What They've Learned
December 15, 2010 10:44 AM   Subscribe

For their January 2011 "Meaning of Life" issue, Esquire has relaunched their "What I've Learned" online archive featuring "wisdom and damn good advice from more than a dozen years" of 300+ celebrity interviews. Plus a video starring Daniella Ruah, of the show NCIS: Los Angeles, lip-synching advice from the archive: The Greatest Things Ever Said. (Video) posted by zarq (18 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

Took 40 years but thank god I learned that.
posted by spicynuts at 10:46 AM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

The alphabetical placement of "God" next to "Gonzales, Alberto" gave me a bad moment.

But I have retained a piece of wisdom that I read in Esquire as a teenager, a very long time ago:

A poorly fitting pair of pants can make a man look like a fool.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:02 AM on December 15, 2010

wow, she's really good at lip-synching.

it's a shame she's in such a crap show.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:06 AM on December 15, 2010

"I had such great teachers in high school who made me feel like I could do anything. Then to go to Yale, where these drama teachers made me feel like shit — if I have any advice for young people, it would be, "Don't listen to teachers who say, 'You're really not good enough.' " Just teach me. Don't tell me if you think I'm good enough or not. I didn't ask you. Teachers who do that should be fired." ~Sigourney Weaver

Liberalism is the right to question without being called a heretic. That's what America did for the world. ~Jack Nicholson

If you take risks, you are going to fail. When you do, my advice is to watch Swing Time with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Fred falls in love with Ginger on the street and follows her to a dance studio. She’s a dance instructor. So he enrolls to learn how to dance. He’s madly in love with her, so he keeps on falling, slipping, you know, to prolong the lesson. He can’t get it, just can’t get it. He’s on the floor after falling for what must be the eighteenth time when Ginger tells him, “Give up, honey. You’ll never learn to dance.” The owner of the dance studio hears this and says to her, “How can you tell this man he can’t dance? You’re fired!” And Fred says, “No, no, she’s taught me a lot. Let me prove it.” And so they get up and start in on this song that goes: “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again.” You were waiting for that Fred Astaire explosion, and when you get it, it leaps over your expectations. You’ll never see a more thrilling dance in your life. That’s the kind of stuff that I love. Give them what they expect and then try to top it. ~ Mel Brooks

What I can control is how I react. I can't control anything else. ~Kelsey Grammer

Always remember: If you're alone in the kitchen and you drop the lamb, you can always just pick it up. Who's going to know? ~Julia Child

posted by zarq at 11:12 AM on December 15, 2010

What I can control is how I react. I can't control anything else. ~Kelsey Grammer

Sounds like Epictetus.
posted by proj at 11:14 AM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I like reading the "what I've learned" section when waiting in the doctor's office; it's sort of listening to my grandfather ramble on about how things were better etc.

But hey, here's my What I've Learned (sadly):

1) Back up early, back up often.
2) If it sounds like the motor/bearing is jammed, it is.
3) Don't stick your dick in crazy.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 11:20 AM on December 15, 2010 [6 favorites]

"Everything I've ever needed to know I learned through sports." Guess who said that gem.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 11:25 AM on December 15, 2010

It's my lunch time, so I can manage to read one or two of these. Most are just the standard stuff, with some cute asides (like the DeNiro quote about a chair).

Maybe it's because I just watched him pledge a frat where I used to drink (and I almost never drank, so that's why it stands out), but I gravitated to Bob Saget's.

This is true:
"I love anybody funny -- even people who are bastards, who are evil people, the meanest people you can imagine, even if they treat me horrifically or they treat people like shit -- just because they're funny. Being funny is a jewel in the crown of life."
I can personally attest to the time I stopped a punch with a joke. I say a lot of awful things (in a—no disrespect—"Aspie" way); the only way I've survived is by learning to make people laugh. Sometimes against their will.

And it goes well with the next quote: "I'm going to be fifty this year. Soon I'm going to meet somebody around my own age, and she's going to be smart and beautiful, and I'm going to date her daughter."
The one thing I like about Saget is he seems to accept what he is and he owns up to it. This isn't the standard sort of self-deprecating humor that relies on commiseration, or wanting to make the joketeller feel better about themselves (pity?). This joke is based on the shared assumption that "you know and I know that I'm a bastard."

'I went to synagogue for the High Holidays and the rabbi made a speech about Hurricane Katrina. He said, "Everybody's got a hurricane in their life. Some of you people have lost all your money this year; some of you have had cancer this year. There are people who lost their babies, people who had a kid diagnosed." There's all this shit that happens to people. You have to be happy with the time you've got.'
Always true. In any form.

"The other day my twelve-year-old says to me, "I don't feel like I'm with you right now. You're in the car with me, you're checking your e-mail, you're not listening to me, I don't feel like I'm with you." And I say, "You know what? That was your mother's gripe, too. And she was right. And you're also correct." When you cop to something, you get to the next level. In this case, the next level is: I just learned something from my twelve-year-old."
I feel like I project the same aura. All the time. I apologize to everyone in my life for that, especially to my ex.
And yes, one should sit with criticism. Wading through the cognitive dissonance to accept the fact that something unpleasant about yourself might be true is worth the journey. Soggy socks and all. Cop to it, then figure out how you can change and what the workaround is until you can effect that change. Don't take it to heart (too much), and don't let it affect your judgement of yourself as a person. None of us is perfect. But we don't get any closer by ignoring our flaws.

Thanks, Bob. I don't drink, but I'll buy you one any time our paths happen to cross.
posted by Eideteker at 11:27 AM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Don't stick your dick in crazy.

A corollary to this is:

Don't choose a woman you can't keep.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:34 AM on December 15, 2010

Ah, and you know HDS is gonna throw down some knowledge:

Churches. Catholics. Jews. Christians. Protestants. Mormons. Muslims. Scientologists. They're all macrocosms of the ego. When man began to think he was a separate person with a separate soul, it created a violent situation.

Awareness is its own action.

Ten seconds from now you don't know what you're gonna say or think. So who's in charge?

No, I'm not curious about anything. I'm just letting it all happen.

Is there an interesting way to go? Who gives a fuck? You're already gone.

Ok, ok, back to work.
posted by Eideteker at 11:50 AM on December 15, 2010

My father would say, "Do the best you can. And then the hell with it."

-- Ted Kennedy

Well, he certainly did that. And it seems like pretty good advice.
posted by philipy at 12:01 PM on December 15, 2010

I'd watch Ruah do just about anything.
posted by bz at 12:09 PM on December 15, 2010

I think a lot of my life education can be summed up with "Be interested in things." but that seems too much like something to be embroidered on a pillow on it's own, so I'll follow it up with "And keep your knife sharp."

If I had a kid, I'd probably suggest those as ones to hang onto. They've worked pretty well for me.
posted by quin at 12:43 PM on December 15, 2010

One very important lesson I can think of for teenagers (and I've thought about this before) is that you can drink without getting drunk. It doesn't have to be an all or nothing proposition.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 1:14 PM on December 15, 2010


My favorite.

When someone tells you your butt is on fire, you should take them at their word.

posted by euphorb at 1:16 PM on December 15, 2010

There's gratification in making somebody laugh. It's a wonderful sound. I find myself, to this day, doing it, wanting to make people laugh.-- Bob Newhart

How lucky the comedians are who just hear music in the laughter, and pity the ones who hear only their parents' approval. Newhart's the best.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:55 PM on December 15, 2010

Mediocrity is underrated.

posted by mrgrimm at 2:13 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

My favorite is Christopher Walken's. In several of the interviews, it's less "What have I learned?" and more "What advice/words of wisdom would I like to give?" (which is not so bad, but you kind of wind up treading the same territory over and over) or "What I'd like people to think I've learned," (which is depressing) but Christopher Walken is giving you, straight up, the things he thinks about. The thoughts that shape his day.

Some of them are oddly poignant: When I was a kid, there was someone in my family, an adult, and whenever I saw them, they would say, "You got a lotta nerve." From the time I was a little kid, it was always like, "Heh, heh, heh — you got a lotta nerve." I always thought, What does that mean? But then when I got older, I thought that it was an instruction. If you tell a kid something, it sticks. I think I do have a lot of nerve. But, I mean, I think I maybe got it from that person who said it to me.

Others, less so: I used to love Danish. My father used to make a Boston cream pie. You never see that anymore. Very good.
posted by kagredon at 3:52 PM on December 19, 2010

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