Remember the old station wagons, with the reverse rear seat? Raise your hand if you were a way way back sitter. Moiself, too.
The Way Way Back. You must see this film, although you may have to wait until it comes out on DVD. The life of an independent film during the What’s Left For Bruce Willis To Blow Up?, Boom-Boom summer season blockbusters is a brief one.
The Way Way Back got me to thinking about another independent gem of a film,  2006’s Little Miss Sunshine, which got me to re-watching LMS, which got me thinking about the pivotal scene in which Richard, who is trying to make it as a motivational speaker/life coach via his “Nine Steps to Success” program, confronts the agent who has been avoiding his phone calls, the aptly named Stan Grossman.
You said it would sell…!
That’s what I thought. At the Time.
But it’s a great program! You said yourself! I don’t understand…
It’s not the program, Richard, it’s you, okay? No one’s heard of you. Nobody cares.
…which got me to thinking about the strange phenomenon that is the circular, bastard stepchild of a pyramid-scheming-evangelical-preacher-snake-oil-huckster, Motivation/Success Seminar empire, of which infomercial giant Tony Robbins is the (self-crowned) king.
TR and his imitators are hawking nothing new – it’s all a repackaging and spinning of the positive-thinking, How To Win Friends and Influence People shtick. There are and always have been legions of people who will listen to anyone with charismatic oratory skills who dresses and sounds and looks “successful” and talks about how successful he is and how he is therefore The One who can help you obtain the magic success formula (paging PT Barnum, please pick up your residuals check in the lobby).
I can’t help but wonder. What with the “millions” of people attending TR’s Unleash the Power Within seminars and rallies and Master University sessions and studying The Ultimate Edge tapes (described on his website as “The World’s #1 Personal Achievement System)”  – including, as per TR’s unsubstantiated mouth fart claim, “leaders around the world” – why isn’t the world a different, more successful place?
Golly gee, if TR’s  ultimate edge formula was even marginally effective I’d expect to be ultimately edged out on a simple trip to the grocery store, what with all those power unleashers and fire walkers (after their second and third-degree burns were treated) successfully congregating in the produce aisle. They’d be everywhere, right?
Other than convincing less successful and/or minimally edged people to give him lots of $$, making him wealthy and adding to his I know the secret to wealth credentials (in the minds of the kind of people who consider purchasing lottery tickets to be a reasonable financial investment strategy), what has TR actually accomplished? I mean, other than surviving the first and only Clydesdale-to-human head transplant:
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The consequences of online shopping:
After ordering a festive housewarming gift for a friend, you may receive the following email from the seller’s customer service department:
Are you satisfied with Hawaiian Aloha Hula Girl Yellow Skirt Desk Home Office Computer Duster? Dear Robyn Parnell, we want to ensure you’re satisfied with Hawaiian Hawaii Aloha Hula Girl Yellow Skirt Desk Home Office Computer Duster! If you’re dissatisfied in any way, give us a chance to make things right….
That’s thoughtful, but, totally unnecessary. How could I – how could anyone – be dissatisfied in any way with a Hawaiian Hawaii Aloha Hula Girl Yellow Skirt Desk Home Office Computer Duster?
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“Why is it that when people die, we make such an effort to turn them into saints?
Especially when the entire reason we loved them so much in the first place is because they weren’t.”
That is just one of many passages I highlighted from a book in which I least expected to find highlight-worthy passages. (It’s okay; read that sentence several times, sober or otherwise, and it’ll eventually make sense).
The book is by actor and standup comedian Alison Arngrim, best known for playing the love-to-hate-her character Nellie Oleson in TV’s long-running Little House on the Prairie. While looking for a picture to accompany a posting on The Mighty Quinn Facebook page (topic: memorable book villains and/or bullies), I came the name of the memoir Arngrim penned. Who am I to resist a title like, “Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated ”
I was initially surprised at my enjoyment of both the book and the author’s style, until I considered her years on the stand-up circuit, where she had time to develop her “voice.” Arngrim’s conversational, droll ironic narrative deftly serves her recounting life with her unconventional parents  and then was like an anvil to my head when she matter-of-factly recounts her years of physical and sexual abuse by her older brother.
I love this passage, from a chapter wherein she describes her friendship and early encounters with the man who would become her husband. No wonder she married him.
I called his home number one day and got his answering machine. I was greeted with a terrible, high-pitched grinding sound, a screaming roar from the pit of hell. I later asked him what on earth it was.
“Oh, that’s my guitar solo,” he replied.
“A guitar solo?” I asked incredulously. I didn’t even know he played guitar.
“Yes. It’s from a song I’ve been working on. It’s called ‘Gozdilla Christmas.'”
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As part of our CSA membership we are required to help with the harvest at least twice during the farm’s 29-week growing season. Son K and I did a harvest help shift on Wednesday, picking herbs, 3 varieties of green beans, and finally tomatoes. While gathering bushels of the latter crop, I came upon a special specimen. “This one is mine,” I gloated, for obvious reasons.
May all your produce be as photogenic, and let the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
 With an incestuous relationship to TWWB, as per shared cast members, studio and production staff.
 The #2 “personal achievement system” is some kind of battery operated marital aid. Or so I’m told.
 Or Jim Rohn or Jack Canfield and his “Chicken Soup” or any of the stars on the Self Motivation tour.
 Her father was a closeted (if only is his mind; it was obvious to every around him) gay who was Liberace’s personal manager and her stardom-seeking mother provided the voices of, among many cartoon favorites, Gumby and Casper the friendly Ghost.
Aug 16, 2013 @ 11:33:31
I love the “Clydesdale to human” comment!
Aug 16, 2013 @ 11:42:38
Thanks, Roger. When I came up with that description I realized, my work here is done.