Oh, of course we are.

above-average


Source: The New York Times Magazine

Meryl Streep: A League of Her Own

meryl-streep

While Streep, 67, who has racked up a record 19 Academy Award acting nominations, receives such praise with grace, when she says she is merely happy to be acting she is not simply being modest. “On a certain level you don’t have any choice—you’re unhappy if you’re not doing it, so you’re compelled in a certain way. And if you’re lucky you can keep working,” she says. “But everybody has troughs and dismal times—every single person…Those anxieties help explain why Streep is pleased to be as prolific as at any time in her nearly 40-year film career.

[…]

Streep eventually realized that, despite having a lovely voice, she wasn’t good enough to be a professional diva. And though she sang plenty, Streep left her dreams of singing opera behind. Until Florence Foster Jenkins. “Yeah, there were moments when you’d say, ‘Sing worse,’ ” Streep says to Frears. “You were quite close,” Frears responds, referring to Jenkins’s idiosyncratic intonation.

As Streep pauses in appreciation, I’m reminded of a moment late in the film. Stripped of her wildly outlandish attire, Jenkins delivers a line that resounds like a credo: “They may say I can’t sing, but they can never say I didn’t sing.” This may be true for Streep, who like Jenkins is striving with all her heart, though she holds herself to a higher standard: her own.

“At the end, I sort of thought, Well, that was good,” Streep says, nodding. “I thought I’d done well, sounded good.” She pauses and adds with a laugh: “I also thought I looked good. Someone should have told me!”

~ Alex Bhattacharji, Meryl Streep: A League of Her Own


Notes:

 

“What’s going on next to me is just ridiculous”

katie-ledecky

Here are a handful of excerpts from an awe-inspiring, MUST READ article by Michael Sokolove on Katie Ledecky:

  • The most dominant swimmer in the pool this summer is 19 year-old Katie Ledecky. The question isn’t whether she’ll win, but by how much…
  • She is now the world’s top female swimmer in the 200, 400, 800 and 1,500 freestyles. She is among the best Americans in the 100 free. No swimmer has conquered this combination of distances in nearly half a century, and to many in the sport, her achievement is hard to fathom — it would be like the Jamaican star sprinter Usain Bolt taking up and winning mile races.
  • No other woman has ever come within seven seconds of her top time in the 800 freestyle; in the 1,500, the gap is a ridiculous 13 seconds. At the Olympic trials, Leah Smith, an emerging middle-distance swimmer, came within two seconds of her in the 400. She said she was excited because, in her races against Ledecky, “I had never been able to see her feet before.”
  • In the starting blocks before a race, Ledecky does not stroke her biceps or pound her fists against her own body, as some male swimmers do…She just stretches her neck a bit and shakes her arms out, then dives in the pool and wins.
  • She has only three real training partners, all of them male, because they are the only ones with the ability to keep up with her. They swim either in the same lane or in an adjoining lane to Ledecky…It’s not unusual for men and women swimmers to train together, but being in the pool with Ledecky is something that many men can’t handle. In April, Conor Dwyer, a 6-foot-5, 27-year-old American swimmer who won a gold medal in the 4-by-200 freestyle relay in London, gave a revealing interview posted online by USA Swimming. In it, he talked about male swimmers being “broken” by Ledecky when they practiced together at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
  • I saw a couple of guys have to get yanked out of workout because they got beat by her.” When I asked Ledecky about this, she claimed not to have noticed. “I was probably just concentrating on doing my own work,” she said.
  • “I’m not gonna lie, it can be annoying when she beats you,” Hirschberger told me. Even if the person getting the best of him is a reigning world-record holder in three events? “You’re just not used to getting beat by a girl,” he said…”What’s going on next to me is just ridiculous. It’s unreal. (Andrew Gemmell, a Ledecky training partner)

Don’t miss the full story here: NY Times Magazine –  The Phenom

 

 

They’re simply too good. Better to close your eyes and carry on with your own work.

Karl-Ove-Knausgaard

Before I begin this review, I have to make a small confession. I have never read Michel Houellebecq’s books. This is odd, I concede, since Houellebecq is considered a great contemporary author, and one cannot be said to be keeping abreast of contemporary literature without reading his work. His books have been recommended to me ever since 1998, most often “The Elementary Particles,” by one friend in particular, who says the same thing every time I see him. You have to read “The Elementary Particles,” he tells me, it’s awesome, the best book I’ve ever read. Several times I’ve been on the verge of heeding his advice, plucking “The Elementary Particles” from its place on my shelf and considering it for a while, though always returning it unread. The resistance to starting a book by Houellebecq is too great. I’m not entirely sure where it comes from, though I do have a suspicion, because the same thing goes for the films of Lars von Trier: When “Antichrist” came out I couldn’t bring myself to see it, neither in the cinema nor at home on the DVD I eventually bought, which remains in its box unwatched. They’re simply too good. What prevents me from reading Houellebecq and watching von Trier is a kind of envy — not that I begrudge them success, but by reading the books and watching the films I would be reminded of how excellent a work of art can be, and of how far beneath that level my own work is. Such a reminder, which can be crushing, is something I shield myself from by ignoring Houellebecq’s books and von Trier’s films. That may sound strange, and yet it can hardly be unusual. If you’re a carpenter, for instance, and you keep hearing about the amazing work of another carpenter, you’re not necessarily going to seek it out, because what would be the good of having it confirmed that there is a level of excellence to which you may never aspire? Better to close your eyes and carry on with your own work, pretending the master carpenter doesn’t exist.

~ Karl Ove Knausgaard, from his review of Michel Houellebecq’s “Submission


Since the emergence of the six volumes of My Struggle, which began in 2009 and continues as the books are translated into dozens of languages, Karl Ove Knausgaard, 46, has become one of the 21st century’s greatest literary sensations. […] It was jarring to think that this unassuming guy, driving a scuffed van cluttered with toys, old CDs and a baby seat, is quite probably in line to receive a Nobel Prize in literature for his epic saga of what he describes as “the tormented inner life of one male.”

~ Liesl Schillinger, Why Karl Ove Knausgaard Can’t Stop Writing

Burning desire to be excellent, but no faith that I could be

art-fear-eyes

I confessed that I had a burning desire to be excellent, but no faith that I could be.

Martha said to me, very quietly: “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. As for you, Agnes, you have so far used about one-third of your talent.”

“But,” I said, “when I see my work I take for granted what other people value in it. I see only its ineptitude, inorganic flaws, and crudities. I am not pleased or satisfied.”

“No artist is pleased.”

“But then there is no satisfaction?”

“No satisfaction whatever at any time,” she cried out passionately. “There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”

~ Agnes de Mille, The Life and Work of Martha Graham


Credits: Quote Source: Brainpickings. Image: Your Eyes Blaze Out

10 Guaranteed Steps to Leadership Excellence

business,leadership,lead,manage,management

  1. Be strategic. Be Tactical. Be a firefighter.
  2. Push for productivity. For excellence. Pull. Pull with PURPOSE.
  3. Set pace. Drive. Pause. Stop. Change. BALANCE.
  4. Build Relationships. CARE. Keep adequate distance.
  5. Learn. Coach. Nurture. Correct.
  6. Hire. Upgrade. Right-size. Fire. (sigh)
  7. Lead. Manage. Own. Delegate. Follow. Release.
  8. Show Strength. Be Resilient. Be Tough. Be Fair. Be compassionate. Admit weakness.
  9. Cheer. Rally. Celebrate. Recognize. Recover.  Regroup. INSPIRE.
  10. Be on. Be on. Be on. Be on. Be on. Be on. Be on. Be on. Be on. BE ON.

 


Image Credit


 

You are entitled to what you want; otherwise why would you want it?

black-and-white-cat-paws-wallpaper

Be the noble curator of your excellence,
for fate made you perfect.
In all things, be precise:
standing, sitting, staring, walking, sniffing, eating, sleeping, killing.
Never look in mirrors, which are windows for the insecure.
Sleep in a variety of comfortable places,
which were created for you alone.
Make acquaintances, never friends.
The latter tend to cling.

All phenomena are potential enemies.
Therefore, stare, listen, listen, stare, sniff, stare, listen, sniff,
hide, stare, and listen.
Never perform tricks.
Leave those to dogs, who need to be wanted and want to be liked.
Talk as necessary, but never just to chit-chat.
Crack the whip of feline fury as you wish.
Keep the blades of your four feet sharp and retracted like long-held resentments.
Let your soul’s motor idle and strum the taut cord of your body. No one owns you.

God made you and likes you best.
In a world that’s dubious, you are certain.
You never make mistakes.
You are entitled to what you want; otherwise, why would you want it?
No matter what else you may be undertaking,
never be reticent to stop and groom yourself,
for you are superb, and self-maintenance doubles as self-admiration.
You are a cat,
a form of beauty that enters stealthily, naps, and agrees to be admired.
You are a cat.
Everything is as it should be.

~ Hans Ostrom, How To Be A Cat


Poem Source: Thank you Dan @ Your Eyes Blaze Out.

 

Cannavale

Broadway, excellence, complacency

“I can also be stubborn,” he went on. “I’m an idealist. I used to say to Sidney, ‘Pop, your movies are always about people fighting against something, the system or corruption,’ and he said, ‘That’s what life is about.’ I loved that. I’m fighting complacency. Most people think good enough is good enough. I go to the theater a lot, and communion doesn’t always happen, but when it does, it’s indescribable.” He met my eye. “I don’t come from anywhere, man, but I am always on the search for excellence.”

~ Bobby Cannavale, Actor


Robert M. “Bobby” Cannavale (43) “is an American actor known for his leading role as Bobby Caffey in the first two seasons of the television series Third Watch. He also had a recurring role on the comedy series Will & Grace as Officer Vince D’Angelo, Will’s long-term boyfriend. He portrayed Gyp Rosetti on the third season of the HBO drama Boardwalk Empire.  Bobby Cannavale was born in Union City, New Jersey, to an Italian American father and a Cuban mother, and grew up in Margate, Florida. He was raised Catholic and attended St. Michael’s Catholic School, where he participated in a number of extracurricular activities, including being an altar boy and member of the chorus. When he was eight, Cannavale secured the plum role of the lisping boy, Winthrop, in his school’s production of The Music Man, and later as a gangster in Guys and Dolls, which cemented his love for performing. Cannavale’s parents divorced when he was 13 and his mother moved the family to Puerto Rico. After two years in Latin America, they settled in Margate. Cannavale returned to New Jersey after barely eking out a high school diploma in the late 1980s, in order to be closer to New York to launch his acting career.  Cannavale began his acting career in the theater – with no acting training.”


Image & Quote Source: Broadway’s Hottest Outsider – NYTimes.com.  Cannavale Bio: Wiki

For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake bitter bread

bread bakery

“…Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.
And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine.
And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.”

Kahlil Gibran, (1883-1931) from The Prophet – “On Work”


Sources: Bakery Image – The Girl on the Moon; Quote – katsandogz

Just take it. Do it. Take the next step.

black and white photography, trees, woods, quotes,

“All great masters are chiefly distinguished by the power of adding a second, a third, and perhaps a fourth step in a continuous line. Many a man has taken the first step. With every additional step you enhance immensely the value of your first.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)


Image: Laura B. Fernandez photograph titled “The Next Step Will Lead Our Lives.”  Quote: whiskeyriver.blogspot.com

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