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.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Reign Over Me

I’m anxious to see Reign Over Me starring Adam Sandler. I’ve seen United 93 and World Trade Center and I thought they were both excellent movies. I don’t necessarily think that one of these three movies has to stand out as the definitive movie about 911 in my mind. In fact, they all tell the 911 story from a different perspective, so I’m not sure how one could be the definitive movie. But as I begin to think about going to see Reign Over Me, I sense the same dread I felt before seeing the other two movies. So much loss of life. So much tragedy. This particular film narrowly focuses on one man who lost his family—and who can’t relate to the horrors of that scenario?

Here’s an overview of the film from Yahoo! Movies: “Former college roommates Charlie Fineman and Alan Johnson meet up again by chance on a Manhattan street corner. Five years after losing his family on 9/11, Charlie—once a successful dentist—has retreated from his life, and Alan is stunned to see the changes in his formerly gregarious friend. At the same time, Alan—who should be enjoying his beautiful wife, children and career—is overwhelmed by his responsibilities. Their rekindled relationship becomes a lifeline for the two men, who are both in need of a trusted friend at this pivotal moment in their lives.”

Have you seen this movie yet? If so, what are your thoughts?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Lines in the Sand

I have a Garfield flip calendar on my work desk. I got a chuckle out of the cartoon strip for the day yesterday. It opens with Jon (Garfield’s owner) saying, “I wonder how Garfield is doing on his diet?” The next panel shows Garfield holding a huge pile of donuts and he says this to Jon, “If 11 donuts stick together, it counts as one, right?”

How true to human nature is that? It seems that no matter what parameters are imposed upon us, we try to find a way to move the lines. We do it with diets, budgets, taxes, and sometimes even personal and professional relationships. We know what is rightly expected of us (this post isn’t about what is wrongly expected of us), but we’d rather move the line than accept its limitations.

I’m not going to pretend that I’m any better than the next guy. I just know that when I do accept justifiable limitations, my life runs smoother and I feel better about who I am.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Coming to Life

Do you ever go through seasons in your life where you feel more “alive” than at other times in your life? I mean alive in the sense that you feel everything more deeply? That’s how I’ve been feeling lately. The situations that should bring pain are indeed doing so. And the situations where I should laugh, I’m laughing. This post might sound a bit odd if you are the type of person who always allows yourself to experience the full range of emotions that life has to offer. Typically, I haven’t been one of those people.

I think I’ve avoided emotional extremes because they make me feel out of control. I’ve slowly come to realize that without the extremes, life can seem mundane—especially compared to the way some people choose to live life to its fullest. I’m finding that I’d much rather shed a tear or pump my fist than doing neither in an attempt to veil the way I really feel. I’m never going to be considered an extrovert, but it’s nice to know that sometimes I can venture across the line.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Gold Bond Blues

For years, people have been subtly pointing out my lack of appreciation for change. I’ve kind of agreed with them. I’m set in my ways, and while I can be prompted to try an exploratory new drink in a coffee house (almost always with disastrous results—meaning, I spent $4.00 for a drink I can’t stand), I’m probably never going to be the most adventurous person you are ever going to meet when it comes to trying new things.

But I think I’m staring to see my friends’ point. A few days ago, while at the grocery store, I went hunting for a bottle of Gold Bond “skin therapy lotion.” I love that stuff. It’s too expensive, but I buy it anyway. Well, I always buy the Gold Bond that comes in the green bottle. I think it’s their “original” formula or something like that. I don’t know for sure, and frankly, I’ve never cared. I just always reach for the green bottle. Well, I get to the lotion aisle, and I can’t find the green bottle anywhere. Turns out, some genius, probably in marketing, decided to change the colors of the bottles.

“Oh, great,” I whispered to myself. “Now which one am I going to buy?”

I went back and forth before finally deciding to go with “Gold Bond Ultimate.” Turns out that it’s not the same stuff I normally buy. I’m sure it’ll work just fine, but it irritated me. And then I had to laugh. I remembered my grandma sending me on runs to the grocery store. I’d ask her what brand of such n’ such she wanted and she’d say something like, “Get the green one.” I’d roll my eyes and think, “Oh great…what if they changed the color of the packaging? I’ll be there all day…and no matter which one I pick up, it’ll be the wrong one.”

Maybe I was a little more like Grandma than I ever realized. I bet she’d get a laugh out of that if she were still alive.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Counting on Each Other

I’ve been doing the same thing that many other pet owners have been doing in recent days—I’ve been checking the Menu Foods website and the Iams website to see if any of the cans of cat food I have in my possession are from the plant that produced the contaminated food that was recalled last week. I feed my cat Iams because it contains low magnesium. How ironic would it have been if I truly had given her food that would have harmed her? Thankfully, none of the cans left in my house came from the plant, but who knows if I gave her any last week or the week before?

Have you ever thought about how much we depend upon each other? I don’t mean family and friends, but society at large. If one person working in a factory makes a mistake, the results can be disastrous. Sixty millions cans and pouches of contaminated pet food were recalled. The recall affected 51 brands of cat food. Depending upon who you believe, somewhere between 14 and 845 pets have died as a result of the contaminated food.

But thinking beyond just the pet food disaster, all of us count on others we don’t know every day to stop for red lights and stop signs, to yield when instructed to do so, to not drive while intoxicated, to obey laws for the safety of the public, to obey law enforcement officials and other authority figures. And we count on strangers to do their jobs. When we purchase cars, and electronics, and clothing, we expect them to be crafted well. When we buy food in restaurants and markets, we expect that it was handled properly.

On and on the list goes. And the more you think about it, the more spooked you might get. As for me, it makes me want to be as focused as possible on doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I never want to do a job simply to punch a clock. And I never want to get complacent while in potentially dangerous situations—like behind the wheel of a car. I don’t want to float through life on auto-pilot. I suspect I’ve failed at various points in my life in all of these areas, but whenever something like this pet food situation occurs, it’s a reminder to re-focus.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Tales from the Grocery Store, Part 2

I went to the grocery store last night after work. I’ve been needing to go for a few days, but just didn’t want to deal with the hassle. My side is still hurting quite a bit—in fact, I sneezed yesterday afternoon and the pain in my side was worse than almost any other pain I’ve ever experienced—and I was waiting to see if it would heal up a little before hitting the grocery store. That didn’t happen, so I jumped in the car and decided to get it over with.

So, when I got there, I started piling my cart full. I stopped in the frozen food section and stocked up on Lean Cuisines and Smart Ones because I finished off the last one in my freezer a day or two ago. After making my selections, I saw an elderly gentleman walking my way. He was pushing a small cart and seemed to be in relatively poor health. He didn’t really walk, he shuffled. Many of his teeth appeared to be missing and he just had a sickly look to him.

He must have seen me putting frozen entrees in my cart because he smiled at me and gave me an understanding look before saying, “They’re the way to go when you can’t cook.” I agreed with him and smiled back. His cart was piled higher than mine was with frozen entrees, so he definitely knew what he was talking about. Then he stopped and talked to a mom and her two kids. It all sort of reminded me of this post I wrote quite some time ago. In fact, it happened at the same grocery store.

On the way home, I got to thinking about the man. I wondered if he had been single his entire life? If so, it seems to have agreed with him. He’s found a way to show love to others in the most natural of ways. And then I wondered if he was widowed. If so, I’m guessing that he married well because he had a great attitude. Maybe his wife showed him how to love and he’s never forgotten it.

I don’t know why, but the whole thing moved me.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Old News

It’s a good thing I don’t care a whole lot about March Madness. My Sports Illustrated “2007 NCAA Tournament Preview” showed up yesterday—six days after the tournament began. I flipped through it for laughs, and saw articles like, “Beware of the Eagles” predicting that the Winthrop Eagles “may be this year’s George Mason.” Of course, they did knock of Notre Dame in the first round, but they’d already lost to Oregon in the second round before I ever received this bold prediction.

And then I spotted SI’s bracket. I looked to the South Region and saw that SI predicted that Creighton—the college I attended in the mid-1980’s—would win their first two games. Instead, they lost in the first round. They had Pittsburgh losing in the second round to Duke. Come on. Even I predicted that one right and I hardly even follow college basketball. And they picked Kansas to win it all. Probably not a bad pick. I picked them to lose in the finals—to Creighton (okay, so I’m a little biased).

I guess my point is, timing really is everything. A preview issue loses its appeal when the tournament is nearly half over. I’m guess that my issue just got lost in the mail and that SI didn’t really send out millions of issues this late, but either way, I’m not a happy customer right now. And I’m certainly not going to spend a lot of time reading something that is such old news.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Soul of Baseball

Ever since I heard that Joe Posnanski, a sports writer for the Kansas City Star, had a book coming out about Buck O’Neil called The Soul of Baseball, I knew I was going to devour it. Buck O’Neil played Negro League baseball in the 1930’s and 1940’s. It’s a shame that such a league needed to exist, but at the same time, if it hadn’t, guys like O’Neil wouldn't have been able to play. He led the league in hitting twice as a Kansas City Monarch, hitting .345 in 1940, and .350 in 1946. He was a three-time East-West All-Star. And he managed the team from 1948-1955.

O’Neil died last October at the age of 94. But he spent much of his ninety-third year of life with Posnanski as they toured America. Their journey became the fodder for the book. I can’t tell you much about the specific stories yet because I just started reading the book yesterday, but I was already moved greatly by this passage on page 2:

“Every day, Buck hugged strangers, invented nicknames, told jokes, and shared stories. He sang out loud and danced happily. He threw baseballs to kids and asked adults to tell him about their parents, and he kept signing autographs long after his hand started to shake. I heard him leave an inspiring and heartfelt two-minute phone message for a person he had never met. I saw him take a child by the hand during a class, another child grabbed her hand, and another child grabbed his, until a human chain had formed, and together they curled and coiled between the desks of the classroom, a Chinese dragon dance, and they all laughed happily.”

Buck O’Neil had every right to be a bitter man, but he chose to enjoy life instead, and in the process, he inspired everybody who came into contact with him.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Trip to the ER

I had an interesting day on Friday. I woke up with severe pain in my right side and instantly I thought, “Uh oh, right side pain could mean appendicitis.” I waited for a couple of hours and the pain didn’t go away. I finally decided it was time to visit the ER—something I haven’t done for quite a while. They ran all sorts of tests, including a CAT scan, and after five hours, I was relieved to hear the doctor tell me that I didn’t have appendicitis, and I didn’t have kidney stones. Instead, she said that I had a strained (torn) muscle. She said that they can hurt just as bad as appendicitis.

A nurse gave me a shot for pain and I was still hoping to come home and do some work. I picked up my prescriptions and after taking them, I zonked out—losing the rest of the day. But getting some rest was probably the best thing for me at the time. I’m taking Hydrocodone for the pain, which means I can’t drive for a while. While it makes me a little loopy, I’m grateful that it takes away a lot of the pain. Now, I’m hoping that between the pain and the medicine, I’ll be able to get some work done this week.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Cleaning up the Sidebar

I'm going to be moving some of my products from the sidebar of the blog into individual posts and then I'll be linking to them on the sidebar. Hopefully that'll give the sidebar a less cluttered look. I'm also planning to add a new section in the sidebar that will contain links to my favorite posts.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Pepsi Jazz and Baja Blast

As I was driving somewhere recently, I saw a sign outside of a gas station that was advertising Pepsi Jazz. What in the world is that? I stopped trying to keep track of the latest beverage choices long ago. I have my favorites and I can’t imagine cheating on them. Besides, the mere thought of drinking something called Bug Juice turns my stomach a little. And I’m way too old to want to try to find a new favorite anyway. But I did get a bit of a chuckle out of my niece (whose birthday it is today—happy birthday!) a couple of days ago at Taco Bell.

She said she wanted Mountain Dew, so as I went to get it from the fountain, they had more than one flavor of Mountain Dew. They had something called Mountain Dew Baja Blast or some such thing. Being the non-eccentric kind of guy that I am, I didn’t mess with the new stuff, but I asked her about it when I got back to the table. She said she has never heard of it either, but for some reason, the way I explained it to her was funny. I’m guessing it was in my delivery. I’m sure I looked a little confused.

I’m wondering...how many more flavors do we really need? Isn’t everybody pretty much predisposed to like one or the other? Apparently not. A beverage expert said the following in an article I just ran across on CNN’s website: “The beverage industry has reached an area of specialization. We’ll likely see a growing assortment of brands and choice—more niche brands and fewer megabrands.”

The same article says that just between Coke and Pepsi, they offer approximately 100 different carbonated products in the U.S. I guess they know what they are doing. I have no interest in experimenting, but I’m glad the whole thing got a laugh out of my niece.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

My Kitters

I performed my annual act of betrayal against Midnight yesterday. I took her to the V-E-T to get her shots and license. The V-E-T told me things I didn’t really want to hear. She said that Midnight has a heart murmur, bad teeth, her kidneys still aren’t in the greatest condition, and she’s lost a little weight since last year. But she’s 17 years old, so I’m grateful that it wasn’t worse news. That didn’t stop me from being a little bummed out though on the car ride home as I thought about the inevitable.

Thankfully, Midnight is still frisky, and we still follow our daily routine—including lots of ruvvin’ (“loving” for those who don’t speak cat-ese). She still chases anything that moves (including rubber bands, see photo), eats people food, drinks out of my cup when I’m not looking, sleeps on the back of my legs at night, and she still gets the midnight-crazies. I don’t know if all cats get the midnight-crazies (during which a cat seems to revert to its natural wildness and consequently runs back and forth throughout the house like she’s gone mad), but I’m sort of still glad that Midnight gets them because it makes it seem like not much has changed.

She could live for several more years or one of her many ailments could catch up with her much sooner. Nobody knows. For those who don’t have pets, I know it sounds crazy to be so attached to an animal and there’s nothing I can say that will accurately portray my affection toward my own pet, but any time you’ve had a living being as part of your normal routine for such a long time, it’s nearly impossible to not get attached. But it hardly seems like it’s been 17 years. I can still remember snapping this photo of her a day or two after I got her.

So there you have it. I’m attached big time to a six pound four ounce lovable little fur-ball. I’m not even going to try to figure out or guess how much time she has left. Instead, I’m just going to continue to enjoy the many daily routines we have shared for nearly two decades for as long as possible.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Chasing Dreams

Some people are masters at small talk. For most of my life, I was quite bad at it. I didn’t even like the idea of it. But in recent years, my views about it have softened. (You can read more about the process here.) On the other hand, I’ve always loved talking about things that matter—especially dreams. Nearly everybody has one and most people are more than willing to tell others about it if they will listen.

As I talk to writers, many of them want to write full time. As I talk to singles, they often want a spouse. As I talk to business people, they have a dream job in mind. As I talk to business owners, they dream about reaching financial stability. And as I interview athletes, many of them just want a shot to prove themselves. I’m always inspired by people who are pursuing their dream, no matter what it is or what level they are at because I know they are doing it in spite of their fear.

Giving up hope would be easy for them when circumstances become difficult. Battle weariness can set in, which zaps incentive, and life just seems to slip away at that point. The desire to get up early dissipates. The willingness to go hard after a dream gives way to mere survival. The risk of taking a chance seemingly becomes too high, especially when people are giggling at our efforts while lurking in the shadows of cowardice. And eventually the dream dies.

How does a person keep the dream alive?

I’ve found that I need to be around other people who aren’t quick to crush dreams. I need their encouragement. And I need to encourage them. The result leads to an otherwise unattainable synergy. I admit to listening to the giggles a little too much in the past. But in the end, I doubt if I’ll remember a single giggle that somebody offered as I chased a dream. Instead, I suspect that I’ll be quite satisfied that I learned to take risks in spite of what others might think.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Here Comes Spring

In typical Nebraska fashion, we’ve gone from having a blizzard to 69 degree weather in just eleven days. Only a trace of the blizzard remains on the ground. Spring training is under way. Midnight is sleeping in the windowsill again. I’m already thinking about cranking on the a/c. And yesterday morning, I stumbled over my tennis racket while getting clothes out of my closet—and I instantly wanted to head for the tennis courts.

I’m old, and slow, and busy, and constantly tired, but that doesn’t change the fact that I want to hit the tennis courts again soon. I haven’t played since late October or early November. And I still remember the last time I played—thinking that I could hide my racket in the closet because cold weather was on the way. That seems like such a long time ago.

What are you looking forward to getting out and doing as we head towards spring?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Carved Initials

As I poured a glass of tea for myself this weekend, I glanced over at one of my kitchen windows and I saw something I’ve seen hundreds of other times—the letters L. B. carved into the windowsill. I have no idea who did it, but it happened before I moved into the house many years ago. I’m not crazy about the notion of defacing personal property, but this particular instance has never bothered me. Somehow it soothes me to know that somebody else from days gone by has saw fit to call my house a home.

I’ve often wondered who L. B. might have been. Were they the initials of the carver or of somebody else—maybe a current or past love interest or maybe it was somebody’s way of honoring a loved one who had passed away. At one time, the area I live in was surrounded by meat packing plants. At some point in my house’s history, I’m sure it was home to at least one guy who worked in those plants. Maybe even L. B.

Most of the area I live in was built in the early 1900’s. I don’t know how many families total have lived in the house I currently live in, but at approximately a hundred years of age, the house has seen its share of families come and go. Each one has a story, and I can’t help but wonder how many such stories have been forgotten as each generation died. But with a simple little action, the legend of L. B. lives.

I could probably check the deed or the abstract. Maybe I owe it to L. B. to do just that. At least then maybe I’d have a name to put with the initials. But I still wouldn’t know anything about the person. Maybe that’s exactly how L. B. wanted it. Just to be remembered in some small fashion. If that’s the case, I hope I’ve done an adequate job of honoring his or her wishes with this post.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Inspired by Nature

I’m often amazed by the origins of inspiration. It comes in such small packages and sometimes in seemingly the simplest things in life. Quite some time ago, I took a day off and went to a nearby lake. I planned to walk all the way around it—several miles total—and then enjoy a nice picnic lunch I brought with me while studying my Bible. Unfortunately, the day didn’t quite turn out the way I had planned (you can read more about it by clicking here if you are interested), but something happened during my walk that nearly floored me.

It was early in the morning, and the sun was already glaring down. I hit the trail that initially wound its way through a wooded area. Cotton seeds floated in the air. Birds chirped. A few people on roller blades passed me. And more than one bug made its presence known. But I strolled along at a slow pace, just taking it all in. I made my way through the woods and caught a beautiful glimpse of the lake as I rounded a corner. The water was completely still and I saw a tree that had grown several feet offshore, in the lake itself. It didn’t have many leaves and the branches were split in such a fashion as to make it look like a person raising two hands to the heavens. I didn’t have my camera that day, but it sort of looked like the one in this picture.

I was overwhelmed with the idea that the tree was pointing to its Creator in praise. In fact, I felt like I got to see a living example of Psalm 148 that says in part: “Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word! Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds! Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! Young men and maidens together, old men and children! Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.”

I stood and watched in awe—feeling quite small on one hand in comparison to a big God. But on the other hand, feeling closer to him than I had in a long time because I felt like he let me in on a secret—something that would have been easy to miss if I hadn’t been paying attention. The rest of my day didn’t turn out they way I had planned, but that hardly seemed to matter.

All sorts of situations and people have inspired me and I’m thinking that it might be fun to write about more of them. I bet you’ll be able to relate in some fashion and maybe you could even start a series on your own blog about little things that have inspired you in big ways. I’d love to read such posts if you decide to write them. But sure to leave links to them in the comments section.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

I Still Get Nervous

Yesterday I interviewed a NASCAR driver who competes at the Nextel Cup level. For those who don’t follow NASCAR, the Nextel Cup is the highest level of stock car racing and it includes guys like Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, and other guys you’ve probably heard of even if you don’t follow the sport.

I set up the interview with this particular driver and as I waited for him to call, I noticed an old familiar feeling creeping in—nervousness. I’ve interviewed quite a few professional athletes in the past, and no matter how many times I do it, I still get nervous shortly before the interview. The pressure is on. Generally, I have between five and ten minutes to ask questions that will garner good quotes for the article I'm writing. Ask the wrong question and I get an answer I can’t do anything with. Do that often enough and I end up with an interview that I can't use. And the chances of a “do over” aren’t real high. But even if I ask the “right” questions, the subject might stray and then I have to figure out a way to bring him or her back on topic.

But you know what? I’m glad that I still get nervous. It means that I care about doing the job well and it keeps me on my game. And experience is a wise teacher. I’ve learned to harness the energy and refocus it to do the best job possible. I don’t nail every interview. And sometimes I think of questions later that I wished I would have asked, but that just makes me better for the next interview I’ll do. I think if I ever reach a point where I’m no longer nervous, then I’ll realize that I’m doing the wrong thing.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Three Women Fishing

On Sunday night, I met my mom for dinner at a restaurant called Joe Tess Place. People flock to this restaurant from the greater parts of 100 miles away from Omaha. They serve fish, mostly fried, and Carp is their specialty. When most people hear that, they can’t imagine eating such a fish. That sentiment usually fades quickly after the first bite. I have no idea what Joe Tess Place does when they prepare fish, but it’s the best tasting fish I’ve ever had.

My mom and I were lead to a booth along the back wall of the restaurant—not a section we are normally seated in, and I was quickly drawn to a black and white photo positioned on the wall over our booth. It depicted three middle-age women, in rather plain looking dresses that hung to their ankles, fishing along a river—presumably the Missouri River. Each woman held a fishing pole in her hand. They were positioned about eight or ten feet apart and all of them had a rather serious look on her face.

Unfortunately, the photo doesn’t have a caption. All sorts of things ran through my mind. Were they fishing for leisure? If so, they hardly looked to be having fun, but maybe they were just the serious types who were locked in a competition of some kind. Were they fishing out of necessity? Were their husbands away at war or working in a nearby factory? Or were they single? Who knows?

I love the fact that the restaurant displays such photos, but surely somebody knows the stories behind this and the many other photos displayed on the walls. The next time I’m there, I think I’ll ask about the three women.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Recording Life

I'm amazed at how quickly one twenty-four hour period of time passes. One day rolls into the next, and before I know it, I can't remember what happened earlier in the week, or in the previous week. I seem to remember the big events. Those dates somehow etch themselves into my mind and I'm glad they do, but the small things have a way of fading into oblivion.

Things like a subtle change in my way of thinking, or great insight from a writer, or a little burst of confidence in an area of life where I've never been confident before--these are the things I want to remember, but often don't. My intentions to capture such events haven't gone as planned. I was stunned today when I opened my moleskine journal and saw that I've haven't recorded a single word in it since January 8th. A lot has happened since then.

I'm not sure why I'm not content unless I record my life. Maybe its vanity. But it seems deeper than that. I think it's a way of saying I lived, and loved, and struggled, and thought. For too many years, I went through life without allowing myself to feel. Now I'm making up for lost time. Well, that's not really true. A person can't make up for lost time. But he can change the present. So, last night I cracked open my moleskine journal and wrote. Today, I plan to do the same thing.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Blizzard Memories

A friend send me an e-mail from Florida on Friday because she heard about the Blizzard that hit Nebraska last Thursday and Friday. I sent her a few pictures I took looking out of the window in the front of my house. Here's one of the them:

Seeing all of the snow piled up reminded me of a blizzard that hit Nebraska in 1975 which I was eight years old. We got 19 inches of snow and the winds hit 60 mph. My family lived in a neighborhood that was fairly new, so we didn't have a lot of trees around to block the snow. As I walked out the front door with my mom, the snow drifts were up to my chest. I can't remember if my Mom gave me a big cooking spoon to help her shovel or if I grabbed it myself, but I clearly remember taking the first scoop of snow out of the driveway. I'm guessing that it did little good.

Shortly thereafter, my grandpa bought me a little shovel. He died in 1985. Seventeen years later, shortly before her own death, my grandma told me she still had the shovel and that I should take it home. I did. And yes, I still have it--it's the one advantage of being a packrat. Here's a picture of it.

I keep way too much stuff. But in this instance, I'm glad I did. Even though the shovel is rusting out on the bottom and the handle is bent, it evokes wonderful memories of my childhood. And as I continue to slowly get rid of stuff I no longer need or use, I want to be careful to not get rid of too much. The wise thing to do regarding things like this shovel would be to take a few photos of it and then get rid of it, but I don't see that happening any time soon.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Photo by Sammy Davis Jr.

I was never a big Sammy Davis Jr. fan growing up. Nothing against him personally. He was just a little before my time. I know very little about him, other than the fact that he was extremely talented. But I was intrigued the other day when I heard that a new book has just been released that contains photos he took throughout his lifetime.

I caught a short segment of Regis & Kelly this week, during which Regis was talking about this book. He said Sammy used to carry a camera with him in his "man purse" everywhere he went. Regis said Sammy didn't care what people thought about him for carrying his stuff around in a bag. He just seemed to want to capture life as it happened.

Kelly pointed out that the photo used as the book cover (depicting Sammy and what looks to be a very young Jerry Lewis) was probably taken in a mirror. I'm sure she's right. If you go to Amazon.com, you'll see several other neat pictures Davis took. Everybody seems to be so happy in the photos. Capturing happiness in others must have brought him happiness. Not a bad endeavor if you ask me. And a great way to leave a legacy.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Pride and Prejudice

I watched Pride and Prejudice (the 2005 version that starred Keira Knightley) for the second time a couple of nights ago. I love the prim and properness depicted in the movie that was so prevalent in the culture of that day. But even in such a setting, humans still wounded each other greatly.

Mr. Darcy comes off early in the movie as a pompous, arrogant, rich, fool. Elizabeth doesn't come from money and people like Mr. Darcy are quick to remind her of the fact. She's just as quick to tell him what she thinks about him as well. But early on, it's plain to see that something is going on between them. They want to find reasons to dislike each other, but they both slowly come to terms with the idea that they ought to be together. But not before Elizabeth turns down Mr. Darcy's marriage proposal in a rather harsh manner. They both attempt to move on with life, but neither find it easy. Finally, we are treated with this final, rather impassioned plea, from Mr. Darcy to Elizabeth:

"I believe you spoke with my aunt last night and it has taught me to hope as I'd scarcely allowed myself before. If your feelings are still where they were last April [when she turned him down], tell me so at once. My affections and wishes have not changed, but one word from you will silence me forever. If however, your feelings have changed, I would have to tell you, you have bewitched me body and soul and I love, I love, I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on."

I wish I had sensed more of this passion from both characters throughout the movie. Honestly, I thought the way they both came to the understanding that they were supposed to be together wasn't done well enough. But maybe I need to go to the novel to get that. Or to the five hour, 1996 BBC version of the movie. Not long ago, a friend told me that I hadn't experienced this story unless I've seen the BBC movie version.

If you've seen both versions of the movie and read the novel, then tell me which version you liked best. Which one did the best job of letting us see what was going on inside Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth as they slowly moved toward the possibility of marriage?


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