Catching a Ray of Sunshine


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Rachel Kramer

The lovely and talented Pamela Hunnisett tagged me with the Sunshine Elevens meme nomination. Last year’s #ETMOOC provided the opportunity for encountering thehunni. It has been a great treat following her blog since that virtual meeting. I must admit I had a bit more fun responding than I initially thought I would. Plus, in participating I just learned that Hunisett and I share an undergraduate degree in theatre. What larks!

Here’s how this thing works:

Acknowledge the nominating blogger & let them know when you complete your blog post.

  1. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  2. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  3. List 11 bloggers.
  4. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.
  5. Hunni’s additional criteria, which I heartily continue: embed links and visuals that personalize the post. I probably went a bit overboard, but have fun.

Eleven Random Facts About Me

  1. I was born one of five living generations.
  2. I started out an art major and ended up with a BFA in theatre.
  3. I have acted in over 20 professional stage productions.
  4. I was a cabinetmaker briefly upon graduating from university.
  5. I support Liverpool Football Club.
  6. I have been stitched back together seven different times.
  7. I was voted senior most likely to become a famous philosopher in high school.
  8. I ended up marrying my high school sweetheart, after breaking-up fifteen years earlier.
  9. I attended the high school featured in the 1986 movie Lucas.
  10. I sold more candy for youth baseball than anyone else three years in a row as a kid.
  11. I saw the immortal Delta Bluesman Muddy Waters play live when I was seven years-old.

Eleven Questions & Answers About Me

1. What do you do for escape or relaxation?

Apart from the occasional nap to relax, I tend to use video games as a form of escape. In fact, that is my primary reason for playing them at all. While I tend to gravitate towards sports games, I have become a lot more fascinated with games that have stronger narratives, of late, although they become less escape and more discovery.

2. What film or play has captured your heart?

There are so many in both genres, really. So, I’ll give one of each.

The play that undoubtedly has captured my heart more than any other is Cyrano de Bergerac. It is a role that I have always wanted to play but have never had the opportunity. I never felt old enough when I was acting more regularly and it is not produced very often. It remains  the one role that feel necessary to call my experience as an actor ultimately successful. I may not ever get the chance, but it is one of the handful of plays that makes me want to be an actor again.

A film that has a hold on my heart, in a most heartbreaking way, is Million Dollar Baby. I think it is one of the most achingly beautiful films I have ever seen. There is something classical about the tragedy, the closest thing to a Greek tragedy in modern times I can imagine.

I rarely agree with Academy Awards. In fact, I believe few ever actually win it for there best work. They always seem to be awarded after their best work was missed, as if retrospectively, but this film deserved every one of the Oscars it received (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor) and should have won every nomination. In my opinion, it is in the running for Eastwood’s best film, which is saying something. It is hard to think of a more moving film.

3. What books would you recommend?

Again, so many. Seems like I am always reading three or four at a time, although I tend towards a lot more non-fiction during the school year. So here is what I am thumbing at the moment.

I finally got around to start reading Howard Rheingold’s Net Smart: How to Thrive Online. So far, definitely worth the effort. Additionally, I have been perusing Brooks Landon’s Building Great Sentences, because it riffs off a lot of material about writing I love. Slowly and leisurely, I have also been making my way through Robert Pinsky’s Singing School, which is a fascinating personal anthology of poetry he has curated. Lastly, I keep returning to reread portions of Douglas Rushkoff’s Program or Be Programmed a lot lately. I would recommend that book to anybody.

4. What has been the best vacation you have ever had – specify where, when, and why?

Image: Map of Cape Breton Island

Cape Breton Island,
Nova Scotia, Canada

The best vacation I have ever had was my honeymoon. A couple weeks after we were married where we grew up, my wife and I took a ferry from Portland, Maine, to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, then drove up the east coast, around the entirety of Cape Breton Island, and down the west coast spending nights in various stops along the way.

We had previously driven the Eastern Shore to Halifax and back, and loved it. So we were not entirely unfamiliar, but we had never ventured as far north as the island.  Still, we had a great time exploring the province’s sites and attractions, venturing all the way around the scenic views of Cape Breton Highlands National Park. It was a beautiful trip.

5. What’s one of your guilty pleasures?

The first thing that always comes to mind in answer to this question is Elvis Presley movies. As corny and bad as they are, I watched nearly every one of them when I was a kid with my mom or aunt, both big Elvis fans. Even now, if I come across one while flipping the channels, I will stop and watch a few minutes longer than I otherwise would. I think my favorite of the bunch is Speedway.

6. If you could travel to any ONE place in the world, where would you go?

Photo: Florence, Italy skyline

Florence, Italy skyline

Florence, Italy. As a kid, the moment I began learning about Renaissance giants, like Lorenzo de Medici, Filippo Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Dante Alighieri, Niccolò Machiavelli, and Galileo Galilei, I have longed to see Florence someday. I think I could get lost in that city for a year or more. I haven’t yet made it, but hope remains.

7. What is your life mantra, or quote, or credo?

Ask for what you want, take what you need, and be grateful for what you receive. I try to live by those words amongst a few others.

8. What is your favourite season? Why?

Autumn. I have always loved Fall. It is my favorite weather of the year, not too hot, not too cold, and not too wet. As Frank Deford has written, it is “when the real year begins, after vacations, when school opens and families settle down to eat fatty foods and watch TV.” It is the beginning of the European soccer campaigns.

It is the season with the richest array of sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. It is also one of the best aspects of living in New England.

9. What is your favourite musician/band or artist (or all)?

I cannot select just one favorite musician but have two very different artists whose work dominates my CD shelves (Yes, I still prefer to buy actual CDs). Paul Weller and Steve Earle are unquestionably my favorite musical artists.

I own just about every recording by both of them. For Paul Weller, that means everything by The Jam, The Style Council, and all his solo material. For Earle, that means all but a couple of the early, less acclaimed albums. Between those two, combined with Springsteen, my wife will not let me click shuffle on my iPod, because she says every third song is by one of those guys and she can only take so much at once.

10. Who or what inspires your writing?

This is probably the most difficult question of the lot. My initial response, if I am honest, is anger and frustration. It sounds terrible, but I always feel like those two emotions can be terribly motivating for me towards seriousness and silliness, although maybe not necessarily inspiration. When it comes to true inspiration, I suppose it comes more from reading than anything else.

11. What metaphor/simile describes your writing process?

In nearly every creative endeavor in which I have ever engaged, I tend to be like the needle on an old turntable, bouncing and circling on the edge of the album, until it finally drops in the groove and is off and running.

Sometimes it takes me a little longer to find that groove, and nearly all of my initial efforts are all in search of it, but once I do all is well and I can be productive. It is a metaphor that I have placed a lot of faith in over the years and it has never really let me down.

Eleven Education Bloggers I Follow

Eleven Remixed Questions for Bloggers

  1. What do you do for escape or for relaxation?
  2. What is your favorite film(s) and why?
  3. What is your favorite book(s) and why?
  4. What has been the best vacation you have ever had – specify where, when, and why?
  5. What’s one of your guilty pleasures?
  6. Which books (one fiction, one non-fiction) would you recommend to new teachers?
  7. What is one of your Ah-Ha! moments from in or out of a classroom.
  8. What is your life mantra, or quote, or credo?
  9. What is your favorite season? Why?
  10. What is your favorite musical artist and why?
  11. What metaphor/simile describes your writing process?
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3 thoughts on “Catching a Ray of Sunshine

  1. thehunni

    Oh my! That was a wonderful musing and I connect with many remembrances that you shared, especially Cyrano, Cape Breton, and your dream to go to Italy! I loved the retro metaphor for writing – nicely said. Thanks for easing my insomnia.

    Reply
    1. Fred Haas - @akh003 Post author

      It was great fun. So, again, many thanks for the opportunity. I sometimes think Cape Breton is a little oversold in terms of tourism, but I really like all of Nova Scotia, the island and especially the city of Halifax, a lot. We spent a few days on Lake Bras D’or, which were really quite lovely. Perhaps I’ll get to Florence at some point, I hope.

      Reply

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