Vicious Cycles: The Dallas Cowboys and Kill Bill

First, I want to apologize for being inactive here in recent weeks. It’s May so I’ve been bogged down by end-of-the-year school work. Completely unprofessional, I get it. Yet, this situation really does create a chicken-or-egg dilemma: am I more professional if I haven’t written as much because I’m trying to take care of work stuff? I don’t know. I don’t get paid enough to answer questions like that. What I do know is that I was so totally and hopeless off the mark in one of my recent predictions. I thought that the end of baseball season would mean more time to do more things to write about, but no. All I’ve done with the boost in free time is eat and sleep and neither of those activities is anything to write home or a blog entry about.

Photo obviously taken before he learned the Cowboys had selected him in the draft.

Photo obviously taken before he learned the Cowboys had selected him in the draft.

*The Dallas Cowboys made former Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin (left) the 16th selection in the 2014 NFL Draft yesterday. McKenna, a Notre Dame alum and former student of mine gave his post-pick analysis via Facebook:

Zack Martin has a ton of experience protecting QB’s that throw costly interceptions. A+ pick.

Obviously, McKenna wins the self-deprecating/backhanded compliment award for the day. Anyway, I was stuck in traffic when the pick went down and may or may not have surreptitiously used my phone to track the gridiron draft while in gridlock. It’s a good pick in that it’s not Johnny Cleveland, and now the Dallas Offensive live has a chance to be pretty solid instead of merely offensive.

Considering all the holes on defense, I thought perhaps America’s team might draft a player on that side of the ball, but took Martin (in some rankings, the 9th best player in the draft) instead. Here’s the possible logic:

We have so many holes on defense that one guy isn’t going to make a difference, really. So we’ll take the best player available at 16, try to keep Romo off his ass in the pocket, then spend the next 6 rounds drafting defensive depth. Besides, we’re still going to run Monte Kiffin’s defense which was historically bad last season, so it’s not like two or three or four guys are going to make a big difference. We’re still not going to be able to make any stops on 3rd down, but hey, let’s run it back anyway because being stubborn and exacerbating the situation is always better than admitting you made a mistake and moving on. 

[I have no inside information on possible motives of the Dallas Cowboys front office]

The real Hattori Hanzo.

The real Hattori Hanzo.

*I watched the Kill Bill movies over the last two days for the first time since they were released. Like so many movies that I’ve taken an extended break from, my memory of the film worked on a range. There were parts of which I had total recall, parts I vaguely remembered (in the abstract), and details I had completely forgotten about. It was a great experience to watch these films with fresh eyes.

It’s obvious now, but it wasn’t to the younger Phil. The essential question posed in the movie is Can people truly change? The character that embodies this concept best is the swordsmith and sometime sushi chef Hattori Hanzo. He initially balks at the Bride’s request for a samurai sword in the first film, claiming he no longer makes “instruments of death.” The only convincing he needs is the revelation that Thurman’s character is going to use the sword to kill Bill, Hanzo’s former student. This episode is Hanzo’s only appearance in either movie.

Hanzo is mentioned intermittently in the films, but generally in terms of the quality of his swords. That is until the final confrontation between the Bride and Bill. Bill admires the Bride’s new sword and says “I thought he retired.” He then asks if Hanzo’s sushi is any better, and Thurman nods her head in the negative. This line of dialogue is followed immediately by Bill’s discussion of Superman, the essence of which is the concept of alter egos. To sum it up: people can play play dress up, but they are who they are.

Hanzo’s character appears to be a symbol for the human inability to change. He plays at being a sushi chef, but is terrible. This fact is accentuated by the fact that his is the best swordsmith in the world. Based on the initial interaction between Hanzo and the Bride, he had no intention of selling her or giving her a sword. Then why show her the sword room in the first place? Because he wanted to. He literally says so. Because that’s who he is. The sushi chef is his alter ego, no matter how hard he fights it.

An assassin in the clothes of a mother.

An assassin in the clothes of a mother.

Vivica A. Fox’s Vernita Green would seem to support this idea. She appears briefly at the start of the first movie. She is a wife and a mother and has tried to leave her assassin’s life behind. The universe, however, has other plans. The Bride shows up at her house and shit does down, only to be interrupted by the arrival of Green’s daughter. The irony here is pretty obvious. While it would appear that Thurman’s arrival has interrupted Green’s suburban life, the opposite is true: Green’s suburban life is merely a blip on her lifetime of murder and bloodshed, just as Thurman’s ill-fated attempt to marry the owner of an El Paso record store was. People don’t and can’t change. This seems to be Bill’s and the movie’s central thesis. But this is not true.

It happens.

It happens.

The flaw in Bill’s theory is the context of mutual exclusivity. His premise that the Bride is first and foremost a killer is not necessarily wrong: she’s illustrated that over the first 94% of the two films. Where Bill makes his mistake is assuming or positing that Beatrix Kiddo can only be a killer. Like Green, even in advancing age, their murdering skills remain strong. Like Hanzo, time has not blunted his sword-making edge. It is the core of who they are, but it doesn’t mean that is all they have to be. When the final credits roll, Thurmans is last and it provides all of her aliases: Beatrix Kiddo, Black Mamba, and finally Mommy. She is all of those things. Perhaps a psychopath like Bill could only be a psycho-killer and that’s why he believed what he did. Maybe he never wanted to be anything else. Maybe he was happy with who he was and what he was doing.

Me too. But once that kid pops out, shit if the universe don’t have other plans, and shit if they don’t change everything.

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