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, May 29, 2009

On Mascots

If it’s really possible to be neutral about mascots, then I pretty much have played the part of Switzerland for most of my life regarding them. The traditional part of me who thinks that baseball games ought to be enjoyed for the game itself has always been a little irritated with promotions between innings, but I often find myself enjoying them— especially the mascots. So, there you have it; I’m conflicted, but I have to tell you, I’m drifting away from traditionalism.

The Omaha Royals have a mascot whose name is Casey. He’s a lion, which I’m sure you can tell from the photo (below) that I snapped of him at the game last night. I’ve been in the press box for several games this season and Casey makes his way up there a couple of times per game. He high- fives everybody as he walks by, including me. How can you resist high- fiving a blue, furry paw? And how can you resist a lion who poses for pictures like this?

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a couple of Kansas City Royals games with some friends—one of whom brought his eight-year-old daughter. She was enamored with Slugerrr (another lion mascot). He came over to her at one point and she couldn’t take her eyes off him. I wanted to get a photo of them together but I wasn’t able to.

Here's a photo I snapped of Slugerrr a couple of years ago. Look at the way kids are drawn to him. How cool is that?

I’m thinking that in twenty years, when my friend’s daughter is 28, she won’t remember a single thing about the two games we took her to, but she’ll remember meeting Slugerrr and maybe she and her husband will take their kids to the ballpark as a result and she’ll tell them that story. Slugerrr will still be Slugerrr. He will not have aged one bit. And he’ll probably bring a smile to the faces of her children too.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Running Like the Thunder

A family with a couple of small kids lives next door to my mom. One of the kids is a cute little girl—she’s four years old. She comes to visit my mom often. She just walks into the house and plops down on the couch and then she starts talking. Once she starts talking, it’s hard to get her to stop, Mom tells me.

The other day, she visited my mom and she said something that my mom is still laughing about: “I can run real fast, like the thunder. Wanna see me?” Of course, she meant, “like the lightening,” but the fact that she said thunder instead made it hilarious, and cute as can be.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tennis Utopia

Tennis balls floating in air (studio shot)
A friend of mine tells the story about the day cable television was installed in his house. When would that have been? Maybe 1980 or so? He says that he got off his school bus and ran all the way home because he couldn’t wait to check it out. It opened up a whole new world to him—one that included televised MLB and NBA games. And of course, ESPN. What more could a guy want?

I know exactly how he felt. I had DirecTV installed a few months ago. One of the major reasons for the change was the Tennis Channel. Ever since I heard that it went on the air, I wanted access to it, but my local cable provider wouldn’t add it. So I switched.

As I was watching first round coverage of the French Open a couple of days ago, a little menu popped up on my screen. I clicked it and was stunned by what I saw—DirecTV was offering me the opportunity to choose one of five matches. Each match was being shown on a different station. So, in essence, during major tennis tournaments, there are five tennis channels.

I don’t know many tennis fans, but it made me want to run up to all of them and scream, “Have you seen what DirecTV is offering during the majors? Have you? Well, let me tell you!”

Thursday, May 21, 2009

First Impressions

I dropped the mail on my desk yesterday afternoon and noticed an envelope that had my name and address handwritten on it. No return address. And it had a forty-two cent stamp on it. So, I owe the mailman two cents. Not a big deal if it happened to be a letter from a family member or something I actually wanted to read, but that wasn’t the case.

I opened it and it turned out to be a photocopied form letter from an insurance agent I’ve never heard of who, in short, said this: “I would like the chance to earn your business by offering you an easy way to compare not only our rates, but our quality and service as well.”
Ironic, isn’t it?

I would hardly call a photocopied letter in an envelope deceitfully made to look like a personal letter that doesn’t contain enough postage quality. I sent him an e-mail pointing out the obvious. In his response, he offered to pay the “entire amount” of postage still due to the post office. I think I’m going to send him a response asking him to mail me a check for the “entire” two cents. We’ll see if he puts enough postage on the envelope.

I understand mistakes. I make them all the time. But this was shady to begin with and it irritated me to have to pay part of the postage for a stranger’s deceitfulness. So I had to say my piece.
First impressions really do matter.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Hotel Experience to Remember

Photo: Sarah
Sometimes you just have to laugh.

I traveled to Kansas City with some friends on Saturday to catch a couple of baseball games. We got to our hotel—an Econolodge—and dropped our things off before heading to the stadium. We’ve stayed in that same hotel before. It’s never been one of my favorite places to stay, but it’s cheap and the location works for us, so that’s where we stay.

As we entered the side door to the hotel, it didn’t contain a key card reader. Anybody could just walk into the place. That didn’t make me real happy. One of my friends told me it was like that the last time we were there. I have an awful memory, so I guess I’d forgotten about it.

We visited our respective rooms to drop off our stuff before leaving for the stadium. I made a pit stop in the bathroom and when I flipped the light switch on, the light over the sink flashed on and off like a disco ball on steroids—sort of like the flashing lights you see in fun houses that make you super dizzy. How previous occupants have avoided having a seizure in that bathroom is beyond me.

Before I got out of there, I looked down and the toilet was leaking all over the floor, so I took the lid off and saw that a hose had come unattached. I’m not a handy man in any way, shape, or form, but I re-attached the hose and it seemed to do the trick.

When I turned around, the opposing wall was covered with all sorts of gross stuff. I won’t go into detail. By the time I opened the door I felt like hurling and my head was spinning because of the flashing lights.

Oh how I wanted to avoid the bathroom for the rest of the weekend. Obviously that wasn’t realistic.

The next morning, the toilet was leaking again and I went to take a shower the shower head was so low on the wall that it came up to about the middle of my chest.

At one point in this ordeal, I was pretty sure I was being punked. Except, I’m not famous so there wouldn’t be any reason to punk me.

But there was more.

The television stations on the television guide card didn’t match the stations. There was more gross stuff on the non-bathroom walls. The walls were so thin that my friend could hear someone snoring in the next room. When I went to get a cup of coffee as part of the continental breakfast the next morning, there were more coffee grounds inside my cup than in the filter.

Yeah, I’ll write a bad review of the place when I get a chance. And I probably should have said something to the manager that night. But here’s the deal; he knows he is running a dump; and he knows that people who come there are there because of the price. The place was packed for that reason so I probably couldn’t have changed rooms if I had tried.

But all of this is beside the point.

The point is, while I would never choose such an experience, I’m already looking back on it as one of those times in which you just know that it’ll be something you’ll be laughing about with friends for years to come. All of us will try to remember another detail about the place that the rest of us forgot and the laughing will begin all over again.

Because sometimes, you just have to laugh.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Slugger’s Wife

Netflix is one of the greatest services of our time. Well, that’s a smidge overstated, but to offer nearly every movie in existence at the press of a button for one low monthly price is a cool thing.

But don’t let that fool you.

A couple of weeks ago, The Slugger’s Wife kept popping up as I was perusing new movies to add to my queue. They even gave the movie a 3.7 out of five stars as their “best guess” for me based on the ratings I’ve given to previous movies I’ve rented from them.

Besides, the movie is from the 80s, it’s a chick flick, and it’s about baseball. How could I go wrong?

I watched it last night and it wasn’t good. Not even close. I didn’t mind the fact that it was dated by the music, setting, styles, etc. I actually enjoy a trip back in time. But the plot was awful. Have you ever seen the movie?

It’s about a baseball player who can only perform well on the field when he has the complete attention of his wife. And  he’s one of those guys who demands attention. When he doesn’t get it, he breaks things. So, basically he’s a five-year-old in an adult body.

Hard to watch.

So, I’ve learned my lesson Netflix. I’ll be much more selective in the future when you tempt me to watch I’ve never heard of.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Brand Loyalty

I have an old Blackberry. Not one of the models that look as wide as the state of Nebraska, but also not one of the new models with the roller ball. Mine has the spinner wheel on the side. For techies, I have the 8703e model. And I like it. Yeah, I’d like to have the new Blackberry Curve, but I really do like my 8703e.

It stopped ringing a few days ago, so I took it in yesterday and the Verizon technician/customer service rep messed with it for a while, but couldn’t get it working again. He was able to get me a brand new one (the same model) for a price that was probably cheaper than it would have been to repair it—if that were even possible. I can’t even believe they still have new 8703s in the warehouse, but I should have one by Friday, so I’ll be spinning it’s wheel soon enough.

The technician/customer service rep really impressed me. He examined my phone, said it was in the best condition he’s ever seen for as old as it is, and since he knew I was telling him the truth about my not dropping it in water or doing something else to have caused it to quit ringing, he really went to bat for me. He actually listened to what I had to say about what I wanted and what I was willing to pay and then he reiterated it perfectly to the other workers he spoke to about my phone.

I tend to be loyal to companies—almost to a fault. Partially because I hate the hassle of changing companies and partially because it’s pretty hard to convince me that other companies are going to be better. But when I find a customer service rep like this one, I’m really loyal.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Knowing Where to Start

I started reading A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby over the weekend. Early in the book, one of the characters (a former television talk show host)  is contemplating many of the mistakes he made in his life. He makes this internal observation:

One thing I know from interviewing people on the show is that you can reduce the most enormous topics down to the tiniest parts, as if life were an Airfix model. I’ve heard a religious leader attribute his faith to a faulty catch on a garden shed (he got locked in for a night when he was a kid, and God guided him through the darkness); I’ve heard a hostage describe how he survived because one of his captors was fascinated by the London Zoo family discount card he kept in his wallet. You want to talk about bad things, but it’s the catches on the garden sheds and the London Zoo cards that give you the footholds; without them you wouldn’t know where to start.

So much in life hinges on the little things, doesn’t it?

One of the things I love about that is my belief that God is intimately involved in the minutia of life. And knowing that he is using one small thing or another to bring about his purposes is exciting.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Benefit of the Doubt

Somebody I’ve never met gave me the benefit of the doubt this weekend. She ordered something from me back in March and she never received it. It was an honest mistake on my part—having to do with a link I forgot to change on my website. But how many of us are willing to give the benefit of the doubt anymore?

She looked at the situation, realized what might have happened, and then sent me a polite email to follow up. How willing do you think I was to send her more than she ordered?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Martian Child

I don’t think I realized it until last night, but I’m a huge John Cusack fan. I love how so many of his characters narrate for the audience and how natural and unobtrusive he makes it seem. It feels like a natural extension of who his characters are—people who might talk to any passing stranger about his current angst.

Martian Child is one of those movies. Although, the scene from the movie I really want to talk about has nothing to do with Cusack’s narration. I just thought I’d throw that out there because it was a bit of a revelation for me and I always like to document revelations.

Anyway, have you seen Martian Child?

Here’s the plot from the IMDB: “A science-fiction writer, recently widowed, considers whether to adopt a hyper-imaginative 6-year-old abandoned and socially rejected boy who says he's really from Mars.”

Cusack plays the science-fiction writer. His name is David Gordon. And from the moment he sees 6-year-old Dennis hiding in a box at the orphanage he is drawn to him. He’s even more intrigued by the fact that little Dennis believes he comes from Mars. Gordon sees himself in David because he grew up as a bit of an oddball himself—which he eventually turned into a lucrative career writing about the things that used to get him picked on for believing.

At first David allows Dennis to be who he wants to be—a Martian child. But Dennis’ doctor is paying close attention and begins to think that Dennis is too much for David to handle. So, David convinces Dennis to be a Martian while at home, but a human everywhere else—especially when being questioned by his doctor. As the tension mounts, David begins to wish that Dennis was more like everybody else.

Fast forward to a scene in which David is meeting with his editor to give her the first draft of a book her company commissioned him to write. He gives her a book about something else instead (a book based on his experience with Dennis) and she is furious. In her fury shy asks David, “Why can’t you just be who we want you to be?”

That’s when it hits home for David.

None of us can really be who other people want us to be. And even if we try, we are miserable.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Connie Culp

Connie Culp is brave for so many reasons. If you haven’t already seen this, watch it:

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Under the Weather

“Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.” --Redd Foxx

About once a year, I get knocked off my feet with a nasty cold or a sinus infection. I can always feel it coming on a day before—it’s both a blessing and curse.

On Saturday I went to visit my uncle in the hospital. I sneezed a couple of times while I was there. By the time I got home my nose was running. And by that night, my throat was scratchy. I knew Sunday was going to be ugly. I skipped church, slept in, and woke up with an awful cold. I stayed home all day, skipped a normal family engagement, and just made do. Yesterday wasn’t much better, but by the end of the day, I felt a little better. We’ll see what today brings.

I always dread sickness, but I will say this about it—it causes me to rest, whether I like it or not. And that’s not a bad thing.

Monday, May 04, 2009


I have one of the worst track records ever regarding long term success for television shows I enjoy. As soon as I proclaim my affinity toward them, they are canceled. I’m pretty sure that says something about me. October Road only made it two seasons. Love Monkey was canceled after three episodes.

Surely, it couldn’t get any worse than that, could it?

Of course it could.

Over the weekend I found a show called Quarterlife. It’s about seven artistic-types in their mid-twenties who are trying to find their way. They’re close to one another, and they’re vulnerable, and maybe best of all, they all seem to be trying to improve—even though their chosen course of action is often the long way around.

Oh and they struggle with the age-old question about compromise: How does an artist of any bent find a balance between doing what he or she is commissioned to do versus what he or she wants to do? Just seeing them work their way through that dilemma makes the show worth watching.

One episode opens with Dylan—a 27-year-old associate editor for a woman’s magazine who wants to be a writer of substance but she feels feels trapped into writing about things that things that don’t matter to her—speaking into the camera for her video blog as she wrestles with the subject of compromise:

“So what if I didn’t compromise? What if I just did exactly what I wanted to do? I mean it’s weird because in some ways I think I would be immediately fired, and abandoned and have everybody hate me, but in some ways, I think that would be the perfect way to succeed—what ever succeed means.”

I identify with these characters. I’m sure others would too if they’d seen the show, but NBC took it off the air after one episode because it drew the “worst in-season performance in the 10 p.m. hour by an NBC show in the last 17 years.”

To be fair, the show was intended to be a webcast to be shown in small clips. In fact, every “part” can still be seen online in seven to ten minute clips on the Quarterlife website. It did quite well online before NBC picked it up. Now, best I can tell, the series died after season one and that bums me out because I’m working my way through the series knowing that I won’t get to see a season two.

I’m just hoping I’m not left hanging with incomplete story lines at the end of season one like I was with October Road at the end of season two. Although, I just heard that the producers of October Road shot a 15-minute ending for that series and it’ll be included on the season two DVD release tomorrow. I’m so buying it.

Friday, May 01, 2009

How Many Books Do You Read Each Year?

Last month, 29 of you responded to this poll question I asked: How many books to you read in an average year.

Here are the results of the poll:

1-10 books 11 votes 37%
50+ books 8 votes 27%
21-30 books 4 votes 13%
11-20 books 2 votes 6%
I don’t read books 2 votes 6%
31-40 books 1 vote 3%
41-50 books 1 votes 3%

So, half of those who participated read between one and thirty books each year, which doesn’t surprise me. But 27% of those who participated read fifty or more books a year and that really surprises me. It inspires me too. I guess if you break it down, it averages out to about a book per week, and that seems doable.

I usually read about half that amount. I’d love to read more, but I just don’t make the time. I have so many other interests that divide my attention. Thanks for your participation.


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