Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Sopranos Finale

After many years investing my time in "The Sopranos", it was time to cash out. The finale was much anticipated, especially considering the events taking place leading up to the finale.

But as the final moment of the final episode transpired, I, along with I'm sure millions of others who were watching, were left muttering - "What the hell?" or "Well, that was stupid!" or a combination of both.

I was left a little speechless. After all that time watching, that was the big finale?! That was my payout for all that time I had invested?!

Well, after several minutes of contemplating what had just transpired, I was left with one thought - "David Chase just made one of the most brilliant endings of any TV series!"

With so many people having so many theories of how this show should end; with so many other endings from other shows which could be copied; with so many people who could be let down by an ending that didn't suit their tastes; Chase went and created an ending for everyone!

How, you ask?

By letting the viewer create the ending in their own mind!

Depending on how each and every viewer sees the world, and depending on how events in each episode impacted that viewer over the years, will combine together and lead to the creation of whatever ending they create for themselves.

The way the ending was set up played on the aforementioned criteria brilliantly!

I'll explain (and if you haven't seen the episode yet - things are going to get a bit "spoiler-ish")...

The family gathers for a simple meal at a local diner (well, Meadow was a little late - but that works into the equation as well). A lone, older, white guy, comes in as well wearing a "USA" cap. The Italian guy with AJ gets up to go to the restroom as the ending gets nearer. A couple of African American/Middle Eastern looking guys walk in as well near the end. Also, as mentioned earlier, Meadow has a hard time getting her car parked which leads the viewer into thinking about all sorts of scenarios (depending on their outlook concerning the two criteria mentioned earlier). To top it off, Tony selects from the Jukebox, the song - "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey.

OK, here goes...

Depending on your view of the world and how you viewed events that took place in the series, what entered your mind when they would cut to the older white guy in the "USA" cap? Did you think he was an undercover law enforcer who was going to bust Tony? Did you think he might do something crazy and violent? Did you not think anything about him at all? I think it all depends on how you view the world and how events throughout the series impacted your thought process.

Depending on your view of the world and how you viewed events that took place in the series, what entered your mind when they showed the Italian guy that came with AJ, getting up (what looked like) to go to the restroom? Did you think he was going to betray the Soprano family? Did you think he was going to take out Tony right then and there? Did you not think anything about him at all? I think it all depends on how you view the world and how events throughout the series impacted your thought process.

Depending on your view of the world and how you viewed events that took place in the series, what entered your mind when they cut to the two young-ish African American/Middle Eastern-looking males walking into the diner? Did you think they were going to harm the Soprano family or Tony? Did you think they were going to blow up the diner? (This is where the thing with Meadow comes in - I have to admit, I thought the diner was going to blow up just as Meadow was crossing the street...so what does that say about me and my views on the world and how events throughout the series impacted my thought process? I guess a little prejudiced, actually, when it comes to my views on the world; and since Tony had been giving information to the Feds about the two Middle Eastern guys coupled with the way the whole scene was playing out, I thought the show might go out with a literal "BANG".) Did you not think anything about those two guys at all? I think it all depends on how you view the world and how events throughout the series impacted your thought process.

But the piece of brilliance that ties it all together is - the song. "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey.

With all the bad crap we see in our journey through this world - violence, greed, jealousy, deception, ignorance, etc.; with all the crap we saw happen to characters in their (and in a way, ours, as we watched) journey through the show - violence, greed, jealousy, deception, ignorance, etc.; at the end of the day, you just have to sit down with those that you love, enjoy the simple moments in life, and - "Don't stop believing". Don't stop believing that though there's a lot of crap in the world that can fertilize a bad outlook on the world and the people in it, it can also fertilize the growth of something good - it just depends on how you deal with the stench.

"Don't Stop Believing".
(A Journey song. Who would have thought?!)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

I need me a "slow clap" for my everyday achievements...

For some reason, I got to thinking about one of the greatest, cheezy, movie cliches of all time - the "slow clap". You know, it usually happens at the very end of the movie after the underdog has overcome all of his/her adversities to reign triumphant over all of the doubters and haters.

The locale of this shining moment usually involves a generic gathering place (school hallway, school cafeteria, school gymnasium, school sports field, school drama stage, school...yard, school...well, hell, you get the idea) where the new hero is usually surrounded by a huge crowd of people - the same crowd who never believed in him/her.

Next, the feel-good speech of the year(!) is delivered by either the new hero or the one person who always believed in the new hero. As the sentimental music begins, the speech usually retraces the new hero's just completed arduous journey, pointing out the misgivings of the doubters and haters along the way; add a dash of self-introspection by the new hero him/herself; a dollop of moral righteousness; shake well with a few tear drops as the music swells to an inspirational crescendo; and then - you'll hear it - *clap*...*clap*...*clap*-*clap* (builds a little more) *clap*-*clap**clap**clap* (builds even more!) *Clap**CLap**CLAp**CLAP-CLAP-CLAP-CLAP* (until its a full-blown orgasmic) - *APPLAUSE!* "YEAH!!!!!"

Someone else must have felt the same love for the "slow clap" as I do, so much in fact, they created this great compilation clip.

*cue inspirational music*

A clip nobody thought could or should be compiled.

A clip, still awkward and small when it was first being compiled, was laughed at and mocked by all the compilation clips featuring the superstars of sports.

A clip rejected by all the compilation clips featuring hot bikini models.

Well, I tell you what popular, strong, and beautiful compilation clips, this compilation clip learned a lot about itself and the whole world of compilation clips...

*Play that John Tesh-esque inspirational tune loud!*

Every little clip is special in its own way, and when those clips are assembled with just such a belief, it can be as popular, strong, and beautiful as any other clip compilation out there!

*clap*...*clap*...*clap*-*clap*-*clap*..."YEAH!"



But ya know, there are times when I'd love to have a "slow clap" waiting for me after hurdling life's little obstacles.

Example A:

As Marty Schottenheimer knows, "taking the Browns all the way to the Super Bowl" isn't always an easy task (well, impossible actually if you're poor Marty...but I digress). So, after trying Three or Four times to drop the Deuce, I'd love to hear a little appreciation for my efforts.

I'll set the scene...Toilet flushes; looking down humbly, I emerge victorious from the "room of doom" wiping a bead of sweat from my brow; I look up; a crowd has gathered in my hallway; I shriek like a little girl (I mean, c'mon, there's a crowd of strangers in my hallway!); they look at me like I'm a Superstar; and then...

*clap*....*clap*...*clap*...."YEAH!"

Example B:

I am not a morning person! The alarm clock is my mortal enemy. With the advent of the "Snooze" button, however, the alarm clock and I were able to broker a fragile truce. Rarely have I ever been able to awaken early in the morning without looking to that magical button of procrastination for a few more moments of restful grace. So, when I do awaken on the inaugural buzz, I'd love to hear a little appreciation for my efforts.

I'll set the scene...5AM (in reality, about 10 'til 5 because I purposely set my clock ahead 10 minutes to avoid being late...yeah, I'm clever). I'm sleeping cozily under my blanky, dreaming sweet dreams of a hot chick who actually doesn't point and laugh, who doesn't make the universal sign for "P.U." with her hand and nose, and who doesn't get physically nauseous when I look in her direction in contemplation of starting a conversation with her (yeah, dreams are great!) - when I hear - the dreaded "EH-EH-EH-EH!" of the alarm clock! (Side Note: Have you ever noticed that the buzz of an alarm clock sounds eerily similar to Fran Dresher's laugh? Coincidence? Meh, probably.)

Anyway, I spring out of bed without the help of the "Grand Snooze-bah" and voila! - a crowd is gathered at my bedside! I shriek like a little girl (again, crowd of strangers in my bedroom - freaky!); look to see if there are any hot chicks in the crowd - yes, but they give the "P.U." sign - the rest look at me like I'm a Superstar; and then...

*clap*....*clap*...*clap*...."YEAH!"