The Afternoon Before: Tying up the loose ends

Some random thoughts, starting with a series finale I just watched five months after it happened.

Coach and Vince

Working nights, I pretty much only watch television with DVR, and there are two types of shows for me: the ones I can watch any old time just to keep up with and get out of the way, and the ones I save for when I can truly enjoy them.

Law & Order SVU minus Christopher Merloni has become a show I can shoehorn in while I’m eating my cereal in the morning, or getting ready for work. Boardwalk Empire, on the other hand, requires my full concentration.

This dynamic was the reason that despite airing back in May, I only watched the final episode of Friday Night Lights last night, tempering my curiosity with the desire to watch it at exactly the right time.

I’d seen the episodes leading up to the final FNL months ago, but the perfect time for the finale never seemed to arrive this summer amid an endless barrage of baseball games. Though I missed out on the ability to react at the same time everyone else did, I did find this a good way to extend my involvement with the show.

When I read a truly compelling book, I’ll actually ration out the chapters so as to live in that world just a bit longer. I did the same thing with Friday Night Lights, which features such vividly illustrated characters that even if they tied everything up neatly, it was tough to think that I would no longer be able to check in and see what came next for them.

I mean, who’s ever going to look at the guy who played Tim Riggins and not simply think of Tim Riggins? I just watched the first episode of American Horror Story – which I enjoyed – and it definitely did not seem like the sort of situation Tami Taylor would typically find herself in.

Good sports television shows are few and far between, but Friday Night Lights succeeded by not being limited in its scope. FNL didn’t actually show a whole lot of football, but unlike other shows of its ilk, I never pined for game action. The rest of the show was that compelling – except for the second season, which was abysmal as the writers narrowly missed jumping the shark in a desperate ratings grab. But luckily, the show stuck around for three more seasons, and they were all superb.

I think what was so great about Friday Night Lights was that the show had an abundance of heart, and in the process, had the ability to touch mine. The characters had hopes and dreams, they loved and lost, and the show captured beautifully the moments in life that seem trivial later on, but at the time you’re living them, are almost unbearable in their importance. I wept more than a few times watching the show’s portrayal of the two-sided coin of disappointment and elation.

As you get older, you learn to view the big picture a bit better. You learn to cast away the fleeting pain of loss by maintaining a firm grip on the big picture.

Some behind the scenes stuff here

But Friday Night Lights was a reminder that though it’s important to keep moving, it’s fine once in a while to strike a balance and immerse yourself in the trivial in the name of experiencing the cold splash of real life. The world at large may not know a whole lot about your interpersonal relationships, your momentary traumas and minor successes, but those are your world.

I think sometimes when significant series have unsatisfying final episodes, the widespread outrage stems from not having things tied up in a way that helps you come to grips with the void left in your routine. But Friday Night Lights’ ending was perfect – even to the point of allowing you to use your own imagination to depict a pivotal moment.

If there’s one final thing to take, it’s that not every character in FNL ends up with a storybook ending, but you get the sense that they’re all securely on the path that makes sense for them to be on.

As I continue to become more comfortable with the positives of getting older, I’m optimistic that at some point, I can take a deep breath, crack open a beer and be content with the knowledge that I’m on the same path.

*****

I’m in my early 30’s, so it seems like I have a different wedding to attend every weekend – sometimes two. In a couple of weeks, I have two friends from two different circles getting married at the same time about 40 miles from each other.

Somehow, an entire concert. I plan to watch it.

I’m sure I’ll figure out some way to attend at least some of both weddings, but both of them planned horribly in terms of having their nuptials on the same day as Pacquiao-Marquez III. I can’t imagine Pacquiao loses, but having watched the first two thrillers of the trilogy, I had every intention of checking out the third one. They couldn’t have had Hopkins-Dawson on Nov. 12 instead?

To compound the issue, Minnesota rapper/singer Dessa, a personal favorite, is doing a very rare New York show that night. Dessa just put out her second CD, Castor the Twin, and it is simply outstanding. She has a wonderful singing voice and almost raps in like a spoken word style. It’s perfect for late-night drives or writing sessions by candlelight; I highly endorse it.

I’ll be juggling weddings on Nov. 12, but if you’re not a boxing fan, I’d definitely tell you to go check out Dessa at Joe’s Pub. I can only imagine she’s fantastic as a live performer, and the show is amazingly just $12, less than the cover charge at some stupid bar.

*****

An interview with Herren from last spring

I’ve always been fascinated with Chris Herren, ever since watching him at Fresno State back when I was in college. It turns out his demons had control of him for the better part of the last decade. I didn’t realize he had a book out, but I’m definitely picking that up, and I stumbled across a promo for his ESPN documentary, set to air on Nov. 1. I’ll be in Baltimore for a Watch the Throne concert that night, but I’m recording the Herren doc and can’t wait to watch. I think it’ll be painful to watch, but riveting – the real life version of that James Frey book where he made all that stuff up.

*****
 
WEEK 7 PICKS

Season record: 9-6-3
Last week: 1-2 – Won Baltimore, lost Carolina and New Orleans. In my weekly pick league, I went 9-4. Somehow, I picked two of those four losses as part of my three picks here last week.

Broncos +2 at Dolphins – I’d ordinarily think this is an excellent chance for Miami to finally win a game, but they scheduled a tribute to the University of Florida. It’s going to be a Tebow Wonderland.

Steelers -3.5 at Cardinals – Arizona’s 1-4 and got waxed by a bad Vikings team in their last game. Jags played Steelers close, but that was a division game.

Chargers -2 at Jets – Second straight road game for Bolts. I don’t think Jets have luxury of four straight three-and-outs to start the game, as they did against Miami.

Esoteric

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