#2 = Failure?

The Northwestern University Woman’s Lacrosse team recently finished second in the national championship. This broke a string of 5 straight national championships. Is this a team of losers? They may think so since they have filed a protest regarding the officiating. This was not pro sports. Why complain?

There are some areas, mostly sports where winner take all seems to be the case. People often say that no one remembers who finished second in any of the major championships. My Blackhawks just won the Stanley Cup. By next year will anyone remember that they beat the Philadelphia Flyers? Gosh, I hope so.

And I hope the Flyers feel great about the extraordinary playoff run they had. until the goal that won it for the Hawks in overtime of the sixth game, no one was writing off the Flyers.

More importantly, other than pro sports what should we think of the person or team that finishes second. O.K. In my line of work I bid for new work. There are often 5 – 10 competitors for each bid. Recently I finished second two weeks in a row. To different competitors for different reasons –in one case it sounded as if they flipped a coin. I get no monetary value from being #2. And yet, I beat out 9 competitors in one case and 3 in the other. Good people from good companies. Not too shabby. If these were the last two pieces of work in the world, I would have been a loser. But they aren’t. I will compete again and win more than my fair share.

How bad can it be to be the second smartest person in the world or the second richest or the second funniest? And what about all the others who finish behind #2? Fortunately this is a big world and a large life allowing the opportunity for  success for many people, in many forms and on many levels. Fortunately literally billions of people in this world are successful without being the best, just by being very good.

I am not sure if it is a U.S. thing or a Western culture thing but I am tired of only having celebrations for one. I am tired, not of the competition to be the best because I find that competition breeds “better” in many, but of the scoring that is done to determine #1. Top grossing movie of the week (not best movie which is what we should be applauding), top salesperson (regardless of how many of his/her own colleagues  were elbowed out-of-the-way), or winner of the Scripps Spelling Bee (O.K. Maybe I let that one go).

I would rather celebrate many people doing good things and continually improving. I am going to adopt this approach today in all facets of my life starting at home.

Congratulations to Northwestern’s Woman’s Lacrosse team for an excellent year this year to add to the five previous ones. Well done.

Celebrities In My Midst

I felt a bit like Dian Fossey as I stealthily observed the habits of a strange species. I found myself within arms length of three celebrities within 48 hours.

First William Petersen, best known for his role as Gil Grissom on CSI. He is currently starring in a play at the Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago but stopped in at intermission to visit someone at the Steppenwolf Theatre on Wednesday night. My buddy Bill obviously did not see me since he walked right past me twice. He looked good. Fit and trim. In the last season he was on CSI they had him looking frumpy and old.

Second was Dionne Warwick. Before she shilled for the Psychic Friends Network she had over 50 charted hits. Now 69 and looking her age she was standing with a small crew on Fifth Avenue and 59th Street in NYC. I walked over to get a closer look. One of her party was a late 50s blond who looked good but very plastic. I had to believe that her boobs were enhanced and the skin on her face had been stretched more than once. I could not tell if she had some fame of her own.

The last celebrity is my wife. She was in a cooking segment on The Early Show, CBS’ morning show. They were filming the show in the plaza outside the CBS building which was across street from our hotel. I recognized none of the hosts. So what was my wife’s role on the show? She had the job of standing behind the woman doing the demonstration and the host who I did not recognize. (After all it is the #3 morning show.) You can see my wife here.

The guys working security were pretty cool. I was trying to click a picture of my wife and they let me get fairly close to the demonstration. Normal working people are often good guys.

As for celebrities, the study continues.

Are There No Good Guys Left?

Famous people, especially actors, should not be looked to as role models. And yet few people know my friend Gary, my step father Fred or any of the other truly good guys in my world.

With actors especially it is easy to confuse the characters they play with the people they are.  And yet given all the press they get usually there is enough known about their private lives to think you know. So when I read that Morgan Freeman had an affair with his stepdaughter that started when she was a teenager, it saddens me. He certainly played many stand up guys. He had that reputation as well. Married to the same woman for 25 years. Maybe the car accident was Karma.

Mel Gibson’s fall from grace has been well documented. Woody and Soon-Yi.  John Edwards. Too many others to list.

All I can say is that I can take a slew of mediocre movies from Tom Hanks but finding out something that drops him from the Good Guys list would put me over the top.

As long as we are discussing famous prople as Good Guys, my thoughts go to Walter Cronkite who is 92 and reported today as being very ill.

And that’s the way it is.

Oprah And Me

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Two connections.

I weigh less than Oprah. Though not by that much.

My bank account is also less than Oprah’s.  By a lot.

An Inspiration: Gary Hall Jr.

It is easy to let obstacles slow you down or even stop you. Hell, there are phenomenal amounts of worldly and personal negative forces impacting each of us every day. The economy and the stock market are down, people are out of work and/or losing their homes, there are more places in the world than we can count where neighbors are killing neighbors in record numbers and the hopes for peace are slim. We each face our own declining physical conditions, injuries or illnesses or maybe the decline of someone we love.

That is why when famous people can inspire through there actions against personal adversity I believe the word should be spread.

I was aware  of but did not know much about Gary Hall Jr. He is a swimmer. Was an Olympic quality swimmer with 5 golds and 10 total medals. Maybe not at the Michael Phelps other worldliness level but pretty terrific. I also remember that he was often outspoken and a bit of a maverick (a real one, not the Sarah P made for TV kind).

After his first Olympics he developed Type 1 diabetes. It could have finished his career. Several doctors told him so. It certainly would change his life forever. He could have let the labels determine his life. From Olympic Hero to Diabetic. He chose not to.

He found a way to continue to follow his desired path while dealing with his disease. He did not let the disease define him. It was not easy. Testing his blood sugar at least 8 times a day going to every hour on race days. Five or six glucose injections daily. Diabetes is a disease that never lets you forget that it is with you.

A lesser person would have not gone on to compete and win medals in two more Olympics. A lesser person would not devote time not only to fund raising and making inspirational speeches but also to touch kids every day on a personal basis to help them see that as hard as their condition is there is a life to be had.

Gary Hall Jr. makes the 48 Facets Mensch hall of fame.

Read more about him at SI.Com



c.1380, “solemn rite or ceremony,” from O.Fr. celebrité, from L. celibritatem(nom. celebritas) “multitude, fame,” from celeber “frequented, populous.” Meaning “condition of being famous” is from 1600; that of “famous person” is from 1849.


Paul Newman Plays His Final Role

As someone who does not personally know any famous people I have always wondered if you can know an actor through the roles he plays. Not that anyone who plays the role of a killer is necessarily a evil, but how much of the actor’s personality come through on screen.

If you can tell about a person from his/her roles then I wish I had had a chance to hang out with Paul Newman.  It seemed as though strength, goodness, whimsy, rebellion, honesty and a devilish sense of fun shone through . Normally I resent ridiculously handsome men because I am not one of them but not Paul. You had to like Paul.

Who could not like a man who starred in:

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)( opposite Elizabeth Taylor); Exodus (1960), The Hustler (1961), Hud (1963), Harper (1966), Hombre (1967), Cool Hand Luke (1967), Slap Shot (1977) and The Verdict (1982), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), The Sting (1973),  The Long, Hot Summer (1958),  The Drowning Pool (1975),  The Glass Menagerie (1987) and Nobody’s Fool (1994). 25 years after “The Hustler”, Newman reprised his role of “Fast” Eddie Felson in the The Color of Money (1986) for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor. Heck, with that list you can even forgive the few clunckers like The Towering Inferno (1974).

He seemed to be a mench outside of his work as an actor, certainly not the norm today. He showed his daring by racing cars, his moxy and social conscoisness by starting an organic food business and then giving the profits to charity. He was also politically active. He made #19 on Nixon’s enemies list. What’s not to love!

Not that it impacts my life directly but I am sorry that he is gone. Time to get to Borders and begin building my Paul Newman film library. That will keep me busy for a long time.

My Million Dollar Idea

 I am still waiting to come up with my $1 million dollar idea. Actually given my desire to retire and travel the world, make that a $10 million idea.

On thought is to find a way to monetize the thoughts in my head. Christian Lander did. He and a friend came up with the idea that became the blog Stuff White People Like.  It was all the craze for awhile. Hundres of thousands of hits a day. Of course once that happens you get ads. The if you are like Christian you get a book deal. Guess what the book is called? You got it!  Stuff White People Like.

Come on. He was a drop-out. OK he dropped out of a Phd program but he is still a drop out. And while some of his list contains clever even humorous writing, it is not universally hilarious. And look at him. No Brad Pitt if you ask me.

When my mind clears again (hopefully before senility clicks in) I am going to divine an even better blog idea that will make me rich and famous. Maybe I will test some out on you. Now you should be scared. Very scared.

Fame Is Fast And Fleeting: My 13 Seconds

Andy Warhol spoke of 15 minutes of fame. I settled for 13 seconds on the 10 pm news last Sunday.

My wife and I were in downtown Chicago walking to dinner with friends. As we are about to cross the street we are approached by a guy with a microphone and his buddy with a large video camera. The microphone had the logo of NBC5, the local Chicago affiliate. Always willing to mug for a camera we stopped. The topic?  The about to be published New Yorker magazine with a “satirical” drawing of Barack and Michelle Obama.

The New Yorker called it satire. As reported in the Chicago Tribune, Obama “said Tuesday that the New Yorker magazine’s satirical cover depicting him and his wife as flag-burning, fist-bumping radicals doesn’t bother him but that it was an insult to Muslim Americans.”

Want to know what I thought?  Watch the video. I am the one who get the most talk time. And one of the best looking!

Fame. I know of at least 7 people who saw me on TV either Sunday night or Monday morning. It’s Wednesday now and I am all but forgotten…until my next big break. Time to expand my media empire.


New Record: Man Goes 8 Days Without Celebrity News…And Survives


While in Curacao last week I watched no television and never once checked the stock market.  I tried reading the newspaper but it was in Dutch. I was in a state of ignorant bliss.


But I came to know what I was not missing the most while in the supermarket check out aisle the day I returned. There I could not help but be overwhelmed with the faces of “celebrities” that I could not care less about. On the covers of People, US, In Touch and all the other rags were Britney (does it affect my world if she has another relapse), JLo ( so she lost 40 pounds after giving birth, big deal, she has so much money she can hire a personal trainer 24/7 to do the exercises for her), and all sorts of beautiful people I did not miss while away (yes you Matthew McConaughey…please put a shirt on). And yet we pay sooo much time fawning over their every move.


Instead of celebs I met a woman who drove miles out of her way to lead us to a restaurant we could not find, a young guy from The Netherlands who instead of trying to make all the money he possibly could was having a great time working as a dive master making enough to pay the rent and have some spending cash, and a sweet older woman who had moved to Curacao from Europe 40 years ago and who made sure that we felt welcome at Friday night services (at the oldest, continuous Jewish congregation in the western hemisphere. 257 year old synagogue. 350 year old congregation).


Real interactions with real people or celebrity gossip. No contest.