Monday, June 13, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 06/12/16: Rice Salad, The Movie *Seabiscuit*, Good News from Kellogg

1. After cooking up a pot of rice and making a quick trip to the Co-op and a shopping stop at Weis Market and Costco, I combined the rice along with cherry tomatoes, almonds, chopped cucumber, red pepper, feta cheese, fresh mint, fresh basil, and fresh cilantro into a bowl, added olive oil, lemon juice, and crushed red pepper into a bowl and the Deke and I had ourselves a mighty good salad for dinner.

2. Late in the afternoon, I rented the movie Seabiscuit from Amazon and had a lump in my throat for the next two and a half hours. In the book Seabiscuit, Laura Hillenbrand not only tells the moving and uplifting story of Seabiscuit and his owner, trainer, and jockeys, but she delves deeply into the how the horse racing business operated in the thirties, details the many challenges Seabiscuit faced and the difficulties of Red Pollard, Seabiscuit's jockey (when Pollard wasn't injured). We learn a lot about Pollard's injuries, his struggles with alcoholism, and his marriage. The book is a detailed and fully documented biography and history. To me, it was a perfect blend of popular non-fiction and careful, detailed historical and biographical research.

The movie implies a different purpose and is a different work of art. I know from reading Hillenbrand's book and from other reading I've done, that escapist movies featuring themes of overcoming great difficulties were popular during the Depression and it was as if Gary Ross, in writing and directing Seabiscuit, wanted to resurrect a Depression Era style of making a movie.

In the horse Seabiscuit and in the stories of Charles Howard, the owner, Tom Smith, the trainer, and in the jockey Red Pollard, Laura Hillenbrand provided Gary Ross with the perfect characters to tell such a story and so the movie was structured around the lowly overcoming the mighty, the little horse with a big heart ("Though he be but little, he is fierce"*) outracing more majestic horses, and around the dream all of us in the USA were born into:  with hard work and grit we can overcome all obstacles and prevail.

Laura Hillenbrand's story is more complicated -- but the implied purpose of her book was very different.

Actually, the movie swept away my memories of the book and, while I was watching it. I realized, at some point, that I was so engrossed in the story as told in the movie, that the book disappeared and it wasn't until after the movie ended that I thought about how the two media approached this story so differently.

My experience with Seabiscuit was enriched by Jeff Bridges playing Charles Howard and especially by Chris Cooper playing Tom Smith. Jeff Bridges created a character who struck it rich as an automobile entrepreneur and whose glad handing and public relations instincts never overshadowed his basic decency and his care for Seabiscuit, Tom Smith, and Red Pollard. In contrast, Chris Cooper created a character of few words, without a glad to hand, but whose deep love for and understanding of horses, and, in particular, Seabiscuit, moved me, put that lump in my throat throughout the movie.

* You might recognize this quote from A Midsummer Night's Dream.  Helena uses it to describe Hermia -- so Red Pollard improvised it a bit on it: in the play, Helena says "And though she be but little, she is fierce" (MND, III, ii, 325). 

3. More good news reached me from Kellogg.

Mom continues to shed water weight.

And, after losing their heeler, Shelby, Christy and Everett have adopted another heeler through an organization in Coeur d'Alene, Second Chance Pets. His name is Tucker and, from this picture, I think you'll agree -- he's a beauty.

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