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Archive for April, 2011

I just finished watching the Academy-award winning “The King’s Speech.” In a word it left me speechless, but that’s never stopped me from blabbing in a blog.

Having been introduced to King George VI when I saw the play “Crown Matrimonial” on Broadway 40 years ago, I was more than a bit curious as to how his speech impediment would be woven into a full-length movie.

While the credits were rolling I drifted off to…where else? To Oz. To Oz because that’s where the real theme of  “The King’s Speech” was to be found.

Of course the movie was about a reluctant king’s struggle to wear a weighty crown on his head. But on a deeper and more personal level, it was really about us, because so many of us are usually rendered “speechless” on the YBR. Unlike George VI who found his voice, far too many of us never do.

In the end of the movie when the king delivers the first of many important speeches he would give while England was being bombed by German aircraft, he becomes all the  characters from Oz rolled into one.

George VI, who once believed he was a nothing, a failure, a disappointment and a fake, is suddenly transformed. He realizes he has the intelligence of a thoughtful man, the heart of a loving man and the courage of a lion. For the first time in his life, like Dorothy, he is at home with who he always was meant to be.

And that might be my point.  Many of us are never at home with who we are. Instead of believing in ourselves and seeing the king in us, we only see our shadow.

I believe we are all called to greatness. We might not sit on a real throne, preside over the House and Senate, or be the CEO of a big company, but we are the king of our own destiny.

And like the king in “The King’s Speech,” we have to find our voice. We have to stand tall…and yes, stand proud.

And such a notion is not selfish if we understand that while we are kingly, we have the power to see the kingliness in our fellow travelers on the YBR.

Note: If you haven’t yet seen “The King’s Speech,” I say take the time to see it, enjoy it and think about its meaning on the YBR.

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I knew it was going to happen. And it has. After a number of dead ends, the concept of drive-thru funeral homes is catching on. It’s very possible that the next hottest franchise this side of the plethora of cup cake boutiques will be the drive-thru funeral home. Perhaps the chain might be called “McGone” And instead of the golden arches they’ll use a golden shovel and they can claim “Over One Million Buried.”

The article that prompted my deadly blog was about a real-life drive-thru funeral home in California (where else would such a thing start). People were quoted as saying it was more convenient just to drive by and pay their last respects than it was to do it the traditional way where you actually got out of your car and went inside to pay those respects.

I wonder if the recently departed will be referred to as the “happy meal?”

I understand that the three-day wake of old was tough on the family of the departed and the more common one-day wake has become the norm today. But what does it say about a society that’s too busy to take a moment out of their busy lives to show their face?

I guess the next step in the process will be on-line wakes where you can just log in and view the deceased from the comfort of your living room.

I fear that we have truncated life to the point were we have lost all sight of what it means to actually live an authentic life. We are so afraid of dying that we will do anything possible to extend our youth. We have also become the first society that has no understanding of tradition. Everything in our lives is disposable, so why not view life as something that is also in and of  the moment.

Our attention spans have been reduced dramatically in the last decade. What is popular or current today is out of date tomorrow. We want only what’s new all the time and we want it delivered to our Blackberry in nanoseconds.

If we are to really cherish life as it should be cherished, we have to embrace death not as something that is reprehensible and abhorrent, but as the final act in a life well lived. The wake gives us a chance to honor the deceased’s life and by doing so we recognize how fragile we all are.

We are at the point where we are no longer living life but rather we are observing life.

I wish I could quote some wise sage here, but I won’t. I’ll just end by saying “there’s no place like home.”

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Because I spend a little over two hours a day in my car commuting to and from work I have a lot of time to listen to the radio. I have rather eclectic listening taste and I like talk radio so I switch back and forth between conservative stations and NPR. I wouldn’t say that I’ve become a political expert, but I can say that I’ve become a politician hater.

I hate ’em all. Republican. Democrat. Tea Party. Coffee Klatch. Not only do I think 109% of them are full of shit, I think they are worse than fake. They are plastic.

Today I was reminded of one of my favorite books. The Velveteen Rabbit. You remember the story. It was all about becoming real. And how did the velveteen rabbit become real? Certainly not by running for political office. No, the velveteen rabbit became real by giving up a little of itself, bit by bit, piece by piece until it was dirty and worn…but ultimately transformed.

Politicians in my experience do just the opposite. They might go to Washington ordinary in every way, but bit by bit and piece by piece they become plastic. It’s especially obvious when you look at male politicians. After a few political seasons in Washington (or Albany or wherever) they start wearing expensive French suits and slip into equally expensive Italian shoes. They get manicures.  And their hair…well, their hair looks about as real and natural as a Ken doll.

And for some reason they no longer speak English. They start talking sound bite. They speak in sentences, but you can no loner understand them. But worse than all that, they become party politicians.

And once a year…at the State of the Union, they act like Jack in the boxes, jumping up and down when their equally fake leader sprouts something human ears cannot understand.

For the past couple of days the big talk has been about the budget and how $60 billion is just a drop in the bucket.  That must be a mighty big bucket!

I know. I know. I’m a stupid dreamer. But I know that when I die, I’ll go to my grave real. When a politician dies, a little bit of plastic will pollute the earth.  And you know how long it takes  175 pounds of plastic to become real earth? Forever.

If I’ve offended any elected officials, I say, get over it. We don’t speak the same language. And let’s be honest, you don’t give a rat’s ass about me or other “real” people.

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I read recently that once-upon-a-time the very queenly, Queen Elizabeth II, raised the eyebrows of some guests at a royal occasion when Betty started dancing to Abba’s “Dancing Queen.” She told the onlookers that “I’m a queen and I love to dance to this song.”

How true is that? I don’t know, but if she didn’t say it, she should have. I think there’s nothing more refreshing than when someone says or does something totally out of character.

Following are a few of what I imagine some well-known people might have said if they spoke the truth. I’ll begin with Dorothy:

“There’s no place like home? You’ve got to be kidding. Did you ever get a look of that run-down farm in Nowhere, Kansas? I’m staying right here in Oz.”

“E=mc2? I made it up. The jokes on you world!” Albert Einstein.

“Why did I invent the light bulb? Did you ever have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom in the dark?”  Thomas Edison

“Frankly, Mary, I don’t give a damn about the theater. Can’t we stay home tonight and make some whoopie? We can go to the theater tomorrow night.” spoken by Abe Lincoln on April 15, 1865

“People always wonder why I wear a sheet. I tell them it’s because I no longer fit in a pillow case.” Gandhi

“Just once I’d like to shop at Victoria’s Secret.” Mother Theresa

“If I only had a brain.” President _________ (you fill in the name)

“Heads or tails. That’s what I meant to write. None of that “to be or not to be” crap.” Wm. Shakespeare

When an annoying reporter asked Liz Taylor why she married Richard Burton twice: “You don’t know dick.”

“Whiskey, whiskey.” Helen Keller’s first words spoke to Annie Sullivan

“Deep down inside I’m a wild and crazy guy. To know me is to love me.” Moammar Gadhafi

“Do you know why elephants don’t eat clowns? Because they taste funny.” What Pope Benedict XVI wants to say when he opens his lounge act in Vegas.

 

 

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