Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future, by Michael J. Fox

A great grad gift!

Michael J. Fox, most famous for his roles as Alex P. Keaton on "Family Ties" and as Marty McFly in "Back to the Future," nailed the persona of a clean cut, and precocious young man, one who comes up a little short on the E.I. (emotional intelligence) scale.

A few years ago, when I listened to the audiobook of Fox's first memoir, "Lucky Man," I was struck by how, as is true with all of us, there was so much that lied beneath the surface of this young, hot shot actor. Here Fox told of his young, and not so innocent days. I was surprised. If I had given it any thought, (and, honestly, although my mind does tend to travel to strange places, I hadn't given any thought to this at all), I would have pegged Fox as a boring, straight as an arrow kind of guy, someone who spent Sunday mornings in church, not hungover in a strange woman's apartment. Fox's isn't the usual hard playing actor falling from grace story, but some of the same elements are there. As a young actor trying to forge a career, there were parties. Drinking. Women.

In this new slip of a book Fox, with wit and wisdom, organizes the story of his life and the lessons he has learned (and he is so "not preachy") to match up with the course catalogue of Hunter College, an institution that awarded him an honorary degree, despite that he was a high school drop out. As an example, under "Economics" Fox tells of his younger and not so wise days scraping together a living, and how, when he finally earned some real money, he ended up losing most of it to handlers.

The most poignant bits of AFTHOTWTTF relate to Fox's struggle with PD, Parkinson's Disease. Like many people who try and make peace with a debilitating illness, Fox says the disease has given him understanding and wisdom, and that those fundamentals would not have come his way without it. Still, acknowledging the reality of the disease -- Fox is not all sunshine and Polyanna -- he calls PD "The disease that keeps on taking."

I'm so glad I stumbled upon this little gem. This is an honest, humorous account of a life, replete with new perspectives gained. How unexpected and interesting to find this well written memoir from the pen of a middle-aged former star of a popular 8Os TV show. Who knew?

And now for more of the unexpected -- a link to a commencement address for kindergartners

Pomp and Happenstance

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