Friday’s Creator Corner: Cal Ripken Jr., The Iron Man of Baseball

Each Friday I feature a Creative Artist on Friday’s Creator Corner. Creativity is the art of making something out of nothing. I leave the post up for a week, then replace it with another post. After taking it down, I link it to Friday’s Creator Corner Artists page.

In honor of the upcoming World Series of Baseball, today’s Creator’s Corner artist is Cal Ripken Jr.:

Baseball was in the midst of its record-mania with players like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwrie, and Sammy Sosa. To get their records, they would do anything, including drug use to make them players with records. They forgot the game. The only thing that mattered to them was their egos.

It was Cal Ripken Jr. who brought honor back to the game. He did it by just showing up. His dedication to a work ethic is one that any American could be proud of. That’s why I call attention to him. It seems that his motto should be one that all of us follow: “If you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.”

It is people like Cal Ripken Jr. who remind me to be a little kinder and not to take things so seriously. To step out and take chances. He also reminds us how important role models are. And that’s why I honor him with this Friday’s Creator Corner. Thanks, Cal, for being the great human you are.

Uncle Bardie’s Weekly Music Pick: Centerfield

It’s Thursday again. You know what that means. Uncle Bardie’s Weekly Music Pick. UncleBardiiegives a double thumbs up to this week’s selection: “Centerfield” by John Fogerty:

Okay. It’s that time. Time to go ga-ga over your favorite team in the Series. ‘Course you know what I am talking about. It’s World Series time. Time for the Big Boys to show their stuff as they step up to the plate and swing at America’s Pasttime. Sure, it ain’t the Superbowl, the Final Four, the Stanley Cup or the NBA Finals. It’s something better. It’s Baseball.

Politics in America 29: Transition-itis

Transitions are hard for Presidents to take when they are on their way out. It doesn’t matter which party is on their way outsky and which party is coming in. It’s the same for all Presidents. For four years, they’ve been the Really Big Shew. Now there’s this new guy ready to kick him out of his house and home.

During the transition, the Lame Duck truly is lame. Nobody gives a darn what he says. In fact, the press room at the White House is just about empty. Everybody is pretty well ready to show Lame Duck the door.

Anybody worth anything has left the West Wing and gone to work for the New Guy. The new Mr. President. That’s where all the excitement is.

P F Sneeze had won because The Other Guy–that’s what historians call the losing candidate, The Other Guy lost. Nobody ever remembered The Other Guy’s name either. He was just a pimple on the face of history. Just an annoyance.

P F Sneaze had a Mount Rushmore kind of face chiseled into the memory of the American people like Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt and the Gipper. With his Andrew Jackson looks, he looked like the Great White Father. He looked like a President. That’s why his campaign had urged him to keep his mouth shut and look presidential.

The New President had early on let it be known what he wished to be called. No Jimmy or Abe or Teddy or JFK for him. He was The Great Man. At first, he did it as a joke. After a while, he got used to it and kind of liked it. He had finally come around to Betty Sue and Al Fresco’s opinion that he was going to be the next President. Why stand in the way of fate? he concluded.

He went to see The Big Guy a few days after he won the election. “You look like a President” was all The Big Guy said. It broke his giant-sized heart to see he would be vacating the premises to a Do Naughty. He hadn’t much cared for Little Twerp but at least he was a Do Evie and that was what counted.

Slowly at first, then speedier as time went on toward the January inauguration, the West Wing staff of the Big Guy de-desked their offices to make room for the new team of the Great Man. There were many things the old staff would miss. Things like the champagne-and-caviar vending machine, the special cheese doodles made in the shape of the Big Guy’s face, the exercise room, the bowling alley and the Willy Wonka Chocolates with their melt in your mouth rum. Yummy.

They would miss the White House stationery they used to write their resumes on to impress potential new employers. Even if they swept the floor of the lobby, they were entitled to use that stationery. They would miss calling up the pizza guy and having their pizza order jump ahead of everybody else’s. And those special trips to the Strip ‘n’ Steak Joint. It was there they held their all night planning sessions deciding which concert to go to next.

There were so many things to miss. And they would miss them all. But it was time to move on.

Nest Week A New Administration

Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: A Poet and a Revolution

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “Doctor Zhivago” (1965).

As they say in “Game of Thrones”, winter is coming. And it is being brought to you by David Lean. With his movie, “Doctor Zhivago”, he gives the viewer a real live winter. And a spring and a summer and an autumn too. But the winter is a Russian winter, so it’s a very real winter.

What director in his right mind would choose a poet as the hero for an epic film? Only David Lean. In his other earlier films he gave us protagonists who were quite out of the ordinary for a hero. In the 1940s, he took two Dickens novels and made two of the best adaptations of any of the writer’s works, “Great Expectations” and “Oliver Twist”. But it was the 1957 adaptation of Pierre Boulle’s “The Bridge on the River Kwai” that made Lean’s reputation as a great director. It featured what became his good luck charm, Alec Guinness, as the by-the-book Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson. Yes, that Alec Guinness. Obi wan Kenobi himself. Kwai went on to win seven well-deserved Academy Awards.

Next came “Lawrence of Arabia”(1962) with Peter O’Toole as Lawrence, winning seven more Oscars. Sir Alec was in this one too. Both Kwai and Lawrence were masterpieces, as epic as anything done by Cecil B. DeMille. Then came “Doctor Zhivago”, based on the novel that gave Boris Pasternak the 1958 Nobel Prize for Literature. Sir Alec is in this one too.

The movie is set in tsarist Russia just before World War I. It follows events through the war and the Russian Revolution. Like the main character, Yuri Zhivago, the film focuses on the personal as opposed to the epic. It is this personal nature that propels the movie into greatness. Zhivago does not act in a vacuum. It’s against a world of extreme changes where he faces the challenges of his time with a poetic sensibility. And they are great challenges. His mother dies when he is a boy. He is drafted into a Revolutionary Guard unit. He travels in a railway cattle car, full of people trying to escape the horrors of Moscow after the Soviets take over the city.

From the opening scene burying his mother, Maurice Jarre’s music reveals that this isn’t just an ordinary boy. This boy has a very sensitive, poetic side to him. The next scene, Tonya, his fiance, returns to Moscow from Paris and discusses Zhivago’s first book of poetry. And, oh yes, there’s a love story. Between Zhivago and Lara. As you can see, this movie has something for everyone. War, revolution, poetry, love and trains. And very dramatic locations. Underpinning the whole darn thing is the lush score of Maurice Jarre.

Because Zhivago’s poetry, like Pasternak’s, is so  personal, he becomes a man on the run. Zhivago could easily have agreed with W. B. Yeats when he wrote “Politics”:

How can I, that girl standing there,
My attention fix
On Roman or on Russian
Or on Spanish politics,
Yet here’s a travelled man that knows
What he talks about,
And there’s a politician
That has both read and thought,
And maybe what they say is true
Of war and war’s alarms,
But O that I were young again
And held her in my arms.
Unfortunately Lenin, Stalin and the Bolshevik Boys didn’t approve. Eventually, like so many Russian artists, Zhivago disappears in the gulag that was the Soviet Union.


The lawn and the cop

Sometimes they walk in pairs, sometimes they travel alone, and sometimes they just drive around the neighborhood, these Samurai we call policemen, cops. When we don’t need them, we often fear them. When we do, they bring hope, they bring justice, for they ask questions and observe details. They are after the truth, these Jack Webb kind of folks, using the words, “Just the facts, ma’am.”

With all that in mind, why is this cop fellow cruising around my neighborhood in his black and white?

Oh, well, I’ve got to mow the lawn. Why is it that I always wait till mid-afternoon to mow my lawn? I know it’s the hottest time of the day, I know it may rain—maybe it will rain—I know it may take at least two hours and I will be exhausted, dehydrated, drained. After all, this is Florida.

I look at my watch. It is 2:30. Geez, I’d better get going. I repeat several times: “A mowed lawn is a good lawn. A mowed lawn is a good lawn. A mowed lawn is a good lawn.”

Here it is Saturday and I have put off “The Deed” for three days. What will the neighbors think? No particular reason to put it off. I just hate to mow my lawn, or any lawn. Hated it when I was a kid. When I resisted, my mother said that I was lazy. Guess she was right. Because I don’t want to mow this piece of real estate they call mine. Actually it’s the bank’s.

Earlier I looked out the window just to check to see if the lawn needed mowing. Yes, it does, I concluded. As I checked out the grass, I saw the police cruiser ease through the neighborhood. What’s he looking for anyway? Oh, well, at least he’s looking.

First I put on my lawn mowing outfit: hat, gloves, suntan lotion, ragged t-shirt, shorts, socks, beat-up sneakers. Boy, these shoes have been through a lot. I check myself out in the mirror. Man, I’m ready to go. I’m ready for “The Job.”

Now I’m outside and go pick up branches and sticks and debris. Fill my garbage bag half full.

I pull out the lawn mower from the shed in my back yard, check the oil, and fill the tank with gas. Set the gas can back in its place and walk back to the mower. Push the choke and pull the starter cord. It’s a bit hard to pull, but the mower doesn’t start.

I look up and there is the cop parked two doors down on the other side of the street. He’s standing by his car and he’s watching me. What’d I do?

Oh, well, if he wanted me, he’d come over and talk to me. He isn’t doing that. At least, not yet anyway. But he’s watching me in that noncommittal stance cops always use when they check things out.

I go back to my work, pull the starter cord again, and miracle of miracles, the mower roars alive. Phew! Two pulls and it started. My last mower took forever to start, if it was going to start. Thank God for new lawn mowers. Got a good one this time.

I push the mower to the edge of my front lawn and off I go. I get through the first bag of grass. I take the bag off the mower and lug it to the compost pile on the edge of my back yard. Time for some water. I go to the kitchen and grab a bottle of water. Back on the back porch, I drink it. I notice that cop still eyeing me from across the street.

Then the cop walks over towards me. Just what the hell does he want?

I walk back out onto the lawn and meet the cop. Cop says to me, “Just want you to know you need to zip your fly. Wouldn’t want to get a sunburn, now would we?.”