July 25, 2006

Celebratory Moments

Weddings eventually become common place for all of us. Meaning there's a long stretch of time where we're pretty much attending a wedding a year (sometimes more). Despite getting older myself, I'm no dire hurry to find myself married. However I do admit that I'm constantly envisioning my own wedding and its proceedings...again the hopeless romantic side takes over. This past weekend I attended the wedding of my good friend Nick who got married in Green Bay to an excellent lady named Megan. I wish them the best as right now they are sitting on beach in Hawaii relaxing and enjoying some down time. Bearing this in mind here are some small thoughts:

-Not to dis our entire gender, but choreography is not a male thing. During rehersal of the ceremony I was told to wait until the two brothers made it all the way down the aisle before starting myself with the two bridesmaids I was standing up with. During the ceremony I did not realize I was also supposed to wait for this slightly longer song to end, then begin the desent. Thankfully, I was thrown a signal from others standing in the wedding that I was ready to go a little early. Great lesson here as most folks aren't aware of what the choreography is supposed to be. So in the end, go with it, and smile while you're doing it.

-I've just started golfing last summer. It's a humbling sport which I will write about some other time. I had the great oppurtunity to go golfing with the groom and his brother and dad. It was exciting to be a part of a family outing like this and when you boil it down, we were having fun and not trying to take ourselves seriously. Moments like these give you the feeling that your own family circle grows larger when you can truly feel like yourself in front of others.

-I gotta mention the coolness of our 'party bus'. As you're probably aware there's the bizarre down time between the ceremony and the reception, typically reserved for pictures. When you're not in the wedding party, it's not atypical to head to a family member's house or a bar with others before going over to the reception. In the wedding party, you're taking pictures and usually travel around in some type of luxurious vehicle, doing a little pre-partying before the reception, and riding to a picturesque site for...of course...pictures. From the outside, our vehicle of choice did look a little suspect. It looked like one of those casino busses you take from the hotel to the nearby casion. Or a bus used at a car rental place at an airport. Never judge a book by its cover as we stepped into a party bus which would have made Xzibit proud. There were strobe lights, black lights, color changing lights, leather seats, mood lighting (awkward), and of course a kickin' stereo. I've ridding in limos, old fashioned cars, and trollies, but this thing takes the cake.

-One of my favorite things at weddings these days is if the bride and groom do a photo collage of some type. One of the reasons that I enjoy this is because to me it sends a message of "here are two people who lived seperate lives, unknown of the awesomeness of the other person, and one day, they serendipitously met, and now they're married, and it's cool." It's a reminder of the simplicity of life that we're all human, we make mistakes, and move on. But there's that one person out there who is also human that accepts us for being ourselves. Really classy.

-Finally, during the best man's well elocuted speech a waitress approached him. I'm unaware truthfully how well this waitress knew the bride and groom. However, she had a two fold purpose for doing so. In an unplanned moment she grabbed the microphone and talked about how wonderful the reception had been, how nice the families were, and how sweet my friend and his bride to be were. This struck me as strange but then I thought about how often there are folks 'serving' us at weddings who really are apart of the experience but may just feel like they're working. This woman upped the emotional ante with her comments and brought the room to a strong applause appreciating her simple compliments. Then, in another humorous tone, she chided the oft-long winded best man to see if he was gonna be longer because dinner was ready. Mad props to the best man who was humble enough to let her speak.

Really soak up the wedding atmosphere for the next wedding you attend. There's always a great story or two about the bride and groom and their families. They are a time for celebration and hope, that two people can make it through their differences to stay together in a union where they love and support each other forever. I really appreciate having been a part of Nick and Megan's wedding, and thank them for the good time!

And on a final related note, I'm honored and fortunate enough to have another wedding on plate next year as my friend Jim has recently asked me to be in his wedding. He too is getting married to a great lady and I look forward to the festivities.


July 12, 2006

Guilty Pleasures

Do you have a friend that has some type of weird fascination and obsession with a tv show, or musical performer, or activity? Do they watch survivor like it's their last link to life and humanity? Do they go running religiously at 6am in the middle of a monsoon without a second thought? Are they the first in line at every M. Night Shyamalan movie, typically buying 600 tickets just so they can stretch out in the theater?

I hope you do. And I hope your friend says the same thing about you.

There are five major priorities in this world. Actually, there are six thousand billion trillion (to steal a numerical figure from my neice) priorities in this world. That's a lot. How can one juggle all of them? How does one make sense of all of them? Make them smaller...group them together. Over the rest of the summer I will start writing articles based upon these five priorities. The end philosophy will be known as The Priority Wheel. As you will see each of these five different priorities connect easily with the others. Thus, they are equally important to maintain at all times.

Now I've chosen to write about them in no particular order (ie one is not most necessary to mention) but I will start with one that may not seem like a priority.


For purpose of laying a foundation: hobbies are any voluntary activities (passive or active) not done for purposes of stability or career enhancement, which you engage in with minimal resource exerting yet in return, refill other resources to get you back to to focus. There are obviously physical hobbies: walking, jogging, running, swimming, biking, playing a team sport, being in a league of some type, etc. There are mental hobbies: crosswords, cards, scrapbooking, knitting, cooking, reading, etc. And others as well: watching TV, attending sporting events, listening to music, writing, etc. Point is, a hobby is something you can readily and frequently do by yourself (sometimes with others but we'll discuss that later). This something makes you feel good about life and brings scope to everything else that you do.

My friend Eric loves listening and watching the Brewers. He's known practically most of the Brewers former players and rosters since he's been a kid. My friend Ryan loves golf: watching, playing, teaching. My friend Amy likes to knit. My brother likes to cook and draw. I like to write. Many may say of a hobby "if I could get paid to do this life would be great" except that's not how a hobby works.

A hobby is supposed to allow you for a brief escape from everthing else. It's supposed to round out your life in many ways, adding to the already complex nature of it, but somehow allowing your body and brain to take a mini-vacation for a little while. It gives you a break between other mandatory activities that are going on in your life at the same time.

Some important rules about hobbies:

1. Do not expect that others will see your hobbies the same you do. We watched the entire first season of lost the other night. Great show. I took notes. I like solving puzzles. Taking notes for a tv show where there's tons of possible philosophial theories is groovy to me. I know I have friends who would think that's the weirdest thing on the planet. But that's cool, since the hobby is mine.

2. Balance out the more intricate hobbies with simple ones. Mountain climbing, definitely a hobby. But I imagine a lot goes into it. What do you when you're stressed from a bad day at work? Can you instantly go leave to climb? No. But hiking may be easier. Or going for a quick hour long walk.

3. Be ok with doing some hobbies by yourself. I walk a lot, something inherited from my grandmother. Only once in a while do I have someone come with me. Otherwise I make sure that that time is for myself. When you involve others now you're involving two, or more, schedules into the fold. Remember the goal with hobbies is to decrease anxiety.

4. Make time for your hobbies. I have one hobby I do every week if at all possible (watch pro wrestling---it's one of the few childhood things I enjoy), something I do every day with flexible times (go walk for an hour), and something I try to do at least three times a week randomly (creative write). As you will start to see with the other priorities, it's easy to make time for those things because you HAVE to do them. But the trick is to get yourself to at least want to do them, so that you are in control of your time. Thus, sacrificing a hobby once in a great while, ok for an emergency just like anything else. Doing that regularly won't help.

Hobbies are important to the overall well-being of who we are. They are identifiers. They create an air of empowerment for us. And they make the other priorities more relaxed and less stressful for us.


July 05, 2006


Entertainment Weekly recently did an article on the top 20 most entertaining websites. They then asked those specific webmasters what three sites inspired them. Essentially you have close to 80 websites which corner the pop culture and entertainment market. This also made me realize that I never explained some of the websites I have chosen to put on this blog.

Some of these are already self explanatory. The Kick Butt Productions home page, Internet Movie Database, and Google would fit that category. Chris West Hoops, Thought of the Day (also by Chris West), and Nick Vitrano are all websites of some of my very close friends who do some very entertaining things. I've mentioned Chris before and his fantastic writing talents in regard to basketball. Nick is a co-host for a popular radio sports talk show in Green Bay. Nick also has a segment called Nick at Night. If you get a chance listen to the one about Darth Vader if he truly had to be a father to Luke and Leia. Funny stuff. As I've also explained in other posts on this blog, Willy Porter has great music and is a big inspiration to me.

The two remaining are also very important to me and continue to surprise and inspire me.

The first is one you're probably very familiar with...Homestarrunner. Started by Mike and Matt Chapman (aka the Bros. Chaps) this website is home to a flash animated character named Homestar an "armless" character who is at times a few sandwhiches short of a picnic but acts like he lives life to the fullest. Another popular character on the site is Strong Bad who responds to e-mails every week with great sarcasm and wit.

I was first introduced to this site a few years ago and stuck with it since. Their story is quite remarkable. The Bros. Chaps were doing website consultant and some graphic artist work when they decided to play around with (at the time) this new thing called flash animation. Slowly but surely, they kept up with these characters and have now grown into a cult hit on the web. Thankfully, they make enough money based upon their merchandise that they can do the site commercial free and focus on the bizarre characters. If you are a pop culture junkie like I am, scour through the site and see what 80's and 90's popular geek references you can find. (Personal things of interest: Strong Bad e-mail about the Radio; the ballad of the Sneak; the Cheat Commandos).

Lastly, in my speeches folks have heard me talk about a man named Rob Schrab who used to draw a comic called Scud: The Disposeable Assassin. He has his own website which has some of his other work on it including the pilot for "Heat Vision & Jack" and some Scud updated. Rob used to do comedysportz in Milwaukee and was one of my 'coaches' for our high school league. Many of the guys who were in the Dead Alewives (a freestyle improv group) worked with Rob on the comic Scud and eventually moved out to California. Since he's been out there he's gotten some great oppurtunities. He, along with Dan Harmon, started Channel 101, a website dedicated to the free airing of people's movies and TV Shows. That website not only inspired a similar one (Channel 102 on the East Coast) but also was one of the first place where some very funny entertainers got to post their creative talents.

Of course this is a good time as any to plug the movie that Rob wrote the original story for, Monster House, which will be out in the theaters July 21st.

I believe that all of these sites are good examples of folks who have hung on to their dreams and work hard at them no matter what. Happy surfing, hope all of your enjoyed your fourth of July weekend!