April 21, 2010 - April 14, 2010
. For the record, my little experiment predates what's going on
right now at The
I'd also like to draw a distinction between what John J. Miller is
doing and what I'm trying to do. The term "conservative movies" argues
a message of some kind.
That's not what I'm after. I'm after a fair, as I've said,
understanding of the American experience, warts and all. It's a tougher
job than picking out a handful of movies that seem to emphasize only
those values to which I, or we, or any select set of people, subscribe.
In short, I'm trying to be inclusive and fair, not exclusive and
partisan. I may fail because I am
a partisan, but I'm trying to honor the incredible variety of
experience of my countrymen. If you want to see what Miller's call to
arms evokes, you can find it at Hotair.com, but I'm not linking to it
because I don't want to taint my own selections.
Now. On with what I started yesterday.
6. Gangs of New York. I've had many quarrels with Martin Scorsese's choice of movies to make over the years, but there's no doubt he's a gifted and brilliant director. This is the one "mob" movie I'm glad he made. It illuminates a heretofore invisible part of America's history, the life of urban immigrants at the very beginning of the American industrial revolution. It's ugly, violent, and repellent, but so was life for the millions of Irish Catholics who came here fleeing the potato famine. New York was not always the glittering Manhattan of our self-mythologizing media. What the immigrants of that time eventually acquired they earned with multiple lifetimes of toil and sacrifice. They weren't all good, either. But enough of them were. Now "Irish" is a happy badge worn on St. Patrick's Day. It wasn't always so. And when you've watched the draft riots, how happy are you that Obama chooses to regard Lincoln as the saint who complements his own divinity? (clip)
7. Bite the Bullet
A leap forward in time, even though we're still in the Wild West. Funny how that works. There are still sixguns, but there are also automobiles, and this story of a horse race that resembles the Tour de France includes an astonishing scene describing Teddy Roosevelt at the battle of San Juan Hill. It's not a great movie because it includes, among other things, an "emancipated" Candace Bergen in a paid acting role, but it also highlights a typically American love of animals and the kind of individualism that flies in the face of easy stereotypes. And a dental scene that will chill your bones and remind you of how much we moderns have to be thankful for -- if we can let go of our nostalgia for the, um, wild west. The press is here too, in all its inveterate scummy rapaciousness. Regardless of its nods to old movie western traditions, this movie is a turn-of-the-century slice of life that balances the American competitive spirit with our many better qualities. (clip)
8. The Greatest Game Ever Played
About golf. Frivolous? Hardly. The year was 1913, one of the great turning points in American history. It was the year before the beginning of World War I, the year in which the federal income tax was ratified as a constitutional amendment, and the year of the Triangle Factory Fire which exposed the horrid working conditions of so many sweat shops that exploited immigrant workers. It was also the year in which Francis Ouimet, a blue collar American amateur, upset the best golfers in Britain in the U.S. Open, permanently changing the history of the sport and igniting a huge popular following for what had once been a game chiefly for aristocrats. The movie highlights the class issues as well as the qualities it takes to win against great odds, which is perhaps the most uniquely American trait of all. Guaranteed: You will tear up when Dad, in his hellish job in the tunnels, sees his son on the front page of the newspaper and when Mom impulsively breaches the class barrier to crash the U.S. Open golf course across the street from her home. Sentimental? Yes. True? Probably not far off. (clip -- star interview only)
[YET ANOTHER HUGE HOLE: Hollywood has never done a searching movie about the American participation in World War I, which was unquestionably the most traumatic experience the world has undergone in the last 150 years. So there's no entry here. This pains me particularly because my own grandfather fought with the Rainbow Division in France and never recovered from the ailments he incurred in the trenches during months of vicious fighting. I mean, yeah, I know there was Sergeant York, who was indeed a great hero, but the movie made it look as if you could beat the Kaiser's troops bloodlessly by surprising them at the right angle. The only treatment by an American film director that did some justice to the subject was Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory, which was about, uh, the French. In 1930, Howard Hughes also released Hell's Angels, which is probably a masterpiece on a par with Citizen Kane about World War I aerial combat, but the air war was always a sidebar to the horrific experience of the infantry, where 99 percent of the casualties occurred. As with the American Revolution, the only movie that deals with the reality was made for TV. If you're interested, see The Lost Battalion.]
I never liked this movie, but it's still an important part of the American experience. Most people don't know just how early Communism became a serious fixation of the American intellectual class. Once again we're back to the year 1913 when a radical journalist named John Reed becomes enamored of Marx and the budding revolutionary movement in Russia. The movie is long (very), talky, and annoying, but it fills in a gap in our consensus history that tends to obscure the causes of American reaction to FDR's New Deal and the red scares of the late forties and fifties. To the extent that Warren Beatty is charming in this cri de coeur of his filmmaking career, you can see the attraction of the naive and hyper-intellectualized philosophy that annihilated Russia and came close to paralyzing the United States of America. (clip)
10. The Great Gatsby
No, it's not actually a good movie and it doesn't do anything like justice to the book, but the book is so good and important that even a sincere attempt to render it on film is nevertheless worth looking at. What were the rich people doing in the wake of World War I and international communism and the travails of labor, race, marxists, and global nihilism? They were simply being their vast, careless selves. Which is probably the source of today's liberal guilt. It would be easy to recast the whole movie today -- we'd never go for Mia Farrow as Daisy and probably not Robert Redford as Gatsby, but all the lesser roles were spot on, including Bruce Dern as Tom Buchanan, Sam Waterston as Nick Carraway, Karen Black as Mabel, Edward Hermann as FDR before the polio or some such thing, and Scott Wilson as George Wilson, the man who shot Gatsby because his wife was sleeping with Tom Buchanan. As I said, not a good movie, but it reminds us of the book:
Which brings us, in American movie history, to the time of the Great
. Consider it a distraction from the nauseating
mass media buildup
to the inauguration and the ensuing Obama adminstration. Consider it an experiment too. Is it really
possible to use Hollywood movies to recover our understanding of what
America is and what it it means to be an American?
I think so. At the very least, the task of compiling such a list can be revealing about the values and beliefs of those who attempt it. Do you have a friend, family member, or acquaintance with whom it's impossible to discuss politics without the conversation becoming irrational and pointless? Challenge them to pick the 25 movies that best represent their understanding of the American experience. Don't quarrel with their choices; study them and divine the viewpoint implicit in the sum. You might find yourself understanding them better even if you still don't agree with them.
That's why I'm going to perform the exercise here. There's no chance anyone will agree with me on as much as half of the list, but I don't mind objections or replacement nominations. It's called conversation. Feel free to jump in with comments, although I'm going to complicate matters by doling out my list in multiple posts. Until you've seen the whole thing, you might want to confine yourselves to criticizing my nominations and suggesting pertinent replacements. Or not.
There are a few rules I've imposed on myself to make the task more manageable and focused on its purpose. For example, I'm generally (but not always) leaving out what most of us would call "old movies," the star vehicles of Hollywood's monolithic studio system. (John Ford conspicuously excepted.) Partly this is because I don't want to deal with the predictable bias against the sanitized products of the old Hays office, which censored violence, sex, and political expressions to a very dignificant degree. And partly it's because I'm also choosing, wherever possible, to select movies that do not wholly rewrite history for entertainment purposes when history is a key element of the story. Of course, all moviemakers do this to some extent, but not with the cavalier negligence of Hollywood's "Golden Age." This also means that I'm passing up as candidates what we might call purely cultural artifacts, such as Fred Astaire musicals, John Wayne westerns, and Raymond Massey's portrayals of Lincoln. Yes, they're an ingredient of our shared experience as Americans, but it's impossible to suggest that we also share a common appraisal of their value and importance. Other movies that didn't make the list are movies I haven't seen. For example, Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers might belong on the list, but I wouldn't know and can't say because I haven't seen it.
Other guidelines I've adopted will no doubt become clear as I explain the list, which I'll present now, without further ado. Be advised this is not a Letterman list. There's no ranking of any kind. Number One is not better or more important than Number Twenty-Five. What order there is is chronological, though I'll depart from that, too, where it seems appropriate.
1. Last of the Mohicans.
We've written about this one before, so I won't try to reintroduce it from scratch. It's the best movie I know of about the colonial American experience and the conflict between our forebears and their European masters. Yes, it's heavily romanticized, but it is also planted in the reality of the time's complex and unscrupulous politics. It's also based on an historically important classic of American literature by James Fenimore Cooper, who wasn't quite as bad as Mark Twain said he was. (clip)
[A HUGE HOLE: Number Two should be a great Hollywood movie about the American Revolution, but there isn't one. The only two serious attempts are Mel Gibson's The Patriot and an abomination called Revolution starring Al Pacino. The former is a grossly fictionalized and romanticized treatment of Frances Marion (the Swamp Fox), while the latter is just misbegotten garbage. Neither exhibits the slightest interest in or understanding of why the Revolution was fought in the first place. The only film productions which shed any light on this seminal moment in our history are modest made-for-television pieces like the George Washington miniseries starring Barry Bostwick, A&E's Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor, and the recent HBO series John Adams (which I haven't seen and don't trust in today's political climate). Why is it that Hollywood has never been interested in some of the most interesting men who ever lived -- Jefferson (no, I'm not counting this), Franklin, Hamilton, Madison, and Paine? Because they were men of ideas, just as this is a country built on ideas. And Hollywood has never cared a whit about ideas, only emotions and symbols. That's a permanent limitation of this list, just so you know.] (clip)
2. The President's Lady
So we skip forward to the first real post-revolutionary icon of American history, Andrew Jackson. The movie has its weaknesses, but it also features one huge serendipitous strength, the casting of Charlton Heston as Old Hickory. Jackson was every bit as larger-than-life as the actor who played Moses, El Cid, Judah Ben Hur, and the Voice of God. Jackson was himself a theatrical personality who used his charisma, his imposing physical stature, and his intransigent, choleric temper to create the second American Revolution, in which the founding landed elites were at last countered in force by the emerging American dream of common men attaining to wealth, influence, and power. Those who are depressed by the sordid tone of contemporary politics will be perhaps amazed by the ugliness of the smear campaigns Jackson's "hick" presidency" engendered. In this respect, we remain who we have always been, a brawling, contentious nation of uncompromising partisans. Nothing is off limits in our politics. That's a bad thing. And a good thing. Andrew Jackson survived his ignominy to be remembered as one of the greats, flawed but transcendant. What's the purpose of the list? Understanding. (clip. Stills only.)
All we have to throw into another huge hole in Hollywood's account of America. This single most traumatic event in the history of our nation, the Civil War, is almost a blank in movie terms. (And, yes, I absolutely refuse to count GWTW, that miserable farce of a soap opera, unless it's the other way around) But I don't believe it's an intentional or careless omission. The fact is that given the Hays Office and the technical limitations that existed prior to the last 20 years, Hollywood could never have depicted Civil War combat at Antietam or Gettysburg in its true savagery. It's the same reason there's been no great movie about the Holocaust as it occurred inside the death camps. Not even the most dedicated actors can starve themselves to 60 percent of their appropriate body weight to convey the extremity of the reality. Holocaust movies have to be peripheral to the most extreme events. And until recently, Civil War movies have labored under the same stricture. They have had to be merely mythic, symbolic or, most commonly after the fact. Worse yet is the impossibility of producing an honest script -- one that reflets the irony of troops who really are dying for a principle of union that requires freeing the slaves even as they continually reaffirm their personal beliefs that negroes are an inferior race, requiring protection precisely because they are incapable of protecting themselves.
In this context, the only possibly authentic and realistic script one could film would focus on the other side, the black troops who want to fight for their own freedom and are prepared to endure extraordinary sacrificices to do it. That's what Glory does. It seems to be about black troops, but in its depiction of camp life and the horrors of Civil War combat, it is also about all the troops who fought in that terrible conflict. The poor, the illiterate, the desperate, the proud, the righteous, and the stoically decent. And it's also about race. (clip)
4. Fort Apache
A reality check for those who think no one in America sympathized with the plight of the Indians until Dustin Hoffman's Little Big Man. The Indian Wars occurred, and the American west has had as complicated a relationship with "Native Americans" as the south has had with African-Americans. But it's not a story of genocide. It's a story of conflict, misunderstanding, and competing visions of what makes for a good life. Look at this "old movie" and realize that even the western pioneers had more understanding of the lot of the Indians than muslims seem to have for the far less alien beliefs of Christians and Jews. And hear the constant diminishing echoes of the Civil War, the post traumatic stress disorder of an entire nation, which remains with us still to one degree or another. Being an American doesn't come without a cost. For those of us who still believe in the originating idea. (clip)
We've dissed this movie in the past. But only because it's a particularly dark take on a theme that was raised well before Clint Eastwood raised it. (We know he's intensely aware of the legacy of John Ford.) Still. Most of the history of the Wild West is mythology. The truth is that a frontier is a dangerous place, and the process of civilizing a frontier is a messy business, involving good men and bad on both sides of the law. Courage and goodness don't always go together. Nor do law and virtue. Part of the uniquely American experience is what we could call "rough justice," a vigilante strain that has always existed in the American body politic, which is responsible for both lynchings and the occasional overthrow of entrenched authoritarian power structures. Americans don't like to be told what to do, and the more adamantine the authority, the more likely it is to be opposed and overpowered by Jacksonian rage. The value of the Wild West as an analogy is that it exposes the rudiments of American character. Ultimately, goodness did prevail. Law prevailed. That speaks to the fundamental decency of the people, who value law but do not regard it as a total replacement for the concept of justice. There are, were, will always be excesses. But in the end, it is public opinion which decides the outcome. Unforgiven probably shows the west more the way it was than any other movie, but it's a tribute to all Americans that the rough justice of the frontier did give way at last to the Phoenix, Topeka, and Houston of today. Rowdy chaos is in our genes. Civilization is in our hearts. But sometimes, even now, we can all find the Clint Eastwood in ourseves when the Gene Hackman of Unforgiven pushes us too far. (clip)
That's all for now. By all means, make up your own lists. Quarrel with my first five entries. Isn't it better than listening to more corrupt confirmation hearings and sorry-ass inauguration puffery?
I'll be back with more tomorrow.
. Ain't life grand? Who would ever have thought that Abraham
Lincoln would become a decorator's "inspiration piece" in the 21st
century? But according to inside
sources, that's exactly what's happened. Not only will the Anointed
One be using the Lincoln Bible for his swearing-in ceremony, he will
also be looking to the Great Emancipator for menu and other style tips
during the inaugural festivities:
Thanks to our own highly placed sources, we can give you proles even
more information than that. Here's a look at the official keepsake menu
for that luncheon:
And, yes, the fare really will be authentic. An elite detachment of
Secret Service agents has been trained to kill all the necessary game
with the aforesaid Kentucky long rifle. Kewl.
As we understand it, guests will also be awarded valuable door prizes
for digging out the bullets that killed their lunches. (I'm sure DC
dentists are thrilled about this part of the gala.) These will be
collected by the period-era waiters who will be serving those in
Predictably, though, protesters have already promised to do everything
possible to disrupt the most sickeningly unacceptable aspects of this
Well, that's life in America. Can't please everybody, can you? What
everybody is guaranteed to love is the immediate enshrinement of our
new president in two important venues. First, the head of Lincoln has
already been sawed off the retro sculpture at the old Lincoln Memorial
in favor of that of the new
AND, the first great public works project that will put millions of
stupid, unskilled Americans back to work in the new era has already
decided -- in fact, will be announced via presidential decree during
the post-luncheon audience our new leader will grant to the press --
the reconfiguration of America's equivalent of the great pyramids of
This is going to be the Greatest. Inauguration. Ever. You heard it here
I'm Just Saying...
. Yes, it's a tricky business not tempting a jinx. But I'm
to risk it anyway because there's a point of courtesy to be honored and
a few points to be made along the way. I'll try to be careful about
what I say and how I say it. Still, I am going to mention the
Philadelphia Eagles and the whispering wings of destiny. And even those
of you who aren't Eagles fans or football fans at all might find what I
have to say interesting about the nature of life or fate or karma or
whatever you use to describe the synchronicities we all experience in
the workings of the universe.
I was born an Eagles fan. That is, I was born into the geographical region where the flag of the Philadelphia Eagles flies like some ruling banner of identity. The first professional football game I remember (barely) seeing on television was the 1960 NFL Championship game in which the Eagles defeated the Green Bay Packers. It was the only playoff loss Vince Lombardi ever suffered as a head coach. It was also the last NFL championship the Eagles won in my lifetime (to date). It was an interesting year in other respects as well. It was the year the Dallas Cowboys were founded as an expansion team and the year the football Cardinals moved from Chicago to St. Louis.
After that, the Eagles gradually dissolved into nonentity. In those days, a kid who loved professional football rooted for his home team regardless, but he also developed allegiances to other teams, from among the frequently televised ones, the winners, who could be fiercely loved proxies followed into and sometimes through the playoffs. (I know I wasn't alone in this: that's how the Dallas Cowboys became "America's Team" for a time.) By the late 1960s I had two: the Minnesota Vikings and the Oakland Raiders.
The Vikings were nothing like today's sheltered dome babies. They were truly "The Men of the North," playing outside in the seemingly eternal arctic blast of Bloomington, Minnesota. Their coach was Bud Grant, a taciturn, stone-faced man who banned heaters from his sidelines and gloves and hand warmers for his players. His Vikings were something out of Valhalla, tough, intimidating, and without finesse. As they first rose to prominence, their quarterback was one Joe Kapp, a brawler with a frightful horseshoe scar on his face and a penchant for throwing knuckleball passes that reached their targets through force of will rather than art or arm strength. His job was to score one touchdown and two field goals, which was all the Minnesota defense needed. Behind the fearsome front four called the "Purple People Eaters" they set a record for the lowest points allowed in a season -- 133 -- less than ten points a game in a 14 game season. They were awesome and I loved them. I remember one Monday Night game when the referees called two successive personal fouls on Alan Page, the leader of the Purple People Eaters. On the next two plays, he personally sacked the opposing team's quarterback for more than the total yardage of the penalties.
But I also loved the Raiders. They were the AFL version pf the Vikings, an offensive counterpart of the same brute defensive toughness I admired in the Vikings. If the Vikes were the immovable object, the Raiders were the irresisitible force, When they were behind late in the game, as they always seemed to be (ah, memory), they had a way of coming back just as ferociously as Alan Page. In the early days, they had the bomb-thrower Darryl Lamonica, who would pass anywhere, anytime, against any defense. But when the game was reduced to a fourth-quarter two-minute drill, they brought in the ancient one, George Blanda, who could seemingly play an entire quarter's worth of football in less than a minute and a half and -- like as not -- kick the winning field goal himself.
By the mid-seventies I had become more Raiders fan than Vikings fan. The Vikings kept losing Super Bowls and their new quarterback, Fran Tarkenton, had become responsible for the latest truism in professional football -- no scrambling quarterback can win an NFL championship. I liked Fran but I agreed (so much for conventional fan wisdom), and by then the Raiders had John Madden as head coach and Kenny Stabler at quarterback. Stabler couldn't scramble. With his beer belly and raffish beard, he was the Old Man of the Pocket, but, boy, could he throw darts. His nickname ("The Snake") had nothing to do with mobility and everything to do with his lightning-quick release. And, under Madden, the Raiders had finally become the living embodiment of their name, with a roster of piratical players more menacing than the cast of Johnny Depp's current blockbuster movie franchise. The Raiders appeared to ignore the NFL draft for the most part. Instead, they signed the misfits and malcontents of the rest of the league, the way Jerry Jones has tried (and utterly failed) to do of late with the Dallas Cowboys, but John Madden somehow made it work. The Raiders were inveterately the most penalized team in the NFL, but they also gelled as a unit, the kind that couldn't ever be counted out as long as there was a tick left on the clock. Stabler. Biletnikoff. Cliff Branch. Jack Tatum. Ted ("The Stork") Hendricks. Gene Upshaw (whose initials presently adorn every helmet in the NFL). Howie Long. Dave Caspar. They kicked ass. They won their first Super Bowl in 1977, after having played in and lost five AFC championship games under John Madden.
Yes, we're creeping up on the synchronicities now. In 1980, my conflicting loyalties hit the fan. The Philadelphia Eagles, suddenly renascent under head coach Dick Vermeil, reached the playoffs in 1980. They were my home team, and they were my first loyalty. But I hated the whole Dick Vermeil Act. (Sorry, Eagles fans. I'm just being honest here.) To get to the big show Vermeil had to get his Eagles past the (as usual) more ostentatiously talented Cowboys. He chose to put on a nauseatng Uriah Heep act that made a mockery of traditional Philadelphia blue collar values -- "We're so 'umble, we can't 'ope to compete with the sheer talent of the Cowboys, and though we've worked so 'ard all season, we're not really an 'igh enough caliber team to give them a good game." Or words to that effect. The Cowboys, to their eternal shame, bought the act and got shocked by a very good Eagles team, who headed to the Super Bowl with all the hopes of Philadelphia behind them.
Meanwhile, the Raiders had scratched and clawed their way to a wild card berth in the playoffs and shocked more than a few experts on the AFC side by winning their way to the Super Bowl. At this point, I found myself doing the Lurch head shake and growl (ref: 5:58 in): This was not good. The Eagles were the hopeful new arrivals; the Raiders were, well, the Raiders. Here's what happened:
And so it transpired that the Oakland Raiders
became the first team in modern NFL history to win the Super Bowl as a wild card team.
(Actually, the score was closer than the game was. The Raiders crushed the Eagles. As an Eagles
fan, I mourned; as a Raiders fan, I experienced a traitorous sensation
of "How could anyone not have
known this was coming...")
Cut to this season. 48 years after the last Eagles NFL championship. Once again, the Eagles, the Packers, the Cowboys, and the Cardinals are big stories in the NFL. The Eagles for winning with tough play late. The Packers for a promising season that ended in bitter disappointment. The Cowboys for being at Square One (again). The Cardinals for basking (for the first time) in their relocated home. Portentous? Significant? No one can say. And I won't predict ultimate victory on such grounds.
However. There are some echoes and connections worth thinking about. Late in the season, the Eagles started growing their "playoff beards."
There was also Donovan McNabb's uncharacteristically piratical gesture in drawing an "unsportsmanlike" penalty near the end of yesterday's game, for a totally gratuitous stunt on the opposing sideline during the Eagles's humiliating suffocation of the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants. A quarterback scoring an "unsportsmanlike" penalty? Remind you of anyone?
the first time anyone in the NFL audience has ever seen Eli Manning close his mouth. Lower lip met
upper lip for the first time. It did. Check the video. That's an NFL
record all by itself.
Then there's all the other stuff. The Eagles making the NFC Championship game from the sixth and final seed. Andy Reid's almost affected refusal to select any player in the first round of the NFL draft for two years. The Eagles trouncing the Cowboys as if they really were an expansion team in the final game of the regular season. The fact that the Vikings had to be part of the journey, which was (to me) symbolically significant. The Cardinals still winless in the NFL championship sweepstakes since they first moved from Chicago in 1960. The Eagles no longer "'umble" but confident in a curiously outlaw way that flies in the face of Philadelphia's traditionally neurotic self doubt. (The Phillies, earlier this year, exhibited the same 'We know what we're doing so don't screw with us' mentality, as if they were the Oakland A's [formerly the Philadelphia A's] of the early 1970s.) Truth is, the Eagles are brutalizing other teams at this point in the season. Look at the press conferences. The Cowboys, the Vikings, and the Giants have all had the life sucked out of them. They couldn't match the intensity of the Philadelphia Eagles. None of them were ever really in the game.
And a kicker. None of this would have been possible if the Oakland Raiders, at a lowly 4-11, hadn't risen up out of nowhere to amputate Tampa Bay from its playoff dreams on the last day of the season. Hands across the continent -- and across the generations -- from the team that cost the Eagles their last chance at glory. How fitting. How truly, well, poetic. Hence the title of this post. Thank you, Raiders, thank you. Not just for this, but for all the years of greatness, all the consolation you gave me when the Eagles wore those silly white helmets with green wings and couldn't get out of their own way. Someday, the Raiders will return, and when they do, the whole NFL will quake in dread. Their vengeance for the laughter will be terrible indeed. Until that day comes, I can only be grateful for the crossing and recrossing of the lines of fate. This year, the Eagles have a chance to be the Raiders of old, running free in the unguarded secondary of the NFL, and I can't wait to see what will happen when the raptors descend on the songbirds of Arizona.
And it's okay even if the Eagles lose. Why? Because if we're paying close attention to synchronicities, it took the great and legendary John Madden five conference championship losses before he won his first Super Bowl. So far, Andy Reid's Eagles have played in only four. We could still lose this one and be back for the winning round next year or the next. But I'm liking our chances this year anyway. What with all the beards, and the wild-card card, and the quarterback who's stopped caring what people think, and the deathly resentful silence from New York for the second time this year, and a date in Arizona with a team whose whole reputation is currently resting on a single victory against a journeyman quarterback who plays for the only team the suddenly dwarfish Giants beat in December.
There are rhythms and cycles and echoes. Sometimes they converge. I could be wrong (and it would be okay if I were), but the Arizona Cardinals aren't going to stop the Eagles from reaching the Super Bowl.
It's not a meaningless toss of the universal dice. I have a Brian Dawkins jersey. Enough said.