Talk is cheap: Regarding Adam Cayton-Holland's "Lord of Discipline," in the August 24 issue:
The article about Rory Vaden was fascinating. I wish him well, but I also worry about him. An obsession with any one concept, including discipline, is sure to have a shadow side. Discipline is indeed very important, but so are many other qualities, including playfulness, compassion, acceptance and humility. What matters is not just the appearance of these qualities, such as the rehearsed self-deprecating humor of a talented public speaker, but genuine openness to sources of meaning other than achievement, to learning from very different points of view, and to the possibility of cherished beliefs or commitments turning out to be misguided. I hope he knows this.
It sounds like Rory has a lot to offer as long as he doesn't over-generalize his own story. I hope he resists the temptation to blame people for circumstances beyond their control or to scorn the choices people make without really understanding their lives. If discipline is his hammer, it is important to remember that not everything in the world is a nail.
On a role: After reading "Lord of Discipline," I couldn't help but feel that Mr. Vaden could, indeed, be a good role model for many youths. However, claiming that he received a "sign from God" telling him that he must become the "youngest world champion ever" is hysterical.
News for you, Mr. Vaden: God doesn't give a shit about your winning a speaking competition (it's not unlike people who thank God that they won an Emmy award), particularly when some of your modeling pictures make you look like a cheap rentboy. (Did God also guide you to photograph yourself with your pants pulled down to the pubes?) I believe you've puffed yourself up so much over the years that you think God has become your personal manager. Maybe a better idea would be to show a little more humbleness. After all, pride ("discovered by some producer or director or agent who instantly saw the potential in me to be one of the world's most famous celebrities") is one of the "seven deadlies," as I'm sure you know. With quotes like that, I'm wondering if you're really doing this for the greater good or just your own gratification. It is possible to do both, of course, and there's nothing wrong with that -- but a little more humility and a little less smugness may ultimately be more helpful.
The power of positive thinking: The Rory Vaden story is as positive a one as I've ever run across. Congratulations. He's ideally suited to become a senator or the president, run a Google-like corporation or be the next Michael Moore. Whatever he chooses, a lot of us readers out there want to know: Where's the line?
We will back him and the weekly paper that told his story.
Gene W. Edwards
Cold calling: Several months ago, I met Rory Vaden after a "new talent" show at Comedy Works. We had a thirty-second connection over our respective moms doing Mary Kay sales when we were kids. It made a better punchline coming from a boy, though from my perspective, selling moisturizer and lip gloss in the form of cracker-and-cheese parties is a punchline in and of itself.
I was inspired and awed by Adam's article. And then ten seconds afterward, disheartened and pissed. Because I am not Rory Vaden.
In my youth, I was the poster child for such a mantra as Rory "sells." I did my projects the day they were assigned and ran cross-country like I was training for the Olympics. As I grew up, I began reading through the night (unfortunately for my grades, not class-required material), camping with "foties" in college (obnoxious, drunk, yes, but swimming in the stars at midnight) and, to top it off, majoring in art. Not practical digital media, or architecture or design, but paintings of donkey-horses and Bruegel-like creatures running through junkyards. Needless to say, post- graduation has been a string of low-paying jobs, tedious and painful. Unfortunately for me, the most profitable career choice -- sales -- makes me shake like Pete Doherty in rehab. The idea of going to a different state and knocking on doors selling books strikes the fear of God in me.
I admire those who have such a "calling." Who follow that one path at all costs, so as not to "get by," but to be "there." Shit, I want that, too. I'm just writing to give hope to those who are maybe a bit more of a whimsical spirit. Who don't really understand the "shmoozing" and "rubbing elbows" and "dressing the part" and "fine-tuning the body for the mind" world that we live in. Those for whom discipline is sidelined every once in a while to obtain the experience that makes you a painter/singer/ lover/dreamer. To experience life and all its foibles. There is a reason why Rory Vadens come once in a generation: All the rest of us are building our sand castles in the sun with hot dogs, water fights and the occasional jellyfish sting, while he is winning the blue ribbons with thoughtful design, a team of (self-recruited) help, and ten hours of painstaking mastery. We need both in this world.
P.S.: Thanks for making a desk job a little more entertaining every Thursday.
Humble pie: Discipline, discipline, discipline. Rory, this was not Christ's message as captured in that Bible you profess to thump. God is love, not discipline. Martin Luther was a lush and Dr. King had extramarital affairs, yet both so loved humanity that they were willing to trade their lives to remove injustice. Yet a bunch of very disciplined guys recently flew planes into some well-known tall buildings. Have you ever heard a speech by Harriet Tubman? No, because she spoke with her life. She bettered the world with her heart.
Your advice may be sound for worldly success, but the Kingdom runs opposite. "The greatest among you shall be a servant to all." If you want to change the world, it will not be with good advice, but with words of life. I was 24 and gifted once, and I just knew the messed-up world needed me. What I learned was that I needed to love it. A change needed to be made in me. People do not exist to make me important; I exist to love and serve them.
Rory, if your goal truly is to reach your generation, then I will give you the same advice a wise man once gave me: Go away! Become invisible! Get a job serving humanity! Hold some hands or wipe some asses, and don't come out of hiding until God comes to get you! Then, when you speak, your words will be words of life, seeds of hope and love, ideas backed by the power of heaven, a river of living water. Think of the simple words of Mother Teresa here, not the perfected prose of Toastmasters.
Editor's note: As Rory Vaden expounded in his final speech this past weekend at the 2006 World Championship of Public Speaking in Washington, D.C., "Faith provides protection in times of fear. Faith provides peace in times of frustration. Faith provides perspective in times of failure." Holed up in his hotel room (with food poisoning) after falling short of his year-long goal to become the Toastmasters' best speaker on the planet, Vaden is now following his own advice and looking to his faith to provide perspective. He discusses his speech, the competition and more in his latest blog entry at http://disciplinedynamic.blogstream.com, concluding with this: "I will have to find something big to pursue next, but I'm not sure what it is yet." Stay tuned.
Say it ain't so: Having searched through the August 24 issue at least twenty times (congratulations, Patricia Calhoun, for the award, and kick some more of that big horse's ass, Republican Janet Rowland; it is well known that What's So Funny's Adam Cayton-Holland is totally in the know, since he was seen wearing a pair of Crocs back in '98 -- look it up), I am now certain that there was no theater section. No Juliet Wittman.
Please tell me this is not a nightmare where I am forced to watch hour after hour of Rory Vaden pitching that with Discipline and Little Tiny Ads, I can achieve Nirvana.
Editor's note: Not to worry, Bill. Juliet Wittman was out sick; she's back this week -- see this week's review.
Pray as you go: Adam Cayton-Holland's What's So Funny in the August 24 issue was a well-crafted display of professional respect for Josh Blue. Ditto the sentiment.
Sign me up for Adam's parade -- I'll pray for no rain.
Riot squad: Adam Cayton-Holland is a riot to read. What a great way to suck up jealousy: upstage your friend's parade. But luckily the KGB manservants were present. I did lose focus of the article being about Josh and not about Adam, but I haven't met an Adam yet who wasn't completely self-involved.
Thanks, Josh Blue, for giving Hickenlooper a shot at fixing his mistakes with the ADA. Maybe he can help the other downtown venues make it easier for those in their get-up-and-go-go scooters. Poor Adam.
Surf and turf: Jason Sheehan, I was intrigued when I saw the Islamorada Fish Company on my way back from the airport a few months ago ("Floating Belly Up," August 17). I am an actual Florida native and have fished and eaten fish in Islamorada for 35 or 40 years. Just the thought of a place in Denver with that name made my skin crawl. Good review, but I wish you wouldn't sugarcoat everything.
I have just sold my house after living near Morrison for 25 years, and want to live near the ocean again. For the near future, I will be cruising the coast from Brownsville to Wilmington looking for a place to live and eating seafood.
via the Internet
Something's fishy: I believe that Jason Sheehan must have some sort of vendetta against Islamorada, or perhaps he has family working in a competing restaurant. His review was downright vicious. His use of refined rhetoric included variations on the word "fuck" numerous times, surely a sign of a fine-dining connoisseur. I find it hard to believe that Jason has even read Shakespeare.
Hurts so good: I am eternally grateful for not drinking milk at the time I read "Floating Belly Up," so I did not spray it all over my PC at work from laughing so fucking hard. Goddamn, I wanna try this place just for the pure masochistic experience. I don't smoke now, so putting them out on my wrist is not an option anymore. Then along comes Islamorada, and I want to try it out for the sheer pain, much like you would one of those movies that is so bad that it's good. On the other hand, I am cheap and love my food and won't get within twenty yards of this culinary abortion. Thanks, Jason.