I believe in discovering fun and pleasurable things wherever I find myself each day and I am told I have a knack for unearthing them. My hope is that by sharing in my pleasures and some of my ways of finding them you will begin to collect all the riches that lie in the moments of your life. They are there. Take them! All our lives should be.....Epic.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Minimal bureaucracy. Maximum effect. Just sleeves rolled up, helping out. One hand reaching out for another. Making a difference.
When you look into it, you will be shocked at how many little kids there are without a home. And without a decent meal. Not to mention parents. The elderly. Sons and daughters. Wives and husbands. Here in what is still the horn of plenty.
That place in your town is called a food bank. This is a day on which several good folks decided to make a difference. The fine blogger of the Easy and Elegant Life [listed at the right margin] has taken it upon himself to make a call for others out here in the blogosphere to stand against hunger. And to make a difference in the most direct and immediate way possible.
Please take a moment today to bring some food to your local Food Bank. Or if you like, click over to http://feedingamerica.org/ and hit the donation button. They will make sure your donation gets put to immediate, direct and good use. As my son would say..."It's just the right thing, Dad."
Thanks to Chris at Easy and Elegant Life for taking this initiative. And thanks in advance to all of you Epics for helping out. Now is the time. Take a hand.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Even looking at it from a satellite is daunting.
Consider then the case of Frank. The main character of the lovely independent film On A Clear Day [Uni Dist. Corp. 2007]. One day Frank finds himself in upper middle-age and laid off from the job he has performed all his adult life. Distant from his wonderful wife Joan (played by double Oscar nominee Brenda Blethyn). Estranged from his son. Unable to rid himself of the distant but vivid memories of his second son's death. A death by drowning. Frank's primary philosophy is that "nothing can be fixed nowadays". And, implicitly, that everything is broken. Frank is nearing the end of the line. With no other options open to him, there is only one thing left for Frank to do. Attempt his dream to swim the English Channel.
On A Clear Day is the story of a very regular man's quest. Which, if successful, will let Frank gather prizes more than worthy of those involved in the pantheon of great quest stories. Self-respect. A relationship with his wife. His son's love. Freedom from guilt for his child's death. Triumph over nothing less than nature itself. Frank attempts to gain all this in the company of a loyal but eccentric group of pals including the ubiquitous (in Glasgow cinema anyway) and talented actor Billy Boyd who constitute his training team.
I stumbled upon this wonderful movie late one night a few weeks ago when I should have already been in bed. I was immediately gathered into the company of the characters and could not leave until the end credits were rolling. I am confident that you will enjoy and perhaps even love this film. As I do. Most of the time, the hero of a true quest realizes that, win or lose, the biggest prize is found in the journey. That is what Frank, and we, ultimately learn. In this time of widespread feeling that "everything is broken", we could all use a dose of Frank's dream. A dose of his grit. And we can learn what Frank learns. That things can indeed be fixed.
On A Clear Day, starring Peter Mullan, Brenda Blethyn, Billy Boyd and Jamie Sives. Directed by Gaby Dillal. See a trailer at http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi3941860121/. And another trailer below...
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
My wife had just been released from the hospital. Had she not been ill, I would have been on a flight to New York that morning.
As my readers may have deduced already I have done plenty of strange things in my life. Mostly by choice. A heart attack tops the surreal event list. When, on your first ever trip to the hospital, they are wheeling you into an operating suite and you have to face the interesting notion that you might be at the end of the line, that counts as surreal. Or perhaps uber-real. At that moment though, I received a priceless gift. The realization that I was very pleased with how my life had gone. Family. Friends. Work. Play. Travel. One thing occurred to me as needing amends. If I get a chance, I'll certainly take care of it. Because it was very poorly done. But that is a secret of my own.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Return readers will know that I have a love-hate relationship with Esquire. My continuing disappointment with the 2009 era magazine is in large part a reflection of the depth of my love for the Esquire of the 1960s and even the 1970s. I grew up as a magazine reader with old copies of Esquire. Through the mid 1970s, I eagerly awaited each copy that would arrive at my parents' home. Later in that decidedly odd decade I watched for my monthly issue to arrive at my college dorm. All the magic of Esquire is gone now that I am apparently beyond the boundary of its age demographic. Now I buy vintage copies on Ebay and pretend they are new. Call me a romantic.
But I love a list. So when I saw in an email recently that Esquire had posted lists of the seventy five albums a man has to have, the seventy-five books he has to read and the seventy-five things he has to do before he dies, I was lured into an immediate examination. Certainly, I thought, this would confirm that deep within the current magazine there was a faintly beating heart of the classic that almost single handedly made American men's publishing noteworthy throughout the world. Certainly, these lists would confirm that a man like me still had something in common with the magazine I had loved so long ago...
I have hundreds of albums of music from many genres. I love music. That in mind, I cannot say how amazed I was at the Esquire list of albums a man "must have" before floating off on the evening tide. Not one by Elvis Presley. I had not even heard of many of the artists. Of the seventy-five albums no doubt selected after hours and days of editorial office debate, I own exactly...four. Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, Sinatra's "In the Wee Small Hours", the Buena Vista Social Club and the Traveling Wilburys, Volume I. An Esquire Man musical batting average of 0.053. The crowning piece of evidence that Esquire has abandoned men of my vintage and interests is that my eleven year old son has two of the albums on this list. His Esquire Man musical batting average is therefore 0.026. Not bad for someone THIRTY EIGHT years younger than I am. If I sneak into his room tonight and lift his copy of Guns N Roses' Appetite for Destruction [an album I really, really like] I will raise my average to the heights of 0.066. Not worth the effort really. No wonder Frank has that lost, sad look on his face on the cover of Wee Small Hours...
He saw the writing on the wall.
Speaking of writing. If I love music, I TRULY love writing. I read a lot. All sorts of things. And I have been known to scribble a bit. In hope of a rebound, I turned expectantly to the Esquire list of seventy-five books a man must read before the clouds close in on him for good. Eight books. EIGHT lousy books. Has my intellectual life been so wasted? So un-Esquireish? Rabbit Run by Updike, For Whom The Bell Tolls, Tropic of Cancer, Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis, Master and Commander by O'Brian, Moby Dick, The Right Stuff by my fellow Washington and Lee alumni Tom Wolfe, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. An Esquire Man batting average of 0.11. I rounded that upward. If you remove the books that someone MADE me read, my average falls to 0.08. Pathetic. I cannot even raise my average by theft in this category. At least I had heard of SOME of the other authors. I felt a literary fog descending upon me. Did I mention that I went to the same school as Tom Wolfe?
Desperate for redemption at this point, I rapidly scanned the list of seventy-five things an Esquire Man MUST do before he shuffles off the mortal coil. Make a perfect omelet. Can do. Recognize the accomplishments of others. One of my fundamental principles. Cultivate a reputation. I've devoted my adult life to it. Learn three or four chords on the guitar and play a song with them. Check. Throw a real party. Done it. Do something that scares you. I did. Once. Overspend. Oh, RATHER. Sing in public. At AJ's in Vegas. With a pianist, not karaoke. Check. Give up your seat. How sad that this should be so rare as to be on the list. Just good manners. Take a vow and keep it. Marriage for twenty-two years. check. Spend time working for tips. Did it. Almost starved. Give a panhandler all your money. Yes. Raise a dog. What? THIS is a "must" to do before I die? Only a dog? Not any other species? Well, all right, check. At least in the experiential category I raised my Esquire Man average to a double digit apogee of 0.17. Still pretty lame.
The conclusions I drew from this exercise were:
1. The people running Esquire are totally disconnected from men like me.
2. I am proud of my musical and literary tastes, and very satisfied with my life experience this far down the road...no matter what they say. And no matter how far down my Esquire Man averages may sink.
Oh happy day!! I just won a new copy of Esquire on Ebay. June 1965. Now THIS looks like a magazine for a man of my tastes...
Forget the grunge/fusion/groaner albums, the mystico-coming of age-in-a-bathtub stories and the "thrill" of living nude for a year at high altitude with a dog you raised yourself. I am going to put on Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" [not on the list], read a chapter of The Great Gatsby [not on the list] and make a perfect cocktail [not on the list]. It is the Wee Small Hours and it is time for a martini...