A big part of being a good Dad is arming your kids with the tools they’ll need to understand and navigate the world successfully as adults. When I first became a Dad, I took some time to reflect on the adults I knew… on what the ones who were doing better seemed to understand, and on what the ones who were doing worse seemed to have in common.
Catching up on yesterday’s news, and came across Professor Randy Pausch. From BusinessWeek:
On this Thanksgiving holiday, when we sit with family and friends to express gratitude for the things we have in life, I will think of Randy Pausch. If you haven’t heard his name yet, you should have. On the afternoon of Sept. 18 the Carnegie-Mellon University professor walked into a packed auditorium on the Pittsburgh campus and delivered his “last lecture.”
It was a doozy.
Pausch spoke with the theatrics of a showman, the wit of a master comic, and the eloquence of a statesman. He recalled his own childhood dreams, his life’s goal to enable the dreams of others, and the lessons he learned and wanted to share over the 46 years of his life. Pausch is a handsome man, with a full head of black hair, bushy eyebrows, and a remarkable sense of humor. Of all the lectures this computer science prof had delivered during years in classrooms, this one was especially poignant and urgent. He began simply enough by quoting his father who always told him that when there is an elephant in the room you introduce it.
So Pausch pulled up on an overhead screen a trio of CAT scans that showed the 10 tumors in his liver and spoke about his doctors’ prognosis that he had three to six months of good health left. “That is what it is,” he said simply. “We can’t change it. We cannot change the cards we are dealt—just how we play the hand.”
The video is here, can’t think of a more fitting way to spend some time this Thanksgiving.
Except to get off the computer. Happy Thanksgiving.
Distraught is the only word that comes to mind regarding my state of mind at 9:59 last night. After an hour of heart pounding anxiety, what the heck happened?
On the way in I heard interpretations of people dumber and smarter than me. The former suggested that when all was said and done, the show ends with Tony sitting down to a nice meal with his intact family, having triumphed over Phil. This is idiocy to me. The Sopranos was all about what was just below the surface, and it makes no sense that they’d abandon this in the show’s final moment.
The latter reminded me that Tony always said you never saw it coming, and that the show was always told from Tony’s perspective. Last night the last thing we heard was meadow opening the door, and a pop… then blackness. Silence.
Was that what Tony saw? Was the silence Tony’s own death?
That the fate of this character remains open to interpretation by Ph.D. candidates is further testament to the fact the The Soprano’s, IMHO, is the greatest show in the history of television. Crap dominated TV when the Soprano’s premiered 7 years ago… now there are complex, deep and insightful dramas on every network. The reason is that the Soprano’s made it cool for artists to come back to TV, and raised our collective expectations of what could be done.
So what’s my theory on the ending?
I think Chase was saying all that needed to be said at the end of this opus… that something really bad is about to happen to Tony, and it doesn’t matter what. Think of the last few hours of the show. It’s a litany of the bad things that happen to people who live like Tony lives. Christopher is killed by his best friend. Sil is hooked up to a ventilator. Phil (in my personal favorite outcome) has his head crushed in an SUV with his grandkids in the back (twisted, but brilliant.) We’re teased with the possibility of turning state’s evidence in Tony’s relationship with the FBI agent. Even Paulie gives us the rundown on everything bad that happened to the heads of Vito Spatafore’s old crew.
Will Tony go to prison? Is the guy in the hat putting milk in his coffee a cop? Are the group of kids who walked in about to shoot up the whole joint? Is the guy who walked into the men’s room going to walk out, whack Tony and his whole family?
One of those things is going to happen, either in this restaurant, tonight, or in another one not far down the road. In the end of real consequence of Tony’s choices is that – while the details remain open – only bad things can happen to him and his family.
Tragic. Genius. We are all better for having had The Sopranos, and less for not having it anymore.