Category Archives: My Thoughts on Life
There was a time in this country when patriotism and love of freedom was something to be proud of – not something to be derided and mocked by the elite. There was a time when success was lauded and put forth as something to aspire to – not something to be punished and taxed into extinction. There was a time when freedom was cherished – not traded for the soft tyranny of “safety”.
I recently came across a cartoon from 1948 (thanks to the Thorum at bradthor.com), that is a relevant today as it was when it was made 63 years ago – perhaps even more so. It’s a cartoon that puts forth a persuasive argument for the American way of life. It’s a cartoon that tells you everything you need to know about the financial and jobs crisis we are currently in, and what the path back to prosperity looks like. And, unfortunately – it’s a cartoon than would most likely never be made in today’s America:
When anybody preaches disunity – tries to pit one of us against the other through class warfare, race hatred, or religious intolerance – you know that person seeks to rob us of our freedom and to destroy our very lives.
Watch it. Think about it. Discuss it. Pass it on.
30 years ago today, on August 1, 1981 – MTV made it’s debut on the country’s cable systems. It was destined to change the face of popular music. I was a spry ten years old at the time and had the fortune to spend the entirety of my musically formative years as part of the first MTV generation. I don’t watch much MTV these days (have segued as so many others into the VH1 and/or CMT generation), but it still holds a special place in my life. So – to celebrate its 30th birthday (just a month after my 40th), I thought I would take a few moments to look back at a few of my favorite MTV memories.
There’s a reason the music of your youth is the music that follows you throughout your life. When you’re stumbling through the transition from adolescence to adulthood you make strong, immediate connections to things around you. It’s the reason your first love is always so intense. It’s the reason you feel invincible when you’re out with your friends. It’s the foundation that leads to that nostalgic look back at “the good old days” in later years. Those moments and memories that surround you during that time of your life become an integral part of who you are. For me, one of those moments was with “Les Miserables”.
I came of musical age during the 80’s – hair metal, the birth of MTV, The King of Pop, and the advent of the “mega” Broadway musical. For my money (and with no apology to “Phantom of the Opera” fans – I just never liked that show), there was none bigger than “Les Miserables”. Debuting on Broadway in 1986, it became one of the most successful musicals of all time.
During my senior year in high school, we did a musical review. The closing number was a medley of songs from “Les Miserables”. I played the part of Marius. We defended the barricades, Eponine died in my arms, and everyone dreamed of one day more. It was the perfect exclamation point to that year and, in many ways, it was a much larger, if more subtle, metaphor for my entire high school experience (but that’s a story for another day). It made a deep impression on me, and the music from the show would follow me and continue to fill me with wonder for the next 20 plus years.
Birthdays are a time for celebration. Once a year your family and friends come together to celebrate the simple fact that you exist. Gifts are given, food is eaten, candles are lit and blown out, and of course, there is cake. It’s a special day, no matter who you are or how old.
For me, birthdays are also a time of reflection, a time to think about the prior year and speculate on the year to come. This year is no different, but it also marks a milestone for me. This is the year I complete my 40th trip around the sun. As the old saying goes, “40 is just a number”, and it’s true; but society still places a premium on each decade we mark off on this earth, so I feel I should, at least in some small way, do the same.
I am, by no means, a wise man. I’ve made my way through these 40 years the best I could. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes, but I’ve also had my fair share of moments in the sun. Through it all, I’ve learned a lot of things – many, the hard way. To mark today’s passing, I’ve decided to share some of those things with you – the 40 most important lessons in my life. I can only hope they help my children navigate the way through their first 40 trips around the sun, to a place as good as I have.
- Your first love is not the same as your true love. Both will linger with you your entire life, but true love is the only thing capable of filling the hole in your heart.
- Mascara doesn’t come easily out of hair that’s been teased and shellacked with Aquanet hairspray.
- Process is the last refuge of a weak mind. It has its place and purpose, but action with thought is wasteful and lazy.
- Family is forever – no matter where you go; they’re always with you.
- Any man who can’t share his love of “Star Wars” with his children is a poor parent.
It’s been a really long week. One of those weeks were it’s easy to sit back and focus on just how stressful and infuriating life can be sometimes. I had to fly cross-country, so I had plenty of time to sit on planes and think. I was crammed into seat 37E between a morbidly obese Panamanian woman and a John Waters look-alike who smelled like Doritos and Band-Aids, when I had an epiphany somewhere over New Mexico. As trying as my week had been, it could have been far worse. I could have had to deal with some of the things that really annoy me. I could have been put in one of those situations that really set my teeth on edge. I could have been trapped in one of what I call, “My Own Personal 7 Circles of Hell”.
#1: Having a cashier ask for my credit card after I’ve already swiped it through the reader
Automation can be a good thing (just don’t tell Obama…). It allows companies and businesses to be more efficient. It can speed up simple transactions and save you valuable time during your day. It can also drive you crazy.
One of the biggest changes at retail in the last few years has been the ubiquitous addition of credit card terminals at the register. They’re everwhere – Walmart, Kmart, Carmart, Stuffyoudontneedmart – everyone has added the ability for you to swipe your credit card and pay your bill. Put like that, it sounds great – and in most cases it is. Most, but not all.
Here’s what chaps my recently slimmed down posterior. If they are going to give you an automated machine to swipe your card through, why do they still insist you then hand them your card for inspection. If I’m going to hand it to Skippy the cashier anyway, shouldn’t he just go ahead and swipe it himself? Why even give me the illusion of control over my own destiny? It’s like a cruel joke: he allows me to swipe my card, put it back in my wallet, put my wallet back in my pocket, and THEN Skippy needs to see the card – or I can’t buy my fresh vine ripened tomatoes, can of turpentine, and Kittens with Mittens sticker book.
Really? You just have to see the card? You just have to let me have one brief moment of retail freedom, then bring it all crashing down on my head like a twig house under the onslaught of Ye Olde Big Bad Wolf? Thanks for nothing. Just keep your credit card machines and false promises of manifest destiny in the hair care products aisle. It’s almost enough to make me start using cash…
This week marks the one year anniversary of my humble little blog. I hope you have enjoyed the last year as much as I have. I’ve had the opportunity to meet some great artists and authors, review wonderful (and not so wonderful) books, albums, and TV shows – and shared quite a few thoughts about the world around us. It’s been a great journey, and far more fun than I ever imagined when I started out last April.
I hope you stick with us, tell all of your friends about us, and let us know what you think. I think year two is going to be even more fun than year one!
How long does it take to change the world? It’s a question that men have been asking themselves since the beginning of time. Can it be measured in the millennia of continental shift and upheaval? Can it be measured in the centuries of rising and falling Empires? Can it be measured in the decades of one man’s influence on world affairs? No – the answer to the question is far shorter. One second. Not that long even, when you really get down to it. One second is all that marks the space between “before” and “after”. Before a child dies, and after.
It’s been a cold week. In case you haven’t heard the news, there is snow on the ground in 49 of the 50 states. Florida is the only holdout. It’s times like these when I like to reflect upon the ravages Global Warming has wrought upon the globe. I also like to take time to thank the heavens that Congress has saved me from the horrors of the free market and personal choice by banning the incandescent light bulb. Just think of all the children in England who would grow up not knowing what snow was, just so I could read my copy of “Atlas Shrugged” under the same light Ayn Rand wrote it by, instead of the jaundiced yellow CFL “light” of progress.
I guess cold weather just makes me cranky. So – I decided to make a little video. Google was very happy to help me out – hope you enjoy it.
P.S. – if you want to read a little more about Global Warming, check out my review of Roy W. Spencer’s book, “The Great Global Warming Blunder”.
It’s the time of year for New Year’s resolutions. A time for setting unrealistic goals for ourselves that will, in most cases, be forgotten by the time we sit down to watch the Super Bowl. Last year I resolved to read 75 books this year – and missed it. The good news is – it gave me something to set my sights on; a destination for December 31st. I enjoyed that, and read some great books.
So, not to be outdone this year, I thought I would not only make a New Year’s resolution – I would make a list of things that I want to accomplish – a to-do-list for 2011 you might call it. And – to keep myself honest – I’m going to put it out there for everyone to see. I’ll be on record with my resolutions this year, and someone (probably my wife) will ask me in August – “how are you doing on # 7?” (Note to self – make # 7 an easy one…). So, without further ado, I give you my 2011 New Year’s To-Do List.
Last Friday night I was able to take part in one of my favorite holiday traditions – Christmas Eve dinner at Waffle House. That’s right – I said Waffle House. It’s one of those meals that I look forward to each year in a way that only comes from sharing a tradition with family. Like most great family traditions, this one appears to be completely insane to an outsider. Why would anyone subject himself to Waffle House food on any day of the year, much less Christmas Eve, many will ask. The answer is simple. Wrapped up in each of those golden waffles is a little piece of heaven – a warm fluffy touchstone to home. They don’t call it comfort food for nothing.