I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Fourth of July

I’m currently on vacation visiting family, so I probably won’t post again until Tuesday. Have a great Fourth of July weekend!

Alf Quotes

Season three of Alf came out recently on DVD. Here are a few of his hilarious quotes from the first few episodes of the season:

“Oh sure. When Kate makes a rhyme it’s not big deal. Just for that, I’m eating your meal.”

“Oh great. We’re going bowling and I don’t even have a cantaloupe.”

“Thanks. You’re a lifesaver. You’re more than a lifesaver. You’re a milk dud.”

“Every sheik has a harem. It’s considered sheik.”

“You type for a while. You have 25% more fingers.”

“Imitation is the sincerest form of plagiarism.”

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Do it Again!

After reading this excellent post by Sheila, and then viewing the video she references, I was reminded of a family event in 1994 in which spontaneous joy broke out. Sometimes spontaneous joy occurs on stage, sometimes it occurs over a good bottle of wine, and sometimes it occurs during the mundane moments of life in a person’s living room. This particular event occurred in my sister’s living room.

But let me back up a little. My niece was born with cerebral palsy in her lower extremities. She’s had so many corrective surgeries that I can’t even tell you how many she’s had—somewhere in the neighborhood of nine. She’s 16 now, at the time of the incident I’m about to describe, she was four. She’d never been able to walk—partially because her lower extremities were always in a cast (because of all the surgeries) and partially because her cerebral palsy just wouldn’t allow her to.

My sister, her boyfriend, my grandmother, and I were all sitting around in my sister’s living room one day close to Thanksgiving in 1994. My niece was almost fully recovered from her latest surgery, when all of a sudden, she pulled herself up by bracing herself on the coffee table and she walked several steps in the pathway between the table and the couch. Four sets of eyes got so big that they almost filled the room. She just giggled.

“Do it again!” all of us screamed in unison.

She turned around and did it again. Followed by more giggles.

The tears came for the four of us quickly and they wouldn’t stop.

“Do it again!”

And she did.

More giggles and more tears.

“Do it again!”

And she did.

More giggles and more tears.

I have no idea how many times she walked for us, but it looked just as awesome to us each time she did it. And each time, the tears came. A spontaneous moment of joy that meant more to me than any almost other moment I can think of in my entire life. I wasn’t moved to tears solely because she was walking, but also because for a couple of minutes, she got to experience what it felt like to be like everybody else she knew. And something about her giggle just thrilled me.

She eventually started using a little walker to get around, but after several more surgeries, she was unable to continuing walking. We’ve had many great moments since then—one of which maybe I’ll share with you in another post. For it’s moments like these that make life so enjoyable.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


We're up to my fourth favorite movie of all time in our Top 10 Tuesdays series.

#4: Rocky, starring Sylvester Stallone (as Rocky Balboa) and Talia Shire (as Adrian). Released in 1976.

Plot synopsis from amazon.com: “Rocky Balboa is a struggling boxer trying to make the big time. Working in a meat factory in Philadelphia for a pittance, he also earns extra cash as a debt collector. When heavyweight champion Apollo Creed visits Philadelphia, his managers want to set up an exhibition match between Creed and a struggling boxer, touting the fight as a chance for a ‘nobody’ to become a ‘somebody.’ The match is supposed to be easily won by Creed, but someone forgot to tell Rocky, who sees this as his only shot at the big time.”

I was ten years old when Rocky hit the big screen. My mom took my sister and me to see the movie and boy was I ever hooked. I think most teenage boys at the time were. Rocky was an average guy. He lived in a little shack of an apartment. He didn’t like his job (as a debt collector). He had a hard time winning the girl of his dreams. He was nearing the end his boxing career without ever getting a shot at the big time. But somehow, he seemed content. That didn’t stop him from trying to get out of his job, or from continuing to try to win Adrian’s heart, or from boxing in barroom fights just to keep his dream alive though.

Who didn’t cheer when Apollo Creed announced that he was going to give Rocky Balboa, the local guy, his shot at the title after the guy who was supposed to fight Creed was unable to fight? I love the scene in which Rocky is being filmed by a television crew while he works out in a slaughter house by digging left uppercuts into the sides of unsuspecting slabs of meat. Apollo Creed’s manager sees it and his brow furrows with concern. He doesn’t like the fact that this guy appears to be a little crazy and not only that—he’s a southpaw who is a little crazy. Apollo pushes all concerns aside and promises a quick knockout.

En route to realizing his dream in the ring, his persistence with Adrian pays off and soon Rocky has everything going his way. As a ten year old boy, I just knew that Rocky was going to win the fight. Apollo got off to a great start, but Rocky eventually found his way inside and began pounding Creed’s ribcage. Both fighters were broken and bloodied and on the verge of exhaustion when the final bell sounded. And even though Rocky had been knocked down about 19 times, I still thought he was going to win. But, of course, that didn’t happen. Something better happened. He fought Creed to a draw and gained the respect of not only Creed, but of everybody else.

The movie inspired me to ask my mom if she would buy me a pair of boxing gloves. She did and I rigged up a brown paper sack with a pillow (or sometimes a blanket) inside and I’d hang it on a hook out on our back porch. I’d start with a few jabs and it would swing back and forth. I created an entire game out of it—if the sack hit me, I lost. If I knocked the contents all the way out of the sack without being hit by any of it, I won. I kept my record and let me tell you, it was quite impressive. I was undefeated and I was certain that Apollo Creed would also give me a shot at the title. But he never did.

I drank raw eggs—just like Rocky did in the movie. I started jogging—which ended promptly early one Saturday morning when I slipped on the ice and severally sprained an ankle. I had to crawl home and wake my Mom up so we could go to the hospital. I was sure it was broken. It wasn’t, but one of the nurses said she thought it might be. Hey, that was enough. I’d been wounded in pursuit of…well, I’m not sure what. But I was wounded in pursuit of something.

Seriously though, I haven’t seen this movie in over ten years, but I can still remember it (which is quite a feat for me anymore). It’s a classic and it’s the oldest movie in my top ten.

Oh, and if you are interested, check out the Rocky Balboa Blog in which you can see action shots and a video clip from the upcoming Rocky VI movie. Stallone will be 60 next week, but you’d never know it by looking at the pictures.

Previous posts in this series:

#5, Elizabethtown
#6, Luther
#7, Serendipity
#8, Message in a Bottle
#9, A Walk to Remember
#10, In Love and War

Monday, June 26, 2006

Blending In

As somebody who has always been on the shy side, I’ve always been quite content to blend in with crowds—to go as unnoticed as possible, even when it comes to being noticed for “good” reasons. When I became interested in writing, I never really expected people to notice me—especially since the majority of my writing is done for newspapers or magazines. People read articles, but rarely remember who wrote them. It seemed like a great fit for me.

For the first several years, I was right. I wrote a dozen or so articles that appeared in various publications and I got the occasional e-mail or letter, but nothing that made me feel like I was in the spotlight. Then, a few years ago, I had an idea for a book. I found an agent, wrote a book proposal, and within a few weeks I had a contract. So, I wrote the book, and after it was published, I began to get requests for radio interviews and invitations to speak to groups. I did them all, tentatively at first, but I got through them fine.

Then, last year I wrote an article for a newspaper that was picked up by maybe 20 or 30 other newspapers and soon I found my name all over internet message boards as people discussed my article. In recent weeks, people have been discussing (in similar forums) other things I’ve written and while I still find it a bit uncomfortable, I’m noticing a change in myself.

I don’t expect to ever totally get over my desire to simply blend in, but I’m getting to the point where I’m okay with stepping into the spotlight momentarily when the situation warrants it. I’d never want to stay there, and I’ll always be self-conscious while I’m there, but I suspect that most everybody else is as well. For now, I’m just happy to feel like I can push past my shyness when necessary.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Modern Music

I haven’t liked modern music since about 1992. I hated grunge, and then I hated its cousin, alternative. The whiny voices, the incessant attempt to sound like Nirvana, the lack of a real chorus, and various other things bugged me about modern music. I know, I know. Music is subjective and people generally dislike modern music as they get older. Fair enough. I’m just two months shy of my 40th birthday, so I’m probably not supposed to like modern music.

I’ve already told you that I was a headbanger in the late 80’s and early 90’s—and I admit, some of it wasn’t that great either—especially lyrically speaking, but I always loved the passion behind the lyrics of bands like Tesla, Dokken, Banshee, and many others. And their sound totally rocked—I say in my best 80’s voice.

Recently, just when I was about to give up on modern music, I started hearing a new (to me) sound. It includes artists like; Gavin DeGraw, Over the Rhine, Anna Nalick, Teddy Geiger, Rachael Yamagata, Howie Day, Daniel Powter, Mieka Pauley, and KT Tunstall. They’re all sort of a mix between soul, rock, and folk. They all have a stripped down sound. And they all have the same passion for their message that was so attractive to me during my headbanger days.

I’ve already written about Over the Rhine here. I suspect I’ll write about some of these other artists in the months to come, depending upon what I think about their music as I dig deeper into it. But more than anything, I just want to offer those of you who are like me—rather set in our ways with no real desire to embrace new things—a little encouragement. Stay open to the possibility of change.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Book Store Patterns

I got an e-mail from somebody who read yesterdays post about why men don’t read fiction. The e-mailer said that he doesn’t read much fiction, but he reminded me that non-fiction books can also provide great opportunities for introspection. I totally agree with him. In fact, I’ve written a number of posts about such books:

Things We Couldn’t Say
Loneliness, Part 1
Loneliness, Part 2
Blue Like Jazz

The e-mailer went on to share his normal book store pattern. He first goes to the business section, then the history section, then he visits current events, and he sometimes makes his way to the biographies. His e-mail got me to thinking about my own book store pattern. Those of us who frequent book stores all have them, don’t we?

I usually stop at the display table in front of the store to peruse the new releases. Then I head to the literature section, followed by visits to Christian living, current events, history, the bargain bin, and once in a while sports—baseball in particular. Occasionally, I’ll shake things up and check out the writing and business sections.

You can tell a lot about a person by where he gravitates in a book store—especially if he doesn’t feel like he has to impress anybody. If you hang out with friends long enough in a bookstore, you’ll eventually find out what really matters to them and what doesn’t—based simply on the sections they visit and which ones they ignore.

Occasionally, when I’m making my own trek through a book store, I think about how cool it would be to reach for the latest release by Richard Ford, or Brian Morton, or Jan Karon at the exact same moment a 30-something year-old single female does and…well, okay, that sounds more like a romantic comedy from the DVD section. But a guy can dream, can’t he?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Do Men Read?

I read an article in the August 2006 edition of Writer's Digest magazine yesterday that confirmed what I've heard time and time again in the publishing industry. The title is, "Do Men Read?" written by Maria Schneider. It's "a look at the curious reading (and book-buying) habits of guys." The gist of the article is this…"Men account for only 20 percent of novel sales—and we all know that Tom Clancy has taken that measly 20 percent hostage…Whether by cause or effect, most novels are published with women in mind."

Schneider then goes on to quote Steve Almond, an author and fiction aficionado, about why men don't read fiction: "Men don't read fiction because they don't want to deal with complicated, painful internal conflicts," he says. "They're in retreat from that, which is why they watch 'SportsCenter,' instead. I suspect this has to do with how the genders are socialized. Women are allowed to live closer to their emotions, to have quiet time, and men are pushed to externalize and not admit they're in pain."

Put me in the tiny percent of men who read fiction, who don't read Clancy, but who benefits from examining the complicated, painful internal conflicts of life. All of us are a walking contradiction of sorts. We hold to a belief system, and then routinely violate it. We say we want to chase our dreams, but often settle for simply walking behind the convenient. We long for acceptance and community, but rarely leave our couches long enough to make it happen. I'm just as guilty as the next guy.

But fiction challenges me. And it empowers me. And once it a while it shames me. When a character, who is full of flaws and contradictions (much like I am), faces his demons, I'm right there with him, rooting him on. And while I'm rooting, I'm continually thinking about my own cowardices, my own failings, and my own desire to overcome them.

Sometimes self-examination via fiction can be a bit much and I like to flip on Sports Center or a baseball game. In the end, I always forget the scores. Instead I remember certain situations in which players rise to the occasion to lead his team to victory and I remember when players fail miserably. But more than their actions, I remember their reactions—the triumphant look, the wincing look, or the nonchalant look (the only look I don't understand).

So, ultimately, even when I'm attempting to tune out, I'm never really disengaged. I can't speak for other men regarding their fiction buying habits because it appears that I'm quite different than the vast majority of them, but I have a hard time believing that anybody likes to live in a world of continual disengagement.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Elizabethtown, Part 4

We're up to my fifth favorite movie of all time in our Top 10 Tuesdays series.

#5: Elizabethtown, starring Orlando Bloom (as Drew) and Kirsten Dunst (as Claire) Released in 2005. I've already written a ton about this movie. Here are several links:

Elizabethtown, Part 1
Elizabethtown, Part 2
Elizabethtown, Part 3
Substitute People
Googling Movie Quotes

You wouldn't think it would even be possible to write another post about this movie, but I'm going to try. Hey, if Sylvester Stallone gets to make six Rocky movies, then I can write a sixth post about Elizabethtown. I've already written about many of the specifics of this movie and why they move me so much. But I've been thinking about it, and I think this movie hits me in the gut for other reasons as well.

Something about the process by which Drew and Claire got to know each other draws me to this movie. Their all-night phone conversation. Their sense that something was happening between them, but at the same time, their lack of desire to squeeze it too tightly. Their lack of awkwardness as they revealed themselves to each other. Their ability to understand each other without having to have things spelled out. Their ability to know what the other person needs without having to have things spelled out. Somehow it all seems so real, and nice, and yet, unattainable in the real world.

But maybe that's just because it hasn't happened for me yet. I don't know. I just know that it's a movie I can watch over and over again.

Previous posts in this series:

#6, Luther
#7, Serendipity
#8, Message in a Bottle
#9, A Walk to Remember
#10, In Love and War

Monday, June 19, 2006

Saying Yes

I tend to say yes too often. Yes, I want to subscribe to that magazine. Yes, I'll take on the project at church. Yes, I can write that article for you in six minutes (well, that's a bit of an exaggeration). All the yeses lead to a lot of stresses. And they leave little time for relaxation.

A couple of weeks ago, I traded e-mails with a friend about a writer's group I've been a member of for the past year. It was renewal time and I decided to leave the group rather than stay a year longer than I probably should have. I always have this tendency to be committed to groups, and projects, and subscriptions, one year longer than I know I should. Schedules change. Priorities change. And life in general changes. So, I'm getting better at recognizing when to say yes and when to say no.

I have this thought that runs through my mind periodically. It goes something like this: Wouldn't it be nice to be "caught up" with everything? Wouldn't it be nice to have a squeaky clean house, all of my e-mail answered, all of my writing projects done way before deadline, and all of the many other little things that need to be done? I could call friends and talk as long as I wanted. I could read as many books as I wanted. I go could fishing. I could visit relatives I haven't seen in ages. I could just relax.

But if I spent every moment of my life doing the things I consider to be relaxing, I'm guessing that they'd lose their luster somehow. I guess I'm in search of what everybody else is—a balance between the necessary and the not so necessary. Sometimes it can be hard to find, can't it?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Tristan & Isolde

I rented Tristan and Isolde a few nights ago and it was a bit of a disappointment. The premise is good: It's about two wayward young adults from different backgrounds. One from England. One from Ireland. It's set in the Dark Ages, during which Ireland desperately wanted to keep the clans of England from uniting and throwing off Irish rule. Tristan's parents were killed by the Irish. Isolde was the daughter of the Irish king, but she was restless—bound for a loveless, arranged marriage that she didn't want.

That's when she finds Tristan washed up on the shores of Ireland. Isolde thought he might be dead, but he'd just been poisoned during battle. And so the story begins. But what I really want to talk about is one of their conversations. First I need to set the stage a little by telling you about one of their early conversations:

"Don't you think there's more to life?" Isolde said.

"Than what?" Tristan said.

"Something more than duty and death. Why be capable of feelings if we're not to have them? Why long for things if they're not meant to be ours? Don't listen to me. You're so sure of things. Your certainty—it's like armour. I wish I had that."

"Why would you need it?" Tristan said.

"The joy of being a lady. Wanting something I can't have. A life of my own."

Tristan is all about duty and honor. So the idea of something else existing that is worth living for and ultimately dying for seems foreign to him. That was before he became enraptured with Isolde. But with the thoughts of Isolde's countrymen killing his parents running through his head and with his duty-bound conscience, he's torn.

They eventually part ways, but then are reunited when Isolde's father arranges a fighting tournament that pits the clans of England against each other. The winner was to receive Isolde as his bride (her other arranged marriage ended when her husband-to-be was killed in battle). Tristan wins the tournament, but he was fighting on behalf of the head of his clan. So close, but yet so far. Tristan watches from the sidelines as the woman he loves is married to a man he respects.

Isolde settles into married life as best she can. Tristan sulks. Eventually, the head of his clan encourages Tristan to find love. And in walks Isolde. Here's the exchange between Tristan and Isolde that I want to talk about:

"There are other things to live for—duty, honor," Tristan said.

"They are not life, Tristain. They are the shells of life and empty ones if in the end all they hold are days and days without love. Love is made by God. Ignore it and you suffer as you cannot imagine."

"Then I will no longer live without it."

And thus begins an affair between the two.

It seems to me that both Tristan and Isolde see duty and honor to be the polar opposite of love and I find that to be a bit odd. It's as if they believe that a person can't have a high view of duty and honor while being in love at the same time. I hardly see duty and honor as "shells of life" as Isolde proclaimed them to be—even if one never finds love.

Love without honor and duty leads to dishonor. Isolde was willing to cheat on her husband while convincing Tristan to lay his honor aside. Love with honor and duty leads to what marriage should look like. Honor and duty without love may lead to bouts of loneliness, but that's not the equivalent of an empty life. An empty life is void of all three; duty, honor, and love.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


"Civility requires that we express ourselves in ways that demonstrate our respect for others." –posted at Fire and Knowledge, and originally taken from Stephen Carter's 1998 book called Civility.

I lost interest in political blogs about the same time neoconservatism became cool. The concept of civil discourse in the blogosphere regarding politics seemed to seep back into the crevices of society shortly thereafter and all that remains are two sides that shout at each other. It hurts my ears. It hurts my eyes. And frankly, I've stopped listening.

That's quite ironic for somebody who was part of the shouting for many years up until last summer. I don't necessarily think it's a good thing to stop listening. People lose their freedoms by not listening. Corrupt leaders get elected when people stop listening. And maybe that's what both sides really want. But I still believe change is possible.

Years ago, you were hard pressed to find politicians on the right who seemed to have any concern whatsoever about the environment. You were just as hard pressed to find politicians on the left who understood the need for welfare reform. But today, you'll find politicians who consider themselves to be environmentalists on the right and you'll find politicians who push for fiscal responsibility from government on the left.

How did that happen?

A great conversation about environmentalism took place over on the Grist magazine website in 2004 and included the thoughts of self-described conservatives. I remember hearing similar conversations several years ago from within the conservative movement and they helped to open the ears of people on the right.

In 1996, while President Clinton was in office, 100 Congressional Democrats and 25 Senatorial Democrats voted in favor of welfare reform—which President Clinton later signed into law. I'm not sure how people on the left came to the conclusion that we as a nation needed to reform welfare, but I'd bet that they became convinced after listening to people on the left who saw a problem and were willing to address it.

It seems to me that it takes somebody on the inside of a movement to be courageous enough to question the status quo to get people to listen. We listen to people who are like us. We're more gentle with them—probably because we don't see them as the enemy, but rather someone with just a different point of view.

All of this makes me think that political movements would be better served in the blogosphere if people on the right and left stopped yelling across the aisle at each other and started challenging and examining their own beliefs from within their respective movements.

I'm all for holding strong convictions, but I've also been wrong on enough issues in my life to know that sometimes you need the wound of a faithful friend to help you see the light.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Blue Like Jazz

I'm currently reading Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller and I'm really enjoying it. Not because I agree with everything he says, but because of his willingness to be honest about himself. Here's the conclusion he came to about himself after thinking about a protest he attended to voice his concern about a couple of President Bush's policies:

"I think every conscious person, every person who is awake to the functioning principles within his reality, has a moment where he stops blaming the problems in the world on group think, on humanity and authority, and starts to face himself. I hate this more than anything. This is the hardest principle within Christian spirituality for me to deal with. The problem is not out there; the problem is the needy beast of a thing that lives in my chest.

"The thing I realized on the day we protested, on the day I had beers with Tony, was that it did me no good to protest America's responsibility in global poverty when I wasn't even giving money to my church, which has a terrific homeless ministry."

I disagree with Miller on a couple of points within this short blurb. I don't think every conscious person reaches a point where he stops blaming the problems in the world on group think or humanity or authority and faces himself. My experience tells me that this is not true. But perhaps his "every person who is awake to the functioning principles" clause is a qualifier, and if so, I accept it as such.

But I certainly disagree with Miller regarding his apparent belief that America's government has a responsibility to help solve global poverty. Government's role in solving poverty regarding it's own people ought to be quite limited and it ought to be close to nonexistent regarding people of other nations, but all of us as individuals have a responsibility to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, and to give drink to the thirsty. It's not up to the government. It's up to me and it's up to you. And that's where I agree with Miller.

Saying we want to end poverty (which I don't even think is possible) is too easy when we expect the government to do it. Reaching into our own pockets and taking time out of our own schedules to do something about poverty is much more difficult. But to be honest, I don't really care if people like Miller hold opposing views about the responsibility of government regarding this, or any other issue, if people on all sides of such important debates will indeed stop to examine "the needy beast of a thing" that lives in all of our chests because when we see our self-absorption for what it truly is, it's hard not to get involved.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


We're up to my sixth favorite movie of all time in our Top 10 Tuesdays series.

Disclaimer: When I talk about the endings of movies, I usually do so in a green font, but I don't think it's necessary in this case. Everyone who is familiar with Martin Luther knows what he did—so I didn't include any green fonts in the post.

#6: Luther, starring Joseph Fiennes (as Martin Luther) Released in 2003.

Here's a brief blurb about the movie from Amazon.com: "Biography of Martin Luther, the 16th-century priest who led the Christian Reformation and opened up new possibilities in exploration of faith. The film begins with his vow to become a monk, and continues through his struggles to reconcile his desire for sanctification with his increasing abhorrence of the corruption and hypocrisy pervading the Church's hierarchy. He is ultimately charged with heresy and must confront the ruling cardinals and princes, urging them to make the Scriptures available to the common believer and lead the Church toward faith through justice and righteousness."

I've been reading about and hearing about Martin Luther since shortly after I became a Christian. That's why I was so excited when I heard about this movie. I was skeptical that it wouldn't live up to everything I've learned about Luther, but I was willing to give it a try. I wasn't disappointed in the least. This is an inspiring film about a man who changed the world without any intentions of doing so. He simply stood for what he believed and his courage, coupled with the truth of his principles, led to changes that are still being felt today.

I love this movie because it displays Luther as a human being—complete with flaws. As a young monk, he's depicted as a man who can't come to terms with his own sin or with an impersonal God. He talks to himself, and at times, appears to be on the verge of insanity over his inability to relate to God. He didn't have access to the New Testament, so he had a limited view of the faith. But as he studied at the University of Wittenberg, he became immersed in the scriptures and they changed his life. He saw that biblical Christianity didn't necessarily line up with what the church taught.

He journeyed to Rome and was greatly offended by indulgences (a practice in which a person paid a priest to receive a pardon for his or her sins), and by various other corruptions he saw. He began to speak and write pamphlets and booklets (including his 95 Theses) against such teaching…and in favor of salvation by faith in Christ alone. In the process, he offended many in the Roman Church and he was summoned to the Diet of Worms to give account for his writings. That's when he gave his famous speech which includes these rather inspirational words: "Unless therefore, I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture...I cannot and will not retract...Here I stand, I can do no other. So help me God, Amen."

I got goose bumps at this point in the movie. And I was just as moved by the church leaders who eventually saw the error of their ways and stood with him in the end. The director of this movie did a great job of depicting the actions of the people who were swept up in The Reformation that Luther started. Luther's character appears to be quite upset at what his follower's do in his name, and I suspect that he truly was upset with their actions. The difficulty with doctrine usually comes in its application and this movie doesn't gloss over that fact in Luther's case. It just takes an honest look at who he was and more importantly, the results of his ideas and convictions.

Previous posts in this series:

#7, Serendipity
#8, Message in a Bottle
#9, A Walk to Remember
#10, In Love and War

Monday, June 12, 2006

G2 vs. 207

I read this pen review the other day and made a mental note to give the Uniball 207 a try some time. I was out of town for business last week and needed to make a Wal-Mart run. As I stood in the checkout line, I saw the Uniball 207 on display, so I dropped down a $1.49 and decided to give it a try in my trusty Moleskine notebook when I got back to my hotel room. I've been using a blue Pilot G2 pen for quite a while and it's my favorite pen by far, but if something comes along that's better, I don't want to miss out.

Why does it matter so much to me? I have no idea. I just care about the pens I use. If I'm going to care enough to write something down so I'll remember it later, then it seems only logical to me that I should use a pen that I enjoy using and that will do a good job of preserving what I've written. I don't write any of my books or magazine/newspaper articles by hand, but I do record things such as quotes, to-do lists, random thoughts, statistics, and various other things, by hand.

I hate fine point ink pens—the grating noise they make as they scratch across the paper makes my skin crawl. I prefer medium point ink pens, but regular medium point ink pens often splotch droplets of ink or they don't generate a consistent flow of ink—instead their flow resembles Morse code. Generally, I don't like gel pens of any width. First, their colors are too freaky for me. Second, they smear. Third, too many of them also have an inconsistent ink flow.

But the blue Pilot G2 pen is different. It's water resistant and fade resistant. Those are cool features. But according to Mike, they aren't chemical resistant. That's kind of a bummer, but I like the pen too much to stop using it. I love the way it writes—a dark, consistent, smooth line. No splotches or inconsistencies. The only thing I don't like is that it does smear in spite of what Pilot's advertisements say. But I've learned to live with this faux pas. I just make sure that I don't drag my hand across the page until the ink has had ample time to dry.

So, anyway...I tried the blue Uniball 207 that I picked up at Wal-mart the other day hoping that it would be all that the G2 pen is, but also hoping that it would be smear-proof. That would be the perfect pen in my opinion. Unfortunately, I'm not nearly as big a fan of the 207 as Mike is. The color of ink is an odd shade of light blue—maybe turquoise? I don't know color variations very well, and I'm partially color blind. I just know that I really don't like the 207 blue ink nearly as much as blue ink in the G2. I also don't like the inconsistent ink flow. It's not as bad as a regular ink pen, but still unacceptable to me.

Maybe Mike and I should exchange pens. He can send me his unused, unwanted G2 pen(s) and I can send him my hardly used, certainly unwanted, 207.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Near Miss

Got home safe and sound from Kansas City — although I had a near-miss with a crazy deer who wandered onto the interstate in front of me and nearly gave me a heart attack. I slammed on my brakes and then swerved onto the shoulder to miss it. Thankfully I did.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

On the Road

I'm currently on the road working on assignment for a magazine, so I probably won't be posting much for the rest of the week. If you are a baseball fan though, and interested in what I'm doing, you can read more about it on my Royal Reflections blog. See you soon.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Blog of the Week

A big thanks goes out to Blogatech for naming Little Nuances the blog of the week. And a special thanks goes out for saying this: "Little Nuances uses a two column template design by Michael Heilemann who has given this Blogger hosted blog a simplistic style that is uncluttered and complements its greatest attribute which is the quality of the writing."

Thanks Blogatech! I really appreciate it.


We're up to my seventh favorite movie of all time in our Top 10 Tuesdays series.

Disclaimer: Unfortunately, writing about why certain movies move me the way they do without actually giving away the ending is not an easy task. And since none of my favorite movies are currently in theaters, I plan to talk about endings when the situation warrants it. I’ll experiment with using a green font when speaking about the ending though—so if you’ve never seen one of these movies, but would like to after reading one of these posts, you’ll know to stop reading when you see green wording.

#7: Serendipity starring starring John Cusack (as Jonathan Trager) and Kate Beckinsale (as Sara Thomas). Released in 2001.

I went to see this move it was in the theaters in 2001 and I just adored it. Here's a brief synopsis from amazon.com:

"Jonathan Trager and Sara Thomas met while shopping for gloves in New York. Though buying for their respective lovers, the magic was right and a night of Christmas shopping turned into romance. Jon wanted to explore things further but Sara wasn't sure their love was meant to be. They decided to test fate by splitting up and seeing if destiny brought them back together...Many years later, having lost each other that night, both are engaged to be married. Still, neither can shake the need to give fate one last chance to reunite them…Near-misses and classic Shakespearean confusion bring the two close to meeting a number of times but fate will have the final word on whether it was meant to be."

Just so you know, most of this post comes form a post I wrote about this movie back in November of last year.

I go back and forth in my mind regarding the soul-mate theory, but I love the idea of two people in love not giving up on one another. In an age where people walk away from love too easily, the message in this movie is refreshing. I love the fact that Jon and Sara acted when they couldn't stop thinking about each other. They couldn't find each other after their initial meeting, so they both eventually moved on with their lives, but when they both came to the conclusion that they may have missed the opportunity of a lifetime, they took risks to try to find each other. Life is nothing without risk.

And of course, being the chick-flick lover that I am, I love the fact that they find each other in the end. I love the last scene where Jon is lying on the pond of ice in which he skated with Sara all those years ago on that magical night they met. As he lies flat on his back looking up into the falling snow, with one of the gloves in his pocket that he and Sara split up and gave to each other, he's pondering what might have been when he sees a matching glove fall from the sky. He pulls out the other glove from his coat and realizes that Sara is near.

My stomach flips every time I see this scene. Yeah, it's sappy. And yeah the process that brought them together is a bit of a stretch, but I love this movie anyway, and I watch it once a year during the Christmas season.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Fabrice Santoro

Well, I've watched a full weeks worth of the French Open tennis tournament and I haven't wrote a post about it yet, but that's about to change. As with any other major tennis tournament, great humanist interest stories abound. I want to talk about one that others aren't buzzing about—a guy named Fabrice Santoro. He's a 33 year-old player from France who is currently ranked number 51 in the world. He's never been ranked higher than number 17, and he probably never will be.

He's one of the most unorthodox players I've ever seen. He hits a two-handed backhand and a two-handed forehand. He cuts and slices at the ball from both sides and his shots often appear to be trick shots—but they are all he knows, and he's found a way to make his style work. But regardless of his style, the guy has heart. Over the years, I've seen him push some of the best players in the world to their limit, simply because he wouldn't quit.

Last year, in the U.S. Open, Santoro seemed to have eventual tournament winner Federer baffled at times when they played him in the second round. Federer won the match 7-5, 7-5, 7-6, but Santoro gained the respect of fans all over the world for his efforts—especially in the third set when he could have easily given up after getting down two sets to love.

Last week, Santoro lost in the first round on the Roland Garros clay at the French Open. Santoro lost to the number 26 seed, Jose Acasuso, but Acasuso found out what Federer and so many other players already know—Santoro doesn't go down easily. Acasuso won the first two sets easily, 6-3, 6-1. Santoro dug deep and won the third set 6-3, and then the fourth set 6-1. So they headed to the fifth and final set to decide the match. Acasuso eventually won the fifth set 11-9 in thrilling fashion.

Santoro has won four ATP single's titles in his career and he has a career record of 405-375. He's also won 19 ATP double's titles. So, it's not like the guy doesn't know how to win. But he doesn't have the weapons to compete with the top players. But seeing how hard he competes anyway makes me a huge fan of Santoro. Marat Safin, a former number one player in the world, hates to see Santoro's name next to his in the draw. He once said this about Santoro: "being told I would play Santoro was being told I was to die." Safin has good reason to hate playing against Santoro. Santoro is 7-2 lifetime against him.

Santoro will never get a lot of press and he'll never have a big fan-base because he doesn't win majors. But to me, he's is one of the many things that are good and right about sports. He doesn't take his sport for granted. He never quits. And he gets the most out of his God-given ability. For those reasons, and more, I consider myself a fan of Fabrice Santoro.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Journaling Software

If you have a blog, then you don't need me to tell you that you aren't able to write posts about everything that is happening in your life. Some topics are too just personal. And some topics—especially those about people you know—are often off limits. But writing can be great therapy and a way of making sense out of jumbled thoughts and confused emotions. Journaling is a great way to capture your thoughts about taboo topics, but some people don't like to journal by hand, or even in a word processor.

Not long ago, I found a free software program called Advanced Diary and the cool thing is—it sort of looks and feels like a blog. Your entries won't be displayed like they are on a blog, but you can see a calendar in the upper left hand side and you can click on any date in which you've recorded an entry and it'll take you straight to it. You can even record multiple entries in one day if you so choose. It also comes with a spell-checker and the ability to password-protect your entries.

I like to use the program while I'm watching movies on my laptop. I can do a "screen capture" of a scene that prompts a thought I want to explore and then I can drop the picture right into one of the entries. Then I write about the scene below the picture. You can't (legally) do this with movies on a blog, but with your own personal journal, you can. It's a blast to look back at old entries and to see the thoughts that particular scenes provoked within me.

I also like to drop snapshots of family and/or friends into entries as I relive moments I've shared with them. You can probably think of a dozen other things you can do with the program. And sometimes my entries even lead to blogging material. But even if it doesn't, it's still worth the freeing feeling that comes from spilling my guts all over the page.

I'm not affiliated in any way and I will not receive any money if you download the program. I'm just passing along information about a cool program that I enjoy using. Click here to see a screenshot or to download it.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Googling Movie Quotes

Every single day, multiple people find this blog by googling various quotes from movies or novels that I've written about here. I love that. First, because it means I'm not totally psychotic for frantically writing such quotes down as they strike me. Second, because it means that movies and novels mean a great deal to people.

C. S. Lewis once said, "We read to know we're not alone." I think the same can be said for movies. I also think Lewis' sentiment is truer than any of us are willing to admit. Sometimes we read or watch movies to escape, but deep down, aren't we all hoping for a certain connection with a character? I sure am.

One such character that people identify with is Nicole (played by Kirsten Dunst) from the movie Crazy/Beautiful. I wrote a post about that movie recently and people are googling this phrase as spoken by Nicole: "I still panic sometimes. Forget to breathe. But I know there's something beautiful in all my imperfections. The beauty which he held up for me to see. A strength that can never be taken away."

Crazy/Beautiful came out in 2001, but people are obviously still watching it and they apparently long for the same type of acceptance that Nicole felt when she spoke those words. I can just see people googling the phrase, then scratching it down in their journals, and then spilling their guts about how much they'd love to find somebody like Nicole did who will accept them flaws and all.

Another phrase people google regularly comes from the movie Elizabethtown, uttered by a character named Claire (also played by Dunst): "You and I have a special talent. And I saw it immediately. We're the substitute people. I've been the substitute person my whole life. I'm not an Ellen [a co-worker Drew was into]. I never wanted to be an Ellen. And I'm not a Cindy either…I like being alone too much. I mean, I'm with a guy who is married to his academic career. I rarely see him and I'm the substitute person there. I like it that way. It's a lot less pressure."

I've written a lot about this movie already, so I won't rehash it here. But I'll just ask, who hasn't been a substitute person at some point?

I say google away, and journal away, and use movie and novel quotes as a jumping off point. Sometimes script writers and novelists are more willing to explore humanity more honestly than we do during every day conversation because the characters are fictional. But they are anything but nonexistent. In reality, they are us.  


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