The 30 Day Film Challenge – Part 2

“Film is one of three universal languages, along with mathematics & music.” – Frank Capra

 

 

My original intention was to post this a few days ago, but stuff happens…like having a big chunk of what I wrote disappear because evidently I forgot to save my work. When something like that happens I can become quite emo, and to be honest I just lost my desire to write for a few days. Anyway, I’m feeling a little better about life in general now, so let’s finish this thing up and move on to the next gig. If you have not perused Part 1 please do so, and as always I really would enjoy some feedback.

 

 

 

 

 

16     A film that is personal to you…

We Are Marshall

I graduated from Marshall University in Huntington, WV in the mid-1990s, and the tragic 1970 plane crash that killed the entire football team, coaching staff, and a number of parents & boosters is a tale well known to anyone who has ever lived or attended school there. A couple of years after the crash a beautiful fountain on the student center plaza was dedicated in memory of the 75 lives lost, and during my four+ years at MU I passed by that fountain every single day. Anyway, 2006’s We Are Marshall, though an imperfect film, does an admirable job of depicting the event & its aftermath, with the haunting performance of Matthew Fox (Party of Five, Lost) as assistant coach Red Dawson deserving kudos. If you dig We Are Marshall I would highly recommend a 2000 documentary called Ashes to Glory, which is a more factual and much more emotional rendition of the story.

 

 

 

17     Favorite film sequel…

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

I really had to think long & hard about this one. Rarely do sequels even approach the greatness of the original. And what about trilogies & series?? Do I prefer the second, third, or fourth movie?? I generally think of such things as one entity and don’t go so far as to break down each film, although there are exceptions. Having said all of that, and while I still think the original 1983 National Lampoon’s Vacation is the best of the series, the particular niche that Christmas Vacation has carved out in the pop culture landscape is undeniable. Three decades after its theatrical run it is shown on television dozens of times each holiday season…and we still watch.

 

 

 

18     A film that stars your favorite actor/actress…

Joe Versus the Volcano and The Glenn Miller Story

First, I had to decide between Jimmy Stewart & Tom Hanks, but I’m taking the easy way out and not making that choice, Secondly, I have shown love to other films by both men already, so what I have chosen to do is give a shout out to two of their lesser known films. Glenn Miller was a real life big band leader in the 1930’s & 40’s and the composer of hits like Moonlight Serenade, Little Brown Jug, & In the Mood. While flying from a gig in the United Kingdom to Paris in December 1944 Miller’s plane disappeared over the English Channel. He was only 40 years old. James Stewart just so happened to be a Glenn Miller doppelganger, so when a biopic was produced in 1954 he was the ideal choice for the part. If you like Stewart or Miller you’ll love both after watching this movie, and you just might become a fan of big band music, as I did. Joe Versus the Volcano isn’t as well-regarded as other Hanks/Meg Ryan films, but I encourage everyone to give it a whirl. It’s a bit of a slog at the beginning, but if you can make it past those gloomy first few minutes what you’ll find is a story that contains a lot of symbolism and has much to say about life.

 

 

 

19     A film made by your favorite director…

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

I don’t generally have any director specific loyalties…I judge a film based on what I see on the screen, regardless of who is in front of or behind the camera. However, I am an 80’s kid, and that means I’ve seen just about everything that John Hughes wrote, produced, and/or directed. Christmas is usually the main focus of holiday entertainment, as it should be, but there is one really great film that focuses on Thanksgiving. It is the perfect mix of comedy & sentimentality, which is right in my wheelhouse. I wish Steve Martin & John Candy would’ve made more movies together, but then again I’m not sure there’s any way they could have topped their inaugural effort.

 

 

 

20     A film that changed your life…

It’s A Wonderful Life

I don’t remember when or why I watched IAWL for the first time, but during my childhood it was on television countless times on numerous channels at all hours so there were no shortage of opportunities to see it. The idea of a small town guy with big dreams who never quite escapes to fulfill them spoke to me from an early age, and at this point I suppose I’m sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. IAWL was actually marketed as a romantic comedy, but has become a Christmas classic. To say it changed my life may be a tad dramatic because I’m not one to assign such power to a movie, but it does mean a lot to me and has become an important part of my holiday tradition.

 

 

 

21     A film that you dozed off in…

Monty Python & The Holy Grail

I’m probably going to catch some flack, but I have to be honest. There was a little video store down the street from my college dorm, and I decided to rent this movie that I’d heard so much about but never seen. Obviously it was a less than thrilling experience. I just don’t enjoy British humor.

 

 

 

22     A film that made you angry…

The Big Wedding

When a movie stars Robin Williams & Robert DeNiro I don’t think it is out of line to have high expectations. Sadly, not only does this movie fall short, it is undoubtedly one of the worst I’ve ever seen. I have never left a theater before a film is over, but I came pretty close with this one. DeNiro continues to trash his legendary legacy, while the late great Williams made a string of forgettable flops in the decade before his untimely demise.

 

 

 

23     A film made by a director who is dead…

Rear Window

Again, I’m not married to any particular directors, as in I adore every movie they’ve ever made. On top of that I’m not really a Hitchcock kind of guy. However, he did make a few films I’ve enjoyed, and his work with my man Jimmy Stewart is quite good. Rear Window is interesting in that it is essentially shot from one perspective, that of main character Jeff Jefferies, a professional photographer sidelined with a broken leg. Jeff lives in a courtyard apartment and becomes kind of a voyeur, intently watching neighbors that he doesn’t really know and making up stories about them that may or may not be true. When he decides that one of those neighbors might have murdered his wife things become really interesting. Rear Window wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture, which, in hindsight, seems like a real crime.

 

 

 

24     A film you wish you saw in theaters…

Apollo 13 and Titanic

I pondered & debated with myself, but I just can’t choose. History shows that Apollo 13 was released in June 1995, which wasn’t a good time in my life, so I’m not surprised I didn’t make it to the local cineplex for a flick. However, I have seen it countless times in the ensuing years and count it among the best movies ever made. I cannot recall a specific reason why I didn’t head to the theater to watch Titanic, although I’m not one for massive crowds so perhaps that scared me off. But by now I have watched it numerous times. I have always opined that some movies really should be seen on the big screen, and with a gigantic ship sinking into the ocean & a huge rocket being launched into space I can only assume these would have been really cool films to see in a theater. Alas, I suppose my 55 inch smart TV will have to suffice.

 

 

 

25     A film you like that is not set in the current era…

The Godfather

I cannot believe we have made it this far without mentioning what I consider to be the best film ever produced. It is nearly flawless. Thankfully, since it is set in the 1940s & 50s The Godfather fits this category perfectly.

 

 

 

26     A film you like that is adapted from somewhere…

Forrest Gump

I have never read Winston Groom’s 1986 novel, and am inclined never to do so. It is my understanding that the film differs vastly from its source material, and since I think it’s a damn fine movie I’m not going to ruin it by reading the book. I am usually in the camp that believes that the book is almost always better than the movie, but there are exceptions and I’m just going to mark Forrest Gump as one of them.

 

 

 

27     A film that is visually striking to you…

Batman & Robin

I believe I have previously described Batman & Robin as “aurally & visually obnoxious…an assault on the senses”, and I stand by that assessment. However, there is no denying that it is visually striking, and in hindsight it is far from the worst movie ever made.

 

 

 

28     A film that made you feel uncomfortable…

Very Bad Things

Oh wow…let me tell you something folks…if you’ve never seen Very Bad Things you really should. It’s something everyone needs to experience just once. I say that because it’s not the kind of film for which repeat viewings are a thing. Once is enough, and it’ll be something you will remember…for better or worse…for the rest of your life. It seems like a harmless enough concept…a group of buddies go to Vegas for a bachelor party. And with an all-star cast including Jon Favreau, Daniel Stern, Jeremy Piven, Christian Slater, Cameron Diaz, & Jeanne Tripplehorn one would assume it to be a fairly mundane, mainstream cliché…but that hypothesis is way wrong. As a matter of fact everything about this movie is so wrong, but in the kind of way that one cannot avoid staring at in complete fascination.

 

 

 

29     A film that makes you want to fall in love…

When Harry Met Sally

I freely admit it…I am comfortable enough with my smoldering machismo to proclaim my affection for rom coms, and in the early 90s America’s Sweetheart was Meg Ryan. She made three awesome romantic comedies (Joe Versus the Volcano, Sleepless in Seattle, & You’ve Got Mail) with Tom Hanks, who is the prototypical leading man for such films. However, I think When Harry Met Sally is probably the best of the genre. Billy Crystal is 14 years older than Ryan and early scenes depicting him as a recent college grad stretch the limits of credibility (he was 41 years old at the time), but the movie is funny, heartwarming, & a joy to watch. Near the end Crystal’s character says “when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible”, and I would love to find that person and begin the rest of my life.

 

 

 

30     A film with your favorite ending…

Field of Dreams

I have opined on multiple occasions that “anyone who doesn’t shed a tear during the last 10 minutes of Field of Dreams doesn’t have a heart”. You see, it is so much more than a “sports movie”. It isn’t really about baseball at all. Field of Dreams is about regret & redemption, and the film’s conclusion packs an unexpected emotional punch, one that resonates even deeper three decades later than it did originally.

Sports Films: The 25 Best (IMHO) – The Top Ten

film-crewOne thing that almost all great sports films have in common is an intense final act. The concluding installment of this venture might not be all that dramatic, but hopefully it’s a good read. If you haven’t done so already please catch up by checking out Part 1 and Part 2. After all, a good ending is meaningless without the enjoyment of the preceding crescendo.

 

 

 

 

10 We Are Marshall
I fully admit my extreme prejudice in overrating this film. I am a proud alumnus of Marshall muUniversity, and the 1970 plane crash that killed the entire football team is a deeply emotional event for anyone who has ever attended Marshall and lived in Huntington, WV. There is a wonderful 2000 documentary called Ashes to Glory that tells the story of the plane crash & its aftermath best, but We Are Marshall is a pretty good fictional account that has grown on me thru repeat viewings. Matthew McConaughey’s performance as head coach Jack Lengyel is somewhat quirky, but not too distracting. Englishman Ian McShane is grossly miscast as a West Virginia steel worker, but again it’s no big deal. Matthew Fox’s heartbreaking portrayal of assistant coach Red Dawson is superb and perhaps should have received an Oscar nomination. It is difficult for me to gauge how this movie is viewed by the general public because of my personal connection, but I think it is deserving of a spot in this particular cinematic potpourri.

 

 

9 Happy Gilmore
For many people of a certain generation it is Happy Gilmore, not Caddyshack, that is the golf happycomedy of record. This is Adam Sandler in his goofy mid-90’s prime. It isn’t going to win any awards or garner critical acclaim, but it’s a really fun way to spend a couple of hours vegging on the couch. Happy is a hockey player wannabe with anger issues who must find a way to raise money to pay his grandmother’s back taxes so she won’t lose her house. Enter Carl Weathers as the clichéd mentor/guru, a golf pro with a hilarious wooden hand after an unfortunate run-in with an alligator. Happy ends up on the pro tour challenging top dog Shooter McGavin (a fantastic name), with the two ending up in a climactic battle on the course. Along the way Happy romances a pretty girl, gets into a hysterical fistfight with Bob Barker, & becomes the talk of the golf world due to his unconventional style. If you’ve seen Happy Gilmore once I’m willing to bet you’ve watched it dozens of times.

 

 

8 Major League
What would happen if the Bad News Bears were adults and played on a MLB team?? That’s Major-Leaguepretty much the idea of this movie. The Cleveland Indians haven’t won a World Series since Harry Truman was President, and at the time Major League was in theaters in 1989 hadn’t even won a league pennant since the 1950’s. They are perfect fodder for a loveable loser story. The setup here is that the owner has died and his bimbo widow has inherited the club. She devises a scheme to sabotage attendance so the team can be relocated to sunny Miami. The devious plot involves putting together a hilariously ragtag motley crew, including a pitcher who just got out of prison and is as likely to reach the bleachers as the strike zone with his fastball, an outfielder who practices voodoo, a speedy center fielder that couldn’t hit water with a baseball bat if he was sitting in a boat, & a bunch of old, washed up veterans with personality conflicts. Of course we know how it ends, but the journey is engaging and the characters are unique & funny, so the sports movie clichés aren’t at all bothersome. It is interesting to note that the film climaxes (spoiler alert) with the Indians winning a one game tiebreaker to capture the division and get into the playoffs. We learn in 1994’s Major League II that they lost the ALCS. In that inferior sequel Cleveland wins the ALCS but we still never see them in the World Series.

 

 

7 The Karate Kid
I’ve written on previous occasions about time capsules. If one were to open an 80’s time kkcapsule full of movies I suspect that The Karate Kid would be among the treasured loot, alongside The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the Back to the Future trilogy, & two of the first three Star Wars films (the original came out in 1977). Kid stars Ralph Macchio as a high school student (Macchio was 47 years old at the time) who has relocated from New Jersey to Los Angeles and is being bullied in his new school. He turns to martial arts for assistance, with guidance from a sagacious old Japanese building super. Kid paints inside the lines of the sports movie blueprint, but the characters are so interesting and the martial arts setting is different enough from the usual football/baseball/basketball scenario that this film has become an indisputable modern classic. There were a few tepid sequels, but none can hold a candle to the original. Oh, by the way, I was just kidding…Macchio was only 23 when he played Daniel Laruso. He is now 53 years old.

 

 

6 All the Right Moves
Am I crazy or does this movie fly way under the radar?? Tom Cruise is a megastar who has made a plethora of notable films, some that are popular with the masses and others that are critical darlings. One must give Cruise credit for being a versatile performer even if it seems like he might be kind of an out-of-touch crackpot diva in real life. ATRM was one of Cruise’s earliest efforts, released in 1983 (the same year as Risky Business). It is the quintessential high school football movie. Cruise is a talented player whose goal is to use his skills to score a movescollege scholarship and escape his dreary Pennsylvania hometown, rising above a dead end life in the steel mills. Being trapped in a small town and yearning for something more is hardly an original plot, but it works really well in a sports movie because it rings so true. Many athletes that fans watch on TV almost daily come from working class families in economically challenged neighborhoods. What we view as a fun way to relax on the weekend is, for a lot of young men, their ticket to a better life. ATRM captures the essence of that struggle really well, and portrays just how important a game can be to a town that has nothing else to look forward to. Craig T. Nelson is well known for his role in the 90’s sitcom Coach, but here he plays an entirely different kind of coach, the type of guy who is way too intense and has just a bit too much power. ATRM holds up really well after three decades and provides much food for thought while also being quite entertaining.

 

 

5 Tin Cup
My father loved to play golf until he got older and his knees went bad. Once he gets them replaced I am hopeful he can get back out on the course and knock a few balls around with my eldest nephew, who has inherited Dad’s fondness for the game. At any rate, even though I am physically unable to play I too love golf. Many people find it kind of boring on TV, but I have spent many a Sunday afternoon watching the entertaining final round of a tournament. There aren’t a lot of golf-centric movies, but a couple stand out amongst the crowd, including this 1996 Kevin Costner rom-com in which he simultaneously romances a shrink while also trying to qualify for the U.S. Open. He’s a failed professional golfer who now owns a rundown tin-cup-560driving range, lives in a camper, & drinks a lot. He’s kind of given up and just doesn’t give a damn. What motivates him to get his act together?? A woman of course. Don Johnson is great as a smooth talking pro golfer. I mean he’s no Shooter McGavin, but there’s got to be a bad guy, right?? And of course there is a faithful sidekick played by one half of Cheech & Chong. I believe it is Cheech. Anyway, like a few other flicks you’ve read about here the plot leans a lot more toward romantic comedy than sports, but there is an appropriate amount of golf action, including the requisite climactic showdown. This one has a fantastic twist. Anyone who’s ever watched Tin Cup knows what I mean and I won’t spoil it. The combination of Costner’s charm, a solid supporting cast, a well written script, & the always reliable sports movie playbook make this one that is likely to stand the test of time.

 

 

4 Hoosiers
Youngsters in The Manoverse may not be familiar with Gene Hackman, an award winning actor whose career peaked in the 70’s with classics like The French Connection, The Conversation, The Poseidon Adventure, & Superman. However, since then he has had a few notable crusty old man roles in films like Mississippi Burning, Unforgiven, The Firm, & Hoosiers…one of the greatest sports movies of all time. Here Hackman is a disgraced former college basketball coach who lost his job after hitting a player. He’s given a second chance by an old friend, a high school principal in Indiana. Most sports fans know how significant basketball is there, and the small town of Hickory is no exception. It’s the kind of dead end hoosierstown where folks toil too hard for too little and don’t have much hope for a better future. You know…like we’ve seen in a hundred other sports films. But my philosophy has always been that things become formulaic because the formula seems to work. The townsfolk don’t understand the new coach’s ways and aren’t shy about offering input. The team…like all great underdogs…is outmatched & undermanned, but somehow they pull together and win. The wildcard is an enigmatic lad named Jimmy Chitwood, a basketball prodigy who doesn’t know whether he wants to play basketball. Of course he does play, and he hits the last second winning shot that we all know is coming. Sports films are usually David vs. Goliath. David almost always wins. That is the accepted norm. What separates the wheat from the chaff is the quality of the writing and the performances. Hackman adds necessary gravitas to Hoosiers. The 1950’s setting is quaint & nostalgic. A solid supporting cast doesn’t hurt. It’s the total package, and that’s why we love it.

 

 

3 Bull Durham
Stop…collaborate & listen…Costner is back with another edition. Okay okay…I’m sorry…I just couldn’t resist. Anyway, as Forrest Gump might say, Kevin Costner and sports films go together like peas & carrots. Here he plays a veteran catcher who has spent most of his time in baseball meandering in the minor leagues. His career is nearing its conclusion, but instead of getting one last cup of coffee in The Show he’s sent down a couple of rungs on the ladder to the lowest of the minors to mentor a young pitcher whose arm is superb but isn’t mentally or emotionally mature enough to be taken seriously. Hilarity ensues. And yes, there is a bdrom-com element, with Susan Sarandon as a philosophical baseball groupie who tries to have her cake & eat it too with the older catcher & the younger pitcher. Bull Durham is a really fun look inside the world of minor league baseball, where the players aren’t making a bazillion dollars, there’s very little if any TV coverage, and there aren’t any perks like first class flights or luxury hotel rooms. The script is sharply written and Tim Robbins, in one of his earliest roles, is hysterical as the goofy pitcher. I had an opportunity a few years ago, while hanging out with my friend The Owl in Columbus, OH, to see a game involving the real Durham Bulls, and scenes from this movie kept flashing thru my mind. It holds up really well after nearly three decades, and I suspect that’ll continue to be the case for many years.

 

 

2 Field of Dreams
Back to back Costner!! The dude has three films in the Top 5. That’s amazing!! And it’s not like I’m a hardcore Kevin Costner fan. Outside of the plethora of sports films he’s starred in there are a lot of snoozers like Waterworld and The Postman. But sometimes one finds their niche and it’s just a perfect fit. I heaped about as much praise as possible on Field of Dreams a few years ago when I named it 3rd amongst my 100 Favorite Movies, and one of the things I said was that calling it a sports film is an “epic oversimplification”. It is much more than that. I even stated that Field of Dreams “is not about baseball”. I stand by that declaration. However, FieldofDreams_1636642cin hindsight I realize that most sports films aren’t only about whatever sport they feature. Sports themselves are about more than winning or losing a game. Due to my disability I was never able to play competitive sports which is unfortunate because I believe that many valuable lessons can be learned thru involvement with such activities. Teamwork. Responsibility. The importance of following rules. Dedication. Focus. Work ethic. Respect. Honor. Tact. Diplomacy. The value of fitness & physical well-being. Integrity. Leadership. How to win & lose graciously. Overcoming obstacles & failure. I could go on, but you get the point. Field of Dreams is about things even more metaphysical than any of that, and it uses the backdrop of baseball to perfection. It’s a beautiful story that I’ve probably watched a hundred times over the years, and I’ll probably watch it a hundred more. It just never gets old.

 

1 Rocky
This list could reach its epic conclusion no other way. There were sports films produced before 1976, but Rocky re-wrote the rulebook and redefined the genre. It is THE classic David vs. Goliath story. Everything else that has come afterward is a derivative variation on the theme. But have you watched it recently?? Everyone remembers the big picture…the broad strokes. Characters like Rocky, Adrian, Mickey, & Apollo Creed. Rocky pounding on raw meat or running up the steps of a Philadelphia museum. That theme song!! Yet Rocky has been copied & parodied so much that people forget that it is a REALLY great movie. Stallone was a 29 year old struggling actor when he wrote the screenplay. Yes that’s right…Sylvester Stallone created Rocky!! He had to fight the suits to star in the film though. They wanted a big name like Burt Reynolds, James Caan, or Robert Redford to play the titular role. What would that rockyBhave been like?? Obviously we’ll never know, but, though now the masses couldn’t imagine anyone else as Rocky Balboa, the truth is that the script is so good that it likely would have worked anyway. Were there too many sequels made?? Probably, although I think the only one that was really terrible was Rocky V (the one with the late Tommy Morrison as a bitter former Balboa protégé). The rest were sufficiently entertaining popcorn cinema…they just lacked the heart & depth of the original. Rocky won the Academy Award for Best Picture, overcoming competition from Network, Taxi Driver, & All the President’s Men, and is a rare film that is beloved by both critics and normal people. Stallone became only the third person to ever be nominated for Best Actor & Best Original Screenplay in the same year. The other two were Charlie Chaplin & Orson Welles (since 1976 Woody Allen, Warren Beatty, Billy Bob Thornton, Roberto Benigni, & Matt Damon have all had similar double nominations). As much as I love sports movies I must admit that they rarely have this kind of elite pedigree. Not even Raging Bull or Field of Dreams, though nominated, won Best Picture. That’s not what this is about though. Awards are merely icing on the cake and just mean that a bunch of other people agree with my assessment. Good for them. The world would be a better place if more people acknowledged my wisdom.

A Man(o) for All Seasons

I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt and perhaps it says “Go to sleep darlings till the summer comes again”.                             ― Lewis Carroll

Spring is the time of year when it is summer in the sun and winter in the shade.                                                ― Charles Dickens

 

 

 

2013_september_calendarWe all have a calendar. Some still put one up on the wall in the kitchen or bedroom the way that Mom always did. Many of us have sj.bdj.2011.943-i1one on our phones. And some just use the one that comes as part of the operating system on our computer. But no matter how one uses it it’s all the same calendar. It is called the Gregorian calendar and was named for Pope Gregory XIII in the late 16th century. The Gregorian calendar is a revised version of the Julian calendar (named in honor of Julius Caesar) which itself was an update of the Roman calendar which was a lunar calendar meaning it was based on cycles of the moon. The Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar, meaning that the date indicates the position of the earth on its revolution around the sun. It has 12 months, 365 days, 7 days in a week, 52 weeks per year, & a leap year every 4 years.

Citizens of The Manoverse know that I am a Trekkie, and the Star Wars Trilogy ranked #8 of my 100 Favorite Movies. However back in my school days I must admit that science wasn’t really my favorite subject. It’s a left brain/right brain thing. Science & math never frosted my cupcake, whereas English, history, & social studies were a breeze. Anyway, all that sun & moon stuff as it relates to the calendar doesn’t really interest me. Y’all may have four seasons on your calendar, but in The Manoverse there are 8, and the “real world” ones are just a bit different than how Pope Greg & Julius Caesar defined them. Let me explain:

 

 

Spring

March 1 –May 31. Your calendar will tell you that spring begins on March 19-21 and that it lasts until June 20-22. This is due to something springcalled the vernal equinox. Equinox is a fancy term for “equal night” and it is when the sun crosses directly over the equator. But in my world spring begins on March 1 and ends on Memorial Day. Now I know what you are thinking…sometimes it’s still pretty cold & snowy for much of March. I don’t care. For me…a person that hates cold snowy weather…by the time March rolls around I’m ready for a break. I’m looking for any signs of warmth. And even if it snows atleast I have the satisfaction of knowing that it’s winter’s last gasp and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Spring is a turning point in the year that signifies happier times ahead.

 

Baseball

April 1-October 31 (varies).Sports fans will understand my logic. Scientists & meteorologists can have their moon phases & sun positions. bbWe sports fans calculate our year by what kind of ball is being thrown around. James Earl Jones was right when he said in Field of Dreams that “baseball has marked the time”. As soon as I hear the phrase “pitchers & catchers report” (meaning they are the first ones to arrive at spring training) I know that warm sunshine, gentle breezes, the smell of freshly cut grass, & the friendly sound of birds chirping outside my window are soon to follow.

 

Summer

June 1-August 31. Once again I beg to differ with the official definition. Scientists tell us that summer begins on June 20-22, whenever the lakesolstice occurs, and doesn’t end until September 20-23. The summer solstice is the day when the earth’s axis is most tilted toward the sun (solstice literally meaning “the sun stands still”). But, in reality, by the time the 3rd week of June rolls around we’ve all already dove headfirst into summer. The kids are out of school. Swimming pools have been open for a month. Folks are going camping and enjoying other outdoor activities. Vacation planning is full throttle. Ice cream shops are doing brisk business. Festivals & fairs are underway. We’re way ahead of that sluggish ol’ calendar. Conversely, by the time the calendar indicates that summer is ending we have long since moved on nearly a month before. For me summer ends on Labor Day Weekend. More about that later.

 

Football

Labor Day Weekend-Super Bowl Sunday. While I love the crack of the baseball bat and the smacking of leather into leather as ball meets muglove I must admit that my favorite of all sports is football. The roar of the crowd. The marching bands. The cheerleaders. Teams being down 3 points with 2 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter but driving their offense down the field. Whether the chase for the NCAA’s national championship and all the drama it brings is your cup of tea or if you prefer the 32 team 16 week NFL game of Survivor in an effort to make it to The Super Bowl is more your style it’s all good. Fantasy football and never-ending coverage & analysis by ESPN, talk radio, & The Internet have enhanced the football fandom experience. If I’m not committed to anything else I will sometimes get up early on Saturday morning and watch the pre-game shows and then watch games all day & evening until the last west coast game ends around 1am. It’s 16 hours of pure bliss. Then on Sunday as soon as I get home from church I tune into RedZone and catch all the action for the next six hours or so. If God ever blesses me with a potential mate one thing is certain…she will have to embrace the football season as much as I have, or atleast be very understanding of my obsession.

 

Autumn

September 1-November 30. Just like spring has an equinox so does autumn, called…appropriately enough…the autumnal equinox. The fallterm autumn is derived from the French word automne and the Latin word autumnus, meaning…well…no one really knows. However, we also oftentimes refer to autumn as fall, and that terminology derives from Old English word feallan which means “to fall or to die.” At any rate, your calendar will tell you that autumn (or fall) begins on September 21-23. However, in my world it begins on September 1. Typically by that time the children are back in school, the pools have closed, and Labor Day has rolled around (give or take a day or two). One can feel autumn. There’s a chill in the air. It’s not yet cold…but it’s no longer hot. Leaves usually begin to drop ever so slightly off trees by the beginning of September. If you look around you’ll see that most people have stopped wearing shorts and many have even brought out the light jackets or sweaters. Here in my hometown in northcentral West Virginia we have celebrated, for the past 35 years, our large Italian-American population with the annual Italian Heritage Festival, a 3 day event with lots of good food & music. As I am enjoying seeing friends & family and soaking in all The Tali Rally (as we like to call it) has to offer I am keenly aware that we are transitioning from summer to autumn.

 

Basketball

Early November-Mid June (varies). I am not nearly as much of a basketball fan as I am a football or baseball fan, but as a major American sport it cannot be ignored. It isbbbal the longest of the sports seasons, stretching from early November when several NCAA pre-season tournaments are played until the NBA Finals are over in mid to late June, and unlike football & baseball it is played indoors. To be honest I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to any NCAA games outside of my WVU Mountaineers & Marshall Thundering Herd or the occasional Duke-North Carolina clash until March Madness begins. And I have to be totally bored to watch more than 5 minutes of an NBA game until the playoffs begin in May.

 

Christmas

Thanksgiving Night-New Year’s Day. President Calvin Coolidge once said that “Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind”. I Cget what he was saying, but let’s keep it real. Your reaction to seeing twinkle lights or hearing Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas is completely different in December than it would be in the middle of August. As I have written ad nauseum over the past few years I LOVE Christmas. I love the food, I love the aromas in the air, I love Christmas movies, I love Christmas carols. Now do I think we have gotten a bit out of control with the Christmas Creep?? Sure. But I have embraced the fact that the season begins at Thanksgiving. I am okay with that as long as we give Thanksgiving its proper respect (which I’m not sure we really do these days). For me that means enjoying everything that Thanksgiving is for that entire day, but later on that night…as does happen on occasion…if some TV channel like Turner Classic Movies or American Movie Classics is showing a favorite holiday film like A Christmas Carol, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, or Holiday Inn then I’m all in…let the festivities begin. One way you will NOT see me welcome the Christmas season is by going out in the midst of the craziness they call Black Friday. No thank you. I will gladly pay a bit more while shopping during normal hours. I usually don’t even leave The Bachelor Palace on Black Friday unless I have to work. And then, when all the presents have been opened and the last airing of TBS’s A Christmas Story marathon has ended a wee bit of melancholy sets in. The radio stations that have played Christmas songs 24/7 for several weeks usually go back to their regular programming right after midnight on Christmas night, but your humble Potentate of Profundity won’t let this most glorious of seasons end without holding on for dear life. No, for me the season extends until we’ve celebrated New Year’s Day. Only on January 2 will I go kicking & screaming back into the abyss that is…..

 

Winter

December 1 –February 28. Cold weather. Snow. Icy roads. I’m not a big fan. Thank God we have football season & the Christmas season overlapping dreary, chilly, winterdepressing winter. Your traditional Gregorian calendar will tell you that winter begins on December 21-22 and ends on March 19-21. I beg to differ. Here in West Virginia it can begin to snow as early as October, and to me snow means winter. However, I don’t want to get crazy with the whole concept so I simply relegate winter to beginning on December 1. And as I previously stated, even though we will occasionally accumulate significant snowfall in March it is atleast winter’s last gasp, and since I am usually more than ready for warmer temperatures I eagerly look ahead and leap forward in my own mind.

 

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodnight

The story of life is quicker than the blink of an eye, the story of love is hello, goodbye.   –              Jimi Hendrix

A buddy of mine used to do something kind of quirky. A group of us would be out & about at a local watering hole and at some point we’d realize that he had just disappeared. He wouldn’t say goodbye and never let anyone know when he was leaving. It was just his thing. I never asked him why.

My sister’s former mother-in-law has a similar habit. If you happen to be talking to her on the phone and the conversation concludes she just hangs up. She doesn’t say goodbye.

Seven years ago on a Saturday in April I went to work at the establishment where I’d been employed for six years. I knew I was sick that day, but what I didn’t know was that when I left I would never be returning. I never got a chance to say goodbye to several people who I’d spent many many hours with and to this day there are lots of them who I’ve never seen again.

Sometimes late at night I look at my Facebook and shed a tear or two. Why?? There are, by my count, five people on my friends list that are no longer with us.

There is Teresa B., who I knew from junior high & high school and also worked with for several years about a decade ago, and Matt G., a guy I worked with back in the mid-90’s. Teresa & I didn’t run in the same circles and she battled things that I can’t relate to, but deep down she was good people.

Matt G. was one of those people one only knows for a very brief moment in time but leaves an indelible impression. He was a class clown type and always made me laugh at work. Both Teresa & Matt were in their 30’s and it makes me sad that they didn’t get to stick around a lot longer.

Johnna H. was a young lady that grew up in my community. She’d come to church occasionally when she was a little girl, and for a couple of years back in the late 90’s she was a member of the youth group that I helped lead. She was merely in her 20’s when she passed, a victim of the same battle that so many young people wage unsuccessfully in this country nowadays.

Last January it was thru Facebook that I learned of the sudden passing of Marc C., who I’d listened to on the radio when I was a little boy when he was a DJ and then had the privilege to talk with occasionally when we worked at the same place about ten years ago. Marc was smart…the kind of guy who would have probably won a ton of cash on Jeopardy. He was also a very talented musician who played trumpet & guitar at various local places. After we both left for greener pastures I’d still bump into him sometimes. Marc was that guy…the type who seems to be everywhere and one never knew when he might pop up and unexpectedly but quite pleasantly improve the day with a brief yet insightful conversation about something marginally esoteric. The realization that I won’t ever have the privilege of learning something from him again leaves me feeling sort of blue and I wish I’d had the opportunity to spend more time with Marc over the years.

And finally there is my friend Wink, who was my minister’s wife and whom I had the pleasure of knowing for two decades. I have often spoke here at The Manofesto about my desire for a genuine Christian experience and my deep longing to be an authentic follower of Christ rather than someone who just attends church. In the course of those laments I may have mentioned that though it may be hard to explain I know what I am looking for because I have seen it. I have been blessed to have been given probably half dozen or so excellent examples of this authenticity, and Wink was one of those. Her loss has been especially difficult because I have seen the effect it has had on our church in general and her loved ones specifically.

At any rate, I still go to all of these Facebook pages occasionally. I don’t know exactly why, and I don’t really enjoy the way it makes me feel, but I still do it.

A few days ago I attended the board of directors meeting of our local literacy organization where we held an election of new officers. The gentleman who has been president for the past 4 years is stepping down, but I had assumed that he would still be serving on the board and attending all of our events. Not so. He said that after 15 years he is going to step away and get into some other pursuits. Obviously he isn’t dead, but it still kind of made me a bit sad knowing that he will no longer be involved & around.

Earlier this week…via the aforementioned Facebook…I learned of the passing of my college pal Emily. Were Emily & I close friends?? Not especially. I hadn’t seen or spoken to her in nearly two decades. But for a short season all those years ago she & I ran in the same circle and did a lot of…socializing…together. I think she may have even once been my date to a fraternity formal (the memories of that time in my life are understandably fuzzy). Emily was tough yet bubbly, street smart yet understatedly sensitive. She was married with a couple of children, had a job she liked as a teacher, and to my understanding was happy. And now she is gone before she even reached the age of 40.

Faithful citizens of the Manoverse will recall that I lost my own mother 13 years ago. I have written previously about how I wish I could have just one more conversation with her and tell her all the things I never took the opportunity to say when she was alive. I don’t remember the last thing I said to my Mom and to this day that fact haunts me more than I can coherently communicate.

In the 1946 classic It’s A Wonderful Life (my all-time favorite Christmas film and #4 on my Favorite Movies List) the angel Clarence Oddbody (AS2) tells George Bailey that “each person’s life touches so many other lives that when they aren’t around it leaves an awful hole”. In 1989’s Field of Dreams (#3 on the Favorite Movies List) Doc Graham laments that “we just don’t recognize the most significant moments of our lives while they’re happening.” I would like to take this opportunity to encourage each of you to try to recognize these moments and understand how people touch your lives and how you play a role in their lives. Take your time. Be generous with hugs & affection. Tell people “thank you”. Always have your camera. Say goodbye or don’t say it…whatever you prefer. Just understand that there is no guarantee that there’ll be a next time. Laugh. Enjoy. Appreciate. Be thankful. We only get one shot at this life.

100 Favorite Movies…..#3

Society has a penchant for wanting everything to fit into its own neat little box. It makes life so much easier to define. This is as true for movies as anything, where we want to be able to compartmentalize films into cut & dried genres like comedy, action, western, horror, or drama. On occasion we’ll grudgingly submit to a special sub-category like family, sci-fi, Christmas, romantic comedy, thriller, or disaster epic. But what if a film simply refuses to be defined?? What if it cannot be shoehorned, pigeonholed, or painted with such a narrow perspective?? Such films are a rarity, and can be either an unmitigated disaster or particularly sublime.

 

I have seen today’s subject be classified as fantasy, which isn’t really a bad definition but doesn’t fit all that well either. Drama is accurate but does not come close to really capturing its essence. Many would call it a sports film but I think that is kind of like calling Abraham Lincoln a politician or The Louvre a museum…not untrue but certainly an epic oversimplification. It is, above all other 99 movies listed, the one that I think to myself “I wish I would have written that”.

 

There is creativity, and then there are ideas so singular that one just has to applaud the creator and simply say “Well done sir”. Such is the case with our #3 film, one that loses out on the top two spots by a nudge simply because it is another seasonal favorite. Surprisingly this time it isn’t a Christmas classic. Instead it is one I prefer to watch when the sun is bathing the Manoverse with warmth, birds are chirping their harmonious song, and the smell of freshly cut grass is trumped only by the sweet aroma of steak, hot dogs, and BBQ being cooked over an open flame. This is a film I can enjoy anytime, but prefer to watch in the summer, and more specifically, during baseball season.

 

Imagine this…

It is the late 1980’s and you are a fat cat movie suit. You have a meeting where an idea is pitched about a middle-aged former flower child who’s now an Iowa farmer that hears a voice tell him to plow his corn and build a baseball field so Shoeless Joe Jackson can come back to play and JD Salinger can write about the whole thing. I’m not sure what’s crazier…that the movie was greenlit or that it turned out to be such an awesome masterpiece.

 

1989’s Field of Dreams stars Kevin Costner as that hippie/farmer/crazy dude, and James Earl Jones as the reclusive writer obviously based on Salinger. It was Costner’s second foray into the world of baseball, immediately following 1988’s Bull Durham (which ranks 17th on this list). The movie is based on a novel called Shoeless Joe, which I must admit I have not yet read therefore I cannot compare with any veracity the book & the movie. But when talking about Field of Dreams I sincerely believe there is one very important point that must be made: it is not about baseball.

 

As I write this I just happen to also be reading an anthology of stories by author Ray Bradbury, and it occurs to me that Field of Dreams could have easily been a Bradbury tale. It is a shamelessly sentimental flight of fancy, soaked in nostalgia with baseball utilized as a metaphor for life. Some of the more sober among us might look at such a film with derision, calling it melodramatic and maudlin, but I am a huge sucker for whimsically capricious stories and wish there were more of them produced. Too many movies are either dumbed down, anvilicious crapfests that anyone with a brain can figure out within 10 minutes or just completely pointless. And then of course there are the movies that spend quality time on the ride but reach the destination leaving the audience either confused or just unimpressed. Field of Dreams is none of these.

 

Costner is at his best here…better than Bull Durham, better than Tin Cup, and certainly better than Wyatt Earp, Waterworld, or Dances with Wolves. My favorite actor, Jimmy Stewart, would have been a fantastic choice to play Ray Kinsella if this film were made in 1949, but forty years onward a Stewart-esque Everyman performance suffices quite nicely. James Earl Jones adds the perfect level of gravitas as Terence Mann, a writer who inspired the 60’s counterculture by talking about “love, peace, and understanding” and was “a voice of reason during a time of great madness”. The novel used notoriously reclusive Catcher in the Rye raconteur JD Salinger, but obviously the role had to be fictionalized for the movie. Ray Liotta plays Shoeless Joe Jackson just one year before he would become a star in Goodfellas. And for me the real clincher, the part of the movie that takes it to a higher level, is a cameo by the legendary Burt Lancaster in what I believe was his last film. Time travel is almost always a cool device, and the way it is done here…long after one thinks they know where the story is headed…is subtle, surprising, and superb.

 

Field of Dreams has been voted in many polls as one of the top five sports movies of all time, and that’s fine. But it is not just a baseball movie. Field of Dreams is about regret. It is about redemption. It is about family. It is about happiness and realizing what that truly means. Would we grab one more shot at our dream like young Moonlight Graham, or, like the older Doc Graham, understand that the path we’ve taken fulfilled a more important destiny?? How great would it be to be Terence Mann and have a chance to undue all the damage decades of world weariness, skepticism, cynicism, and bitterness can do to the soul?? How many among us have, like Shoeless Joe, been (ostensibly) falsely accused or had something we truly loved taken away and only then learned to appreciate it?? Am I a bit effusive in my praise?? Probably. But while I love sports films as much as the next guy, I think the biggest reason I have such affection for Field of Dreams is because it goes so much deeper than the typical cliches, and in fact avoids most of them. It is a film than cannot really be compared to any other, even the plethora out there with baseball as a key element.

 

I think it makes sense to conclude with…well…the conclusion. I always say that only four films have ever made me cry. E.T. made me cry when I saw it in the theater, but I was a little kid so I’m not sure if that even counts. The Passion of the Christ brought tears, and that is self-explanatory. The 2008 Owen Wilson/Jennifer Aniston flick Marley & Me was supposed to be a comedy, but at the end I found myself clutching my beautiful puppy in my arms and bawling like a baby, which is why I have vowed never to watch it again. Fellow dog owners will understand. And then there is Field of Dreams. In the archives here at The Manofesto one can find my 35 Undeniable Truths of Life. #12 states that “anyone who doesn’t shed a tear during the last 10 minutes of Field of Dreams doesn’t have a heart”. I stand by that. In 20 years I have seen this movie countless times, and every single time that final scene gets me. I lost my Mom 11 years ago, and I miss her every day. There is nothing I wouldn’t give for one more conversation with her. My Dad is still around. He lives close by and I see him often and talk to him every day. As strange as it may seem to some, Field of Dreams, atleast on a subconscious level, has affected our relationship, because I never want to be haunted by unkind words or things left unsaid. Redemption is a wonderful thing, but even better is never having to be burdened by guilt in the first place.

 


 

Random Thoughts 18

Congratulations to the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints. The game did not play out like most expected, as Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback Peyton Manning looked quite average instead of like one of the greatest field generals of all time. The victory is good for the beleaguered city of New Orleans and I sincerely hope many benefits are reaped.

The re-entry sequence near the end of Apollo 13 deserves to be ranked right up there with the baptism scene from The Godfather and the “Dad” scene at the end of Field of Dreams as among the greatest movies moments of all time.

I have come to a spiritual crossroads. My faith and belief in God and in my Savior Jesus Christ is still there, but my patience with superficial Christian clichés has run out. I no longer desire church to be a shallow social gathering. At the same time, I see no value in being a humorless Bible thumper who can’t loosen up and have fun…others too easily disregard that person as an uptight, unhappy killjoy. I am on a journey seeking an authentic & devout relationship and I am not sure it is available in the places one would normally assume it can be found. Something inside me has either broken or been awakened (I’m not sure which) in the past few months, and my BS meter when it comes to religion is on high alert.

Even as a diehard conservative I am not really sold on Sarah Palin as a legit Presidential candidate, but the outright vitriol aimed in her direction by histrionic shit stirrers on the left is puzzling. Palin and former President George W. Bush have their flaws for sure, but how some can so completely eviscerate them almost daily while at the same time putting Barack Hussein Obama on the largest pedestal mankind has ever known is completely beyond all logical comprehension.

I would like to nominate ESPN’s Skip Bayless as the worst sports journalist in history. His arrogant and condescending attitude is off the charts, and his opinions are so often dead wrong that he has become a joke. I recently saw him trying to justify the possibility of 13-11 North Carolina being chosen as an at-large team for the NCAA tournament. He was dead serious about the Tar Heels being selected merely due to their history and pedigree over lesser known teams with better records. Not only did the debate prove him to be a complete fool, but it highlighted what can be very wrong with collegiate athletics when so much credit is given to a reputation and a perception instead of actual performance. Call it The Notre Dame Fallacy.

Valentine’s Day has to be the worst holiday on the calendar.

I love it when people act like they understand something when in reality they have absolutely no clue. It really makes them look silly. Mark Twain famously said it is “better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt”. More people should follow that advice. And yes, I see the irony in a guy who writes a VERY opinionated blog espousing that philosophy.

Can we please dispense with the term “pro-choice”?? People who are pro-choice only believe in a woman’s right to choose if she ultimately chooses to have an abortion.

Speaking of BS…..

I accepted long ago the fact that it is very possible that I may someday be one of those people who is dead for several days and whose body is only discovered because the neighbor’s begin to notice a stench. This is because at some point it became very clear to me that very few people legitimately give a damn whether I live or die, which does not in any way make me special or unique…..it’s just the way we human beings treat each other nowadays.  So armed with this awareness, I have very little patience for petulant, bratty adults who act like whiny children in a desperate attempt to have their ego validated. Encounters with so-called adults make me ever more determined to fade into the background in a concerted effort to not draw attention to myself.

I like Nascar and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

 

The Godfather of Cyberspace’s 35 Undeniable Truths of Life

(Originally published 12/19/2007)

Back in 1988 The Godfather of Talk Radio, Rush Limbaugh, published his 35 Undeniable Truths of Life. A few years later he did a revised list since many of the originals had to do with communism, The Soviet Union, & other outdated concepts. Now, here, in the Year of Our Lord 2007, The Godfather of Cyberspace humbly presents my own list of The 35 Undeniable Truths of Life:

 

 

1. Jesus said “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3), “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6) , and “this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

 

2. Never put anyone on a pedestal…they will eventually come crashing down.

 

3. The most overrated sports dynasties are Notre Dame football and the New York Yankees.

 

4. Nothing is more important than family…never take sides against the family…never let anyone outside the family know what you are thinking.

 

5. “Look thou character
Give thy thoughts no tongue, nor any unproportioned thought his act
Be familiar, but by no means vulgar
Those friends thou have, and their adoption tried, grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment of each new-hatched, unfledged comrade
Beware of entrance to a quarrel but, being in, bear it that the opposed may beware of thee
Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice
Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgement
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, but not expressed in fancy – rich, not gaudy
For the apparel oft proclaims the man
Neither a borrower nor a lender be
For loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry
This above all: to thine own self be true
And it must follow, as the night the day, thou cannot then be false to any man”
Shakespeare’s Hamlet

 

6. If you work on weekends then you are not at the top of your chosen profession. (notable exceptions: the clergy and sports)

 

7. Disappointment is the worst emotion, as it is a blend of both anger and sadness.

 

8. Faith and religion are two different things. Religion is a public show too often put on by hypocrites, while faith is a deeply personal thing that can change your life. Share your faith, not your religion.

 

9. Rap is not music. Poetry maybe. But not music.

 

10. Perception is reality & reality is perception.

 

11. When in doubt, atleast act like you know what you are doing.

 

12. Anyone who doesn’t shed a tear during the last 10 minutes of Field of Dreams doesn’t have a heart.

 

13. Don’t be sad because it’s over, be happy it happened in the first place.

 

14. Abortion is wrong and capital punishment is right. This makes perfect sense.

 

15. “It’s not what you know but who you know” is just as true as it ever was.

 

16. Guns don’t kill people…evil, crazy, stupid people kill people (sometimes with a gun).

 

17. Music makes our world a better place.

 

18. Freedom of religion has been hijacked to mean freedom from religion, which was not the intent of our Founding Fathers.

 

19. Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons
Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others – even the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit
If you compare yourself with others you may become vain and bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans
Keep interested in your own career, however humble, it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time
Exercise caution in your business affairs for the world is full of trickery
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is
Many persons strive for high ideals and everywhere life is full of heroism
Be yourself
Especially, do not feign affection, neither be cynical about love
For in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself
Be at peace with God
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world
Be cheerful
Strive to be happy
-The Desiderata

 

20. Milk is the universal beverage, going well with almost all meals and nearly any type of food.

 

21. Timing is everything and hindsight is 20/20. Looking back, we can all see situations, great & small, where a seemingly insignificant shift of time (a few minutes, a day or two, a month) made a notable difference.

 

22. It’s always about the money. Always.

 

23. The wussification of America, in which overly sensitive followers of political correctness have turned our nation into the United States of The Offended, is very real and very disturbing.

 

24. There is a difference between being alone and being lonely.

 

25. There are three sides to every story – the two conflicting views of the parties involved, and somewhere in the middle is the truth.

 

26. Creationism and evolution don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

 

27. To laugh often and much
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends
To appreciate beauty
To find the best in others
To leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a redeemed social condition, or a job well done
To know that even one other life has breathed because you lived
This is to have succeeded
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

28. There are three answers to a prayer: yes, no, & not right now.

 

29. Anyone who says they’ve never contemplated suicide, even if only very briefly, is either very fortunate or a liar.

 

30. If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise
If you can dream but not make dreams your master
If you can think but not make thoughts your aim
If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken, and stoop and build them up with worn-out tools
If you can make one heap of all your winnings and risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss
And lose, and start again at your beginnings and never breathe a word about your loss
If you can force your heart and nerve and muscle to serve your turn long after they are gone
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue or walk with kings and not lose the common touch
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you
If people count on you, but none too much
If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run
Yours is the earth and everything that’s in it
And, which is more, you’ll be a man, my son
-Rudyard Kipling

 

31. Cigarettes & multiple tattoos/piercings decrease a woman’s attractiveness by atleast 50%.

 

32. There really is no place like home.

 

33. Don’t ever pray for patience, lest God give you plenty of opportunities to learn your lesson.

 

34. Life is a lot like the Tom Hanks movie Cast Away. It’s really just you, alone on an island, struggling against the elements. There may be many people in your life, but almost all are like the soccer ball Wilson…they keep you company and give you someone to talk to, but in the end they’re fake, full of hot air, and float away. In matters of survival (food, shelter, etc.) you can only really count on yourself.

 

35. If you think you are beaten, you are
If you think you dare not, you don’t
If you like to win, but you think you can’t, it is almost certain you won’t
If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost
For out of the world we find success begins with a fellow’s will
It’s all in the state of mind
If you think you are outclassed, you are
You’ve got to think high to rise
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before you can ever win a prize
Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man
But sooner or later, the man who wins is the man who thinks he can
— Unknown