9 Is Not a Lonely Number

9 filmA couple of years ago, when I first saw the movie 9, I thought I perceived in it a new kind of dramatic structure. Having just watched it, I see now that I was wrong. The film is structured as a number of clear sequences—seven or so (I haven’t studied the film). And as such, it is a pretty typical story structure. The only notable thing about it is that, as usual for animated features, it is much more tightly structured than most films.

Regardless of all this, it is a wonderful film—the kind of story that I am naturally attracted to. And it is beautiful to look out. There is more creativity in every frame than there is in whole Hollywood films. Take, for example, the funeral of 2 where the others send his body off on a boat in a body of water. Before he is sent off, however, the others put a coin over his eyes. That’s really wonderful: sort of Norse, sort of Greek.

What is wonderful about this film is the way that it uses archetypes. It has the Intellectual, the Hero, the Inventor. My favorite (as always) is the Mystic. There is an unfortunate unwritten rule that says the Mystic has to die at the end of the second act. See, for example, Lord of the Flies. But while watching the film, I had a sad thought. These stories are filled with interesting types of people, but in real life, most people are just slight variation on the Follower. And that especially applies to our so called leaders, who have all the originality of a Benny Hill rerun (with all due respect to the man).

I know that I’m coming off as elitist here. But I don’t think I am in fact elitist. There is just something about any society (and ours most especially) that kills individuality and therefore life. It makes most men of my age far too interested in professional sports and not at all interested in movie musicals from the 1950s. But that in itself would be okay if all that specialization of interest led to a deep appreciation. But it doesn’t. I think the vast majority of baseball fans have no more understanding (and often less) than I do. And that’s just sad.

No wonder I want to hang out with animated dolls like 6 and 2 and 7 and 5 and 9. They are all so alive.


For the record: I really like baseball. It’s about the only professional sport I enjoy watching. But even still, I would rather watch the minor leagues.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “9 Is Not a Lonely Number

  1. When I moved to Minneapolis in 2000, I thumbed a little handbook at Powell’s before I left Portland. (Always a great thing about Powell’s, you could plant your butt in an aisle and just read a book for half an hour before you bought it or not.) It was called "How To Meet People In A New City" or some such, and I needed all the help I could get.

    It had a bunch of pithy, numbered suggestions, most of which I don’t recall, as they were annoying. One stuck out. "Root For The Home Team." Get into whatever sports the locals do, this can give you conversation fodder. As I never minded watching games on TV in bars, I thought I’d give it a try.

    So I bought books and magazines on football and hockey, things I didn’t understand, and tried engaging Minnesotans in idle sports chatter. It didn’t work. The average football fan knows nothing about football besides Mauling Is Macho, and if you mention players by name who aren’t White quarterbacks or Black runners/receivers they look at you like some kind of nerd. Hockey fans, on the other hand, all played the game as kids, so they notice a zillion things about every moment of every game which even a boned-up book-learner can never grasp.

    I did eventually meet quite a few nice people, and some of them enjoy watching sports with me, but breaking the ice with sports conversation was a dead-end. I did much better (and still do) by asking carefully neutral political questions, and if someone’s perspective seems like it might not be wholly incompatible with mine, examining further. I think that was a No-No in the "How To Meet People" book.

    On baseball: no telling what anyone else likes about anything, but what I like about baseball (and why, I suspect, it is doing well in attendance at all levels but losing national TV viewers fast) is that different people can enjoy what they want. If you dig pure athleticism, fine. If you like the slow pace which allows you to nerdily fill out a scorecard by yourself or chat idly with friends during dull moments, fine. Some people enjoy defense or pitching or hitting as their temperament allows. It’s never been successfully marketed as must-see ESPN fodder, because there’s no simple lowest-common-denominator that appeals to every last baseball fan, the way "watch Jordan kick ass" draws basketball fans.

    We have a sub-minor-league team here, the Saint Paul Saints, run by one Mike Veeck. He gave the world that disastrous "Disco Demolition Night" in the 1970’s while running the White Sox, and his dad, Bill, pioneered every baseball promotion known today (like giveaway items) while doing some crazy shite of his own (he once used a midget as a leadoff hitter.) The Saints, in that grand tradition, have promos like The Life Of Rasputin acted out during innings, or Minnesota Atheists night, or Bring Your Dog night or whatever stuff Veeck and his staff of loonies come up with.

    A few years back, Veeck was asking the legislature for a new $25-mil minor-league ballpark (the old one’s pretty beat up, and the Twins had just gotten a $500-million stadium.) In some typical piece of political grandstanding, a local politician had criticized the Twins for using Kentucky bluegrass in their new building (as every MLB ballpark does, it’s a standard), and asked Veeck in hearings if he would use patriotic Minnesota sod for a new Saints building.

    Veeck responded, I’m from the sixties. I’m all about homegrown grass. Half the panel cracked up, and Veeck didn’t get the building. (Looks like Saint Paul is going to fund it now, a few years later, and easier to get to by public transportation.) Characters like that do make baseball pretty fun.

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