Untethered Dog

A Commonplace By Tom Swift


To which [Tim] Tebow responds: “Why not? Why does everything start out with a negative connotation? Unfortunately, sometimes we look at things in a negative way, rather than striving for what we want to do, and what we believe in, and lifting each other up, and building each other up.” He’s getting fired up again. “Gosh, that’s someone that I want to be.”

-Tim Rohan, “Tim Tebow Believes: Do You?” Sports Illustrated, 5-15-2017


The more we examine our [own] attitudes and work on ourselves, the less we are apt to be swept away by stormy emotional reactions in which we seek easy explanations for unbidden events.

-Epictetus, Manual for Living (1994, Sharon Lebell translation)


Gust Avrakotos: “Listen, not for nothing, but do you know the story about the Zen master and the little boy?”

Charlie Wilson: “Oh, is this something from Nitsa the Greek witch of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania?”

Gust: “Yeah as a matter of fact it is.

“There’s a little boy. Now on his 14th birthday he gets a horse, and everybody in the village says, ‘How wonderful the boy got a horse,’ and the Zen master says, ‘We’ll see.’

“Two years later, the boy falls off the horse, breaks his leg, and everybody in the village says, ‘How terrible,’ and the Zen master says, ‘We’ll see.’

“Then a war breaks out and all the young men have to go off and fight, except the boy can’t cause his leg’s all messed up, and everybody in the village says, ‘How wonderful’ …”

Charlie: “Now the Zen master says ‘We’ll see.'”

Gust: “So you get it.”

Charlie: “No. No, cause I’m stupid …”

Gust: “You’re not stupid, you’re just in Congress.

“Send them money.

“You can start with the roads.

“Move on to the schools, factories.”

Charlie: “Gus [sic], now, it’s a party.”

Gust: “Restock the sheep herds.”

Charlie: “Hey.”

Gust: “Give them jobs, give them hope.”

Charlie: “I’m trying. I’m trying.”

Gust: “Yeah, well, try harder.”

Charlie: “I’m fighting for every dollar.”

Gust: “Yeah, yeah.”

Charlie: “I took you from 5 million to a billion.

“I broke the ice on the Stinger and the MILAN.

“I got a Democratic Congress in lockstep behind a Republican President.”

Charlie: “Well, that’s not good enough … ’cause I’m gonna hand you a code word classified NIE right now, and it’s gonna tell you that the crazies have started rolling into Kandahar like it’s a fucking bathtub drain.”

Charlie: “Jesus, Gus, you could depress a bride on her wedding day.”

Gust: “Hey.” Throws the contents of Charlie’s mixed drink into a flower pot.

“Listen to what I’m telling you.”

Charlie: Gives Gust a hug. “You did a hell of a job for the son of a soda pop maker.”

Gust: “‘We’ll see,’ said the Zen master.”

Charlie Wilson’s War (2011)


Circumstances do not rise to meet our expectations. Events happen as they do. People behave as they are. Embrace what you actually get.

Open your eyes: see things for what they really are, thereby sparing yourself the pain of false attachments and avoidable devastation.

-Epictetus, Manual for Living (1994, Sharon Lebell translation)


[Art of Fielding author and former St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Luis] Apparicio believed that the number 3 had deep significance.

3. There are three stages: Thoughtless being. Thought. Return to thoughtless being.

33. Do not confuse the first and third stages. Thoughtless being is attained by everyone, the return to thoughtless being by a very few.

-Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding (2011)


Charlie Wilson: “You mean to tell me that the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is to have the Afghans keep walking into machine gun fire ‘til the Russians run out of bullets?”

Gust Avrakotos: “That’s Harold Holt’s strategy; it’s not U.S. strategy.”

Charlie: “What is U.S. strategy?”

Gust: “Well, strictly speaking, we don’t have one. But we’re working hard on that.”

Charlie: “Who’s we?”

Gust: “Me and three other guys.”

Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)


Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: some things are within our control, and some things are not. It is only after you have faced up to this fundamental rule and learned to distinguish between what you can and can’t control that inner tranquility and outer effectiveness become possible.

-Epictetus, Manual for Living (1994, Sharon Lebell translation)


… a soul isn’t something a person is born with but something that must be built, by effort and error, study and love.

The Art of Fielding (2011)


Rocky: “I should have stopped the fight with your father. I’m stopping this one now.”

Adonis: “Don’t! I have to prove it!”

Rocky: “Prove what?”

Adonis: “That I’m not a mistake.”

Creed (2015)


“As a manager, [Japanese pitcher/slugger Shohei Ohtani’s departure to the majors], it’s going to hurt the team,” says [Nippon Ham Fighters’ Hideki] Kuriyama. “But I want him to succeed.” Then he adds this advice to the next manager who will oversee Ohtani: “Please trust him all the way through.”

-Jon Wertheim, “Showei Ohtani — Japan’s Babe Ruth — Is About to Change the Face of Baseball,” Sports Illustrated, 4-6-2017