Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Monthly Archives: January 2020

The Power of One

“Vietnamese dominance of the today $8billion manicure industry can be traced back to actress Tippi Hedren who in 1975 got her manicurist to teach 20 Vietnamese refugee women how to do nails bc she wanted to help them develop a skill so they could support themselves in resettlement“

Tweet of the day from ‘Audrey’

Celebrate What You Love

However, at the same time, don’t expect others to “get it.” It’s ok if they don’t – in fact, it’s even better. Somehow it seems even more special if no one else digs it. Fuck ‘em!

Don’t be ashamed of the things you love, even if other people think it’s ridiculous shite. Be proud and proselytize it’s greatness. Someone may hear you and this thing that you love may prove to be what they were desperately waiting for, the life raft that they can cling to in rough waters. Seriously.

But most of all – revel in it. Think about it. Obsess over it. Experience it over and over again. Internalize it’s greatness.

Then let it bring out the greatness in you.

Writing (Part 3)

I’ve been working on my latest short story for awhile, and I kind of got stuck, so I had to step away for a minute. I just couldn’t figure out what it was about, or where it wanted to go – I lost my way. In other words, I started to second guess myself. Now here’s a rhetorical question: What’s the difference between second guessing and rewrites? Answer: They’re both the same thing! Essentially, you know something’s wrong and it’s up to you to figure out what it is. If the thing smells off, you’ve got to find out what’s rotten.

Now, in retrospect, this all might have been a good thing, because now I’m wrapping it up and it eventually revealed itself to me. But for quite a while I kept thinking What am I writing about here? and got confused.

It’s interesting (and perhaps a bit telling) that I started it with a very specific title and then I changed it to something else. It was during this second phase that I became misdirected – like I was trying to write the story thinking about this new title and wondering what it meant, but nothing seemed to fit. Then, at some point, I realized if I just went back to the first title, it all made sense.

I think it’s important to note here that I have no real roadmap when I start these things – I just begin with some very simple idea and then let it take me where it wants to go.

This whole process is so fucking fascinating and mysterious to me. Where does this shit come from? I have no idea, except to say that it’s the culmination of a lifetime of living and reading. As humans, we’re hard-wired to tell and listen to stories, so I think we’re all capable of doing it, at least to some degree.

One thing’s for sure: Our minds are the ultimate playground.

I Love This

My neurons are beyond overloaded from entirely too much stimulation in the ER, so personally, I’ve got nothing – but I read this earlier today and thought it was brilliant, so here’s a re-post from the mind of Seth Godin…

“What’s this Sentence Supposed to do?

A simple editing trick:

Every sentence has a purpose. It doesn’t exist to take up space, it exists to change the reader, to move her from here to there.

This sentence, then, what’s it for? If it doesn’t move us closer to where we seek to go, delete it.“

– Seth Godin

Feeling Alive

The act of creating is the time I feel the most alive. I always thought I was compelled to make whatever it was for a reason, but I never really understand what that reason was.

Like pretty much everyone else, I wanted other people to recognize the stuff I made as something special and meaningful – in other words, to see it as I did.

But it’s a mistake to think that you need recognition for the things you do. You do them because it brings you joy, because it makes you feel present, fully engaged and alive.

The act of creating something is the reward, not the stuff that comes afterwards, and certainly not what other people think about it. For the longest time I thought it was the opposite. I thought recognition from others somehow measured the thing’s worth. What bullshit!

The nice thing about understanding all this is that now you understand that you’re not dependent on other people for your happiness and self-worth.

Now, you realize that those things are in your control.

Rock and Roll as Art

“I was basically interested in achieving some kind of communication with the gods through sound…”

– Patti Smith

I’m taking the idea of gods as a metaphor for something fundamentally deep and primal – something bigger than any one person.

Whatever the case – this is someone whose intent is about as real, pure, and intense as possible. She’s fully committed to to what she’s doing, and her art reflected that.

Yeah – fully fucking committed. Think about it. Strive for it.

That’s where truth lies.

Out of Context

While abundant, as we all know, Internet information is completely unfiltered by any kind of critical or historical perspective. Music recorded in 2012 is heard right alongside songs recorded in 1942, with little or no sense of which came first, or how the two things might be related.

– Brad Tolinski and Alan di Perna

This quote illustrates an extremely important concept when appreciating any art, or technology for that matter – especially the visionary innovators. This is not to say that one can’t be powerfully moved by art with no historical context, only that one cannot fully appreciate the genius of the artist/innovator who created something new without understanding this context.

Example: Before Charlie Parker began recording around 1945, there seemed to be no precedent for his style of playing. It was if he emerged, fully formed, from some other reality, where all the previous rules about what was possible suddenly no longer existed. And just like that, almost overnight, everything changed in Jazz.

Now, today you can listen to this stuff and, because the recordings are so primitive, you could be forgiven for “not getting it.” You might like it, but without understanding the historical zeitgeist from which it sprang, you’ll never really fully appreciate it. Then there’s also the phenomenon of what was once so innovative and startling, eventually becoming mundane, simply because it became the standard (e.g. Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Christian – the list could go on and on).

Music, art, architecture, photography, engineering, science, physics, literature – you get the idea. Tracing things back to ground zero and the culture and time from which they sprang puts the innovator’s accomplishments in an entirely new perspective, which in turn affects our appreciation of them.

One of the internet’s great gifts is access to all this stuff.

Actually understanding it is up to us.

And the Prize for the Most Popular ER Sandwich Goes To…

Ok – no contest. It’s the tuna fish. Just behind it – the ham and cheese. Then turkey and finally, slinking its tail in last place: cheese. Sorry cheese – the people have spoken. It’s just the way it is.

Now, don’t think for a minute that any of them are actually good – ‘Cuz they’re most definitely not. But they’re free, so there you go. There’s an area of the ER where patients sit in recliners and sometimes I imagine it as a picnic spot for the local community – people are sitting around and talking to each other, waiting for their disposition. Sometimes I’ll think – free sandwiches and open 24 hours? Plus a visit from a nurse and a provider? Goodbye loneliness – at least briefly. And I, for one, am glad to help. And provide you with a sandwich if needed.

Is this information useful in any way? Probably not. But just in case you ever wondered, I thought I’d clear that up.

Yeah, I said tuna fish.

That is all.


Chinese translation: “To yield to aging

In other words: Let’s just accept our age and try and go out with some fucking dignity.

Unfortunately, I live in America, where the old are looked at as useless and in the way. Well, here’s a news flash to no one in particular: I’m still learning and growing, and I’m not dead yet, so whatever limitations society wants to impose on me – knock yourselves out. I’m just not playing along.

I’m living in my own paradigm thank you, and ultimately it doesn’t really matter whether you recognize it as legitimate or not.

It’s legitimate to me.

Educated (Part 2)

My previous post on this book was written while I was still in the process of reading it – upon finishing it, I have a few additional comments. But before going any further, let me state unequivocally – I highly recommend this book to everyone – just buy it and read it now.

OK, here’s some thoughts off the top of my head…

  1. This is a compelling, stunningly well written memoir of someone who, although young, has traveled a journey unimaginable – unimaginable, that is, until she so eloquently yet viscerally captured every detail of it in this book and handed it to us. It was difficult to put down, the ultimate sign of a well written story.
  2. What does it mean to be educated? The answer could not possibly be explained any better than the epic tale of discovery she tells over the course of 352 pages. In short: To be educated is to be transformed.
  3. What a mystery humans are! There was a point early in the book where I had moments of suspicion, knowing the general arc of her story and where she ended up. I thought This doesn’t seem possible – how could someone who not only never set foot in a classroom until she was 17, end up with a PhD ten years later? A Cambridge scholar with a fellowship from Harvard no less. Really? Suspicious, that is, until she explained exactly how this transformation happened…
  4. Where does innate intelligence come from? How do two simple, uneducated religious zealots (her parents), one of whom runs a junkyard, both of whom deprive their children of any education (including zero “home schooling”), produce not one but 3 PhD’s out of seven children? Where does this intelligence come from – intelligence, mind you, that cannot be stopped? That will not be denied?
  5. Intelligence, by the way, that will ultimately transcend the mythology and superstition of religion? Intelligence that will finally, after thousands of years, rise up and defy the oppressive patriarchy of simple men? Where the fuck did this come from?
  6. And finally – how difficult it is for young adults to break free from their toxic and oppressive families. Even after violent abuse and neglect, for most people, it seems to be an almost impossible task. But, like a painful metamorphosis, for those strong enough, they eventually shed their former selves and become something more. They become who they were always meant to be.

Kurt Vonnegut: Thank You And Good Night

Ok, I first posted this on March 3, 2017. But it’s so good I feel compelled to repost it once a year, if for no other reason than because it just inspires the fuck out of me. It makes the incomprehensible and unexplainable somehow make sense. Whenever you feel beaten down by life, this will surely lift your spirits. Please enjoy…

In 2006, a year before he died at the age of 85, Kurt Vonnegut was invited visit the students of Xavier High School in New York City. Although he declined their invitation, stating “I don’t make public appearances any more because I now resemble nothing so much as an iguana,” he wrote the students this letter in reply. I came upon it at a time in my life when I was having a hard time creating and it resonated deeply. He wrote:

“Practice any art . . . no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.  Starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives…”

November 5, 2006

Dear Xavier High School, and Ms. Lockwood, and Messrs Perin, McFeely, Batten, Maurer and Congiusta:

I thank you for your friendly letters. You sure know how to cheer up a really old geezer (84) in his sunset years. I don’t make public appearances any more because I now resemble nothing so much as an iguana.

What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.

Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood, and give it to her. Dance home after school, and sing in the shower and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend you’re Count Dracula.

Here’s an assignment for tonight, and I hope Ms. Lockwood will flunk you if you don’t do it: Write a six line poem, about anything, but rhymed. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?

Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces, and discard them into widely separated trash recepticals. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.

God bless you all!

Kurt Vonnegut