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.

Monday, July 31, 2006

The Next Top 10

Seems like Top 10 Tuesdays went over pretty well. I’ve been kicking around ideas about what type of Top 10 I should start tomorrow. I thought about starting a list of my favorite novels next, but some of them are already on my favorite movie list that I just completed. That wouldn’t be so bad, but I was looking for something a little more original. I’ve come up with something that I haven’t seen before—my Top 10 favorite athletes of all-time.

Why athletes? A couple of reasons. First, declaring ourselves to be “fans” of certain athletes says a lot about who we are and I think it’ll be fun telling you why I like these particular athletes so much. Second, I think it’ll provide some fun trips down memory lane for me and it might just evoke similar memories in your own life that you haven’t thought about in years. So, sit back and enjoy the first installment of the new Top 10 tomorrow.

Friday, July 28, 2006

More Alf

How about a few more Alf quotes for comedic relief as we head into the weekend? These all come from Season Three on DVD:

“Kate, I’m sorry I broke your wedding present. I was going to tell you, but I was waiting to see if the marriage would last.”

“Oh, what a day. First I broke Willie’s windshield. Then I broke Willie’s power saw. Now I broke Willie.”

“Work? You mean in my new life, I have a job? But I’m a domestic alien. See, I belong at home—guarding the refrigerator and monitoring TV programming for the children.”

“It’s 6:13. One minute to go Luckmeister [the cat]. Then I’ll be down on you like a buzzard on a gut wagon.”

“Oh, that’s just nuclear waste from my spaceship. Oh hey, don’t worry—life on this planet as we know it won’t cease as long as that little lid doesn’t pop off. Oh wait. These are my crayons.”

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Present, Meet the Past

I stopped in a department store yesterday, and just as the checkout clerk greeted me, I looked up and recognized her. She recognized me too. Have you ever been in a situation like that, and then quickly done a calculation—how long has it been? Twenty years? Man. Then you both sort of pretend that you don’t know each other. That’s the easy thing to do. That’s the way I handled similar situations in the past. But not now.

I’m not sure what you’d call the stage of life that I’m going through [stop shouting “mid-life crisis!”], but I know that my days of timidity and passivity are slowly fading away from my being. Such attitudes don’t really enrich life. In fact, they detract from it and cause you to wonder why you’re such a coward. And they make you wonder if you’re ever going to get to the point where you actually live. I’m not talking about dreaming about living. Or worse, watching other people live and wondering why you can’t be like them. Instead, I’m talking about interacting with people for the mere sake of it and not being worried about the results.

“You’re Michelle Johnson [not her real name], aren’t you?” I dated Michelle during my freshman year in college. It didn’t last long, and I don’t think either of us was devastated when it didn’t work out. We just moved on and never saw each other again. Last I heard, she was happily married to the guy I always thought she’d end up with—which I thought was sort of cool. Anyway, I realized after I said her name that I’d used her maiden name, which had to be weird for her to hear after all these years, but that’s how I knew her.

“Yes…” then a long pause.

“I’m Lee Warren.”

“Oh yeah, I was just about to say that.”

“What’s it been, something like 20 years?” I say sliding my card through the machine to pay for my purchases.

“I think so. So how’ve you been?”

“I’m hanging in there.”

“Yeah, me too. I’m going to school at night, working on my degree. So what are you up to these days?”

“I write for magazines and I have a few books out.”

“Really? Cool.”

She forgets to ring up a CD I had lying on the counter and we have to start all over again. So we do. She tells me that she has kids and that one of them is 19. I say “wow” because that’s what I say when I have no idea what I’m supposed to say. We exchange the obligatory “take care of yourself” and then I’m out the door.

While our encounter was nothing earth-shattering, or life-changing, it still had meaning to me. I got to talk to someone from my past and I got to see that she’s doing okay. Of course, I wondered whether or not that was really the case, but even if it isn’t, she wanted me to believe it was. And likewise, I wanted her to believe the same thing about me. And somehow, it seemed like enough.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

More on Context

A few days ago, a friend told about an article that I needed to read in Sports Illustrated. I’ve been a subscriber to the magazine for a few years, but I don’t always flip through every issue. Knowing that I’m an Andre Agassi fan, my friend pointed me to an article that appeared in the July 17th issue about Agassi that was entitled “Coming Into Focus.”

I’m currently working my way through the article. I say “working my way” because it’s about 8,000 words long and because I’m reading slowly—savoring every page. As I’ve written here recently, Agassi is about to play in his last major tournament—the U.S. Open. I count myself as an Andre Agassi fan, but not because he’s won a lot of tournaments. But rather, because of the way he learned to conduct himself on the court and for the person he’s become off the court—the man who started an academy for poor children who wouldn’t have had a chance otherwise.

But beyond his charity work, and his statesmanship, and his tenaciousness on the court, the things that make Andre Agassi tick are relatively unknown. At least until now. Gary Smith, the writer who wrote the article for Sports Illustrated did an unbelievable job of unpacking Agassi’s personality. Not too far into the article, he quotes Agassi as saying this:

“I can’t see anything objectively or in context,” he said. “I wish I could. It drives me crazy. It causes a lot of problems. Show me a drop of water, and I’m fine. I’ll learn everything about it. But don’t show me the ocean. Don't show me the whole forest. Every time I try to see the big picture, I’m finished, I’m lost....”

I reread this quote several times. And then I looked up something I wrote just last Friday on this blog: “I’ve always been the type who likes to experience the complete story. I hate to stop reading a book part way through, even if it is poorly written. I like to listen to entire albums, including the filler songs, because if I don’t, I somehow feel like I didn’t get the complete context of the artist’s message. And I refuse to just catch bits and pieces of a television show or movie because I will have missed too much to understand what’s really going on. A little compulsive? Yeah, maybe. But, I like to think of it as, ‘living life in context.’”

Agassi doesn’t want to see the big picture because he can’t find the context in it. I must see the big picture or I can’t find the context. Two completely different routes to the same path—context. Why does such a thing matter so much? To some level, day to day life must make sense for me to put my entire being into it. All of the pieces don’t need to fit neatly together, but if I can’t see the context, at least at some level, I drift. I allow myself to lose my way.

Later in the article, Agassi said something else that made me do a double-take: “I’m bound and determined to eat experience,” he says. “If you give me an option to cut a corner, I take more than I should. But if I make it hard, if I face it at its worst, then I stay focused and driven and it only gets better from there. I need to be in the thick of process. So I can’t let myself have shortcuts.”

By “eating experience,” he means reveling in it, learning from it, and ultimately, growing from it. He needs to be “in the thick of process” to excel in life. That’s exactly what I was trying to say in my initial post about context. I need context. I crave it. And when I get it, I can stay focused.

This article is full of fantastic introspection, and I may just continue on with my comments tomorrow about additional gems in the article. If you get a chance, I’d highly recommend that you read it online if you don’t have access to the July 17th issue of Sports Illustrated. Unfortunately, you have to be a subscriber to read the online version, but in my opinion, this one article is worth the subscription price.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Notebook

Finally, we're up to my favorite movie of all time in our Top 10 Tuesdays series.

Just like last week, I can’t really talk about this movie without spoiling the ending. So if you haven’t seen it, please read this post at another time.

#1: The Notebook, staring Ryan Gosling (as Noah), James Garner (as an older version of Noah), Rachel McAdams (as Allie), and Gena Rowlands (as the older version of Allie). Released in 2004.

Plot Synopsis from Amazon.com: “The movie focuses on an old man reading a story to an old woman in a nursing home. The story he reads follows two young lovers named Allie Hamilton and Noah Calhoun, who meet one evening at a carnival. But they are separated by Allie’s parents who disapprove of Noah’s unwealthy family, and move Allie away. After waiting for Noah to write her for several years, Allie meets and gets engaged to a handsome young soldier named Lon. Allie, then, with her love for Noah still alive, stops by Noah’s 200-year-old home that he restored for her, “to see if he's okay.” It is evident that they still have feelings for each other, and Allie has to choose between her fiancĂ© and her first love.”

I’ve already written a lengthy post about this movie. Here’s a link if you are interested. Rather than rehash all of the things I said in that post, I want to take a more narrow view in this post. Good fiction, on the printed page or on the big screen, must contain conflict between the protagonist and antagonist. Sometimes two people in a love story fill these opposing roles, and sometimes they fight as a team as the protagonist to overcome an antagonist—things like family expectations, or not having enough money, or overcoming a disaster (natural, or man made), etc. I like both types of love stories, but sometimes I grow weary of watching the give and take between the man and woman when they play opposing roles. I’d rather watch a couple fight a common enemy. That’s what happens in The Notebook.

Yes, Noah and Allie have their problems. They are both passionate people who aren’t afraid to say what they think. They show their anger and their disappointment. They also show their joy. At times, their disagreements lead to fireworks. But, somehow, it’s part of the magic that makes them so good together. And it’s that same passion and deep-seated love for one another that sets the stage for maybe the most emotional movie I’ve ever seen.

In old age, Noah has but one goal each day—to read the notebook that Allie wrote that contains their love story and in the process he hopes to “bring her back” from her dementia for just a few minutes. The doctor thinks Noah is foolish and tells him it isn’t possible. Noah knows better. Noah and Allie’s children think that Noah ought to “come home” because Allie doesn’t know him anyway. Noah knows that his home is wherever he gets to live with Allie—even if it’s a nursing home.

In essence, Noah and Allie teamed up against her dreaded disease and they found a way to take back moments of their lives that the disease insists upon keeping. Here’s an exchange between them after she has come back to Noah:

“I remember now,” Allie said. “It was us. It was us. It was us.”

“Oh my darling. Oh my sweetheart. I love you so much,” Noah said as he gives her a hug.

“Noah, I love you,” Allie said. “What happened to me?”

“Nothing,” Noah said. “You just went a way for a little while.”

“How much time do we have?”

“I’m not sure. Last time it was no more than five minutes.”

Allie nods a look of understanding and says, “Okay.”

“Hey, I brought along an old friend,” Noah says, and then he cues up their song, and they begin to dance right there in Allie’s room in the nursing home. They exchange information about their children and simply enjoy their time together. Then, just like that, her dementia reaches up and grabs her and she’s gone again. At least for a little while.

At the end of the movie, with both of them struggling with their health, we are treated to this scene:

“Do you think that our love can create miracles?” Allie said from her bed.

“Yes I do,” Noah said. “That’s what brings you back to me each time.”

“Do you think our love could take us away together?”

“I think our love can do anything we want it to,” Noah said.

Then he kisses her and climbs up in bed with her.

“Goodnight,” Allie said.

“Goodnight. I’ll be seeing you.”

The next morning, a nurse finds them in bed, still hand in hand, but no longer in this world.

I’ve seen this movie six or seven times and it gets me every time. It’s the power of love on display for all to see. No false pretenses. No lip service. No abandonment. Just a literal “til death do us part.”

Monday, July 24, 2006

Indistinguishable Slices

In 2003, I started blogging because I wanted to talk about culture and politics. I started with a standard Typepad template and one simple post entitled “Why Politics Matter.” Before long, I added a hit counter, and I figured out how to link to other bloggers, and I learned the joy (and headache) that comments can bring. Over the next year or so, I revamped the template and eventually, I had a design done professionally.

I kept that blog going for two years, and as I’ve mentioned here before, I eventually brought it to an end and I started this one. Starting a blog from scratch is a long, slow process and whenever I do it, I don’t have illusions that my initial efforts will look anything like the completed product I have in mind. And I don’t expect miraculous results in the first revision either. Or the second. Or the third. Instead, I march systematically toward the goal—always knowing that more needs to be done. Life is a lot like that.

Most projects in life—whether it’s a hobby, or writing that novel you’ve always dreamed about, or the complete revamping of yourself—are done in small, almost indistinguishable slices. You have a plan. You attempt to implement it. You fail. You try again and you have a small success. You try to improve upon the small success and you not only fail, but you wipe out the small success in the process. But you also learned what not to do the next time, so you start again by recreating your small success, then you avoid the disaster, and you experience another small success.

String enough of those successes together and you’re on your way. But if you get far enough in the process, detractors will come. Then you’ve got to decide whether their criticisms have any merit or whether they are really just trying to throw you off your game. You make your decision, one way or the other, then you get back on the horse in search of the next success. When you do, inevitably, you begin looking around at all of the other people who are doing the same thing you are attempting and you see that they have a shinier package, or a bigger audience, or they are doing a dozen other things better than you are.

Then it hits you. You didn’t start your current endeavor with any of this in mind. You started it because you knew that somehow it would satisfy a need you had deep inside. Maybe the need was to provide a brief escape an hour or two each day to clear your head. Maybe it was to work out something on paper that you’ve never been able to work it out in any other fashion. Maybe it was to fix character flaws that you know exist because you know the damage they cause in personal relationships.

Take the first step—that nearly indistinguishable initial act that can set you on the path that ultimately leads to the place you dream about. Attend that conference. Set up that blog. Start that novel. Invite a friend to dinner for a heart-to-heart. Start that business. Read that book you’ve been avoiding. Darken the church door. Whatever it is, just take the first step. Expect to fail. And when you do, realize that it’s just part of the process. Small failures are great learning experiences. See them as such, and you might get to live that dream after all.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Mike Sweeney

In mid-June, I interviewed Mike Sweeney, the first baseman and designated hitter for the Kansas City Royals, and I wrote a profile article about him for a newspaper in Missouri. Over the weekend, Baptist Press picked up the story and it’s currently running on their front page. Here’s a link if you are interested in reading about how Sweeney lives out his faith in Christ.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

New Subscription Service

I know that some of you like to be notified via e-mail whenever Little Nuances is updated and I’ve used several different e-mail notification services since starting this blog almost a year ago. They’ve all had their drawbacks, but now I’m hoping that I’ve found one that will serve us both well. I switched to Yutter.com today. I like it better than other services for a couple of reasons:

1. Notifications can be set to go out hourly (which I have done), rather than once every 24 hours (usually late at night or early the next day). That means you’ll be getting updates within an hour of them actually occurring.

2. The notifications will come from my e-mail address. So, feel free to just click on “reply" if you ever want to share your thoughts with me about a post.

If you were already on the Little Nuances’ subscription list, I’ve imported your e-mail address to the new service. You don’t have to do anything. If you aren’t already a subscriber, maybe now would be a good time. Nobody has time to continually check blogs to see if they’ve been updated, and even RSS readers can go on the fritz sometimes. So, give it a shot. You can always unsubscribe if you lose interest.

To subscribe, just enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of the column on the right.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Living in Context

I took my niece out to eat a couple of days ago and just as we were about to leave, she put her forefinger in the air to signify that she wanted me to wait for a minute. She said she wanted to hear the end of the song that was playing on the jukebox. She and I are in different solar systems when it comes to music, so I have no idea what the song was, but the incident instantly reminded me of when I used to do to the same thing.

I’d park in the drive way or the parking lot of the store I was going into and listen to every word and every note before turning the car off and going inside. I had my share of cassette tapes when I started driving, but I didn’t own every album I liked, and certainly not every single. So, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass when some of my favorite tunes came on the radio—even if I had to wait a minute or two.

I’ve always been the type who likes to experience the complete story. I hate to stop reading a book part way through, even if it is poorly written. I like to listen to entire albums, including the filler songs, because if I don’t, I somehow feel like I didn’t get the complete context of the artist’s message. And I refuse to just catch bits and pieces of a television show or movie because I will have missed too much to understand what’s really going on.

A little compulsive? Yeah, maybe. But, I like to think of it as, “living life in context.”

Thursday, July 20, 2006


“Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought.” –Matsuo Basho, a Japanese poet from the 1600s

I can’t remember where I found that quote, but I really like it. All of us have a certain level of respect for at least one or two people who have gone before us in fields that interest us, and we become so influenced or inspired by those people that we see them as the standard, rather than just people who did something well. I’m certainly guilty of it. It’s one of the reasons I write down quotes. Sometimes I love the way a writer sheds light on a topic and I want to remember it.

That’s not a bad thing, but Basho was right. The idea that he, or any other writer, captured the essence of something so well that it is remembered more than 400 years later would probably be beyond his comprehension. But even if he could grasp it, he would probably tell writers who followed him to continue seeking truth rather than seeking to emulate him, because in the seeking of truth, they’ll make great discoveries about the human spirit, and not simply become clones of who he was.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


As a guy who likes to watch movies, read books, and surf the net on occasion, I can’t get something out of my head that Donald Miller said in his book Blue Like Jazz about the subject of coolness. Here’s what he said:

“I think we have this need to be cool, that there is this undercurrent in society that says some people are cool and some people aren’t. And it is very, very important that we are cool. So, when we find somebody who is cool on television or on the radio, we associate ourselves with this person to feel valid ourselves. And the problem I have with this is that we rarely know what the person believes whom we are associates ourselves with. The problem with this is that it indicates there is less value in what people believe, what they stand for; it only matters that they are cool. In other words, who cares what I believe about life, I only care that I am cool.”

He goes on to say that he’s one of those people who associates with cool people and he hates that about himself.

I think Miller has a point. Being cool, even for older folk like myself, seems to be way more important than it should. That’s why we change our hairstyles once a decade. That’s why buy the latest tennis shoes or style of jeans. We don’t mind looking a little behind the times. We just don’t want anybody to think we’re still living in 1985.  

Miller is talking specifically about people though, not clothing or looks or anything else. That’s not something I’ve given a lot of thought about until he mentioned it. I’m not cool. I understand that. I had the long-haired thing going in the 80’s and I still wasn’t cool. But I wanted to be. So I understand what Miller is saying. The people I thought were cool had long hair and played in heavy metal bands. So, in that regard, I think Miller is right. We place too much emphasis on coolness and not enough on what a person believes.

On the other hand, if I only associated with people who shared my beliefs, I’m guessing that we could hold our annual convention in a Starbucks somewhere. And do we ever really know everything other people believe? Some are more willing than others to tell us, but most only unveil a small portion.

I used to feel guilty if I liked a song by an artist who holds views that largely oppose my own. Guilt by association was my thinking. I don’t think that way any more. If I hear a song I like, I tap my feet and hum along—always being conscious of the underlying meaning, but never rejecting it simply because I don’t totally agree with the artist singing it.

I admit that it’s easier this way, and it certainly makes it easier to fall prey to the coolness bug that Miller wrote about. But if you read through his words again, I think you’ll see a guy who just wants to make sure that coolness shouldn’t be the only reason, or the primary reason, for liking a person and his or her work. And if that’s true, I agree with him.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


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

I’m not including a spoiler alert for this movie because I’m sure that everybody who was interested in this movie has already seen it and they know what happens. If that’s not the case with you, you might want to put off reading this post until after you’ve seen the movie.

#2: Braveheart, starring Mel Gibson as William Wallace. Released in 1995.

Plot Synopsis (from Amazon.com): “William Wallace is a Scottish rebel who leads an uprising against the cruel English ruler Edward the Longshanks [during the 1200’s], who wishes to inherit the crown of Scotland for himself. When he was a young boy, William Wallace's father and brother, along with many others, lost their lives trying to free Scotland. Once he loses another of his loved ones, William Wallace begins his long quest to make Scotland free once and for all, along with the assistance of Robert the Bruce.”

William Wallace starts out as a Scotsman who doesn't want to fight, but when an English officer murders his wife, he finds all the motivation he needs. He organizes men to fight against England with the hope that the Scottish clans will unite under a man named Robert the Bruce, who is the rightful heir to the throne of Scotland. But Bruce sees little hope in uniting the clans and he is fearful of dying in the process. When Bruce complains to Wallace that the people of Scotland won't follow him even though he is the rightful heir to the throne, Wallace says, “Men don't follow titles, they follow courage.”

I replayed that part of the movie over and over the first time I saw it. I thought about that line a lot over the next few days. I wrote it down. And then I thought about it some more. Wallace was so right. Courage is like a magnet. When we see it, we can’t help but be attracted to it. It doesn’t erase fear, but somehow it prompts us to rise above it.

Wallace also utters these quite truthful words during an exchange with Bruce: “Every man dies, not every man really lives.” That line gave me goose bumps…and I wrote it down as well because it was so true. Most of us seem to refrain from living the life we know we should live because we are afraid, but the grave, as they say, is the great equalizer. So why not live while we have the chance?

And finally, we have this speech from Wallace, given to his men shortly before they head into battle with troops from England that heavily outnumber those in the Scotland army:

“Sons of Scotland. I am William Wallace…I see a whole army of my countryman here in defiance of tyranny. You come to fight as free men and free men you are. What will you do without freedom? Will you fight?”

“No, we will run. And we will live.”

“Ay. Fight and you may die. Run and you’ll live. At least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now would you be willing to trade all the days form this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they may never take our freedom!”

I love the countenance of the men in the army at this point. It completely changes from one of cowardice to one of utter bravery. When faced with a clear choice, they are up for the challenge. Wallace was somebody who saw the big picture and he knew that when a man is a coward in his younger years, he has no respect for himself in his latter years.

As you know, Wallace was eventually set up and he lost his life. But Scotland rallied around his martyrdom and they won their freedom. I cheered during this movie, and I cried. I was challenged during it, and I was invigorated. It set me on a course to learn more about the real life William Wallace. From what I can tell, the movie took some liberties with his character, but it captured the essence of who he was. And that makes him one of my all-time favorite heroes.

Previous posts in this series:

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

Monday, July 17, 2006

Daddy Rocks

When I was in St. Louis visiting family a couple of weeks ago, I made it a point to sneak away during Wimbledon to watch the third round match between Andre Agassi and Rafael Nadal in what I feared would be Agassi’s last match at Wimbledon. I’ve loved watching Agassi over the years, but I thought that Nadal might just be a little too much for him, and if Agassi lost, it would be his last match at Wimbledon because he’s retiring after the 2006 U.S. Open. As I watched the first set, the camera focused on a necklace that Agassi was wearing. It said, “Daddy rocks.” One of his kids made it for him and I couldn’t help but think about how priorities change as we mature.

Agassi arrived on the tennis scene in 1986 as a colorful, immature, non-conformist teen, but as his career winds down he’s revered as a gentleman, a spokesman for the game, and a humanitarian. (Check out what he’s doing for disadvantaged kids at his Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas if you get a chance.)

Why is it that by the time athletes like Agassi become mature enough to live beyond themselves for any length of time that they walk off the public stage? In Agassi’s case, I suspect it has more to do with his aging body that is insisting that he stop playing the game he loves, but surely his “Daddy rocks” gives us a hint as well. He’s ready for the next phase of his life. He’s ready to spend more time with his wife and children. He’s ready to spend more time and energy in his community.

For those reasons, and for many more that were prevalent on the court—his hustle, his tenaciousness, his ability to think clearly under pressure, and his will to win—I count myself an Andre Agassi fan. He lost the match to Nadal, 7-6, 6-2, 6-4 and he graciously accepted the ovation from the crowd. To Nadal’s credit, he stepped aside and allowed Agassi his due, and in the process, he made me want to follow him a little more closely for the rest of the tournament. It was a changing of the guard of sorts, and while that process is always a bit sad, it also brings hope. Because only those who respect the generation who precedes them are able to do what Nadal did. And now, I’m hoping that Nadal becomes everything that Andre Agassi has been—as both a tennis player and a human being.

Friday, July 14, 2006

I'm Back

After driving more than 1,100 miles and sleeping in three different hotel rooms over the last week, I finally got back home last night and boy did it feel good to flop down in my own bed. I’m going through piles of mail and e-mail, and trying to establish a to-do list for the coming week. Should be able to resume regular posting on Monday. Thanks for your patience.

Friday, July 07, 2006

First Car Memories

I traveled across the state of Nebraska today in my new (to me) car. It’s the first long trip I’ve taken it on since I purchased it in February. It did just fine, but as the miles rolled by, I wondered about the previous owner(s)—specifically the original owner. Was it his or her first car? If so, what sort of stories are they telling about it now?

My first car was a Mazda RX4. I can’t remember the year it was manufactured, but I think it was 1974. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of the car, but I found a photo online that sort of looks like it. It looked like this—without all of the fancy stuff…and it was gray rather than burnt orange. My Dad found it for me somewhere.

The car cost $800.00. I saved $400.00 of my own money and my grandfather gave me the other $400.00. The year would have been 1982 or 1983. And I can remember that a feeling of absolute freedom washed over me the first time I got into it and drove somewhere by myself. I think I went to Kmart. It wasn’t exactly a cross-country trip, or to the local drag racing strip, but hey, you can still feel free on a drive to Kmart.

The car had major mechanical problems—mostly consisting of shorts in the electrical wiring. I’d get one short fixed, like in the radio wiring, and then the heater wouldn’t work. I’d get that fixed, and then something else wouldn’t work. On and on it went. Turned out that the guy I chose to fix the car (a mechanic that my family used for many many years) didn’t really know how to fix foreign cars. I should have figured that out sooner.

I didn’t have the car long, but I loved it. I loved the feeling it game me. I loved how the steering wheel felt in my hand. And I loved the way it handled. I had nothing to compare it to, but that didn’t matter to me. I hated to let the car go, but eventually a guy offered me a good price because he wanted to use it for parts. He owned a car just like it and was having a difficult time finding parts for it. So, it worked out in the end.

Periodically, I’d see the car sitting in his drive way and it would evoke all sorts of great first car memories. Then, one day, after several years had passed, I drove by and it was gone. Surely, it ended up in a salvage yard somewhere—never to be heard from or admired again.

Aren’t first car memories fun?


Sorry about not posting much this week. I’ve been preparing a book proposal to bring with me to the International Christian Retail Show in Denver that starts on Sunday evening. I drove part of the way to Denver today. I stopped and saw a friend. We had lunch and hung out in a bookstore for a while before I hit the road again.

Tonight, I’m in a hotel room along the Nebraska/Colorado border and this is the first chance I’ve had to work my way through my e-mail box in a while. If I owe you an e-mail, please be patient, it’s coming. Blogging will probably continue to be light through most of next week, and then I’ll resume my normal schedule. Thanks for understanding.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


I’m heading back out of town at the end of this week on business. I expect to be out of town for the majority of next week and I have a lot of work to prepare before I leave—so posting will probably be light for the next week or so.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Notting Hill

We're up to my third 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.

#3: Notting Hill, starring Hugh Grant (as William Thacker) and Julia Roberts as (Anna Scott). Released in 1999.

“And so it was just another hopeless Wednesday as I walked a thousand yards through the market to work—never suspecting that this was the day that was going to change my life forever.”

When Anna Scott (a famous actress) walks into William Thacker’s travel book shop, he doesn’t overreact. He helps her find a book, and then watches her walk out of the store. But after he goes to get a cup of coffee, he runs into her—literally and she winds up back at his apartment to get cleaned up. That’s when he tries, but fails, to catch her interest. I suspect that most single guys would have tried the same thing.

She shoots him down, but then kisses him—completely out of nowhere and it leaves him speechless. Turns out, she’s desperate for normalcy—for a regular family, a regular social scene with people who aren’t just taking or demanding things from her, a regular relationship. But nothing she has or does is regular. She has a ridiculous schedule and very little time for anything normal.

William invites her to his sister’s birthday party, but fears that it might be too lame. She loves the idea and jumps at the chance. She sits down at the table with William’s sister, Honey, and his friends; Bernie, Max, and Bella. Anna watches them smile, and joke, and genuinely enjoy each other’s company and it appears to be the most satisfying moment she’s ever experienced, but it also awakens something within her that has been sleeping a long time—a desire for community.

They begin to fall for each other, but they have a problem. Anna has a boyfriend she hasn’t told him about and she realizes that she’s with the wrong guy, but by then William’s heart it broken and they lose contact. Months pass, but when trouble strikes Anna’s life, she turns to William and he can’t resist helping her. As she hides from the media, they reach a level of comfort in which they are able to sit in his living room as he reads the newspaper and she reads a script for an upcoming movie. But that doesn’t last long. She casts William aside—again.

Later, she does it again and that’s it for William.

She stops by his bookstore and this conversation transpires:

“The thing is…the thing is…” Anna said.

“What? What is the thing?” William said.

“I have to go away today. But I wondered if I didn’t, whether you might let me see you a little, or a lot maybe? See if you could like me again?”

“But yesterday that actor asked you who I was and you just dismissed me out of hand,” William said. “I heard. You had a microphone. I had headphones.”

“Do you expect me to tell the truth about my life to the most indiscrete man in England?”

“Anna, look. I’m a fairly level-headed bloke—not often in and out of love, but can I just say no to your kind request and leave it at that?”

“Yes. Fine. Of course. I...of course. Well, I’ll just be going then. It was nice to see you.”

“The thing is…with you I’m in real danger. It seems like a perfect situation—apart from that foul temper of yours—but, my relatively inexperienced heart, would I fear, not recover if I was once again cast aside, as I would absolutely expect to be. There are just too many pictures of you. Too many films. You’d go and I’d be, well buggered basically.”

“That really is a real no, isn’t it?”

“I live in Notting Hill, you live in Beverly Hills. Everyone in the world knows who you are. My mother has trouble remembering my name.”

“Fine. Fine. Good decision. Good decision. The fame thing isn’t really real you know. And don’t forget, I’m also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her. Bye.”

This scene runs through my mind often. I’m the type of person who would have jumped at her offer, but I would have been wrong to do so. She didn’t respect William and he knew it. She used him, took him for granted, and assumed he’d always be there. She was wrong. He let her walk out of the bookstore and that was the best thing he could have done.

He chases her down later, and with all the press watching, he questions her about their relationship. She provides the answer he’s looking for and they finally get together. So the movie has the happy ending that so many people seem to insist upon, but that one crucial moment transcends the movie.

Anybody who has ever grasped too tightly to a relationship, only to watch it die as a result, knows that William’s actions were right. And anybody who has ever allowed himself to be mistreated, hoping that appeasement wins somebody's heart, knows that William’s actions were right. That hardest part is following through. But the results can be so rewarding.

Previous posts in this series:

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


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