Tuesday, January 25, 2011

State of the Union

Missed it and didn't miss it. If you know what I mean.

The Office

Next time you ask yourself, "Hmmm. Is there a statute of limitations on taking credit for someone else's work?"

No. It's bad form to use another person's work to bolster your own weak portfolio. It's stealing. Go do something yourself. I know you're capable.

Remember when Barack-star and Biden took credit for the surge in Iraq working after they'd voted against it? People saw through it and the Prez & VP looked stoopid.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

SnowMG!

I caught about 5 minutes of the breathless news folks in ugly snow hats telling me that 8 inches of snow had dumped on the St. Louis area overnight. That's when I turned the TV off and picked up my Mark Twain biography.

Fortunately, I don't work for some crazed megalomaniac (great word), who thinks whatever he/she is doing is so important that all employees need to follow his needless example and slog their way through this mess to push some paper around their respective desks.

Go home. You're not that important and neither is your boss. Besides, there are some great old movies on TMC today.

If you work for a good guy, yea for you! Enjoy the day!

Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she laid an asteroid.
Mark Twain


Related Post: News? Not So Much

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Knock, knock. Hu's There?

This is not a joke.

Who was invited to the state dinner with Barackstar and Mobama, and China's Hu Jintao?

Among others...Jackie Chan, ice skater Michelle Kwan, wedding dress designer Vera Wang, Law & Order's B.D. Wong, and cellist Yo Yo Ma.

Hmmm.

Also in attendance was Barbara Streisand who yukked it up by saying her connection with the dinner was “I used to work at a Chinese restaurant.” Again, I'm not joking.

Interestingly, the Obama's did away with the traditional red carpet. Instead, Mobama donned a red dress and matching red gloves. Perhaps showing some sort of weird solidarity with the majority holder of our bank note.

No word if former advisor and Mao-afficionado Anita Dunn was invited.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Goodbye

Yep. I agree with 79-year-old Regis. It's time for him to go. Actually, take that annoying Kelly Ripa with you.

Related Post: Wise Words

Friday, January 14, 2011

Uh. Oh.

Doesn't take a genius to figure out why states are raising taxes up to 67% (ie. Illinois)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

2011 Book List

So here it is...the 2011 book list. These are supposed to be some of the finest books ever written in each genre. I hope you enjoy a few of them with me this year.

Biographies/Autobiographies
Eleanor & Franklin, by Joseph Lash
The Spirit of St. Louis, by Charles Lindbergh
Lindbergh, by A. Scott Berg
Truman, by David McCullough
LBJ: Master of the Senate, by Robert Caro

Science Fiction
2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur Clarke
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep?, by Philip Dick
Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
Ringworld, by Larry Niven
Rendezvous with Rama, by Arthur Clarke

Historical Fiction
A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo
The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova
The Clan of the Cave Bear, by Jean Auel
The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Mystery
The Godfather, by Mario Puzo
The Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris
A Coffin for Dimitrios, by Eric Ambler
Gaudy Night, by Dorothy Sayers
Witness for the Prosecution, by Agatha Christie

Spiritual/Religious
Black Elk Speaks, by Black Elk
Orthodoxy, by G.K. Chesterton
The Four Quarters, by T.S. Eliot
The Sabbath, by Abraham Joshua Heschel
Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, by Shunryu Suzuki

Classical Fiction

Ulysses, by James Joyce
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce
Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
The Sound & The Fury, by William Faulkner
Catch 22, by James Heller

Trust me!

I just read this and laughed out loud:

The way to avoid backstabbers
is to never turn your back.

Ha! So true. Just some friendly advice to those of you who are regularly subjected to bullies, liars, backstabbers and their kin. Don't kid yourself, you know who they are. They're the ones behind closed doors talking about people behind their backs.

Famous backstabbers:
Marcus Brutus
Benedict Arnold
Elizabeth Taylor
LeBron James
Jay Leno

Monday, January 10, 2011

2010 Book List Review

Yea! I completed my 2010 book list, plus some. That makes a total of 61 books. Here are my picks for best in their categories.

Classical Fiction:

To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee: Best [tie]
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexander Dumas: Best [tie]
The Time Traveler's Wife: Worst, frankly I found this book very creepy
Crime & Punishment: Fyodor Dostoevsky

Mystery:
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Agatha Christie
The Postman Always Rings Twice,James Cain
Strangers on a Train, Patricia Highsmith: Best
The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler
Anatomy of a Murder, Robert Traver

Inspirational/Spiritual:
The Road Less Traveled, M.Scott Peck
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
I & Thou, Martin Buber
Letters & Papers from Prison, Dietrich Bonheoffer: Best
The Story of a Soul, St. Therese of Lisieux
Waiting for God, Simone Weil

Biographies:
The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Means of Ascent, Robert Caro: Best
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
Eisenhower: Soldier & President, Stephen Ambrose
Dale Carnegie: The Man Who Influenced Millions, Giles Kemp
A Narrative of the Life of Davy Crockett, Davy Crockett

Historical Fiction:
Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden
Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell: Best [tie]
The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett
Outlander, Diana Gabaldon
The Good Earth, Pearl Buck [tie]

Science Fiction:
1984, George Orwell
Foundation, Isaac Asimov
Neuromancer, William Gibson
Slaughterhouse 5, Kurt Vonnegut: Best
The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula LeGuin

Book Club Selections:
Travels With Charley, John Steinbeck
Tell No One, Harlan Coben
Moloka'i, Alan Brennart: Read it
The Help, Kathryn Stockett: Loved it
The Commoner, John Schwartz
Blessings, Anna Quindlen (second time I read it and still didn't like it)
Chance of a Lifetime, William Hartel
The Book Thief, Marcus Zusak (read this and then read Anne Frank's diary)

(Additions to original book list)

The Faithful Spy, Alex Berenson excellent modern spy novel
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot non-fiction worth reading
The Custom of the Country, Edith Wharton
The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis
Gift From the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh
The Tea Rose, Jennifer Donnelly don't waste your time
Secrets of Eden, Chris Bohjalian
The Cellist of Sarajevo, Steven Galloway so good, but so depressing
As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner a classic for a reason
The Darling, Russell Banks
Return of the Native, Thomas Hardy Best addition to my book list
The Magnificent Ambersons,Booth Tarkington
The Post-Birthday World, Lionel Shriver (really unique, left me thinking about it for a long time)
The Lovely Bones, Alice Siebold
Galileo's Daughter, Dava Sobel
The Winter of Our Discontent, John Steinbeck
Titanic Thompson: The Man Who Bet On Everything, Kevin Cook Fun read about a real, larger-than-life guy you've never heard of
Nemesis, Philip Roth excellent!
Paradise Junction, Phillip Finch
In A Place Dark and Secret, Phillip Finch
Rape, A Love Story, Joyce Carol Oates Best Title
Decision Points, George W. Bush

Tomorrow I'm unveiling my 2011 Book List.

Tucson.

Why is it that the rhetoric seems be ratcheting up, even as people are calling for a return to civility?

One person is to blame for the killings in Tucson.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Wise words

Here's an editorial I ran across. If you're wondering if it's time to let go of something and move on, it is. Nothing's more pathetic than watching a boss, actor, athlete, doctor, lawyer, or indian chief hang on past their prime. So hang up your red shoes, red hat, red vest, red jersey, or whatever and move on. Let someone else take your place. It's their turn.

Dick Clark, Brett Favre, and the Art of Letting Go
By Lane Wallace

On New Year's Eve, I turned on the television to watch the "ball" drop in New York's Times Square and stumbled on the image of a much-diminished Dick Clark gamely trying to fill his role as the emcee of the celebration despite having suffered a debilitating stroke. It was painful to watch. I understand Clark wanting to reclaim the role and life he had before his illness; my mother suffered a serious stroke a couple of years ago and I watched her fight the same battle in the months that followed. Age and health failures are thieves that steal life and competency away heartlessly, unfairly and sometimes without warning. But it was still painful to watch.


Two days later, I watched a much-diminished Brett Favre put in a sideline, and most likely final, appearance as a professional football quarterback. I say "most likely" because although Favre officially announced his retirement from pro ball on Sunday night, he's reversed that decision more than once before. But this time, watching him stumble increasingly over the course of the season, few viewers had any doubt that the once-great QB, who had taken the Green Bay Packers to the Super Bowl twice and set the NFL record for the longest consecutive streak of game starts (321), was finished. Had been finished, in reality, for some time before he actually conceded defeat. Which was painful to watch, as well.


A few years ago, a friend who was closing in on age 60 told me he'd figured out that the real challenge in life was learning to let go. That's not the only struggle, of course, but it's certainly one of the big ones—especially in the years following 40. Letting go of anything—childhood, baggage, grudges, anger, failure, friends, lovers, loved ones, or just the past in general—is never an easy thing. But letting go of who you used to be, when you really loved being that person, falls into the double-black-diamond level of life challenges.


In 2002, the writer and essayist Roger Rosenblatt gave a beautifully poignant description of that struggle in talking about the great historian William Manchester on an episode of PBS's News Hour. Manchester had suffered two strokes and, subsequently, had lost the ability to find and organize the words necessary to finish his biography of Winston Churchill.


Manchester's face, Rosenblatt said, showed "all the bewildered agony of someone realizing that he cannot do what he was born to do."


We build identities over years and decades. Once, we were our ancestry. Here in the New World of America, we are judged more on what we do than who our parents were. And if we're lucky, we manage to find something to do that we feel, on some level, we were "born" to do. That's the great and wonderful part. Especially if being a natural at something leads to high levels of success or notability in that field, as it often does.


Of course, pursuing something you're so passionate about that you not only excel at it but feel it was something you were born to do makes that activity far more central to both your life and your identity. So what do you do when you edge closer to Father Time than the possibility-filled infant year? When enough years pass that the top of the bell curve slips through your grasp and you find yourself sliding down the far side? When you're past your prime, or not physically or mentally able to do or be what people recognized you for anymore? Who are you, then?


The entertainer and comedian Carol Burnett once said she ended her variety show while it was still getting high ratings—a show that gave her a level of fame and success she never again equalled—because she wanted to exit before the hostess started turning out the lights and asking her to leave. If only Elvis could have had that strength and self-control!


There are also any number of people, famous and not, who have mastered the art of reinventing themselves, over and over again, as their age and capacities and knowledge changed. John W. Gardner, who was the Secretary of Health Education and Welfare under President Johnson and went on after that to found Common Cause before lecturing at Stanford University, lived until the age of 89. And he bragged about taking a new career job after his 76th birthday.


Some of those people take on new careers in completely different fields (former NBA basketball player Kevin Johnson is now the mayor of Sacramento, CA), while others find different ways to contribute in their field of choice, even after their "best" or starring years have passed. Perhaps Favre could coach, or become a commentator, and perhaps Clark could provide valuable input to productions behind the camera. It's not the same as being the out-front star, of course, or nailing a 70-yard pass to win a game that hangs in the balance. But to make that switch first requires a clear and courageous acknowledgment that all things pass, grow old, and need to be let go of, eventually. Of one's own aging, and passing into those who have, instead of those who still will. It requires, in other words, a willingness to look Father Time in the eye and recognize and find peace with a part of ourselves in that image, as well as an optimistic willingness to set out and explore what still might lie ahead. Adventure, after all, can be found in any stage of life, right up through the end.


For years, I've looked at the image of Father Time and the Baby New Year and thought only of its basic interpretation: the passing of the old year and the beginning of the new. But after watching Dick Clark and Brett Favre's performances, it occurred to me that the iconic New Year's image might also be a reminder of the grace and possibility that come from acknowledging not only the renewal of life in the new year, but also the passage of time in the old. From recognizing what time it is, and moving on to whatever lies next before the party gets stale, or the hostess shows you the door.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

10 Lessons from 2010


In no particular order...

1) Bed bugs do bite
2) Tiger Woods is as big a phony as I always thought
3) John Edwards is a bigger phony than I thought, and I thought he was a pretty big phony
4) People with the most power often have the least class
5) When eggs can't be trusted, the year is going to be a bad one
6) Don't believe your bosses...the jobs aren't coming back
7) The internet is the great equalizer
8) Principles and your reputation are worth standing up for, no matter the consequences
9) Friends who stab you in the back were never friends
10)The Golden Rule is still the only rule you need. In case you don't remember it, "treat others the way you'd like to be treated"