Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Mr. Trump, meet Mr. Gardiner.

On August 16, 2015, presidential candidate Donald J. Trump appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press," for an interview with Chuck Todd. The interview included this exchange:

CHUCK TODD: Who do you talk to for military advice right now?

DONALD TRUMP: Well, I watch the shows. I mean, I really see a lot of great-- you know, when you watch your show and all of the other shows and you have the generals and--

CHUCK TODD: So you do the--

DONALD TRUMP: And you have certain people that you like--

Trump's initial response reminded me of one my favorite scenes from one of my favorite films, a film that I think about more and more often as Trump reveals more and more of how he operates as a person. The film is "Being There," a 1979 comedy starring Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine and Melvyn Douglas, adapted from a novella by Jerzy Kosinski.

Sellers plays a man named Chance who has lived his entire life as the gardener for a palatial estate, and who only knows two things - gardening and television. His employer dies, and he is turned out to make his way in Washington, D.C. He has a minor accident with a limousine, and the passenger, Eve Rand, insists on taking him home so that her husband's live-in medical staff can tend to him. Along the way, she misunderstands his name, "Chance, the gardener," as "Chauncey Gardiner," and we're on our way: from that point on, the richest and most powerful people in D.C. misunderstand everything he says, including the reporters who catch him escorting Eve to a formal affair, and seek comment on newspaper stories about him:

"I like to watch TV."

The sauce on this delicious scene is the look of sheer admiration on the TV reporter's face at the very end.

If you have not yet seen "Being There," put it on your list. After viewing it, you'll understand why, for more than a year now, one commenter after another has compared Donald Trump to Chauncey Gardiner - most recently, Malcolm Jones at The Daily Beast:

"...both Trump and Chauncey are, in their respective ways, almost purely creatures of television. It is their shared window on the world, and not only that: Each man also owes his success to television." 
In 1979, "Being There" was one of the funniest movies I had ever seen. Nearly 40 years later, without being less funny, it has also become one of the scariest.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Mary Tyler Moore - A Memory

Mary Tyler Moore has died.

My strongest memory of Mary Tyler Moore is not that of the perky young woman with the lopsided smile who charmed us as Laura Petrie on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and Mary Richards on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." No, the image of her that I have found most compelling since it aired in 1976 is from a TV special, "Mary's Incredible Dream," that is not even mentioned in the New York Times' obituary.

The special presented the narrative of a dream that I won't even try to describe. I'll just say that the final segment opens with Mary (not yet 40 at the time), as a much older woman who had endured much pain, singing with a mixture of boast and lament, "I'm Still Here," a song repurposed from Stephen Sondheims' musical, "Follies."

I don't know how well the power of this will come through if you haven't seen what comes before it. But the uploader (identified on YouTube simply as "Taylor"), also uploaded the earlier segments, so you can watch the whole thing if you like.

In any case, here it is.

("I'm Still Here" is followed by Ben Vereen singing/dancing "Ball of Confusion" and someone I don't know singing, "Sympathy For The Devil." As I recall, the program overall was as strange as its title suggests)

RIP, Mary.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year, New You? Cool! May I Help?

When I hear someone express the desire for some improvement in their life, I usually want to do two things - I want to affirm that desire for improvement, and I want to help bring it about. I'm not always able to do those things, but I usually want to.

So I don't understand some of the posts that have shown up in my Facebook newsfeed lately, the gist of which is: "Here comes the 'New Year, New Me' crap. We all know that nobody is really going to change."

Meanwhile, all human progress is driven by people who change and who evoke change in others.

So, this is for people who want change in 2017, who want more for themselves than they had in 2016.

You want to have more. You want more income. You want a bigger house. You want a house, period. You want more time freedom -  to be able to spend more time with your spouse or partner, more time with your kids, or more time alone, in peace. 

You've spent too much time being broke, and you want to know how it would feel to pay all of your bills on time for an entire year.

In fact, you want to change your entire emotional relationship with money. You want to be able to think about money without feeling afraid. Or sad. Or angry. And you want to stop giving up a third of your life or more doing work you don't enjoy for people you don't care about, just for money.

I feel you.

You want to do more. You don't mind working, but you want to do different work, work that you find more fulfilling. Maybe you don't want to be an employee at all. Maybe you want to establish a business to add value to people's lives. Maybe you want to establish a nonprofit to help solve social problems. You want to play the guitar, you want to draw comics, you want to be a comic. You want to experiment, and you want the freedom to fail without shame.

I know. 

You want to be more. You want to replace fear with confidence; confusion with clarity. You want to start your days with purpose and end them with satisfaction.  You want to lose fat. You want to gain muscle. And maybe some of the things that you want, you have wanted for so long that you're afraid to even talk about them anymore. Which leads to the deepest yearning of all.

More than anything, you simply want to know that you can change - that you can set a goal, and hit it; that you can chart a course for yourself and follow it; that you can develop parts of yourself that have gone underdeveloped so far.

From me to you: giant multiple YESses.

I'd like to help. Here's one way that I can. We can establish a relationship in which we read books and study online materials together to learn about life skills, and engage in specific activities to practice those life skills. Doing so will help you to develop more confidence and discipline, which will open the door for many other things, including more money.

The money will come because you and I will be business partners. We will also be friends for life.

In a moment, I'll link you to my website that describes the business. What it doesn't do a good job of describing is the opportunity for personal development that is embedded within the business. From the day you start, you will have access to executive-level training in such areas as leadership, productivity, goal setting, planning and time management. And actually doing the business will give you opportunities to practice all of it daily. Gaining access to this training on your own could cost you thousands of dollars, and trying to practice it all on your own could be ineffective. Here, it's all included, and you'll have me and the company backing you up. And....