. . . that The Beatles released their seminal album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Time flies!
Happiness, Content, Joy.
The meanings for the Sun are fairly simple and consistent.
Young, healthy, new, fresh. The brain is working, things that were muddled come clear, everything falls into place, and everything seems to go your way.
The Sun is ruled by the Sun, of course. This is the light that comes after the long dark night, Apollo to the Moon's Diana. A positive card, it promises you your day in the sun. Glory, gain, triumph, pleasure, truth, success. As the moon symbolized inspiration from the unconscious, from dreams, this card symbolizes discoveries made fully consciousness and wide awake. You have an understanding and enjoyment of science and math, beautifully constructed music, carefully reasoned philosophy. It is a card of intellect, clarity of mind, and feelings of youthful energy.
What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.
I saw the school's production of Sweet Charity tonight. I was entirely unfamiliar with the show itself (although two of the musical numbers--"Hey Big Spender" and "If My Friends Could See Me Now"--I clearly had heard before). The performances this evening were pretty good, but I'm not sure how wild I am about the show.
Here is something I ran across that seemed worthy of passing along. This is the source.
The Rules of Renaissancemandom, v3.0
1. Every day, either learn a new skill or hone one you already have.
A progress-free life is extremely depressing, a downward-sloping one suicidally so. Keep the old inner demons at bay by making sure that, in one way or another, you develop, if only a little bit, with each rotation of the Earth.
2. Don’t instinctively say “no” when presented with possible new interests.
The mind of the polymath demands a constant stream of new influences; letting them grow as diverse as possible doesn’t hurt.
3. Know who you admire.
It helps keep you pointed in the right direction to be surrounded by plenty of inspiration. Make sure you know where yours is and, with maximum clarity, why.
4. Be able to entertain ideas without accepting them.
Remember that old Aristotle quote? Even notions that feel wrong are worth thinking about, and getting in the habit helps fight the stifling evil of kneejerk reactions.
5. Be autodidactic, even if you’re in school.
From a quote by Mark Twain. The content and methods of classes, many of us discover too late, never quite seem to align perfectly with what and how the student should ideally learn. Fortunately, academic work can be augmented on your own time.
6. Improve your learning ability.
Because you’ve successfully learned a thing or two in the past doesn’t mean you’re as good as you’re going to get at it. If living well is all about learning a wide variety of knowledge, keeping mindful of how to improve your learning ability will increase the rate that you accrue such goodness.
7. The more sources of fulfillment, the better.
Sure, not putting all your eggs in one basket is a bit of an old saw, but it’s only common sense to draw happiness from multiple sources in the interest of increased stability. Violent mood swings rarely advance the cause.
8. Know what you want to be, but let the world decide if you are.
Few people are as irritating as those who constantly insist that they are something – artist, novelist, philosopher, musician, what have you – when their chief accomplishment in the field is making that very announcement over and over again. If you’re correctly pursuing your goals, everyone else will eventually catch wind without your having to directly inform them.
9. Collect a wide variety of experiences.
Besides the obvious advantages to this, one unintended bonus is that you’ll be supplied you with many amusing dinner table anecdotes.
10. Slow progress beats none at all.
“Great ability develops and reveals itself with each new assignment.” - Baltasar Gracian
11. Never miss the chance to approach what initially seem like troubles as opportunities.
“Every cloud has a silver lining.” “A door isn’t closed without a window being opened.” My favorite is “Honor thy mistake as a hidden intention.” Pick your platitude, but it’s within your abilities to harness for your own benefit what originally appeared to be a reversal.
12. Always have goals.
It’s impossible to gauge whether you’re moving forward if you don’t know where “forward” is. By keeping in mind where the next stage should end, you’ll always be able to tell if you’re making progress.
13. Keep a notebook handy.
You never know when you’ll run across a valuable piece of knowledge. The memory can be trusted with certain hard data, but the more obscure, ephemeral information is easily lost in the shuffle. As standard-size journals can, at times, be a bit unwieldy, I recommend one of those miniature notebooks sold at every bookstore.
For over four decades, musical polymath Brian Eno has kept this habit, likely making him the most rigorous -- or at least best known -- practicioner: “1965: aged 17, Eno buys the first in a series of black notebooks which has continued ever since. They sit in his jacket pocket and contain sketches, ideas, theories, speeches, lists, schemes and schemas. Each book offers a reward for its own return, in pounds, dollars and deutschmarks.”
14. Whatever you’re doing, think.
When reading, for example, a common method is to simply scan the text with the eyes and envision the sound of the words with the mind. However, it’s far from the best way; if you actually think about each idea you come across -- and, if you’re picking the right material, there will usually be at least one per sentence -- you’ll not only have a stronger grip on what you’re reading, but your general analytic skills can benefit as well. Let’s not limit ourselves to the printed word, since this rule is applicable to more or less any carrier or exchange of information: conversation, film, television, anything.
adidas is offering its popular Barriade IV tennis shoe in a special "Stars and Stripes" edition for the North American summer circuit, which culminates in the U.S. Open. Presumably we'll see the Bryan brothers sporting these in the Davis Cup.
I was treated to dinner in New Haven tonight at my favorite restauarant, Ibiza. Sweet!
"Never Die Young" by James Taylor is a song I always associate with graduation day, especially these lines:
I guess it had to happen someday soon
Wasn't nothing to hold them down
They would rise from among us like a big balloon
Take the sky and forsake the ground
The kids have packed up and left for home, for graduation parties, for summer travel, or whatever. Memorial House is eerily quiet in the wake of the mass departure. The first few days after the end of the school year always seem a little spooky in the dorm.
In the past ten days or so, I've gotten caught up with The Sopranos. Tonight's penultimate episode was the first one I've watched live this season. Things are pretty clearly coming to a head for Tony, his family, and his crew, and I am glad I'll be home next Sunday night for the conclusion before I head to Europe the following day.
Just finishing watching Rada dismantle Lleyton Hewitt on Tennis Channel's live coverage from the French Open: two quick sets and one battle through a tiebreak. Nadal is looking better with each match he plays in Paris.
I am spending the afternoon and early evening with my parents in South Windsor and was able to concentrate on my travel agent routine online while up here. I've booked flights to and accommodation in Tromso, Norway for later this month. Tromso is north of the Artic Circle and when I arrive there in mid-June, I am not going to be experiencing much darkness in the middle of the night!
Paul McCartney's catalogue appeared on the iTunes Music Store last week--the first Beatles-related recordings to surface there in the wake of the Apple Computer/Apple Records settlement a few months back. I purchased this song, "Give Ireland Back to the Irish," in the iTunes Plus format: 256 kbps format without DRM. (I can't really tell the difference!) The song was banned by the BBC when it was released in early 1972.
The quarterfinal showdown between Aussie Open winner Serena Williams and defending Roland Garros champ Justine Henin turned out to be a disappointing encounter, mostly because Serena couldn't summon her best tennis. The Belgian won 6-4, 6-3. Most observers considered this match the de facto final, two rounds too early. It was hard to see anyone other than one of these two hoisting the trophy; Henin is now the only past champion remaining in the draw. No Grand Slam in women's singles this year! (Incidentally, I think the best bets for a sweep of the four majors in 2007 are the Bryan brothers in men's doubles, though if Federer can win the French, he'd be pretty well expected to win again at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, as he has the past three seasons, to complete the Slam.)
Come August, I will be heading to Russia for an eight-day visit to Moscow and St. Petersburg. I booked my tickets today by redeeming points I've been building on my credit card, so the travel there--on a non-stop Delta flight from Kennedy Airport--is basically free! I do recommend paying all your bills on one credit card so that you accrue points for stuff like this. Since my card is not linked to any particular airline, I can redeem points any way I choose.
My sense is that Roger Federer owes Nikolay Davydenko (pictured above) a drink or two for knocking out Guillermo Cañas in straight sets in the Roland Garros quarters. Now, instead of facing Cañas--who beat the #1 player twice in three weeks earlier this season (in Masters Series events, no less!)--in the semifinal on Friday, Federer will play Davydenko, against whom he holds an 8-0 advantage in previous matches played.
Maybe I jinxed Bob and Mike Bryan. A few posts ago, I mentioned their chances for a calendar year Grand Slam. Turns out the pair lost today in Paris in the quarterfinals to the Czech duo of Lukas Dlouhy and Pavel Vizner. The score was 5-7, 6-4, 6-4; apparently the Americans came back from 1-5 in the third and almost levelled at 5-apiece.
Just got in from seeing the new Judd Apatow comedy Knocked Up. It's pretty entertaining: funny, sweet, and even provocative. Thumbs up.
I've added my projected summer travel to the 2007 "where is he now?"map here on the website:
NAME="map" WIDTH="910" HEIGHT="455"
Here is a bigger version of the map.
Just got in from seeing Ocean's 13. It's gotten very strong reviews, but I thought it was just so-so. Not the train wreck that the first sequel was, but nowhere near as charming or witty (or comprehensible) as the original (which was a remake, of course).
Justine Henin made mincemeat of Ana Ivanovic in the women's singles final at the French Open, dismantling her 6-1, 6-2. The occasion may have overwhelmed Ivanovic but it's hard not to be impressed by the Belgian's fourth Roland Garros crown.
It was a quiet Saturday night for me. I finished my adviser reports late in the afternoon, caught up with Austin Ogilvie '05 over dinner, and then watched a film I hadn't seen when it was in theatrical release: Alfonso Cuarón's Children Of Men. This movie was one of the best I have seen in recent memory: skillfully made with stunning camerawork and a thought-provoking script. If you haven't seen this one yet, don't wait!
I'm getting ready to settle in an watch the Roland Garros men's singles final featuring the top two players in the world. This is a hugely important championship--probably the most important match in the sport since last year's Wimbledon final, also between Federer and Nadal. Had the Spaniard won that contest last July, it would have represented a seismic shift in the balance of power in upending Federer on grass, where he has been most dominant. Rafa put up a good fight, but after losing on Centre Court, he was not much of a factor for the remainder of 2006.
The significance of today's showdown is whether Roger Federer can unseat Nadal's lockhold on the French Open since 2005. Nadal has never lost in Paris. But Federer's recent victory over his rival in Hamburg on clay suggests he may have the confidence (and perhaps the game plan) to prevail. If the world #1 can win, he'll add the last missing piece of the puzzle to an amazing array of titles, hold all four majors at once, and keep his chances for a calendar year Grand Slam alive (and he'd be the odds-on favorite to repeat at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open). Moreover, he'd make it much easier for folks to declare him the best player ever.
Bring it on!
In the end, it looked all too similar to their matches at the French the past two years. While Federer was clearly in this match, overcoming Nadal's tremendous defense--he saved 16 of 17 break points!--turned out to be too daunting a task. And so Roger's ambitions for the Grand Slam were dashed once more. What must be even more disappointing is the notion that as long as the younger Spaniard is around and healthy, Federer will have an uphill battle winning at Roland Garros.
The Sopranos is over.
I am one of those who thought my cable went on the fritz in the closing moments of the show, when the cut to black mid-scene amidst all that tension in the restauarant was nearly unbearable. Upon reflection, there was probably no better way to end the show. Expectations of Tony's demise were everywhere, but it would have been the easy way out. Better to leave things to the audience's imagination. In my mind, Tony and Carmela and the kids go on with life as usual--or at least what passes for it in the strange world they inhabit.
The Bronx Bombers seem to winning games, at last! Six in a row now. They still have to dig themselves out of a deep hole, but the second half of the season is when the Yanks have been at their best in recent years.
As in today's song of the day, my bags are packed and I'm off to the airport.
. . . he is tired of life. So said Samuel Johnson, and I do believe he is correct. I am enjoying my time in this capital city once again (though I do feel like a pauper, as the already expensive cost of living here is exacerbated by a brutally weak dollar relative to sterling.)
Tonight, it's off to the opera.
I attended the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden this evening for a production of Beethoven's lone opera, Fidelio. Frankly, I was worried that the jet lag would kick in and I would be nodding off. But the opera was better than I expected, with an intriguing storyline and solid performances. Plus I think I got plenty of sleep on the flight over--more than I usually do--and a very brief nap late in the afternoon, so I didn't fade at all. My seat was in the upper slips, high up on the side of the auditorium, but it was much cheaper because of that and the view was pretty good (though stage left was mostly out of sight). A good night out.
Today I met up with Neal Sarwal, an Eton student who was in the South Africa program I did last summer. We arranged to rendezvous at the Barons Court tube stop and then walk down the road to Queen's Club for some tennis. The Artois Championship is the premier Wimbledon warm-up event, a tournament I have always wanted to see since the days when Connors and McEnroe played there. There's something about the red color scheme surrounding the grass courts that is visually attractive--much more so than the All-England Club's all-green look.
Practice court junkie that I am, some of the best tennis I enjoyed today was watching the workout sessions of Rafael Nadal, Marat Safin, Ivan Lubjicic, Tim Henman, the Bryan brothers, and Andy Roddick (pictured below with Jimmy Connors and brother John looking on).
Since we only scored grounds passes for the day, Neal and settled in to watch Arnaud Clement beat big-serving Aussie Chris Guccione and then Max Miryni top Gael Monfils in an entertaining three-setter on an outer court.
I left my Bayswater hotel around 8:30 this morning, took the Tube to Liverpool Street Station and then the Stansted Express train to the airport. From there I flew to Haugesend, Norway. (RyanAir is an Irish carrier that caters to the budget airfare segment of the market; as long as one is willing to use out-of-the-way airports--like Stansted and Haugesend, for instance!--the fares can be incredibly cheap.) From Haugesend I traveled by bus and ferry through the fjords on the west Norway coast up to Bergen, the nation's second biggest city. It feels more like a town to me, albeit a charming one built around a harbor. The landscape here is spectacular. The last time I saw fjords like these was when I was on the south island of New Zealand in 1998.
David Pogue had a piece in today's International Herald Tribune about noise-canceling headphones. He reviewed the Bose Quiet Comfort 2--which I was wearing as I read the article--and its competitors. I picked up the QC2s on a whim (admittedly, an expensive one!) in Logan Airport in Boston before heading to Bermuda for a week in August 2005 and have worn them on nearly every flight since. As I've been on at least a half dozen 12+ hour flights in the last two years, they have been a godsend. The noise-cancelling properties really do make flying easier: less headache, less jet lag, an overall easier transition.
I wish I had headphones like this when I was in college: not because I flew much then (I took a 30-minute flight twice between Albany and Islip--my first and second times in an airplane) but because I routinely took the long bus ride between Williamstown and New York City, stopping in virtually every town along the way. The ongoing low rumble of the bus for hours invariably put me out of sorts and gave me a headache and a touch of nausea.
Nailing down accommodation in Bergen online a few weeks ago was tough. I ended up staying in a very expensive room here for the night in a Raddison hotel right in the heart of town, overlooking the harbor. My room is comfortable (if overpriced). Its best feature is clear: a bathroom with a gently heated tile floor. Why doesn't every bathroom in the world have this?
This is the source.
This short film on YouTube is pretty amusing.
These shops are on the "bryggen," or waterfront, in the heart of Bergen. My hotel is behind these buildings at the far end, overlooking the harbor. The city is, like Rome, surrounded by seven hills (small mountains, really) on three sides; the fjord is on the fourth.
This is a quaint place. There was a free concert in the downtown shopping area this morning--mostly children's groups performing.
It does feel a bit cut off from the rest of the world. As in Buenos Aires, one can't get the day's edition of the International Herald Tribune from any of the local vendors until the afternoon.
Took a seven-plus hour train ride from Bergen to Oslo. Supposedly this is the highest train route in Northern Europe (I guess that means other than the Alps). We certainly were above the snow line for part of the trip--kind of freaky to see a winter landscape in mid-June! But I am settled into my hotel in Oslo now (having missed dinner tonight) and will explore the city tomorrow.
Before this trip, most of what I knew about Scandanavia was based on stuff like this:
I've gotten pretty good at deciphering some of Norwegian. It's similar to German in many ways, but with some different-looking letters: "å" and "ø" primarily.
Most people here seem pretty fluent in English. Bookstores routinely carry English-language books and familiar pop songs from back home are ubiquitous.
In late May, Norway topped the list of 121 countries as "the most peaceful country" in a study called The Global Peace Index, which was compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The survey looked at 24 factors to determine how peaceful each country was. The United States finished 96th on the list, while Iraq was last. The top five: Norway, New Zealand, Denmark, Ireland, and Japan. (Interesting that the latter two each had a particularly un-peaceful 20th century--Japan as a militarist power in the 1930s and 1940s, and Ireland with civil warfare and "The Troubles" over the course of many decades--so there is hope for all, it seems!)
Today I head to Tromsø, which is north of the Artic Circle. It's near the top of the map above.
I took the pic of Andy Roddick above earlier in the week on the Queen's Club practice courts. With his 4-6, 7-6, 7-6 victory in the championship today over surprise finalist Nicolas Mahut of France, Roddick pretty much locked up the third seed for Wimbledon (which begins in 8 days) and his ranking should return to #3 in the world as well. The American was match point down in the second set before rebounding to win. This was Roddick's fourth title at Queen's, which ties him with John McEnroe, Boris Becker, and Lleyton Hewitt for the record in the grass-court Wimbledon tune-up. Federer still looms as a force on the greensward, but hopefully this year Roddick will at least surpass his early-round loss to Andy Murray in the 2006 Lawn Tennis Championships.
As I wandered around the town of Tromsø this evening--it was pretty quiet, as it was a Sunday--I came across this store:
As I peered in the window, it became apparent that it was a shop dedicated entirely to videogames. Why it is named after Spider-Man, I cannot fathom.
What is weirded yet is the depiction of the wall-crawler:
Maybe this is what Mickey Mouse would look like were he bitten by a radioactive spider?
I guess it's one of those things that you intellectually understand, but you can't really get it untl you see it. Here is the midnight sun--this is downtown Tromsø at 12:45 a.m.:
"Nowegian Wood" is by The Beatles. (iTunes link coming someday!)
As someone whose professional obligations include living with teenaged boys, this blogger's post resonated with me. I pass it along here in its entirety for the benefit of any members of the target audience who may have found their way here:
To: Surly Teenage Boys
From: The Straggly-Haired Pear-Shaped Heterosexual 30-Something Schlumpy Lady with the Glasses Who Drives the Dented Green Car with Britax Car Seats and WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER and GOD BLESS THE WHOLE WORLD NO EXCEPTIONS Bumper Stickers
Re: Take my word for it
Teenage Boys: Stop with the surly. You have nothing to be surly about yet. Yes, pimples suck. Yes, homework sucks. Yes, wanking with your mom’s Skin-So-Soft is not the same thing as doing it in the back of a rebuilt ‘78 Mustang with Jessica Alba.
But your parents give you a room with a bedroom door and they let you keep that door AND keep it closed. They let you have in that room GameBoys and Wiis and Xboxes and other things my aging brain files under the “ATARI” category. They let you hide out for endless hours in that stanky room with those things and they let you slam that door they let you keep. I am here to tell you that this would not be so at my house, because Ma Ingalls here would never put up with that kind of crap.
Aside from school, you are blessed with nearly unlimited freetime and very limited responsibilities. Yet you are surly. You are surly when you load my groceries into my cart. You are surly when I have to ask you to wait so I can find out whether or not Sophie wants chocolate milk or apple juice with her Unhappy Meal. You are surly when I finally pull up to the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through for my whole-milk latte with Splenda and I am not half as cute as my voice was through the speaker.
Let me tell you something, Surly Teenage Boys. Surly becomes a bad, bad, hard-to-beat habit, and it’s not going to help you get laid, either. At the very least, it’s not going to help you get laid well. I know right now you think that any sex is great sex, but you’d be surprised how far a good attitude goes in that department. Mumbling oh baby you know you want it in what you think is a sexy, tough guy voice? Is. Not. Hot. Look up ‘foreplay’ if you need to. Read a few interviews with Sting and Trudie Styler.
Better yet, just work on eye contact. Bonus tip: Sex is better if you’re not ashamed to look the other person in the face. Sex does not preclude smiling. ‘Preclude’ is a good SAT word. Look that up too. I’m trying to help you here. Our two demographics tend to be polar opposites, so consider this an outreach memo.
Surprise yourself. Surprise me and the other pear-shaped women of the world. Pull up your pants. Better yet, buy pants that fit. Scrap the Jay-Z cap. Borrow a tie for absolutely no reason and wear it like You Da Man. Because it’s that frickin’ simple. You Da Man, and not Da Boy, if you carry yourself with respect and treat other people with respect and LOOK PEOPLE IN THE EYE and STOP SHOWING YOUR BUTT CRACK. You could wear your grandmother’s lace doily on your head and no shirt and lederhosen with patent leather stilettos, and if you treated people well and dropped the surly act, you would STILL be Da Man, and you would get Da Girls. And I would like you too, although I would worry about your nipple ring getting caught in your lederhosen suspenders.
Look all people in the eye, even the haggard mother-types. Women like me, the ones who buy baby wipes and supersize tampons and organic milk and a guilty 24-inch Slim Jim and Us Weekly? We remember you. We remember you well. Not you in particular, but we remember how those of your age and species treated us at an early and difficult age, and it mattered. It mattered more than you knew at the time, more than we knew at the time. What you do now, how you treat the young women in your life after your shift at Big Y? I am here to tell you that it matters very much.
Be good to the girls. Not for what you want from them. Because bedroom door or no bedroom door, this whole time sucks bad for them too. Sucks worse, because they’re the ones who bear the visible brunt of young love gone bad and gone unhappily fertile. They’re the ones who wear the terms slut and whore and that c-word that you and I both know, while the guys who manhandle them just yank up their pants, readjust their caps and slink away smirking.
I’m not saying you’ve done this, not yet, but watch your mouth and expect more from yourself. It’s always been easier to ruin a girl than a guy. That kind of damage clings to a girl in ways you don’t know, in ways you don’t ever want to know. Women turn out strong because they’d die if they didn’t.
I’ve got girls. I’d rather you kept your paws off them. I’d rather they loved other girls. But they tell me they like boys like you, so I have no choice but to write you this memo.
Love girls well. Love them honestly. Or don’t love them. And tell them that, gently but assertively. Then walk away, never once talking trash about them. It’s pretty simple: If you don’t love them, don’t stick your boy parts into their girl parts. Be better than that.
If you do love them, great. Then keep your hands off them for longer than you think you can bear it. Keep your hands off them until they put their hands on you. Keep your hands off them for a full week after that too, if you can, and hear where they’re coming from. Listen hard. Because they are on your team. Although without this memo from me, it might have taken you another fifty years and two divorces to figure that out.
Snort if you want, disbelieve if you want, but I know exactly what your penis looks like under your Big Y or Burger King pants. Every pear-shaped mother whose groceries you bag? She knows too. And if she smiles slightly and sadly after she says thanks and you just grunt at the floor, that’s what she’s smiling about. Your penis, and how it rules your life these days.
Don’t get pissed off. Maybe you think you have a terrific penis. Maybe you think you don’t. Maybe you’ve read my post on Ron Black, his adult penis, and the Extender. If you haven’t, read it. Because the point is the same: Women, young or old, pear-shaped, apple-shaped, or brick shithouse-shaped, care much less about your penis than they do about your eyes or your mouth or your hands, and what they say.
What you can do with your penis and what comes out of your penis is just not all that impressive to us. You can do a great shadow-puppet snake act? Terrific. Lift a car with it? Excellent, dude. Get something up on YouTube, stat.
Please know this beyond a shadow of a doubt: Straight girls of all ages are just amused by your penis. Even when we seem to be actively enjoying your penis, we are still amused by your penis. The male member is a funny thing, and it’s even funnier that Freud was dead serious about his beloved theory of penis envy.
Penis envy is something that happens in sidewise glances in a men’s locker room or a men’s restroom, as far as we XX-chromosomed can figure out. There is penis pity, but Freud was too busy sweating and Gestalting in a back room to admit it to himself. It would have killed him.
We don’t care much about your penis and what you do with it, as long as you use it with respect in our presence, or disrespect it to a bloody pulp alone behind your bedroom door. We women DO care a lot about what you do with your eyes, your mouth, your hands. Young women are trying to convince themselves that they don’t care that much about anything, because then the disappointment when you treat them badly is not as acute. So maybe this is news to you. Good. Straight-talking news sources are hard to come by. Trust me.
I will say it again: Surprise them. Surprise the world, yourself, and that naked girl you’ve snuck into your bedroom after school, with great kindness. Kindness is all. Kindness to the naked hotties who will come your way, and kindness to the bundled, exhausted mother-types you barely seem to notice, even when they ask you for two fives and five ones instead of a ten and a five. At this point in our lives, we exhausted mother-types know a lot about sex, and we know a lot about kindness. Kindness is more surprising.
Do not forget: You’re here on this earth because someone had sex, or had a lot of sex that didn’t work, procreatively speaking, so they whipped up your ass in a test tube. But I guaranfrickintee you that sex was involved in some way.
I am no longer as cute as my voice. But I am a force to be reckoned with, particularly if you decide some day that you love one of my daughters. I can tell you right now that I will see it all, that I can see into you, that I will know from your eyes what kind of person you are, or are trying to be. I’ll know too if you’re not trying at all.
So I’m begging you. Start now. Throw surly to the wind. Look at me. I’ll look at you. Let’s smile at each other. I won’t look down at your penis, but we’ll both know it’s there. You’ll know I have a hoo-hoo, because one of my daughters will have fallen headfirst into the cart, and when you help her out, you’ll see she looks just like me. She’s too young for you, but there is someone out there right now who isn’t, and she’s thinking about you.
I know your options. I care about your options.
Rise to the occasion. Make it a habit. There’s a reason the nerdy dudes seem to get the hot chicks later in life. They figure it out early, have more time to practice. Or they’re stinkin’ rich. That’s the chick’s issue; I’ll address that later. Right now I’m talking to you.
Surliness sucks. Kindness rocks. Using girls sucks. Appreciating girls rocks.
I’m watching you. Watch me back. Take a good look at me as I wipe my whining kid’s nose and fumble for my car keys. If you love a girl for the long haul, this is what you’ll get. Someone like me. Someone like your mother.
Try not to recoil. Let it sink in. Because this is the start of recognizing that beauty runs a lot deeper than all of us can see, especially in our crappy surly early years. Since we’re speaking of surprise: Real beauty is fabulously surprising. The sooner you train yourself to look for it (not just the glossy enameled variety), the better.
Meet my eyes and I’ll meet yours. I promise to look harder for your beauty too, even the beauty you don’t know you have yet.
And maybe someday we’ll even have a good laugh over this after Thanksgiving dinner.
The two-month-long daylight phenomenon is pretty cool here, but "midnight sun"? I have yet to see the sun here at ANY time of day. Thus far it's been perpetual overcast skies and on-and-off drizzle.
Before leaving Connecticut, I was asked why I was heading to this Viking village at the north end of the continent. No doubt I wanted to see this 24-hour daylight thing first hand, which now I have (and it makes it harder to get to sleep at night, for sure). But the remoteness of Tromsø appealed to me because these June vacations are just as much about decompression as they are about seeking out the unfamiliar. That is, at the end of the school year, I feel I need some time alone to relax, reflect, and review life. I am at my most thoughtful in these periods, generating lots of ideas, creating lists, and making plans. Now the trick is finding the time to implement them once I get back in "the real world."
Dinner this evening at a pretty low-key pizza place ran me over $50, as did a lunch I had in Oslo the other day. Neither meal was in a fancy restaurant, but I am realizing just how expensive Norway is (again, the weak U.S. dollar is doing me no favors).
I discovered online that Oslo is one of the ten most expensive cities in the world. And Moscow, where I am headed in August, is at the top of the list! Ugh.
An intriguing piece in this week's New York profiling Steve Jobs in the context of the soon-to-be-released iPhone. You can read it online.
I am plugging back into the second season of HBO’s The Wire on DVD, my enjoyment of which got sidetracked mid-course at the beginning of the spring term (funny how school being in session does that to me). With the bounty of unscheduled time now available to me, I am also re-engaging my reading of The Brothers Karamazov, which I also left mid-stream a few months back.
I am back in the Oslo airport, experiencing sunshine for the first time in days. Tromsø was charming, but a pretty gray place overall; I never saw the sun once in my time there. I can only imagine the wintertime in Tromsø would be absolutely depressing, what with lots of snow and two full months of polar night--the place gets just a couple of hours of dusky light each day. (You can see exactly how much light the town gets at various times of year on this site.)
At any rate, I am killing time on a layover until my flight to Stockholm. I got caught up with the International Herald Tribune and USA Today as well as the latest Time magazine. I also am catching up on some podcasts. I have a handful that I listen to at least weekly, as well as a bunch I check out more sporadically. For those of you who might care, here is my current subscription list:
More Or Less Weekly Listens:
KCRW’s Left, Right and Center - a weekly political roundtable
SModcast - filmmakers Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier sally forth with great (if often twisted) humor
The News From Lake Wobegon - Garrison Keillor's monologues from A Prarie Home Companion radio show
The Ricky Gervais Show - not currently in production, but hilarious interaction between the British comedian, his co-creator Stephen Merchant, and their bone-headed sidekick Karl Pilkington
Wild Boars Tennis Podcast - my own handiwork, updated only in the spring
David Pogue - the technology columnist for the New York Times
In Our Time - in-depth consideration of eclectic topics, from BBC Radio Four
Car Talk - the NPR show featuring the brothers Magliozzi
The Onion Radio News - 60 seconds of humor you'd expect, given the source
Slate Magazine Daily Podcast - articles from the online magazine
I arrived in Stockholm, took the airport express to the central train station, and made it to my hotel on the outskirts of the city (the neigborhood of Bromma, actually) by skillfully navigating the subway system. At first glimpse, this capital city is far more expansive than Oslo. Tomorrow I will explore it.
A print of this famous 1932 photograph, "Lunchtime Atop A Skyscraper," was right in front of me while I ate dinner tonight. I felt queasy just looking at the print. I could not imagine ever feeling comfortable enough to have a relaxing lunch this high off the ground just sitting on a steel beam above the city.
My watch--sorry, my wristop computer!--broke down this morning with a drained battery, so I need to track down a new battery tomorrow. Suunto is a Scandavian company (Finnish, in fact) so it shouldn’t be too hard to find a place that can provide me what I need. The Suunto Vector was a very nice gift from a parent of a JV squash player a few years back--something I never would have bought for myself. It's an awfully large thing to wear on my wrist, but it's a pretty cool little machine. Of course, it can do far more than what I use it for, as it has a built-in compass, barometer, and altimeter, in addition to the usual gamut of timepiece functions. I pretty much use it to tell time.
A laid-back day for me, mindful that in a week's time, I'll be back at work: teaching in the morning, handling office chores in the afternoon, and covering dorm duty in the evening.
I explored the city a bit via the subway system (T-bana) and ended up having lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe.
I always feel a little guilty going to a place like this, as it seems like such a typically touristy thing to do. The fact is, it's comforting to have a little taste of home once in a while when abroad, even if it is overpriced. I do enjoy checking out the rock memorabilia, too. (I've been to Hard Rock Cafes in Amsterdam, Bangkok, Barcelona, Cairo, London, Melbourne, Oslo, Rome, Stockholm, and Sydney, as I recall.)
I took care of a couple of other tasks, too, namely getting my watch battery replaced and mailing some postcards.
Just finished Season 2 of The Wire. This is a GREAT show. On to the next season.
One month until the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!
Had a lovely day exploring the Gamla Stan (the Old Town in Stockholm), with narrow cobble-stoned streets winding past attractive shops.
There's an interesting article that ran in the international edition of USA Today about wood tennis racquets. Apparently a slew of current tour players were asked to hit with traditional wooden frames and compare them to the modern racquet technology. (One of them, Novak Djokovic--currently the #5 player in the world--had NEVER hit with a wood racquet before!) The common consensus--not surprisingly--was great feel, much less power.
Part of me wishes the tennis authorities did what the baseball folks did: limited the professional game to to the traditional equipment (i.e., wood racquets with smaller head sizes) while allowing the rest of us to benefit from technological advances. The problem with this, of course, is a commercial one: the racquet companies use the top players to drive sales of new racquets. Coaches and teaching pros see this first-hand, too. For example, I am on the HEAD advisory staff, which means I get a couple of free racquets every year. There is a clear push to adopt the company's new technology every season. So as someone who has been using the Prestige line of sticks, I have migrated from the iPrestige to the Liquidmetal Prestige to the Flexpoint Prestige as HEAD has upgraded the line and discontinued the older versions. (This time next year I'll be wielding the Microgel Prestige, by the way, which will be released late this year or early next.)
Of course the irony is that most of the top pros don't even play with the racquet it LOOKS like they are playing with. At that level of the game, the athletes are so attuned to the exact details of their equipment that the companies produce "paint jobs" for them-customized versions of older models that are made to resemble the current version. It's pretty much an open secret on the tour. Hence Roger Federer's "new" Wilson racquet this year is just a cosmetically altered version of the same frame he's been comfrotably winning with for years. Marat Safin, who plays with the aforementioned HEAD Prestige line, actually uses a Prestige Classic 600 frame, a discontinued model he won the U.S. Open with in 2000, but it has been painted to look like the iPrestige, the Liquidmetal Prestige, and the Flexpoint Prestige over the years (and no doubt soon the Microgel Prestige will follow).
Had the pros stuck with the wooden racquets, none of this would be necessary (though even in the 1970s, Ilie Nastase was notorious for having Wilson racquets painted to resemble adidas models to satisfy his sponsor without playing with inferior equipment). But it's doubtful the world's top players would be getting big bucks for using racquets that most of the rest of us would never dream of buying when we could be using graphite composites, oversized heads, wide bodies, and the rest.
As someone who tends to spend a fair amount of travel time in some of the world's major cities, I am following with fascination a recent survey by the International Herald Tribune (in conjunction with a magazine I have never heard of called Monocle) that rates cities for their quality of life. You can check out the list youself online. For what it's worth, I have been to fifteen of the top twenty cities listed and while I would quibble a bit with the order, this is not a bad list.
As an American, I am continually amazed at the facility with languages most Europeans seem to have. I have yet to deal with a single person in Norway or Sweden who did not speak fluent English!
Yesterday Steven Spielberg took this picture of Harrison Ford, back in costume for the first time since 1989 as a certain "professor of archaeology, expert on the occult, and . . . how does one say it? . . . obtainer of rare antiquities."
Mark your calendars for May 22, 2008!
This is my first trip to Europe in years in which I did not use the Euro as currency at some point. Two of the three countries I am visiting--the U.K. and Sweden--are E.U. members that have rejected the Euro and the third--Norway--is not an E.U. member.
Has it really been thirty years since Star Wars arrived on the scene? This was the ULTIMATE summer movie when it came out. It stood on its own: no trilogy, no prequels, no "Episode IV" or "A New Hope" revisionism, no Greedo shooting first, and no knowledge that Vader was Luke's father.
I saw the movie with my family as a birthday present. This was in August, though the movie had been released it late May. Back then, it was common for films to have a limited release and then gradually appear on more and more screens. These days, a blockbuster has a huge weekend or two on thousands of screens and that's pretty much it until the DVD arrives a few months later. Star Wars was nothing like that: it had "legs," as they say in the business. Even when I saw it, months after its premiere, there was a line of people snaking around the cinema in the rain. And of course lots of folks saw Star Wars multiple times in the theater (this was in the era before home video took off). I remember going with my 8th-grade science class to see a 70mm print of the film on an enormous screen at some point in the fall, so it was still going strong then.
I loved Star Wars from the very start. I was probably the perfect age for it. Everything about the movie was exciting: the visuals, the soundtrack, the characters, the action. Most people I knew in my junior high universe loved it too (though not my parents--the one word I remember from their review was "corny"!)
It absolutely astounds me to think that there are teenagers today who have NEVER seen any of the Star Wars six films, even after they were re-released in the theaters with upgraded special effects and distributed on DVD more recently.
When I first arrived at the Stockholm Central Station, the signs over the escalators indicated that apparently I was expected. Nice of them to let me know exactly which way I am supposed to go.
I arrived in London and made my way to my hotel on The Strand, just around the corner from Covent Garden. As I leave the hotel and look to right, I see Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square at the end of the street. Pretty good location.
I took in a movie this afternoon, the Fantastic Four sequel. The bad news: a cinema ticket in the west end set me back £13--which is nearly $26! Pretty outrageous. The good news is that the film was more enjoyable than its lukewarm reviews suggested it would be. It was nothing deep, but a fairly enjoyable comic book flick.
The shops in London are open between noon and 6 p.m. on Sundays, so I had a limited window to stop by my London office (a.k.a. the Regent Street Apple Store) for Internet connectivity, get some lunch, and run a few errands.
I opted not to see a West End show this trip, in part because there is nothing here I am particularly dying to see, and in part because it would cost me a fortune with the current exchange rate and I've already spent enough on this vacation. I am sorry I missed Sir Ian McKellen as Lear up in Stratford by just a day; I'd have headed north for that if the timing worked out. But instead I booked tickets today to two Broadway shows for this Wednesday: a matinee of Inherit The Wind (which I starred in as a high school senior, though not on Broadway!) and an evening production of Spring Awakening, which did so well at the Tony Awards a couple weeks back.
Tonight I finished The Golden Compass, volume one in Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy. I picked up the book in a Stockholm science fiction bookstore and it was a gripping fantasy. I can't wait to get to the sequels, which Amazon is now sending my way back home.
Today begins "the Fortnight." As a boy I rabidly consumed every telecast of the Wimbledon championships. The pickings were slim in those days: you were pretty much limited to what NBC aired. In the 1970s and early 1980s, that was 15 minutes of highlights each weeknight (perhaps only in the second week, at that) and tape-delayed coverage on the middle weekend. We were lucky to have "Breakfast At Wimbledon" on the finals weekend, showing the gentlemen's championship, and later the ladies' championship, live at 9 a.m., East Coast time in America. I came of age as a Wimbledon fan in the Borg era. The Swede had a stranglehold on the title, winning five in a row, and getting the final a sixth straight year. It was magic.
I went to the tournament for the first time in 1994 and have been back roughly half the years since then. It is still magic.
Precipitation ruined my chances to see tennis today. Although it will likely clear up, at least for part of the day, later on, I need to get to Heathrow for an evening flight home, so I can't really afford to wait around. I made it all the way out to the All-England Club for the start of play at noon, but the skies started to open and the forecast for the afternoon is pretty dreadful. So I turned around and went back into the city.
I am preparing to swap my suitcase for a briefcase. Time to get back to work! I actually missed the first day of Choate summer school today and will need to hit the ground running for my 8:15 class tomorrow morning.
I have an evening flight that leaves from Heathrow at 8:05 and arrives at J.F.K. at 10:50. Assuming the flight is on schedule, that should get me to Wallingford by around 1:30 a.m. It still amazes me that I can have dinner in London and breakfast in my own house the very next morning!
Even in the summer, there's a certain excitement about the beginning of school: new students, the term ahead, and fresh energy. I missed the first day of classes while in London yesterday but reported for duty promptly at 8:15 this morning!
I just finished watching a matinee performance of Inherit The Wind on Broadway, starring Christopher Plummer and Brian Dennehy. It brought back a lot of memories, as I played Henry Drummond (the Plummer role) in my senior year of high school. Some of the lines were dredged up from deep memories as I watched the performance.
Just got home from New York, having seen the evening performance of Spring Awakening, the 2007 Tony winner for Best Musical. (How's this for a minor connection: the composer, Duncan Sheik, lived in my house as a tenth grader in my first year of teaching at Andover.) The production itself was incredibly energetic; it's easy to see why this show has so many enthusiastic adherents.
I guess a sign of good art is that its effects linger. I still have the images, songs, and energy of Spring Awakening in my head 24 hours later.
When it comes to consumer technology, cutting edge is cool, bleeding edge is probably not. Which is a fancy way of saying that as intrigued as I am by the sexy new iPhone--released today--I will wait before thinking of getting one. The first generation of iPod looks woefully inept in retrospect and I have to think in a year or two the iPhone will be much cheaper and vastly improved in its storage capacity, function, network, and battery life. I can wait.
Not one to pass up a summer blockbuster, I digested Live Free Or Die Hard this evening. Granted that I checked my brain at the door for this preposterous flick, it was reasonably entertaining.
About mid-week, something in the school's firewall set-up started blocking access to Gracenote CDDB, the service that automatically identifies the CD and all tracks in iTunes when you load a disc into your computer. This is maddening. The alternative is to enter the name of each track manually, along with other tagged information for the CD.