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

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Do Cats Write?

So I think my mom's new cat Clani is going to be a writer when she grows up. She loves pens. More specifically, she loves Pilot G2 pens, which also happen to be my favorite pen. (I even blogged about it a couple of years ago.)

I guess it's my fault. While visiting mom a couple of weeks ago I wanted to catch Clani's attention, so I began moving my G2 across the top of a TV tray and she came after it. Later that week, Mom said that Clanci carried off one of her G2 pens and so now she has to either hide her pen or make sure Clanci can't get to it.

The funny thing is, Clanci likes to chase other pens as well, but she definitely prefers G2's. So, I'm wondering if I should pick up a moleskine notebook for her to see if she really is a writer. I know, it sounds ridiculous, but after getting home from visiting Mom again last night, my G2 was missing out of my pocket.

The guys on my bowling team will tell you that I don't take too kindly to people messing with my G2's, so I'm not real happy with Clanci right now. I guess I could have lost the pen, but if I did so at Mom's, I'm pretty sure Clanci found it.

I wonder if Mom will find a huge stash of G2's one day tucked under a sofa or a rug? If she does, I'm going on record right now and saying that one of them is mine.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Metal Detectors

Metal detectors are making a comeback. Or, at least, they are trying to. No, I'm not talking about the contraption that school children have to walk through to get to class these days. I'm talking about those hand-held devices people use to scour the earth in hopes of finding something that somebody lost. I saw a television commercial last night for a metal detector and it gave me a flashback to 1976 and 1977.

My parents divorced a couple of years before that so my dad came to get my sister and I on Saturdays. I was ten at the time. Sometimes we'd go to a skating rink while dad watched from the little cafe next to the rink. Sometimes we'd go to the park and he'd push us on the swings. And sometimes he'd buy a new gadget and we'd spend the entire day playing with it. That's how I first learned about metal detectors.

Dad broke one out one Saturday. He explained how to use it and then he turned it on. Do you remember the noise those things used to make--a high-pitched hum that got even higher when a piece of metal crossed the bottom section? I can still hear it in my mind even though I haven't actually heard one one thirty years.

So, my sister and I took turns looking for "treasure" in the park. We found all sorts of things; a rusty old watch without the band, an old gumball machine ring, a few coins, a few unknowable items, and many many pop tops.

Remember those?

They used to come on top of pop cans and they were shaped like a circle with a tear drop strip of aluminum attached to the bottom that covered the hole you drank out of? You had to peel it off and since it wasn't connected like the pop tops are today, people tended to toss them anywhere, which was probably the reason we found so many of them in the park.

Which brings me to an observation I had as I watched the television commercial. The marketing angle for buying metal detectors has changed. The old marketing angle aimed at greed. "Buy one of these and find treasure!" It worked on this ten year-old boy. But now metal detectors are being marketed to "get you moving" or to "get you out of the house." It never dawned on us all those years ago that we were getting exercise as we roamed the neighborhood park. We were just having fun.

Over the years, my dad bought several metal detectors and they provided for some great entertainment. But the best thing was, we were together, even though it wasn't the best of circumstances.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How to Bowl a 300, or Not

Last night started out like any other Monday night. I showed up for my bowling league and my first game was a disaster. I couldn't figure out how to overcome all the oil on the lanes and I ended up shooting a 128. Not good. My average is just 175, so I don't have hopes of shooting huge scores, but a 128 won't cut it.

The second game started off well. I had four strikes in a row. After the fifth strike, I returned to my table and told my teammates that I wasn't feeling any pressure to keep the string of strikes going because I'm not good enough to bowl a perfect game. Then I threw four more strikes and I headed into the tenth frame with a perfect game intact. I really didn't smash the pocket throughout the game, so I still figured that I didn't have much of a shot at a 300. My first two shots in the tenth frame were light, but somehow they carried and I was just one strike away from a perfect game.

I may not be good enough to throw a 300, but at that point I was thinking that I might be lucky enough to get one more strike to complete a 300. And that's when I got nervous. I didn't linger on the approach though. What was the point? I might as well follow my normal routine--or that's how my thinking went. I let the ball go and it felt good. But it didn't make it back to the pocket in time and I ended up with a seven-count and a 297 game. Quite a few people clapped and one or two people gave me a high-five, which was cool.

You might think that I had it all figured out going into the third game, but the shot changed on me. The oil broke down and all of a sudden my ball was hooking right through the nose. I ended up with a 165 for my last game and a 590 series. I didn't even shoot a 600 series after nearly throwing a perfect game. Nothing like a good taste of humility so quickly after near perfection.

The only thing I was really bummed about was not shooting 600. But I raised my average a couple of pins and that's a good thing. I downed a beer that a teammate bought me as a way to celebrate my 297. And it felt good just to be hanging out with friends on a Monday night. It's hard to beat that no matter what you shoot.

Monday, January 28, 2008


Within a matter of five minutes yesterday I either heard or read the term "bling-bling" twice and both times I wondered what in the world it meant. I've heard it before, but I am hardly the hippest person you'll ever meet. In fact, since I just used the word "hippest," I've pretty much dated myself to the late 70's and early 80's. But that's okay. That's about where I belong.

Anyway, the first time I heard the term "bling-bling" yesterday was in a song called "Desperate for Love" by Over the Rhine. Then I saw it on Suzanne's blog, in this post. Usually I can figure out what terms mean by looking at their context, but context didn't help me in either instance. So, I turned to dictionary.com and here's how they define it: "Jewelry, often gaudy or ostentatious." That didn't help much, so I looked in another dictionary. Here's what it says: "Ostentatious jewelry; more loosely applied to clothing and lifestyle, or a set of modern values that encompass playing hard, looking good and having the best of everything."

Okay, so if I'm understanding this correctly, then people who play hard, look good, and have a lot of stuff are living the bling-bling lifestyle. Yeah, it still doesn't sound right coming out of my mouth. In fact the term sounds like something that might describe an event or a booth at a circus.

"Hey, have you seen Molly?"

"She's over at the bling-bling booth, right behind the big top."


Friday, January 25, 2008


My brother sent me a handwritten letter the other day from Fort Leonardwood, Missouri, where he is stationed for boot camp. He joined the Army recently. I haven't heard from him since he joined so it awesome to get a letter from him and to hear how he's doing. He's not really a letter writer, which makes receiving his letter even more special. I'm already looking forward to writing him back and to receiving his next response.

I woke up at 4:00 this morning and glanced over at the television. Novak Djokovic was up a set on Roger Federer in their semifinal match and Djokovic was about to take the second set. So, I shook the cobwebs from my brain (which takes a while, believe me) and then watched the rest of Djokovic's stunning upset of Federer in straight sets. I was glad to see it. Djokovic seems to be such a likable guy and Federer has won every non-clay court major for far too long. I wouldn't mind seeing Djokovic win the tournament. On the women's side, Ana Ivanovic made it through to the finals against Maria Sharapova and I'll be pulling for Ivanovic this weekend. I'm always bummed when majors are over, but at least I'll get a little sleep once this one is over.

I walked into a Walgreens the other night to pick up a few things--one of which was some Extra Strength Pepcid AC. They didn't have one box on the shelves. Apparently they had a sale and it must have brought out every person in Omaha who has acid reflux. But they had plenty of Regular Strength Pepcid AC on the shelf. If given the choice, who in the world would by regular strength if extra strength is available? Why even make regular strength? Does anybody ever have a mild enough case of heartburn to buy it? And even if you did, wouldn't you just buy extra strength just in case?

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I Don't Want to Waste Your Time

I'm becoming a bigger and bigger fan of Over the Rhine as the years roll by. In fact, I think they've cracked my top ten list of favorite musical artists. Their music and lyrics have a depth that makes me want to get in the car and go for a drive while listening to one of their CD's from start to finish without any interruptions.

One particular song on their most current CD, The Trumpet Child, is called "I Don't Want to Waste Your Time." It's one of those songs that captures a sentiment that all of us have probably felt at one time or another. We want to enjoy certain aspects of life with someone we love, but only if that person has the time, desire, and understanding that we want him or her to stick around and enjoy it with us.

I remember the first time I heard this song. As it progressed, I got it. I understood the message and I started bobbing my head throughout the rest of the song. The other day, I found a live performance of this song on You Tube, and I saw someone in the front row--who was probably already familiar with the song--doing the exact same thing. I love how this person gets into it at about the one minute mark.

For those who are reading this post here on the blog, you can watch the video below. (For those who are reading this post via e-mail, scroll to the top of the -and click the link to Little Nuances if you are interested):

Oh, and tell me if Karin Bergquist's voice doesn't blow you away on this song.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

More on the Australian Open

This year's Australian Open tennis tournament has been the best one I've ever watched. The new surface seems to be a hit. The tournament has produced a number of great matches--including one that saw Janko Tipsarevic push Roger Federer to 10-8 in the fifth set. And I think I have finally found a new favorite tennis player on the women's side: Ana Ivanovic.

Ivanovic appears to be enjoying every second she's on the court. She smiles during difficult moments of the match. She never seems to quit--even when she's down big. And her style of play reminds me of Martina Hingis. Hingis was known for not having a lot of power, but she knew how to set up points and she knew how to play the angles. Ivanovic hits a bigger ball than Hingis did, but not big enough to blow the top players off the court. She hits a rather flat forehand at difficult to reach angles and it gives her opponents all sorts of fits.

I've never really been one who longs for yesteryear when it comes to sports. Each generation produces great athletes and I enjoy watching many of them. But, as I've talked about before, tennis has been a part of my life since I was 12. It's more than just a sport to me. It's part of who I am. A tennis court is one of the places I feel most comfortable in life--which probably sounds a little odd, but I'm just being honest. As a shy kid, I was always looking for a place where I could just feel comfortable and I found it on the tennis court.

To my delight, tennis is going through a transformation right now and I like what I'm seeing. Lots of players on both the men's and women's side of the game have a fiery passion that I love to see. Many of them seem to have a respect for the game and its history. I love that too. And so many of them are donating time and money for good causes because of the platform that tennis has provided for them. They seem to be more aware of real life. That's a gross generalization and probably a bit unfair, but it's just one man's observation.

So, we're headed for the semi-final matches in Australia in the next couple of days and I'll be watching, even though some of them will probably be on at 2:30 AM. For the record, I'll be rooting for Novak Djokovic on the men's side and Ana Ivanovic on the women's side. But I suspect that Roger Federer will win yet another major and based on the way she's playing right now, I can't see anybody beating Maria Sharapova.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Beyond Original Meanings

Last week I wrote a post about gentle contradictions. Another one came to my mind over the weekend.

One of the beautiful things about music and the written word for me has been the ability of an lyricist or writer to write something that has mass appeal while at the same time speaking directly to a specific situation in my own life. It helps somehow.

At the same time, I don't like to see the written word taken out of context. It really bugs me. So much so that in the past year or so I've sort of steered clear of jotting down or even thinking about quotations if I couldn't see their context. I wrote a post about this back in 2006. Here's a link if you are interested.

So, with that contradiction rattling around in my brain for the past year, I started reading Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L'Engle (who died last September). Early in the book, she says this:

"Over the years I have come to recognize that the work [in her case, authoring books] often knows more than I do. And with each book I start, I have hopes that I may be helped to serve it a little more fully."

She continues on the same page:

"When the artist is truly the servant of the work, the work is better than the artist..."

And a paragraph later she says:

"When the work takes over, then the artist is enabled to get out of the way, not to interfere. When the work takes over, then the artist listens."

With the topic of obedience in mind, she says this later in the book in a chapter called "Probable Impossibles":

"Does the work of art have a reality beyond that of the artist's vision, beyond whatever has been set down on canvas, paper, musical notations? If the artist is the servant of the work, if each work of art, great or small, is the result of an annunciation, then it does."

These four statements changed my mind. Well, they didn't change my mind as much as they allowed the gentle contradiction to peacefully co-exist in my mind. And now I'm ready to start being a little more subjective again when it comes to art.

Friday, January 18, 2008


I woke up around 5:00 AM this morning and saw that Andy Roddick was playing Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round of the Australian Open. So that's how I started my day. Kohlschreiber is supposed to be an up and comer, but I've never seen him play before. If this match is any indication of how good he can be, then look out. He hit over 100 winners and beat Roddick 8-6 in the fifth set. Roddick played unbelievably well too, but in the end Kohlschreiber's backhand was too much.

One of the lights burned out in my office a week or so ago and I didn't bother to replace it. I still had one good light--that was good enough; at least that's how my thinking went. But yesterday I had a long way to go on a project that was due and I found myself squinting to see the text in a reference book I was using, so I replaced the burned out light and was amazed at how much it effected my production. It nearly doubled. I guess it actually helps when you can see what you are working on. Duh!

So I've got another idea for a moleskine notebook. Yeah, I already have too many of them going at once as it is. But that's okay. I'm thinking that I might start one to catalog the books I read. It'd take me years to fill up such a notebook, but think about how much fun it would be to go back and read when I'm older? Or how much fun it might be for my niece to read after I'm gone? Okay, maybe it wouldn't be fun for anybody to read, but at least it would be fun to keep.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Marking Time

The way we mark the passage of time says a lot about who we are or at least, where we are in life. If you were a product of the 80's, you might remember a line from a Bon Jovi song that said, "Sometimes you tell the day / By the bottle that you drink." Lately, I tend to tell the day by the deadline that I keep.

I'd rather tell the days by the books that I read, or by the many social outings I've had with friends. But that isn't always realistic. And it certainly hasn't been the case as of late. I can always tell though when I'm getting out of balance. And I'm at that point right now. I haven't finished reading one book yet this year and I'm working on a short one right now. I haven't gone to see one movie. I've had some down time, but not enough.

So, I have two major deadlines to hit by Monday, and then I'm going to take a day off, which isn't something I do very often. I'm going to sleep late, do a little reading, and then do whatever I want to do. Maybe I'll even begin passing time next week by the songs I listen to on my MP3 player.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

2008 Australian Open

Those of you who aren't tennis fans will have to indulge me for the next couple of weeks while I watch the Australian Open tennis tournament. I'm not going to gripe about the night sessions being on at 2:30 AM here in the central U.S. (Australia is 17 hours ahead of us). Instead, I'll tell you that I've moved a small television into my room and placed it right next to my bed so I can watch matches throughout the night.

I woke up a couple of nights ago in time to see Roger Federer annihilating Diego Hartfield. Federer was striking the ball so cleanly that it had to send shivers down the spine of every potential opponent in the draw. There might be one exception though--Fabrice Santoro. I've blogged about this guy before. As I said in one of my posts about him:

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

In fact, he pushed Federer at the 2005 U.S. Open before Federer finally won 7-5, 7-5, 7-6. I'm hoping Santoro plays that well again when he faces Federer in the second round of the 2008 Australian Open. Go Fabrice!

Another second round match I was looking forward to didn't turn out the way I'd hoped. Maria Sharapova crushed Lindsay Davenport. I've always liked Davenport and it's nice to have her back on tour again after a brief flirtation with retirement. She got married and had a baby. Even though she's out of the Australian Open, she's planning to play quite a bit of tennis in 2008 (with the exception of the clay court season--which she's planning to skip) and I'll be rooting for her.

The best match of the tournament so far that I've seen was the first round match up between Jelena Jankovic and Tamira Paszek in which Jankovic won in three sets. The third set game score was 12-10, Jankovic. Both players called trainers to work on various muscles that had been pushed to the brink. I love watching gut-checks and this match had plenty of them. Jankovic bounced back strong in her second round match and took out Edina Gallovits in straight sets.

So, I know that Little Nuances has a few readers who are into tennis. Anybody want to talk a little tennis? If so, comment away.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Turning to Music and Words

Recently, I started reading Madeleine L'Engle's classic book Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art. She starts one section in the book by saying, "We are hurt; we are lonely; and we turn to music or words, and as compensation beyond all price we are given glimpses of the world on the other side of time and space."

We all know this to be true. Some admit it, some don't. But I'm routinely reminded that when people are hurt or lonely, they are looking for words of consolation that can often be found in the arts. Every day people find this blog by googling "substitute people" (which is a term that originated in the movie Elizabethtown and I've written several posts about it) presumably because they feel like a substitute person and they don't want to anymore.

I get that. In fact, it's one of the reasons I watch movies and read books too. I want the full range of life experience that others have lived and I want the truth. I don't want the glossed over version that most of us dish out in real life. I want to hear and read about triumph as well as pain because triumph often means little if it doesn't cost anything.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Gentle Contradictions

For many years, I've seen what I call gentle contradictions in my life. I see them in the lives of others as well. I define gentle contradictions as believing or embracing two or more facts or systems of thought, which upon first glance might appear to be direct contradictions to each other in the truest sense of the word, but if you look a little closer you'll see that they can peacefully co-exist. That's why I use the adjective "gentle."

So what exactly am I talking about?

I am a quiet person who is extremely passionate. I'm idealistic, but see the validity of being pragmatic sometimes. I feel a strong sense of duty toward family while at the same time feeling a strong desire to carve my own niche. I use mostly email for written communication, but I don't find the medium nearly as intimate as letters so I write letters sometimes too. I love moleskine notebooks and I love smart phones/PDA's.

Want some more?

My theology is quite conservative but I'm a staunch supporter of Christian liberties. In fact, I like to read both R.C. Sproul and Anne Lamott. I see value in understanding history, but I haven't spent a lot of time studying it. I'd love to be married, but I'm more content in my singleness than I probably should be for someone who wants to be married. I'm a big guy, but most people would probably consider me to be gentle. On and on it goes.

I think gentle contradictions can be, and often are, beautiful, which in itself seems like a genuine contradiction since most people probably think about contradictions in terms of chaos. I tend to see the gentle tension between the two or more "sides" as the source for the synergy I need to examine and live life more deeply.

What about you? What are your gentle contradictions?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


I have a family situation that I need to deal with right now, so I won't be posting for a few days, but I'll be back soon.

Friday, January 04, 2008


Many thanks to my writing group who brought me more 2008 calendars that I know what to do with. At least I know somebody is reading Little Nuances.

I keep a spreadsheet of all of the books I read each year. I think it's fun to look back to see what I was reading as the years go by. I'm thinking about expanding the spreadsheet a little this year and adding a comment section in which I'd write a paragraph about the book as a way to remember what I liked or didn't like about the book. Does anybody else do this? What are your thoughts?

It may be January, but I'm already thinking about my three favorite sports starting up again soon: tennis, baseball, and NASCAR. Tennis has already started. NASCAR testing at Daytona will begin soon. And baseball won't begin until next month, when pitchers and catchers report. But I'm ready for all three sports.

I didn't get a chance to watch the Orange Bowl last night, and I didn't DVR it, but it sounds like I should have. Kansas won a close one over Virginia Tech and the game had all sorts of trick plays and tense moments. Oh well, a guy can only watch so much television.

I've been following the Iowa Caucus and I was pleasantly surprised to see where my candidate ended up. No, I'm not going to get into that here.

I was bummed to hear the International Tennis Federation say an independent anti-doping tribunal found Martina Hingis guilty of "an offense," which apparently means that when she tested positive for cocaine usage after Wimbledon last year, that it was legit. Hingis has been my favorite female tennis player for quite some time, so this was disappointing news.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

For the Fun of It

I told you yesterday that I'm into a relatively new television show called October Road. One of the things I like about the show is the group of five guys who still get together once a week to have a jam session. Nick, Owen, Ikey, Phil, and Eddie throw a CD in, pick up their tennis rackets, golf clubs (to simulate a bass guitar), drum sticks, and hair brushes and pretend to sing and play as if they were performing for thousands of adoring fans.

None of them have any aspirations of being a rock star though, or really of even playing an instrument. For them, their jam sessions are a release and they are pure fun. I love how unpretentious it all seems. These aren't a bunch of people hoping to become something they'll never be. They are just a bunch of friends enjoying an activity for the mere sake of it.

Up until the last few years, I've had a difficult time doing what these guys do. Whenever I got involved in something, like guitar for example, I always felt like it had to "go" somewhere. I think I missed out on opportunities to enjoy activities just for the sake of doing them. I don't think I was ever over-competitive or anything like that, but for some reason, I always felt like I was wasting my time if I wasn't engaged in something that I planned/hoped to take to "the next level."

But all of that changed when I began playing tennis again for the simple fun of striking a ball just because I can. I'm too old and have too many physical problems to ever really be competitive in tennis again, but I discovered that the game is just as enjoyable, if not more, when you play it simply because you love it. You can laugh when you try a ridiculous shot and miss it. You can smile when your hitting partner hits a miraculous passing shot. And you can feel just as good when you rip a winner down the line as you used to.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

October Road

I'm watching the first season of October Road on DVD and I'm totally into it. The show is about a writer named Nick Garrett who left his home town ten years ago to pursue his dream of writing. He wrote a novel that did quite well, but most of his friend's saw themselves in Nick's novel and they are hurt by it.

Throw in the fact that Nick left his high school girlfriend, Hannah, heartbroken after not returning and the fact that he's into somebody else upon his return after ten years, and you have all the makings of high drama...or low drama if you think a love triangle is overdone. Oh, and Hannah has a ten year old son named Sam. But enough about the show itself, I want to talk about one particular scene that was quite moving.

Hannah's child is in the operating room after wrecking on his bicycle and nearly being hit by a car. Nick and Hannah are waiting for news about Sam when an elderly gentleman they don't know befriends them. He tells them that his wife of 56 years is in bad shape and that the doctors have told him to prepare for the worst. Turns out that the elderly gentleman lost his wife in that hospital six days prior and he tells Nick and Hannah that he just can't imagine walking out the doors without her. In the end, Sam is okay, and Nick walks through the doors with the man in a rather moving scene.

Their ER connection reminded me of the many days and nights I spent in the ER with my grandma about eight years ago. I'd take her in because she had chest pains (her heart was failing) and I'd meet all sorts of people in the ER. Some had minor bumps or bruises. Some had major issues. But in the end, we were all just people who were willing to be honest about our struggles for a while. Sometimes we'd share stories with each other as we waited for news about our loved ones. Sometimes we'd just give each other a knowing look. And it all seemed to help somehow.

It makes me wish that strangers wouldn't wait for such traumatic circumstances in order to connect with each other.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


I've been thinking about the post I wrote yesterday and think I can be a little more specific. Although not a lot more. I'm finding pockets of life that completely satisfy me and I wonder if those aren't the key notes of this season of my life. I have several great friends who I can count on. We spend most weekends together. We laugh. We show up for each other when times are tough. And we "get" each other. A guy could do much worse than having friends like these.

And I'm developing new friendships that I would have never imagined and never really sought. This new group of friends clicks with each other other because we're all sort of in the same position in life right now. Just knowing that other people are going through what you are going through can ease burdens.

And I have another set of friends that goes way back. We've rediscovered each other in recent years and it's so much fun re-living the old days. It brings a deep sense of comfort to know that I've done life with these people. It's like adding context to life. Sure, we've had huge gaps in our communication over the years, but just knowing that a foundation exists means a lot to me.

So, maybe my key note in 2007 was people, which is an odd thing for me to say since I spent so much of my life shying away from people. Or maybe people are the beautiful melody that leads back to the key note. I don't know. But I thought I'd try to explain it to you as best I could knowing that you could probably relate somehow.


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