Thursday November 27, 2014

Cheap seats by a stretch of the imagination


View from the Cheap Seats is kind of an extension of the newsroom. Whenever our three regular reporters, Calvin Daniels, Thom Barker and Randy Brenzen are in the building together, it is frequently a site of heated debate. This week: What fictional character would you most like to meet?

Never hate your enemies

These exercises always seem like a good idea at the time, but turn out to be excruciatingly difficult. I probably spend way too much time thinking about it.

Nevertheless, it is an extremely instructive process as it intellectualizes what are normally emotional responses.

Ultimately, I abandoned thinking about the endless list of possible candidates and started thinking about archetypal characters. What most makes a character compelling?

Of course, that depends on the person, but for me the most interesting characters have always been tragic heroes.

I could insert any number of characters here from Oedipus to Hamlet to Jean Valjean to Darth Vader to Hal 9000 to Walter White, but I’m going to go with Michael Corleone.

It’s pretty difficult to think of Corleone as a hero. More comfortable maybe, would be to call him a conflicted protagonist, a good guy “forced” to do bad things in the face of even greater evil to satisfy a flawed, but internally consistent sense of morality.

Of course, the turning point for Michael is the attempted assassination of his father, the Godfather, Vito Corleone. However, the act of killing rival kingpin Virgil “the Turk” Sollozzo and corrupt police captain Mark McCluskey, leads Michael to a series of rationalizations that ultimately destroys the very thing he is trying to protect, his family.

Make no mistake, Michael Corleone becomes a monster, but in doing so, he evokes sympathy. The naivety in always thinking he is going to take the family legit is the tragic flaw of a man struggling with internal conflict and external forces beyond his control.

“Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in,” he famously growls in Godfather III.

The mastery of Mario Puzo in the books, and Francis Ford Coppola in the movies, was creating this dichotomy of good and evil in a context that actually often has the viewer cheering for a character who in almost any other context would be an antagonist or even an anti-hero.

In fact, Michael is a confluence of archetypes and contradictions, tender, but ruthless; brilliant, but lacking insight; calm, but full of rage; loyal, but selfish.

I have no doubt meeting Michael Corleone would be a fascinating experience.

- Thom Barker

Church of Baseball

As you might expect coming up with a topic every week for this spot can in itself be a challenge.

And then someone suggests a topic like ‘which fictional character would you most like to meet’, and you quickly find your mind near short-circuiting with possibilities.

I have been an avid reader for years, and so the possibilities of meeting much loved characters from Robin Hood to Sherlock Holmes to John Cater of Mars and a few hundred more inundated my mind.

Related to my love of reading would be a chance to meet comic book heroes The Batman, or maybe Thor, Green Arrow, or Wonder Woman. Yes Wonder Woman might be a good choice, or Catwoman perhaps.

And then there is the world of film and television. To sit and talk the world of Star Trek with Jean Luc Picard or James T. Kirk is compelling for any trekkie.

Or perhaps a dinner with Princess Leia. Yes, that would be intriguing to say the least.

Also any fiction book worth remembering will have a character who would be interesting to sit with and talk.

Any favourite TV show is the same. Imagine Beau and Luke Duke based on my young teen memories of them and the General Lee, and of course cousin Daisy.

I would have jumped to meet Little Joe Cartwright when I was a youngster as he was a cowboy hero.

Or maybe a day on a trout stream with Inspector Christopher Foyle.

But here we are supposed to pick one. I really do wonder whose restrictive idea that was.

Well it took until the last minute to decide on one, and I have settled on Annie Savoy. I figure talking baseball with her would just be a lot of fun.

- Calvin Daniels

Don’t think

After thinking for a long time about which fictional character I’d like to meet, I have decided on three finalists.

Finalist one: Kenny Powers. Sure, he’s rude, offensive, fairly racist, not to mention sexist.

Add to that the fact that he hates anyone but himself and he’s pretty much a repulsive person. Plus, he’s addicted to pretty much any substance you can think of stance you can think of and treats his friends like garbage.

But he’s hilarious and stupid. Wouldn’t it be fun to just see the kind of stuff he’d get in to?

The second finalist is Jessica Rabbit. Sultry, seductive and sexy (as far as cartoon characters go). Anyone who has watched ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?’ would agree she’d be a solid pick.

But the person who finishes first on the list is none other than the Durham Bulls catcher, one “Crash” Davis.

A career minor leaguer who had a cup of coffee in the big league before being sent down, never to sniff the majors again.

Plus, I’m a pitcher. You all saw what Crash did for Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh. He turned that five cent head into one that can control that million dollar arm.

And if you disagree with me or think my choice is ridiculous, well… Stop thinking, meat. Don’t think; it can only hurt the ball club.

- Randy Brenzen



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