The Great Debate

So, spent this playoff sunday at the movies, Denzel Washington in the Great Debaters. Pretty solid if at times a bit predictable. Now, you might ask that shouldn’t a true story be predictable? We know what happens–yes, if you haven’t seen it or don’t know the story, small black Wiley College defeats national debate champions Harvard–so what’s wrong with predictability. Agreed, except that what’s predictable is the format (or formula). Even in the midst of the serious racist society this movie ultimately tries to portray, what we get is the come-from-behind, cinderella sports story (I guess on a playoff sunday I can’t really get away from such stories and metaphors). Don’t get me wrong, it’s a well-done story and the cliche that is at the heart of hollywood is actually done in an effective manner, but for a figure as complex as poet Melvin Tolson (who is the debate coach and who effectively challenged the poetic conventions of “his people” in profound ways), I think this movie might have complicated the formula just a bit more. You can sense a bit of the Oprah production, but still a solid movie worth seeing.


Afterward, dinner in downtown Iowa City. A wonderful twilight walk by the melting Iowa River–a slushy, sloppy day in the 40s here after weeks of ice storms and frigid temps. It’s nice but frankly I am happy with it staying winter in the midst of winter–don’t toy with these springlike days until you’re ready to be serious.

Anyway, the bar was near empty and I managed to catch the end of the San Diego-Tennessee game. Looked surprisingly close when I stepped in, but it quickly changed with two SD touchdowns and that was all she wrote. So  a nice mellow bar, a game on the big screen and one of my favorite beers in nice, big drafts. After many years I spent in Minnesota (most of the 90s that is), I am still partial to Summit Pale Ale.


Now, I know that this doesn’t really rank in the top tier of world beer’s I’ve tasted, yet it remains surprisingly strong. A good crisp ale with a nice malt, hop balance, some days it is just the perfect beer. Besides, it just always brings back great memories of my years in Minneapolis where this was our staple. I will still go out of my way to find the new profound hop sensation, but this beer remains home to me. Hangin’ out with MB, a good veggie burger, some football on the tube and a cold summit. I am a happy man…


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