October 2008


Six-Word Memoirs

I haven’t picked up the book yet but I stumbled across this preview video from a while back. Very cool concept and there are some gems in there. The first part of the video explains what’s going on.

I took a Hemingway class back in college from a professor who was a complete Hemingway nut. He was so passionate about the subject that it became one of my favorite classes ever. In his life, he had tried to go to the places Hemingway had gone and do the things Hemingway had done. From Cuba to the Keys to bullfights in Spain, this professor had tried to experience things fist hand. It made for a wonderful class. I haven’t seen the professor in years. Hopefully he hasn’t shot himself in the head yet.

The Hemingway quote that inspired the book is well known and hard to top but I tried to write a few six-word “stories” myself tonight. I’d love to hear more if you have them.

Philosophical – “Two things I fear: Fame. Anonymity.”

Dramatic – “Was she crying when you called?”

Comedic – “Hey honey…mom’s on Springer again!”

Not Hemingway but a whole lot of fun. And I’m reminded that it takes longer to write shorter.
BLB

Mr. Seinfeld Goes to Washington - Publicity Still (Click for Larger)

Mr. Seinfeld Goes to Washington - Publicity Still (Click for Larger)

Mr. Seinfeld Goes to Washington

Can you believe it? This groundbreaking sitcom is coming to an end. Mr. Seinfeld Goes to Washington started out as a simple show about four friends and their wacky quest for the White House. But it has grown into a once in a lifetime television event. After a ratings dream season, the series ending episode will be broadcast on Tuesday, November 4th to what will no doubt be a record audience.

And who could have predicted this level success. Comedian Barry Seinfeld launched his career from his agent’s living room with very little television experience. He had some success in college, some local community theater and some late-night TV appearances but nothing on this scale. The critics were skeptical to say the least. As it turned out, his talent, drive and supporting cast were more than enough to create a wildly successful show.

It’s a little sad to see it end though. It’s going to be hard to let these characters go because we’ve come to see them as part of the family. We talk about them at the dinner table and around the water cooler. We tune in to their shenanigans to take our minds off of our troubles and it is a welcome break from the depressing programming we typically see.

There are so many great memories flooding back into my mind about the goings on in that little apartment they all shared in D.C. I’ll post a more complete list at the end but if you’ll permit me, here are a few highlights.

I couldn’t stop laughing the first time I saw the episode where Barry’s judgment was questioned because he was spending so much time with an unsavory character known as the “soup nazi”. “He’s not an adviser”, Barry would say. “I just like soup.” Or when Barry refused to wear the flag pin on his lapel and was chased through the streets by angry mobs who questioned his patriotism. Situations so outlandish they could only take place in sitcom land for sure.

But of course the show is more than just Barry. It’s a true ensemble. Who could forget the classic “contest” episode where a wager was made to see who could go the longest without saying “Wall Street” and “Main Street” in the same sentence. Hilarious. None of them lasted long but I believe George won that one.

Speaking of George, remember when he and Barry tried to sneak the marble rye back into the White House before George W. and Laura noticed it was gone. Great guest appearances like that are part of what makes the show so wonderful. And do you remember the time George tried to filibuster by simply saying “yada yada yada” over and over and told his fellow Senators he could go on forever. He said, “This is nothing compared to the hell I’ve already been through.” The other side had no idea what he was talking about but he looked a little crazy so they caved in. I laughed so hard it hurt.

And oh that wacky Elaine. My favorite episode from her had to be when she demonstrated her knowledge of world affairs by suggesting to a visiting Russian dignitary that “War, What is it Good For” was the original title to Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”. Priceless. Or there was the time she thought she only had a limited number of vetoes and spent the whole episode trying to figure out which bills were veto-worthy. She went back and forth about whether to veto some bridge project for the whole show. Brilliant writing.

And then there was Kramer. My favorite of his was the episode where Kramer dropped a Junior Mint and it landed on the President during the State of the Union address. “W” had no idea why everyone was laughing. Or when Kramer set up his very own oval office smack dab in the middle in his apartment and pretended to be president. So many layers of meaning there for such a supposedly meaningless show.

Of course they did threaten to write Kramer out of the show a bit later because he couldn’t keep his foot out of his mouth. The breaking point came when he lost his temper on the stump and let a couple of hecklers have it. It was way out of line and made things uncomfortable between he and Barry for a while to say the least. But they were able to, as they say, move on.

I’m not sure what will happen to all of these guys after this show ends. It’s hard to deal with the lows after tasting such highs. I think Barry will be fine. He’ll probably get a spin-off and be on the air for another eight years or so. Just a hunch. But I’m not so sure about the rest of the cast. They’re all pretty talented but I don’t know if they can make it without Barry. We’ll have to wait and see how it all turns out.

For now though, I’m really excited about Tuesday night’s finale. It’s tough to end a sitcom gracefully and few have pulled it off successfully. But maybe this one will be an exception. Maybe this is one we’ll talk about for years to come. I’ll be first in line for the DVD box set when it comes out. For what it’s worth, I sure hope this wasn’t just another show about nothing.
BLB

__________________________

(Here are some more favorite moments from previous shows.)

“The Deal”
Elaine and Barry worked out a deal where they would ignore their differences in political ideology and sleep together. They thought they could still be friends as long as they followed a strict set of rules. The Bedroom Bill of Rights they called it. When Barry told George about it, he laughed at his friend’s lack of experience and correctly predicted it would not last.

“Shrinkage”
George’s tax cut proposal came back much smaller than expected and he tried to explain “shrinkage” to a skeptical Elaine.

“The Puffy Turban”
A low-talking lobbyist asked Barry to wear a puffy turban on Meet the Press and all hell breaks loose.

“ASSMAN”
Kramer gets Senator Larry Craig’s vanity plates by mistake.

“The Blouse”
Elaine sends out a new campaign flier across the country and it turns out you can see her NRA tattoo peaking out from beneath her blouse.

“Vandelay”
George pretends to be a lobbyist for Vandelay Industries in order to stop out of control pork barrel earmarks and Barry accidentally spoils the ruse. My favorite scene is George lying on the floor as Barry says, “And you want to be my latex lobbyist.”

“Misunderstanding”
Barry and George are mistaken for a gay couple and while trying to set the record straight, they repeatedly say, “Not that’s anything wrong with that as long as same-sex couples get the same civil rights that are granted to opposite-sex couples and as long as they don’t expect to be able to get “married” in the traditional sense of the word because that’s a decision for the church not the government.” By the fourth time they said that line I was rolling.

(If you have any favorite episodes, I’d love to hear about them.)

A Revealing Argument

I’ve decided as part of the change to my blog, I’m going to experiment with some new areas. Expand my horizons. The first expansion will involve shooting nudes. Very tasteful. Very artistic. There’s a long and respected tradition of the nude form in photography and I think I can contribute something. I’ll begin with my lovely wife and then start to look for other willing subjects. So I’ll start tonight with this image of…….Hold on a minute….

Yes dear…
…what!?…
…but I’ve already started…..
…but we talked about this….yes we did…
…are you sure?…I could have sworn…but…if you’d just…
…just calm down and I’ll…no it’s not like that…
…tasteful, I said tasteful….very artsy…black and white…
…yes it does matter…it’s all in the lighting…
…what do you mean you don’t care….
…honey, it’s art…beauty…tradition…but…just…
…you’re a beautiful woman and I thought…but why not…
…why should your friends and family care….embarrassed how…
…NO, I AM NOT BEING STUPID!…IT’S ART!…
…sorry…no more yelling…how about this…just listen for a minute…
…what if I start with other people first?…
…I met this woman yesterday and…OWWW! THAT HURT!…
…FINE!

Well, apparently I won’t be venturing down the clothing optional path. Here’s another stupid sunset. Hope you have a great weekend. I won’t.
BLB

Sunset on the Bay

Row of Palms

(This little story was originally posted on my photoblog Panhandlin’ back in 2006.) :-)

TED

One of my favorite web sites in the whole world wide interweb is TED. Back in my college days, I changed majors a lot. Engineering, English, Pre-Law, Psychology, Broadcasting. It’s perhaps telling that my favorite classes back in those days were broad survey courses where I learned big ideas about big subjects. Once it got down to the nitty-gritty details, I lost interest and moved on to something else. Eight years all total and I still ended up a few credit hours short of graduating.

It drove my family crazy back then. My lovely wife even suggested I needed therapy. She was probably right. But looking back, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Even now, if I could just go back and take classes without worrying about grades or graduating, I’d do it. I just love that feeling of sitting in a lecture hall and having a world of new ideas open up before my eyes. That’s where TED comes in. It’s like getting to sit in on lectures from the greatest minds in the world. From the about page:

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader. The annual conference now brings together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).

It’s an awesome collection. Here’s one of my favorites from the 2006 conference.

Sir Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity

Many more gems at www.ted.com

Somewhat related to this subject is a book I’ve written about in the past: A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink.

Breakin’ Old Habits

I was a wanna’ be break dancer. I get these obsessions from time to time. I see something that fascinates me and I throw myself into it. Back in the mid ’80s, it was break dancing.

I wish you could have seen it. I had a big piece of cardboard covering the concrete floor of our closed-in garage and would practice, practice, practice. I had my boombox loaded with the soundtracks to Beat Street and Breakin’ and wore the tapes out. (I need to pop over to iTunes and download those to see what memories flood back.) I never was that good at the more acrobatic craziness even though I tried hard and had the bruises to prove it. What I really liked and was able to halfway pull off were the liquid, gliding and popping moves. It was all magical.

Nothing much came of my hobby back then though. I don’t think anyone outside of my family even knew about it. I wanted to wait until I was good enough before springing it on the masses. I had these dreams of showing up at school with my “skills” and having a crowd gather around to cheer me on with Grand Master Flash blaring from the box. What an awesome dream it was.

But one day I mentioned my hobby to a friend and instead of the awe and admiration I expected, the response was laughter and ridicule. I was a pretty shy kid in the first place and that one laugh was all it took for me to pack away my break dance dream.

I wasn’t crushed. I didn’t need therapy. I came a little ways out of my shell later on and at school proms would hit the dance floor. But it was more in the style of Footloose than Beat Street. (You know. That two hand finger snap with alternating front kicks. Can you picture it?) But I was ticked at myself because I never risked showing off the breakin’ in public and I regret it because I let someone’s knee-jerk reaction affect me and something I loved.

But this wouldn’t be the last time. A similar thing happened in college a few years later. Similar in that I found something I loved to death. Something I studied and worked on. Something I knew was right for me. But once again, I mentioned that something to a “friend” and my revelation was met with laughter. So once again I gave it up. Back in the shell.

Maybe I do need therapy. My therapist thinks I do.  I still struggle with it. Not with break dancing. That’s now a physical rather than mental pain. But with the fear of making things I love public because of what other people might think. I don’t even want to say what the second thing was here for fear of that same reaction. I think it’s because that unlike break dancing, this dream still has potential.

The point of all this is, I’m trying to learn from it. I still have that fear. Hell, with the path I’ve chosen, I have it almost every day. I create something and then I wait in fear for the reaction. The thing is, I may never get past the fear but I have to make sure the fear doesn’t stop me from trying. It’s something I have to do for my own sanity and happiness but more importantly for my children. I know. Everything these days is “for the children.” But this one is important. What they see me doing is important. I came across this great quote not too long ago.

We want our children to fit in and to stand out. We rarely address the conflict between these goals. – Ellen Goodman

I’m trying to address it with the kids and with myself. We’ll see how it goes and I may even get to a point where I’m able to talk more openly about that other abandoned hobby. Perhaps it no longer falls in the abandoned category though. I’ll ask my therapist.

_____________________

This was all stirred up tonight because of two movies I watched this weekend. The first was Heckler. Very cool documentary by Jamie Kennedy about the relationship of hecklers and performers. And The Visitor. A movie about the reevaluation of dreams and ideas and long held beliefs that is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while. Completely different movies that were very connected.

Heckler ended with a performance by a crazy cool dancer named David Elsewhere. A viral video sensation a while back and the best liquid dancer I’ve ever seen. The internet fame got him movie and commercial roles. Here’s a taste.

If you’re into it, you can find a ton more on YouTube: David Elsewhere. By the way, I break out the break dancing every now and then so the girls can have a good laugh at dad. Ironic isin’t it. Something I gave up for fear of being laughed at I now do for laughs.
BLB

Palin Pushes Party Platform in Pensacola

Sarah Palin made a campaign stop here in Pensacola today. The Grand Old Party has a brand new star. A couple of months ago, do you think one local Joseph P. Sixpack could have picked the Governor of Alaska out of a lineup? I doubt it. But today they filled the Civic Center don’t cha’ know.

Even our very own Governor Charlie “The Silver Fox” Crist is able to get past the disappointment of not being selected for the VP spot. He puts on a brave face and points out several things he admires about his rival. Or perhaps he’s pointing out the “white after Labor Day” problem. Either way, it explains the grin.

Palin in Pensacola

Sarah and Charlie (photo by Ben Twingley of the PNJ)

They say the bandaged hand is from a jogging fall. Do you buy that? There was a minor hubbub at debate time about it but don’t you feel there has got to be a better story. Clawed while wrestlin’ a grizzly. Bruised while poundin’ the glass at the hockey rink. Frostbite from a double top secret mission across the Bering Straight. Playtime with the “first dude” got out of hand. Wrench slipped while rebuilding the transmission on the Straight Talk Express. Something. Anything besides “I fell down”.

She’s a former basketball player and beauty queen for goodness sake. She should be halfway coordinated. She didn’t just fall down. I think they tried to take her out. I think some nervous Republicans were unhappy with Mrs. Hot Mom and wanted her off the ticket by any means necessary. But I think they underestimated her and found themselves up against and Alaskan Rambo. I think she left those nervous Republicans writhing in pain somewhere in the Alaskan wilderness and all she got was a little scratch on her palm. Now, every time she waves, she flashes the bandage as a warning. “Stand back or this hot mom will go medieval on you. That goes for you too Mr. Crist.”

The Pensacola News Journal article about the visit: “Palin Wows Pensacola”

The Apple of My Eye

My wife Julie is spending some time with my mistress this week. They get along great. Sure Julie’s a little jealous, what with my going on and on about how wonderful the mistress is. How I long to spend more time with her. How I would pull up stakes tomorrow to be closer to her. She’s mesmerizing. I’ve never felt more at home than when I’m with her.

Please don’t judge me too harshly. It’s not like I love my beautiful wife any less. I want her to come along too. I want us all to be together. I know we could make it work. Is that too much to ask?

It was love at first sight with the mistress. We’ve only seen each other a few times but I can’t stop thinking about her. The way she looks and smells and sounds. Julie thinks that if I had to spend every day with the mistress I’d grow tired of her. She thinks it’s all about the newness and excitement. She thinks the excitement would wear off. I know that’s not true. I mean, I’ve been with Julie for over 16 wonderful years and it gets better every day. I know it would be the same with the mistress given the chance. And if we were all three together it would be triply good.

And my kids love the mistress too. Even though they’ve only met her once. They may not feel as strongly about her as I do yet and I know they’re not sure about us all living together. But I know with time we could all be one happy family.

I also know Julie likes the mistress a lot. She’s told me so. She’s just not sure we can all live together either. So I’m hoping that the time they spend together this week without me will help. Just the two of them getting to know each other better. Gets me excited just thinking about it. A little jealous too. What are they doing there together without me? Anyway, that’s not important. Wish me luck.

Oh. I guess I should tell you her name. I’ve told you this much so why not. You may even know her. My mistress is the one and only New York City. Yes, I’m head over heels for The Big Apple. Julie is spending a week in NYC on what she claims is a business trip. Some “conference” or something. But I took a peek at the itinerary and it looks like there’s more play time than work time scheduled. Maybe I’m right to be jealous. Or maybe not. Surely there’s more than enough of the greatest city on earth to go around. Surely we can find a way to make this work.

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