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, September 28, 2007

Friday Free-for-All

--The countdown is on. I get to see my first NASCAR race in person this weekend. A friend and I have tickets to both the Busch race and the Nextel Cup race at the Kansas Speedway. I'm rooting for Carl Edwards in the Busch race and Mark Martin in the Cup race.

--On a much sadder note, one of my favorite baseball players who plays for the Kansas City Royals may play his last game this weekend in Royal blue. Mike Sweeney has been the face of the franchise for close to a decade and I'm hoping he'll get one more contract with the Royals, but things aren't looking good. I'm hoping to get to Kauffman Stadium on Saturday night to see him play one more time.

--I've decided that I don't like alternate endings on DVD's. In fact, I've decided that I don't really like the voice-over commentary by the cast either. I used to, but something about it bugs me now. I might post about this after I've thought it all the way through.

--I'm often surprised by which posts people comments on. I didn't expect any comments on the Scars post this week, but I was pleased to see other people leaving their own scar history in the comments. I received an email or two about it as well. That was so cool.

--I heard recently that the average person takes 400 pictures per year, unless he or she has children. In that case, the average parent takes 700 pictures. I took 738 in 2006 and I'm not a parent. But I've taken far less this year, so it sort of evens itself out. I really do need to take more pictures. I love looking back at them.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Friendly Recommendations

A friend called me the other night and every time he does I know it's time to reach for my moleskine notebook because he's going to give me all kinds of good information. Sometimes he gives me book recommendations that he knows I'll enjoy. Sometimes he refers me to websites or magazines. And sometimes he cites interesting facts.

True to form, he suggested two books, both of which I'm sure I'll pick up:

Mictrotrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes by Mark Penn. As a writer and a watcher of culture, I'm always interested in trends. Here's a little blurb about the book from Publishers Weekly on Amazon.com: "Penn delves into the ever-splintering societal subsets with which Americans are increasingly identifying, and what they mean...In a chapter titled 'Archery Moms?,' Penn reports on the 'Niching of Sports': much to the consternation of Major League Baseball, 'we don't like sports less, we just like little sports more.'" This phenomenon intrigues me. Are we really splintering into societal subsets? If we are, what are the ramifications?

Focus on the Good Stuff: The Power of Appreciation by Mike Robbins. This book doesn't hold as much appeal to me as the first one, but in one section, Robbins "analyzes the effects of living in a culture of negativity and fear, which keeps individuals from connecting with others" (this quote comes from Publishers Weekly on Amazon.com as well). I've been interested in this topic for a long time. How much do we allow fear to determine the way we live our lives? And what about the "culture of negativity"? Is that a myth or is it a fact? If it is true, how it it changing the way we interact with others?

My friend also recommend that I take a look at the Entrepreneur website. I took his advice and quickly found several articles that interested me. 10 Ways to to Improve Your Business Now caught my eye because my writing business could always use some adjustments. I particularly liked point number two about charging more for premium services. I already do that, but it affirmed what I'm doing. I read another article on the site called Stepping Into a Reporter's Shoes about how to understand a reporter's needs and schedule so that you (as the business owner) will have a better chance of getting the reporter to write about your business. Since I am often a reporter, I knocked myself in the head V-8 style and said, "Why Didn't I Write This Article?" So, I'm already thinking about ways to expand into new writing markets.

All of this came from one phone call. Beyond all of the great stimulation it gave my brain, it made me think that I need to be more like this friend--who is constantly thinking about other people and how he might connect with them by tapping into the things they enjoy. How much more interesting would our conversations with friends be if we were more focused on ways we could serve and help them rather than on just unloading all our troubles every time we see them? Of course, there's a time for unloading, but there's also a time for building up.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mister C's

Many, many years ago, I frequented a local restaurant on a nearly nightly basis over the course of a couple of months. No, it didn't have anything to do with the food. In fact, I don't think I ever ate a meal there during that time period. Instead, it had everything to do with a girl. We were good friends and she was a bartender there. Of course, I was hoping it would develop into more than friendship and for a brief moment, it appeared that it might. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The restaurant, called Mister C's, has been a legendary place in Omaha for as long as I can remember. It's known for being dark inside, and for having Christmas lights hanging all year long, and for a strange mix of red, orange, and yellow carpet that covers the floors and walls. Yes, I said walls. And when the carpet finally ends on the walls, you'll find mirrors in its place. Every table has a red and white checkered tablecloth. (To see a picture, click here. Click on the picture and it'll expand.) And the place is absolutely huge. They say 900 people could fit inside and another 500 could dine outside during its heyday.

And the place has more stories than you could ever imagine. Those Christmas lights that are on all year long--that tradition started in 1971 when a waitress asked the owner to leave the lights up until her husband returned home from the Navy. He honored her request, but even after than man returned home, the lights stayed up. I guess it was Mister C's way of showing how much he cared. Gives me goose bumps just thinking about it.  

Mister C., whose real name is Sabastiano "Yano" Caniglia, and his wife Mary, are known for providing balloon animals for every kid in the place, and for having a "toy room" for kids to visit during Christmas. It's just one of those places that you hope never goes away, but you suspect it will at any time because nobody has time for places like this anymore. Instead, we want fast food, or chain restaurants (both of which I too enjoy). The idea of settling down with good friends and fine wine for the evening at a restaurant is foreign to us now.

And as such, Mister C's restaurant has been struggling for some time. The one of a kind place to eat that opened in 1953 is about to became a thing of the past. Mister and Mrs. C recently announced that they were closing the place. This coming Sunday at 9:00 PM, it will close for good. Today is the final day they will take reservations. Mr. C. is 83 now and he's tired. And I understand that. But oh, how I hate to see the place go.

I've actually eaten in the place a couple of times. The food was good. But the atmosphere was second to none. Hopefully, the story about the restaurant distracted you from the story about the girl in the beginning of this post. But even if it didn't, there's not much else to tell. I chased a girl who, in the end, chose somebody else. It stung for a while, but I got over it. But the memories I'll have of the place I chased her in will live on.

If you have a few minutes one day, browse through the restaurant's website. I love the photos and the history you can find there. I hope that they'll leave it up for people to visit for many generations to come.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I woke up on Saturday morning after a rather restful night of sleep. I spent the night at a friend's house after traveling to see his son play in a high school football game the night before and I just crashed in one of his living room recliners. It couldn't have been more comfortable. But as soon as I slipped out of it on Saturday morning, I noticed a pain shooting through my right leg, which is always a concern for me since I ruptured my Achilles tendon in that leg ten years ago and have had all sorts of problems with that leg since, including blood clots.

I pulled off my shoes and socks and saw that the scar where the doctor cut me open to repair my Achilles tendon was inflamed. I realized that my heels had been hanging off the recliner and that my leg must have rubbed against the foot rest enough to cause it swell a little. No big deal. It went away rather quickly, but that led to think about the many scars I've accumulated over the years. That particular scar marks a time in my life when I focused more on my writing because it was all I could do for several months. Funny how things work out.

And if you look closely, just under my left eye, you'll see a faint scar that serves as a continual reminder of a day I spent wandering around in a field with my dad when I was just a little boy. My grandfather owned some land and my dad and I would go exploring sometimes. One Saturday afternoon, I had a little too much energy and began to run. I imagine I was going just about as fast as my little legs would carry me when I suddenly ran face first into a barbed wire fence. Thankfully, I just had one cut under my left eye. Without that scar, I doubt that I would even remember that particular day with my dad.

Close to my right elbow, you can see a scar that is about the size of a quarter. It happened after work one night when I was in my teens. I used to manage a fast food restaurant and after we closed, a lot of the employees would hang out together. One particular night someone broke out a Frisbee after work and a few of us began tossing it around the parking lot. Someone threw it in my direction and I saw one of the girls I worked with make a move toward it so I did too. We sort of collided and I took a spill, leaving part of my skin on the pavement. Must have been pretty deep because you can still see the aftereffects. But again, without such an instance, I doubt that I would even remember that night.

I don't want to endure the pain that comes with scarring just so I can remember past events, but I'm also not afraid of getting them because they are evidence of a life that has been lived. 

Monday, September 24, 2007

High School Football

I made my annual visit to central Nebraska this past Friday night to watch a friend's son play 8-man high school football. We got there just in time for the kickoff (it was a bit of a drive since it was an away game). As the game progressed, the temperatures dropped, which is typical for Nebraska in September, the mosquitos came out (I saw one as big as a bird), and people of all walks of life did too.

A couple who sat in front of my friend, his wife, and I had on identical jackets showing their support of the home team. Lots of students milled around, having absolutely no idea that they'll look back on such times as some of the fondest of their lives. The concessions stands were easily accessible and the food was cheap. For the record, I ordered a Diet Pepsi and a hot dog.

A little boy sitting next to me in the bleachers was far more concerned about his Mom's nachos than he was the game and he nearly had a hissyfit when he accidentally kicked his bottle of Gatorade between the bleachers and down into the dirt below us. Mom was quick to take him down to retrieve it. Cheerleaders from both schools did their thing. And I can't imagine having much more fun on a Friday night than being a part of this.

Unfortunately, the batteries in my camera died early in the evening, but I snapped a couple of photos:

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Free-for-All

--I'm off to see a friend's son play in a high school football game this evening. I usually go see him play once a year. They live a couple of hours away, but it's always worth it. I love the atmosphere at small town high school football games.

--Baseball season is winding down and that both bums me out and sort of makes me happy. I love to follow my beloved Kansas City Royals, but I also love to do other things at night. So this is a bittersweet time of year for me.

--Two novels are set for release soon by two of my favorite writers. The Choice by Nicholas Sparks is set to be released on September 24 and Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon is set to be released on October 30. I can't wait to read both of these books.

--I started a new blog last week called The Christian Sports Blog. I interview so many different Christian athletes for various newspapers and magazines, that I felt like I had something to offer to Christian sports fans. Check it out if you are so inclined, and if you'd let others know about it, I'd appreciate it.

--I'm stoked about next weekend already. I'm going to see my first NASCAR race at the Kansas Speedway. Go Mark Martin!

Have a great weekend everybody!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Runaway Bride

So I watched Runaway Bride last night for the first time in many years. At first glance, the movie appears to be about a woman named Maggie Carpenter (played by Julia Roberts) who is so afraid of commitment that she runs like the wind every time she begins to walk down the aisle for marriage. She's done it three times when the movie opens and that's where USA Today columnist Ike Graham (played by Richard Gere) enters. He writes a column about how flaky Maggie is and he ends up losing his job over it.

Armed with a chance to redeem himself through another publication who wants an article about Maggie, he travels to her small town to prove that he was right about her. Of course, this is a chick flick, so everybody knew that Maggie and Ike would eventually fall for each other and, of course, they do. But I love the way it happens.

After Maggie realizes that she has too many difficulties to cover up, and after she sees that Ike seems to be softening towards her, she begins to tell him about her life. She tells him that her mom passed away and that her Dad deals with it by drinking too much, so she moved back to small town life to look after him and the family store. In turn, Ike tells her that his father wanted him to become a classic musician and his mother wanted him to become a novelist, so he was "oh for two."

The more honest they are about their lives with each other, the more they begin to see larger flaws in their own lives. She realizes that she's been running from marriage because none of her prospective husbands really knew her. She wasn't willing to let her hair down and be herself around them. Instead, she became what they wanted her to be. By the time she got to the altar, she realized she was living a lie and she ran. He realizes that he's just as lost as she is. His first marriage collapsed and he isn't sure why. He's prideful, cynical, critical, and tears others down for the poor choices they make--all the while, he's not willing to take any risks himself.

The movie paints a beautiful picture about the way two people ought to come together. As Ike and Maggie became vulnerable, they opened themselves up to being evaluated by the other person, and evaluate they did. Sometimes it wasn't pretty, but at least it was real. It wasn't based on pretenses. And as often is the case, by being willing to expose their flaws, they found common ground, and ultimately love.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Public Bulletin Boards

I've always been one of those people who likes to stop at grocery store bulletin boards and read what everybody else is selling, giving away, or attempting to find. Maybe I'm just nosey, I'm not sure, but viewing them makes me feel like I have a finger on the pulse of my community. But I've never thought any deeper about it than that. Then yesterday, as I was reading a passage from the novel called The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford, I came across this observation from protagonist Frank Bascombe:

"I regularly check all such notice boards in Sea-Clift--by the shopping carts at Angelico's, above the bait tank at Ocean-Gold Marina--standing arms folded, studying the cards for kittens lost, dinette sets to sell, collections of Ezio Pinza '78's, boats with trailers, boats without, descriptions of oldsters wandered off, the regular appeal for the young motorcycle victim in the ICU. Even Purple Hearts are for sale. You can eavesdrop on the spirit of a place from these messages, sense its inner shifts and seismic fidgets--important in my line of work, and more accurate than what the Chamber of Commerce will tell you. Real life writ small is here, etched with our wishes, losses and dismays."

I love his "you can eavesdrop on the spirit of a place from these messages" observation. And his point about a public bulletin board being more accurate that what the Chamber of Commerce will tell you is so true. The Chamber could probably quote all sorts of demographic data, but probably couldn't tell you that 99 Toyota's are all the rage in the southern part of town, or that the western part of town seems to have more free kittens named Gershwin than anybody ever would have imagined. And what does is say about a community that doesn't have any cats named Fluffy available?

I don't think I'll ever look at a public bulletin board the same way after reading Bascombe's take on them.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

No Reservations

I went to see No Reservations with a friend last night and thoroughly enjoyed the movie. The plot isn't exactly original, but it was done so well that it didn't even matter. And it's a remake to boot. But this post isn't really about the movie as much as it is about one particular scene. Just to set the stage, here's a blurb about the movie from the Yahoo! Movies website: "A top notch female chef's life is turned upside-down when she must care of her niece after her sister is killed. She now has to adapt to a different lifestyle and uses food as a means to express her roller-coaster life."

On to the scene I want to talk about. Kate (played by Catherine Zeta-Jones) is the "top notch female chef" and Zoe (played by Abigail Breslin) is her niece. One of the ways that Kate and Zoe bond after Zoe's mother dies is to play a game of Monopoly. For the record, Kate's love interest was present in the scene too, but that doesn't really matter for the sake of this post. As I watched the scene unfold, and saw Kate land on Free Parking, a scene from my own life flashed before my eyes. My Dad used to play Monopoly with my sister and I on the weekends. My parents divorced when I was young. So, sometimes my sister and I spent time with Dad on the weekends.

He had this "house rule" about landing on Free Parking. If you did it, you got all of the money in the middle of the board. The money came from the sale of property and the paying of taxes and fees. So it was sort of like hitting the lottery that was funded by the bank. We had so much fun over the years wishing and cheering for a certain number to turn up on the dice with the hopes of landing on Free Parking. And much like Kate and Zoe bonded over the simplest of things, Dad bonded with my sister and I.

I haven't thought about any of that in years. This is one of the many reasons I love the arts so much. When art is done genuinely, it not only reminds, but it also validates, and encourages, and speaks deeply to all who will listen.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Friday Free-for-All

I'm not sure how long I'll continue this, but Fridays are great for randomness. So, I'm introducing a new series called Friday Free-for-All in which I'll just give you a glimpse of things I'm thinking about. Feel free to add your own randomness in the comments section.

--How in the world does the average person ever get enough sleep? I need between seven and eight hours of sleep each night but if I do the math that means I'd need to be in bed by 10:30 or 11:00 PM. And that rarely happens.

--How in the world does the average person ever keep up with his or her email inbox? I'm often days behind, especially on personal email.

--I just learned how to convert all of my old cassette tapes to MP3 files so I can put them on my iPod. Now how do I find the time to do such a thing? But assuming I can, I'm already getting anxious to hear music from bands I haven't thought about in years.

--Check out how close this blogger got to sit for the US Open semi-finals last weekend! Thanks to Legal Lane for providing the link.

--Peach over at Perils of Peach! has been writing some rather honest, soul-searching posts. Stop on over when you get a chance.

--I've been thinking it's about time to re-engage in politics. I'm so out of the loop. Don't worry, I'm not planning to deluge you with a bunch of political posts. I have other forums for that.

--Pastor D. James Kennedy died last week. I watched his funeral on television yesterday during lunch. Most people have probably never even heard of him because he was never caught up in a huge scandal. I couldn't help but think about the irony of it all.

--I'm still reading a novel called Lay of the Land by Richard Ford. It's a good book, but I'm sort of bummed out about how few books I've read this year. I've really fallen off the pace I've been on the past few years.

--Speaking about books, I'm getting the bug to write another one. I have two swimming around in my head right now, one fiction and one non-fiction. I can always tell when I've got the bug because the books begin to write themselves in my mind long before I sit down to physically write them.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

My First Computer

I've sort of been in a reminiscing sort or mood this week. After thinking about my old high school, I started thinking about my first computer. I think I bought it in 1993. I didn't know much about computers then, but I was already thinking about writing and I thought I could be more productive with a computer than I would with a typewriter. So, I started asking around and I found an old IBM with an 8088 inside for a relatively cheap price. I don't have a picture of it, but here's a similar computer (note that it cost $3,000 new, wow!--thankfully I bought one used.).

It didn't have a hard drive and the operating system was MS-DOS. It used 5.25-inch floppy disks and you had to know specific DOS codes to type at the prompt in order to get the computer to do what you wanted to do. If you wanted to open a program, you had to type in the .exe file name. If you wanted to copy or save a file, you had to physically type a command in order to do so. I got to where I knew most of the codes and then I heard that a new operating system was taking the place of DOS. It was called "Windows" and I didn't want anything to do with it.

Sure, it sounded easy. Point and click and all that. But, I didn't trust it. I already knew how to do everything I wanted to do with my old computer. How could I really be sure that it would copy and save everything I told it to? And what about my beloved word processing program, WordStar? Would I be able to use it on one of those fancy "Windows" machines?

In 1994, I was at my cousin's house and he was using a Windows-based machine. In fact, he was "online" using a program called America Online. He showed me how I could get up to the minute sports scores, and news, and more information than I could ever want. He also told me how easy it was to save files. And within a month, I had my own windows-based machine and I too was on America Online.

It had a dial up modem with a baud rate of 1200. You can't believe how excited I was when someone figured out how to double the rate to 2400, then 4800, then 9600! Today, it would take about a year and a half to load the home page over at ESPN.com at a 9600 rate, but when it's the best available at the time, you celebrate.

I've lost track of how many computers I've bought since that first one in 1993, but my beloved IBM 8088 DOS machine will always have a special place in my heart. Okay, I sound like a total computer nerd now, but that's not really true. At least, I'm pretty sure it isn't.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Alf Quotes

This is a re-post of Alf quotes, but it's just as funny the second time. Believe me. I was laughing my fool head off last night as I watched episodes from Season Two on DVD. And I've seen all of these before.

"Don't look back. Something might be broken." –Alf, quoting his Grandpa Satchel

"Trust me on this one. I've been wrong so many times before."

"I was going to prepare a lovely Chateau Breanne, but I have no idea what that is. So you're getting hamburgers."

"It's almost time for vespers. I hope that means cookies."

"I just started going out with Rhonda when my planet blew up. Unlucky in love. Unlucky in Armageddon."

"Hey I'm still young. If I'm not married by the time I hit the big 4-0-0, then I'll panic."

"Back on Melmac, I was a registered Demo-cat. We were a political party and a doo-wop group."

"Oh hey look! Willie's shins glow in the dark."

"Boy you're cranky at 3:14 am. I hope you're more sociable at 5:28."

"At-a-girl. Eat your words!"

"Your building is going where? Condo? Where's condo?"

"See the alien throw out his back. She the alien blame the Tanners. Lawsuit Tanners. Lawsuit."

"All's fair in love and guess the cheese."

"This book doesn't have any words. It's got zits. Oh, must be one of those connect-the-dot books." (Obviously, it was a book that was written in brail.)

"What, vegetables again? That's not food. That's the stuff food eats."

"I'm here to make your life easier. First, I'll sweep up that glass that spontaneously exploded."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

High School Memories

If you ever want a surreal experience, go back and visit the high school you used to attend. My niece just started attending the high school I graduated from in 1984 and I dropped her off for her first day of classes a couple of weeks ago. Some things had changed so much I couldn't hardly believe it. Police and security were everywhere. The school has always had a rough reputation, even when I went there, but it seems like it is living up to the reputation now. The building is bigger too. They've added a huge addition to the south side of the building and from the back, it doesn't even look like the same school.

But as I drove by the parking lot on the north side of the school, all the old memories came rushing back. They built the parking lot during my senior year and I can remember pulling my mom's old Pontiac up to the gate just like it was yesterday. I drove it to school after dropping her off at work. I carefully maneuvered the car around each corner and once it was parked, I walked into the same door my niece went through.

As I watched my niece go into the school, I thought back to old hallways. For some reason, my mind drifted to one particular hallway in which a girl was taking pictures for our senior yearbook. I was on the golf team at the time and I remember her snapping my photo for the golf team. I have no idea why I remember that once instance. I just do.

Another memory flashed through my mind. I was in the gym playing basketball before school started one day. I got the ball on a breakaway and was headed for the hoop when out of the corner of my eye, I saw a taller, faster player from the school's basketball team making up ground quickly. I was sure he was going to block my shot and everybody in the gym was going to whoop it up. I had no idea what I was going to do when I left the ground, but I could see our bodies converging and suddenly I saw an opportunity to duck under the basket and do a reverse lay up, so I took the chance. The ball kissed off the backboard and into the basket. The crowd let out a whoop alright, but not in the fashion I had expected. Instead, they whooped it up for me. Later I realized that the move caught the eye of a girl and I felt about nine and half feet tall when she brought it up.

My mind raced to the tennis courts behind the school. I spent so many hours on those courts attempting to improve my game. I also had a ton of laughs with teammates. I remember one instance during practice, while playing doubles with the best players on the team, I poached and was drilled in the side by the guy returning serve. The ball hit me so hard that it left a bruise. It also landed in fair play on the other side of the net and we won the point. Even though I was writhing on the ground in pain, I couldn't help but laugh. Neither could anybody else.

I recalled homecomings, study halls spent reading sports books, struggling through Algebra class, hanging out with good friends in wood shop, lettering in two sports, exchanging senior pictures, and Purple Rain being played on cassette during the summer. Before I knew it, I was in college. A new phase in my life. Since then I've had many new phases. But it's fun to think about the way things used to be once in a while. And it took me a long time to learn this, but I've also learned not to get stuck in such memories. Or to pine for them. They are what they are and that's good enough.

Monday, September 10, 2007

US Open, Final Thoughts

The players I want to win the US Open tennis tournament never do. Or at least they haven't in a long time. On the men's side, the last time the player I was rooting for actually won was Andy Roddick in 2003. Before that, you'd have to go back to the late 90's when Andre Agassi and Patrick Rafter put a nice string together. On the women's side, you'd have to go back to 1997 when Martina Hingis beat Venus Williams for the title.

This year, I was hoping that James Blake might have a break through and I had hopes that Martina Hingis might find her old form. Neither instance happened. And as you know by now (if you really care), Roger Federer won his fourth US Open in a row and Justine Henin won her second US Open title.

I'm not a huge fan of Federer. I think he's a bit full of himself, but at the same time he has a deep appreciation for the history of the game and I find that to be refreshing. I'm not a big fan of Henin either, especially after what she did at the Australian Open a couple of years ago. But she is the best player in the world on the women's side right now and she's fun to watch. She strikes the ball so cleanly and her backhand is beautiful.

This tournament had so many great matches, mostly on the men's side. The Novak Djokovic vs. Radek Stepanek match in the second round was thrilling. So was the James Blake vs. Fabrice Santoro match that also took place in the second round. The James Blake vs. Tommy Haas fourth round match went to a fifth set tie breaker. What more could you ask for? Even the final between Djokovic and Federer was a good one, even though it was straight sets. Djokovic had Federer on the ropes in the first two sets and he should have won the first one.

I'm always a little bummed on the Monday after the tournament ends. But the year in between tournaments always rolls by quickly. And I should take a little solace in knowing that I can finally get some sleep. Some of those early round matches lasted until nearly 1:00 AM. So, this is the end of the tennis talk for a while. Thanks for allowing me to indulge myself this past two weeks.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Importance of Strategy

One of the many things I love about sports is the importance of strategy, especially for those hoping to win at a high level. Whether the opponent is the guy staring back at you from across the net or the golf course itself, without a set plan of attack, chances are, you are going to lose. You might drift for a while. Hit a few good shots. Enjoy a little success. But without a deliberate plan to attack your opponent's weaknesses while at the same time figuring out a way to play to your strengths, success is going to be fleeting.

Unfortunately, I'm 41 years old, and it's taken me nearly that long to figure all of that out. I've always known that sports involve strategy, but I didn't realize that they were driven by strategy. My time for playing sports on a competitive level has come and gone but thankfully I still get to write about them for various publications. As I do, I get to delve into strategy with athletes and I'm always intrigued by the way each one of them approaches the sport he or she plays. Some watch video tape of their opponents in action--looking for a weakness they can exploit. Some use scouting reports. And some talk to "people in the know" about how to win against a particular opponent.

In my experience, far fewer of us have strategies in place in real life. Most of my life has been lived without a strategy. I've always had dreams, but no real way of seeing them realized--other than some obscure hope that they would happen somehow. It all seems rather bizarre when I look back on it now. And while there's nothing I can do about the past, I can do something about today, and tomorrow, and the next day. So, I've been in evaluation mode for the past several months, thinking about my weaknesses and strengths, and thinking about what I want, and then trying to come up with a strategy for getting there. 

I'm not leaving God out of the equation by any stretch of the imagination. Instead, I see him as the author of ingenuity, strategy, and the intimate details of life. All the more reason to go hard after such things. This newfound attitude has made me hungry for information about strategy. Last night, I listened in awe while watching the US Open, during which Andre Agassi spoke about something he picked up while playing Boris Becker years ago. He said that Becker, who was notorious for sticking out his tongue while serving, would move his tongue in the direction he planned to serve right before he actually hit the serve.

That's how specific I want to be about life. I don't want to live in a generalized haze where actions, no matter how small they may seem to be, seem insignificant. Instead, I want to be continually processing life to see if I'm in the place I want to be.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Road Trip

I'm busy preparing to teach at a writer's conference next month in New Mexico. Usually I fly to the conference, but this year, I decided to rent a car and drive. I may regret the decision, but it's been so long since I've taken a long road trip that I thought it was about time. Well, that, and the prospect of dealing with long delays at airports or being squished into a tiny space in an airplane is losing its appeal. Besides, I do some of my best thinking on road trips. In the past, I've figured out the particulars of relationships, I've made decisions about my career, and I've made personal decisions behind the wheel of a car.

The slow methodical hum of tires gently chewing up an Interstate is like medicine for my mind, and sometimes even my soul. Something about being in motion physically puts my mind in motion and things I haven't been able to work through jar loose and work their way around in my head. I play around with the different scenarios. Some would probably say that I'm overly-analytical and they might be right. I'm not as bad as I used to be, but there does come a time when decisions need to be made.

A year ago at this time, I had the feeling that something big was about to happen in my life. I wasn't sure what it was, or even the nature of it, but I was sure it was going to happen. I don't typically put a lot of clout into subjective feelings, but I did pay more attention to this round of them than I have in the past. To my knowledge, the change never occurred. Maybe I missed an opportunity. Maybe it still exists. And maybe all of this is total nonsense. I don't know.

But that's why I said it was the perfect time for a long drive. Unfortunately I don't leave for another six weeks. But I'm already looking forward to it.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


I was doing a little housecleaning on this blog last night and I realized I hadn't done the drawing for the subscribers list for either June or August. I apologize for that. The giveaway for both months was my CD audio presentation of "So, You Want to Start a Blog?" So, I did the drawing this morning and have picked two email addresses out of a hat. I'll be notifying both winners this morning.

If you’d like a chance to win in the future, then subscribe to Little Nuances by providing your e-mail address in the box in the upper right hand corner of the page. Your e-mail address will never be sold. To be eligible to win, you’ll need to be willing to provide a mailing address if/when your e-mail address is chosen. I won’t ask for a mailing address before then. And just like with your e-mail address, your mailing address will be kept completely private.

If you already subscribe to Little Nuances, then you don’t need to do anything. You are already eligible for the prizes.

Here’s a schedule of planned giveaways for the future:

October 1—The Experience of Christmas
December 1—The Experience of Christmas
February 1—Single Servings
April 1—Single Servings
June 1—So You Want to Start a Blog? (audio CD)
August 1—So You Want to Start a Blog? (audio CD)

Monday, September 03, 2007

US Open Surprise

The mailman rang my doorbell on Saturday, which usually means he has a package for me. Problem was, I didn't order anything, at least that I could remember. Imagine my surprise when I saw that it was a package from the US Open tennis tournament website. I've ordered items from the website in the past, but I didn't order anything this year. I opened the box and here's what I found:

A friend of mine has been reading my obsessive posts about the US Open and was kind enough to have this memento sent to me. Blogs are often credited with bringing strangers together and making them friends. In my case, I think some of already established friends know me better after reader my blog. I don't always have time to tell them what books I'm into or what movies I've been watching. I can't tell you how many friend's asked me about my new bed after reading my post about my waterbed dying.

In like manner, sometimes I discover things about friends and family members from their blogs that I didn't know. A couple of years ago, I read my cousin's husband's blog (they live in Wales) and found out that my aunt, who lives in the same city in the United States as I do, was sick and in the hospital. Keeping everybody informed of everything that's going on is difficult. Having a blog as a central meeting place sort of fills that gap.

That's not to say that sometimes I wish I could blog anonymously, because it would be nice for difficult subjects. But for the most part, I'm happy with things the way they are. And I'm thankful to have such good friends who take the time to read what I have to say.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...