Are you curious?

My one-day-to-be-famous TV reporter daughter sent me a link to Oprah Winfrey’s conversation with Brian Grazer.

The most important piece of advice Brian Grazer gave in his interview with Oprah Winfrey came when he retold about meeting Lew Wasserman, legendary talent agent and studio executive.

“Kid,” Wasserman told the annoyingly brash and young Brian Grazer, “you know nothing now.” Then, he said, “Get a legal pad,” which Grazer did. Wasserman gave Grazer a number 2 pencil.

“Now, put pencil to paper.” And with that Wasserman left.

An uncomprehending Grazer stood there perplexed until he remembered what his tiny Jewish grandmother told him as a child.

“Brian, you are curious. You will figure it out.”

Did you?

pencil and paper

 

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Wassail

Cheers!

If I said, “Wassup!” you’d know what I meant, but what about “Wassail!”

Wassail has its roots in ancient Norse, it rhymes with lass and hail and means “be hale” or “be of good health”.

The word entered the English lexicon in the 5th century with the Saxons, Hengist and Horsa, who came to help the British Celts fight the Picts. Horsa died fighting and Hengist stayed. The story goes that Hengist’s daughter Rowen offered British King Vortigern a golden cup filled with wine, saying,

“Lord King, Wassail!”

The word was new to Vortigern, the wine was pleasing, and so too was Rowen. They marry and the next thing you know, Hengist is the very first king of England, or at least of Kent, where the Saxons and their cousins the Angles settled down and became English.

By the time the Normans arrived centuries later, Englishmen were wassailing each other with a cup of wine. The habit was hard to break. Time changes words and their meaning and wassail was remembered as the spicy hot wine and not the salutation.

Sometimes a glass of wassail will start you thinking. What do other countries use for toasts?

In France they say, Bonne sante. The French being the French and very idiosyncratic don’t pronounce the first e and accent the second “e” to make the long eeee sound.

In Spain and the Spanish speaking countries of the western hemisphere, they say “Brindar.” Literally, meaning “offer” but that doesn’t express the thought, which is a hope that the recipient of the toast may receive all that is good and necessary. Brevity, the mark of a good toast and good sense.

“Expresar un bien deseado a alguien o algo a la vez que se levanta la copa con vino o licor antes de beber.”

In Russian, they say “Prosit!” but they say it Cyrillic, просит, which is hard to say, and means nothing more than, I beg or pray.

In German, they also say, “Prosit” or “Ein Prosit” which translates as “Cheers!”

But they made it into a song, which everyone sings at Oktoberfest and when wishing one a schönes Neues Jahr:

Ein Prosit, ein Prosit
Der Gemütlichkeit
Ein Prosit, ein Prosit
Der Gemütlichkeit.

Cheers, my friends, it all means the same, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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At home in Bruges

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If you want to see how the other half lives, don’t sit at home and think about it. Get out and run. You will find, however, that homes everywhere are like puppies and snowflakes, similar in so many ways, and always unique.

The grand canal between Bruges and Ghent is lined by high banks, tall trees, lovely homes and sweet gardens.

cottage in Bruges, Belgium

Words

Words without meaning mean nothing.

The monkey typewriter theorem says that if a certain number (infinite is the one that comes to mind) of monkeys were each given a typewriter (nowadays, a keyboard) and a really long time (forever) they could write the works of all the famous writers (e.g. Shakespeare, Dickens, Browning, Voltaire, Diderot, Tolstoy, etc.) and then some…

Of course, this would require teaching the monkeys to type.

monkey-hand

Where do they go?

I got to thinking the other day, Where do old artists go?

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Christopher Cross tells you on his website that he was one of the biggest breakout artists of the 80’s. True and a little self-aggrandizing. But, as I have always said, Toot your own horn when no one else does.

Well, surprise, Christopher Cross is still performing, singing the oldies, and coming up with a few new ones.

Maybe, it is not them. They do not go away. It is us. We move on to other things.

And forget…

Until the wind kicks up, and the smell of salt is in the air, and a dream carries us away to a place where I always heard it could be.

P.S.

Top Chrisopher Cross song of all time, Sailing, with its thrilling chimes and steady beat of the drumsticks.

sailing

 

Vacations

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Oz has been on vacation this summer, inspired by a bit of Walt Whitman.

“O highway I travel, do you say to me, Do not leave me? Do you say, Venture not—if you leave me you are lost? Do you say, I am already prepared, I am well-beaten and undenied, adhere to me?”

Once there was a man
who filmed his vacation
with his camera,
shooting this and shooting that
despite the fact his daughter said
Knock it Off!
dad, she said
you’re missing all the fun.

Through the eye of the lens
he thought
he saw it all until there
was nothing left to see,
but only then did he find
He missed it all.

Rivers, trees, canyon, hills, and skies
He kept them all neatly in a box
Until December.
Preserved
But not remembered
And then forgot and lost the box

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What do you say when asked?

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Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Leaving the Apartment, Holly and Paul

[Holly looks directly at Paul, head slightly cocked, chin up, arms back. ]

“What do you do, anyway?”

[Paul, hands in pockets, chest out, meets her gaze directly; his hesitating voice belies his confidence.]

”I’m a writer, (pause) I guess.”

“And you?”

“I am a very stylish girl.”

Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard, as mismatched lovers Holly Golightly and Paul Varjak, in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1961.

The school of hard rocks

 

beach_sit

Does it matter, she asked herself, does it matter that all this must cease to exist – the jagged rocks, the warm sand, the wide ocean and the blue sky, and even the birds that glide on the gentle breeze itself must go away when she dies. Or, is this why we have children?

This is not an original thought, she thought, and then she realized, we do not procreate with a purpose other than to find relief. To momentarily escape reality before reality again rears its ugly head. Oh, she realized, that it is only in the long years of child rearing that one signals one’s hope that life should go on and that others should ask this same question.

Then she had a strange thought that life is an endless series of steps. One starts and stops, like life itself. The distance from beginning to end being both insurmountable and unknowable.

A lesson from the school of hard rocks

Words

 

 

face_eyes-blur

Alone, a noun is just a word
That waits for a verb
Then, like a face
That’s hardly recognizable
It smiles, it laughs, it comes alive
Until you say,
“That’s what’s his name.”