Coming To A Theater Near You

Sometimes A lot of the time I amaze myself.

A movie idea just came to me and no doubt it’s gonna be warmly embraced by Hollywood’s top studios. Let the negotiations begin! Since I’m the ultimate triple threat, they will probably want me to write, produce, and star in it.

The idea came to me Saturday, shortly after Al’s memorial service at The United Churches in our fair city. The service was another amazing remembrance of a remarkable person. Similar to the one for my in-laws last year. At that one, my wife and daughters did a beautiful job capturing what made them so special. If watching a slide show of a person’s life and listening as family and friends reflect on how they left the world better than they found it doesn’t inspire you to consider how to best spend your ever shrinking time, then something’s wrong.

Forget psychedelics, forget chasing fame and money, forget vanity in all its forms, nothing is as inspiring as positive people’s life stories. Just ask anyone involved with hospice care. Al’s three sixty-something daughters told unique, funny, and moving stories about their father. And another friend talked about how Al lit up the retirement community he was a part of and had to be held back when hiking in the mountains even into his 90’s. The quintessential extrovert, Al embraced life to the fullest. He said he would sleep when he was dead. Long live the memory of Al Walter.

Back to my homerun of an idea. Remember Wedding Crashers? Well, how about Memorial Crasher?! Part Ted Lasso, part Ricky Gervais’s After Life, Memorial Crasher is the story of a dude who has lost his zeal for life, meaning it’s the story of most of us. Just can’t find the loving feeling he enjoyed in his youth. He’s surviving sure, but not thriving. He breaks out of his malaise after attending a memorial service for a close friend. As per usual, his resolve to be a better person and live life more fully only lasts a few weeks, then he slowly reverts to his formerly alienated, disconnected, somewhat negative self.

So he concocts an antidote to his default condition. He scours obituaries in local papers and church bulletins, and when he finds particularly inspiring ones, which happens about once a month, he crashes the memorials. No one ever knows he has no connection to the deceased. That way he receives a steady stream of reminders of what’s most important and is continually inspired to be more selfless and daring.

Consequently, his life is transformed. His focus shifts from himself to others. He cultivates gratitude for how little time he may have left. He becomes a much better neighbor, friend, and person.

And picks up several Academy Awards along the way. 

What I’ve Been Watching

Midnight in Paris. A few summers ago, on the way home from co-teaching in Eastern Washington, Mike, an ace co-worker friend and I got into a discussion about nostalgia. I believe it’s a powerful phenomenon that greatly influences people. Mike basically took the opposite position. Saying people succumb to positive selective perception and wrongly assume the past was better than it actually was. In his view, people would be better off if they just embraced the present and resisted nostalgia’s pull. Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris is Mike’s exact argument. A fun and funny film that raises interesting questions about memory, history, and the relationship between the two.

Win Win. The best high school wrestling movie of all time (are there others?). Great cast and an engaging, authentic story. Laugh out loud funny at times too. Truly excellent. Kyle, the central character is a troubled, thoughtful, hard-nosed, caring sixteen year old who demolishes every adult’s negative preconceived notions of adolescents. Should be required viewing for all high school teachers. The GalPal thought parts of it were “contrived and Hollywoodish” but she’s wrong. Believable throughout. The GalPal and I were the youngest couple at Olympia’s downtown hippy theatre and everyone was taken by Kyle. If more 16 and 66 year olds were friends, it would be a definite win win.

Roman Holiday. Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck, Eddie Albert. Far-fetched, whimsical story. I imagine when they pitched the idea to the studio they said, “Audrey Hepburn in Rome” and the suit said, “Great, write the script.” She was beautiful, but freakishly thin. Of course, Costco cheesecake had not been invented.