My wife and I freelance as actors and singers around the country. I frequently fly with my one year old DCPA5 Martin guitar. Nothing is more cringe worthy or more frustrating than being forced to gate check such a delicate, sentimental item that I relay on for my livelihood. Along the way I’ve picked up a few tips on how to safely fly with an instrument.
Loosen the strings
This is flying with an instrument 101. Always loosen the strings before boarding the plane. This takes the pressure off the neck. Pressurization in the cabin can do funny things to a guitar neck.
Take the gate check ticket
board the plane early
The earlier you're able to get onto the plane, the more room there will be in the overhead compartments. Ask about upgrading your 'zone number'. This is how they determine when passengers will board the plane. Zone 2 will give you the best bet without paying for first class seating.
Smile. make it light
Do as I say, not as I do.
It will be tempting to argue with the gate folks when they don’t let you take your instrument on the plane. Don’t. Don’t rant about how expensive it is, how much you rely on it and don’t fight with them. My favorite line is, “I would love to explore all possible options before gate checking.” I say this with a smile, jokes and laughter. The gate workers only want things to go smoothly, if you can make that happen then they are more apt to give you what you want.
Make sure the instrument is secured in place inside the case. Underwear and t-shirts do a great job at this.
never check to final destination
If you HAVE to gate check- NEVER gate check to the final destination. This is as good as checking the instrument at the ticket counter. Chances are you will see your guitar get run over by a luggage truck.
Once it’s on the plane and packed...
They can't ask you to take it off.
If you HAVE to gate check: Ask about putting it in the “front compartment”. There are two compartments under the plane. I was told once by a very helpful attendant that they would put my guitar under the front compartment where they typically store animals. This means that the compartment is temperature controlled and pressurized. It’s the temperature difference that can warp your neck. To keep up to speed on laws, check our this website dedicated to the topic.
Josiah, here. For those of you unfamiliar with the term ‘gut check,’ it’s a phrase signifying a time for courage or doggedness. It says now is the moment and asks whether you’ll step up or not. I’ve heard it most often in sports - 10 seconds left, the ball is in your hands… gut check. Can you handle it?
So. In the spirit of gut checking on NYRez’s I thought I’d go over a few of mine and give myself a grade based on how I’ve done. And I encourage you to do the same. (Not mine… grade yours…)
- Floss Everyday
Whew. A tough one right out of the gate. This is a phenomenally hard thing resolution for me. In fact it was a resolution for 2014 as well and I’ve improved a touch. I do it somedays but others… not so much. For whatever reason flossing takes a lot of oomph and I so rarely have it at the end of the day.
Brett McKay, from artofmanliness.com talks about willpower being a finite thing. Something that you use as the day goes on and gets depleted the more you you use it. But like a muscle the more you use it the stronger you get. Since I’ve been trying to floss at the end of the day, maybe my willpower has been used on the other things I’ve been doing. And so my solution to this flossing problem is to try it in the morning. Which is what I’m going to do.
Grade: C, but I’m gonna bump it up to a C+ for coming up with a plan.
- Meet with Darrell about HWWs every Monday
This is nice because it involves another person. Accountability is key. There have already been Monday Meetings I have thought about skipping, but having someone else keeping me accountable has made it, if not easier, has at least made it happen pretty consistently. We missed one meeting but we made it up on Tuesday, so I’m gonna go with…
Grade: B+ with a chance for improvement.
- Read a Classic Book every month
This one was kind of a gimme for me since I love to read and it’s only been a month. Picking the books has been harder than actually reading them and I’ve read two books already in one month. But just to say something about picking easy habits, BJ Fogg of TinyHabits says that an easy habit is a great place to start. It’s the act of doing that makes a habit - it doesn’t have to be difficult. Once it’s formed in your day as a habit, you can increase the difficulty.
Grade: A, but one of those easy A’s like taking Bowling as an elective your senior year of college. No, you know what, Bowling is just as important as Chemistry or Calculus or… ok, I’ll stop.
-Write everyday for one hour (At least 5 days a week)
Well… I’m writing this article, that’s nice, yes? That’s something. I actually made that resolution hoping for the writing to be creative writing. Which I’ve found is very difficult. What’s been so troubling about this particular resolution is I’ve had to learn how to block off an hour of time in our increasingly distracting world. It can be difficult to block off an hour a day when the temptations of Netflix or YouTube are just around the corner. I’ve found that I’m most productive earlier in the day (willpower!), when I’m in a public place, and am writing in a booklet as opposed to my computer. The public place helps me focus and using a pen and paper keeps me from deleting - the biggest temptation on a computer. Deleting is editing. Writing is creating. It’s been a bumpy start but I think I’m finding my groove.
Grade: B with hopes for a plus later in the year.
I’ll keep examining my resolutions as the year goes by. Let us know how you’re doing on yours!
The third and final chapter of the Lessons from John Wayne. Be sure you catch up on what we had to say in installments 1 and 2.
I was able to visit John Wayne’s birthplace in Winterset, Iowa earlier this year. Walking through the place, it became clear that his influence still has lots of inertia. The man and the characters started to merge. In his later interviews, Wayne starts to reiterate and paraphrase quotes and themes from his past films. A reason is because John Wayne the man had had a lifetime of exercising admirable qualities in his characters.
“Talk low, talk slow, don’t say too much.”
The man and his characters were never guilty of saying too much. The above quote is advice Wayne was giving to a young actor.
There are a number of examples of John Wayne speaking out directing and and carefully for what he believed in. John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart were about to walk outside and were to be greeted by a crowd of Vietnam protesters. Stewarts son had just been killed in the war. John Wayne exited the building first and informed the protesters about Stewarts son. Despite political differences, he asked the protesters to respect a grieving father and put the signs down and let him pass in peace. Everyone was respectful.
Let Others Take the Credit
"You talk too much, think too much. Besides, YOU didn't kill Liberty Valance."
*Spoiler Alert* In the film, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” John Wayne’s character confides in Jimmy Stewart that he was in fact the man who shot Liberty Valance. Holding this secret, he allows Stewarts character to be a lifelong senator. This is not the only example of selflessness in the life and characters of John Wayne. It's a good reminder that trustworthiness and humility are necessary in being a person that people can trust.
Stay on Center
“Courage is being scared to death... and saddling up anyway.”
Sure, many of his characters are known to fly off the handle and get into a bar fight. The distinguishing characteristic is that he seems to know exactly what he is doing. He’s not covered in a white hot rage with fists flying. He is in total control and doesn’t let his emotion get the better of him.
Be Willing to Change
In response to the emotional outburst of Lt. Col. Benjamin Vandervoort [Wayne] a fellow soldier comments,
“The old man [Wayne] sure has changed since yesterday”
A stereotype of John Wayne is that he is a matter of fact, heels dug in, bullheaded bumpkin. Perhaps the most important lesson to learn from these chapters is: believe what you believe, defend it with matter of factness, but be willing to change.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these articles and find them helpful in implementing some positive change in your life. If you think we missed anything please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the screen.
In our world of stress and work we seldom take time to breathe. In his previous article, 4 new lessons from John Wayne movies, Darrell talked about how a connection with nature was a great way to feel more relaxed, less stressful, and more focused. “Meeting the sun is a perfect time to block off some time for meditation.”
Here’s a quick breathing exercise I sometimes do to focus and calm down. It’s from a book, “Ki in Daily Life’ by Koichi Tohei and it never fails to do the trick. The great thing about the exercise is you can do it anywhere and it takes relatively no time whatsoever. It can be done standing or sitting, walking or in the car and one full cycle takes a minute and a half or less.
The exercise itself is simple:
"Well, I don't favor talking to vermin, but I'll talk to you just this once... if one of your men cross my land or even touch one of my cows or do anything to that store, I'm not going to the sheriff, the governor, or the president of the United States. I'm comin' to see you."- Chism
John Wayne was 6’4 and roughly 212 lbs. He was always physically fit enough to take his large frame and throw it onto the back of a galloping horse. His physical fitness was never idealized, overtly sexualized (my wife disagrees) or used for anything other than practicality. There is a difference between superficial fitness and actual body betterment. Take the time to push your body to serve an actual purpose rather than trying to sculpt something that will only look good in a mirror. Here are some exercises to give you the body of a cowboy with muscle to help you stay tall in the saddle. Not to mention, stay fit in case you need to put up your dukes. Pun intended.
"There's no land anywhere worth a hoot, till it's flowed with good honest sweat." -Three Faces West
Connectedness to Nature
John Wayne will roll out a nap sack and lay down under the stars. A connectedness to nature is a foundational lesson to learn in this series. It is a stereotype that a cowboy is frequently close lipped. This can be blamed on a desire to listen to nature rather than cloud it up with chit chat.
A connectedness to nature will encourage listening, quiet the mind, see greater perspective and will give a person a sense of belonging. This isn't a post about Ben Franklin, but there is something to be said for, 'Early to bed early to rise.". Meeting the sun is a perfect time to block off some time for meditation. Sit, lay or walk about in nature. Give yourself 20 minutes of peaceful listening. Simply enjoy the sunlight and dirt under your back. Why not go crazy and spend a night under the stars.
"Out here a man settles his own problems." -The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Last week we included the lesson, ‘Independence’. This is arguably the same lesson in greater detail. By self reliance we mean to be versed in a number of necessary tasks. Learn many trades and always be gathering information. Around a single film Wayne would be shoeing a horse one scene, chopping wood in another then building a fence in the next. Do some basic wiring, patch your clothing or become a helping hand on a ranch.
Learn a new trade and practice it. Encourage a curiosity of learning how things work. Know that, if worse came to worse, you would be alright.
“Well I’ll be a suck egg mule.”- Chism
Sense of Humor
“Life is tough, but it's tougher if you're stupid.” - John Wayne
A runner is a runner is a runner? Maybe, maybe not. Not all runners are created equal, and wherever one runner stops another picks up. When sprinters stop, middle distance takes over, where middle distance (and most people) peter out, marathoners are happy to press on, where they stop, in step the ultra folks: people who run for 24 hours straight, hundred plus miles in one go, who eat without breaking stride, people who vomit and keep running. Some call it the ultimate endurance test, and how could you tell them they're wrong?
(My one experience with distance running was a 35k - roughly 20 miles - which took me well over 3 hours to complete and when I finally finished I wept like a baby, which apparently isn't all that out of place.)
Scott Jurek came onto the ultra scene in the early 90s and has been a benchmark for all American runners since. His recently published book, Eat & Run, details his journey, physical and mental, into the depths of one of the craziest sports the world has to offer. It also addresses his plant-based diet. Below are a few lessons I came across while reading the book.
Sometimes you just do things
Countless times throughout the book Jurek references his Midwestern upbringing, using the mantra given him by his physically present, emotionally distant father, “Sometimes you just do things,” to carry him through the many jobs he must take on growing up in a family of five, with a mother suffering from MS. This "keep on" attitude forms the foundation of mental toughness that pushes Jurek to tackle the ultra running community.
A teen with boundless energy, he finds a well of inspiration in this phrase. Why keep running when all other people have stopped? Why train harder and longer in a sport that, at the time didn’t have half the support it has today (and even today it’s not all that much compared to any other sport)? To win? Sure, competitiveness pops up all the time in Jurek’s book. But more often is the hard-nosed stubbornness embodied by the mantra: sometimes you just do things. This stubbornness is a must to run and train for ultras. (And training, for anyone looking to pick up the sport, is intense. Think 3 plus hours per day on the move.) As Jurek hammers home the longest races have just as much to do with mental toughness as they do with physical toughness - probably even more so.
You need other people
You'd think ultra-running would be an individual sport, or at least I did and I was wildly wrong. Yes the distance is all traveled by one person, and that person must have crazy perseverance and the records end up under one name, but in reading Eat & Run I was impressed by how many other people were involved.
Most runners, Jurek included, have teams of people along for support, to carry food and water, for encouragement, or pacers to run alongside them for portions of the race. A pacer is like an accountability partner, encouraging you when you want to quit and running beside you through the latter parts of races. This doesn't include the scores of volunteers at the various stations most marathons and ultras have at their checkpoints and the officials at the beginnings and finishes of races. And Jurek constantly speaks of the many many people who he has trained with, who have provided him with inspiration, or even just a body to run with and talk to (when not completely out of breath).
Within the simplicity of running, Jurek finds a beautiful focus, a mindfulness. The term satori represents an almost meditative, mindful clarity that comes from complete concentration on the task at hand. It’s something that sounds simple and is very hard, especially in our increasingly distracting world. (Even as I write this I’m pausing between sentences to spoon soup into my mouth.)
If you're an athlete and you're fortunate enough, you've felt it. Being 'in the zone,' tasting satori - the sudden, Zen-like clarity that comes when you least expect it, often when your body is pushed to the limit... Satori can be sought, but it cannot be held. A few strides after an epic feeling of bliss, I'll get an ache in my knees, or the urge to pee or I'll start worrying about how the person I’m chasing down is feeling… What matters is the place of effortlessness, of selflessness. There might be many paths to that magical region - prayer and meditation come to mind… I know people who get there on a 5-mile jog or by mindfully chopping a carrot.
Conclusion (and a recipe)
After running more than 165 miles in 24 hours, Jurek talks about what he’ll do next: Rest. Then eat. Then run again. Simple repetition. Jurek finishes the book with a Buddhist adage: “Teachers advise pilgrims to chop wood and carry water until they encounter blinding, transformational epiphany. After that moment of electric bliss, the teachers say chop more wood and carry more water.” For Jurek, the future isn’t half as important as the present. What’s truly crucial is the step you’re taking now.
(This article wouldn’t be complete without a recipe from the many Jurek provides throughout the book. As a vegan, he strongly believes in a healthy, plant-based diet. Here’s one of my favorites.)
vegetarian winter chili recipe
Jurek writes: "The night I tasted this chili is the night I decided I could be a happy, athletic vegetarian. One mouthful made me realize that vegetarian food could taste just as good, and have just as hearty a texture, as meat-based foods. The burger wheat is a source of complex carbohydrates, and combined with the other ingredients, it makes a complex protein. There's nothing like it after exercise, especially on a cold winter night. "
2 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup finely chopped onion
8–10 medium mushrooms, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
1 jalapeño pepper or other hot pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons chili powder, or to taste
2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can tomato purée
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
1 15-ounce can red beans, drained
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup dry bulgur wheat
Hot sauce or cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro, for garnish
Tofutti sour cream, for garnish (optional)
Add the oil to a large pot. Sauté the vegetables and spices in the oil over medium to medium-low heat for 10 minutes or until tender. Add a few tablespoons of water if the veggies begin sticking to the pot.
Add the remaining ingredients except the cilantro and simmer over medium-low heat, covered, for 30 minutes. Stir and simmer for an additional 20 to 30 minutes until the veggies are cooked through.
Season with salt and, if more spice is desired, hot sauce or cayenne pepper to taste. Serve sprinked with the cilantro.
Tip: Leftover chili freezes well.
"A man outta do what he thinks is best." - Hondo
This is the basis and foundation of the Wayne ideal. The Wayne ideal being generalization of the variety of characters that John Wayne played. Maureen O’Hara wrote a letter to the John Wayne Birthplace Museum. She talked about the way Wayne chose projects. He would only play roles that had a strong moral drive. It is the main cause why audiences are so drawn to his characters. The Wayne ideal acts on morality and not intellect. Morality can be white, black and a hundred shades of grey but the Wayne ideal only sees the first two. Being lead by morality lends itself to hard and fast action.
Being moral driven brings with it an inherit sense of confidence. You don’t see Wayne fretting or worrying over a gunshot or punch. His moral drive gives him the confidence that he is always doing what he thinks is best. A distinguishing characteristic is his lack of preoccupation with honor. You see gentlemen of the 1850s- 1900‘s, about the times many of Wayne’s movies are set, obsessed with being perceived as ‘honorable’. He doesn’t care how he is perceived or respected. He cares about sleeping with a clean conscience knowing he did what he thought was right. Arguably, the most honorable thing.
Learn by Doing
Sam, the dog is Hondo’s trusted companion. He hunts for himself and doesn’t rely on Hondo for any kind of comfort.
Speaking about Sam the dog:
“No ma’am I don’t feed him either. Sam’s independent, he doesn’t need anybody. I want him to stay that way."- Hondo
His independence is represented differently in "The Quiet Man". A former boxer named Thornton returns to his birth country of Ireland to claim his birthright. The cabin he was born in had belonged to his family for generations. He comes to Ireland for a quiet life until he meets Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O'Hara).
In this plot line, Mary Kate Danaher is possibly the more independent of the two. She is a strong willed, woman that will only marry if certain demands are met by Thornton. It's important to remember that the lesson learned by the Wayne ideal is not only to be independent, but to respect independence.
Tough When Need Be
In "The Quiet Man" we learn why Thornton is reluctant to fight. He killed a man as his time as a boxer and vows never to fight again. It isn’t until he finds a woman worth fighting for that he starts the brawl the entire movie has been leading up to. This is one of the rarer occasions when love is the driving force to violence rather than a moral right or self protection.
Tough when need be is maybe the easiest way to describe the John Wayne ideal. He’s the one that knows when to act and to always act hard. Again, being lead by morality lends itself to fast and hard action. Hard action is the key to this segment. It’s not just the speed of action that the moral drive lends itself, but it’s the ferocity with which he acts. He makes a choice and he sees to it that the action is complete whether that is a punch in the mouth, escaping with wagons full of homesteaders or kissing the girl.
The ability to be tough when needed manifests when there is someone that needs defending. This toughness is never disguised as pity, sympathy or nurturing. This is an important distinction because the underdog, whether that be a widow or an entire town, generally has a specific problem that needs fixing. He won’t cling to a soft spoken or weak person, he is drawn to help the person that is doing their best to help themselves. The toughness of the Wayne ideal doesn’t show up until it is absolutely needed.
Gentle When Need Be
"When the Indians finish up their squaw-seekin' ceremony, they only say one thing: 'Varlabania.' It means 'forever.' Forever." -Hondo
Potentially the most controversial quality of the Wayne ideals. A person can watch John Wayne movies and claim that a quality never shown is gentleness. Gentleness is frequently shown in his harder characters. He is never the one that goes out of his way to be cruel. Decision making based on morality lends itself to gentleness when it is the right thing to do. The motto “A man otta do what he thinks is best.” will frequently point in the direction of gentleness.
Examples of gentleness may conjure images of gentleness towards women, but ‘Wayne’ gentleness is not limited to romance. There are many examples of companionship, friendship and respect. Many times gentleness is the direct path of justice. The Wayne ideal is not a socialite, it has a warm embrace of quality relationships.
Matter of Fact
“Everyone gets dead, it was just his turn.”- Hondo
This is a side effect of being morally driven. It gives a person the confidence of knowing that nothing is good or bad, it just is. This is a very zen like quality of the Wayne ideal. He doesn’t waste time or energy in grief or indecision. Greeting troubles with an attitude of ‘matter of fact’ will put you in a higher perspective to look down on the trouble to see the most efficient way to tackle it.
The average distance traveled per household increased by over 10,000 miles from the late 60s to the early 2000s, with the majority of it coming during work and errand related trips. Work commutes alone take an average of 3 more miles per day. Part of this is due to us living further from the places we work. For more info on this check out the National Household Travel Survey from 2009. (It’s a little dense but the graphs and charts provide some cool info.)
This isn't meant to be an eco-jeremiad or anything to do with global warming. It's simply an encouragement to look at how and why we travel. With the average household traveling for business, necessities, work well over 70% of the time, what do we do with the other 30%, the just for fun, the big trips? Where do we go and why?
Traveling is exciting, it’s possibility. We travel a thousand miles to an exotic locale, a beach that’s just as pretty as one two hundred miles away because it’s possible that this new beach is better - more pretty, more exotic, more … perfect?
By traveling we’re looking for something better than here. Our ancestors (and many people nowadays not living in the US of A) traveled out of necessity: looking for food or water, to get away from warfare, over-population, or looking for a new start. Most of our food and water travels to us and we live in a peaceful area. Overpopulation is a tricky subject and many people like to live around a lot of other people (i.e. NYC, Chicago, LA).
I believe most of us travel to find something new. We believe that there’s something different just across the road and that that something different is worth the look. And even if it’s not the act of going, of moving, may prove to be all that we need. We travel for change and that change may not just be that the destination is different from where we started, but that we are changed by the simple act of going.
When was the last time you took a walk for fun rather than exercise? Or biked to an event? Or traveled for adventure instead of obligation? As we start this new year, remember that how and why we travel have a profound effect on us, just as much as how far we go and how fast.
When I’m laying in bed and I can’t find to umph to get up I think of “If unwilling to rise in the morning, say to thyself, ‘I awake to do the work of a man.’” –Marcus Aurelius
Having a library of quotes is a great way to keep yourself in check. To be able to recall a quip of the past helps put problems in perspective and remember that this trouble has been tackled before.
Here a few more motivational quotes to help you get up and “Get Action!”
To start off a series on unknown subcultures, we give you the underground world of Secret Wall Tattoos.
All those paintings in your hotel may be hiding mementos of past dwellers. Some rogue artists are leaving their calling cards behind pictures frames, headboards, toilets and beds. Anything that can be moved, these artists are painting.
-3 Lessons from ultrarunner
-Role Model: Search Local
-How to Sleep in Your Car
-How to Hitchhike: Advice
-How to Adjust a Backpack
-How to Hitchhike Safely
-Dustin: Hitchhiker *video
- Zach at Niagara Falls *video
-NYC Interview *video
-Trouble Crossing * video
-Iron John Journey *video
-Letter From a Viewer
-Ibn Battuta: Exploreer
-Danny Schmidt/Carrie Elkin
-Top 5 Famous Hitchhikers
-Hitchhiking:Trip at a Glance
-3 Things Lionel Said
-Radio Interview: WEHC
-Adventure: Idea to Action
-Miller's Gourmet Popcorn *
-Poem from a fan
Darrell and Josiah