August pleasures

A new season of network television is about to kick off. But if you're starved for good TV now, try out "Anderson 360º" on CNN for news and "Project Runway" on Bravo for "reality." As always, "Gilmore Girls" re-runs provide sufficient laughs and sighs for all your entertainment needs. That is all.

P.S. Go Agassi!

The forgotten virtue

We're often told that patience is a virtue. Well, it better be, because the term "overnight success" is an oxymoron to the majority of people in this world. As I was thinking recently about the value of humility, I wondered why so few things are held up as virtues these days. And I think I know why.

Patience is a requirement on planet earth; humility is all but obsolete.

I'm first to admit that I find myself defending the cockiness of certain celebrities -- "they almost have to be in that profession," I say. And that may be true. But in this pop culture-obsessed age, have we adopted too many of our idols' characteristics?

Most of the musical air waves are packed with tunes about how hot, rich, famous, etc. we are. Self-confidence is one thing. Arrogance is another. Can our children tell the subtle difference?

Humility by itself doesn't promise much in terms of success. I should say, only as the extreme opposite of arrogance does it offer graspable rewards -- who wouldn't rather be friends with a down-to-earth person than someone whose head can barely fit through the door? But with opposite ends of the spectrum aside, being humble is not the most attractive attribute dangled in front of us. It's a dog-eat-dog world afterall -- no time for giving others their credit or serving their interests before your own.

Humility IS a virtue. It's the sort of virtue that may be hard to illustrate, but you know it when you see it; and it always sort of bowls you over. Your average person can deflect flattery when necessary. But when the above-average person displays his or her humility, it's a sight to see. They don't have to look buttoned up or contradict the praise that's directed at them; they stand off-center of attention, thank you graciously for a compliment and can turn any conversation around to be all about you.

These actions will unfailingly make one a successful human being, even if we won't see your face plastered all over the media. Don't forget to tell your kids that.

Don't judge me

But today I am listening to Christmas music on my headphones. None of the 1,345 remaining songs on my iTunes at work would hit the spot. So I switched over to my yuletide mix. Maybe cooler mornings are inspiring it? I'm not sure ... but it's working. A little "Charlie Brown Christmas" or Ella Fitzgerald singing "Let It Snow." Nice. Don't shame me! I'm not trying to rush the advent of Christmas. I just had to bring out the big guns, and one month is not enough time to listen to some of these songs. They're just too darn good.

Wise words

Pick your favorite inspiration:

1) "There are two ways of spreading light -- to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it."
~ Edith Wharton, Vesalius in Zante

2) "If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito."
~ Betty Reese

3) "Never be afraid to do something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark; professionals built the Titanic."
~ Anonymous

4) "It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little -- do what you can."
~ Sydney Smith

Life's great dilemma

"The Sound of Music" or "The Sound of Silence"?


A loaf of fresh bread or fresh penny loafer shoes?

The saga of "either...or" continues

Sun-dried tomatoes or tomato basil pasta?

Either...Or: Part 2

This Marilyn Monroe wannabe...
"I wanted to do what Marilyn Monroe did [during the Korean War], when she went and just set up a stage and did a concert for the troops all by herself. It's so amazing seeing that one woman just going somewhere, this beautiful sex kitten, who's basically a pin-up, which is what I've always aspired to be." (LINDSAY LOHAN)

...or this one...
"There's nobody in the world like me. I think every decade has an iconic blonde -- like Marilyn Monroe or Princess Diana -- and right now, I'm that icon." (PARIS HILTON)

Overwhelming response

Two words I haven't had to use about my blog as of late. That's OK ... never give up, right? So I've decided that for awhile, I will post little "either or's" for readers to share their thoughts on. And I shall start it today:

Rock Hudson or "3rd Rock From the Sun"?

I only know Bill Donohue's name, but I like him already

In this story from Fox News, we learn Madonna's plan to stage a mock crucifixion on stage isn't going over so well in Rome. I can't imagine why.

" 'To crucify yourself in the city of the pope and the martyrs is an act of open hostility,' Cardinal Ersilio Tonini was quoted as saying in La Stampa daily on Wednesday. 'It's a scandal created on purpose by astute merchants to attract publicity.' "

Here's where it gets good:

" 'Knock off the Christ-bashing,' Catholic League president Bill Donohue said in a statement. 'It's just pathetic.' "

Pathetic indeed, Mr. Donohue. But oh-so original.

"S" words...

...make up most of the descriptors for a Michael Bublé concert -- saucy, swingin', sexy, sauntering... To be a bona-fide Bublé believer, you have to see him live. I liked him before that, obviously. But now it's different.

Now I've got the big picture of what makes him the kind of artist for whom "crooner" doesn't suffice. Bublé is a musician -- a great one. He's also a master entertainer. How many singers can leap over crowd railings, dance like Elvis, swing a mic stand and flirt with thousands of women simultaneously while singing like a bird? And in a designer suit, no less.

The kid's got charisma, yes, and style in spades (which is a must when people are throwing out Ol' Blue Eyes comparisons). But don't let that distract you from his oodles of musical talent -- a powerhouse voice that holds the same intensity at the start of "Try a Little Tenderness" as it does at the height of "Come Fly With Me."

Some people quickly dismiss singers associated with the word "croon," but they're the same people who forget that singing jazz music from back in the day is no easy task. These songs are vocally demanding and require preciseness, power, focus and a ridiculous range. Luckily, Bublé also has these in spades. You see, even the most technically advanced musicians fall flat because they can't swing. That's what makes the genre such a unique art form, and what makes Bublé a master.

Shows like his are tough to beat if only for the big-band sound. This music, played by top-notch musicians, is a trip to listen to live. It's like being elevated for an hour and a half. The band's potent foundation for Bublé's soaring voice is pure divinity -- "Sway" has never been so saucy nor "Fever" so sultry (even more "S" words). And "Save The Last Dance For Me"? Forget about it.

His charm is also undeniable. Without so much as unbuttoning his jacket through the whole performance, Bublé blends tradition -- respect for the genre's songs -- with modernity -- referencing the Black Eyed Peas and throwing rock 'n' roll gestures at the crowd. While a bit naughty in his banter, Bublé's self-deprecating humor plays well off of his obvious appeal to the fairer sex.

To men who don't understand what all that appeal is about, I can compare it to a Victoria's Secret fashion show for them. And I mean that in the least-crass way possible. Men and women obviously aren't wired the same, and without crossing into lurid territory, let me say that we'd just as soon be watching even a mildly pleasant-looking fellow sing love songs to us for hours. It's just, well, nice. So there you go.

But again, I digress. Bublé -- without the dapper suit or entertainment antics or sex appeal or any of that -- is fabulous. A voice like that doesn't need icing on the cake. But in his case, it's just gravy.