Debt... It's A Bitch!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Guy Cry Movies

Lets get one thing straight... they say its only appropriate for a guy to cry when his dog dies or his team wins the championship. I'd add movies to that list. No folks, its not man-o-pause. It's acknowledging the plain, simple truth that we dudes are sensitive beasts. And while were not exactly grabbing the Kleenex during "Atonement", we prefer to wear long sleeves during "Brian's Song".

Be it sports, wars, father/son opus', epic adventures, and even the occasional romance... releasing your inner Boehner is becoming more accepted. This list eliminates the need to run for the kitchen to do some impetuous onion peeling. Let em flow brothers, let em flow.

1. Rudy - If you don't shed a tear at this one, you have no heart. In fact, you're devoid of dreams, ambitions, and hope. This is more than a sports movie... it's the story we all want to live out; a young man who fights his way into everything and only at the last second is rewarded by his resiliency and grit. The music too, just makes you want to live an epic life.

2. Saving Private Ryan - When Captain Miller grabs Pvt James Ryan and whispers, "Earn this", we realize that the old man in the beginning is the title character. "Tell me I'm a good man", he says to his wife. As I've seen older men handle the end of their lives, the word honorable is a common theme. This film represents what it is to have honor, and that resonates a truly loud echo for those men that see this film both as a hallmark to the halls of masculinity, and those who have seen war.

3. It's A Wonderful Life - No man is a failure who has friends. Who doesn't shed one at this? Sure it's a Christmas movie, but it's about a man who despite his dreams floundering, finds that the quality of life lies with those who you've influenced.

4. Field of Dreams - The unspoken words between father and son can resonate for ages after either have passed. Sometimes those wounds never heal, but a few people by divine chance are given a second pass at repairing said inflictions. Baseball, while not every ones fancy has an ability to bring the most diverse of personalities into harmonious communion. When Ray plays catch with his father at the end of the film, you finally realize that despite past differences, there will forever be a bond rooted in love.

5. Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan - Spock dying, you know the scene. "You are and will always be... my friend." Shit.

6. Old Yeller - How do you not put this one on the list? Last September my parents put my beagle Margie to sleep while I was away on a training event. Upon coming home I cried at her her little plot, complete with a cross and a wreath. Yeah I cried. We'll every time you watch Old Yeller, it's like putting you're dog to sleep over... and over... and over again. Only you have to shoot it. All that to say, that dog was pretty amazing.

7. Braveheart - Sacrifice. This film has one scene in particular that tugs on the heart strings. Specifically where William Wallace rallies the army to stay and fight. "Show England that they make take our lives, but they'll never take.... our freedom." This monologue soars the heart and makes even the meekest of us believe we can take on the world. And yeah, it brings a condensation to the optics.

8. The Notebook - It's become more socially acceptable to have seen this. It's also become more acceptable to cry. Say what you want, but yeah, it's a great film, and an epic romance. I watched this film with a bunch of dudes while deployed to the middle east. There wasn't one dry eye in the midst of us. My one friend even said as the beginning credits rolled that should he myst up, he would deliver an ass whooping. What happened? He was too sad.

9. Brian's Song - Chances are you haven't seen this film. And it's your loss because this film is truly touching. A Hemingway quote leaves a tragic foreshadow saying, "Every true story ends in death. Well this is a true story." Again sports play backdrop to a very touching story of friendship, or more so, brotherhood. See this film.

10. Cool Runnings - OK, this isn't one typically associated with tears, but I loved John Candy when I was younger. This weird fact coupled with it being his last (good) movie and a somewhat touching finale of the film where the one racer's father exudes an enthusiasm in his son. A good film about a group of long shots who earn the respect of those they're trying to emulate.

11. Armageddon - Whatever.... Bruce Willis dies the way every real man wants to.... saving the world.

12. Love Actually - Don't act like this is a surprise. When the little boy runs after the "love of his life", we were all cheering for him. The better part of us was wishing him better luck than we had when our first loves slapped us in the face and stormed off.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Do Things Really Come Full Circle?

Who the fuck knows. I think they do. Not because I'm an oracle or hold the baton of wisdom. The fact remains for all of us that we are the sum total of our experiences. I've seen events, opportunities, hobbies, trips, relationships, and jobs stem out of the seemingly innocuous childhood adventures. Let me give you the first anecdote. Old Man Strewn or Big Kev for the divide between friends in the arena of Strawn family exposure; once purchased his eldest child a chemical set, because my elementary years were filled with the wanderlust of one day being a world class pharmacist. I started making water turn blue and then red and then back to blue. For a solid 5 years that's all I wanted to do. I know, because my Mom bought this keepsake book. In it, with scribbled handwriting, I wrote that my future lied in khemistree. I even spelled it with a K. (That's how they taught us in Bangor). Once the novelty of color changing liquids wore off, I abandoned all hope and moved toward being the next Michael Bay. It wasn't until this year that I realized consuming the by-product of chemistry was the missing ingredient. I'm talking about beer. Is this a full circle revelation? Maybe. Time will tell.

Other hobbies like playing with pellet guns, paintball, and the scouts led a more obvious path to a career in the military. My foray into journalism though was little more fascinating. Years ago in the sixth grade I was asked to try out to be a TV anchor for our schools morning announcements. I remember those tryouts because I cheerfully read Mickey Mantle's obituary liked a drugged up child. Yankees fans be damned, I roused the audience to new heights like Sam Adams at a tea party. My signature routine was reading the schools birthdays. It was fun. I even got my picture in the paper. Damn I looked good. Still do.

Sorry. Anyway. It wasn't until I lost my zeal for making movies; coupled with an internship that I realized my passion still years to investigate the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. So help me God. I got to be an anchor for a package, write stories, and decide if this is my path. Who knows?

I discussed with a friend the idea of fighting destiny, and I'm incredulous to take a stand. However, I do believe in destiny, but I also believe there is a fight in all of us to do our hearts bidding, even if it runs counter to the ebb and flow of life. Romans 12:3 illustrates my hearts rationale. "The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us." Understanding our past is the key to making sense of the present and letting your faith guide your future. With so many people struggling to find themselves, maybe its time to look at who you were, because purpose may lie in the trail we've blazed. Rick Warren says, "Without a purpose life is motion without meaning, activity without direction, and events without reason. Without a purpose, life is trivial, petty and pointless."

I couldn't agree more.

I do know that there are common themes that replay through life. Take my Mom. One time my brother and I were very little. We were little shits. Anyway. My mom went in the house to answer the phone, leaving Nate and I in the car. Back then we had no garage and our house was on a hill. And either Nate or I put the car in drive and we were creeping to the cliff. My mom ran out and grabbed the wheel... the car dragging her. Mom stopped the car but was injured. But I remember that when I think of sacrifice. Had she not stopped it, chances are my brother Nate (think Ronald Weasely) or I might not have ever had a dueling whiskey chug-off on the top of Landon's hill. Sacrifice is something that I see a lot. Whether its ideals, feelings, or serendipitous events, it seems that life will always teach us things. It's our job to watch, listen, and feel....

... and to take notes.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Renaissance Men

Let me just say that it's been a few interesting weeks. Upon falling on my knee during an interior design mishap, I became acutely aware that this would not be a quick fix. Something I've grown accustomed to in my life has always been "muscling through". This was not such an instance. The pain was unbearable and surgery was imminent. It affected me career wise, with the revoking of a military school, and subsequently financially as well. I also decided to spend those few weeks in Pennsylvania because Fox News had filled out the next months schedule. PA is a strange beast as its my favorite place, yet its not my home... right now. I did this because its cheaper and my parents have internet and air conditioning, two non-essentials for an urbanite in Obama's economy. Despite all this, I've been very resourceful. In the last few weeks I've become involved in a small business (thats all I'm saying right now), applied for a graduate certificate in DC, and assembled most of my materials for an MBA program at Del Val College. Other things like paying bills, brewing beer, fishing, reading 5 books, finishing a journal, running, hiking, swimming, building a deer blind for hunting season, and spending time with folks I haven't seen in years have occupied my time. Trips to Cabela's, Penn State, Eagles training camp and even heading back to NYC for roof top parties and Vacation Bible School training camp have been welcomed surprises. All this to say... I've come to the conclusion that I can do a lot with God.

I was called a Renaissance Man the other day and it kind of hit me. Granted I have a lot of hobbies. Some I do well, others I'm an amateur at best. And then theirs things I do horribly... like working on cars. Bloody horrible. But what if God calls us, to be Renaissance Men? What if we're supposed to be eclectic in our talents and works. When you look at the founding fathers and their occupations, most had several. Washington was a surveyor, farmer, soldier, politician, and businessman. Adams was a farmer, lawyer, politician, and writer. Jefferson was farmer, inventor, lawyer, politician, businessman, writer, soldier and architect. And these are just the first three Presidents. Benjamin Rush was doctor, writer, professor, psychologist, and politician. John Witherspoon was the only clergy to sign the declaration but he too was a politician and yet he was also the President of Princeton University.

I admire these men due to our nation's founding, but also their desire to be great and to understand their world through a diverse scope of experience and understanding. Why is it that our leaders today are so monolithic in their experience? How can one lead without the central quality of experience? Such experience is an umbrella for education, business, leadership, military, and other fields. When I see NOTHING BUT lawyers hold leadership posts I'm discouraged. Not because they're lawyers, but because we've allowed ourselves to be hoodwinked into believing rhetoric is the sole distinction of leadership. I admire each of these professions but any understanding alone can simply not warrant high office. Paired or even coupled with multiple educations, multiple experiences in business, leadership, and military positions make for those who can and will make articulate reasoning. I ask why people who haven't taken economic classes or ever owned a business making economic or business decisions based on things they've "heard" or read about?

My call for American leadership is for the Renaissance Men (and women) to stand up and take charge, before those with nothing but mediocre talents and ivy league educations let our republic crumble. Is it a wonder that our founders all studied Roman and Greek history? Is it a wonder that their studies combined the ideas of Reformation and Enlightenment? We strive to wonder how we can be great, yet were not willing to truly understand our first great men.