30 May 2012

I Believe In Miracles

Official Trailer

Les Miserables the musical has finally been filmed and will open in movie theaters in  December.  Many months ago when I heard Hugh Jackman had been cast as Jean Val Jean, I cheered.  After waiting for a quarter of century for one of my favorite musicals to finally come to the screen, it made sense that whatever runs the universe was simply waiting for the perfect person in both acting talent and voice to bring this great show to life on film.  Hugh Jackman is special for a very simple reason:  He makes me believe in miracles, and I'm happy that I am around to see this one while it is happening.

Nature is very generous.  She splashes genetic goodies all over the planet.  You wouldn’t want all those lovely attributes to die out, so there are good looks, beautiful bodies, great voices, and facile brains tossed around here, there, and everywhere in abundance.  She then promptly proceeds to waste the millions and narrow the supply … a tsunami here, an earthquake there ... here a fire, there a famine, poverty, violence, discouragement, family situations filled with thwarted hopes and dreams - all the reasons those talents are never seen or developed … kiss them off so the rest of humanity doesn't take these amazing gifts for granted.

In October of 1968, Mother Nature went nuts.  The grand prize in the genetic sweepstakes of looks, brains, physical grace and natural talents all landed as a single package on one small male infant in Australia.  Now many things could have still gone badly wrong other than dumping all the goodies in one place at the bottom of the earth.  They could have landed where they were frustrated, limited or ignored.  Nope.  This huge birthday present came to rest in a family that was economically secure, emotionally supportive, valued education, and had a strong moral center featuring a strong work ethic, thoughtfulness towards others and responsibility.  There are problems between parents, stresses and frustrations as with any family to be sure but after a great education, this remarkable person is now all set up to become:  The most successful, best looking TV anchor in Sydney singing Karaoke with his mates on Friday night.  OOPS!

Enter stage right:  Fate, Luck, Opportunity, and Hard Work

All this beautiful young man has to do now is meet exactly the right friends, professional people, and woman with exactly the right contacts who all have his best interests at heart.  Then he has to convince them that he has the drive, energy, focus and desire to do all of the training of his skills necessary to become everything they hope he will be.   He has to be so generous of spirit, warm of humor and decent of character that they will continue to support his efforts for years and actually want him to become a superstar even when the professional choices are less than stellar because seeing him happy makes them happy.

Fast forward to 20 years later.  Now mid 40s with a seemingly successful marriage to a lovely lady equally committed to contributing to making the world a better place, two beautiful adopted children, a checkered motion picture career despite the lucrative Wolverine genre series and overwhelming,  award winning but fairly short run successes in the West End and on Broadway,  he now stands on the brink showered with wealth and fame.   His personal life of family and friends looks to be in good order and he is counted among Hollywood's "good guys".   Somehow despite being physically and economically blessed in ridiculous measure, he appears to have grown up to be a good, unselfish man with charitable activities that more than match his professional ones while understanding that despite his years of labor to develop  formidable attributes, no one gets anywhere all by themselves.

Les Miserables may be the big event in his career.  It could well be the one that puts him over that line that separates success from immortality.  The voice, the drama, the history, the contribution of hundreds of people coming to fruition will amass to see if everything we believe him to be will appear on a screen in front of our eyes.

So wait with me as Mother Nature and the Fates all hang in the balance to watch gifts, effort and genius converge.  If all goes well, this is a man who deserves to be remembered by the ages if only because you know he will use his success to make life better for others.  If it doesn't happen, we get to see a good movie with good music plus he is an Aussie.  Pick yourself up, give it a go again, and tell funny stories about it for the next decade.

Still, I love this musical and wish only the best for this man, so I plan to be at a midnight premier to watch it happen because Hugh Jackman makes me believe in miracles.

25 May 2012

Happy Towel Day

Doug Adams has been dead for several years, but he is still ahead of his time.  On this "Towel Day", you might want to take the time to read his article on How to Stop Worrying and Love The Internet.

Grab your Hitchhiker's Guide, towel and babblefish, it's time to celebrate Douglas Adams.

Towel Day is celebrated every May 25 as a tribute by fans of the late author Douglas Adams. On this day, fans carry a towel with them to demonstrate their love for the books and the author. The commemoration was first held in 2001, two weeks after Adams' death on May 11, 2001.
A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. ... For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitchhiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, washcloth, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet-weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

---- Douglas Adams, Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy

If you have never read the many works of Douglas Adams, do not make the mistake of thinking of him as "just" a science fiction writer or "just" a humorist or "just" a commentator on all that surrounded him and attracted his attention. He was quite simply one of the most original thinkers to bless the planet while giving you a truly big laugh.
A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.

We have normality. I repeat, we have normality. Anything you still can't cope with is therefore your own problem.

Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.

Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the drug store, but that's just peanuts to space.

Reality is frequently inaccurate.

He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher... or, as his wife would have it, an idiot.

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.

I'm spending a year dead for tax reasons.

If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands.

If somebody thinks they're a hedgehog, presumably you just give 'em a mirror and a few pictures of hedgehogs and tell them to sort it out for themselves.

It is a rare mind indeed that can render the hitherto non-existent blindingly obvious. The cry 'I could have thought of that' is a very popular and misleading one, for the fact is that they didn't.

The impossible often has a kind of integrity which the merely improbable lacks.

The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at and repair.

There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.There is another theory which states that this has already happened.

This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.

To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.

You live and learn. At any rate, you live.


So long and thanks for all the fish
So sad that it should come to this
We tried to warn you all but oh dear

You may not share our intellect
Which might explain your disrespect
For all the natural wonders that
grow around you

So long, so long and thanks
for all the fish

The world's about to be destroyed
There's no point getting all annoyed
Lie back and let the planet dissolve
Around you

Despite those nets of tuna fleets
We thought that most of you were sweet
Especially tiny tots and your
pregnant women

So long, so long, so long, so long, so long
So long, so long, so long, so long, so long

So long, so long and thanks
for all the fish

If I had just one last wish
I would like a tasty fish
If we could just change one thing
We would all have learned to sing

Come one and all
Man and mammal
Side by side 
In life's great gene pool

So long, so long, so long, so long, so long
So long, so long, so long, so long, so long

So long, so long and thanks
for all the fish

14 May 2012

Catch Of A Life Time

Another great story from Philosophy Works

There was once an 11 year old who went fishing every chance he got from the dock at his family's cabin on an island in the middle of a New Hampshire lake. On the day before bass season opened, he and his father were fishing early in the evening, catching sunfish and perch with worms. Then he tied on a small silver lure and practiced casting. The lure struck the water and caused colored ripples in the sunset, then silver ripples as the moon rose over the lake.

When his pole doubled over, he knew something huge was on the other end. His father watched with admiration as the boy skillfully worked the fish alongside the dock. Finally he very gingerly lifted the exhausted fish from the water. It was the largest one he had ever seen, but it was a bass.

The boy and his father looked at the handsome fish, gills playing back and forth in the moonlight. The father lit a match and looked at his watch. It was 10 p.m. - two hours before the season opened. He looked at the fish, then at the boy. "You'll have to put it back, son," he said. "Dad!" cried the boy. "There will be other fish," said his father. "Not as big as this one," cried the boy. He looked around the lake. No other fishermen or boats were anywhere around in the moonlight. He looked again at his father.

Even though no one had seen them, nor could anyone ever know what time he caught the fish, the boy could tell by the clarity of his father's voice that the decision was not negotiable. He slowly worked the hook out of the lip of the huge bass, and lowered it into the black water.

The creature swished its powerful body and disappeared. The boy suspected that he would never again see such a great fish.

That was 34 years ago. Today the boy is a successful architect in New York City. His father's cabin is still there on the lake. He takes his own son and daughters fishing from the same dock.

He was right. He has never again caught such a magnificent fish as the one he landed that night long ago. But he does see that same fish again and again every time he comes up against a question of ethics. For, as his father taught him, ethics are simple matters of right and wrong. It is only the practice of ethics that is difficult.

Do we do right when no one is looking? Do we refuse to cut corners to get the design in on time? Or refuse to trade stocks based on information that we know we aren't supposed to have? We would if we were taught to put the fish back when we were young. For we would have learned the truth. The decision to do right lives fresh and fragrant in our memory. It is a story we will proudly tell our friends and grandchildren. Not about how we had a chance to beat the system and took it, but about how we did the right thing and were forever strengthened.

Author Unknown

An opportunity to Pause and remember your Real Nature Brought to you by The School of Practical Philosophy. . www.philosophyworks.org 212-744-0764

07 May 2012

The Woman He Wanted

This week's Take This Tune is based on Lyle Lovett's "If I Were The Man You Wanted" with lyrics to indicate how much one might be willing to change in order to keep love or what would you do for love.  Travis of Trav's Thoughts told a lovely story about the earliest days in his courtship of his wife and what he did to gain the love of his life.  Mine is a story about what I was unwilling to do.

When my now ex husband and I met we both came from dysfunctional families of vastly different types.  He was the oldest of a melded family with five children and a virago of a mother.  Mine was as an only, constantly moved about child whose mother had died only a few months before.  At 17 and 19, these two somewhat damaged creatures were a little too busy with hormones to notice they were completely incompatible.  Two children and the mores of the times kept them together for ten years during which they honestly tried to change themselves or to change each other into lovable partners.  As the song says, "If I were the woman you wanted, I wouldn't be the woman I am."  So what we did for love was an act of mercy:  We quit.

As a result after a few more efforts, he found a beautiful lady to whom he has been happily married for 20 years, made his peace with his children, and enters old age a happy man.  I went on to find a beautiful man who actually understood me (a not easy task) and despite his death a deep understanding of the things that created me and a contented life.

So what have you done for love?  Head on over to Take This Tune and tell me a story.