Sunday, April 20, 2014

There's Just a Little Bit of Dust in My Eye.

"There's just a little bit of dust in my eye
That's from the path that you made when you said your goodbye
I'm not weeping because you won't be here to hold my hand
For your information there's an inflammation in my tear gland."

-Flight of the Conchords, "I'm Not Crying"

I am a sap. I almost always cry at weddings--slightly less often at sad movies. I also cry when there's a poignant commercial (even though I am sometimes shaking my fist and screaming, "Damn you, advertising industry!" at the same time for manipulating me just the way they planned to). I get a lump in my throat if I am listening to the right song at the right time.

You could say I am easily moved. But not every tear-jerker works on me--I could definitely do without The English Patient and Titanic. (Leonardo DiCaprio was so much better in later movies!) Here are some things that have me reaching for the kleenex every time.

O Captain My Captain in Dead Poets Society.
For this part of Dead Poets Society, it makes no difference whether I have been sitting there watching the whole movie or I just change the channel and catch that scene--the tears just start to flow. I'm like Pavlov's dog, but with desks and inspired schoolchildren.

The new dog in The Royal Tenenbaums.
This is one of my all-time favorite movies, in part because so many actors do so many emotions so well. But when deadbeat dad Royal gives estranged son Chas a new dog (minutes after the old one is killed), and Chas says , "I've had a rough year, Dad," it gets me every time. This was the scene that proved Ben Stiller is a good actor--not just a funny one.

That damn Sarah McLachlan SPCA commercial.
I know I am not alone here--this is notoriously heart-wrenching, and it seemed like they ran the ad for 10 years. At first, when it came on, I would break down and hug my rescue dog (tighter than she'd like). But after seeing it dozens of times, I could no longer watch it. It devolved into me screaming, "F%^* you, Sarah McLachlan!" and changing the channel or leaving the room.

Nike's 2008 Olympics ad with the Killers' "All These Things That I've Done." 
It is a fast-moving montage of athletes in moments of glory and failure, along with other random images, as the lyrics "I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier" build momentum. The song is amazing, and it combined with the images of the athletes at various points of success and failure goes right to the gut. Say what you will about Nike, but their ads are genius. (It's unfortunate that Oscar Pistorius was featured prominently in this ad, but this was before we knew what was going on with him, so I allow myself to love this anyway. Lance Armstrong is also in this one, but I can ignore his problems.)

That brings me to my next one:
Pretty much any Olympic medals ceremony (although I am more likely to cry if an American has won gold). 
I have always loved the Olympics and marveled at how impressive it is when someone is that good at something and is willing to work that hard at it. I was a rower in college, and I will never forget the feeling of having a gold medal draped around my neck, standing next to my teammates, with a crowd smiling and clapping. I can only imagine how those emotions would be magnified on an Olympic podium. I would not be just a little weepy--it would be full-on Rulon Gardner-style waterworks.

Nike's ad with Lance Armstrong riding by a children's hospital.
It shows Lance riding on the open road, past a train, a group of motorcycles, and a children's hospital, where he pauses to raise a fist for the kids who flock to the window to see him. The song they picked is perfect, and I found it so inspiring I looked up what it was (someone I've never heard of), downloaded it, and put it on my running mix. It remains one of my favorite songs to run to: It makes me run faster and breathe deeper.

The TV show Parenthood.
I think the reason I like this show so much is because I identify with many of the characters' different roles: mother, daughter, wife, sister. I cry on average once per episode, but sometimes not at all and sometimes twice. This blog post on Slate does a good job of describing it. I did not grow up in Berkeley with a big, pushy, dramatic family, but something about how the characters relate to each other strikes a chord. Family relationships and marriages are complicated, and this show shines a light on those complications.

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