— 1 —
I’m embarrassed to admit that I knew next to nothing about the book Les Miserables or the musical until 13 months ago when I saw the musical performed at The Orpheum in Omaha. In fact the closest contact I’d had to anything from it was hearing Susan Boyle sing “I Dreamed A Dream” several years ago in the video heard round the world. After seeing it live and being so incredibly moved by it I became a bit of a junkie. The Complete Symphonic recording is on my iTouch and the 25th Anniversary DVD close to the television all the time. When I’d first heard that they were going to do a musical rendition of the movie I was hesitant to get too excited because these things usually do not go well. Then I heard they’d cast Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, Russell Crowe as Javert and Anne Hathaway as Fantine and I about choked. I know Crowe can sing as his band played some songs on the soundtrack to what I consider to be one of his best movies, A Good Year. The rest of the cast is excellent, too, with one of my favorite actresses Helena Bonham-Carter as Madame Threnardier, Amanda Seyfried (of Mama Mia! fame) as Cosette and Samantha Barks as Eponine. (Barks played the part several times on stage including on the 25th Anniversary DVD.) A week ago they released the first teaser trailer and I was blown away. If they continue on this path it appears they may hit a home run after all. Hathaway may be the most realistic, grittiest Fantine yet.
Two years ago I bought the book by Victor Hugo. Last week I finally decided to read it. It may take all summer, but it’s time.
— 2 —
The other book I plan to read this summer is a re-reading of Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Why? Because until I saw the trailer for Les Miz this was the movie I was anticipating the most for 2012 (although For Greater Glory and the final Batman film are right up there). I still am, but with both The Hobbit (part one) and Les Miz set to premier on December 14, 2012, I’ve asked my wife to just give me movie/concessions passes for Christmas this year.
— 3 —
I love everything about this commencement address to high school students at Wellesley High School in Massachusetts given by David McCullough Jr. Hat tip to my friend John for passing this one on to me. I have a neice who has grown fond of using the phrase YOLO on her Facebook page. I may send her this speech.
Among its highlights:
Resist the easy comforts of complacency, the specious glitter of materialism, the narcotic paralysis of self-satisfaction. Be worthy of your advantages. And read… read all the time… read as a matter of principle, as a matter of self-respect. Read as a nourishing staple of life. Develop and protect a moral sensibility and demonstrate the character to apply it. Dream big. Work hard. Think for yourself. Love everything you love, everyone you love, with all your might. And do so, please, with a sense of urgency, for every tick of the clock subtracts from fewer and fewer; and as surely as there are commencements there are cessations, and you’ll be in no condition to enjoy the ceremony attendant to that eventuality no matter how delightful the afternoon.
The fulfilling life, the distinctive life, the relevant life, is an achievement, not something that will fall into your lap because you’re a nice person or mommy ordered it from the caterer. You’ll note the founding fathers took pains to secure your inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness–quite an active verb, “pursuit”–which leaves, I should think, little time for lying around watching parrots rollerskate on YouTube. The first President Roosevelt, the old rough rider, advocated the strenuous life. Mr. Thoreau wanted to drive life into a corner, to live deep and suck out all the marrow. The poet Mary Oliver tells us to row, row into the swirl and roil. Locally, someone… I forget who… from time to time encourages young scholars to carpe the heck out of the diem. The point is the same: get busy, have at it. Don’t wait for inspiration or passion to find you. Get up, get out, explore, find it yourself, and grab hold with both hands. (Now, before you dash off and get your YOLO tattoo, let me point out the illogic of that trendy little expression–because you can and should live not merely once, but every day of your life. Rather than You Only Live Once, it should be You Live Only Once… but because YLOO doesn’t have the same ring, we shrug and decide it doesn’t matter.)
None of this day-seizing, though, this YLOOing, should be interpreted as license for self-indulgence. Like accolades ought to be, the fulfilled life is a consequence, a gratifying byproduct. It’s what happens when you’re thinking about more important things. Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you. Go to Paris to be in Paris, not to cross it off your list and congratulate yourself for being worldly. Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion–and those who will follow them. And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special.
Because everyone is.
Reading it brought to mind this speech that is pretty much along the same lines.
— 4 —
I threw a lot of video at you this week. Forgive me this one time. I’ve been very busy so far this summer with the various projects and activities of life and summer. I continue to work on a book I’m developing, as well as the A-Z Challenge. I’m stuck on B sadly, as I cannot decide between two or three “B” subjects to write about. In the end I may just phone it in so I can move on to C…but I really hate that idea, too.
— 5 —
I’ll leave you with this little palate cleanser to consider. I think it’s fantastic, and a good note on which to end this blog.
How dark this world would be without faith, love and Divine light
We all have a conscience discerning what’s wrong and right
Each human heart desires much more than this life can’t get
To deny the existence of a Transcendent God is the ultimate opiate
You can numb the minds assent to the truth and faith you can refuse
But In the end man stands between God and nothingness and He must choose.
YOLO image source.