Monday, December 31, 2018

Looking Back, 2018

It's New Year's Eve and I'm looking back over events and favorites from 2018.

Biggest change:  On August 17 I retired after 50 years as a speech pathologist.

Fun event:  Participating in a 2019 calendar for Brazos Towers.  (I'm April).  They've also used their calendar in ads for the opera and symphony so I've been in those, too.

Favorite movie:  Green Book

Favorite documentary:  Three Identical Strangers

Should win the Oscar for best male lead:  Christian Bale for Vice

Favorite novels:  Moving Day, The Marriage Lie

Favorite non-fiction:  Educated, Bad Blood, Killing the SS

Trip that never was:  To western Canada on the Rocky Mountaineer.  My sister couldn't go so we cancelled, but 2019 is a go, we hope.

Favorite new skill:  Playing Mah Jongg

Favorite class:  Senior memoir class at the JCC

Favorite restaurant I'd never been to before this year:  Sorrento  (delicious Italian food and the best apple tart I've ever tasted for dessert)

Annual Christmas Day movie:  A Star is Born

Happy New Year, everyone!

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Most Inspirational Christmas Story (I post this every year)

A guy named Bob May, depressed and broken-hearted, stared out his drafty apartment window in the chilly December night.  His four-year-old daughter Barbara sat on his lap, quietly sobbing.  Bob's wife Evelyn was dying of cancer.  Little Barbara couldn't understand why her mommy could never come home.  Barbara looked up into her dad's eyes and asked, "Why isn't Mommy just like everybody else's mommy?"  Bob's jaw tightened and his eyes were wet with tears.  Her question brought waves of grief but also of anger.

It was the story of Bob's life.  Life always had to be different for Bob.  Being small when he was a kid, Bob was often bullied by other boys.  He was too little at the time to compete in sports.  He was often called names he'd rather not remember.

From childhood, Bob was different and never seemed to fit in.  Bob did complete college and married his loving wife and was grateful to get his job as a copywriter at Montgomery Ward during the Great Depression.  Then he was blessed with his little girl.  But his happiness was short-lived.  Evelyn's bout with cancer stripped them of their savings and now Bob and his daughter were forced to live in a two-room apartment in the Chicago slums.  Evelyn died just days before Christmas in 1938.

Bob struggled to give hope to his child for whom he couldn't even afford to buy a Christmas gift. But if he couldn't buy a gift, he was determined to make one--a storybook.

Bob had created animal characters in his own mind and told the animal's story to little Barbara to give her comfort and hope.  Again and again Bob told the story, embellishing it with each telling.  Who was the character?  What was the story about?

The story Bob created with his own autobiography in fable form. The character he created was an outcast like he was.  The name of the character?  A little reindeer named Rudolph with a big shiny nose.

Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas Day.

But the story doesn't end there. The general manager of Montgomery Ward caught wind of the little storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the right to print the book. Wards went on to print the book and distribute it to children visiting Santa Claus in their stores. By 1946 Wards had printed and distributed more than six million copies of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. That same year a major publisher wanted to purchase the rights from Wards to print an updated version of the book. In an unprecedented gesture of kindness,  the CEO of Wards returned all the rights back to Bob.

The book became a best seller.  Many toy and marketing deals followed and Bob May, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from the story he created for his daughter.

But the story doesn't end there. Bob's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a song adaptation of Rudolph.  Though the song was turned down by such popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore, it was recorded by Gene Autrey.  "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was released in 1948 and became a phenomenal success, selling more records than any other Christmas song with the exception of "White Christmas."  The gift of love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning to bless him again and again.  And Bob May learned the lesson, just like Rudolph, that being different isn't so bad.  In fact, being different can be a blessing.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Quote for the Week

Do the things you used to talk about doing but never did. Know when to let go and when to hold on tight.  Stop rushing.  Don't be intimidated to say it like it is. Stop apologizing all the time. Learn to say no so your yes has some oomph.  Spend time with the friends who lift you up and cut loose the ones who bring you down.  Stop giving your power away. Be more concerned with being interested than being interesting. Be old enough to appreciate your freedom and young enough to enjoy it.  Finally, know who you are.
                          Kristin Armstrong

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Holiday Greetings

No matter which holiday we celebrate, at this, the darkest time of the year, our homes are ablaze with lights, so for you and all your loved ones, may this season and every season be a Season of Light.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Books of November

This month was strictly non-fiction, but both books were fascinating.

Killing the Rising Sun, about World War II in Japan and the building of the atomic bomb.  This is the first of Bill O'Reilly's "killing" books I'v read, and I'll certainly read more.  I noticed on the cover that his name is in huge print and his co-author's below it much smaller.   I wonder who did the actual writing.  What do you think?

Bad Blood.  No, it's not a vampire story. (My friend asked me that when I suggested it.)  It's a true story of the fraudulent high tech health company Theranos and how it was uncovered by a Wall Street Journal investigative reporter.  Theranos was considered one of Silicon Valley's amazing success stories.  It attracted such stellar names to its board as Henry Kissinger and Rudolph Murdoch, all of whom thought it was about to revolutionize blood testing.  It purported to have a machine that would anazlyze all types of blood disorders from a finger stick...but ti didn't work!  I read the whole book in one day.  Couldn't put it down.


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