia went from being a show I watched the night it aired to a show with the last two episodes sitting on the DVR.

I can’t say the show has gotten worse. It’s just that each episode blends together in my mind, with some wonderful parts and some boring parts, and enough of the latter than I’m losing interest, despite my Carrie-love. Looking back over episode summaries (which is the only way at this point that I can remember when the wonderful parts turned up), I see the Battlestar Galactica episode (#2), and the episode with Kristen Wiig and Amber Tamblyn (#6), and, well, that’s it. Each episode had something that made me smile, but that’s the best I can say for the majority of them. And again, I don’t think the show is getting worse, I just think I don’t have a very long attention span for sketch comedies that rely on a consistent level of OK-ness. If I had seen the Season Two finale last season, I might have liked it more. But now, I confess I was watching out of loyalty more than enjoyment.

At the start of the season, I wrote, “I rarely laugh at Portlandia. But I enjoy watching it.” At the end, only the first half of that sentence remains true. Grade for Season Two: B-.

by request: the lord of the rings: the fellowship of the ring (peter jackson, 2001)

This request came from an unexpected source, a 13-year-old friend who was visiting and asked if we could watch Lord of the Rings on the big screen TV (and it had to be the extended version). I said we could start with the first one, and so it was that Friday night around 8:30 we began watching the first part of an epic saga, a film long enough that we didn’t finish until around 12:30 in the morning.

Our friend made an excellent choice. The Fellowship of the Ring is grand entertainment, made on a large scale but with time and room for real characters of depth that we come to care about deeply. In most ways, I am not the audience for these films. I never read Tolkien, and am not a fan of the genre. On the other hand, I’ve been a fan of Peter Jackson since his splatter-core beginnings with Bad Taste and Dead Alive. Jackson’s participation ensured that I watched the films when they were released, watched the extended versions when they were released, and was happy to indulge my friend with a third viewing. It holds up marvelously; it’s better than I had remembered.

Jackson brings a loving understanding to the material, so that I imagine fans of the books also became fans of the movies. But he also reaches out to people like myself, clueless about the books and wary of twee fantasies about lovable munchkins. Yes, when we meet the hobbits, they are twee and innocent and lovable. But the story carries some of them (Frodo, most obviously) far beyond the shire, literally and figuratively, and it is then that Jackson begins to make a believer out of me. (Again noting that Tolkien might have pulled off this feat with the originals, but I don’t know them.) The evil forces are truly frightening … you never get the feeling you’re just watching a big-scale version of Dungeons and Dragons. Jackson is willing to pile on the gore … if he is several levels below his splatter movies in this regard, he nonetheless pushes the limit of the PG-13 rating. This matter not because Gore Is Good, but because the violence is part of what makes the evil terrifying and shows the dangers the Fellowship will face.

There is also a perfect blend of the human and the mystical. The Dark Riders are faceless yet scary on a primal level, while the faces of the humans, hobbits, wizards, dwarves, and elves are readable entries into the souls of the characters. This blend is reflected in the entire film, which easily moves from small moments to large ones, from the simple effect of an actor like Ian McKellen enjoying his role to the magical CGI that makes the more miraculous parts of the journey believable.

Throughout, Jackson rarely makes a bad move, keeping our attention for the entire 200+ minutes of the Extended edition (this is one time when the extended version is the right one, as Jackson reworked the entire film to integrate the new material). I originally gave this film 9/10, but now I think that was like giving a top student an A- on their first essay, so they’ll be driven to better themselves the next time around. In retrospect, Jackson needed no such incentive. 10/10. #33 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 250 films of the 21st century, #783 on their Top 1000 all-time list.

music friday: james brown, the rolling stones, and the tami show, 1964

I’ve written more than once here about James Brown, often including the same clip I’ll place in this post. It’s a bit lazy, but it’s too appropriate, given Bruce Springsteen’s evocation of Mr. Dynamite in his SXSW speech, and his emulation of the Apollo introduction from 1962 when Bruce appeared at that storied venue last week. Here’s Bruce on the topic of today’s Music Friday, from his keynote speech, describing what it must have been like for the Rolling Stones to follow James Brown:

There is no greater performance than James Brown burning ass on the Rolling Stones at the TAMI show. Sorry. Sorry my friends. I fuckin’ love the Stones, but James Brown. Boys and men! You were screwed. “I think I’ll go on after James Brown. Oh yeah, can you put me in the schedule somewhere after James Brown? Fuck, no!” Get out, go home, save it. Don’t waste it, man.

(He continues with a funny anecdote about being on stage with JB, but he tells it so well, I’ll just advise you watch it yourself.)

Here is James Brown at the TAMI show:

The Stones didn’t actually suck that night … in fact, they were on fire, knowing they had to crank it up just to be able to hold their heads high:

keynote bruce

Bruce Springsteen gave the keynote speech at SXSW today, and it was a remarkable piece of work, one that resonated in ways easily recognizable to those of us who attend his concerts over and over.

Bruce was all of the things we love about him. He was funny and a bit self-deprecating, he was serious, he was respectful of his influences, he played the crowd and had them eating out of his hand. In essence, he took his famous line about learning more from a 3-minute record than he ever learned in school, and showed us what a 45-minute class in a proper school might teach us. He told about seeing Elvis on TV when he was six, he demonstrated his love of doo-wop, singled out 60s icons like Roy Orbison, Phil Spector, Bob Dylan, and the Beatles, showered love on both Stax and Motown, and told a funny story about getting on stage with James Brown that included a more-accurate-than-you’d-expect imitation of the Godfather of Soul.

He spoke of the impact punk had on Darkness on the Edge of Town, and how important Joe Klein’s biography of Woody Guthrie was to him. Then he suddenly leaped forward 25 years, as if he was running out of time, and talked about singing “This Land Is Your Land” with Pete Seeger at the inauguration. He closed with a bang, and he was done.

It’s tempting to just offer up the great lines from his speech, kind of like how I feel after watching an episode of 30 Rock. And I’ll get to that. But I want to take a minute to focus on the overarching Story of Bruce’s Life, as told in this speech.

Most obviously, his influences, which are pretty standard for baby-boomers, are all men. A few women sneak in behind Phil Spector, and there were plenty of women in the soul music of Stax and Motown, but the people that meant the most to him musically were guys. His story has always been a pretty standard white-guy tale, where the guy loves a girl and life is tough. Beyond the occasional “Streets of Philadelphia” or “My Lover Man”, Bruce doesn’t sing from the point of view of gay men, nor does he often sing from the point of view of women. He has a core decency towards people that works well … he may not sing from their point of view, but he is understanding from the outside; he’d never write “Under My Thumb”. But the primary outside influence he cites is the soul and R&B of African-Americans … guys.

This doesn’t make him a bad artist, and his sympathy towards the people in his songs is heartfelt. But it does point to why some non-believers think of him as a drab, middle-of-the-road artist who doesn’t go far from his white-guy roots, even though anyone who ever saw him live would wonder how someone could find Bruce drab.

OK, I got that out of the way. There were also several moments during his speech where you saw why Bruce is Bruce and, oh, Tom Petty is Tom Petty. I’ve often spoken of punk rock as the line that separated boomers who were looking ahead from those who decided the first time they heard the Sex Pistols that it was time to adopt grown up musical tastes. (Hip-hop then broke down barriers and built entirely new ones.) Bruce mentioned how he bought all of the early punk music, reminded us that Darkness was written in the crucial punk year of 1977, saying that not all of the people of his generation embraced punk, but he did. (“You could not ignore it. I had peers who did, and they were mistaken.”)

I can’t give away all of his best material … you’ll have to watch or listen to the speech, hear it from the horse’s mouth, as it were. But among the highlights for me were:

The famous Lester Bangs quote about the death of Elvis … Bruce quoting Lester!

Doing a human beat box to demonstrate the power of the opening to “Be My Baby”.

His description of James Brown’s performance at the TAMI show, and how it must have felt to be the Rolling Stones that day.

His regular use of the word “pop” rather than “rock” to describe all of the music that he loved.

His frequent shout outs to Kiss and Public Enemy.

And perhaps best of all, the segment about the Animals. They were different than the other British beat bands. They were the first ones to really address class as a topic (those of us who saw him in the mid-70s can remember his powerhouse version of “It’s My Life”, with one of his long, personal raps about how the song fit his life). And, as he said, there wasn’t a good-looking guy in the bunch, which made Bruce, who thought he was ugly, feel better.

But the best of this best segment was his brief tutorial on stealing (“Youngsters, watch this one!”), demonstrating how “Badlands” had “the same fuckin’ riff” as “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” (“Listen up, youngsters! This is how successful theft is accomplished!”).

I said last week that I was lucky to latch onto Bruce as my favorite almost 40 years ago, because you can never predict who will remain vital. In this speech, Bruce was a great spokesperson for that segment of Baby Boomer America that grew up on rock and roll. He represented our best, eloquent in describing what the music meant to him, but also giving nods to the music, past and present, that works outside the white-bread mainstream. is going to archive the audio of the speech (it’s not there as I type, but they say by the end of the day it will be up). Here is the entire video, including all of his f-bombs (which I suspect won’t make the NPR archive … there were so many of them, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone sues them for allowing the word “fuck” on a live broadcast). Keep in mind, this link may not work forever, but the NPR link, when it arrives, will be around.

Video streaming by Ustream

bad luck

OK, it’s not an original title, but I’m lazy after a day of fighting a losing battle with the sump pump over basement flooding.

The official reason given for HBO’s cancellation of Luck is that they must put the safety of the horses ahead of all other considerations. (For those outside of this particular loop, two horses died during the filming of Season One, and a third died yesterday during filming.) The rumor mill suggests that the series’ low ratings may have also had something to do with the cancellation, although since HBO had already green-lighted a second season, that seems unlikely (especially since HBO is less concerned about ratings than other networks).

I thought about this for a bit, and then it hit me. HBO has won more than two dozen Emmys, seven Peabody awards, three Golden Globes, and an Oscar. But one award remains elusive: The Karen Sisco Award, given on this blog annually to an underappreciated series than only lasts one season. HBO has never had a series come close to this award (FX has actually won both previous awards).

So I figure HBO has come up with a way to get the one award they’ve missed out on. Get powerful creators like Michael Mann (who was the force behind Crime Story, which was a Karen Sisco award show before the award existed) and David Milch, sign up big names like Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte, and Michael Gambon (not to mention Dennis Farina, who starred on Crime Story), get Steven Rubio hooked on the show, and then, just like that, cancel it after one season.

I expect to hear from HBO about this matter shortly.

by request: fahrenheit 451 (françois truffaut, 1966)

Fahrenheit 451 is an oddball movie that for the most part doesn’t work. It sounds good when you describe it, especially if you don’t think too hard about the plot. But the execution fails, leaving you plenty of time to think about the silliness.

You’ve got a novel by acclaimed science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury. You’ve got one of the top French New Wave directors in François Truffaut. The cast includes Oskar Werner, one of the stars of Truffaut’s masterpiece, Jules and Jim, and the beautiful Julie Christie. (It’s also nice to see Anton Diffring, last seen on this blog in the Creature Feature, Circus of Horrors.) Bernard Hermann did the score, Nicolas Roeg the cinematography. What could go wrong?

Well, for starters, this was Truffaut’s first film in English, a language he did not speak. How did it go? Let’s just say he never directed another film in English. The pairing of Truffaut and Werner didn’t work out as well this time … they disagreed strongly about how the character should be played, and their feud got so bad that Werner cut his hair before his final scene, just to screw up the continuity (it worked). There was also the Hitchcock angle. Truffaut greatly respected Hitchcock … his book of interviews with the veteran came out around this time. Bernard Hermann’s score was reminiscent of some of his more recent Hitchcock collaborations. And Truffaut couldn’t resist tossing in a few camera tricks from Hitchcock’s bag. Unfortunately, in a few scenes, Truffaut also borrowed Hitch’s awful love of matte paintings and rear-projection shots (poor Nicolas Roeg must have cried). Not to mention Fahrenheit 451 isn’t really the kind of story that fits well with Hitchcock (at the least, he would have added humor that is missing from Truffaut’s movie).

Ah yes, the story. As I said earlier, it sounds fascinating. In a future world, firemen don’t extinguish fires, they start them. Their job is to find books and burn them. Books are not allowed in this society. The people are mostly dazed, drugged-up suburbanites who watch interactive TV (one of my most vivid memories of the film was the enormous “wall screen” they watched … times have changed, because the TV isn’t any bigger than the big-screen I watched it on). The concept intrigues, because we’re concerned about the dangers of censorship, and because book-burning strikes an emotional core. And the first images of the modernistic red fire trucks are impressive.

But then the movie just sits there. Werner’s fireman meets a character who puts the idea of reading a book into his head (she is played by Julie Christie, who also plays the fireman’s wife … I love Christie, but here, she barely distinguishes between the two characters, letting her wig do the work). There is no clear reason why Werner decides to read. When he does read, he doesn’t show any particular emotion. Yet after that, he can’t get enough of books, scarfing them down three and four at a time.

As your mind wanders, you may think about all of the holes and absurdities in the plot. Where do people learn to read, in a society with no books, where all printed communication is in pictures? How does the fire captain know so much about the books they burn? Did he read them all, even though reading is prohibited? And the “solution” to the problem, whereby people separate from the main society and form their own groups, each person memorizing a book to preserve it for history, drains all of the life out of literature. As the film ends, we see the various “book people” wandering around reciting their particular books, paying no attention to each other. It’s like a literate version of Return of the Living Dead, where instead of crying out “BRAINS!”, the zombies recite from the middle section of Moby Dick.

Despite all of this, there are a few things that break the spell of mediocrity. Nicolas Roeg makes the picture look wonderful (outside of the matte work). And Bernard Hermann’s score is one of his best (a point that Robert Gable, who requested this film, made … you’re right on target, Robert). Even there, though, I question Truffaut’s use of the score. He plays up the Hitchcockian elements, and as I’ve already said, Fahrenheit 451 is not a Hitchcock movie, no matter how hard Truffaut tries. 5/10.

what i watched last week

Or, what I didn’t watch. For a variety of reasons, I only watched one movie last week, The Last Picture Show, about which I wrote at length last Wednesday. My excuses were many: I’m grading papers, several TV series had excellent episodes this week (Shameless, Justified, and 30 Rock, if you must know … and, like everyone who mentions 30 Rock, I can’t quit without quoting at least one line from that episode, from Tracy, who often gets the quotable ones: “I finally understand the ending of the Sixth Sense, those names were the people who worked on the movie!”), live sports returned with the opening night for the Earthquakes.

I actually did start to watch a second movie, Brazil. I made it through the first hour. I didn’t like what I saw, it wasn’t the kind of movie I like in the first place, and I was sleepy. So I gave up on it. If you need a grade, give it an Incomplete.

I did, however, get some nice suggestions for my new By Request feature. Thanks to everyone who has submitted requests so far, and keep them coming. Among the likely By Request films I’ll be watching in upcoming weeks are Fahrenheit 451, The Parallax View, Semi-Pro, and This Is England.

quakes opener: the result

The home side won, 1-0, and played some entertaining soccer in the process. They have some speedsters on the roster this season, and while the jury is out on how that speed will translate into results, the entertainment angle should be covered. We were especially taken with Marvin Chávez, a 5’5” winger from Honduras. Now I know why he is called “El Hijo del Viento” (son of the wind).

But the most memorable part of the evening came when I browsed through the game program and found this:

program opening night 2012

GM? Check. Head coach? Check. Assistant coaches, goalkeeper coach, fitness coach? Check. Trainers? Check. Team Administrator? Check. Video Analyst?

Hey, wait a minute. That’s my nephew, Sean Rubio, in the official program!