Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Princess Bride: Have fun storming the castle!

Hey Buddy! You’re up early. What’s up?

Oh, I’m up on important business.

Really? Do tell.

I’m taking my sister to the airport.

Important business?

Well, it’s important to her.

Ahh… So it is. So it is.

Now what you are you smiling about?

I just thought of another line from The Princess Bride, the one that I probably use the most.

Some gem of philosophy so early in the day?

Nah. Most of the time I’m really more playful than philosophical. Sometimes both at the same time.

Okay. I’ll bite. What’s the line?

It’s the line I’ll use as we part company. As you go off on your “important” business I’ll say, “Have fun storming the castle!”

Cute, but what’s the context?

The line fits into life quite often, but its context in the movie is after a visit to Miracle Max’s hovel. Westley has been brought by his two friends to Miracle Max. Westley has been tortured to death, and he is in desperate need of a miracle.

Yikes! Torture? That’s mean.

Very mean. It’s a many-faceted movie. But funny throughout.

Torture and funny?

It’s a complex movie. Anyway, after Max and his wife create a chocolate-covered Miracle Pill to help save Westley, the trio of friends go out the door leaving Max and his wife behind. The three friends are in league to help save Buttercup and achieve revenge for Inigo’s murdered father. In order to do so, they must overcome the defenses of a well-guarded castle. The line belongs to Max as he shouts encouragement from his door, “Have fun storming the castle!”

This is your most-used line?

Yes, indeed.

Hmmm… I think about that later. For now, I’ve got to run. I’m due over at my “chauffeur’s” job. See you later.

See you later. “Have fun storming the castle!”

Tssss… I will. I will.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Princess Bride: True Love!

Hello friend!

Back at ya.

Good to see you again.


You bring more of The Princess Bride?

Yes, indeed. I’ve brought you an exquisite piece of dialogue. Maybe two.


Yes, are you ready?

As ready as ever…

Okay then, here it is…

Buttercup: Farm boy, fill these with water - please.
Westley: As you wish.
Grandpa: [voiceover] That day, she was amazed to discover that when he was saying "As you wish", what he meant was, "I love you." And even more amazing was the day she realized she truly loved him back.

Hmmm… At least you’re giving me three lines today.

You speak. I listen. I brought you 50% more dialogue than yesterday. Do you like it?

Well, at least I understand this portion. It’s two people saying, “I love you.”

That’s all you see?

What? There’s more?

There certainly is. Westley shows people everywhere how to cultivate true love!

You’re kidding? By filling something with water?

No, of course not, but you’re not far off.

How so?

He’s illustrating the principal of re-spelling love.


He’s showing us simpletons that each person spells love differently. Buttercup spelled love, “Listen to me. Do the few simple things I ask.” Westley acted, and he summed up his action in his words, “As you wish.”

How does that help me?

Well, you have people you wish to show your love?

Of course.

Well, how do they spell love?

Oh, I think I begin to see. My children spell love, T I M E. My spouse spells love, R E G A R D M E. You spell it, T H I N K W I T H M E.

At last you see!

So this movie is a love manual?

Indeed it is.

Westley is the one who teaches us this?

Just partly. He’s a ruse, the real love story isn’t in the book, it’s in the movie!


In the movie there’s a book, The Princess Bride. A grandfather is reading the book to his emotionally distant grandson. The grandson is home in bed, the grandfather is reading the book to him.

Oh. And you’re trying to tell me that the real love story is not in the Westley/Buttercup tale?

No. It’s in the Grandfather/Grandson relationship.


Well, here’s how the movie ends. You be the judge…

The Grandson: Grandpa, maybe you could come over and read it again to me tomorrow.
Grandpa: As you wish.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Princess Bride: You are wonderful!

It seems I’ve struck a chord with some of my readers via The Princess Bride. I’m glad, because I’d already remembered a few more mental nuggets, so here goes…

You’re back again?

Sure am.

Are you still on that Princess Bride trip?

Oh, yeah. That movie rocks!

Well, I was under-whelmed by your first example, but I’ll play along. What have you got for me today?

You are a great friend, just listen to this superb dialogue…

Inigo Montoya: You are wonderful.
Man in Black: Thank you; I've worked hard to become so.

That’s it? Two lines? Are you stingy or what?

Me, stingy? Not at all. I’m economic. Why give you more than you need? The beauty is in the brevity. Don’t you see it?

Perhaps not. Illuminate me.

Well, maybe I cheated you a little. This snippet is taken in the midst of a great fencing duel between Inigo and the Man in Black. Inigo has been practicing and studying fencing for over 20 years. He recognizes the brilliance of a superior swordsman: the Man in Black.

And that’s your point?

Not at all. The profundity is not just in Inigo’s recognition of superb human achievement, but in the Man in Black’s acknowledgment and explanation.

I see the acknowledgment, but I seem to be missing any explanation. He simply says, “I’ve worked hard to become so.”

Ahh, you do see it! How does one arrive at a pinnacle of achievement? One must work hard. Here our philosopher-protagonist slays in two sentences the demons of self-importance and instant-gratification!

He does?

Certainly. He is wonderful in his art, but simply says, “Thank you.” He is a master of his craft, but lays out the simple map of his journey, “I have worked hard to become so.” What genius!

Well, I’m still not sure if I see what you see, but you are, as usual, intriguing. You have more examples?

I do. We shall talk more… perhaps tomorrow.

(These dialogues are based on a similar technique practiced by the author of Godel, Escher, Bach: Eternal Golden Braid. I steal freely. He copied Socrates. I copy him copying Socrates.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Epiphanies from The Princess Bride: The Fire Swamp

Visiting someone’s blog yesterday, I noticed that one of their favorite movies is The Princess Bride. I love that movie, so I’ve invented a dialogue to begin to explain why…

The Princess Bride? I love that movie!


Because I’ve learned so much from it?

You must be a simple guy, learning things from a movie.

You misunderstand: it’s a very deep movie.

How so?

Well, let me give you a snippet of mind-bending dialogue from the movie as Buttercup and Westley are about to enter the deadly Fire Swamp:

Buttercup: We'll never survive.
Westley: Nonsense. You're only saying that because no one ever has.

There you go: Mind-bending!


Don’t you see? Westley is addressing the concept of artificial limits. He’s summed up the philosophy of the Wright Brothers, the world record breakers (think 4 minute mile), and even I-have-a-dream Martin Luther King Jr.


Yes. He’s delusionally optimistic. He’s a shatterer of paradigms. He’s a genius! And he did it all as a fictional character. Unbelievable!

Yes, dear. Truly unbelievable.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Just for fun... In my backyard

Instead of zooming in and zooming out, today we’ll play, zoom out, zoom in. I start out medium and get smaller. The results are a bit surprising. You might get a little taste of amusement, or even that rare child-like emotion called “delight.” Or at least, "Ew!"

These pictures were shot in my backyard, home of an assortment of things living.

These photo twins and triplets are aimed at creating a visual zen moment: trans-verbal, illuminating, and a bit whimsical.

Have fun!

Just for fun: Flowers of La Paloma

Often you find what you're looking for.

As a kid growing up, I mowed lawns. One neighbor had a passion flower vine. It was the first time I ever saw a breathtakingly beautiful flower. It left an impression, and now I have two passion flower vines in my yard.

Over the years I've learned to take notice of beautiful flowers. It's like gazing into the face of God. It's transforming.

The flowers (and palm tree) in these pictures were taken on the grounds of La Paloma, a small resort just south of Rosarito Beach in Northern Baja California.

Beauty is all around: in the flowers, in the sky, in the face of a loved one. If you learn to look for the beauty, you'll be surprised what you find. Enjoy the hunt!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Just for fun... Rosarito: A walk on the beach

One of the charms of La Paloma is the beach access. Two of the four club houses overlook the beach and afford fantastic views. In addition to the sand and surf, we have seen dolphins and migrating whales. The club houses are glass-enclosed, so the views can be enjoyed with or without the sea breeze. A book, a game of cards, or a sand-free picnic can be enjoyed 30' above the teeming Pacific.

As lovely as the view is from the seaside club houses, it's only a ten minute walk from La Paloma to town where adventure awaits.

Today's pictures show some of the sights that walk affords on a typical day. Depending on the time of day you may encounter vendors (get your hair braided), simply sun bathe, ride a quad, ride a horse, stroll the beach, or wander up the beach into town for food, fun, and shopping.

The beaches of Southern California have a special beauty and charm, the beaches of Northern Baja have another: more rustic, more accessible, more romantic.

Enjoy the pictures and imagine yourself in another world, just one hour south of San Diego. World travel at your backdoor.