Posts Tagged ‘Serendipity and Chaos’

The following is a quote which recently caught my attention and which I think (somewhat humorously) describes my blog (so I’ve added it to my “About” page):
A Miscellany is a collection without a natural ordering relation; I shall not attempt a spurious unity by imposing artificial ones. I hope that variety may compensate for this lack, except for those irreconcilable persons who demand an appearance of unity and uniform level.
  —  John Edensor Littlewood
From the introduction to his book: “A Mathematician’s Miscellany
On This Day In:
2016 Are Your Prayers Functioning?
2015 Expressing Love
2014 Cyclical Attitudes
2013 Footprints
2012 Broken Resolutions
Bin It

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This week I was driving to work, bored with sports and political radio, I switched over to some easy listening and lo and behold heard two great songs!  One I’d heard before and the other I don’t remember hearing before.
Anyway, they were both so terrific I immediately committed to remembering their catch lines (not all that easy for someone who’s getting on in years) and wrote them down when I got to work so I could listen to them when I got home.  (We are not allowed to listen to internet music at work…)
The two songs are: “Bruises“, performed by Train (featuring Ashley Monroe) and “Should’ve Gone To Bed“, performed by Plain White T’s.  They are both easy listing cross-overs between Pop and Modern Country sounds.  Very enjoyable with ear-candy / stick in your head hooks.  Bruises is another classic song about boy and girl meeting ten years later and asking about what’s been happening.  The interesting thing is although there is an obvious “connection” happening in the song, both are “once burned, twice shy” and nothing may happen except the “promise” to keep in touch.  My favorite verse is:

These bruises
Make for better conversation
Loses the vibe that separates
It’s good to let you in again
You’re not alone and how you’ve been
Everybody loses
We all got bruises
We all got bruises

The second song (“Should’ve Gone To Bed“) is the new one for me.  On the radio, it sounds as if it’s a song about regrets and calling some number of “Ex’es” after the relationships are over.  In the “official” video, it appears to be a song about a man who’s afraid to tell his girlfriend how he feels until he’s on the verge of losing her.  …And then they make up (to presumably live happily ever after).  It surprised me to come away with the two completely different reactions to the same song depending on if you were listening to it, listening to it and following the lyrics, or watching the official video.  I guess the line which strikes me is most of us have broken up in our relationships, tried to move on and then when there’s a problem (or were just feeling lonely), we pick up the phone and call the “Ex”.  Sometimes they answer and the cycle starts again.  Sometimes they answer but the cycle doesn’t restart.  Sometimes it ends just as badly as before; and sometimes everyone is spared the drama because the other party just doesn’t answer the phone or return the call.  Being human, we assume it’s because they don’t want to talk to us anymore.
Someday the geezer’s among us will be telling the kids how (in our day) people didn’t have caller ID or voice mail or home answering machines, and sometimes relationships didn’t work out – not because one or both sides didn’t reach out to the other to make up – but simply because one party wasn’t there to answer the call.  The concept seems “funny” in this age of always-on connectivity…  Sometimes things just happen (or don’t happen) for no particular reason.
As always, check out the lyrics off of my Poems page, then go listen to the recordings – and in this instance, make sure you go find the “official” video for “Should’ve Gone To Bed“.  Let me know if you got the same reaction to the lyrics versus the song versus the video.  And remember to support the Arts in your local community.
On This Day In:
2012 Extra Gears
2011 Say What?
2010 Hello Frogs…

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“You’re not like the rest of them,” she said.

“Yes, I know,” was his reply.

“Why?” she asked.

“I don’t know.  I’m not sure.  What makes you feel I’m different?”

She paused, “You don’t act the same as the rest.”

“How don’t I?” he asked.

“You don’t hurt things on purpose, like they do,” she replied.

“Yes I do.”

“But not the same way,” she answered.

“What difference the method – the end is the same,” he stated flatly.

“But you care more.”

“About what?”

“About everything! You smile, you see, you try to help, you care when I’m lonely or depressed.”

He smiled her, “And no one else does?”

“Not like you!” she answered.  “When you look at me, something happens.  It feels like you’re looking into me, not at me.  Do you know what I mean?”

“I’m not sure,” he answered.

“It’s your eyes,” she said, “they’re funny.”

“What do you mean they’re funny?!!”  he interjected.

“I don’t mean funny – humorous,” she said trying to soothe him, “or funny – stupid; I mean funny – weird.”

“Weird!” he replied straightening his back.

“Wait a minute will you?!” she pleaded.  “I mean unusual, not weird.”

“Okay,” he replied, calmed slightly, but still on the defensive.

“I mean when I look at you I sometimes wonder what you’re thinking about me or about whatever we’re doing – ”

“So, everyone does that,” he interrupted.

“Will you keep quiet?!” she demanded.

“Okay,” he answered.

“Shhh!!  Now I forgot – oh, yeah – and then you look at me, right in the eyes, and I get this shuddering feeling – ”

“Why?” he asked.

“Shhushh!!!   I’m explaining – I get this slight shuddering feeling inside ’cause I have this feeling when you look into my eyes that you can see what I’m thinking and really feeling…”

“About what?” he asked.

“About noth — whatever we’re doing.”

“Oh,” he replied.

[I think those of us who love words and ideas all harbor the secret (or not so secret) ambition to write the Great American (or whatever) Novel.  As much as I like adventure movies, the novels I’ve enjoyed have always had great conversations between people who came to feel real.  Naturally, my first (and so far only) attempt had to be a conversation (the above).  Written many years ago, “Oh,” seemed like a good place to stop.  I did – and never got back to a preface or an ending…   —  KMAB]

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A work of art (even cartoon art) is never really finished; it is abandoned.

—  Brooke McEldowney
Pibgorn (originally in 2001, but appearing on 31 March 2005): http://www.gocomics.com/pibgorn/2005/03/31

Nature is the art of God.

—  Durante (Dante) degli Alighieri

[“Pibgorn” is one of several cartoon / comics I follow.  It’s well worth your checking out.  —  KMAB]

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Yesterday I suffered another bad bout with my kidney stones.  I took advantage of the time off to finish the book: “American Shaolin“, by Matthew Polly (2007©).  This is a story about a young man who drops out of college to travel to the middle of China to spend two years learning about Kung-Fu.  Because he has been raised as a “nerdy” romantic from the mid-west (Kansas), it’s not good enough to just study Kung-Fu in America, he has to go all the way to the Shaolin temple.

The book is more about coming of age and Chinese culture than it is about martial arts.  Kung-Fu is really just the vehicle to carry us through the author’s voyage / passage into adulthood.  The story is a very fast read even though it’s over 350 pages.  Basically, I read it in one full day and one half day.

As per usual, I came upon the motivation to read this book quite by serendipity.  I found the book at Half-Price Books for $2 a couple of months ago, so I picked it up thinking I’ll add it to my martial arts library and maybe get around to reading it eventually.   Well, it turns out one of the blogs I follow has an interview with the author discussing learning – basically, the rule of 10,000.  Since I knew I had the book on my shelf, I thought this is the universe’s way of telling me to read it.  So, “eventually” came sooner than I expected.

If you are at all interested in Chinese culture, you should read this book.  It is a gold mine – a treasure trove.  For example, the Chinese begin bargaining with a cigarette.  It is usually offered by the seller and depending on how quickly you take it (if at all) and how you take it (with humility) and what type you ask for (American – expensive; Chinese – cheaper), you set the tone for the entire negotiation.  This is the kind of real world experience you can only get by spending a fair amount of time living with and reflecting on a particular culture.

There is not much in the book about fighting or Kung-Fu, but that’s okay.  Many times the best books about a culture have nothing to do with the vehicle for examining the culture and everything to do with the view as you travel.  In other words, it is the Chinese people who make this a entertaining and fascinating book.  Not the martial art.  Highly recommended!!

Oh, incidentally, the “rule of 10,000” is that you must practice something 10,000 times before you can become proficient at it.  From there, you can begin to achieve mastery.


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A little while back I re-watched the original “Tron” movie (1982).  I picked it up with the latest version, “Tron: Legacy“, some time ago, but have not sat down to watch them both together.  Well, I still haven’t.  But I did watch the first to see what I remembered – not much.  Well, not much about the movie anyway.  What I took away from the re-viewing was the sense of deja vu from knowing but not remembering a movie.
The word “tron” comes from the programming contraction of “trace on”, which is a programming tool for helping to see what’s going on in a running program.  “Tron” turns the process on and “Troff” turns it off (“trace off”).  Yes, programmers are an original lot when it comes to naming things.  None of this is mentioned or explained in the movie.  That would have been TOO geeky for the average audience.
Anyway, I went to see the movie at the theater (back in ’82) because I was (am, but less so now) a computer geek.  A programmer.
Setting aside the geek factor, is Tron a good movie?  No.  Not even for its day.  Did that really matter to me?  No.  Not even to this day.
It’s a “cool” movie with reasonable special effects which incorporates a number of Sci-Fi and Computer Science related terms and I loved being on the “inside” of knowing what it (the movie) was about.
The real question is can I give the movie a “High” or “Strong” recommendation or not.  Well, if you’re of a certain age and certain background (geek), you will probably really enjoy the movie the same as I have.  If you’re not a historic geek (too young) or not a computer geek (a user not a programmer), you probably won’t get much out of the movie except as the prequel to the “Legacy” version.  So, where does that leave me…  I highly recommend this movie because it reminds me of what it was like to be geek before geek was normal.  We knew we were “cool”, before our future became everyone’s present.  (Resistance was futile…)
Somehow, looking back like this only makes me feel older…  Maybe if today had happened sooner, I’d be able to enjoy it longer (still).
Today’s second review is: “Streets of Fire“, which came out in 1984.  This is a “rock & roll fable”.  I’m not sure what that means, but that’s how it was advertised to us way back then.  It’s a simple movie: girl gets kidnapped by bad-guy, girl gets rescued by good-guy, big fight at the end.  Simple.  What’s good about the movie?  Well, aside from the stylish filming, there are a couple of well done fight scenes – a short one at the beginning to introduce the hero, and a longer one at the end – the crescendo.
There’s also a couple of pretty good songs (MTV videos in the old days) in the movie.  The best one (“I Can Dream About You“) is the main song for the lead-in group and the final song is “Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young“) is performed immediately afterwards with the lead-in group singing and dancing backup.  Because of a bizarre twist of fate, “I Can Dream About You” was showing on MTV all the time the year I met my wife, I fell in love with her, she went back home to England, and it (the song) became my theme song until she returned to me.  Twenty-eight years later and I still dream (day dream) about her…
If you’ve never seen this movie, it’s well worth the viewing.  If nothing else, you get to see a young Michael Pare (good-guy) and a young Willem Dafoe (bad-guy).
It also has Amy Madigan in a terrific supporting role as good-gal, side-kick.  She almost steals the movie.
I highly recommend this movie for anyone interested in early adaptations of MTV to movie cross-pollination’s.  If you haven’t seen either song in the movie, both are available on YouTube.  I highly recommend “I Can Dream About You“, but then I would, wouldn’t I?

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Somewhere between checked out and freaked out lies an anxiety sweet spot… in which a person is motivated to succeed yet not so anxious that performance takes a dive.  This moderate amount of anxiety keeps people on their toes, enables them to juggle multiple tasks and puts them on high alert for potential problems.
  —  re-quoted from David Kanigan’s Blog: Lead.Learn.Live
[The specific post is located at:  http://davidkanigan.com/2012/06/20/your-anxiety-should-be-somewhere-between-checked-out-and-freaked-out/
which was, in turn, from WSJ.com: Anxiety Can Bring Out the Best
Very reminiscent of the comments made in the book: Future Shock by Alvin Toffler.  Although there, the accelerating rate of change being brought about by the future (actually, increasing volume of changes in the present) was what was causing the increased anxiety.   —  KMAB]

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