Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Gospel According to Falco

A guilty pleasure of mine is the genuinely schmaltzy, corny sports-themed movie. While there are classic, terrific films that happen to have sports at their core such as Slapshot, Hoosiers, Rocky, Field of Dreams, Bang the Drum Slowly, Bull Durham, The Bad News Bears (the original version with Walter Matthau, Tatum O'Neal and Jackie Earle Haley) and Breaking Away there are countless others that leapt for greatness and fell short. Perhaps because I like sports - and I usually find a film that has sports as its (or one of its) central themes to be nothing less than moderately entertaining - I have a soft spot in my heart for a lot of the less-than-epic sports pics as well.

One of my favorite cheesy sports movies is The Replacements with Gene Hackman and Keanu Reeves. I know not whether I enjoy it because I have always been a fan of both of the leads, or because in the film the most evil team around is Dallas (as a Giants fan I like when art imitates life), or because it features one of my favorite Rolling Stones tracks "Blinded By Rainbows". Perhaps it is a combination of all of the above. Or something else completely.......And yes, I did acknowledge being a fan of not only Gene Hackman but of Keanu Reeves as well.

Hackman plays the head coach and Reeves is the quarterback on a team of replacement players (a/k/a "scabs") that the owner of the Washington franchise fields during a player's strike in professional football. Reeves' character - Shane Falco - was apparently a fairly big-time college player whose career was marred by his spitting of the bit in the National Championship game and the fallout of that collapse was that he never got a shot in the NFL. Thus, he becomes the perfect candidate to lead a bunch of other pseudo-players being that he is himself the poster child for squandered opportunity.

During a team meeting Hackman asks his players to admit to one another the things they are afraid of. Falco volunteers, "quicksand." He explains to his mates that his fear is of metaphorical quicksand as opposed to the real variety. He tells them that "quicksand" is that feeling one gets when you think you are in control of a situation until one thing goes wrong. While you are trying to do what must be done to correct that initial error, another problem occurs. You work harder and harder trying to patch the leaks and repair the problems but it seems the more you do, the faster they multiply. The faster they multiply, the more anxious you become. Until you reach the point where you feel as if you are suffocating. Quicksand.

Quicksand is a feeling that all of us have experienced or shall experience at some time in our lives. If we are lucky, then perhaps its appearance will be a one-shot deal. Experience has taught me - and has likely taught you as well - that unfortunately it may not be. Regardless of the terrain 'neath your feet it may in fact be lurking right around the corner.

It would seem to be that the key to surviving it is not exhausting yourself by trying to scout out all of its possible locations and working hard to avoid them but rather recognizing it for what it is when you encounter it. Once you recognize it, you regain - and thereafter retain - the ability to control it. And to survive it. I am wounded but I am not slain. I shall lay me down and rest a while and then I will rise and fight again.

It is the ability to keep your head when those around you are losing theirs - and perhaps inviting you to the beheading - that will enable you to get out of it. Take a deep breath. Remain calm. Help is closer than you think.


No comments: