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Archive for March, 2013

Today’s book review is for “I Shouldn’t Even Be Doing This!“, written by Bob Newhart (2006©).  The book is his autobiography.  Mr. Newhart is a famous comedian / entertainer who’s been doing stand-up comedy / storytelling for over half a century.
Newhart is somewhat famous for never doing any “offensive” language or stories in his humor.  He has a droll, dead-pan humor which is based almost entirely on timing and your (the listening audience’s) imagination.  Most of his best skits are one sided conversations – usually over a radio or telephone – where he says something and then waits some length of time before responding to the person at the other end.  Because you never hear anyone at the other end, Newhart’s next line is the one leading your imagination.  Essentially, he is telling you what you “reasonably” just thought, and you agree, and laugh.  This sets you up for the next response… and so on.
The problem is the book is not really funny.  I am a Newhart fan and I enjoyed the book, not because the book is funny, but because I remember hearing the skits / stories as I was growing up.  In a bizarre way, he has written a book which mimics his comedic style.
There is another (minor) problem with the book.  It is incredible how much name dropping is done throughout the book.  It’s almost as if Newhart is trying to describe his life by who he hung out with instead of what he actually thought or felt.  To me, this is minor, because he has nothing bad to say about anyone and, as the reader, you are left with the impression that stand-up comedy is a very small clique and everyone really does know everyone else (and you hang out with each other).  Or at least it was back then.
If you are not a Newhart fan, or if you are looking for insight into his life (juicy gossip) or what it’s like to be big star, or you want to better understand comedy in general, or his style in specific – forget it.  You won’t find much (anything) here.  In fact, I’d recommend that even if you are a fan, you should go to YouTube or wherever you look at videos and watch / listen to some of his old acts.  You almost have to appreciate the art form, before you will be able to appreciate the autobiography.
Incidentally, I noticed that the videos of Newhart are a lot funnier than even the pure audios.  Newhart’s facial dead-pan expressions are really what make him a genius.  It’s still funny hearing his voice, but it’s not AS funny.  Just as reading the skit portions in the book are still funny, but not AS funny as seeing him perform them.  Truly a comedian made for TV and live performances.
Would I recommend this book?  Tough call.  If you are a fan; someone who grew up watching the two TV series; or you’ve spent a lot of time watching old reruns of Newhart’s TV-series, yes. Definitely!  Again, not because the book is insightful or funny, but because it will probably remind you of when you first heard these jokes.  The insight is about you and your memories not Newhart’s.
For an explanation of today’s post title, see my prior post: “Certainty“.
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For God’s sake give me the young man who has brains enough to make a fool of himself!
  —  Robert Louis Stevenson
From: “Crabbed Age And Youth”
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When I write, it’s like my heart unraveling onto a sheet of paper.  It’s not that the writings are brilliant, well-edited, or even comparable to the best writers of our times.  It’s just that when I write, I have everything I’ve ever wanted.  It’s like I get to create every dream, from the ground up.  When I write, my heart is described in alphabetical form.  And then, it’s there in front of me, and I get to read it — I get to read my heart out loud.
  —  Coco J. Ginger
From the blog site:  http://courtingmadness.wordpress.com
The original posting is:  http://courtingmadness.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/who-do-you-write-for/
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The foundation of a standard of performance is attention to detail.
  —  Bill Walsh
Former 49er Head Coach
As quoted in:  “The Genius“, by David Harris
[“Attention to detail, private!” was another of those sayings my old Drill Sergeant used to beat me over the head with…  Who knew he might have been a great coach!  —  KMAB]
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I would have written of me on my stone:  “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.
  —  Robert Frost
[And a happy birthday to me!  —  KMAB]
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A poor chess player can still make a remarkable move.
  —  Wang Yinggui
From:  “Liu Nan Sui Bi
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We have two ears and only one tongue in order that we may hear more and speak less.
  —  Diogenes
[And ten fingers and two eyes, that we should write blogs more than we should read?  —  KMAB]
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Of Bob Dylan
There are those who do not imitate,
Who cannot imitate
But then there are those who emulate
At times, to expand further the light
Of an original glow.
Knowing that to imitate the living
Is mockery
And to imitate the dead
Is robbery
There are those
Who are beings complete unto themselves
Whole, undaunted,  a source
As leaves of grass, as stars
As mountains, alike, alike, alike,
Yet unalike
Each is complete and contained
And as each unalike star shines
Each ray of light is forever gone
To leave way for a new ray
And a new ray, as from a fountain
Complete unto itself, full, flowing
So are some souls like stars
And their words, works and songs
Like strong, quick flashes of light
From a brilliant, erupting cone.
So where are your mountains
To match some men?
This man can rhyme the tick of time
The edge of pain, the what of sane
And comprehend the good in men, the bad in men
Can feel the hate of fight, the love of right
And the creep of blight at the speed of light
The pain of dawn, the gone of gone
The end of friend, the end of end
By math of trend
What grip to hold what he is told
How long to hold, how strong to hold
How much to hold of what is told.
And Know
The yield of rend; the break of bend
The scar of mend
I’m proud to say that I know it,
Here-in is a hell of a poet.
And lots of other things
And lots of other things.
—  Johnny Cash
From the liner notes for Dylan’s Nashville Skyline album
[Johnny was not a bad poet, himself…  —  KMAB]
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In the last couple of weeks I watched one new movie (“The Hobbit“) and two re-runs (“The Shoes of the Fisherman” and “Battle: Los Angeles“).
New
The Hobbit” is the prequel novel to the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.  Actually, LOTR was not a trilogy.  It was a single LONG novel.  The publisher didn’t believe there was a market for a fantasy of such length (don’t you love experts), so they had Tolkien break the story up into three books.  I don’t recall the books standing that well as independent novels, so I guess it was lucky they’ve always been sold as a trilogy.  Anyway, I’ve watched LOTR multiple times and I read the books (maybe) ten years ago.  I read “The Hobbit” MANY years ago, probably thirty-five or so.  I enjoyed the Hobbit so much I bought the LOTR immediately, but then never read them.  Over the years, I’ve had to repurchase them at least three times, because I’d move and lose them or I’d loan them out and never get them back.
Back to the movie…  I don’t remember the book much…  Hobbit, dragon, special shirt, blue sword, orcs and a ring (“the” ring).  I’m told by fans the movie doesn’t really follow the book.  It both adds new bits and expands other bits.  Yeah, I get it.  You’re an expert and you were not really pleased…  Sorry.  Don’t care.  I really enjoyed this movie.  It’s a bit long and probably a bit too intense for small children, but otherwise, I thought it was really good.  If I have one regret, it’s that I didn’t make more of an effort to see it on the big screen.
There’s action, battles, heroics, and humor.  The humor is both physical and spoken, so you’ve got to both watch and listen.  The acting is good and the special effects are very good on the small screen.  (By small screen, I mean on our 48-inch, high-def home TV.)  You will have to pause every now and then (or have an exceptional bladder), but otherwise, I highly recommend this movie and I will definitely make the effort to see parts two and three at the theater.
Re-runs
I last watchedThe Shoes of the Fisherman” back in April of 2010 (see that review here).  I got it off the shelf to get myself in the mood for a nice long papal conclave.  For those of you not up to snuff on Roman Catholicism, when we need a new Pope (usually because the prior one has died), we hold a meeting of Cardinals called a “conclave”.  There, any Cardinal of voting age (under 80 years old) can vote to elect the person they feel should be the next Pope.  The conclave may be long or short and there’s no way to tell in advance how the Holy Spirit will guide the meeting.  Anyway, this is a movie I’ve enjoyed watching several times (I’ve probably seen it no more than a half dozen times in my life) and it always reminds me that my faith is a way of viewing our place in the world and in history and that it is not the “institution” of the Church.  I highly recommend this film too/again.
In real life, the conclave did not last even a week, so there was hardly much suspense from multiple votes.  In fact, the real conclave was shorter than the one in the movie.
The second movie (“Battle: Los Angeles“) is a well done military action film – the U.S. Marines versus an alien invasion.  Setting aside the plausibility of humanity being able to defeat a civilization which is able to move from solar system to solar system, the point is, do you enjoy watching the film.  I did (do).  In all honesty, I’ve watched this several times since getting the DVD and doing my second review (here) back in January 2012.  I initially reviewed the film after returning from my trip to Liverpool back in 2011 (here).  It’s still a terrific little action film (Ooh-rah!!) and it’s still highly recommended.  I haven’t intended to do it, but I guess I’m kind of setting a precedent of not reviewing a movie more than once a year on this blog – even if I’ve seen it more than that during the period.
By the way, I reviewed the film’s ranking on Rotten Tomatoes – it got a 31 rating; then I went to see it on Wikipedia.  According to Wiki, even though the film was roundly trashed by the critics, it did quite well at the box office and there is some discussion about making a sequel.  I can’t see how this really happens because the movie was borderline unbelievable, but if they can come up with a decent action movie, a Sci-Fi buff like me will normally shell out for the ticket.  I guess we’ll see…
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The object is to play so well so consistently that your opponent caves in.
  —   Bill Walsh
Former 49er Head Coach
As quoted in “The Genius“, by David Harris
[Happy Birthday Bro,
The same can be said about squeezing every drop of living out of life…
Love ya,
Kev
  —   KMAB]
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But we’re all just grown-up boys
And it’s only pride that robs us
Of the fun the kid enjoys.
  —  Anonymous
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Within this awful volume lies
The mystery of mysteries:
Happiest they of human race,
To whom their God has given grace
To read, to fear, to hope, to pray,
To lift the latch, to force the way;
But better had they ne’er been born,
Who read to doubt, or read to scorn.
  —   Sir Walter Scott’s Bible Inscription
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Only those who have tasted the bitterest of the bitter can become people who stand out among others.
  —  Guanchang Xianxing Ji
Found in:  “American Shaolin“, by Matthew Polly
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You have to develop an ethic so that on every down you play as well as you can play.  From week to week, it is your personal, internalized standard of play that makes the difference.
  —  Bill Walsh
Former 49er Head Coach
As quoted in “The Genius“, by David Harris
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Life

Let me but live my life from year to year,
    With forward face and unreluctant soul;
    Not hurrying to, nor turning from the goal;
Not mourning for the things that disappear
In the dim past, nor holding back in fear
    From what the future veils; but with a whole
    And happy heart, that pays its toll
To Youth and Age, and travels on with cheer.
So let the way wind up the hill or down,
    O’er rough or smooth, the journey will be joy:
    Still seeking what I sought when but a boy,
New friendship, high adventure, and a crown,
    My heart will keep the courage of the quest,
    And hope the road’s last turn will be the best.
  —   Written by:  Henry Van Dyke
[In my journal, this poem was titled:  “The Zest of Life”  —  KMAB]
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