Surviving August

By Lloyd Graff

Robin Williams in “Good Morning Vietnam”

August is a strange month for me. It is the month of my mom’s birth and death, August 11, 1993. It is a celebration of surviving my heart attack, a near death experience in 2008. It is the time my daughter Sarah and son-in-law Scott come to Chicago for a week with my three spectacular granddaughters.

The baseball season is in its dog days, and my Cubs are in last, as usual. But oh those fabulous prospects – the best in the game they say – will turn it around next year. Well, maybe in 2016. With my August pre-occupation with life and death, I always wonder if I will be lucky enough to cheer the next Ernie Banks.

In business we feel the excitement of IMTS growing toward Labor Day. I can already feel me knees rebelling against the endless aisles of McCormick Place.

School is starting this week in my neighborhood, and the kids are oiling up their iPads and computers. My wife Risa is gearing up her educational therapy practice. She is in the “make school easier” business, and beginning in August, needy parents and struggling kids find their way to her office in our house.

In August, Rabbis like my daughter have started planning their Jewish High Holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) sermons. The High Holidays are somber days of contemplation, fasting and relief. I’m particularly aware of the clergy prep. While writing this blog I sat next to two local rabbis who were planning their Temple services at the local Starbucks.

August also brings the Fantasy Football draft and NFL football pre-season, the former being the more important of the two. I find it fascinating that today the statistics of the game have become more important than who wins or loses for many people. The game really is a lot more fun seen TV than paying $100 to attend a game, fight the traffic, and sit in the sleet. Games may as well be played in big TV studios. Fans in the stands, who needs it? Just give me the stats in real time.

For the French, Italians and Spaniards, August is the traditional vacation month. Five weeks of saying goodbye to work. To me it is a quaint custom for the monied elites. I’d go nuts if I didn’t work for over a month. Oh, maybe I could survive it with constant doses of televised baseball, football and audio books, but it would be tough.

I am soaking up August, that difficult transitional month between summer and fall, baseball and football, and who shall live and who shall die.

Question: What was your favorite Robin Williams film?

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8 thoughts on “Surviving August

  1. Ryan

    Although I absolutely love the movie “Good Will Hunting”(as well as many, many others), I’m going to go with a film where Robin Williams was more of the main character. That would be “Dead Poets Society”. Mainly because shouldn’t we all incorporate Mr. Keating’s lessons into our own lives? I’m on board Captain, my Captain….Carpe diem!!!!

  2. Jack

    Hard to pick.
    Good Morning Vietnam was very good.
    But if I want a good laugh, I watch RV. Have that one on DVD.
    A good family movie.
    Reading the news the past couple days, realized there are many movies of his I haven’t seen.
    Will have to check those out.

  3. Noah Graff

    “Good Morning Vietnam.” Guess that’s obvious because I chose the photo. I think Williams’ best stuff may have been is dramatic performances rather than comedic. Maybe that’s why Good Morning Vietnam is so good, because it is a nice combination of his comedic talent and serious acting.

    Good Will Hunting was a nice bit part.

    As far as comedies, Mrs. Doubtfire, was good, especially seeing it still a little younger at 13. “Bird Cage” with Gene Hackman is also a good one, but really, can you think of a bad Gene Hackman movie? I think not.

    Worst I think is “What Dreams May Come.” Saw it on an airplane. Was excruciating at the time. Just remember HATING IT! Maybe if I saw it again I wouldn’t loath it so much. When you do as many movies as Williams, and especially as many comedies, you are destined to have some stinkers.

  4. mike

    birdcage was funny – but his “partner” was funnier.

    addiction is a lonely place – not sure if those not suffering from this understand the despair – it is sad how some endings go . . .

  5. Ed Gnifkowski

    I’m still not getting around his departure. His acting pieces are the things legends are made of. i always felt fearful for him when he was “winging It”. You could sense the inner over spin. Like an engine that has lost it’s governor. God rest ye Robin.

  6. Gloria

    “Dead Poet’s Society” was my favorite drama I think. Best comedy was “Mrs. Doubtfire.”
    “Good Morning Vietnam” was also very good. He made lots of very good movies.
    And, don’t forget the show that got it all started: “Mork and Mindy.”


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