Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Thoughts for a Better Year

It's that introspective time of year, when we look back, take stock of where we've been, and look ahead to where we're going. New Year's Eve, a time for fresh starts, is upon us.

We all know the resolution drill, but I read something today that made astonishing sense for all year long. "Mentally Strong People: The 13 Things They Avoid" is a kind of road map to watering your own garden and being happy with where you are and what you have in life. Maybe the article resonated so strongly with me because it reminds me a bit of my own "Five Be's," which I listed here a couple of years ago.

Happy New Year. Make it a good one; only you can.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Beyond the Baroness

If you love old films, you've probably heard of Eleanor Parker. If you've heard of her, you've probably seen some of her movies. And if you've seen her movies, even though she's been retired from acting for many years, you'll be sorry that she's gone.

Eleanor Parker as "Lenore" in Scaramouche, 1952
Eleanor Parker was a whole lot more than "The Baroness" in The Sound of Music, which is how most movie-goers think of her. But she had a brilliant career in 1940s-and-50s Hollywood, acting with such giants as Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, and Frank Sinatra. She was an Oscar nominee for best actress three times.  Her obituary in the "Movie" section of The New York Times doesn't even mention one of her most engaging roles--that of the fiery, love-struck actress in Scaramouche, which starred Stewart Granger in the title role.

Although she acted until the early 1990s, I last remember her in Bracken's World, a 1970s TV show about Hollywood behind the scenes.

If you haven't seen it and you enjoy a good story on film, I recommend giving Scaramouche a viewing. It's likely that you may want to keep watching Eleanor Parker. So try a few of her other films. If you don't know where to start, Caged and The Naked Jungle are two of my favorites.

We've lost another of our great screen talents from the golden age. Fortunately, we've got her on film for all time.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Singing Christmas Joy

I get chills every time I hear the Christmas section of Handel's Messiah. This version is the London Symphony Orchestra in December 2006, conducted by Sir Colin Davis. Just awesome, brilliant, gorgeous music. Take a moment from the pre-Christmas bustle to enjoy the season in glorious song.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Christmas Story

Orlando, the hero guide dog
This dramatic story on the blind man who fell onto New York City subway tracks and his devoted guide dog that stuck by him as the train sped towards them has everything one could possible wish for during the Christmas season--love, faithfulness, courage, generosity, and at least a couple of miracles.

It's a heartwarming tale that proves happy endings aren't always Hollywood fiction; they can be a real-life reality. Although come to think of it, a smart movie maker might want to take a look at this one.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Gospel in Motion

"It's not a political agenda -- it's an evangelical one."
~ Kathryn Lopez on Pope Francis

Spreading the Good News
The Church's message hasn't changed, but the delivery has. And it's getting through. Pope Francis has earned enormous support with his simple style and direct answers. It's not like he's starting a new, more hip religion, as much of the media seems to believe. It's just that he's not allowing himself to be distracted with issues-du-jour.

This pope is a man on a mission to call us into action to make a better world. He's also quite the traditionalist, as he exhibited yesterday on Twitter:

Mary, Our Mother, sustain us in moments of darkness, difficultly and apparent defeat.

Hmm. What would Diane Sawyer do with that one?

Pope Francis is not exactly a wild-eyed revolutionary. Far from burning down the house, he seems intent on renovating it. There's room for all on the punch list. As Mother Teresa noted, even if you can only help one person, do it. Choose a chore and get to work.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Poor Excuses

“The real measure of your wealth is how much you’d be worth if you lost all your money.”
~ Anonymous

Forbes has an interesting article that asks whether poverty is the result of bad luck, personal failings, or the enabling welfare state. The reader learns that Warren Buffett seems to think life is based on the "ovarian lottery"--a strange opinion for a man who built his own fortune from humble beginnings.

The article's staggering financial statistics of what we as a nation have spent in the past half century trying to cure poverty may make you ill; but, it's worth a read in this season of giving and gratitude.

And it's worth noting that poverty doesn't stop everyone, as these once-homeless celebrities demonstrate. Looks to me like these particular individuals won the determination-and-drive lottery. You'd think Mr. Buffett would have heard of that by now.