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.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Unrequited Love

On Friday night, I could feel a cold coming on. It hit me full force overnight and by Saturday morning, I had a sore throat and was sneezing repeatedly, which pretty much made it the perfect day to stay home and watch a movie or two. I recorded The Holiday a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been wanting to see it for a couple of years now. Turned out to be an awesome move. [By the way, Amazon.com is selling this DVD for $6.99 right now, so you might want to pick up a copy.]

The plot is about two women, Iris (played by Kate Winslet), and Amanda (played by Cameron Diaz), who decide to swap homes for two weeks during the Christmas season. They are both coming out of relationships, or in Iris’ case—an attempted relationship, and they both just want to get away from their relationship problems for a while. So Iris travels to L.A. and Amanda travels to England.

As I’ve said here before, I don’t really do movie reviews here as much as I do scene reviews. That’s what I want to do this time as well.

Early in this movie, as Iris narrates for the viewer, she is lamenting the fact that the man she has loved for the past three years doesn’t really love her in return. Here’s how she describes how she feels:

“. . . and then there’s another kind of love—the cruelest kind; the one that almost kills its victims. It’s call unrequited love—of that, I am an expert. Most love stories are about people who fall in love with each other, but what about the rest of us? What about our stories—those of us who fall in love alone? We are the victims of the one-sided affair. We are the cursed of the loved ones. We are the unloved ones. The walking wounded. The handicapped without the advantage of a great parking space.”

Iris has a point. I love movies in which love is requited, but you don’t see many movies with unrequited love. Yet, how many of us deal with it on a daily basis? I certainly have in the past. I’d be embarrassed to tell you how many years of my life I’ve spent waiting for one person or another to finally see the light when I should have known that if the light was going to come on, it probably would have happened much sooner.

Of course, that doesn’t mean it always happens quickly. But after somebody you love makes it clear that he or she just isn’t interested, it is so hard to walk away. That is what Iris faces. And she finally makes the right decision. And in it, she finds freedom.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pre-Thanksgiving Day Thoughts

I thumbed through a recent issue of Rolling Stone magazine recently in which they named the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. These types of lists can be so subjective that you have to take them with a grain of salt. And you have to take into account that all of us have different tastes. Elvis Presley is listed as number three of all time. Not sure I agree with that. And Axl Rose is listed ahead of Steve Perry. Seriously?

Have you ever explored Google Trends? I find it fascinating. It lists the 100 most popular searches for any given hour. As I write this, Siri Pinter is the hottest trend. I’ve never heard of her, so I clicked the link on the Google Trends page and it turns out that she is Carson Daly’s girlfriend and apparently she’s expecting a baby. How in world can that be the hottest trend? You can tell I’m getting old.

Speaking of trends, I’ve been noticing a trend in the blogosphere that isn’t all that pleasant. Several of the blogs I enjoy reading every day are receiving nasty comments that seem to be coming out of the blue. We’re not talking about people leaving nasty comments on blogs that are talking about controversial topics. But even if we were, it saddens me that civil discourse isn’t prevailing. But times are tough right now and maybe those who are hurting most don’t have any other avenue to vent. I don’t know. I just wish they would consider how damaging harsh works can be before they hit the “publish comment” button.

I’m looking forward to some time off over the next few days. I have one major deadline that I should hit late this afternoon, then I’m off to pick up the turkey and all the trimmings for my family’s Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. On Friday I’m planning to watch a little football. And on Saturday I’m driving to central Nebraska to spend the weekend with a friend I haven’t seen for a while. I should be rested and ready to go on Monday morning. Not sure if I’ll be posting again before then or not. If I don’t, have a great Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Brenden Foster

I started this blog because I honestly believe that little things add meaning and depth to our lives. Brenden Foster of Bothell, Washington made the case far better than I ever have. Mix in some pure motives, and you have all the makings of a story that will bring you to tears.

Brenden died last Friday of leukemia. He was just 11 years old. But before he died, he had a simple wish. And it had nothing to do with himself, even though he knew he would die in two weeks or less. He wanted to feed a group of homeless people he saw one day as he returned home from one of his visits to the clinic.

He wasn’t able to do it himself, but his selfless attitude inspired 15 volunteers in nearby Seattle to make 200 sandwiches  and take them to the homeless in the downtown area. If the story ended there, it would be enough to move you. But it doesn’t. People from all across the country began hearing about Brenden and tens of thousands of dollars were raised and truckloads of donations flooded into food pantries.

What started as a simple wish turned into a reality on a bigger scale than any 11-year-old boy, or any adult, could ever imagine.

Here’s a link to an article about Brenden on the ABC News website. And here’s a link to a video about his story from ABC News.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Convoy by C.W. McCall

I caught a few minutes of a hilarious television program currently running on CMT called 20 Great Redneck Moments.

One of the moments centers around the success of the song “Convoy” by C.W. McCall. If you are older than 40, then you remember the song. It went to number one in January of 1976 and it featured McCall carrying on a conversation over a CB radio in an almost rap-like fashion. The started a CB craze across the country. One of the guests who was interviewed on the CMT show said that the CB was the redneck’s Internet.

The funny thing is, I totally got into CBs for a while. My dad had one in his work van and I would try to talk to other people on it. First I had to learn the lingo. “Breaker breaker” meant that you were trying to break in on a channel. If you were really cool (or a redneck—it’s all about perspective, isn’t it?), you included the channel number like McCall did, so you’d say, “Breaker breaker 1-9.” Then you’d give your “handle” to identify yourself. Your handle couldn’t include any part of your real name. I was 11 or 12 at the time and since my favorite football team was the Steelers, I became the “Pittsburgh Boy.” Yeah, it was lame, but give me a break. I was a kid. So you’d say, “Breaker breaker 1-9, this here’s the Pittsburgh Boy.” Then you would ask if anybody had their ears on—which simply meant that you were asking if anybody was available to talk. If somebody responded, you’d ask them their twenty (which meant location).

I once reached a kid who referred to himself as the “Cincinnati Kid.” The connection was full of static and we didn’t talk long, but it was nice to make a connection nonetheless. Once in a while I’d hear a female chatting and of course, that caught my attention. Dad wasn’t crazy about that though. He later explained that prostitutes sometimes used CBs to set up their future “engagements.” I don’t think he used that word, but you get the idea.

Dad eventually paid to have a CB radio installed in the house I lived in with my mom and sister (my parents divorced when I was eight). He even had a huge antenna put on our roof so I could get a decent signal. I jabbered on the CB for a couple of years—probably never getting out of it when dad put into it. But, as a shy kid, it was my first attempt to break out of my shell to connect with people. And while it never really led to any real friendships, it always gave me hope.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Experience of Christmas

With Christmas just around the corner, you might be interested in picking up a copy of The Experience of Christmas—a Christmas devotional I wrote with families in mind. The first devotional starts December 1 and the book will take you and your family all the way through the month.

Unfortunately, Amazon.com doesn’t have any copies available right now, but thankfully I do—although my supply is pretty limited (28 copies as of this writing). So, if you’d like one, send me an email along with your name and mailing address and I’ll put a signed copy in the mail to you.

Cost is $6.00 and that includes shipping.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What’s in a Brand Name?

I’ve never really been much of a brand name person, but I can think of a few exceptions. I put up a fuss as a kid when my mom first brought home plain labeled Oreo cookies. What in the world? There really is no substitute for Oreos in my opinion. And when I played on my high school tennis team, I had to have Nike canvas tennis shoes. Oh yeah, and I’ve always used a Head tennis racquet. But after that, I don’t much care about brands.

As evidence of that fact, I went out and bought a new set irons for my golf bag ten years or so ago and the brand name was Backfire. Every time I hit a ball, I half expect one of my irons to make a backfiring noise and even when it doesn’t, my golf game seems destined to backfire after buying a brand name like that. But they serve the purpose I bought them for. They allow me to hack at the ball on the rare occasions I actually play golf.

I own a couple of pair of sweatpants that are made by Starter and a few that are no-name brands. Every time I wear a pair of the Starter pants I wonder who the people at Starter think they are kidding. As if I could be a starter in any type of sporting event. But hey, it’s a nice illusion.

Not long ago, I picked up a new pair of slippers. I am a total slipper person, by the way. I hate going barefooted, and even walking around the house in socks feels like I’m barefooted. And I really don’t like wearing shoes around the house either. They are too formal and often cause my feet to hurt. So slippers it is for me, whenever possible.

Well, I didn’t notice this when I purchased my new slippers, but the brand name on my them is Fireside. That totally invokes an imagine of reading a book while sipping coffee in a rocking chair in some out of the way cabin as snow falls outside and the fire in the fireplace crackles across the room, doesn’t it? I don’t have a cabin or a fireplace or even a rocking chair, but owning these slippers sort of makes me want all of them.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

As You Are

“Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be, because sooner or later, if you are posing, you will forget the pose, and then where are you?” –Fanny Brice (1891-1951), actress, comedian, singer

Ran across this quote the other day and jotted it down because I was struck by the profound truth of it. Hardly anybody would disagree with it, but how many of us really let the world know us as we are?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Desecrated Tennis Courts

One rainy day last week, I ran a few errands during lunch. As I got close to the park I used to play tennis in as a young boy, I decided to stop for a minute and see what condition the courts were in. I’ve blogged about these courts before. Here’s a little of what I said about them in one post:

They were dark green, with a chain link fence disguised as a net. A basketball hoop hung on one of the fences that bordered the courts and often weeds sprouted through the cracks on the courts. One of the courts was set in the side of a hill, so it was surrounded by a cement wall. We preferred that court for some reason. I think it was because the ball made a cool echoing sound every time we struck it.

I should have added, “And at twelve years old, cool matters.”

The last time I stopped by these courts, a sign hung from the fence letting the public know that no guns were allowed on the court.

Yeah, it’s in that type of neighborhood.

The “no guns” sign was no longer there (it was probably stolen), but I was upset by what I ran across: spray-painted vulgarities all over the courts and the rock wall surrounding them. I took photos and planned to post them here, but then I thought it would be ridiculous to give thugs free advertising for their gangs, so I refrained.

I probably should have expected to see the vulgarities and the graffiti. A number of gangs frequent the area of town I live in and seeing graffiti on road signs and the sides of buildings is commonplace. But seeing it on the tennis court I spent so many summer days on really bummed me out.

My mom didn’t think anything about allowing me to play tennis on those courts for hours at a time with one of my friends. My friend's parents didn’t have any concerns either. I wonder how many kids play tennis in that park now? From the looks of things, very few. And I certainly understand why.

Yeah, the era I grew up in was different. But still.

Seeing this makes me want to do something about it--like cleaning up the court and working through an organization to give free tennis lessons to kids there. My time is so limited, but it would be worth the sacrifice.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Loosen Up, Lighten Up Day

I find it ironic that on Loosen Up, Lighten Up Day, I’ll be working ten hours to try to keep pace with a writing project I’m working on that is due on Monday. But that doesn’t mean I can’t loosen up a little while I’m working, does it?

I’m a serious person by nature, but I get into my crazy moods once in a while where I’ll let my once inch high hair down. I have to know you pretty well for that to happen, but if I do watch out.

Years ago, I watched an episode of Alf with a few guy friends. Somebody came into Alf’s room and scared him and he screamed and threw a flashlight in the air. I have no idea why I found that so funny, but I completely lost it. My face turned red as the laughter continued to build. I started to lose my breath, but still the laughter came. Eventually I got it under control, at least for a minute or so, but then I’d start laughing again—almost just as hard.

My friends were starting to get concerned that I wouldn’t be able to drive home, fearing that I might be pulled over for driving under the influence of Alf. Their concerns were probably justified, but I figured out a way to keep it together long enough to get home.

So maybe I should find about twenty minutes in the middle of the day to watch an episode of Alf and then go back to work?

That might loosen me up a little.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

National Reread Old Letters or Magazines Day

This is one of those holidays in which it pays to be a packrat, and I certainly plead guilty to that. I can remember a time in my life during which I never threw a magazine away. I had a shelf in one of my closets that I piled them on. When the piles got too big, I eventually bought magazine holders and I kept adding to my collection. This was before the days of the Internet and online archives. I always had a fear that as soon as I threw a magazine away, I’d need the information.

Eventually, they took over my shelves and I had to make a decision. Do I throw them all away and make room for something else, or do I just pare down? I opted to pare down, getting rid of many of my sports magazines and current event publications. I held on to my Writer’s Digests though, not having any idea how much the market would change over the next twenty years. Much of the information is obsolete now, but I’m sure if I went fishing through my old copies that I’d find some writing inspiration or just some good old fashioned instruction about the craft. Problem is, I don’t think I’ve ever gone through them once they made it to my shelf. So, in recent years, I pitch magazines once I’ve read them.

But I’ll never do that with old cards and letters. I have a huge file folder full of correspondence my dad wrote to me. I’m glad that email didn’t exist back then because I don’t think I would have been as good about saving it. Something about seeing his handwriting on an old sheet of paper moves me.

I just reached into my file and pulled out an old newspaper dated February 24, 1999. In the margin Dad wrote “Lee, Good reading” and he drew two arrows to editorials he wanted me to read. He always loved discussing politics with me, so I guess he figured he’d give me something to read so we’d have something to discuss the next time I saw him. I’m glad he did that.

Next, I pulled a birthday card out of the file. Dad jotted three paragraphs in the card. One of the paragraph reads:

Thanks for taking the kids out while they were there—hope they weren’t too much for you. Time flies doesn’t it son! Hope to see you soon. Dad.

Dad has been gone for over eight years. And when he wrote those words the children of his second wife were kids—at least in his mind. Now they are both adults. One is married and has a child.

You are right Dad. Time does fly. And I’m so thankful that I have your cards and letters to help me re-live a few moments.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Shallow Persons Awareness Week

Admittedly, Shallow Persons Awareness Week is the silliest holiday I’ll be blogging about this week. According to the Blue Mountain e-card website, this is a holiday set aside to “acknowledge and embrace your shallowness.”

If you’ve ever seen an episode of The Tonight Show in which Jay Leno does one of his Jaywalking segments, then you really have to wonder if we aren’t already wallowing in our shallowness.

Here are a few of the questions Leno asked, followed by the answers he got during his October 15 and October 28 segments:

Q: What street is the New York Stock Exchange on?

A: New York Boulevard.

Q: If I gave you an English pound, what would that be?

A: A pound of money.

Q: Whose face is on the one dollar bill?

A: The president.

Q: Whose picture is on the Susan B. Anthony dollar?

A: I have no idea.

Q: How much is the Susan B. Anthony dollar worth?

A: Ten dollars.

Q: What does Bush 43 mean?

A: Is it a drink?

Q: Who was the last president to get inaugurated?

A: Oh, that’s a good question. I don’t know. I don’t know.

Q: What war was John McCain a POW in?

A: The Cold War.

Q: Barack Obama has a slogan, what is it?

A: All the way.

Wow. These answers are stunning. It really makes me wonder if the producers intentionally look for people who clearly don’t have a clue. That has to be the case, doesn’t it? At least, I hope it’s the case. Let’s assume that it is and make this conversation more abstract.

Is ignorance the same as shallowness? One of the definitions of shallow is “lacking depth of intellect, emotion, or knowledge.” But lacking depth in intellect doesn’t necessarily mean a person lacks character, or drive, or compassion.

But what in the world does it say about ourselves when we have a holiday that encourages us to embrace our shallowness?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

National Wild ‘n Crazy Guys Grow Up Day

If you watched Saturday Night Live during the late 70s, then you remember the “Two Wild and Crazy Guys” skit that Steve Martin (who played Georg Festrunk) and Dan Aykroyd (who played Yortuk Festrunk) used to perform.

They played two middle-age brothers from Czechoslovakia who wore tight pants and polyester shirts that were unbuttoned down to their navels. Oh, and of course, they lived in a bachelor pad. You can read a couple of transcripts here and here. They hit on every woman possible; believed they were cool—even though they were far from it; and in general, simply refused to grow up.

Their shtick was funny because it held an element of truth. And I suspect it’s more true today than it was then. If you wonder where I’m going with all of this, then wonder no more. According to this website, today is National Wild ‘n Crazy Guys Grow Up Day. 

I stumbled across an article on the City Journal website recently called “Child-Man in the Promised Land: Today’s single young men hang out in a hormonal limbo between adolescence and adulthood” written by Kay S. Hymowitz. In the article she says this:

Now meet the twenty-first-century you, also 26. You’ve finished college and work in a cubicle in a large Chicago financial-services firm. You live in an apartment with a few single guy friends. In your spare time, you play basketball with your buddies, download the latest indie songs from iTunes, have some fun with the Xbox 360, take a leisurely shower, massage some product into your hair and face—and then it’s off to bars and parties, where you meet, and often bed, girls of widely varied hues and sizes. They come from everywhere: California, Tokyo, Alaska, Australia. Wife? Kids? House? Are you kidding?

No doubt about it, single men are putting off marriage and children much longer than we have in the past and it’s largely because we have little desire for domestic life. Too many responsibilities.

Hymowitz goes on to point out that 48.2 percent of American males between the ages of 18 and 34 spend two hours and forty three minutes per day playing video games—which, as she points out, is thirteen minutes longer than boys who are in the 12 to 17 age range.

As a forty-something year old single male, I hear what Hymowitz is saying and I think her points are completely valid. Does that mean I believe that marriage, children, buying a house, and not playing video games is the mark of a true man? Certainly not always, as evidenced by the men who do all of these things but still put their own needs and desires first, but by and large, it’s a pretty good checklist for adulthood.

So, am I indicting myself and others like me? I can only speak for myself when I saw yes—at least partially. I do believe that some people are supposed to remain single for life, but I also believe those people to be far and few between. I wish I could tell you why I haven’t found a spouse, had children, and bought a house. I don’t know for sure. I do know that I’ve spent a large amount of my life care-giving in one form or another and to be honest, as I look back on it, the time I spent doing so feels right. But I’ve always seen it as seasonal work and I believe the seasons are about to change.

I don’t want to spend a lot of time justifying my actions, or lack thereof. I just want to be honest with you. I don’t know if I’ll marry any time soon, but I know I want to. Maybe that is evidence of growth; maybe it just a simple recognition that one chapter of my life is over and another is about to begin. I don’t know.

But I do know this: I like the idea of having a National Wild n’ Crazy Guys Grow Up Day because it prompted me to think about where I am and where I want to be.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sleep Dangerously Night

So, tonight is Sleep Dangerously Night, which sort of sounds like you better keep one eye open just in case your spouse plans to attack you in the middle of the night, but according to this website, the holiday is “a night to switch sides of the bed with your spouse.”

That’s not nearly as exciting, but I imagine it could be traumatic.

I’m not married, but I do have a certain side of the bed that I always sleep on at home. I sleep on the right side of the bed, rarely even moving to the center, and I sleep on my stomach. I’m used to swinging my right arm off the bed like a floppy noodle as I smack at the snooze button on the alarm clock when it goes off the first time, and the second time, and sometimes the third time before I finally get up.

But I just realized something. When I stay in hotels, I almost always sleep on the left side of the bed. Maybe it’s because most rooms have two beds and I usually choose the one on the right—which means the alarm clock is on the left.

I’ll be in town tonight, so in order for me to sleep dangerously, I’ll need to sleep on the left side of the bed. But how will I turn my alarm clock off? And what will my beloved cat Midnight think if I alter my routine? She’s still recovering from me being gone for so long during my recent work trip.

Okay, I guess I’m not going to sleep dangerously tonight. How about you?

Photo Credit: Andrew Richards

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Obscure Holidays

All week I’m planning to write posts about national holidays that don’t exactly make the official US list of federal holidays. Here’s my plan of attack:

  • Monday is: Sleep Dangerously Night (switching sides of the bed)
  • Tuesday is: National Wild ‘n Crazy Guys Grow Up Day
  • Wednesday: Shallow Persons Awareness Week
  • Thursday is: National Reread Old Letters or Magazines Day
  • Friday is: Loosen Up, Lighten Up Day

Friday, November 07, 2008

Sometimes Happiness Hurts

A few weeks ago, I told you about a novel I've been reading called How to Kill a Rock Star by Tiffanie Debartolo. It's about a woman named Eliza who makes her fiance believe she's having an affair so he'll leave her and go on tour as the opening act for a popular band. He's a budding rock star who wants (almost to the point of need) her to travel with him, but she won't fly because her parents died in a plane crash and she's terrified at the thought of stepping on a plane. So rather than having him cancel the tour and ultimately his chance to hit it big, she turns him loose in sacrificial fashion. I haven't finished the book yet, so I don't know how it turns out, but I was struck by something Eliza said during this process.

One of the ways she copes with life is music, specifically by listening to an artist named Doug Blackman; more specifically by listening to her favorite song by him called "The Day I Became a Ghost." Eliza is a music journalist, so she meets Blackman for an interview early in the book. Later she meets his son, Loring, who falls in love with her. On her birthday, Loring gives her the original sheet of paper (in a frame) that his father used to write the lyrics for "The Day I Became a Ghost" and Eliza begins to cry. When Loring tells her he was only trying to cheer her up, she says, "You did. It's just that, well, sometimes happiness hurts."

Sometimes happiness hurts. These three words seem like they belong together. Happiness comes in brief spurts and it often sneaks up on a person. Pursuing it rarely leads to capturing it and even when it does, it doesn't stick around long. But when happiness sneaks up on a person, especially when it comes from the actions of another person, it can feel so good it hurts. But actually I don't think it's the action itself that touches us so deeply as much as the thought that someone knows us so well that he or she is able to do something for us that strikes at the heart of who we are. Loring knew Eliza so well that he knew how to move her to the depths of happiness.

Sort of makes you want to go out and find a way to give someone you love a moment of happiness today, doesn't it?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Rediscovering Sass Jordan

In 1992, I bought a CD titled Racine by Sass Jordan and I played it dozens of times over the years from start to finish. It was one of those rare CDs that doesn't have a bad song on it.

The first track is a song called "Make You a Believer." It was the single from the CD and it got quite a bit of airplay. I love that song. It has a catchy rock/blues sound to it and it is hard not to sing along with the chorus. The third track is called "You Don't Have to Remind Me,"--a heart-wrenching song about not being able to be with the one person you know you were born to love. The seventh song is called "Goin' Back Again" and it includes these lyrics:

On the east side of St. Laurence Blvd.
There's a whole different world
People talking and laughing at anything
In the summertime whirl
Nobody's asking questions
'Bout who you are and where you've been
Just willing to live and let live
Whatever state you might find yourself in

Who among us doesn't hope to to find such friends?

I still listen to this CD from time to time--well, actually I don't listen to the CD. I listen to Racine on my iPod. I knew Jordan put out another album after Racine, but you know how it is when you find a nearly perfect album. Why ruin it with music that can never live up to the original (even though Racine wasn't Jordan's first album), right? I eventually lost track of her career. Last night I had a desire to listen to Racine again. As I did, I was curious enough to look up Jordan's website and I saw that she has eight CDs out. Wow. Then I learned that she is (or maybe she was) a judge on Canadian Idol (the Canadian version of American Idol).

I browsed through her other CDs and listened to snippets of many of the songs, many of which seemed to contain the same magic that I loved about Racine. One of them really grabbed me. It's from her latest CD called Get What You Give. The song is called "Trouble." Here are a few lines:

The last time I looked back
There was trouble on my trail
There were ghosts and broken hearts
And a beat up Ford for sale
The last time I looked back
Before I closed the door
I saw trouble sitting tight
Now I don’t look back no more

I don't know what I was thinking. I should have never stopped following her career or picking up her CDs. While it's true that none of them will ever be Racine, that's not a good enough reason to miss the experience of some great music.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Nominations, The Election, and Dewey

A few random thoughts for the day:

Nominations: A big thank you goes out to Dr. Bear for nominating Little Nuances in all of the categories I listed yesterday for the 2008 Weblog Awards. No further nominations are necessary. Once a blog is nominated, it will be reviewed and considered as a possible finalist. Finalists will be selected and then voted upon in December. I'll post more info as it becomes available.

Election: I don't get real political here at Little Nuances. I have other venues for that. I don't plan to get real political today either. But the election was held yesterday and it seems odd to not at least mention it. I've been involved in politics for the better part of two decades. I've been without a political home for nearly half that time since both major parties now lean further left that I am.

The one dynamic that always amazes me though is the way people in the losing party seem to be on suicide watch the morning after the election. Don't get me wrong; the people we elect matters. But our Republic has withstood some horrible presidents from the gamut of political parties in her history. It survives because our founders put checks and balances in place. That doesn't mean it'll always survive; hence the importance of elections, but our 232-year track record gives me comfort.

So, to my conservative friends, I say: work within the system to make your voice heard; pray for our new leaders; and come back stronger the next time around. To my liberal friends I say: this is your time. You have all three branches of government and at least two years to turn things around. I wish you well.

Dewey: So, have you seen the non-fiction book called Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World at your local Barnes and Noble or Borders? Who would have thought that a book about a cat would be the third best-selling hardcover non-fiction book on the NY Times bestseller list? But that's where it sits as of this writing.

It's the true story about a cat named Dewey who is rescued by a library director one bitterly cold winter morning in Spencer, Iowa. The director was going through tough times, including; the loss of the family farm, a breast cancer scare, and an alcoholic husband. Dewey, frostbitten feet an all, captured her heart and then the heart of the city.

Dewey lived to be 19 and I'm so glad somebody put his story down on paper. My beloved cat Midnight is approaching her 19th birthday and she certainly has a story to tell as well. It's not as dramatic as Dewey's, but not many are. Pets have a magical way of blending into our routines and into our hearts and in the process they either become part of the family, or in my case, help to fill the void of not being married with children.

I haven't read this book yet, but I bought it over the weekend and I'll be getting to it sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

2008 Weblog Awards

The 2008 Weblog Awards

Over the past two years, Little Nuances has been nominated for several Weblog Awards and has been a finalist in two of them. I'm so thankful to everyone who has been part of it. It's that time of year again. Nominations are currently open and anybody can nominate a blog. If you get a chance over the next couple of weeks, nominate your favorite blogs for the awards. It means a lot to bloggers to know that someone else cares enough about their work to go through the nomination process.

If you'd like to nominate Little Nuances, the blog fits into the following categories:

You'll need to give the blog name, the blog url, and the RSS/Atom feed--as follows:

Little Nuances


Monday, November 03, 2008

High Culture

I read an article in the LA Times over the weekend called High culture meets low culture in a mass-media world written by Scott Timberg. Timberg's article is a good jumping off point for a question I've been thinking about for quite a while: What happens to a society when it becomes so immersed in low culture (or pop culture, such: as reality TV, gossip magazines, sitcoms, pop music, etc.) that it loses its appreciation for high culture (literature, opera, painting, theater, etc.)?

Here's an interesting excerpt from Timberg's article:

I WONDER sometimes if we may have succeeded too well in getting rid of distinctions, though. It's hard for me to avoid a low-grade worry that we're losing our ability to recognize quality itself.

"What we seem to have nowadays is more of a hierarchy of media," said [Pico Iyer, the eminent Japan-and- California-based travel writer], "whereby, for example, dance, classical music, opera, and even theater and books, all of which commanded their own sections in Time magazine only a generation ago, are now regarded as lofty and remote subjects for only a handful of connoisseurs." Those pages, he said, are "given over now to a Britney watch or extended investigations into the new iPhone."

I'm a bundle of contradictions when it comes to high and low culture. I honestly don't understand the obsession with celebrities in our culture, but I am highly interested in the latest technology news. I prefer chick flicks over theater any day, but I enjoy theater when I actually take the time to go. I prefer pop-fiction to literature (in the traditional sense of the word), but I do enjoy literature. Its just harder for me to read.

I imagine that most people are like me--we live somewhere in between high and low culture. I don't think that is a bad thing. But a person who never ventures outside of high culture probably has a hard time relating to the person who lives in low culture. And the person who is immersed in low culture probably has little understanding of, or appreciation for, heritage.

High culture isn't necessarily better than low culture, but the two have distinct objectives. Artists in high culture seek the highest artistic levels with seeming little regard for popularity. Artists in low culture seek mass appeal with seeming little regard for artistic level. Those are generalizations and I'm sure many exceptions exists, but there's a reason the distinction exists.

Timberg asked whether guilt plays a role in shaping our tastes. After interviewing people he concluded that guilt doesn't play a role. People consume what they want to consume without regard for the category of culture it might fit in to. I tend to agree with that, although sometimes I find myself thinking that I should get to the theater more often. I don't think such thoughts are rooted in guilt as much as they are a longing for balance. But I could be wrong.

Photo Credit: Michael Maher


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