Saturday, November 30, 2013

The JFK Assassination - 50 Years Later

Growing up I was always fascinated with the events surrounding the John F. Kennedy assassination.  I remember being in grade school and while my classmates were writing about where they went on vacation the previous summer, I was writing about the Kennedy Assassination and the conspiracy theories it spurred.  I suppose when you’re in the 8th grade the chances someone, especially a teacher branding you a nut, whacko, conspiracist isn’t quite as likely as when you’re an adult. 

Be that as it may, I like the majority of Americans – sixty-two percent in a recent Washington Post-ABC News Poll – never believed the story we were told; that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.  Author and all-around anti-establishment guru and author Greg Gutfeld, says this about conspiracies:

“That's the joy of conspiracy: It's an endless bag of Doritos, except instead of chips you get comebacks like "that's what they want you to think," and "open your eyes, dude."

I get what Greg is saying even though I don’t agree with it.  Sure, depending on your point of view, anything can be a conspiracy if you choose not to believe something.  Not to pee in Greg’s Fruity Pebbles a bit, he did say to Chuck Todd of NBC once when referring to Todd’s belief that there isn’t a bias in the media that “denying bias in the media is like denying science”. 

Greg continued:

“But I guess if you believe in an objective media, you’ll believe in anything: like a whistle is better than a gun; redistribution beats opportunity; black conservatives are Uncle Toms and female conservatives are scolds; that being born white is racist; that tolerance requires calling terror ‘workplace violence’; that our country’s energy can be found in griffin lint; that the tea party is more harmful than drug lords; that Occupy Wall Streeters were cuddly Muppets; that choice matters before birth, not after; that a border is selfish; that every tenet of the left hasn’t saddled most young Americans with a toxic notion of entitlement without achievement, drowning in disposable culture as China rifles our wallets and our hard drives. But it’s easy to miss media bias. To quote Madge from Palmolive [commercials], ‘You don’t see it my dear, because you’re soaking in it.’”

I couldn’t agree more with Greg on this which is why I wonder why he feels that anyone who believes in a conspiracy is a nutball.  The very argument he made to Chuck Todd was a total affirmation that yes, there’s a friggin conspiracy in the media against fairness.  It also begs the question: would Greg consider the events earlier this year in Benghazi, Libya, a conspiracy?  Obviously the official report that a flash mob, fueled by some moronic YouTube video mocking Mohammed, just so happened to attack the US Embassy in Libya killing Ambassador Chris Stevens, was far from the truth yet the administration for two weeks reported it as such.  Come on Gutfeld, brush back the Unicorn hair covering your eyes my man. 

Michael Kelly, a Washington Post journalist and critic of anti-war movements on both the left and right, coined the term "fusion paranoia" to refer to a political convergence of left-wing and right-wing activists around anti-war issues and civil liberties, which he said were motivated by a shared belief in conspiracism or shared anti-government views.  He may be onto something there because when referring to the Kennedy Assassination, people of all political stripes don’t believe the official story.  But to go so far as to say it’s paranoia is a stretch.  Besides, haven’t we seen enough government/corporate corruption to assume that anything is possible?  The real question becomes what is provable?

I suppose it’s easier to dismiss someone as a conspiracy nut then try to analyze their point of view.  It always annoyed me that those who believed Oswald acted alone would take what the Warren Commission reported as Gospel in spite of one particularly glaring piece of evidence that seemed to disappear among the sea of evidence and conjecture in the Kennedy Assassination.  While everyone was focused on whether or not Oswald fired the shots and from where, whether there was a shooter on the grassy knoll, or if the CIA or the Mafia played a role, I always focused on what was the most telling evidence of all – the body of the president.

A crime scene analyst worth his or her salt will tell you that the most important evidence in solving a crime, especially a murder, isn’t the weapon, it’s the body of the victim.  The nature of the body can tell a forensic scientist everything from the time of death to what means were used.  The nature of victim’s body is irrefutable evidence. In the Kennedy Assassination however, the handling of the President’s body was as frenetic and unorthodox as the nature of the situation itself. 

The Secret Service understandably and ironically went into a hyper protective mode after the fact.  When the President’s body arrived at Parkland Memorial Hospital he was taken into one of the emergency operating rooms.  It was there that ANY possibility of conspiracy could have been extinguished.  The law as it is written in Texas states that the autopsy of a homicide victim must be preformed within the jurisdiction of the crime.  The Secret Service however, most likely under orders from the new Commander-in-Chief, Lyndon Johnson, wanted the autopsy done under the auspices of the Federal Government.  Therefore, after the President was pronounced dead at Parkland, plans were made to fly President Kennedy’s body to Bethesda Naval Hospital

It was perhaps the key moment of the Assassination that could have either squashed every conspiracy theory imaginable – then again – it could have also been the watershed moment that could have proved, that two shooters, at the very least, fired at the Presidential motorcade.  It was during the time where the doctors at Parkland Hospital, in particular Drs. Malcolm Perry and Kemp Clark, both of whom worked on President Kennedy, spoke at a press conference, just over an hour after they pronounced him. 

Dr. Perry stated not once but three times that that he considered the wound in Kennedy’s throat to be one of entrance, not exit. Dr Perry, who was experienced in interpreting bullet wounds, had inspected the wound before he performed a tracheotomy on the president. A shot in the throat from the front would, of course, both invalidate the single-bullet theory and, when combined with certain uncontroversial items of evidence, prove that at least two gunmen took part in the assassination. 

The evidence contained in the press conference was willfully ignored by the Warren Commission, which made only a token effort to locate a recording or transcript of the conference. Because it had been widely reported in the media that Dr Perry had made remarks unhelpful to the Commission’s preconceived conclusion, Arlen Specter, the future Senator from the state of Pennsylvania, and one of the Commission’s leading attorneys, worked hard to get Perry to renounce his initial opinion about the throat wound. Why would he do that?  Unfortunately, we’ll never know.

In the absence of a corrective record, Perry agreed with Specter that the news reports were inaccurate and that he had not made the remarks attributed to him.  Now why Dr. Perry had changed his mind on what he saw is a mystery as are the less than thorough efforts of the Warren Commission and the Secret Service in not managing to track down a recording or transcript of the press conference. The typed transcript had been sitting in the White House press office shortly after the assassination since both Drs. Perry and Clark were joined at their press conference by Wayne Hawks, a member of the White House staff.  It was as if the Warren Commission simply willed Dr. Perry's initial opinion invalid and deleted (hopefully?) from the minds of the public.

When the President’s body was flown to Bethesda and examined by Naval Physicians, the small bullet hole in the front of the President’s throat suddenly became a wide gaping, lacerated wound; a wound that is generally referred to as an exit wound.  Because of that observation, over time it was suggested that the body of the President was altered in some way.  Again I go back to what the Doctors in Dallas originally stated when they said that the wound they saw was an entry wound in the President’s throat.  It was only AFTER they were spoken to by Arlen Specter that Doctor Perry recanted his statement.

Dr. Perry’s complete testimony to the Warren Commission can be read here: The Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. 3, pp 336-389 & The Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. 6, pp 7-17

This past week marked the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s death.  I doubt we will ever know the full truth of what happened that day in Dallas nor will we ever be fully satisfied being told by those in power that the official account is the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  While most conspiracy theorist's focus on the peripheries of this case, I’ve always believed that the key that would have opened the door of truth in this case was the body of the slain President himself. 

The chaos that embroiled that day can only be accepted as explanation for so much. At some point you have to ask yourself why trained trauma doctors initially said the wound to the President’s throat was an entrance wound only later to recount that when pressured by an attorney for the Warren Commission.  At some point you have to wonder why it is that President Johnson insisted that the autopsy be performed at Bethesda Naval Hospital, where the physicians were naval officers, officers who are sworn to follow orders.

At some point you have to ask yourself with everything we’ve experienced recently, from the realization that the NSA spies boldly and blatantly on American’s in every way imaginable to the lies told about the tragedy in Benghazi, are we really going to continue the ignorant notion that we are by and large, told the truth by those in power?  Are we going to continue to be this incredibly naïve?  The only reason those in power continue to act this brazen is precisely because of our collective naiveté.

So we can continue to ridicule those who are skeptical.  Nobody want’s to be associated with “those” people, right?  When you break it down isn’t that what it’s all about anyway, peer pressure?  The psychological reasoning given to those who believe a conspiracy exists here is because it's almost impossible for those to accept that a lone, deranged soul could change the course of history.  True, it is difficult to imagine that a person could buy a mail order rifle for $13.95 and kill the President of the United States.  Sure it's safer and easier to lay blame at one nut and be done with it.  We have to heal, no?  Well, that's what we're always told.  Move on, move on, nothing to see here.  What did Hillary Clinton say during her Benghazi testimony when pressed as to who was responsible for the attack and death of Ambassador Stevens..."At this point...what difference does it make?"  The difference is the truth matters.

Just keep in mind, with each anniversary of the assassination, the focus is always on who was the shooter - if it wasn't Oswald - and where did he shoot from?  It's become a parlor game at this point with every imaginable explanation muddying the waters.  Don’t get me wrong, I don't believe that there’s a conspiracy around every corner.  Sometimes horrible things happen, often without the need of some nefarious machination being responsible.   At the same time I wouldn’t pretend that we’re always told the truth.  That would be expecting too much out of those in power and I'm not that naive - at least not anymore.  Neither should you.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Trust me.  I'm a lawyer.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock or on Thorazine for the past few weeks, you’re probably aware of how the President’s health care plan, the Affordable Care Act a.k.a Obamacare, has been the finest roll out of a government program since the Kim family started rolling out grey one piece jumpsuits to the masses in North Korea. 

One of his many mantras over the course of his campaign, the President kept repeating the line “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.”  He said it so often and focused on it with such dramatic attention that it had to be true, right?  Well, with the verbal deftness of a typical ambulance chasing lawyer, the President was proved to have lied or should I use Washingtonian speak and say he misled or was just being vague? 

Unfortunately we’re lied to everyday by so many people that we’re becoming practically numb and accustomed to it.  Granted what the President did to sell his health care plan ranks among the more ballsy of lies we’ve been told and its ramifications are just now beginning to unravel as is arguably his Presidency now hovering in the George W. Bush poll territory.

But I wonder if the virus that causes “misleading” or “obfuscation” has infected none other than Sandy Alderson, General Manager of the New York Mets?  There was a time where I was completely and totally on board with Alderson’s plan which was to rely more on home grown talent versus the actions of his predecessor which relied on buying talent. I still think that’s how you build self-sustaining, long term winning franchise, through developing your own players.  It’s just this doublespeak that’s starting to sound like outright lies that’s bothering me.

I’ve also finally have come to the conclusion that Sandy Alderson is just a transitional figure – moving this team from the days of spending money and getting little on the return for an owner that was almost financially destroyed by his relationship with a Ponzi scheme artist, Bernard Madoff.  Now it seems the pendulum may have swung too far in the opposite direction where every decision is dissected to the nth degree; paralysis by analysis followed by an unwillingness to make improvements that don't require a trip to the flea market. 

In one breath we’re told that with money from albatross contracts coming off the books (Santana, Bay) there will be far more financial flexibility to bring in better talent.  Hints at signing players to $100 million dollar contracts are floated out to the masses by saying the team has “interest” in players like Shin Shoo Choo or Jacoby Ellsbury, both who will command contract’s somewhere in that range. 

We were told that the team would be interested in acquiring perhaps at least two if not three outfielders, either through free agency or trades or a mix of both.  We were told that the shackles were coming off after a long exodus in baseball purgatory.  So what do we get this week from the annual Winter Meetings held in Orlando?  We’re suddenly told there will be no $100 million dollar signings.  Probably one outfielder will be acquired, at best, and it won’t be the aforementioned Choo, Ellsbury or ex-Yankee Curtis Granderson. 

Look, I’m not pining for the Mets to suddenly offer a hundred million to Joe Schmo just for the sake of it.  In fact, I think this is one of the weakest free agent crops in quite some time.  That said, you don’t send mixed messages to the fan base especially when it comes off as being a lie…err I mean disingenuous, I mean misleading.  Cut the crap.  Either you’re willing to spend the money or you’re not. And seriously, enough with the money (lack of) jokes already. If perception truly is reality, you're doing a great job of making the Mets look broke...of course unless they practically are then you're just lying...I mean misleading.  There I go again, thinking I'm being lied to.  Silly me.

At this point, who the hell knows.  Like the old saying goes, shit or get off the pot.  Stop acting like a politician trying to please everyone because the truth isn’t what you (or the Wilpons) would like people to hear. In the end, you’ll end up looking like a slimy fool with something to hide Mr. President, err I mean Mr. Alderson.

Do the fans the honor of being honest with them.  We can handle it. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Curious Case Of PED's

With the revelations of the Biogenesis investigation by MLB coming to the forefront this week, just about every sportswriter has put in his or her two cents regarding this story and how performance enhancing drugs plays into professional sports in general.  Even broadcasters are getting into the mix now.  The other night during the Mets/Rockies game, Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez touched on the issue in a way that really hasn’t been by most sportswriters.  It doesn’t come as a shock to me since SNY’s Emmy winning team of Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling are arguably one of the finer broadcasting teams in professional sports today. 

Gary, playing devil’s advocate, described how both sides see the issue of PED’s.  One side taking the majority stance that there’s no place for PED’s in Major League Baseball. The prevalent idea is that if players are found to have used them, heavy consequences should follow, with the ultimate penalty being banishment.  The other side, which I found interesting in how Gary described it, was how some take a more “Libertarian” approach regarding PED’s, stating that if a player is willing to risk his health then it’s on the player.  There was a brief pause when Keith Hernandez, in a rare moment seemed totally engaged in the conversation, chimed in and said as I paraphrase, “You can’t say it’s a matter of being Libertarian if what you’re doing affects others negatively”.

After listening to Hernandez huff and haw all season long when the team would head into extra innings or deal with an unfortunate rain delay, it was nice to see Keith the curmudgeon not chomping on the bit to tell everyone to get off his lawn.  It was a brief moment but one that made me smile and I’m a Libertarian.  The funny thing about Libertarians is that we usually get attacked from all ends of the political spectrum for being what others claim to think we all are. 

I’m not saying Gary Cohen was attacking Libertarians so much as he was simply trying to state a point, albeit a bit awkwardly. Not all Libertarians are cut from the same cloth.  Most teeter on the political spectrum depending on the issue – but in the end we all share the same edicts of individual liberty and freedom but, with respect to the law. Libertarians are not Anarchists.  Therein lays the difference between those who say PED’s should be allowed in professional sports and those who disagree, and no it’s not because of arbitrary drug laws.  It’s about fairness.  It’s about the law.  Sometimes laws are in place that we all don’t agree with but, that’s life in a democracy. 

The idea of simply taking a drug that could, with the emphasis on could, make you better at what you do for a living is a tempting idea in spite of being morally suspect not to mention with the potential of being physically damaging.  In professional sports, especially Major League Baseball, it’s a misnomer to think that sticking a needle in one’s ass will turn a Felix Millan into a Ted Williams. With stringent drug testing now in place, including testing for Human Growth Hormone (HGH), Major League Baseball is now one of the better examples of a professional sport trying to keep itself as clean and legitimate as possible.  How can the quest for legitimacy be a bad thing is beyond me?

When it comes to the use of PED’s in professional sports, many Libertarians, some of which I have a great deal of respect for, have said that PED’s, like other illegal drugs, shouldn’t be banned from professional sports no more than cocaine should be illegal for you or I. Nick Gillespie, the editor-in-chief of Reason magazine and, seems to think most sports writers are hyper moralistic on the issue of PED’s as he stated in a recent article regarding Ryan Braun.  I have a feeling that he’s not much of a sports fan especially based on how he views the majority of sports writers. Not well if you read his article.

But with all due respect to Nick Gillespie or even the great Greg Gutfeld, whom I’m told was very disappointed to find out that purple unicorn’s weren’t allowed at Churchill Downs; PED’s affect not just the players that take them.  They also take away jobs from those trying to do it clean.  Take this which was tweeted by former major league pitcher Dan Meyer:

"Hey Antonio Bastardo, remember when we competed for a job in 2011.  Thx alot. #ahole"

Bastardo was one of the 13 players suspended by MLB in lieu of the Biogenesis investigation.  So, does this mean Dan Meyer should just shut the hell up, have a Coke and a smile? Should he just tip his cap to Bastardo (yes, that’s really his last name) shake hands and let bygones be bygones?  I’d be just as pissed as Meyer if I were in his shoes. I understand, but not totally agree with the logic that if PED’s and drugs in general weren’t illegal, the stigma which draws people to them in the first place would decline. 

Sure in an academic hypothetical arena that may be possible but do I really want my daughter to be able to one day to walk into a 7-11 to buy a Slurpee and have an HGH power bar sitting next to the Twizzlers?  While we’re at it, put the cocaine pixy sticks next to the Sweet Tarts.  Sorry but the old curmudgeon in me says no to such a grand experiment.  I guess I’m not a real Libertarian huh?

The blasé attitude some have regarding allowing PED’s into professional sports stems from the idea that they believe that fans don’t really care how the players do the sometimes incredible feats that they do.  I disagree.  In a perfect world, I don’t even want to have this discussion with my daughter but when and if I do, I want to tell her that her favorite player(s) did it clean.  Let there be a level playing field and then let individual talent take over.  I look at it this way, would you be fine with allowing kids to take their iPads with them while taking their SAT exams?  Fair or unfair; you decide.

People often forget during this whole controversy with these players being caught taking PED’s, that PED’s are illegal unless prescribed by a physician for an actual medical condition, you know like dwarfism.  The last time I checked Eddie Gadell hasn’t suited up in a few years and if he did I have a feeling Brian Cashman would’ve tendered him a contract by now.

Now get off my lawn!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summer Movie Review - Man of Steel

There’s something we all experience during childhood that we hold onto for the rest of our lives.  Be it a moment shared with a loved one, especially when they’re no longer with us or something as simple as hearing a song or a seeing a movie, where just the thoughts of them spark memories like dancing lightning bugs on a warm summer night.  It brings us back to a far simpler time; it comforts us.  It reminds us of who we are.  Often times - it helps to define us. For me, that something was when I first saw the movie Superman starring Christopher Reeve. 

I was only three at the time; you have to be pretty impressed that my memory can vividly go back that far.  Just don’t ask me what I had for breakfast today.  I remember seeing it and being awestruck seeing a man fly.  Sure, Superman flew in cartoons but this was, well, real.  Of course as I grew older the story of Superman started to evolve for me.  It wasn’t just another childhood fantasy about a superhero and comic books.  It started having a far deeper meaning for me. 

Since the story of Superman is very father/son centric, it began to foreshadow my relationship with my own father.   My dad’s father passed away when my dad was just a child.  He had very few memories of his father and I think it had a great effect on how he raised me.  When I look back at my childhood and think of my dad it was as if he was trying to beat the clock, knowing somehow our time together would be short.  I was 17 when he passed but he tried to instill in me ideals and values. And now that I’m older and wiser and more appreciative, I’m proud to say those values are awfully similar to those throughout Superman’s story.  

Superman’s story may not be as slick and sexy as some in his shared genre.  He probably doesn’t resonate with today’s young emo and angst filled demographic. He isn’t torn between standing for justice or succumbing to raw vengeance as it was shown in Christopher Nolan’s Batman films.  Superman for all intents and purposes, was just not cool anymore.  Or at least that’s what popular culture constantly would remind us.  Maybe he wasn’t as edgy as the Dark Knight but that wasn’t what Superman was ever about.  Superman is about what we all should aspire to. Superman is about hope.

Zack Snyder (300, Sucker Punch, The Watchmen) is the latest in a line of directors given the task to reboot a major studio franchise with this year’s Man of Steel, with the screenplay written by David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises).  Warner Brothers thought their Bryan Singer film, Superman Returns, would have set the character back on track but with lukewarm reviews and box office receipts, the studio decided to shelve the Superman franchise.  At the time, Christopher Nolan and his Batman Trilogy was making its way into our collective minds – taking the first of DC’s iconic characters and thrusting him into the modern world in a realistic way.

Nolan’s influence is seen throughout Man of Steel.  As a producer of the film you would imagine so.  Be that as it may this was entirely Zack Snyder’s project.  The film starts off with the birth of Kal-El, introducing the audience to Russell Crowe’s Jor-El and Ayelet Zurer’s Lara.  From the moment you see Krypton you realize this is unlike any version of Krypton you’ve ever seen on screen before.  You won’t find any Waterford crystals this time around.  This Krypton looks more like something out of James Cameron’s Avatar than anything Richard Donner imagined.

Krypton is shown as an ancient yet highly advanced society in Man of Steel.  Yet, despite their obvious advancements in technology, for some reason, Kryptonians are not naturally conceived but grown – an almost blatant hat-tip to The Matrix trilogy.  Not only are they grown but apparently their roles in society are already planned out for them and what I thought was even more striking, those who are chosen to protect Krypton such as Zod, happen to be born without a sense of morality.  Explain to me how exactly does that demonstrate an evolved society?

Snyder does maintain the canon when it comes to Krypton’s demise.  This time around, Krypton is in peril because its ‘advanced” citizens are over mining the planet’s core due to a worldwide energy shortage.  So that’s two strikes against the so-called advanced people of Krypton. Zack Snyder deserves a great deal of credit in this film for his use of irony and some tried and true tricks of great storytelling; but more on that later. 

Russell Crowe play’s the role of Jor-El to perfection and let’s face it, when Gladiator starts a movie, that’s not even about him, riding a fictional flying beast, you know this is going to be special.  You totally forget Brando’s performance the moment Crowe speaks.  This part of the film seemed a bit rushed for me.  To go from Lara having Kal to almost immediately rocketing him off to earth left little time to reflect. 

Not to mention it was while they were trying to send Kal to earth that Zod and his minions attack Jor-El (with Zod eventually killing him).  Somehow after Zod is captured by Kryptonian police, they find time to put Zod and his followers on trial.  Did we suddenly forget the planet is on the brink of imploding?  We’ll chalk this up to poor editing.  A transitional scene showing some time had passed would’ve made more sense.

Of course Krypton explodes and Kal is rocketed to earth, to land in a corn field owned by Jonathan and Martha Kent.  One of the better aspects of Man of Steel, even though it’s a reboot of Superman, is it doesn’t try to retell every aspect of the canon.  We fast forward to present time and Kal (Clark) is around 33 years old and still hasn’t discovered his true lineage.  He doesn’t know his purpose in life and is constantly trying to keep a low profile – something his earth father Jonathan stressed throughout his raising of Clark fearing the world wasn’t ready to discover that we’re not alone in the universe. 

There’s a fantastic father/son dynamic shown between Kevin Costner, who plays Jonathan Kent and both the young and older versions of Clark.  The scene where he finally shows young Clark the ship that brought him to earth and hearing his son ask him “can I still pretend to be your son?” was as gut-wrenching as anything I’ve seen or read regarding Superman and when Jonathan replies, “you ARE my son”, it’s hard not to get choked up for Clark. 

How Snyder deals with Jonathan’s death is causing many fans to lash out.  I for one understood the reason and context he chose completely.  The audience has to understand where Jonathan is coming from.  He’s a father who priority isn’t for his son to be a savior but to protect him, at all costs, even if it means sacrificing his own safety.  This is something only a parent understands.  It’s the same reason Jor-El placed baby Kal in the ship to begin with and remained on Krypton with Lara. In the scene where Jonathan dies, Clark learns that sometimes there are no good choices and that he will never save everyone all the time.  It was cold and stark and yes, Snyder adds more meaning to Jonathan Kent’s death than anything we’ve previously been shown.

Snyder does an amazing job showing Clark trying to cope with these emerging powers as he becomes so overwhelmed by them.  Imagine being a child and out of nowhere being able to hear every sound miles away or see the organs of the kid sitting next to you in the classroom.  I’d freak out and I’m close to 40.  It’s a sensory overload that plays a huge part later in the film when Zod reaches earth. 

One of the themes I caught on with MoS that Zack Snyder expresses so well is the idea that anyone can be a hero, not just someone like Clark.  The scene with Clark on the fishing vessel stands out when the fishing cage almost falls on Clark.  But before it hits him, one of his fellow fishermen pushes him out of the way, saving Clark but placing himself in danger.  We see this type of bravery throughout the film.  It was a nice touch by Snyder and made a great point without being heavy handed. 

One of the main criticisms of Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns was that it was lacking action.  With CGI technology as advanced as it is – even more so now – Warner Brothers and Snyder knew that to get this version of Superman right, they had to take the action to an entirely different level, and that they did.  The action comes to a nexus when Zod makes his way to earth and goes toe-to-toe with Superman. 

Entire buildings in Metropolis are leveled to the point that it brought to memory the 9/11 attacks but on an even more horrific level.  To say that Metropolis lost millions of citizens in this attack would be an understatement.  I did have an issue with some of the hand-to-hand combat scenes as they were so frenetic that you could barely tell who was doing what to whom.  When it was all said and done, I had a sense of relief having felt almost a part of the action. 

I enjoyed the way Lois Lane’s character was used in this film.  For the first time I can remember she wasn’t portrayed as some ditzy, doe-eyed love bitten chick swooning over some guy in tights even though she’s ironically a Pulitzer Prize winner.  It was nice not to see her as being unaware that the guy she’s pining for is Superman because he’s wearing glasses. They say love is blind but Amy Adams played Lois the way she should be played, as a smart no-nonsense woman who is really, really good at what she does.  But, she has a heart and falls in love with Clark because of what he does versus who he is.  Although his body wasn’t hard to look at.  My wife made me put that in by the way.

Perry White is played by Lawrence Fishburn and he, like the rest of the co-stars of MoS, adds gravitas to an already solid story. He is used sparingly but he owns the scenes he’s in and will definitely be more of an impact player in the sequel(s).  Very good choice by Snyder even though some were questioning, in my opinion foolishly, that Perry White was always a Caucasian and should have stayed according to canon.  Give me a break people.   

Zack Snyder captures the essence of Superman without re-treading the same story we’ve all come to know, and some of us love.  All great story tellers learn early on the trick to good story telling is to show rather than tell your audience what is happening around them.  I remember in Superman Returns how big of an issue it was that the writers didn’t want to use the line that Superman stands for Truth, Justice and the American Way.  In fact Perry White in that film mockingly says, “Does he still stand for truth, justice, and all that…stuff?”   In Man of Steel, towards the end of the film when the General Swanwick of the US Army asks where Superman’s loyalties lie, Clark answers him, “General, I grew up in Kansas.  I t doesn’t get more American than that.”  Nuff said.

The ending will forever be debated amongst fans for years to come.  And while I won’t give it away I can say without a doubt that I totally agreed with what Clark did, for he had no choice but to do so.  Some have said that it breaks his moral code.  I say that it makes his moral code have meaning so that in future films we’ll understand the choices he makes and why. 

Man of Steel was a solid return to the big screen for the granddaddy of super heroes.  No film is perfect and this is no exception.  There wasn’t enough Clark Kent at The Daily Planet but this really wasn’t a “Clark” film; this was Superman’s coming out party.  The score by Hans Zimmer was meh and even though it would have confused the audience, I was hoping to hear John Williams’ familiar theme played at the end.  Some things should be universal and Superman’s theme should be one of them.  But I understand Snyder not wanting to use it. 

For me, the story of Superman makes me think of my own father and the values he tried to instill in me in the short time I was able to have him.  I know some might think it corny or even haughty of me to compare the two, that’s fine.  I don’t have a God complex, really!  I do believe that we’ve finally been given the chance to see the Man of Steel the way he deserves to be seen – in total kick-ass form.  I can’t wait to see what Zack Snyder has in store.  Justice League anyone?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Summer Movie Review - Star Trek Into Darkness

When J.J. Abrams was offered the reigns to the Star Trek franchise I remember feeling a genuine sense of relief. After seeing that former frontrunner Rick Berman had pretty much run the franchise into the ground with its various incarnations on TV, Star Trek was dangerously wearing thin on its audience, despite their rabid devotion.  The iconic American staple was on life support.

Toiling in mediocrity, Star Trek was resurrected by Paramount in 2009, effectively hiring J.J. Abrams as its savior. Finally, the studio was willing to give it its just due. Gone would be the penny pinching days of the past as Paramount poured over $150 million into Abram’s project.  Star Trek was back, and bigger than Gene Rodenberry ever could’ve imagined.

I liked the premise Abrams offered in his Trek reboot.  Introduce a force that changes the timeline which would alter the path that the iconic characters would eventually take, the path we’ve all come to know, resulting in a completely unknown outcome. All bets were off as Abrams and crew could take the franchise in any direction they wanted – without destroying the rich history that came before. 

I know it’s a bit convoluted and you may need to dust off your understanding of how time travel and alternate universes are hypothetically supposed to work.  Or you could just rent another of Abram’s work, the television show Fringe, and get your temporary doctorate in Quantum Mechanics.

Of course there were some die hard fans up in arms.  How could Abrams change the sacred canon?  But the 500 pound caveat in the room was that Abrams really wasn’t changing canon; this was an entirely new history being made here.  I could live with the idea of multiple universes existing.  It was dare I say, fascinating.  Abrams spoke about how having an alternate timeline would open up new ideas and take the characters to places never before taken– something he’d be able to tackle after the initial reboot in 2009.  So here we are, four years later, and J.J. Abrams has made good on that promise.  Well...sort of.

I’m not going to try and keep this spoiler free so if you haven’t seen Star Trek Into Darkness then you better stop reading now.  What we have here with this film is an Abrams-verse quasi mash-up of the original Star Trek episode Space Seed and Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan.  Yes, Benedict Cumberbatch really is playing Khan Noonien Singh, the character made famous by Ricardo Montalban.  The sad part is his character in Into Darkness is hardly the real focus at all. 

After months of denying that this was the case it turns out that Abrams was just toying with the fans as he usually does in the spirit of secrecy.  He played the same coy game while he was filming Cloverfield.  At the time, everyone thought that Cloverfield was just the code name for the actual film Abrams was working on, Voltron.  Yeah, not so much; and to many a fan’s dismay it was about an alien under New York City who began wreaking havoc.  Kind of like a really big version of Mike Bloomberg stuck in the subway searching for people carrying Big Gulps.

Into Darkness begins with the crew of the Enterprise on a developing planet whose indigenous population is at its earliest stage of evolution.  The natives are in danger of extinction, as a nearby volcano is about to erupt.  Kirk orders Spock to enter the volcano and use a cold fusion device to render it inert.  Meanwhile, the shuttle used to lower Spock into the volcano becomes damaged and needs to return to the Enterprise, leaving Spock moments from certain death.

Kirk, realizing his first office and friend is about to die, orders his crew to move the Enterprise (under water no less) into transporter range – which also reveals the Enterprise to the primitive natives – breaking the major rule in Starfleet, the Prime Directive.  Of course Spock reminds Kirk that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one”, a clear homage to Wrath of Khan, one of many in this film.  He pleads with Kirk to let him die rather than expose the ship to the inhabitants of the planet.  Of course Kirk wouldn’t allow that.

The crew heads back to earth with Kirk having to face the wrath of his mentor as he’s scolded and once again demoted to first officer by Admiral Pike.  Regardless of Kirk’s actions you would think by now, Pike and Starfleet would have a bit more faith in him.  Instead we see a retread where he gets demoted, alliterating to the original films.  After his demotion we’re introduced to the two main antagonists of the film, first the head of Starfleet, Admiral Alexander Marcus played by Peter Weller and later on we are introduced to John Harrison, a.k.a. Khan.

Because of what happened in the previous film – more importantly the destruction of Vulcan by Nero – Admiral Marcus in his desperation to protect the Federation, decides to thaw Khan and utilize his advanced intellect to build even more deadly weapons to keep Starfleet ahead of the curve, starting with the USS Vengeance; just think a REALLY big version of the Enterprise. 

In exchange for his help Marcus offered Khan and his crew their freedom.  The audience has no idea that any of this subterfuge is taking place.  Khan attacks London and Starfleet headquarters, killing Kirk’s mentor Admiral Pike and begins Marcus’ plot to draw the Federation into an all-out war against the Klingons.

Marcus reinstates Kirk to captain of the Enterprise and sends him on a mission to kill Harrison.  The film touches on a few relevant and current issues (drone strikes anyone?) when Marcus gives Kirk new long range photon torpedoes to kill Harrison who’s taken refuge on the Klingon home world. 

Tensions rise on the Enterprise as no one is comfortable with the idea of executing Khan without bringing him to justice to answer for his crimes.  Scotty issues his displeasure with the weaponry being considered and resigns his commission.  Spock pleads with Kirk to reconsider assassinating Khan and in the moment where Kirk addresses the crew of the Enterprise we see Kirk’s true nature, as he states that they’re on a mission to capture Harrison.  Among the crew we have a stowaway in Doctor Carol Marcus.  Yes, that Carol Marcus.  Those of you unaware she was Kirk’s love interest whom he fathered a child with who was killed by Klingons. 

What ensues is a film filled with constant action beats; almost too many since I thought it sacrificed some character growth.  The core of what made Star Trek so great was the interrelationships created by each of the characters and unfortunately, this crew just doesn’t have the luxury of having spent that much time together.  And because Abrams decided to use moments from Wrath of Khan, many scenes that are meant to spur great emotion come off as forced.  And yes…someone screams KHANNNNNN! And it isn’t who you’d think.  Et tu Spock?

The more I think of this film the more I think of the criticism William Shatner made to Abrams regarding his films when he said they lacked “heart”.  At first I just took it as sour grapes on Shatner’s part but I can see what he means by his criticism – even if it is slightly unfair.  Like I said these particular actors haven’t spent decades in the consciousness of moviegoers therefore you can’t expect to feel exactly the same for them as you would the original cast – no matter how inventive the script is.

The reveal of Harrison as Khan came across to me as a bit of a letdown.  First, Cumberbatch physically looks nothing like the history of the character which was essentially supposed to be of Indian heritage.  Cumberbatch’s thick English accent even led many fans to believe him to be an alternate timeline version of Jean-Luc Picard.  Ironically the role of Harrison/Khan was originally offered to Benecio del Toro.  Then there was the months of denying from Abrams that Khan would even make it into the film at all. 

Star Trek Into Darkness wasn’t a bad movie, far from it.  It had a very moralistic message that resonates with the world we live in today.  Maybe it was a bit too naïve for my tastes. Do we go down the same road Marcus does, trading long held values for the comfort of being secure?  It’s interesting that Abrams and his team used the idea of long range photon torpedoes for Kirk to just kill Harrison – no questions, no trial – just a push of a button.  Was it a condemnation of what we’ve become as a nation post 9/11?  During the credits you see that the film is dedicated to the post 9/11 veterans with an iconic scene showing a Starfleet Honor Guard folding the Federation flag towards the end of the film.

Abrams makes Kirk question his purpose and his values and the film does the same to the viewers as well.  Like last week’s Iron Man 3, Into Darkness is far from a perfect film.  I had issues with the rehash of Khan and the ending – which I was almost not going to talk about here but decided I had to.  When the Enterprise is falling to earth powerless, it is Kirk who realizes his purpose, and saves the Enterprise and her crew. 

It was the death scene in Wrath of Khan, only flipped and it was a powerful scene and would’ve remained a powerful scene if Kirk would have been allowed to pay that ultimate price.  Unfortunately Abrams played it safe as Bones discovered that Khan’s blood had Lazarus like abilities.  So after Kirk “dies”, and after Spock takes on the final (unecessary?) battle to capture Khan (didn't Khan's crew also have the same type of life giving blood?), bringing him and his blood back to Bones, Kirk is injected and yes…lives again.  In my opinion the worst part of the film as it downplayed the emotional impact of Kirk’s sacrifice and the original scene from Wrath of Khan, where Spock does the very same.

All Abrams had to do was allow Kirk to die, at least in the interim.  An ending scene showing a distraught Carol Marcus in front of a computer screen with tears in her eyes, as she works on her “Genesis formula” would’ve set up the next film perfectly and even though it would have taken it’s clues yet again from the canon, it wouldn’t have lessened Kirk’s sacrifice.  Not to mention it would’ve done exactly what Abrams always said he wanted to do – which is to put these characters in NEW situations we haven’t seen before. 

If only…

The Sector gives Star Trek Into Darkness 3 out of 4.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Summer Movie Review - Iron Man 3




When I heard that Shane Black was hired to replace Jon Favreau as the director for Iron Man 3, I wasn’t too sure of what to make of it.  Black’s directorial resume isn’t exactly robust.  His first and only time taking the helm was in 2005 when Black directed Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, a film which co-starred Tony Stark himself, Robert Downey Jr.  Sure it was a pretty damn good flick but was it really all that wise to hand the reigns of a billion dollar franchise over to someone with such little directorial experience?

Well, when I dove further into Black’s career I discovered that he was part of the writing team that gave us the Lethal Weapon franchise, The Monster Squad, and The Last Boy Scout.  Ok, so his writing history makes up for his lack of directorial experience, even if he was ultimately responsible for the screenplay to the grand disaster that was The Last Action Hero.  Well what do ya want, nobody’s perfect.

I review films in two ways, the first being my initial gut reaction while I’m seeing the movie and the other is usually a day or two later, when I’m tearing the story a new a-hole.  Knowing that Shane Black’s filmmaking background is more heavily weighted on the writing side makes me both intrigued but also very discerning of his work on Iron Man 3.  And after I researched his film history, I could see how he uses certain themes throughout his writing career.  I’ll get to that later on.

Iron Man 3 takes place not too far removed from the events of last summer’s, The Avengers, as we find Tony Stark suffering from post traumatic stress disorder from what he experienced in New York.  He ends up suffering from insomnia and fills his time building a massive army of Iron Man suits for just about every possible threat – simultaneously alienating his love, Pepper Potts, again played by Gwyneth Paltrow.  Tony begins to struggle with the question, “is he just a man in a tin suit” in a world with dangers far more deadly than he could ever imagine or handle?

Early on we’re introduced to main baddie in the film, The Mandarin, played by Academy Award winner Sir Ben Kingsley.  In Shane Black’s world he’s essentially an amalgam of every enemy the United States has ever faced – be it Al Qaeda or the North Koreans.  It’s a total deviation from the canon of the comics which had him more as an Asian mystical sorcerer; not exactly something that can be easily translated onto the big screen at least not with today’s savvy audience.   Therein lay one of the really outstanding issues I had with this film and that too I’ll explain later on.

The Mandarin is threatening the world with an undetectable type of IED essentially.  The technology known as Extremis, earned rave reviews when it was first introduced in the iron Man comics back in 2005.  It’s a bio-weapon of the super soldier variety that makes whoever is injected with it invulnerable and apparently a mini human microwave oven set to overload and explode if let uncontrolled.  The plot device wouldn’t exist without the secondary(?) baddie in the film, Aldrich Killian, played by Guy Pearce.

As the film starts it takes us back to 1999, and shows us that if anything, Tony Stark has consistently been a social SOB.  In fact he runs into Killian at a Y2K New Years Eve party, who tries to sell Tony his idea of Extremis only to be dismissed by Tony as a kook.  You begin to see the web that is being weaved here if you’re keen enough to notice that in one scene at the party is the man who was a prisoner with Tony in Afghanistan.  If you remember from the first film, it was this man, Yinsen, who saved Tony’s life by constructing an electro-magnet keeping shrapnel from entering his heart.  It seems Tony has been set up by the Mandarin all along.

Everyone, from Downey to Kingsley, Cheadle and even Paltrow all give excellent performances here.  I single out Kingsley because Black took an absolutely HUGE chance with his character that has upset the die-hards to no end.  I warned you there would be spoilers so; stop reading RIGHT NOW if you don’t want to know.  Too late… the Mandarin in Shane Black’s world is a total manufactured fraud.  He’s an actor hired by Killian to be used as a pawn fueling everyone’s fear but essentially he’s a straw man.  I found it hilarious when and how it was revealed in the film.  It was pretty damn witty.  Kingsley is just such a great actor and I can see why they wanted him to play the Mandarin.

Now even though I found it a funny use of misdirection to have the Mandarin portrayed as a drunken English actor, I can totally relate to the hardcore fans of Iron Man who find this to be absolutely sacrilegious.  To explain it better, how would fans of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy feel if he gave Heath Ledger’s treatment of the Joker the same (in)justice, and turned him into a useful fool?  Initially I chuckled but later on I found it disrespectful of the canon. I hope Zach Snyder doesn’t have any smart ass ideas up his sleeve regarding Lex Luthor in Man of Steel.  The Sector WILL have issues if he does.

What I liked about Iron Man 3 was how it dealt with Tony Stark’s past and how he’s basically been the same person even prior becoming Iron Man, basically a douche, but fortunately a likeable one at that.  Shane Black shows how Tony Stark has always kept everyone at arms length.  But the thing is he’s not aloof in fact he actually remembers everything and everyone; he uses his faux aloofness as a cover.   It’s interesting because Shane Black uses many repeating themes throughout the films he’s been a part of.  The alliterations to the Lethal Weapon series are incredibly obvious and while it made me roll my eyes when I dissected Iron Man 3, I admit while watching it, I was totally buying it.

The only other main issue I had with Iron Man 3 was literally the final few minutes of the film.  After finally coming to grips with his humanity, Tony acknowledges both his limitations but that HE is Iron Man, not the tech, not the armor.  Here’s where it went south for me.  So with that realization Tony decides to have heart surgery to remove the shrapnel surrounding his heart.  You know the shrapnel that could NOT be removed without causing him a cardiac arrest and that annoying thing known as DEATH.  Really Shane? Really?

Tony had a key line from The Avengers, when he spoke of having this “terrible privilege” that his injury had given him.  Literally in a matter of probably 3 screen minutes, by downplaying Tony’s need for the ARC reactor to keep him alive, Shane Black pretty much took a royal crap on the canon of Iron Man.  And Marvel allowed it.  There are a few other nit-picky things I could bring up such as when the Mandarin sent choppers to destroy Tony’s home and why THEN he didn’t unleash his army of armored suits to take them out.  But I won’t.  You have to come at these movies with an open mind and you have to be able to suspend disbelief to some degree, otherwise you’ll go crazy with the minutia.

I enjoyed Iron Man 3.  It wasn’t perfect and like I said I think it had two really HUGE flaws but it’s impossible to say that the slate isn’t clean for just about any possibility now.  I’m interested to see where Marvel takes this.  The Sector gives Iron Man 3, three out of four.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Hail Mary Or As Jets Fans Call It - The Tebow Year

Cue the ending theme song from "The Incredible Hulk"

So a little over a year ago, your humble blogger extraordinaire introduced  the world to The Spector Sector and with that initial foray into the world of online opinion spewing came the story of the day, which was that the New York Jets traded their 4th round draft pick to the Denver Broncos for quarterback Tim Tebow.  Fast forward to present day and we can see how the mighty, err I mean how the weak have continued to dig their shithole further into the ground as the New York Jets announced today that they have released Tim Tebow. 

This is a story that would even make Hunter S. Thompson do a double and perhaps a triple take but nevertheless it’s the truth.  They say that truth is stranger than fiction and the very same could be said of this man made drama, and yes that’s pretty much what it was.  What else could it have been?  Tebow, cost the Jets a 4th round pick, $1.5 million clams, plus the $2.5 million clams they sent John Elway to just pry his death grip off Tebow’s contract.  And what pray tell did the Jets get out of this deal you ask?  Tebow took about 70 snaps on offense.  He was 6 for 8 in passing for 39 yards.  He ran the ball 32 times for 102 yards.  No touchdowns.  No bended knee glory shots post touchdowns.  No glory whatsoever.  All in all, just a shit bang of a deal.  Thanks Tannenbaum.

I don’t blame Tebow, he is what he is.  The thing is, I wish I friggin knew what he is or was.  He could very well be just another really good college football quarterback that earned the spotlight during his collegiate years; he did win the Heisman.  That’s no easy task but not one that always translates into NFL readiness.  He was never really given a fair chance though whether the excuse was his inability or the fact that Mark Sanchez earns about 50 gillion a year and still finds it necessary to shove his head up his centers ass.  We can’t have talent like that riding the pine can we?
Sanchez: "I'm looking for my talent.
Brandon Moore: "MY PANCREAS!"

So what was the point of bringing Tebow here in the first place?  Was it to light a fire under Sanchez with the primal fear that he could lose his job to Tebow at any given moment?  Yeah, that didn’t happen.  Perhaps it was the conspiratorial idea that Tebow was here to give the team some buzz?  Yeah because nothing spells great buzz like having a born-again, who lives a clean, religious and pious life.  How the tabloids didn’t salivate at having that as their icon of attention I’ll never know.  And by no means do I fault the man for his lifestyle, just the boobs who think he was here to sell something beyond playing the game.  

The Jets released a statement today with a quote from head coach Rex “Tinactin Toes” Ryan saying:

“We have a great deal of respect for Tim Tebow,” Ryan said in the statement. “Unfortunately, things did not work out the way we all had hoped. Tim is an extremely hard worker, evident by the shape he came back in this offseason. We wish him the best moving forward.”

Well there you have it, everything explained in one succinct statement from the guy who’s deep in the know.  Don’t you feel so much more hopeful for the future of the Jets now?  I sure know I do!

The Jets trading for Tim Tebow makes about as much sense as this video.  You’re welcome by the way Rex.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Dog's Best Friend

Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.-       Graham Greene

British author Graham Greene – who suffered from bi-polar disorder – spoke of the therapeutic need most writers have to utilize their own life experiences and incorporate it into their writing.  I for one can’t imagine not having this as my own private pressure valve. I know for a fact that I would lose it.  Some people turn to friends.  Some turn to family.  Some even turn to vices.  Sometimes, I turn to all the above but always, without fail, I turn to writing.  Having this blog - as open a place as I make it to the public - has afforded me the opportunities to do just that.  And to you the reader, I want you to know that your interest in what interests me and everything I write about here, is humbling. 

I recently had to make one of the toughest decisions anyone has to make in life - when is the right time to end the life of your pet?  First off, I never thought of Pesci, our 10 year old Lhasa Aspo, as a “pet”.  Most animal trainers are quick to point out that we shouldn’t bestow too much humanity onto our pets especially if they’re to be properly trained – because after all, they’re animals. Well, color me improper then.  Pesci wasn’t just the family pet, he was family.  Should I have treated him more like a pet, perhaps, but I was never interested in having a circus sideshow entertainer for a pet.  Besides other than being spoiled (tell me a family dog that isn’t), Pesci was as good a companion as you could ever ask for. 

The Lhasa Apso have quite a rich history dating back over 4000 years having originated in Tibet and carries the Tibetan name Apso Seng Kyi, which translates into “Bearded Lion Dog”. They are considered the 14th most ancient dog breed in the world and were bred as the interior sentinels guarding the Buddhist monasteries alerting the monks to any danger.  If you ever get a chance, check out the film Seven Years in Tibet starring Brad Pitt.  The Lhasa’s are prominent throughout the film and according to Buddhist’s the bodies of the Lhasa’s could be entered by the souls of the departed lamas while they await reincarnation into a new body.  Keep that thought in mind – you’ll see what I mean later on.

Pesci filled a void in our lives when my grandmother passed away. He became very attached to my mother, who became his de-facto master.  Lhasa’s have a reputation for being loyal to their owners and a bit temperamental to outsiders.  Let’s just say Pesci lived up to his name quite well.  At first he was a handful, as most puppies are.  But we were patient and consistent with him and eventually he began to mellow – a bit. 

He wasn’t destructive and he got along with other dogs quite well.  Even strangers didn’t faze him very much as his breed is generally known to be wary of outsiders.  But Pesci wasn’t a lap dog; unlike their close cousins, the Shih Tzu, which are.  Pesci definitely had an independent streak. He was the active duty Marine to the Shih Zhu’s Reservist. 

For some reason, Pesci had it in for my grandfather.  It was absolutely comical.  For whatever reason he just couldn’t seem to get along with him, to the point that just being in his presence set him off.  The running joke in my family became that Pesci must have had my grandmother’s soul in him and this was simply 50 + years of marital payback.  Ironically enough when my grandfather was in Hospice and in the final stages of his life, Pesci wouldn’t leave his side. 

On the evening before he passed Pesci began acting erratic as did my grandfather who began hallucinating and pointing to a corner in the room where he said he saw his wife calling him.  It was the very same spot that Pesci sat eerily still, staring at the very same wall, barking.  I believe like children, animals can see things that the rest of us are unable to.  Perhaps it’s their common innocence that allows it, but I believe it to be true.  Either way, it seemed to us, that Pesci, ever the guardian, helped guide my grandfather into his final journey. 

Time passed and like any of us as we age we start losing our edge and eventually begin to break down. For Lhasa’s, it’s generally their spines that becomes susceptible to early arthritis and eventual paralysis or their eyes, in which a genetic disorder called progressive retinal atrophy occurs, causing blindness.  For Pesci, he fell into the latter.  What was originally thought to be simple conjunctivitis was in actuality something that was neither preventable nor curable. 

As his blindness progressed there were noticeable changes in his entire demeanor.  Gone were the days of playing fetch or his 3 o’clock mad dash running circles around the coffee table until he puttered out.  He definitely had his quirks; I’m not going to sugar coat it.  He was loveable but at times he could be one ornery little fuzz ball.  He became easily frightened, which only exacerbated the aggressiveness.  The Pesci we all knew would never be the same. Then the day came when my 2 ½ year old daughter, while playing, accidentally stepped on his tail.  Pesci snapped at her.  Luckily since he couldn’t see, he snapped in the opposite direction she was standing.  My heart went to my throat and I knew at that moment, I couldn’t procrastinate any longer.  Something had to be done.

My wife and I started reaching out to shelters to see if we could find one that would adopt Pesci.  We began our search locally and eventually tried out of state shelters through the internet.  Basically each shelter would be more than willing to take in any animal with just about any ailment; be it a dog with three legs, blind, deaf, and barking in Aramaic, but when we mentioned the aggression, it sparked the same result.  No shelter would be willing to take in a blind dog that could potentially harm someone.  It was a heartbreaking and utterly defeating moment for all of us because we knew what the only other option was.  The last thing I would’ve wanted was for another family to be placed in a similar position as this but knowing that still didn’t make our decision any easier. 

The drive to our veterinarian’s office was surreal and heartbreaking. Tears were running down our face.  Pesci was never a huge fan of car rides as he’d always whimper as he lay in the backseat. This time he was silent.  I’m not sure if that made it worse or better but it definitely made us unsure of what we were doing.  Our Vet, a tall and slender gray haired man, had a pained look on his face as he was well aware of why we were here.  He knew of these moments all too well.  But here I was in all of my 38 years – in this position for the very first time.   

Every day I wrestle with the decision we had to make.  Was it the right thing to do?  Could I have done more?  Each time those thoughts enter my mind I see my daughter, and I’m thankful that her last memories of Pesci weren’t tragic.  I know for a fact if they were, I wouldn’t have forgiven myself.  Sometimes in life we’re faced with having to make absolutely impossible choices.  This was definitely one of them.  Our hearts are emptier today without Pesci and I know we’ll never forget the fun and unconditional love he gave to us for the time we were lucky enough to call him family. 

Goodbye my little buddy.
R.I.P. Pesci