I’ve inexplicably had this song, from Chevy Chase’s National Lampoon’s Vacation, stuck in my head all day. Watching this music video totally scratches my itch sonically, but the video itself seems so at odds with the spirit of the song as it is presented in Vacation, that I had to minimize my browser so that the song wouldn’t be spoiled. Nevertheless, enjoy. I hope it inspires a Chase movie marathon.
PS – I never knew Lindsey Buckingham sang this song. That seems weird for some reason.
An outbreak of personal adventure has recently spread among my friends in the form of a book. Anthropologist and adventurer Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki, the true account of his ride across the Pacific on a balsa raft, is a page-turner. This little paperback epic is easy to recommend because the tale seems to speak directly to that innate part of people that secretly (or not so secretly) wants to commune directly with the unknown—and unknowable—forces of nature. Aligning yourself with this wild spirit just feels right.
The story of the journey itself— a tapestry of jungle headhunters, whale sharks, naysayers, miracles, and the sparkling beauty of a perpetual ocean horizon—makes this work a compelling one, for sure; but it is important to understand that Heyerdahl wasn’t just a thrill-seeker. He undertook the whole brine-soaked affair to prove to his colleagues that an anthropological assertion he had made in a paper wasn’t an impossibility. He staked he and his crew’s lives on his belief that the Polynesian Islands had been populated thousands of years prior by ancient peoples from South America. The story of Kon-Tiki is most interesting to me because it is the story of a man’s sense of duty to his ideas.
What Heyerdahl understood is that people must want to be a part of an idea before they will stand behind it. Time after time during the book, people offer their help with the expedition solely because of the “courage and enterprise” of the whole affair. So, what makes people get swept up in an idea? According to a study of the New York Time’s most e-mailed articles, stories which inspired a sense of awe in their readers were among the most viral of any in the paper. Likewise, those individuals most highly regarded in our society are those that seem to actually embody their big ideas; People such as Heyerdahl, Gandhi, Dorothy Parker, or even Prince, are inspirations to many. We reward their commitment with a deeper appreciation of their message. Other idea-men, like Steve Jobs or TV’s Don Draper, are most admired for being able to tell a story like no one else, even if we don’t always like their personality. Either way, the takeaway here is that storytelling, not just story, is king.
May we all make the journey that must be made to support the ideas we believe in, both in our lives and in our work.
For those of you prepared to see how it’s done, watch the Academy Award Winning documentary of Heyerdahl’s journey, made with footage taken on the voyage itself.
Steve Martin is obviously not comfortable unless supervising an extraordinarily large number of children. This assortment of box covers illustrates the trajectory of Martin’s moods through his various film roles.
No matter that he has two potential wives in Housesitter, Martin is anxious and worried in any sort of childless union. In Father of the Bride, he is still visibly perturbed with the knowledge that he has only managed to sire two children. He appears only slightly happier with the addition of a mere two new babies in Father of the Bride 2. Finally, having fathered six children and stolen six more from another man’s family in Cheaper by the Dozen, Martin is able to express some sort of satisfaction. He is even able to change out of his suit jacket and relax in a blue sweatshirt. So, where does that leave us?
I would say that we should all keep an eye out for Martin in a Nancy Meyers helmed biopic about the life and children of King Sobhuza of Swaziland, however, the part may be somewhat of the stretch for Martin, who may never be the obvious choice to play an African king. Will Martin ever find true satisfaction in the world of movies? Screenwriters take notice. You know what you have to do.