Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Woodpecker

I was driving to work the other day and listening to the news when a story came on telling how a bird observer down in Louisiana had seen an Ivory Billed Woodpecker, quite a remarkable sighting considering that the bird was declared extinct years ago.

The news made my ears perk up. I've long been an admirer of those who show skillful survival abilities against the odds. Almost all of the people I admire most have stories of being counted out at one point or another only to stage some type of comeback. This was the all time comeback story. Imagine having your species declared down for the count forever and yet there you are. You're still bleeping there. I almost turned my car around to head back home to tell my three boyz the news. Their reaction probably would have mirrored any reaction I could get at work at 6:30 in the blessed a.m.

Having become a complete scooterhead these days this was one of the few recent mornings that I was actually glad I was in my car. This spring hasn't exactly been abundant with ideal scooter riding weather. Every night before I hop into bed I listen to the weather forecast for the next day. The forecast more often than not either calls for unseasonably cold weather or worse, for drizzle, showers, and rain. I go to bed hoping and sometimes praying that they are wrong.

I then wake up thinking this might be the morning that my prayers have been answered. I look out the window hoping it isn't raining and as MPR's Cathy Wurzer tells me the temp at 5:10 a.m. I try to tell myself that since it's above freezing maybe it won't be too cold to scooter.

Alas more often than not I soon find myself snug as a slug in my rusting and dying car wishing I could be zooming along on my scooter, Marco the Nimrod. One advantage to driving to work in my car is that I can listen to the radio. It's a luxury I don't have when I'm out in the open where I could in theory put on some headphones underneath my California Highway Patrol style helmet. I don't want to do that though because I'm trying to be ultra-alert to everything going on around me knowing I probably won't come out the winner in a collision between me and another vehicle.

The few times I have been able to ride my scooter I fill the music void by singing at the top of my lungs. Of course the obvious choice of song would be the cliché motorized two wheel anthem, "Born to Be Wild" but as I was searching for my own personal theme song to sing on my scooter my mind flashed back to the Rutles' "Cheese and Onions" Lord knows why.

"I have always thought in the back of my mind/Cheese and Onions/I have always thought/That the world was unkind/Cheese and Onions/Do I have to spell it out?/C-H-E-E-S-E- A-N-D-O-N-I-O-N-S- Oh no/Man and machine/Keep yourself clean/I'll be a has- been/Like a dinosaur/My device for everything nice/You better think twice/At least once more..."

As weary as I've been I came home the other night and trying to make the most of my Netflix subscription I plopped my rented DVD, Seabiscuit into my DVD player. I must say I've never seen a better sports related movie. God almighty the movie is good.

Granted the cinematic sports genre is full of many clunkers so the competition isn't all that great. The only movie that has ever made me boo the screen was the dreadful The Natural. And unfortunately my extreme disliking of that movie happens more often than not when watching a sports related movie. Sports can be so inspiring, so poetic, so beautiful and yet when movies try to capture these aspects they usually fall far short.

Seabiscuit is the exception. The movie manages to capture the beauty and the danger of horse racing and still it's really not about the sport itself. Like all my favorite movies there are themes about redemption and loss and overcoming odds. The movie is about misfits rising above expectations and finding another who can inspire you to live up to the potential that exists within. That it also captures the relationship that can develop between man and animal and how one can push the other to be something greater, is something to behold and treasure.

I loved this movie. Chris Cooper's performance as the trainer, Tom Smith is remarkable and makes this a must see movie all by itself. Seabiscuit is the kind of movie that makes you want to go out into the world and make a difference or at least join the land of the living one more time before you give up faith knowing your lucky horseshoe can never make a difference in a land full of indifference. I watched this movie with a three-legged cat sound asleep on my chest feeling as peaceful as he can in this dangerous world. When it was done I was inspired to hop on my scooter and just ride, didn't matter where.

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