From all of us at the Real Brian Show, a very Merry Christmas! In this farewell-to-2016 installment of the podcast, we bring you yet more Star Wars, plenty of talk about Christmas, and an amazing conversation with Nicholas McCarthy about his experiences as a concert pianist.
Nicholas McCarthy was born without his right hand, but he was also born with an extraordinary aptitude for piano. If that combination doesn't make sense, you will be astounded by the interview in this week's episode of The Real Brian Show. Brian and Nicholas dig in to the prejudice produced by the inherent handicap having only one hand presents and how the challenges he faced as a young person grew him into exactly who he needed to be as an adult.
More than simply rising to the occasion, or facing adversity head-on, Nicholas's story is one of those rare and unique, and totally authentic, tributes to a calling deep within the human spirit. We can each have a strong desire to do or to be something, but facing the word "No" or experiencing rejection can be a show stopper. Nicholas's skills tickling ivory were too great to allow any form of rejection to get in his way, and it is incredibly inspiring.
Negativity makes a lot of noise. Nicholas and Brian talk about this noise and how it can seem to drown out everything else around you. No matter how many people tell you something positive, the negatives are what seem to make the most noise. This manifests in a lot of ways. After the 2016 presidential election, for example, the negativity around the results was extremely loud and prolonged. All I remember from the first couple days after the election are the riots. A couple years ago, on the other side of this, Brian and I interviewed Greg Weisman (known for his work on comic-book and animated television series). He brought up the excellent point that when reading reviews about his own work, he can recite the negative reviews verbatim, and yet recall very little from the positive reviews.
Constructive criticism is my bread and butter. The only way to grow and improve is to keep at what you love doing and use the input from others to make adjustments as necessary. But, in the words of my one of my favorite authors, "few of us really have the heart to be in love without encouragement." It is hard to love anyone, or anything, without the encouragement to do so. While it's useful to have people in our lives who tell us the truth, in a more critical way, it is equally important to receive positive feedback. Even more importantly, it is important to listen to and trust positive feedback.
If you aren't getting any positive reinforcement for your endeavor, don't give up yet - make some adjustments. Try a new audience. As for feedback differently. Try to get to the root of why you're surrounded by negativity. Don't let the noise overwhelm you, try to drown it out with a healthy balance of input from the opposing force.
Welcome to The Real Brian Show! Because Star Wars: Rogue One will be gracing the big screen this coming weekend, a heavy focus of this episode will be on that upcoming blockbuster. As always, we'd love for you to join the conversation! Please visit our website for details on how to get in touch or leave a comment on this blog post. Unsure what to say? Start by telling us what your favorite Christmas movie is. Mine, you ask? It's a Wonderful Life. Hands. Down.
I enjoy the Star Wars story. I enjoy any story that does "world building", by which I mean... establishes a strong framework or foundation for its premise and commits to revealing as much as it can of that world through dialogue, costume and scenery. Star Wars commits, and I appreciate that. I would not call myself a fanatic or an expert, though, which is why I was recently pleasantly surprised to learn of the premise for Rogue One.
Perhaps the seasoned Star Wars fan could discern from the trailer, but alas, I could not. The story of Rogue One actually takes place between Episode III and Episode IV, which I find fascinating. It is the first in what is being called an anthology of Star Wars films. Here is a good premise:
"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" takes place before the 1977 original film, "Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope." In "A New Hope," Princess Leia hides the plans to destroy the superweapon, the Death Star, inside her droid, R2-D2. "Rogue One" will follow the team of rebel fighters as they attempt to find the plans for the Death Star. Spoiler: We know they eventually end up in Leia's hands, but this is our in-depth look at how it happened.
via BusinessInsider Read more...
After hearing Brian and Kyle discuss and anticipate the movie, I am even more excited to see it on Saturday!
Our culture spends a lot of time worrying about image. Yes, worrying. (Worry (v): to give way to anxiety or unease.) We worry about the way we look and, even worse, worry about the way others look. Like most things in life, attention to appearance has extremes. Either we care so little about the way we look that we disrespect others by the way we dress or we care so much about the way we look that it becomes our sole focus.
Personally, I've always had issues dressing myself. I'm not incredibly girly and most of what I know about doing my hair has come from desperately seeking out YouTube how-tos. But I've learned a lot over the last couple years and a little goes a long way. After learning how to assemble the various components to looking nice, it's not as much of a chore anymore to put myself together for a party.
As with so much in life, I do believe that managing image comes back to balance. Brian reminds us that the way we put ourselves together is how the world sees us. As much as it is an impression of ourselves, it's also an opportunity to make an impression. Even though we're treated differently by what people see on the outside, the motivation for putting on nice clothes and making ourselves presentable should be to respect others instead of elevating our own stature.
A couple things change when I dress up, and I wonder if you feel the same way. First, I behave differently. I'm not as reckless in "nice clothes". I walk differently and I'm more careful. I like to walk on low walls, swing around poles and jump over fences... but I tend to not do those things when I'm more dressed up. And that is typically a good thing, because the way I am dressed usually lends to itself to how I should behave. Second, I'm more aware of my surroundings. Because I've taken the time to get dressed up, I notice others, I notice details, and I enter into that world... instead of keeping it at a distance or operating outside of it.
The final touch to every outfit should be a smile. When I was in my first year of college, I was not in a good place (emotionally) and wasn't afraid to let my bad attitude show. But one day, after my nutrition class, this girl comes running up to me and gets in my face, demanding to know what my problem with her is. I stare at her, blinking rapidly (as I recall), trying to figure out who this girl was. Turns out, she was in my nutrition class and thought I'd been glaring at her the entire period. I apologized, because my glares were not meant for her, I had never seen her before as far as I could recall. But she definitely opened my eyes to how my attitude affects those around me.
Since then, I've worked really hard to finalize every outfit with Happiness. It can be challenging, but putting on a smile affects my psyche as much as it affects those around me. I didn't need a YouTube video for that ensemble.
Nitro cold brew coffee, it's all the rage! Thought for Food has a great demonstration of what the process entails.
What's the big deal
Two words: stronger, crispier, creamier. Nitro cold brew brings out the taste and texture of the brew without sacrificing caffeine levels. As the name suggests, it's coffee that is literally infused with nitrogen bubbles, which is what produces that creamy taste. In coffee shops it's kept in a keg, pressurized, and drawn from a tap when ordered.
So that is what the big deal is!
Welcome back to The Real Brian Show! We've got a great line-up for you in this episode as we talk about racism, and its more general ancestor - bullying. Racism is just one of the hot-button social issues that plagues our society. The cause and effects are deeply rooted into our society, but that doesn't make them untouchable. In fact, it makes them even more tangible.
The famous quote from Eleanor Roosevelt oft comes to mind when talking about adversity and bullying: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Also the old adage: "sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Quotes and sayings, like these ones, might encourage us to take the power away from a bully, but they do little to acknowledge the fact that bullying does hurt.
Brian and Carl face the issue of racism with compassion. Words matter because we wield them in very specific ways in order to illicit a range of emotions from other people. We use them to manipulate, to incite fear, to wound. We use them to make someone fall in love with us, to tell someone how much we care, or to communicate difficult news in a delicate way. The conversation in this podcast addresses the fact that the people wielding words for evil purposes may, in fact, be hurting themselves. Instead of fighting fire with fire, fight back with an attitude of how you wish the other person had treated you.
We face adversity when bullied. Whatever brand of bullying you've received, whether it is racism, like Carl, or discrimination, like Brian, that period of suffering is actually called adversity. My dad always used to say that our character is revealed the most when we are under adversity, because it's only when we're under pressure that we're truly challenged with wielding the tools most intrinsically important to human life.
I've been learning a lot about compassion in the last couple months, learning how to see suffering in others and find the patience to listen and hear the struggle they face. But compassion is about so much more than acknowledgement and patience, it's about the endurance of those qualities. Compassion feels to me to be the intrinsic opposite of bullying and, as such, the greatest weapon that can be wielded.
If adversity comes from times of struggle, and let's specifically target bullying since that is the topic of discussion here, the opposing force of struggle is peace or surrender. Carl made a great point about hitting a bully with kindness, in that showing a bully that you are unperturbed by their attack makes them more likely to back down. Retaliating with hurtful words or a punch to the face reinforces the attack from the bully, inciting the very response they want. They want to cause pain, because seeing others in pain is the fastest way to feel less of one's own.
The banner image for this episode is taken from Howard Center, an organization that desires to enrich the lives of those in need.