I love words. Here are some of my favorite ones ever spoken: “There will be an answer. Let it be. – The Beatles……....“I did it my way.” – Frank Sinatra…..…. “Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey……....“I read, much of the night, and go south for the winter.” – T.S. Eliot…….“Maybe the poets are right. Maybe love is the only answer.” – Woody Allen……….“All good books have one thing in common. They are truer than if they had actually happened.” – Ernest Hemingway……….“Would a journey not be worth taking if at the end of which, in the other world, we were delivered from all the pretend judges here? – Plato, Apology……….“You are my only love. You have me completely in your power. I know and feel that if I am to write anything noble and find in the future I shall do so only by listening at the doors of your heart.” – James Joyce to Nora……….“Basically I’m for whatever gets you through the night. But it prayer, tranquillizers, or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” – Frank Sinatra………. “He [Shakespeare] was not of an age, but for all time.” – Ben Janson in To My Beloved Master William Shakespeare………. “We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl. Year after year. Running over the same old ground, what have we found? The same old fears?” – Pink Floyd………. “We live as we dream. Alone.” – Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness……….”Yet now I must confess, that duty done, my thoughts and wishes bend again toward France.” – Shakespeare, Hamlet………. “I’ve always known myself, but he was the first one to recognize me. And the first to love what he saw.” – Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre………. “There is only the fight to recover what has been lost. There is only the trying.” – T.S. Eliot, The Four Quartets……… “The true philosopher and the true poet are one, and a beauty, which is truth and a truth which is beauty, is the aim of both. Is not the charm of one of Plato’s or Aristotle’s definitions, strictly like that of Antigone of Sophocles?” – Ralph Waldo Emerson…… “The real writer is one who really writes. Talent is an invention like phlogiston after the face of fire. Work is its own cure. You have to like it better than being loved.” – Marge Peircy………. “It’s a fierce game I’ve joined because its being played anyway, a game of both skill and chance, played against unseen adversary – the conditions of time—in which the payoffs, which may suddenly arrive in a blast of light at any moment, might as well come to me as anyone else.” – Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek………. “If all the world hated you, and believed you wicked, while your own conscience absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends.” – Charlotte Bronte………. “All one has to do to be a writer is write. We’re writers only when we’re writing.” – Alan Shapiro

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cheap Metaphors and Lessons Learned - PGA Tournament 2009

I’m not writing this article as a golf fan. Which I am.

I’m writing it as a fan of dreams-coming-true stories. And aren’t we all?

As one announcer said, “it ended with a Yang.” He must have been an English major. :)

Today was the 91st annual PGA golf tournament. I was in Hazeltine, Minnesota for all the final round action. As far as professional golf competitions go, I guess I always cheer for the underdog. These days it seems like everyone has decided Woods is going to win before a single ball is hit.

Today belonged to South Korea’s Y.E. Yang. Even the avid golf tournament viewer probably had never heard of him. I know I hadn’t.

This guy started the game when he was 19 years old. 19. That’s almost unheard of in this setting. He’s golfed for 15 years and just beat Tiger Woods in a Sunday round of a major tournament. Tiger won his first Major at 21. Yang got his first par at 22. That's just incredible.

But enough about golf.

It seems like with every year that passes, doors close for us. Without our permission. It seems like if you are going to be The Best at any given sport, instrument, or hobby—if you are going to compete with the Tiger Woods’s of the world-- you should either:

a) be a child prodigy, or
b) your parents had better have started you in class when you were 3.

Today I am reminded that isn’t true. Time doesn’t dictate what we can or cannot do. (WARNING: cheap, overused metaphors to follow.) The doors might be closed, but they’re not locked. And you just might have the key. That one is almost too cheesy to actually publish on a blog, but apparently I have no shame. And hey, just be thankful that I’m not going into a soapbox rant about how the “keys” are Attitude, Practice, etc . I’ll leave that to Hallmark.

Just try to remember that it’s not too late to be great at something you never thought you could do. Just ask Yang, Susan Boyle, or the newest lead singer of Journey.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

On Gambling

For some reason, this summer I have found myself at casinos quite frequently. Whether is a family crab-leg dinner, a vacation to Vegas or Deadwood, or just meeting up with a best friend on her trip home, I’ve had my share of the neon lights and bells the past few weeks. So, naturally, I now have a theory.

And is there a better place for life metaphors than a casino? They’re the metaphorical jackpot if you will. I mean think about it, where else will people pay money to waste their time? Actually there are a few recent concerts and movies I can think of, but I digress. My point is that you can tell a lot about a person by what they expect from a slot machine.

You have some people, like my dad, who expect to win. People who are borderline shocked when they don’t see a triple-7 all night. And then there are some people, like myself and my mom, who don’t really care to play, but when we do, we expect to lose. We play the game because it’s crazy and maybe there is a tiny part of us that thinks perhaps the world owes us something and Providence intends to make amends with 80 quarters. Then there are a rare few who come in with no expectations. (Wouldn’t it be nice if life worked that way? You wake up neither a pessimist nor an optimist. I wonder what a person could discover if they had a clean slate every day.) But no matter what we expect of the machine, we all pull the lever.

In the end, I’m a gambling pessimist. A pessimist who likes to have fun. So with slot machines—and with life—I guess I just bet the max until I hit zero all while trying to have a good time with good people.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Allen Wins Again

“Drink wine. This is life eternal. This, all that youth will give to you. It is the season for wine, roses and drunken friends. Be happy for this moment. This moment…is your life.”

I just wanted to share this great line. A great line quoted in a not-so-great movie: Unfaithful.

I’m no movie critic, and I won’t pretend to be one. But if you are looking for an excellent movie, with an eerily similar plot, watch Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors instead. I promise that will be worth your time. As is any Allen film.

Unlike Unfaithful, there are so many great lines in C & M that its nearly impossible to pick just one. But, here you go:

“It’s a fundamental difference in the way we view the world. You see it as harsh and empty of values and pitiless. But I couldn’t go on living if I didn’t think with all my heart there was a real moral structure with real meaning and forgiveness and some kind of higher power…otherwise there is no basis to know how to live.”
- Woody Allen, Crimes and Misdemeanors

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Rat Pack

[When speaking of The Rat Pack] "You know they weren’t just singing a song, they were singing a lifestyle."
- Jamie Foxx (4/28/2009 American Idol)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

How Do You Solve a Problem like the Sound of Music?

As an only child who can carry a tune, I always loved the Sound of Music. The Von Trapps were livin’ the dream. Forging every stream. But think about it, a big old singing family. When I have my own big old singing family, I hope my kids can learn the valuable life lessons this worn out VHS has taught me:

Remember kids, “when you read you begin with A-B-C, when you sing you begin with Do-Rae-Me.” Now I have learned a lot of things in my life, but what am I still always doing? Reading and singing. Thanks Maria.

And, what do you do “when the dog bites, when the bee stings, or when you’re feeling sad?” Simply remember your favorite things, “and then it won’t feel so bad.” Mr. Woody Allen seems to agree with this. (See the second-to-last scene in Manhattan).

Then there’s the ultimate adage. The foundation of the entire film. The song for the lovers, the dreamers, and me. “Climb Every Mountain.” You remember the emotional ending. The hills—alive with 1960’s cinematography. The score that brings a tear to your eye and a goosebump to your arm. The happiest of happy endings. To a ten-year-old.

But to a college graduate sitting in a tiny apartment eating Chinese takeout, the scene looks different. Bleaker. But the scene does warrant a break in the waves of my channel surfing. I never could pass up this movie. As I sat there, watching good triumph over evil yet again, it occurred to me: My God, what if the Von Trapps are not ok? I mean sure they escaped this time. But that’s a big-ass mountain and there are Nazi’s out there. What’s worse is they will always be running away; with—mind you—nothing but a song and a dream. I guess it worked for the American Idols, but really?

So I guess The Sound of Music continues to teach me, even at 23. There is a fine line between chasing dreams and running away. Is there even a winner in that race? Does chasing your dreams always lead you away from home? Perhaps Maria should take a cue from Dorothy.

Ouch. Now that I think about it, an equally currently-depressing-once-childhood-favorite. Tonight in my own personal philosophical black hole, these are the only conclusions I can see: The yellow brick road might not lead to Oz, and the other side of the Swiss mountains may not be safe and free.

Apparently MGM and 20th Century Fox seem to be under the impression that at the end of a rainbow, a person finds everything they ever wanted. Just “follow every rainbow ‘til you find your dream,” or that “land, that you heard of once in a lullaby", is where? “Somewhere over the rainbow.”

What they never tell you is how you get through all that rain. Cue Mary Poppins.
Now there is a character I’d like to be. Think about it, she comes into people’s lives, sings a few songs, invents a truly quotable word, and then disappears without so much as an “adieu, adieu, to you and you and you.”

A tough pill to swallow, and unfortunately there isn’t a spoon full of sugar big enough to help that medicine go down.

So, perhaps there really is no place like home, and that’s too bad for me. And it’s too bad for Maria and Mary who were both forced to run away from their homes. And poor Dorothy, hers got swallowed up by the Kansas sky.