Monday, July 26, 1993

The Gunfighter

"If I was doing you a favor I'd let them hang you now and get it all over with. But I don't want you to get off that light. I want you to go on being a big tough gunny. I want you to see what it means to have to live like a big tough gunny. So don't thank me yet partner. You'll see what it means."
-Gregory Peck in The Gunfighter

Peck's character, Jimmy Ringo, the quickest, meanest gun i the west, has just been shot in the back by a young gun, whose only desire is to be known as the quickest, meanest gun in the west. "He don't look so tough," the young chap says earlier in the movie.

As Ringo lies dying, the sheriff and townsfolk want to quickly punish the cowardly actions of the young but now famous gunfighter. But Ringo intervenes. He doesn't want his killer to get off that easily. The last years of his life have been hell; every town he goes to, every place he roams, there is some young kid who wants to challenge him. The weight of his reputation collapses any pride, any benefits, any pleasure his life's accomplishments might have held.

He has come to his last and lost chance, seeking his only love, now the town's teacher, who is struggling to raise the couple's child in anonymity. She wants no part of Ringo. She knows life with him is no way to raise a young boy. When Ringo gets to meet his son, we see the sorrow at what might have been.

Ringo also meets a young struggling rancher, and the every day obstacles in that man's life seem so much simpler than one where every moment might mean death. The vurden of fame has turned Ringo into a sullen, broken, isolated man.

Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven paints a similar picture. Eastwood plays a quick tempered, weathered cowboy named William Munny. HIs wife, the person led him off his outlaw, villent, sinful past, has died, leaving him to raise two children.

When a neighboring woman is brutally sliced up by a cowboy, a reward is posted calling for the man's death. Munny struggles with his conscience. He knows his wife would disapprove, yet the road ahead for him and the kids seems too much to bear. With the prodding of another young cowboy, "You don't seem so tough," munny is persuaded to pursue the reward and relunctantly get back into the killing business that he is now a legend in; a legen he has tried to leave behind.

Unforgiven seems to say that the nature of humans is evil. Even the love of an angel, and the abstinence from whiskey, can't erase the demons that drive us all. The sheriff (wonderfully played by Gene Hackman), the artists/writers, the business folk, the prostitutes, and even his children can't escape the pressures of what is expected.

As one man learns to kill, another is killed by the law whose goal is to prevent killing; and who is trying to hold the town together about as effectively as the leaky roof he has built for himself "to watch the sunset."

The message of both films, made 43 years apart is that you can't escape your nature, and the expectations of those around you. To seek a simpler, more peaceful and moral way of life is a futile struggle.

Monday, July 19, 1993

Playing Doctor

Once upon a couple of weeks ago, I went to the doctor for a check up. Dr. Payne (Pain) was the young lad's name. After my examination, Dr. Pain had but one bit of advice: "You should always wear your seatbelt." Is this what we can expect from Parsdent Clinton's efforts to improve our health care industry? That's the exact same advice my ten-year-old niece has told me for the lat couple of years- and SHE DOESN'T CLAIM TO BE A MEDICAL EXPERT!

When the results of my blood test came back from the lab last wee, I was told that my cholesterol which should be around 200 (200 what?), was much higher than that. Figuring I had only a few weeks left to live, I went to bed that night a bit distressed. I was awoken the next morning by a message playing on my clock radio, "Do you have high cholesterol? You might be a candidate for a new experimental drug..." Now I'm all for new experimental drugs, but I decided (once I chilled out) that I would take a more conventional route and try to get myself in better shape.

NO MORE BUTTERING THE OLD BACON. A better diet? You don't suppose all those breakfast burritos might be a contributing culprit? More exercise? Walking the moping Max doesn't always get the old heart a-pumpin. More sleep? Even our own president needs four hours of sleep.

Will I become a better employee what with my new health conscious approach to life? Perhaps. Last week two people on two different occasions approached me and said, "You seem to be in a good mood." I, in my best Cary Grant voice replied, "I'm always in a good mood. I just hide it better sometimes." Living longer isn't necessarily a worthwhile goal but there are several ways to have a bad heart. And even for the emotionally broken, psychologically damaged, being in better shape can't hurt. Wisdom is supposed to occur with advancing age. In my case in most instances, that hasn't happened; yet I can see where now it takes me longer to bounce back from avoidable abuses.

Last week I met a woman frmo Ohio who is spending her time studying pigs. They are her passion. Her family owns a pig farm and when I asked if killing one of them for dinner wasn't a tad bit difficult, she looked at me as if I had violated the code of pigethics. "Of course not, you don't understand, that's what we do for a living." It's true, I don't understand but I pledge here and now that pork consumption will decrease in my life.

YOu can go too far with these things though. Sure that piece of french silk pie I just polished off might have taken a whole day off the end of my life, but damn, it was tasty.

A Bunch of Words Bound Together
Already Read Books
Less Than 1/2 Price Books
Nobles and Barnes
Albino Books ("A" listing)
Ageless Books
Hooked on Books
Once Upon a Time
Read Em and Weep

Monday, July 12, 1993

State of the Federation

Let's see if I have this straight. In our battle with the Borg, we put the enemy to sleep and thus defeated them. Later we captured one of them, gave it an identity (Hugh), had the option of introducing a destructive suggestion/virus into their collective consciousness, but chose to do the "moral" thing and let Hugh go and be re-assimilated. Now led by the Syoon(sp?) brothers, Data and his evil twin, Lor, the Borg have learned to think of themselves as individuals. They no longer wish to assimilate other species, just destroy inferior beings, which includes the Federation.

This has major implications for thsoe of us in the customer service industry. Recently Denny's restaurants have come under criticism because one of their locations had the tendency to serve their white customers before their black customers.

It's doubtful that the Denny's coprorate offices sent a memo to their franchises identifying the order in which different races should be served. This particular incident probably was determined by the one location, maybe even by one or two employees. But the end result was that the entire company got a huge black eye. NOw socially conscious consumers will think twice before they go to any Denny's restaurant.

What is the lesson behind the problems Denny's has faced? Is it that the best companies are the one's that act in a uniform, collective, consistent Borg like manner? That the best run companies may be the ones who have well defined policies, that don't have loose cannons acting on their own so that anarchy doesn't give way to bad customer perception?

I don't think so. There seems to be room for creativity in a successful business. Nobody wants to deal with an organization of uninspired drones, who spout company policy as the reason they won't do any thinking on their own. Our old VIP program operated on the philosophy that employees are the ones who can cmoe up with the ideas that will improve the company (and thus are the ones who should be rewarded for their suggestions).

We should seek individual creativity but at the same time define those ideas in a collective way. Customer perception is based on individual actions, but those perceptions are then applied to the entire company.

A response to Sarah: I for one would choose Dr. Crusher over Dr. Pulaski any day. Yes, the color of her hair changes more often than my moods; and yes, she was at least half responsblve for bringing that weenie, the Mozart of the stars, Wesley into the universe (my sister has an interesting theory that Cap'n Picard is really Wes' father), but she is so easy on the eyes. A space babe.

Next week will be another newsletter with a theme. It will deal with the topic of 'health' so if any of you have anything to contribute, pelase do so. What is the correlation between a good diet, plenty of rest and exercise with the way you perform your job?