Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Nobody Asked Me, But...

I have turned this story over in my elementary-school mind since I was, well, in elementary school.

Do you have a few choice words in the English language that you consistently find hard to spell correctly? Either through speedy-fingers-at-the-keyboard or just lack of mind power, I have a few.
Occassion, ocasion, occasion, occasion- is that 2 "c"s and 2 "s"s?
Vacuum- I always missed that in spelling bees!
Anything requiring the "i before e, except after c" rule. Because it's not always true, dang it!
And here's another, (which is what this post is really about)

Brain.

Can't tell you how many times I've written that simple word, attempting to reference the cerebrum, cerebellum and cerebral cortex, only to look at it and see I've actually written the word, "Brian." Who the heck is Brian?!

Stick with me here.

Then I began to think, wouldn't that be funny if it really is Brian instead of brain? What if we all have a little guy inside our heads, directing our movements and thoughts like a Stormtrooper operating an Imperial Walker on the planet Hoth. And it's all just a spelling mistake. What if it really is Brian up in there, and here this fool brain has been getting the credit all this time?

Brian has got to be pretty ticked. And I'm positive he's got some kind of lawsuit pending against the whole of mankind. Libel, slander, misrepresentation, something like that. I just hope he continues to steer my lump of flesh around for a few more years. (Sorry, Dude. How much back pay do I owe ya?)

That's the book I'd write, if ever any publisher could get over wetting their pants with the inanity of it all.


My sequel would be a coffee table book full of photographs of the nursery set-up for all embryos in-utero. I really did used to think we all had play pens, rocking chairs, teething toys and braided rugs on the floor in our warm womb-y homes. Just on a smaller scale.

This post is in response to Michelle's, "What I'd Write if I Could Write a Novel."

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

There's Still Time to do Something Big

It seems I have accidently run across a theme in Doing Something Big: the desire, the disguise and, this week, the discipline of it.

Paul C├ęzanne, artist, Chateau Noir, age 64There's nothing wrong with the desire to be a part of something significant. We need to have a clear head, thoug, about what is significant: making a million dollars as a basketball star or being the best friend we can possibly be.

Significance is overlooked because it is disguised as "average". Everyone is gifted and everyone is unique. Being average simply means maintaining balance which leads to happiness. How quickly our society creates and disposes of their number ones.

Alfred Hitchcock, filmmaker, Vertigo, age 59This week I read about David Galenson's discovery of two creative disciplines. His research came about because of his nagging desire to do something big:

In graduate school, he watched brash colleagues write dissertaions that earned them quick acclaim and instant tenure, while he sat in the library meticulouly tabulating 17th- and 18th-century indentured-servitude records. He eventually found a spot on the University of Chicago's Nobelist-studded economics faculty, but not as a big-name theorist. He was a colonial economic historian - a utility infielder on a team of Hall of Famers.

curvesBeing an art economist, his initial research plotted the relationship between an artist's age (X) and the value of his or her paintings (Y). He discovered two distinct patterns: those who peaked early and those who peaked late. He calls these two groups the conceptualists and the experimentalists.

Conceptualists make bold, dramatic leaps in their disciplines with their breakthroughs coming at an early age. They know with certainty what they're trying to create and when they've created it. Picasso created his revolutionary Les Demoiselles d'Avignon when he was 26.

Frank Lloyd Wright, architect, Fallingwater, age 70The Experimentalists work by trial and error and make their breakthroughs later. They never really know when their work is finished. They do not preconceive but figure it out as they go. Cézanne is a good example. His most valuable works are the ones he painted the year he died.

Ludwig van Beethovan, composer, Symphony No. 9, age 54I like to think of myself in the last group. I've been feeling like my time has passed to be a part of something big. But I guess what I said in my original post may be true. I've only just begun. The idea is to not give up and just keep at it.

(Check out Galenson books on the subject. They sound really interesting: Painting Outside the Lines: Patterns of Creativity in Modern Art and Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artisitc Creativity.)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Book Tag

I got tagged by my friend Erin in a blog-based chain survey. Here are the obligatory questions and my answers.

1. One book that changed your life: The Stand was my teenage introduction into adult literature. From Nancy Drew to Stephen King. BAM!

2. One book that you’ve read more than once: The sci-fi classic Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Card is a captivating writer who's great with paiting a picture.

3. One book you’d want on a desert island: The Histories by Herodotus because the only way I'll ever get around to reading this book is if I'm on a desert island.

4. One book that made you laugh: The Essential Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson, who has a keen grasp on the world of 7 year old boys. Heck, he probably is a 7 year old boy.

5. One book that made you cry: Wild At Heart by John Eldredge because it allowed me to understand My Geek on a deeper level.

6. One book that you wish had been written: No One Likes You When You're a Bitch. (That's a great title! I should use that.)

7. One book that you wish had never been written: Having It All by Helen Gurley Brown. This is one of three books that taught me how to be a bitch in the eighties.

8. One book you’re currently reading: Cosmic Banditos by A. C. Weisbecker. I picked this up because it's been made into a movie starring John Cusack, one of my favorite actors.

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read: Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. Anytime I talk to people about postmoderism or Rob Bell's book, Velvet Elvis, they say, "Have you read Blue Like Jazz?"

10. Now tag five people: This may die with me. I only know of only five people who read my blog (*blush*) and they've all been tagged except for My Geek. If you are like me and read a lot of blogs but rarely post, please take this opportunity to post a comment here and say "Hello."

Friday, August 04, 2006

Willa's Flic Pic: Love Liza * * * *

Check out my review this week for Love Liza. Another stunning performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman with a screenplay written by his brother, Gordy.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

No One is Average. Well, Bob is.

The Average American by Kevin O'Keefe
Kevin O'Keefe is the author of The Average American: The Extraordinary Search for the Nation's Most Ordinary Citizen. I heard him in a radio interview several weeks back. I wish I could remember which show.

Through extensive research that took him on a tour all across the US, O'Keefe determined 140 qualifications that define the Average American. Here are just a few:

  • eats peanut butter at least once a week
  • prefers smooth peanut butter over crunchy
  • can name all three stooges
  • cannot name all three branches of government
  • takes a shower for 10.4 minutes
  • never sings in the shower
  • lives within 3 miles of a McDonalds
  • lives within 20 miles of Wal-mart
  • lives within 2 miles of a public park
  • is better off financially than their parents
  • does not make more than $75,000 a year
  • believes in God and the literal truth of the Bible
  • holds some views that the church deems sacrilegious
  • attends church at least once a month
  • has fired a gun at least once in their life
  • spends 95% of time indoors
  • owns an electric coffeemaker
  • thinks abortion is morally wrong
  • supports the right of an individual to have an abortion
  • owns at least one pet
  • drives a car at least 8 years old without vaniety plates
  • would rather spend one week in jail than be president
  • will, on occasion, pee in the shower

Even though he had statistically determined the parameters that defined "average", he was never quite sure whether any one person really existed that fit every one of them. He finally came up with one candidate, Bob Burns, but he had to interview him to be sure. He left Mr. Burns a message explaining his research but Mr. Burns did not respond. O'Keefe's hopes heightened. (The average American does not want to be famous.) After making a personal visit to Mr. Burns' home O'Keefe concluded that he had indeed found the average American.

How does Bob feel about this?

"What an honor."

Check out Kevin O'Keefe's commencement address at Eagle High School to find out what's so important about being average.