Going coastal

20120827-071710.jpgWhat could be more relaxing than sitting in the early morning light listening to the rhythmic sounds of the ocean waves crashing into the shore? I can’t think of much else. For me, this simple pleasure is the best part of a vacation to the beach. Sure, there are things to do and places to go to on town. However, I look forward to these quiet moments as a time to reflect and just thank God for all I have. There is truth to the idea that when you get to the beach your worries are washed away with the ever retreating ocean. It happens for me every morning.

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Packing

The most dreaded part of any vacation for me is packing the car. Will there be enough room? That is always the biggest question for me. It is a spacial relations thing. It is hard to master. But over time, the more we pack the car, the better we get at it. Finding a place for everything and everything in its place.

On a recent vacation, I was particularly happy with the way in which we were able to stuff the trunk. Everything fit. It was a great feeling. A true sense of accomplishment. Now, the next biggest question is if everything fits when we make the return trip.

How do you pack for vacations? What is you number one tip for packing?

Elvis has left the building. Forever.

Thirty-five years ago today Elvis left the building. Forever. He died at the age of 42. His health was compromised due to an addiction to prescription drugs. Like the Beatles who came after, Elvis expanded the reach of rock n’ roll to a wider audience. People fell in love with his music and his moves. They idolized him. And each year on this day those that still hold a flame for him and remember what he did for the music industry and popular culture make the pilgrimage to Graceland to pay their respects.

When it was announced that day back in 1977 (love the headphone mike on this reporter in WMC-TV, Action News 5’s coverage of the death of Elvis) that the King of Rock n’ Roll was dead, there were thousands and thousands of sad people. Well, at least I would suspect there were. I wouldn’t know. I only have the grainy news footage to go by.

What I do know is that there were some very happy people that day. Namely, my mom, dad and my grandparents. That was the day I was born. It has been a wonderful ride these last 35 years. And I’m looking forward to the next 35 and many more – spending time with my beautiful wife, watching my children grow, enjoying this life and all of the gifts it provides.

If you are an Elvis fan, what is your favorite song of his?

Replacing reality

Reports are streaming in that CNN will make a major shift in programming in an effort to buoy it’s worst rating in 21 years. The change – Less news. More reality shows.

Certainly, there are financial reasons for this. When MTV dropped the majority of music from its programming, the virtually unscripted reality shows that took its place proved to revitalize the network and ushered in a whole new category of television, as well as overnight celebrities. However, do you know anyone who actually still watches MTV? It used to be THE channel. Just like CNN used to be THE source for news. There is a reason James Earl Jones’ “This is CNN” became a part of our viewing culture. That reason, because CNN backed up the statement with real news reporting that was trusted.

Of course, that was all back in the 90s. When 1999 became 2000, we also saw a changing of the guard where TV news coverage was concerned. FOX and MSNBC gained traction, as well as the acceptance of social media as a valued news source. Things have changed. To stay afloat, it looks like CNN will be changing, too. What I wonder is if by opening the door to manufactured reality, will CNN become a news station in name only? Will there be anyone who trusts the brand as a viable source for news if the breaking news is brought to us by the latest Reality TV star? and can we take this stream of questioning just a bit further to ask if in our culture today is there even a place for reporting the news without putting it through the sensationalizer machine for the sake of entertainment and ratings? Seeing how this whole thing with CNN unfolds will be very interesting and will tell us a lot about the future of the news media in this county.

What do you think? Is CNN adding reality TV a big deal?

Reading “The Reader”

I am very nearly at the end of Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader and I must say it is a compelling read. Although the cover says it is a novel, it is as real as non-fiction in the way that the author takes us through the thoughts and philosophical questions facing Germans a generation removed from the Holocaust. It is at one point a love story, at another a deep philosophical introspection of the numbness that overtakes someone faced with the results of unmitigated evil. In the novel, justice is carried out, but there is the sense that this justice is not really adequate and the consequences of disillusionment last far longer than a life sentence.

I plan to provide a full review once I finish the book, but I wanted to get these initial thoughts out there. Also, I wanted to ask anyone reading if you’ve read The Reader and what your thoughts are on the book?

 

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Post update: Well, as promised, I finished reading the book and here are my final thoughts and a review.

I thought that the author did a good job of drawing the reader into the story, but then seemed to purposefully distance the reader from the two main characters through several paragraphs of philosophical questions weaved throughout the story. It made it somewhat difficult to follow. However, I don’t really think the development of the relationship of the protagonist with Hanna was the main point of the novel. Instead, I believe the novel was an attempt at catharsis. I think the introspective nature of the work leads the reader to the conclusion that evil on the level carried out by the Germans during WWII leaves humanity numb with no recourse to once again find the innocence lost as happiness and hope were obliterated and replaced with a strange, contorted new reality that is cold, unfeeling, and in the end unhuman, The main character withdraws into himself, unable to have true, lasting relationships unless they are built on the foundation of the relationship he has with Hanna. However, in the end, that relationship also doesn’t live up to what he created in his own mind. Reality is a disappointment. Memories are not an adequate escape and only serve as a reminder that life is fleeting.

Now, having said all of this, stepping back a bit, I do think the book is a fantastic glimpse into the hearts and minds of youth who lived in post-war Germany. It captures eloquently the disillusionment that these people felt and attempts to explain how it was difficult to forgive or forget without losing a part of what makes us human. If human relationships framed in philosophical questions of free will, the existence of evil and what this all means to being human are your thing, then this is the book for you.

Oh, an one last thing. Don’t go into reading this book thinking there will be some resolution or even a somewhat happy ending. There isn’t. There is just sadness. And I guess that is the lasting message from this time in history. Just an insurmountable sadness draped over the German people who lived during and immediately after the Third Reich.

 

Inspired toward greatness

Writers often talk about what inspires them. There are any number of things, from a beautiful landscape to a kind gesture, that ignite creativity.

During this time of year, as happens every four years, inspiration also comes from the stories and actions of the Olympic athletes. We watch, knowing all of the hard work they have put in to get to that one moment. And in that moment they find their greatness and inspire all those watching.

Nike FInd Your Greatness JoggerFitting then that Nike has introduced the “Find Your Greatness” ad campaign. Much like their iconoclastic “Just Do It,” this campaign inspires by encouraging the inner athlete to achieve. I especially like the commercial with the young man from London, Ohio.

This commercial wowed me the first time I saw it because it is so real. It is a testament to the human spirit that the jogger is trying to improve himself, to find his greatness. It certainly inspired me, probably because it is so real. I can picture myself doing the same thing. Will I ever be an Olympic athlete? No. Can I start jogging and get in better shape than I am now. Yes. In doing so, will I find my greatness? If I can continue to find inspiration like this, the answer is a definite yes.

What inspires you? Let me know in the comments.

Hiatus over

Well, it has been just over a year since my last post. I figured it would be worthwhile to start writing here again. Well, at least get in the practice of it anyway. I’ve got an idea of what I would like to focus on so my hope is the conversation will grow here. As always, thanks for reading.

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