The Company Men

Kish and I went to see The Company Men today.  It is not a great film, but it had its points of interest.

The movie is about what happens when white collar workers lose their jobs.  The main character, played by Ben Affleck, goes from a highly self-confident yuppie executive to a blue collar family man after he confronts the desperate reality of months of unemployment and rejection.  His wife supports him as he adjusts to the fact that he is not God’s gift to the business world, he reconnects with his family, and he realizes that his brother-in-law, who gives him a mercy job, is a good guy.  His story, alone, would have been a decent plot line for a movie.  Ben Affleck is not the greatest actor in Hollywood, but he did a decent job in conveying a character whose gets torn down by life like a raw recruit gets torn down by the drill sergeant in Marine boot camp.

Of course, The Company Men is a Hollywood product — which means it can’t just tell a simple story.  Instead, it inevitably must be gussied up with extraneous back stories, unnecessary characters, an affair that seems to be in the movie only to allow for a gratuitous nudity scene, the pontifications of a sad-eyed, craggy Tommy Lee Jones, and other predictable Hollywood trappings that detracted from, rather than contributed to, the essential story.  All of the Hollywood stuff slowed down what otherwise could have been an interesting and enjoyable movie about how lives are not defined by jobs and and how money and possessions are not essential to happiness.

Saturday “Night” At The Windward Passage

Yesterday various members of the Webner clan — Mom, Kish, Richard, UJ, Cath, Al, and I — had dinner at the Windward Passage restaurant in Upper Arlington.  At least, I think you would call it dinner.  We got there at 4:30 p.m. to beat the rush.  Maybe “linner” is a better word for a meal that we consumed about two hours before we normally have our evening repast.

The bar at the Windward Passage

The Windward Passage, located in a shopping center at the intersection of Henderson and Reed Roads, is one of those throwback places.  It has been around since 1973, and most of its patrons have been frequenting the restaurant for decades.  I would wager that 99 percent of the patrons proudly carry their “Golden Buckeye” cards, and the average age of the drinkers and diners looks to be about 75.  During our visit last night, the emergency squad paid a visit to tend to one of the diners who collapsed, which probably is not that rare an occurrence. I would not be surprised if every Windward waitress had to take CPR training to qualify for the job.

Given their age, it should not come as a surprise that the Windward’s patrons are early birds.  Even arriving at the ungodly hour of 4:30, we barely got a table in the bar.  The place quickly became packed.  Thirsty seniors filled every seat at the bar, guzzling highballs and creating a serious din.  In the meantime, crowds of elderly citizens lurked by the bar and hovered near the tables.  Nothing like a white-haired guy with a walker and his elaborately coiffed wife glaring at you expectantly to spur quick consumption of your meal!  At one point, when the people at the table next to us left, competing groups of hoverers scrambled for the seats — well, perhaps it would be more accurate to say they with as much determination and speed as their artificial hips would allow — and for a few minutes we thought we might have to break up a cane duel between two of the more boisterous seniors.

Last night's Lake Erie perch dinner

Columbus seniors love the Windward because the food is cheap, plentiful, and well-prepared.  I can’t speak to the quality of the menu, generally, because I always get the same entree whenever I go there — fried Lake Erie perch with french fries.  The perch are excellent — lightly battered, moist and flavorful, and not greasy, and the french fries are crisp.  And if you are a senior looking to fill your belly and stretch your budget, you appreciate the fact that the meal comes with broccoli, cottage cheese and a basket of bread.

When we left at around 6 the bar area was jammed and there was a crush of starving seniors hanging out in the Windward’s waiting area — no doubt regularly checking with the maitre d’ to see where they stood on the waiting list and looking in the dining room hoping to stare down a few diners and intimidate them into leaving early.  When Kish and I got home we decided to join AARP.

Looking To Start A New Streak

The Wisconsin Badgers knocked off Ohio State in Madison yesterday, ending the Buckeyes’ perfect season. To the chagrin of Buckeye Nation, Wisconsin joins the ranks of the handful of teams that have, in the same academic year, beaten the same school when it was ranked number one in football and basketball.

The game was every bit as exciting as advertised, with great swings and crucial plays.  Wisconsin went ahead in the early minutes, but Ohio State’s defense clamped down.  The Buckeyes slowly ground their way back and finally ended the first half with their first lead of the game.  The second half was played at a faster pace and was a game of runs.  Ohio State put on a clinic in the first few minutes and went ahead by 15, but then it was Wisconsin’s turn.  The Badgers — led by stud point guard Jordan Taylor — seemed to make every shot they put up and erased the Buckeyes’ lead and pulled ahead in a barrage of three-pointers.  To their credit, the Buckeyes refused to give up, and the game came down to whether a red-haired Badger could make a three-pointer to put the Buckeyes away.  He did, and Wisconsin won.

I give credit to the Badgers because they didn’t quit.  I give credit to the Buckeyes for that same reason.  There will be games where your opponent seems to make every shot while your efforts rim out.  The important thing is to keep fighting, and the Buckeyes did so until the end.  They also made their free throws in a hostile environment, which is encouraging.  (Speaking of hostile environments, Wisconsin would be well-served by addressing the crass chants of its students, which I think give a fine University a bit of a black eye.)

Good teams will use this kind of loss as a building block and a motivator.  I hope that is what the Buckeyes will do.  With their 24-game winning streak ended, they will look to start a new streak on Tuesday against Michigan State.