Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Things I Learned This Weekend #1

• Jason Reitman's Thank You For Smoking made me laugh harder than most people sitting through it, though I think it is because I don't believe the movie was about lobbying or smoking. Rather, it is about what me and my neighbors and colleagues face every day in our own lives – the daily humiliation of compartmentalizing one's moral core "to pay the mortgage," and the paradoxical rush of adrenalin one gets from doing it so well.

• While watching the McLaughlin Report with my father-in-law, I learned that Starbucks spends more money on healthcare for its employees than on coffee for its customers. Now, if they could only figure out how to sell healthcare.

• While attending a private mass for friends and family at the Capuchin-Franciscan St. Conrad Friary, led by the son of one of our friends, I learned that five women who grew up with each other in Philadelphia in the 1940s can still sort of remember the hymns they sung when they were youngsters without having an organ to lead them.

• While watching Leonard Slatkin conduct the Pittsburgh Symphony, I learned that the old man -- jumping up and down and flailing and causing his own snow white comb-over to sway gently above his head like a wheatfield, especially during the "Mars" and "Jupiter" movements of Holst's The Planets -- can call to mind a B&W negative of a film clip of Cab Calloway cutting his swath through "Minnie the Moocher."

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