Tennis and Poetry: “If” recited by Federer and Nadal


Combining some of my favorite things i.e.  poetry, tennis, and tennis players.  This Wimbledon promo is simply a fortunate find.  Without further ado, I present Roger and Rafa reciting Rudyard Kipling’s “IF” which adorns the entrance to center court at Wimbledon. 

 

 

IF
by Rudyard Kipling

(‘Brother Square-Toes’—Rewards and Fairies)

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
 

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Our Teens are Running Wild


The problem is not new, nor should it be fodder for gossip. Today’s teens are simply running wild.  They are greater risk takers, more sexually active and overly informed than any teenage population that came before.  From MTV pimping over the top Sweet Sixteen celebrations, as voyeuristic glances into the tiny percentage of the population that can afford to have Usher at their parties. To “reality dating” shows modeling behaviors that are breeding  at risk teens and young adults, by promoting excessive drinking and providing hot tubs as an option for each date.  The media and the freely accessibile internet access colludes with the corruption of our teenage children.  Yet, it is as if we forget that the main responisibility for what our teens do falls squarely on parents for no other influence is as great and as influential as that of family.Web 2.0 and “social networking” are a  much more effective means of communication utilized feverishly by adolescents.  Advancements such as video chats, give adolescent the more private forum to “explore” with various behaviors and cultures, alternate lifestyles and some really out there “freakish” things we as adults can’t even grasp.  There are now translators for the slang used by kids to “text message” one another.  Yes the illiterate language devised to further stunt any thinking that might be needed to right in full sentences. Do we want our kids paralyzed by gadgets?  Do we want our kids informed by those that have the freedom to express absolutely any view they wish and with pictures and video to make it more entertaining, such as the site The Church of Euthanasia. As a teacher and writer I use the internet to a almost embarassing degree for both information gathering and inspiration for my writing efforts.  I Googled euthanasia for a student who was assigned the topic as a final paper in her English class.  This essay was to be a persuasive argument for or against the controversial practice.  About five to seven links down the results of the search was the link to the church that I mentioned.  Clicking on the site I gasped and shook with anxiety as I finally understood what we (parents, teachers, kids) were up against. The site promotes among other things, death in all forms, sodomy an suicide.  So there I was doing what my students were by researching the topic, and there it was, like any other site.  Organized (not well) just enough to have their information viewed and their “Four Pillars” defined.  I will not share the ideas espoused by this website, but you should take a look sometime and see what your kids read for their school projects. 

Then there is the inevitable Hollywood influence.  Our kids love music and movies just like we did.  Yet they are getting to hear about and watch the pop idols they worship live the most reckless and dangerous of lives.  Pregnant Disney TV show stars, the network is probably scrambling to find a way to separate themselves from the shamed star of their show “Zoey 101” as we learn that young Jamie Lynn Spears may have been having an “affair” with an older executive.  Wholesome teenage fun for the whole family, right?   The media is stoning Lynne Spears, and yes her daughters are particularly frightening, but is she to blame?   
 
 

 

The Megan Meier’s story is particularly disturbing and has all the elements that are facilitating an adolescent epidemic of risk taking and poor judgment.  To quickly sum up the Megan Meier’s story is difficult for there are many layers.  It involves female friendships, parenting skills, MySpace, boys and very irresponsible adults.  Megan apparently had a falling out with her close friend and neighbor and this neighbors Mom Lori Drew was concerned that Megan was going to say indecent things about her daughter.  She quickly created a MySpace profile of a young handsome boy she named Josh Evans from a neighboring town, and started communicating with Megan in a flirtatious way.  Megan had been dealing with self esteem issues along with every other adolescent, and found the attention of the young man exciting.  He was cute and sweet and could really understand her.  He told her she was pretty and wanted to be her boyfriend.  She had no reason to think anything else was happening. Three weeks into the internet relationship, he turned on Megan and said she was not the kind of person he wanted to associate with due to things he heard from kids at her school.  She responded with shock, tears and hanging herself with a belt as her parents got ready for dinner downstairs.  It was quickly disclosed that the boy with whom Megan had bonded was really a collaborative effort of a family, initiated by the matriarch Mrs. Drew, and maintained by all.  They explained that they started the profile on MySpace to protect their daughter from slanderous talk (never did Megan say a bad thing about her neighbor or anyone else).  Since the rest of the neighborhood found out about the families twisted game, the Drews has complained of harassment on several occasions.  To date there will be no charges found against the MySpace family hoax or any of the participants. A tragedy like this is unthinkable yet it is subtle, societal and scary. 

If the teenagers seem frightening as they shoot up shopping malls during the holidays, is it possible to assume that the parents must have something to do with it?  As the story of Megan illustrates the power of the internet on our young ones, it also shows parents as they set the example for their children.  Taunting a young person for fun, causing pain and perpetuating deceit are lessons these parents clearly imparted to their own children.  What do we do as members of society to protect our kids from such insidiousness? 

There are several basic parenting principles that can have a positive impact on children.  Use them, and perhaps we can gain back control just enough to produce citizens who we could be proud of.  These basics are not “new age” and they are certainly not difficult to grasp, but do we care to save our kids?  Perhaps we should try. 

Boundaries are a necessity for kids.  They want and need them and parents have to provide them.  Without understanding their own boundaries and those of others, kids have no way to gauge their attitudes and behaviors.  It is not as simple as saying something is good or bad, right or wrong, but why and in what scenario?  Guiding adolescents by defining boundaries allows them to process social behavior and respond to it.  Lynne Spears allowed her young daughter, underage and naïve to not only have an older boyfriend but to basically co-habitate with him.  Some may say, “at least I know they are safe, they are home after all.”  Yet the child was fourteen if the story is at all accurate, when she began dating this young man.  If at fourteen this type of behavior is accepted then it stands to reason that two years into a relationship a pregancy wouldn’t be such a shock after all.  There also appears no discussion about whether these young people had protection or used it, or what type and who provided it?  Why is that not an important enough facet of the story to focus on?  It could only help send the message that there are no guarantees and always that chance that even with protection, there are risks.  Boundaries again play a part in this particular case because not only did Lynne not provide any, but there was also an older sister, incredibly troubled and ridiculously famous,  shirking all decency in front of the entire world.  Losing her children, behaving in a way that could only be seen as psychologically volatile, and big sister Britney Spears never knew a boundary she didn’t obscenely cross.   

Teenagers need to learn through actions about consequences. They must know that an action may have a positive or negative reaction and this fact should come as no surprise by the time a kid is in their teens.  There is plenty of argument about punishment, and I am not sure where I stand on this globally.  Yet parents must define consequences for their children with consistency. 

This brings me to the adolescent’s desperate need for consistency from their parents.  They need to understand clearly what their actions will lead to every time.  It seems as though parents are afraid to provide consistent consequences because they “feel bad” or it seems they fear their kid’s reactions.  If parents allow kids to turn the tables and assume the position of authority, how can they be blamed for their inevitable transgressions?  There are parents and there are children. Parents can not be mistaken for “friends”; they must never stop parenting in a consistent and committed fashion.

This brings us to commitment to our children and to parenting.  This commitment I describe is a life long, full time job parent’s take on when they bring a child into this world.  They must commit to setting boundaries, parenting with consistency and establishing consequences.  They must enforce this on a daily basis without fail.  Does this sound like a Herculean task?  Perhaps it is at times and I by no means wish to imply that parenting in this era is easy or terrain that is well traveled.  Yet the alternative, as we have so clearly been shown again and again in the tabloids, and stories of tragic lost kids doing unthinkable things almost daily by the media, can’t possibly be ignored.  There has to be a better way to guide our youth, than by the examples I have shared.  Without a doubt the answer is parents, parenting, and society’s willingness to see some changes in the way adolescents are perceived and accept them so as to help them. 

There is hope for both the parents and our youth.  I ask you then; will you make the commitment before that hope is extinguished?  I think our kids are worth it. It is up to all of us to convince them of their worth, through guidance, patience and setting a reasonable example. 

Sources sited:

  1. www.ok-magazine.com  Jamie Lynn Spears Says She’s Pregnant

Dec 18, 2007

  1. www.nytimes.com/2007/12/16/fashion/16meangirls.html When the Bullies Turned Faceless by Christopher Maag.  December 16, 2007
  2. www.churchofeuthanasia.org

  Copyright ©2007 Veronica Romm

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My way of saying goodbye.


One year ago today Heath Ledger died of an accidental overdose leaving behind a daughter and throngs of adoring fans. It is hard to believe it has already been a year, probably due to the amount of media coverage his last film role has received. Today the nominations for the Academy Awards were announced and not surprisingly Ledger was nominated for best supporting actor as The Joker in last years smash hit The Dark Night. Last year I wrote a post in memory of Heath and Brad Renfro who had passed right around the same time.  I am re-posting (Jan. 31, 2008 was the original post date)  it because I think it did a good job describing my feelings about the tragic loss of this fine young actor.  May Heath rest in peace knowing he was loved and appreciated for his work as an actor as well as his character as a man.


For me when someone talented, interesting and special dies regardless of whether I knew them on a personal level, or admired their talent from a far, I grieve. The last two weeks have seen the death of two talented young men first Brad Renfro and then Heath Ledger. The minute I learned of each I had the same initial reaction.

1. Utter shock (stomach drops)

2. Disbelief (Heart races)

3. Curiosity (Reading as much as I could on initial reports)

I must digress for one moment. I interviewed both Actors between 1997-1999 when I worked press junkets for major motion pictures. They were both very young, handsome and talented, Renfro who was amazing in The Client and I had interviewed the cast of Apt Pupil.

I became a fan of Ledger’s initially for the obvious reasons, he was great to look at and charming. Through the years his films became better and he would shine in each role. Brokeback Mountain showed a mature actor taking risks and worthy of all the accolades, including an Oscar nomination. I have seen almost all of his films since. Candy was another heart breaking performance, as Ledger and Cornish brought to life the book of the same name.

The media coverage and all of the speculation took the focus off of the actual loss of Heath. Once again I experienced,

1. Anger (too young, too good)

2. Curiosity( continued almost non stop coverage by media)

3. Disbelief (Each time I saw his face, stomach drops)

Now that is has been several days and his memorial in Hollywood took place, his body is in his country and his family must bury their extraordinary son I feel,

1. Profound sadness.

2. Grief

3. And the beginnings of acceptance.

So this morning when I got on the computer I let myself truly experience the emotions by watching tributes to both Heath and Brad. Yes, I cried and smiled as I saw the familiar faces on the screen in roles I loved. I listened to their words in interviews and the songs played on tribute pieces compiled by so many on YouTube. I let myself feel the grief of knowing that these images, still or moving were the only ones left, their legacy. Of course Dark Knight has yet to be released, and this will cause a new wave of sadness and maybe anger.

The stages of grief are fluid. They are repeated and recycled until time allows otherwise. I have friends who think I am foolish, ridiculous and childish for caring at all. They certainly do not take me seriously and I usually try to avoid discussing these people with them because they say things purely out of ignorance and it simply angers me and makes me wonder how people could be so heartless.

I know that I am perhaps extra sensitive and that I cannot judge others for what they feel. However through the use of this tool, my trusty blog I can express my feelings freely and not care if I am judged to be overly sentimental or foolish. I love film and I love actors. So here is my tribute to a young man who shined on screen and whose light dimmed tragically early.


HEATH LEDGER TRIBUTE – IN MEMORY

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In Memorium : JFK jr.


In 1999, John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife, Carolyn, and her sister, Lauren Bessette, died when their single-engine plane, piloted by Kennedy, plunged into the Atlantic Ocean near Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.

I remember hearing the first words of the missing plane and who was on it and knowing it was over.  I knew the circumstances, watched it unfold as did everyone because John John was royalty.  He was also this guy who was always downtown in Soho, on his bike, or roller blades. at bars and always a big flirt. 

One summer night in 1998, out with friends celebrating   Max ‘s having passed the BAR exam.  We were down on West Broadway at Lucky Strike and Box a very Euro bar with great drinks.  JFK jr. came in, and went to the bar.   Notoriously he had not passed the BAR in his first attempt, and had real difficulty passing it later.  I always saw him  but I would never approach him, there was no reason to and he was always surrounded by women anyway.  So the joke/idea was that we should ask him to join us for a toast to Max for his achievement,  passing the BAR on his first try.   It was teasing and mean and I don’t do mean.  There was no way I would go through with it even though the bar was rather quiet that night and the fact was John John had looked over a few times and smiled his famous smile in our direction.  My friends kept telling me to go over, he was looking and I was being ridiculous, but I had no intention. 

As he was leaving, he veered toward our table and said  “Hope you are having a good night,”  looking and locking eyes with me and then smiled the killer smile and walked out.  Well my “cool” friends all burst out into nervous laughter as I turned crimson red.   I was so happy they never went through with their childish dig. 

A year later he was married and missing and everyone I knew was crushed ,shocked and in disbelief.  How could it be in real life, that this could happen to him?  I mean why?  The Kennedy curse just would not relent.  I remember my first thought  was, thank G-d Jackie O. had passed, and about Caroline and her utter despair over her baby brother.  The Bessette family losing two daughters in a national tragedy.  The search went on for over three days but I grieved knowing there was no surprise ending. 

It was like Princess Diana all over again.  It devastated the country and the world.

 

 

I am a sentimental person so I shared that silly story.  Rest in peace, John, Carolyn and Lauren you are not forgotten.

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