Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A handful of nothin’

Thirty spokes converge on a single hub,
but it is in the space where there is nothing
that the usefulness of the cart lies.
Lao Tzu

So, there are these two prisoners—Dragline, kind of a leader, and a bully, and Luke, a perpetual wiseass locked up for cutting the heads off of parking meters. Quickly running afoul of Dragline, Luke gets challenged to a fight, and the two face off in a makeshift ring of their fellow prisoners. Luke is knocked down almost immediately, but quickly regains his feet, only to be knocked down again, and again, and again. Each time, he rises, painfully, only to be knocked down yet again. Over and over, as he's mercilessly battered and the other men plead with him to stay down, Luke hits the dirt only to lift himself back up. After a while, a distressed Dragline himself says “stay down. You're beat.” To which Luke, coated in blood and dirt, mutters “you're gonna have to kill me...” and gets up yet again. In time, frustrated and amazed, Dragline walks out of the ring, leaving a staggering Luke on his feet, worse for wear and tear but victorious, simply because, no matter how many times he was hit, or how hard, he refused to stay down.

Dragline (played by George Kennedy): Nothin'. A handful of nothin'....He beat you with nothin'. Just like today when he kept comin' back at me—with nothin'.
Luke (played by Paul Newman, January 26, 1925—September 26, 2008): Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
Cool Hand Luke


Melinda said...

What a great mark Newman left on the world. I met him once, when I was an actress in San Francisco--doing a play at ACT. He and his wife, Joanne Woodward came to the show and met all of us after at a local bar for a drink. He was the most unprentious, modest man I have ever met. He made a huge impression on me at that point. He was very kind to me.


roadgurl5 said...

A kind tribute citing one of his very best films. Love to quote Captain's "what we have here is a failure to communicate" in the deepest southern drawl possible, of course!

Arnold Layne said...

I'm going to miss Paul Newman, Cool Hand Luke was a really great movie. This post basically puts a moral spin on a fight scene, and I think Newman would've liked it.

Lana Gramlich said...

That was a great movie, of course. On the other end of the spectrum is another great; Slap Shot.
Although I never knew him, it seems Mr. Newman was a hell of a guy. I'm glad he included provisions in his will concerning the Newman's Own project. He is already sorely missed.

Lily Hydrangea said...

I concur with Arnold. & I'm glad to hear about Newman's Own as well.

Anonymous said...

Jay my friend... you are a poet. Nice work as always. And don't worry about spruiking your blog at me - I'm gonna spruik right back!

But I take your meaning and yes, not just now but in times past... I resemble your post.

We are blessed when men like Newman enter the world but I think twice blessed when they leave, and we are reminded of their legacy. If he inspires but one person to do something in service of others, why then he has not passed, he becomes immortal through their actions.


timethief said...

Thanks for writing this tribute. He was such a talented man. IMO Cool Hand Luke was his very best movie and you have captured why. No matter how many times he was knocked down he got up again. It's a metaphor that I identify with for I've frequently been down but I've never left the ring.

Drowsey Monkey said...

I saw this movie as a teen and I think most of it went over my head.

I'll have to catch it again sometime.

I've always liked Newman he struck me as the real deal.

Anyway, I'm here hanging out for 2 minutes ;)

Do I have to wait until I'm on my death bed for you to explain Faulkner to me?

Bird said...

Cool Hand Luke... I saw that when I was about 14 and it was quite possibly a formative experience :) I've been thinking about it since I heard he'd died. I'm going to have to watch it again in tribute.

Miss Mae said...

You have a great blog here. Glad I found you!

Lisa Allender said...

Thank you sooo much for your poetic vision of Cool Hand!!. My first visit here, thank you for visiting my practicewhatyoupeace.blogspot.com/
Paul Newman was truly one of the greats; I envy (in a good way!) those of you who were fortunate to meet him in person!
Continued success,

Kathleen said...

Wow! He obviously had "somethin". How about when he ate the eggs?

Heartbreaking movie, really, but a classic.

Tix•R•Us said...

Thanks for dropping by my Palin speech generator. For some reason your comments fell in the spam but I fished them out.

Newman was my first big movie star crush. Coolhand Luke was quintessential for him.

AKA hot dorkage!

human being said...

oh this is true for all the roles he played, too...

he will remain part of my present being... during my teens and youth, the roles he played taught me a lot... the way he played them was so unique and unforgettable...

the dialog you chose and your treatment was stunning...

Sandra said...

Thanks for leaving your comment about the trees on my blog. This past week I was coming up from that direction only to see they where cutting the other two trees that stood with the first one. I wanted to post again about it but figured my sadness was enough and others would not care. I'm glad that you care. For what it's worth you made me feel better. Thank you :)